Note: I was very surprised this morning to see that this post, posted in April of 2016, is my most viewed post of 2021 thus far. I was struck that a post several thousand posts ago is being found by people searching for this subject, humble prayer at this particular time… so I decided to re-post it it today. I hope it is a blessing to you.
It has been longer since my last post in this series than I would have liked; as you may recall when I last posted on being naked before God, I was giving the first practical suggestion: Recovering the wonder of being in His presence.
I’m sure that some of you might have thought it a bit strange to combine practicality and childlike wonder together as a “step one”, and if you reacted along those lines, I can hardly blame you, for it is counter-intuitive.
But then, the things of God usually are…
Believe it or not, there is actually a rationale for this “wonder” business, for you see, when we find ourselves in wonder and awe at God’s awesome Creation, or at being in His presence, our walls, barriers and defenses start to crumble; we stop holding back and begin to give it all up to Him.
We are never “naked” if we are hiding behind a barrier of some sort.
Clearly, step one is to recover that sense of wonder and awe before God!
Step two is to pray with humility.
Humility hides nothing, it holds nothing back, and it gives all to God with total honesty and a lack of shame, guilt or self. Humility is submission to God, His ways, plans and will; it is the recognition that He is God and we are not. Humility has no agenda.
Can you see why that childlike awe and wonder is so important? True humility isn’t something that comes naturally (in earthly terms) to most of us; we have walls and barriers we aren’t even aware of in most cases, for humility is far too intimate, and those defenses become an impediment to our relationships, in this case, our relationship with God, and they need to come down.
So, with all of that said, what does praying in humility look like?
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and in His response, He gave them a wonderful example which we often call the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). There are differing teachings about this prayer, some believe it was intended to be recited, others teach that it is more of a template; I join with the latter thinking, while acknowledging that there is nothing wrong with reciting it. As a model for prayer, there are a few very fascinating things contained in it:
In Matthew 6:9-10, that God’s greatness and glory are acknowledged first, followed by His Kingdom, which is always His top priority, followed by the request that His will should be done on earth “as it is in Heaven”, where His will is the only will that is done. Think about it: Jesus taught that first and foremost we should pray that the Kingdom that He was proclaiming should come, and that God’s will would be the only will done on earth, just like it is in heaven.
There’s no room for my will; there’s no place for my latest “wish list”, for this is praying in humble submission to God, not a prayer advancing my own agenda.
In verse 11, we acknowledge that it is God who supplies our physical needs, and in verse 12, we ask to be forgiven our sins to the extent that we forgive the sins of others against us; another act of humble submission. Finally, we pray for God’s deliverance from evil, and if you think about it, since this is preceded by a big dose of humble submission to God, we are really saying in this that we are not relying on ourselves in anything; not on our own cleverness, not on our own strength, but instead are giving everything up to God and placing our complete trust in His provision for everything.
This, dear friends, is being naked before God.
Having mentioned this, I should point out that what I have just said about the Lord’s Prayer is a thumbnail; I have written on it in much greater depth more than once on this blog in the past; right now I simply want us to see what praying in real humility looks like. Many are there, and have been for a long time; others… not so much. My main thought and purpose here is this: No matter how mature we are, or think we are, we can always benefit from a periodic look in the mirror to ensure that we are still on track. Perhaps this might be a good time for some reflection.
I recently learned that being humble before God, or being ‘naked’ before God, as you put it, means bringing to him not just your prayer requests, and hopes etc, but bringing before him all your failures too! Boy is it a relief that I don’t have to hide my failures, and in fact, that I can even bring my failures before him, from the past and present, and unload them on His broad shoulders!
Very well said- thank you!