Likewise, unless I level with God -- about bitterness over an unanswered
prayer, grief over an unforgiving spirit, a baffling sense of God's absence --
that relationship, too, will go nowhere. I may continue going to church, singing hymns and praise choruses, even addressing God politely in formal prayers, but I will never break through the intimacy barrier. "'We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us," wrote C. S. Lewis. To put it another way, we must trust God with what God already knows. -- Philip Yancey from the book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?
I've been working through the old Bill Hybels book, "Too Busy Not To Pray" and teaching a study on Sundays. Last Sunday we talked about authenticity in prayer. It's a topic that on the surface isn't one that strikes a chord of guilt with me. When I'm praying, I don't think I'm being dishonest or secretive about my feelings. After all, it's God. How am I going to fool Him? Or to paraphrase Yancey's paraphrase, "Why wouldn't I trust God with what God already knows?"
I realize that many people can develop the habit of going through the motions. Rehearsed prayers, standard blessings, perfuctory psalms... boy am I glad I don't have any issues like repeating prayers over and over again with no real meaning seeping through. Thank God I'm not like other men.
OK, so I'm not always authentic. My mind can slip into daydreams if I'm not careful. I can resort to the same old prayer requests without thinking.
But the biggest problem for me with authenticity is not taking it to God in the first place. It's easy to fake authenticity if I just avoid a sensative topic in prayer, or even avoid the prayer altogether. It's tempting to keep certain select areas of my life away from the Almighty. But it's not like He doesn't already know.
He also knows about my bitterness, my hurts, my fears. And while that may sound intimidating, I'm glad He knows. Someone needs to know. And because He does, I can be, well authentic with Him in prayer. I can pour my heart out to Him. In fact, our relationship gets deeper as I continue to confide in Him. What's more, our relationship takes a step back when I stonewall Him or ignore Him.
"Lord, You know me and my heart. Continue to draw me to You, unafraid to be open with You."