The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
Psalm 145:18 NASB
I am always fascinated when God qualifies a promise as strongly as this particular promise is qualified. It’s not enough to simply call on God; we have to call on Him in truth. Other Bible versions say to call on Him in ‘truth/faithfulness,’ in ‘sincerity,’ in ‘integrity,’ and ‘without guile.’ Is it not the truth just to ask Him for what I honestly need or want? And if not, then what does it mean to call upon God in truth?
I have never found God to be satisfied with just one aspect of the truth when I talk to Him. He is moved not a whit by it. If I don’t come to Him with the whole truth, then He waits until I do. What do I mean by the whole truth? I mean spilling out the full measure of my heart to Him about any given situation.
For example, if there’s someone in my life who is in a very bad way and isn’t saved, how do I pray for them? When it’s someone that I care deeply about, then it isn’t the whole truth to say “God, please come for them and save them! Thank you for Your mercy, etc.” Now, if that’s the full measure of your heart for a person, then there’s no problem. But with me, that’s merely the tip of the iceberg of truth when it comes to praying for people I love. For brevity’s sake, I will hit the high points only of what is closer to my ‘whole’ truth:
“God, I can’t bear that they’re in pain and it’s killing me to see them like this! Please, please save them. And forgive me for worrying and for not trusting that You’re big enough to handle all of this. I’m so sorry that I keep stepping in where You haven’t asked me to be. Could You take this from me please? I’m drowning and my heart hurts and I just can’t get it together on this one.”
God already knows the entirety of my heart, so if I’m swallowing down or suppressing what is churning away in there, then I’m not calling on Him in truth. “Turn and keep on coming to Me with ALL your heart…” (Joel 2:12 AMP). God is not satisfied with just part of my heart. And there’s good reason for that! Because the heart cannot stay contained. What is in it will soon spill out, and God alone can bear the full contents of a human heart.
The Burden of Truth
If I don’t take my worry and doubt to Him, I will unload it on someone else in my life. I will transfer the burdens of my heart to the backs of the people I claim to love. Then I’ve dumped on the people I care about AND the Lord is not ‘near to me.’ At that point, I’m a mess, whoever I’ve talked to about the situation is now also a mess, and of course, the original subject of my prayer isn’t helped either. All because I didn’t want to take my whole, messed up heart to God.
I was on the receiving end of this only a few weeks ago. A dear friend called me, a woman who I’ve known for years, who has endured enormous suffering in her life. She’s in the midst of a health crisis right now, and it’s quite severe. We talked for about 20 minutes and she poured out her heart to me, asking me to pray for her. Nothing ugly, just tears and pain, and I cried with her.
After we hung up the phone, my mood began to darken. As the hours passed, I grew angrier and angrier with God. Finally I just started yelling at Him about the state of this woman’s health and the enormous suffering she’d known over the years. I ended up yelling, “How can you do this to your child and not even speak a word to her about it? Where are You in this?!”
When I yelled that, I suddenly sat up. What had just happened to me?! I wasn’t angry with God. This wasn’t my heart about the situation at all! And I knew beyond the shadow of any doubt, THIS WASN’T MY FIGHT. Here I was picking up the burden and responsibility of someone else and taking it to God as if it was mine, and not hers.
Truth Will Out, One Way or Another
I spoke to my friend again after this took place. She admitted that she had never, not once in all her years of suffering or the acute physical pain she’d experienced, taken her full heart to God about it all. She kept her prayer time ‘good.’ She asked for healing, for grace to bear it, for a better attitude, etc. And though she cried out to Him and admitted her hurt, she never called on God ‘in truth.’ She was afraid that if she poured out the ugly bits – the doubt and anger and bewilderment and resentment – then God wouldn’t love her any more.
I doubt she’s alone in believing that lie. I think she also has a lot of company in thinking that she can clean herself up for God. And I know that she isn’t the only one who has dumped her burden on someone else because she wouldn’t shoulder her responsibility and take it to God. I’ve certainly been guilty of that!
“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him…in truth.” I wonder how many of us are paralyzed or in torment because we haven’t poured out the whole truth of our hearts to God? Are we being poisoned by all the bits and pieces of truth that we hold onto? Are we poisoning those around us? He won’t violate us, so if we don’t open our hearts wide, we can stop His move in that place. But His love for us is so huge that He will bring great forces to bear in on us, squeezing us like an accordion until the full, brutal truth is wheezed out—that He might draw near.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13 NASB