How to Pray: Honesty With God

 

“Let’s be honest.”

“I’ll be honest with you.”

“Honestly…”

“Honest to goodness.”

These are all phrases we’ve either heard or spoken numerous times.  As children, we were taught that telling the truth is the right thing to do.  And yet how many of us got into trouble–or maybe even still do!–for lying?

But what does honesty with God have to do with our prayer?As a teenager, when I began to develop a deeper personal relationship with God, my prayer was often filled with “Thees” and “Thous.”  Now, there’s nothing wrong with addressing God in this way; but, in retrospect, I believe that the “Thees” and “Thous” that filled my prayer were obstacles that kept me from truly pouring my heart out to the Lord.  I was more concerned with proper piety than with honesty, most likely because there were a lot of things in my heart that I wanted to hide from God.

Jesus knows what is in the depths of our hearts.  He knows the thoughts of our hearts before we speak them.  So if we fail to be honest with God in prayer then we are really only deceiving ourselves.  It’s important for us to know that honesty with God in prayer is liberating.

A classic example is when we feel anger towards God.  As a priest, people ask me this question all time: Is it wrong to be angry at God?  First and foremost, we must remember that anger is an emotion, and oftentimes emotions are neither right nor wrong: they just are.  What we do with our emotions is a separate issue.

People are sometimes surprised by the answer I give them: if you feel anger toward God you should tell Him.  Really.  He can handle it.  He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him in prayer.  He wants us to express what is in the depths of our hearts.  For didn’t Jesus pour out His heart to His Father in prayer?  In Gethsemane?  On the Cross?  Didn’t Jesus pour out the depth of His emotions to His Father?

We should do the same.  Hold nothing back when you pray.  Tell the Lord exactly what’s in your heart, especially the bad feelings that might be present.  It is precisely by pouring these emotions out that we are freed from their hold and we enter more deeply into the loving embrace of the Lord.

No, God does not want us to be stuck in anger or any other negative feelings we may have.  This is precisely the reason that we need honesty with God in our prayer.  We need to go before God as we are, not pretending to be someone we are not.  If we are honest with God in prayer, we will feel a sense of deep freedom, and we will find ourselves having a deeper understanding of how He his working in our lives.

 

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11 Responses to “How to Pray: Honesty With God”

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  1. Michelle says:

    Happy New Year 2012 Fr Mike and blessed Christmas Season to you! –

    I know for me it was the realization that God is our loving Father, not a distant overpowering beign, that has helped me in beign honest in prayer now more than ever. Also realizing that Christ is our trusted friend, and Lord and Savior above all, have helped me greatly in being honest in prayer. Without trivializing their divinity, I can easily ask the question, voice my complaint, and show my gratitude, knowing that they always want the best for me. This has been a great grace in my life and I treasure it with much gratitude.

    Wishing you many blessings in 2012!

    • Michael Najim says:

      “Loving Father…trusted friend…Lord and Savior” all awesome words describing an awesome God.
      Blessings to you too in the New Year!

  2. Sandy says:

    You’re right. I sometimes hide my true feelings from God because I think it is too sinful or not right to talk to Him about these things. I feel guilty about it. But just like in an earthly friendship honesty is the only way to grow closer to each other.

    • Michael Najim says:

      Sandy,
      The amazing thing is that when we share our true feelings, the guild begins to lose its hold on us. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Daven says:

    I feel more free to share my true feeling with God. God can be our best listener and best friend. We can draw closer to our heavenly Father when we confess to Him. The guilt will lose its hold on us, and also we will understand what God’s work in our life.

    Thank you!

    Daven

  4. mike says:

    ..for me expressing my feelings to God and even others is only the first step in healing..its been my experience that ‘letting go’ of negative feelings/emotions can be a long and arduous mental process..at least for me anyway

    • Michael Najim says:

      Mike,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. You’re correct that expressing our feelings to the Lord is a healing step. Letting go of negative emotions can be very liberating…if we allow the Lord to heal us.
      Peace!

  5. Kamelle says:

    I read this article and felt a slight pressure lifted… I have one thing on my mind to say to God when I talk to him, but often feel as though, by saying it I am admitting that I don’t want Him in my life WHICH IS NOT THE CASE! At the moment I feel trapped in a life that I created through bad choices, I need guidance, help, clarity, a miracle of some sort. I gave my life to Christ some years back and have since taken on some bad habits that had prior to being saved… Some things I do not want to continue, but feel too weak to change myself, other things I feel as though I do not want to give up and some things I feel would automatically change if God would reach into my life and ammend Himself (am I asking for the impossible?-I feel guilty for even asking!)
    But the bottom line is, is it ok to be honest with God and tell Him that there are some things I don’t wish to change? Can I tell Him that I want to be a Woman of God and still be a young modern woman of today? Won’t this anger Him? By feeling this way, am I pushing Him away? Am I telling Him that I don’t want Him in my life or that I want Him to make exceptions for me?
    I feel confused and lost, I feel trapped and lonely, I feel like I have no-one to talk to and I think it’s my apprehension to be honest with God that is holding me back from moving forward.
    Sorry for the long ‘essay’ and all the questions, I just don’t know what to do or who to turn to (I feel as though I can’t get through to God as long as I have this on my heart) I thank you in advance for reading.
    Blessings

    • Michael Najim says:

      It’s vitally important to be honest with God in prayer, to speak to him all our thoughts and desires. He loves us and accepts us where we are. But we also must be open to change, to listening to him challenge us.

      I’ll pray for you. Be at peace. He loves you!

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