There are some Bible verses that ought to be prayed regularly because they seem to capture the essence of a God-seeker's heart cry. I read one of those verses this morning in my "quiet time": Psalm 139:23-24.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
try me, and know my anxieties;
and see if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."
As I read those last two verses of Psalm 139, I thought, I need God to do that in me every single day! Those verses ought to be prayed daily. Giving them my full attention and praying them back to God helped me to stop and really meditate on them. When we pray these words, we're not asking God to know our thoughts but to know our hearts. And I realized that so many verses that I've mistakenly interpreted as having to do with our minds and thoughts are really about our hearts. It's our hearts that God is after.
I remember quite clearly the day I really stopped to meditate on Psalm 119:11: "Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You." For the first time it hit me that this verse was not talking about memorizing God's Word and storing it in our minds, but about loving and desiring God's Word—a love and desire based on a heart longing to know God and His ways, to walk in obedience to Him so that we would be pleasing to Him. Memorization is a good thing and may be the first step to hiding God's Word in our hearts. But memorization, as I mentioned in a previous blog, is for the purpose of meditation, which moves the Word from our heads to our hearts.
Jesus spoke so much about the heart: "Out of the heart the mouth speaks." What's in our hearts is what's going to come out of us, and it is what's in our hearts that drives our actions (Matthew 15:18-19). Another time Jesus linked our hearts with whatever we treasure: "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).
I was also reminded of those fearful words in Matthew 7:21-23 when Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' and then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"
I clearly recall when my husband was struck with the meaning of those verses. He shared this insight: we often talk about knowing God; or when we "witness," we ask someone if they want to know God or if they know God. But we rarely, if ever, ask ourselves if God knows us. In other words, have we let God into all the secret places of our hearts? Have we let Him really know us? Is our heart an open book to Him? Have we been willing for our hearts to be fully disclosed to Him and asked Him to know us? Do we just want to do showy things for God, or do we want Him to know us? When we ask God to know us, that's when life transformation really begins.
The prayer at the end of Psalm 139 took me back to those questions coming out of Matthew 7, and I prayed that God would know me thoroughly: "Search me, O God, and know my heart."
This prayer reveals another very important truth: we don't even know our own hearts. In fact, we can't know our own hearts unless God reveals them to us. We are so blind to our own motivations and selfishnesses.
The second half of that prayer shows that we also need God to reveal to us our anxieties: "Try me and know my anxieties." Anxiety is so normal, so natural to us that we often don't even recognize anxiousness within us for what it is—a basic distrust of God. When God exposes our anxieties, He is digging deep into our hearts to reveal our lack of faith in Him.
That prayer is a bold, rather scary one. Asking God to try us? Do we really want that? I Peter 1 shows that trials are what God uses to test or try our faith, to prove it, and to refine it. Are we ready for that? Are we willing to pray that? Trials reveal our anxieties, which in turn reveal the areas of distrust in our hearts. "Try me, and know my anxieties"—a most powerful prayer. For me, it sort of begs the question: What do I want most: a comfortable, easy, trial-free life or a heart that fully trusts God? I can't have it both ways.
The areas of my heart that aren't fully trusting God are the areas that are still harboring wickedness. Only to the degree that we allow God to cleanse the wickedness of unbelief from our hearts will we experience the life that is truly life—"the way everlasting."
O God, lead us in Your everlasting way. Search us. Know our hearts.