(January 15, 2023) Richard Winter ‘cuts to the chase’!
Many people like to get straight to the chase… I’m sure you have heard the following:
- ‘Just give me the facts.’
- ‘Don’t waffle around.’
- ‘Just give it to me straight.’
- ‘Don’t beat around the bush.’
Talk about cutting to the chase. Well here’s another one that does just that – somewhat longer, and of all things a prayer, a very dangerous prayer! It’s a fact… and there’s no waffling, no beating around the bush. I’m giving it to you straight!
It’s my personal prayer – and it could become yours. Goes like this…
‘Heavenly Father, as hard as this is for me, I am asking you to search asking you to search me. Search me, God, and know my heart. God, test my motives. Reveal to me my anxious thoughts. Show me anything in me that offends you. God, I want to see in me what you see in me, so I can become more like Jesus. God, I ask you to search me.’
A dangerous prayer
In fact, if you ask my opinion, most people’s prayers are way too safe!
For what do we often pray?
- God bless us. Safe?
- God help us. Good, but safe?
- God protect us as we travel. Doubly safe, right?
I draw your attention to look at the dangerous prayer that David prayed after his enemies and God’s enemies were on the attack, and accusing him of having wrong motives. Instead of saying, ‘No, no, no,’ and defending himself, David actually prayed a very dangerous prayer to God, daring to ask Him to search his heart.
Self-protection will not lead you to God’s will because we always want to be safe but don’t know the future. But – where is faith if we constrict God by our limited vision?
This is what David prayed – his very dangerous prayer –
‘Search me, God, and know my heart. Test me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting’(Psalm 139:23-24).
Could we pray this very dangerous prayer also? Can we? Indeed, must we?
In understanding this prayer of David we can see his prayer foci… and these (plural prayer focuses) can become ours in our prayer life.
David is very direct when he prays: ‘Search my heart’ (Verse 23).Yet some of us may ask, ‘Why would we ask God to search our heart. He knows it, and I’ve got a good heart anyway.’
Okay, you’ve got a good heart, and I’ve got a good heart. We’ve all got good hearts, right? But our hearts are a problem if you want to be completely accurate! Jeremiah 17:9NLT says this: ‘The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?’
The most common lie that most of us tell is… to ourselves. We deceive ourselves because the heart is deceitful… and we can continue lying to ourselves not even know how bad we are!
And what do we lie about? It could be like this:
- I’m always good.
- I’m not that prideful.
- I’m not like those people over there.
- I’m not so materialistic.
- And I definitely don’t gossip.
The heart is deceitful above all things, it’s really a dangerous prayer when we dare go before God and say, ‘Search my heart, God. Show me what is in there. Search my heart, oh God.’
Why it’s dangerous? Because God is going to show you things in your heart that are not pure.
This prayer will lead you into deeper intimacy with Him as His Holy Spirit transforms you to be conformed to the image of Christ. It’s a dangerous prayer, you need to understand, but it’s one that can make you so much closer to God.
In verse 23b, David is essentially praying, ‘Reveal my fears’ – ‘… test me and know my anxious thoughts.’
What is it that makes you anxious? In asking God to know our anxious thoughts, we’re asking Him to get in on this because we know that we need help! Could some of the following, even all of them, perhaps even others? What is it that internally that makes you anxious, afraid?
- Afraid of losing your job?
- Afraid of the future, the unknown?
- Afraid of failing?
- Afraid of loss?
- Afraid of losing something you value so dearly?
Why does this matter? Why would we say, ‘God, show me my anxious thoughts?’ I would argue because of this: What we fear the most reveals where we trust God the least. Think about that.
Often fear will keep you from being obedient. And why does what you fear matter? Because what you fear the most reveals where you trust God the least.
But when you dare to pray this dangerous prayer suddenly you recognise the area you’re really not trusting God about. You get down to the root of it, and then God’s word can speak to the root of the problem, and that can become an anchor moment, when you say, ‘No, I will take that step of faith,’ or, ‘I will do what God is calling me to do.’
And doors previously closed, or unknown calling for more daring, will open. Oh yes, it’s a dangerous prayer all right!
When you pray this prayer, God will reveal things to you about yourself that you may not have been willing to acknowledge for years and years and years, because the most common lie we tell is often to ourselves.
This is where it gets even a little more difficult, Uncover my sins, God. It takes courage it takes to pray this dangerous prayer.
David’s example is that he dared to ask God, ‘… see if there is any offensive way in me.’ Oh, it’s so easy to find everybody else’s sin. We can accuse them and excuse ourselves. But are we willing to pray, ‘Show me, God, anything about my life that is inconsistent with your truth. Show me anything that I’m doing that’s displeasing to you.’
Have you noticed that it’s really difficult to see our sins in the mirror? This prayer is a dangerous prayer of self- examination because, as we’ve read, the heart is deceitful above all things. The most common lies are the ones that we tell ourselves.
And this can be one of the most game changing prayers you ever pray, when you give God permission to point out any sin that’s dwelling within your heart, He’ll show you some things about yourself that you’re not real proud of!
But praise God and be thankful that there’s always grace. There’s always God’s grace!
Then at the very end of this dangerous prayer, David asks: ‘… lead me in the way of everlasting. Lead me in the way of everlasting’(v24b). Message Bible reads, ‘guide me on the road to eternal life.’
In growing as a Christian in the early years, you often get the big things out of the way. Then you walk with Jesus, and, suddenly, it’s the little things. Have you experienced that?
You know what I’ve found? The little things are often the big things. It’s often the hard issues that are the littlest but biggest things He’ll reveal to you, and then when He shows you, what does that do?
It points us to our direct need for Christ as in ‘Jesus, I need your help, your power, your grace, your freedom!’
The Bible teaches that our lives are to be hid in Christ and His resurrection power. This is –
- Through the Holy Spirit.
- By the instruction of God’s Word.
- With the nurture of His church.
Our understanding must be one of –
- ‘God, I want to live for you.’
- ‘Help me, Holy Spirit, to live for an audience of one.’
- Knowing so much who I am in Christ.
- Awareness that my security is in Him and Him alone.
When you pray this prayer, it will show you your need or needs, and you take them directly to Christ, and let Him meet them and conform you to His image. It’s a dangerous prayer, but one that can transform your life.
Submission leading to transformation
So we submit our hearts to God, recognising they are impure and deceitful above all things… but knowing that by His grace and Jesus’ resurrection power they can be transformed.
A dangerous prayer of ‘God, we give you permission to search our hearts. We ask you to test us, reveal our anxious thoughts, and uncover our sins. Show us anything that is offensive in our lives, and then, God, we ask you to lead us.’
Personally, I pray that this will be an anchor message prayer, that we continue to seek God so that He can continue to transform us, as only He can do ‘… our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18Mge).
Let me leave with a quick way to remember this dangerous prayer…
1. Examine – my heart.
2. Reveal – my fears.
3. Uncover – my sins.
4. Lead – me to growth in Christ.
Jesus said something that applies to this dangerous life-changing prayer: ‘How can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what overflows from the heart’ (Matthew 12:34CJB).
When we all pray this week let’s take the prayer of David and the revelation of Jesus and be honest with ourselves – and with God. It will lead us all into a new level of intimacy, understanding and action in this world which is being controlled by sin.
Dr Richard Winter pastors The Connection Church, Huntington Beach, California. Links: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com / Mary What an Incredible Lady