Are there prayers you won’t pray? My conviction is that the best way to offer requests to God is to let the Holy Spirit lay matters on our heart. When God leads us in our asking we can be sure He wants to act. When He does act, His will is accomplished; and we are encouraged by the answer to our prayer. But what about when the Spirit identifies matters in us?
Sometimes the Holy Spirit reminds us of things in our lives that we need to deal with but we are reluctant to lay them before the Lord. Sometimes He brings up resentments we don’t want God to heal. We have nursed them for a long time. The Spirit can remind us of sins of the past that we have not dealt with, neither confessing them nor repenting. He may identify some attitude deep inside that we have long blamed on the way we were brought up. We excuse ourselves, for the way we are or for what we have done. The result may be we don’t really want God to deal with some matters the Holy Spirit brings to mind. We don’t want to face them, and we don’t know how to repent.
Psalm 103 is a great word-picture of God’s willingness and ability to forgive our sin, all our sin. God remembers our humanity. He knows we are dust. And in His steadfast love and compassion He puts away our sin. God does not excuse our sin. He accepts Christ’s atonement for our sin at Calvary. The result is our sin is not held against us. So why should the Holy Spirit bring some of our past sin to mind? Is it Satan harassing us or is it the Holy Spirit seeking to root out deeply buried attitudes, prejudices, grievances against others?
Satan certainly wants to keep our sins fresh in our minds. He wants us to feel guilty or even ashamed. Confession is the key to overcoming Satan’s reminders. But God’s Spirit can bring the past to mind in order to deal with sins of the heart and to prompt repentance. When He does we are tempted to ignore Him and not to pray.
Often the Spirit deals with our deep sins of attitude which may have roots in the past. Few of us would say we enjoy our sin. But neither do we let go of it or deal with its deep roots. Instead, when we recognize our sin of pre-judging others, we often go to some length to justify or to rationalize our thinking. We easily explain to ourselves that our prejudices against the poor, other races or nationalities, the homeless, other kinds of Christians may have come from our experiences or education or family setting. Whatever the source, though, these sins we harbor are still our sins, not simply the sins of others against us. Do we want God to bring such attitudes to our mind,? Do we want Him to do something about them in us? Do we pray for the kind of healing that reaches deep within us and threatens to change our long-lived attitudes? Do we want to repent? Or do we try to ignore the Spirit’s prompting and to get on with our prayers.
Prayer over our prejudices is not the only prayer we sometimes avoid. Often, over time, incidents of hurt, failure, and sin from the past are forgotten or covered over. Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings those past events forward because they can be the source of our spiritual weakness and our inability to live the life God wants us to have. Fear, anxiety, deep sadness can be rooted in a past that God wants to heal. God does not dig up the past or rehash days gone by in order to keep us off-balance. He knows the past can help or hurt us, and He always wants the best for us.
Prayer is a vital life-line in the Kingdom of God. As such God intends it to be open and honest. That means God wants to hear the prayers we won’t pray or are reluctant to pray.