What is in us, not what ought to be in us

One of the reasons people have loved the psalms through the ages is because they are so personal and honest. 

David was certainly honest with God in Psalm 51. Another example is found in Psalm 88. It’s a look-into-my-aching-heart-and-help-me-urgently type of psalm.

A man named Heman had been afflicted since his youth. In verse 15 he pleads: “Why, LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?” I’ll be preaching about this on Sunday at the church I pastor. This is someone who feels dejected, despairing and disappointed. Do YOU ever feel like God has let you down? If so, the words of Psalm 88 might resonate with you.

Today I’d simply like to stress the importance of honesty in prayer. 

C.S. Lewis said: “lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.”* That’s helpful. How often do we pray to God as if he’s a royal dignitary who doesn’t truly care about us? How often do we skirt around the main issues and the deep, painful places of our souls? Why do we feel the need to shield God from our true emotions? 

Being honest with God is actually respecting God for who he truly is. He is the Lord God the Almighty who creates us, saves us, guides us, and who welcomes us to his throne of grace as a loving Father who knows what it’s like to be in pain.

Let’s lay before him what is actually in us, not what ought to be in us.

If God is the author of truth (and he is), he is both able and willing to receive the honest cries of his beloved children.


–The Up Devotional is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on May 29, 2023.

–Upcoming blog and podcast: 35 quotes by Tim Keller. As some of you know, the best-selling author, pastor, apologist, and co-founder of The Gospel Coalition passed away recently. I’ve put together some quotes that have been helpful or inspiration over the years. It’s coming soon to MatthewRuttan.com and ‘The Pulse Podcast with Matthew Ruttan.’

–*As quoted in: Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 12.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV. 

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