I have a great friend with whom I used to go running often. During these runs we would talk about life — the good, the bad, the ugly. We were honest with each other, and the runs became therapeutic, getting things off our chest.
We have both since moved, so we no longer go on long runs. We have lost that time to share what is most important on our minds. If you have ever experienced friendship like this, you will know how valuable it is, how healing it can be.
Prayer with God can take on this same honest relationship.
I have met more people than I can count who have a hard time telling God what they really feel. When we go to church, we put on our best smile and act like everything is great in the world, even if we are hanging on by a thread. Unfortunately, we take this same approach with God, coming to Him with a façade that does not reveal our true selves. How do we break this habit?
I would direct you to a study of the Psalms. David is continually in communication with God, and it is brutally honest. After David is confronted by Nathan over his affair with Bathsheba, he writes Psalm 51, which includes some of the most loved verses in the Bible. David does not flee from responsibility but admits he did wrong and needs God’s intervention (vv. 1–4). In Psalm 6, we find a possible response to the census David took that was against God’s will. In it, he again admits wrong and asks for forgiveness.
David did not only come to God when he did wrong, however. He also brought God his troubles. Psalm 40 is a prayer for deliverance. Psalm 118 is a thanksgiving to God. He even speaks his anger when there’s anger in his heart (Psalm 109). David was not afraid to be real with God; in turn, God described him as a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22).
Speak Your Heart
We, too, can have this experience with God, but it takes time. Now that my running partner has moved away, I run alone. Actually, I should say, I run with God. Spending an hour with Him on the road lets me get past the superficial and down to what really bothers me. Once I am able to be honest with God, all aspects of my prayer life change. The thanksgivings seem more genuine, the praise more passionate, even saying “I love you” means more, because now I actually believe it.
You may not be a runner, but what can you do to spend longer periods of time with God? What can you declutter from your life to allow for this time? It might be turning off the radio on your commute to work and talking with Him. Gardening, grass cutting, washing cars, painting, cleaning the house are all times you can turn your mind to God and let Him get to know you.
Yes, God knows us. He knew us before we were even born (Jeremiah 1:5), and He knows our innermost being (Proverbs 20:27). But there is something important about telling God yourself. He wants you to be honest with Him (Psalm 51:6).