We usually feel quite safe when we are praying, and with good reason. When Christians pray we are having a conversation with our heavenly Father who loves us more than we could ever understand. When we pray we feel snug and secure in the arms of the One who created us and, through Jesus, has redeemed us. It is the most natural thing in the world for believers to feel safe when we are praying.
However, sometimes it is a dangerous thing to pray. The Bible records several such prayers, one of which we find in Psalm 139:23-24—“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
To invite the all-knowing God to have full access to what is inside of us is a dangerous thing to do. Our hearts and minds are sometimes inhabited by thoughts, attitudes and desires that are downright sinful. To welcome a perfectly holy God to give careful inspection to our imperfect inner being puts us in a precarious situation! We cannot hope to hide anything from God, not even our best-kept dark secrets that no human being even suspects about us.
The prayer continues by asking God to see if there is any offensive way in us. It is implied that if (more likely when!) God finds such offenses that he will make them known to us. He will point out to us our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions that betray the sin within us, sins that include: greed, lust, an unwillingness to forgive, gossip, laziness, hatred, a lack of passion for the things that God is passionate about and various other offensive ways. When God reminds us of such sins within us, it causes us great pain to think that Jesus died to pay for these offenses, but we have not been able to put these sins behind us.
However, the prayer does not leave us in such a sad state of woe. The next request is that God lead us in a better direction, “in the way everlasting.” We don’t ask God to reveal our sins to us so that we can merely feel bad about them. We ask him to point us in a heavenly direction. Sometimes that means we must take better control of our thoughts and attitudes. It means that we must become better in tune with the Holy Spirit and follow his leading. It causes us to apologize when we have wronged someone, to gain better control of our speech, or to give up a questionable activity that hampers our witness. This invitation for God to lead us opens up the possibility for him to take us in a completely different direction.
That’s why this prayer is a dangerous one. Safe prayers offer no possibility for our comfortable lives to be disrupted in any way. Safe prayers invite no inspection from God. They expect no correction, no rebuke and certainly no interruption of our carefully and selfishly planned life.
I think that God hears more than enough safe prayers. Let’s pray some dangerous prayers for a change!