Flourish 3/7: Uncensored Prayer
God is inviting us into an intimate, honest and uncensored conversation with Him. Jesus challenges us to approach God with the faith of a child. When we drop our pretence, we open up space for God to also do a deep work within us.
I think that for a large part, we may have forgotten what it is like to truly communicate with God intimately, honestly and without restraint.
Check out this beautiful invitation in one of David’s prayers: My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8)
Doesn’t this just summarize beautifully what prayer is? God invites us into an ongoing intimate conversation with Him.
I know, prayer can be a struggle sometimes. I’m already now beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable with having so many of my conversations screen-to-screen instead of face-to-face. Communication with God sometimes feels even further away from real intimacy. We can’t even see him! And I’ve never actually heard Him – audibly – saying anything back!
Your relationship with God is ultimately deeper and more meaningful than any relationship you could ever have with any human being.
Yet, at the same time, I know, that when I pray, the God of heaven and earth is intently listening to what I have to say. My relationship with God is ultimately deeper and more meaningful than any relationship I could ever have with any human being.
Yes, it requires some discipline
Yes, it requires some faith
Yes, it requires some investment
Yes, there will be ups and downs
Yet, nothing in this world could ever replace, compare to or fulfil you like intimacy with God!
Jesus knew that we would have a hard time seeking intimacy with God. So, He gave us this simple instruction.
Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
We need to receive the Kingdom of God with the faith of a child. Here’s the thing: I have to teach my 3-year-old daughter a lot of things, but I don’t need to teach her to express herself to me. She is open and honest with me because she hasn’t learned to pretend yet.
God is not afraid of your raw emotions.
I believe that God is actually looking for a type of intimacy with us that is uncensored – no pretence, tell me what’s really going on. It’s in that raw expression to God of what is really going on, that we invite Him to do a deep work in us.
God is not afraid of your raw emotions. He’s seen much worse! The Psalms even give you the proof! David and the other Psalmists model to us what it is like to just pour out your heart on God uncensored. Doubt, fear, anger, grief, moodiness, depression, complains, overreaction – the Psalms are full of it. They are in your Bible on purpose. They are God’s invitation to you, to have an intimate conversation with Him.
Let’s zoom in on one of these Psalms.
The Psalm starts off with declaration of faith and confidence:
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid? (verse 1)
It’s so powerful to make statements of faith in your prayers. As the Psalm progresses, you will see that there’s a few things going on in David’s life at the time of this writing, but he starts off with some powerful declarations. “Why should I be afraid?”
From the faith declarations in the first three verses, he transitions to a more heartfelt expression of longing for a deeper experience of God.
The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple. (verse 4)
In his words, you really taste the deep longing for intimacy with God. It’s the thing he seeks above everything else.
As the prayer progresses, David gets even more personal.
Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close. (verse 7-10)
Here is the key. This personal interaction then leads to an invitation to God to move deep within. That’s what personal prayer is supposed to be like!
Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me. (verse 11)
Intimate conversation with God becomes an invitation to Him, to move us and shape us. When we drop our pretence and come to Him in uncensored and honest prayer, we open the door for Him to transform us.
I recently read this book called “Dangerous Prayers”. It’s centred around three simple prayers: Search Me, Break Me and Send Me. This book challenged me to invite God again to do a deep work within me.
Intimate conversation with God becomes an invitation to Him, to move us and shape us.
It’s only in that place of intimacy that we give God access to transform us, move us and shape us. When the mask is off, the truth comes out, and we confide in Him – the Holy Spirit can begin a work of transformation.
Then lastly, David ends his prayer with an assignment to himself
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Here’s how I would summarize the lesson for our prayer lives in this Psalm:
Come with what’s going on around you
Come with what’s going on inside you
Invite God to move deep within you
Let me end with a few practical tips to help you invest in your prayer life this week:
Make prayer habit. Cut out a certain time of the day – even if it’s just 5 minutes – for personal interaction with God.
Begin praying out loud (mumble if that is more comfortable)
Begin a prayer journal – my experience is that my prayers become more real and tangible when I write them down.
Use Psalms like Psalm 27 as a model to craft your prayers – perhaps try to write your own psalm this week
Don’t just talk, listen as well. Prayer should contain at least as much listening as talking.