“Search me, O 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.”
Psalm 139:23-4, NIV
None of us can look at ourselves with a totally pure and objective heart. Our motives are easily diverted from truth and reality. The natural instinct of fallen mankind is always to put a gloss on anything that’s less than savoury in our lives and pretend there’s nothing wrong! In order to really know ourselves, therefore, we need help – and what better help could we get than that which David asked the Lord for?
God will always tell us the truth, however unpalatable it may be. It takes quite a lot of courage to pray this prayer of David with a totally open heart, when we realise that there is absolutely nothing that is hidden from God. We may find out some things about ourselves, and how we relate to others, which we would rather not know about!
When, for example, we take offense over something or someone, we break relationship with whoever we think has offended us. And when we break relationship, we lose the blessings that could be ours through that particular relationship. And when we wrongfully take offense against a fellow human being, we not only break relationship with that person, but we put a barrier between ourselves and God!
No wonder the Psalmist was keen to ask the Lord to show him if there was anything in his behaviour which had its root in offense. He didn’t want to be out of fellowship with the only one who could forgive sins. So he comes before God with his whole life on an open palm, and gives God full permission to share with him anything about himself that God knows about and which needs remedial attention.
David’s prayer, which forms the scripture for today, is one of the most profound and effective prayers that anyone can pray. For if we really mean the prayer, God WILL answer it. And as we listen carefully to the things that he shows us, we have a wonderful opportunity for getting our lives back on track – not our track, but God’s – His track for our lives. I once passed a railway siding in which there were hundreds of old and rusting goods vehicles. That picture in my mind reminds me of the dangers of not praying a prayer such as this at regular intervals. None of us want to finish up in a siding, rusting away and going nowhere! God has much more for us than that. When we truly pray the “Search me” prayer, it can be the beginning of God’s “rescue mission” for our lives!
Prayer: Search me, O God, examine my heart, test my motives, show me my sins and help me to know the things I can’t see for myself, so that I might change and be led by You in the way everlasting. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.