The following are two of my favorite verses in the Bible. I often suggest that people use this as a prayer.
Its a BOLD prayer in which we actually invite God to sift through us and reveal what He sees (He already sees it) and ask Him to lead us in a better way.
Breaking down Psalm 139:23-24:
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;" (Psalm 139:23)
"Search" is a Hebrew word that means "penetrate" and examine intimately. I do not recommend that anyone ever do this lightly with a fellow human. However, I believe it to be a perfect thing to ask God to do. He has nothing to gain and He has a track record for loving His people.
In this prayer we also invite God to "know" our heart. The word "know" means to "accurately discern by seeing." It is often used to describe the way people we are related to know how we really are. This is fitting since He is our Father, after all.
The term "try me" is a term used in the purification of metals. It means to apply heat to cook away impurities or melting the metal so that the impurities can be scooped out of the metal. This causes the volume of the metal to decrease but the purity to INCREASE.
The word "anxieties" here really means "thoughts". God already knows our thoughts. When we pray this it makes us aware that He knows our thoughts.
It is also true that many of us are not very aware of our own thoughts. It is important that we ask God to know our thoughts so He can make them known to us.
There is a reason we do all this. We want to be spiritually better than we are. Satan places thoughts in us and we tend to just believe them. We have emotions about these thoughts, many of which are bogus ideas, and then we go into action...usually to save ourselves from something that might not even be happening.
Don't you know this delights satan? (Let's stop doing things that delight satan.)
"And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:24)
The word "wicked" is the Hebrew word "‛ôtseb"; it literally means "an idol" but it can also refer to "physical or mental pain." In the New American Standard Bible it is translated as "hurtful" and that's what I hear in my heart every time I read it.
The thing I have noticed about sinful and wicked things in the lives of people is that they often have no awareness of just how hurtful wickedness is to them. It's a silent killer that does it's damage in the background and often does not manifest symptoms until it has done too much damage.
The writer of Psalm 139:23-24 says that he wants God to search him and "see if there isany wicked way in" him. A "way" in the Bible is a Hebrew word that means "a road" or, figuratively, "a course of life or mode of action." In other words, it's a habitual lifestyle.
Ask God to show you what habits you have that bring harm into your life and the lives of those around you. It will be an uncomfortable thing to experience but it will be what I call a "holy discomfort".
It's a good thing.
God never seems to want to stop at giving us discomfort. The discomfort is just to get our attention so we will cry out to Him to fix whatever it is in our souls that is hurting us. The writer goes on:
"And lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:24b)
This is the key! To invite God:
1) to lead us and
2) to lead us in a better way
The word "lead" means "to guide". We cannot be effectively led by God without actively choosing to follow. It requires our focus and it requires that we alter our course as we are prompted by the One that we choose to follow. It really is a process of a series of decisions to remain in this relationship, responding in this way.
We ask God to lead us in the "way everlasting."
There is a well worn path that has always and forever existed and will always and forever exist. It is God's way. It is the path of righteous behavior. It is the path of honesty and integrity. It is the path of willful holiness.
It is the way of LIFE eternal!
My encouragement today is that the prayer in these two verses becomes habitual in our lives and that we harvest the benefits of allowing the Lord to constantly purify our souls. The Kingdom of God is built soul by soul. This is good Kingdom work.