Prayer: Enough with the Lies!
Is it just me, or has there been an epidemic of liars lately? You know the ones I mean: They didn’t sext, they didn’t dope, they didn’t have that fling, they didn’t say what they’re on record as saying.
As a Christian, I have two reactions. One of compassion: I’m a human too. We all mess up. Second reaction: Is it really that hard to be honest?
Every morning I pray a psalm, and lately I’ve been praying my way through the very long Psalm 119. It goes on and on for some 176 verses about following God’s commandments, and one of the biggest is “Thou shalt not lie.”
As any of us remember from being kids, being told not to not to do something is often just an invitation to do it. Why not take that extra cookie from the platter when Mom or Dad is not looking? Who will ever notice? Likewise with God. Will he really notice my lies?
Come on, now. You can’t lie in a prayer without lying to yourself.
My colleague Edward Grinnan in his book The Promise of Hope puts “honesty” right at the front of the nine keys to personal change. It’s number one for a reason, because you can’t change without being honest. I’ve learned this from my friends in 12-step groups. They don’t fool themselves about the slippery slope of lying.
Author Catherine Marshall told a story about a woman who would get drunk in a closet. Often enough, the woman was found passed out in that closet. In her sobriety, she returned to the closet and made it her prayer place, doing good in secret to make up for the secrets she hid for too long.
I’ve got my secrets. So do you. Sometimes sharing them with another person helps to strip them of their perverse power. But then comes sharing them with God.
Can you really lie when you pray?