The Benefits of Asking the Holy Spirit to Examine our Heart

     On the front page of my prayer journal, I keep notes from a teaching I heard decades ago. I gathered them at an informal gathering of ladies at the church I attended. We met so a couple of women who went to a workshop on prayer could share what they had learned.

     As part of the preparation process for prayer, we were encouraged to pray Psalm 139:23-24 so the Holy Spirit could reveal those heart issues that need correction.

     “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”  Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

     Another Scripture that invites the Holy Spirit to search our hearts is Psalm 26:2-3.

     “Test me, Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind. For Your faithful love is before my eyes, and I live by Your truth. HCSB

     When we ask God to test our heart and uncover all that should not be there, it is good to know what types of heart issues we might discover. If we are unaware, we may miss something important in our sanctification.

Last week I explained the Biblical concept of the heart and how it is more than emotional reactions but also thought processes and acts of the will. Based on all the heart encompasses what might we expect the Holy Spirit to reveal?

     –The Holy Spirit uncovers motives.

     We can take all we intend to do before the Holy Spirit and ask for a fresh revelation of our motives. Why are we doing what we are doing, do we have pure motives?

Perhaps if Ananias had taken the time to ask the Lord to examine his heart, he would not have decided to sell property and claim he was donating the full amount to the church when he had kept part of the proceeds for himself. (Acts 5:1-6)

     We do not know his motives. We do know that in the early church Christians who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

Perhaps he wanted to look generous, become an esteemed member of the church. We are told that Barnabas sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles. Did he envy the standing Barnabas had in the church?

His motive for not giving all the money may have been the need for financial security, not yet fully trusting God to meet his needs. Or perhaps pride, afraid of becoming one of the members of the church relying on the charity of others.

     As we sit before the Lord, we can consider our thought processes. How are we making our decisions? What are we thinking about the people around us and how does that impact our interactions with them? What is the reasoning behind our actions?

The other morning, I looked at a container of plastic wrap that had been left on the counter and I reasoned that if I kept putting things back where they belonged no one would put anything away. But the Holy Spirit caught the flawed reasoning.

We are not to “pay back” but do what is honorable (Romans 12:17) and we are not to become tired of doing what is good (Galatians 6:9).

     –The Holy Spirit uncovers what is displeasing to God.

     When we ask the Holy Spirit to show us any grievous way in us, He will uncover such things as envy, jealousy, bitterness, and discontentment before they have a chance to take root. Negative attributes are so much easier to deal with when small, rather than after they have been left to grow.

     Let’s consider the positions we hold as we ask the Holy Spirit to examine our heart. Did we just miss a promotion at work? Was someone else chosen to speak at a conference although we submitted our resume?

     In the winter months I need to fight discontentment and a bent towards complaining. One Saturday this December, the snow was building at a rapid rate. Periodically it would slide from the roof with the roar of an avalanche. At dusk, as a section tumbled off near the back of the house the lights began to flicker and dim. The wire connecting our house to the power pole in the alley had been pulled loose. Items not on a surge protector, such as the coffeepot and treadmill, were damaged and had to be replaced. Yes, complaints were on my lips at first. But the Holy Spirit showed me all God did on our behalf during the situation. He changed my heart attitude.

     Yes, asking to be shown any grievous way in us helps us change course.

     –The Holy Spirit uncovers areas where our will is out of alignment with God.

     Since the will is a heart issue, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us align our will with God’s will. In the Garden of Gethsemane, before Jesus was arrested, He prayed “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39 NLT

     Jesus submitted to the will of God, taking up the cross on which he would be crucified. To follow Jesus, become like Him, we submit to the will of God.

     “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 NLT

     In some Bible versions “give up your own way” is translated “deny yourself” which is to place Jesus’s glory ahead of our own. To take up our cross daily is to submit to Christ’s authority in our lives daily. Disciples live according to God’s kingdom agenda, which is the visible manifestation of the comprehensive rule of God over every area of life.”1

     I often discover obstinance in my heart. I silently declare, “I will not” and then the Holy Spirit brings to mind scripture verses that reveal the proper response. In His Word, God tells us the right heart attitude and because we have a new heart, we can walk according.

     Therefore, let us spend time in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the heart issues that need to be addressed for us to be more Christ-like.

©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved

Let’s Talk:

1-What Bible verses do you find helpful for uncovering heart issues that do not lineup with God’s Word?

2-What do you do once you have uncovered these heart issues?


1-The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, Advancing God’s Kingdom Agenda by Tony Evans. Holman Bible Publishers Nashville, Tennessee.

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