I could safely say that I lied when I prayed at least one hundred times. A very conservative estimate, definitely. A few years ago, I suffered some backlash from speaking quite self-righteously out-of-turn. I thought I was just laying low for a couple of years, but it turned out to be, in part, a quiet harbouring of unforgiveness. And every week during that time I would go to church, profess my faith and let The Lord’s Prayer roll off my tongue ever-so-unconsciously.
“and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12 NLT)
I cringe thinking about all the times I spoke the words of this promise I was (supposedly) offering to God, so hypocritically and so arrogantly thinking they meant anything while my heart was hiding this grudge (as if He didn’t see it). Poster child for the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35) - yup, that’s me. And whether this was an issue of me not forgiving those who hurt me, or me not confessing to those I hurt in the first place and asking forgiveness from them, it doesn’t matter. Either way, in letting my pride override the urgency to seek reconciliation, I gave myself license to demand His best for me while breaking my end the deal.
Then one day He placed me in a face-to-face conversation that was so humbling but so necessary and long overdue. And the rest is history. How joyous it is to be on the other side of that dark time, and to be in truer obedience as more of the lover He asks me to be.
It is not enough, and certainly a waste of time, to pray my knees off, read the bible cover-to-cover and wear a Pandora cross charm if my behaviour contradicts the mercy of the Gospel message. Quite inversely, if nothing else, I am better off saying nothing but operating solely in love.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6 ESV)