Getting a Perspective for Honest Praying

I like to start my morning with The Valley of Vision: a collection of puritan prayers and devotions. This little jewel was a gift from a dear friend several years ago and is a valuable tool for prayer instruction. It’s helpful to me because of the Puritans’ candid perspective on sin. They lived with a vivid awareness that sin breaks fellowship with God. Their prayers are filled with honest and impassioned confession of sin.

The Puritans weren’t afraid to honestly admit their sin and their need for grace.

The Puritans were transparent and authentic before transparency became a cultural fad! Their perspective readjusts my thinking that can be so easily influenced by a sin-saturated environment. The modern culture’s view of sin is depicted more often by the phrase, “It’s no big deal” rather than the puritan cry, “Oh wretched man of sin that I am!” Today being wretched is hard to see and admit—it takes honest praying to get those words out—and with a blurred “me-centered” and culture-influenced-perspective, my personal sin is often hard to recognize.

Because God’s mercy is so deep, and His lovingkindness so immense, we may tag Him as “soft on sin.” But that is a gross misperception. God has a “no tolerance” policy when it comes to sin. In fact, His standard is unattainable by man—thus Christ’s atoning work on the cross. We have no excuse; our sin can be confessed and forgiven. But (and please don’t miss this!), when we fail to confess our sin, it stands as a barrier to our fellowship with God.

If I really want to have clear communication with God, then I have to get serious about dealing with my own sin!

And that means honest praying.

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1–2).

The Psalmist records how this dilemma can be remedied:

“Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard wickedness (hold onto my sin) in my heart, the Lord will not hear; but certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer” (Psalm 66:16–18).

Herein lies the key to overcoming sin: desiring fellowship with God more than my sin.

The equation is simple really: Unconfessed sin equals no audience with God; Confessed sin—honest communication, nothing hidden—means God is “all ears!”

Which brings me to the point of our discussion today . . . Why do we delay in confessing our sin to an all-knowing merciful Savior? I think it has to do with the fact that once we confess, we then are required to repent (turn from) that sin, but so often our desire to hang onto the sin is greater than the desire for fellowship with God.

What do you think?

Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net/David Castillo Dominici



  1. Posted by Phumla

    So true, but how do you remove the desire the hang on to the sin? What do you do?


    • Posted by Kimberly Wagner

      Hello, Phumla ~

      You’ve asked the same question that believers for centuries have asked, even the apostle Paul (Romans 7). The short answer to killing sin’s desire is by increasing your love for Christ, in other words, by responding to His great love for you. Check out this blog post and see if you find it helpful:

      http://www.kimberlywagner.org/?p=5938

      I also encourage you to invite a couple of spiritually mature friends to come alongside you in this battle. Let them know what you’re battling with, consider what kinds of things trigger the temptation, ask God for His grace to empower you to turn away from the temptation and include praying friends during those moments.

      Jesus delights in setting us free! (John 8:32)


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