Prayer Position – Honest

What does it mean to be “honest”?

Common sense would tell you it’s the state of being truthful or speaking the truth. Which is great, except that’s a black & white definition: we live in a grey world. Our level of honesty changes depending on the situation or the person. I am going to be brutally honest with my best friend – she sees the good, the bad, and the ugly and if she asks my opinion (and sometimes even if she doesn’t) she’ll get it. I wouldn’t give this same degree of honesty to a stranger, to my coworker, or an acquaintance. While I don’t lie to those people, I don’t always share the whole truth, just the portions I want them to see or hear – is that still being “honest”?

I don’t mean to get bogged down in the ethics of honesty, we can camp out there all day, but I do want to look at the idea of being honest in light of a passage from the Bible. Jesus had been teaching for a while now, outlining the truth on a variety of subjects and, smack dab in the middle of a teaching spanning 3 chapters, we find this lesson on prayer:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Matthew 6:5-8 (ESV)

In my mind, Jesus has separated praying folks into two categories: honest and dishonest. People were either sincere or insincere or genuine and disingenuous (pick whichever one you like best).

Hypocrites (Jesus’s favorite nickname for the religious guys, the Pharisees) were insincere, they weren’t praying to God from a position of openness and honesty and transparency, they were praying so that their social standing would rise. They were praying the way we add hashtags to social media posts: they wanted to be seen and noticed and followed by others.

Gentiles were just praying to hit a quota or following a formula. Do you remember having to write papers in school that had to be a certain word count? Did you ever remove contractions and add redundant phrases or unnecessary examples in hopes of increasing your word count so you could secure a good grade? There’s no judgement here – I did it too! But imagine how God feels when prayers are uttered using this model. We don’t have to fill up our prayers with empty phrases so hit a certain word count or time limit.

And then Jesus begins to discuss the secret place, which is so special. He encouraged all of his followers to meet with God on their own time without anyone else knowing or watching. The Pharisees prayed to be noticed, not understanding that when we honestly meet God in the secret place, we will be changed and others will notice. Just because people don’t see you praying doesn’t mean they don’t savor the fruit it produces in your life {tweet this}.

In the secret place is where I can lay myself bare before the Lord. I take all of the crap that’s inside of me and just pour it all out. I’m learning that the secret place is safe and I can be completely open and honest with the Lord. Let’s meet him in the secret place today.


 

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