Study Guide: Honest to God

Sunday August 4, 2013 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In order to be in a relationship with another, we have to be honest with the other person. The same is true for our relationship with God. In this sermon, Greg shows how we need to be honest with God in our prayer.

Extended Summary:

We are made in the image of a relational God. In a relationship, people are loved as they are known and know others. When we don’t have this, we feel lonely. But to truly be known and know others, we need to be honest. Honest about who we are and what we’ve done.

But we tend to hide from the things we’ve done. Ever since Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden, we have been hiding from God when we do things wrong. We like to hide our messes. We hide behind our false self so that we don’t have to be honest about who we are or the things we’ve done. When we do hide, we are buying the lie that our true self’s worth is diminished by the mess we are in. And we hide to avoid rejection; even though, by hiding, we reject ourselves and make sure no one can truly love us.

A wound that is concealed is a wound that can never be healed. And this woundedness is perpetuated by the idea that, by messing up, we aren’t worthy of being known and being in relationship with God. And religious systems promote this by living by a list of rules of religion and prevent relationships from forming. Our prayers tend to reflect this way of concealing our wounds.

We tend to pray with rules. We use a different voice than we use in normal life. We adopt a specific prayer position. Prayer becomes magical and is filled with rules and rituals intended to get a specific result. But God wants us to be real and honest with him so that we can be communed with him. And it is necessary that we are honest in our prayer with him.

God wants the perverted, unfaithful, and doubting, wounded you. He wants the happy, joyous, silly, and passionate you. God wants you to be, above all, honest in your prayers. Reading the psalms reveals just how honest people can be with God. The psalms are filled with prayers about anger, sadness, happiness, and joy.

God is used to understanding us in our reality. God came down and become a human being in Jesus. He entered into this world and understands what it is like to be human. We don’t need to hide ourselves from the God that is willing to come down and die a shameful death on a cross. Our desire to hide doesn’t serve us any good.

The story of Job is important in understanding God and prayer. Job was honest with God in his prayers, and even though God later corrects some of his theology, God says that Job was right in his prayers. Job’s friends were praying out of their fear and right thinking, and they weren’t honest with Job and God with their prayers. Job is vindicated by God because he was honest in his prayers.

Greg’s granddaughter brought a drawing to Greg recently. This drawing would never make it into any museum. And if Greg responded by critiquing the drawing based on art theory, his granddaughter would never bring him any more drawings. The drawing was honest, messy, and wrinkled. But the drawing is adored because of the honesty brought by it. Our prayers are the same way. God just wants our prayers brought. We don’t need to filter it by how we might think we’re supposed to prayer. Rather, we are supposed to pray with honesty.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What makes it so difficult to be honest in our prayers?
  2. In what ways do you feel like you make prayer something magical that needs to be done a certain way? What rules of prayer do you follow?
  3. What wounds do you try to hide from others?
  4. How does being open and honest with God make you feel?
  5. Greg challenged us to have a time each day to open up to honest prayer with God. When and where is your prayer time?