"Pray Radical: Search Me in 3 Ways" Pastor David Welch
Updated: May 18, 2022
August 15, 2021
Pastor David's sermon series, Pray Radical: If You Have the Courage, is about realizing that there is a level of spiritual numbness in us that is difficult to recognize. So we must become sensitive to the things of God and His presence in us. In this second message, the focus is again on the first of four prayers that can have a radical effect in your life.
You must learn to exercise the courage to pray this into your life every day: “Search me, O God.”
Search Me in 3 Ways:
Healing the "Hurtful Way" in Me:
Declare the truth over it
Confess the “hurtful ways” that you know
Using faith, commit to abandon it
Verses to Study
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Search me, try me, lead me. Cleanse me of the hurtful way. Preach/declare the gospel to yourself! Make praying radically a daily spiritual practice
I want to welcome you back into this place, this place of God's Word speaking into our lives. And so, as we say, over and over, we're in God's presence here. And we're about to be in his presence as his word speaks. And I hope that you'll be open to God's speaking into you. So, we started this series last week. It's called “Pray Radical - If you have the courage”. It's built on these four biblical prayers. If you have the courage to pray them, stay with them, and let them have their effect in you, they'll sort of wreck your life. And they'll, wreck it in the best possible way, because they'll wreck the way you're living your life now and transform you. And so, we come to the second message today, and still working on that first prayer. Look, this series is about realizing that there's a level of spiritual numbness in me, and in you, that's difficult for us even to recognize. It's about becoming really sensitive to the things of God and the presence of God in my life. Look, the more I tolerate just going my own way spiritually, the more I tolerate the distance that I allow to come between the Father in heaven and me, the more I tolerate my own sin, the harder I become; my heart grows hard toward God. And if it grows hard toward God, I can predict, I can know that my heart is also growing hard toward those around me, especially toward those that I say that I love. And so, look, if your heart is growing hard toward God, then I can predict some stuff. If my heart is growing hard toward God, I can predict that I'm learning how to excuse my own sin. I can predict that I'm treating it like it's harmless, and understandable little weakness. I can predict that if my heart is growing hard toward God, then I'm becoming more critical of others, I can predict that you're slowly losing your desire to even stand up against the temptations that come into your life. And this series is about doing something about that.
This series is about doing the most radical spiritual thing that you could do, and that is to have the courage to pray these four things. The first biblical prayer is search me, oh, God. The second is, break me oh, God. The third is not my will, oh, God or not me, oh, God. And the last is use me, oh God. Those four prayers, if they're approached as spiritual exercises, they'll do what I've been saying that they'll do, they'll wreck your life in the very best possible way. And here's why they're so radical. Because I've been making this point, I keep saying it over and over, I just hope we will absorb this. We live in a time of spiritual numbness and hardness. By and large, our generation of Christians have very little spiritual sensitivity to the Spirit of God. We're so adverse to being accountable, that we reject allowing our heart to be examined even by the Spirit of God, and it makes us spiritually numb and hard. And so therefore, He doesn't get through our hardness because we slowly grow less sensitive to his voice, less sensitive to his promptings, less sensitive to his conviction, until we have almost no spiritual sensation at all. And then guess what? Then church begins to feel like it has like no meaning. And preaching and teaching feels like blah, blah, blah, blah. The worship experience just feels like the same old thing, when the actual problem is that I've grown hardened and numb spiritually. And so, it takes a lot of courage to break out of that, to go to God and ask him to break through my hardness. And for me to stay in the process until I become soft and sensitive toward him, and really open to what he wants to show me about my own heart. And so, look, I'm challenging you right now to have the courage to receive this, to have the courage to say to yourself, I'm going to start this radical process. And I'm going to lay myself bare to God. And I'm going to start right here, right now, with this prayer.
Psalm 139, beginning in verse 23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts and see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me into the everlasting way.”
It's the Word of God. It speaks supernaturally, and with real power. Watch this idea flow out of it. Look, here's what the passage is calling on us to do. You've got to learn the courage to pray this into your life. Every day, you got to learn the courage to pray this into your life. Every day, search me, O God. I'm calling on us to make it an exercise and exercise of faith and courage to pray it into our life. Every day, I want us to focus on turning this radical prayer into a spiritual process/ a spiritual practice. It's exactly what the psalmist David does. And so, what is the prayer? Here it is search me O God, there it is, in its most basic form. But what are you asking God when you ask that of him? You are asking him to do what David acknowledges starting up in verse one and going all the way through verse 22. You're asking for all of the uncomfortable exposing, searching scrutiny of God's total knowledge of you, and you're asking him to make you see that, too. You're saying, God, please show me what you know about me. I want to see the blindness that is in me. I want to see the things in me that are defeating me. I want to see how ugly my pride is; my self-centeredness, my resentments, my complaining spirit, my willingness to excuse all of that ugliness. God, I want to see how much I like to dwell on others failure, so that it makes me feel better about myself in comparison. And so, David does the most amazing thing. It's taken me this long to realize what's happening in Psalm 139. David turns this “search me” principle into a spiritual practice. And so, he says, look, search me, O God, and do it in these three ways. Do you notice the active verbs there? Search me O God and know my heart. Try me. Lead me. So, he's going to ask him; he's going to ask him to turn this prayer into a spiritual practice. And it's by God trying me, seeing me, and leading me.
Let's follow that, number one, the first step in the spiritual practice is try me. Verse 23: Try me and know my anxious thoughts. What does he mean by that? By that, this is asking God to really scrutinize how you think about things, how you interpret the stuff that happens to you every day. God, please deal with how I think and so he says, “Try me”. It's an ancient assayer’s word. Do you know that word? It means smelting metal; it means melting metal. It means literally to test metal by melting. And look, he's asking God to do that to his own thoughts; test them by melting them. Try me. It's the process of burning away the dross, of getting rid of the impurities and creating a strong and pure metal. And the psalmist says, God, please do that process with my anxious thoughts. That word means literally the disturbing ones, the disquieting ones, the disturbing thoughts, the disquieting thoughts. It means the ways in which my thoughts disturb the peace, confidence, hope, and joy that I should have. Look, if I believe the truth about who God is, and can be in my life; if I believe the truth of the gospel, how much he cares, how powerful he is in my life, then my thoughts will be peace, life, faith, joy, and confidence. And every other thought would be a lie. And they disrupt who God has made me to be. And the psalmist is praying God, would you expose those lying thoughts to me and do what you have to do to burn them out of me?
But do you know that he's not just asking that; when you embrace the gospel, the gospel is just so much more than you getting some sins stamped as forgiven. It's so much that the depth of the gospel is infinite. And one of the things that happens to your being when you embrace Christ, you put your faith in Him, is actually his life comes to reside inside of you, but not just his life. Listen to I Corinthians 2: 16, “But we have the mind of Christ.” One of the most powerful aspects of the gospel is that you actually possess the ability to grow in an ability to think like Jesus. As a follower of Jesus, it means every year of my life, God can burn out any thought process that's not like Jesus. Get rid of the thoughts that are of elicit sexual desire, the thoughts of lust, the thoughts of envy, burn the envy out of my thoughts. God, get rid of the resentment that invades, God remove the comparative thinking that goes on in me. God, would you remove the stuff that's not true in me, the thoughts that flow in my mind that are just simply not true? The stuff that's exaggerated, the stuff that shifts blame and avoids responsibility? And God would you put me through enough heat to burn away all that impurity and burn out everything that is not Christ in me? There it is, it’s the beginning of a spiritual practice of God, would you try me and know my anxious thoughts? How do you turn this into a spiritual practice? You do it in the most basic way.
Here comes a rhetorical question. I didn't make that clear in the service before and you know, I got some embarrassing answers. So okay, so rhetorical question here: on a physical level, just in your daily existence, what is the most lifesaving practice of your daily life? Do you know what it is? Here's the most basic thing; if you didn't do this, you're dead. Do you know what it is? It’s breathing. It's this okay, that's like really elementary right? That's really basic. But do you get that the most elementary and basic thing you do saves your life every day? And do you know there's one of those in you spiritually as well? Do you know that that the most lifesaving thing you could do in your life every single day, spiritually is the most basic one and that is to spend time alone with God every day? It's lifesaving. In fact, you're not going to make it spiritually without it, you will drift, you will grow numb; you will grow hard. And so, you turn it into a daily practice one day at a time, early in your day, where you surrender your heart to the authority and rulership of Christ over your mind, heart, and your will. And if you want to see your life transformed by a time alone with God every day, then convert from a time alone with God to a search me O God, time with God. A lot of people say they spend time alone with God. And what do you do? I read the Bible and I pray the reading Bible. What they're reading for, I'm looking for something novel, something new. I didn't know that an angel killed 185,000 Assyrians. That's cool, that's interesting. Yeah, now when you turn that time alone with God, into God, open my life to your word, and speak into my life. And try me and know my anxious thoughts and burn out the ones that are not worthy of the gospel. Burn out the thoughts that are not worthy of Christ in me, burn out the disturbing, distracting lying ones, burn those out of me. God shows you what's in your heart in two primary ways. Do you know that when you spend time alone with God, he speaks in two primary ways? But look, he speaks through the Holy Spirit and through His Word. And here's a guarantee I can give you. 99.9% of what the Holy Spirit will speak to you will be the word; it’ll be the Word of God. And so, you allow him to speak to you through it and “try me”, as a spiritual practice.
Now let's move to number two. Number two is this: he (David) asked him to see me. How do I say to God, search me O God, try me, first and then would you see me God; would you see me? Verse 24 says, “see if there be a certain way in me.” The word for “see me” there means to examine me thoroughly. I'm sorry, I'm a little distracted. Siri on my phone; every time I say serious or see me, Siri is saying what are you talking about? What do you want? You know, so. So, I'm making it calm down, please stop. So, you know, the two words I was just saying, see me? It means to examine me thoroughly and show me if there's a certain way in me. What is this way that he's asking for God to examine and see in his life? A way in the biblical context is the mindset, a way means your tendencies. A way means your bent or your temperament, the way that you normally go. That's a way and the psalmist is asking God to expose any hurtful way that resides in him. Literally, that word is the way of pain. Are there patterns in me that create pain in me, or in others around me? Right, you know, in counseling, especially in addiction counseling, there's an acronym designed to help you to stop and evaluate your typical responses to certain states of being. There's this little acronym that helps you sort of quickly evaluate where you are; how you respond in certain circumstances that you get into. The acronym is “HALT”. And it stands for these four things: It's about evaluating, what do you typically do when you're Hungry? Meaning emotionally and physically hungry: what's your tendency? Where do you tend to go that's harmful, or that causes pain either in you or in someone else? A is for angry. What's your tendency when you become angry? Where do you go emotionally or spiritually? What's your way when you become angry; is it destructive? Do you do something self-destructive, or do you hurt others? L is for lonely. What do you do when you're feeling isolated? A lot of people do damaging things to themselves or to others; their way; their tendency is to do something hurtful. Or what do you do when you are tired; when you get depleted, fatigued, tired? This is about when you get depleted. What's your response to that? What's your typical way? A lot of people do hurtful things, things that are unhealthy to themselves, or dangerous to themselves or others. And so, you have a habitual way of responding to any of those states, and often they’re triggers for doing something spiritually unhealthy, or are hurtful to your own heart or toward others. And so, it's about becoming highly aware, God, would you show me the hurtful, the ways of pain in me because I want to put them before you. And I want to ask you to heal them in me.
But do you know that scholars are actually sort of divided over that word? That way of pain word, that little bitty three letter biblical word, that is translated as hurtful, because if you just change one tiny little vowel marking on that word, the word itself completely changes? It goes from being the way of pain, to a false god. So, which is it? Is it the way of pain? Or is it a false god? David is writing this in the ancient Hebrew 1000 years before Christ, and there are no vowel markings. Vowel markings don't come until almost 1000 AD, almost 2000 years after it’s been written and, then then Jewish rabbis are putting vowel markings 1000 years after. Which is it? The answer is we don't know which it is. But either one of them, is an incredible process to go through. God, would you show me the hurtful way in me? Or God, would you show me the idol; the idols that reside in my heart. An idol is anything that you cling to that is more important to you than God. And so, to turn it into a spiritual practice is to do this. Do you know, what we say about our church all the time, is that what we vision to be is a gospel centered church. What does that mean? It means we focus the message of our church on the gospel. And what we say about the gospel is that it's not the introductory concepts that you need in order to put your faith in Christ. Yeah, the gospel encompasses that. But the gospel is, is infinitely deep and infinitely high. I mean, the ramifications, the implications of the gospel in your life are absolutely endless. And one of those implications is this, that when you embrace Christ, and you get his presence in you, then God pours power into your life like you can't imagine. And so, the daily spiritual practice is to preach the gospel to yourself. The gospel is a spiritual practice, if you want to call on God to see you, and then to cleanse you of these hurtful ways in you, then preach the gospel to yourself, especially the implication of what Christ did with your sin. And what Christ did is that he broke the power of sin in you, when he died on the cross. When you put your faith in Him, you receive as a gift of grace, the power of His forgiveness in your life, it means that you can be healed of the scars of what your sin has done. It's about you are reminding yourself of that every day and reminding yourself of what Romans 8 says. It says that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is in you, and to remember what Ephesians 1 says that the same power that raised him from the dead is in you. Do you understand the power you have, and the faith that you can have to claim that over your life?
And so therefore, how do you heal the hurtful way? Look at that hurtful way, the hurtful pattern, the hurtful trigger in you, and the idols in you, and do this to that hurtful way. Four things I'm going to give you. How do you heal the hurtful way? Number one: declare the gospel over it. Declare the gospel over it. You say to that hurtful way in you, your power has been broken by the death and resurrection of Jesus, his spirit lives in me and I'm dead to you. Number two, confess what you know that's in your heart, that's a hurtful way. Confess the hurtful way you know. You have hurtful ways and you that you don't know yet. But you can take the ones that you do know are the ones that are becoming an idol in you and confess those before the Lord. I John 1:9 says about our right we have before the Lord, we can go before him over and over in our life and confess to him our sin. If we confess our sin, the Bible says he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That's for a Christ follower. And that's how you re-establish intimacy with God in your life. And it re-establishes the power of His Spirit in you. And then thirdly, using faith, abandon that hurtful way. Using faith, abandon it, by the power of the Spirit of God in you, you can abandon it, you have that authority, and that power. Claim that power by faith, use that power, and kill it. And then number four, if it's a stronghold, this hurtful way; a stronghold is something that has embedded itself in your life. I mean, just as an example, if you've let pornography into your life, and you've let it grow in your life, and now no matter what you say to others, and what others say to you, you know that it controls you. That's a stronghold. It happens with chemical dependencies, drugs, marijuana, and alcohol abuse. it can become a stronghold in your life. And look, if it's been there a long time, and you just sort of resigned yourself to just cover it up, then do this, confess it to someone spiritually mature, and ask them to walk alongside you. Now, let me let me warn you, there are not that many spiritually mature people around you. I mean, that that's going to be more of a challenge than you think, to find someone spiritually mature enough and wise enough, that you can confess it in spiritual community and, and they'd be safe enough and strong enough that they walk alongside you. And you can experience the breaking of that stronghold. There it is, as a spiritual practice.
But we’ve got to move on, we’ve got to get to the last one. And the last one is this. He says, lead me, this is like the outcome of it. So, search me, O God, it means try me know my anxious thoughts. It means see me and see the hurtful ways in me, you're confessing those and then thirdly, lead me, but lead me where? The Hebrew word has the implication of guiding someone down a path. I mean, look at the path before you, just your life. Look at it before you. Is it clear? Or is it brambles and winding and forks in the road and you have no idea? Lead me God, this is about a person who will actually take you and guide you down a path. And what is that path, he calls it the everlasting way. The everlasting way is the way described by Jesus and the way he made for us. That's the everlasting way, the way of Jesus is in John 14:6, where he says, I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life: no one comes to the Father, but by me. Listen to these three aspects of that way. It is the way to know the Father, the everlasting way, lead me in the way to know intimately the Father. That's what Jesus says he does in our life. No one comes to the Father, no one has access to the Father, no one can embrace the presence of the Father but through me. It's to know the father intimately, and to know the way of bold and confident access to him. It’s to know the way of drawing near to the throne of grace that finds mercy and grace for every single need. It's the way of knowing the father, listen to the second. The second is that it is the way of truth. We're drowning in untruth in our society. And this is the way of truth. Listen, can we clarify for just one second what truth is? Ultimately truth is what is real; truth is reality. What is real; what conforms to reality? Truth is the way it actually is. Truth is not a perspective; it's not a point of view, and it is not “my truth”. Because my truth is just the stuff that I wish was true. Truth is what is ultimately real. Christ followers, over centuries of following Christ have come to realize that Jesus is what is ultimately real. Who he is, what he says, and how he speaks into our life and the principles that surround us; those turn out to be the truest reality of anything in our reality. Listen to the third, it is the way of life, the everlasting way. It's eternal life, the way of Jesus is eternal life. He said, I came that they might have life, and that they might have it abundantly. What he means is I came that they may have the life that I live, and have it abundantly, life as Christ experiences; experiences in life that will be eternal, and full, and become even more full, and more meaningful, and even more meaningful and abundant, and it never ends. Lead me into that way. And the Bible says that comes into your life, when you Psalm 37:4 Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. That's the way that will make you flourish. You know, the question always is committing your way to the Lord. Psalm 37 says, commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will do what well, I love the fact that that's nonspecific, because it means he will do whatever he needs to do in your life. It's the way he will do it. It's the way that makes my inner life flourish. It's the way that surrenders all my ways to him. It's the way that gives him total access to my heart. It's the way that grows faith in me the ability to trust him through anything, it's the way that allows him to do it, whatever it is in my life. And we turn that into a practice. We turn into a to a practice by surrendering to Him. Jesus, you are my way, every day