Sincere prayer is without hypocrisy, or without putting on a show for others and without pretending to be something we are not (Matt. 6:5). Sincere prayer is honest, open, authentic, and transparent. This kind of prayer is so important if we want to grow in our relationship with God. I have put together seven ways we can practice being sincere in prayer. Here is the second installment, which is the third and fourth point.
3. Bring desires into full bloom. When God gives you desire in prayer, don’t squelch it by filling your mind with other things. Keep at the work of prayer; keep thinking about what God is showing you; keep at the conversation. Don’t look away or change the subject. Stay in tune with Him; stay alert with Him. When He loves you, love Him back. If we don’t, love is lost and sincerity in prayer is lost. True, sincere prayer always demands reciprocation. And if there is none, then prayer becomes nothing more than unheeded speech or a one-way conversation.
If our heart is not totally for God and if we do not return the desires He has for us—that is, if our desire is divided, desiring Him a little and something else a little—then it is impossible to be sincere with God in prayer, because in fact we are not honest with Him. Our desire for other things makes us disloyal to God and a hypocrite in prayer. And when we pray in this state, our sight and understanding of God is foggy and we can’t have real passion for Him.
If you want to have true, sincere prayer; if you want to really get to know God and have a clear vision of Him, you must keep the fire of desire burning and the beauty of desire growing. Just as a rose starts as a small bud and blooms into a beautiful flower, we must allow desire to grow into its full bloom. Only then will we be able to experience the fullness of God in prayer (Eph. 3:19).
4. Submit to God and resist the devil. The answer to wrong desires and divided desires is humility. If we find pride in ourselves and that we have given ourselves more to the world and to our pleasures then we must turn ourselves around and submit to God. If we don’t, we will never find Him or experience sincere prayer—for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Ja. 4:6).
At the same time we must also resist the devil and the lure sin. We can’t submit to what is good unless we resist what is evil.
So how do we do this? What are the actions of humility and resisting? Pray? Yes! But more than pray. Our prayers must be accompanied by some actions of humility that will purify our hearts. I suggest long periods of prayer with fasting and reflection. During this time, read and study the Bible much, and set your heart and mind to obey the Spirit in everything. He will no doubt lead you to confess your sins to Him and to others you have wronged. And when you make your confessions, make sure your heart is right. True confession and humility must be without a trace of frivolity or hypocrisy. James says, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (Ja. 4:8-10).