Years ago, I discovered that one of our children had lied to me; a teacher informed me of the truth. I began to pray, and asked this child a general question that gave an opening to confess. Nothing. Over the next hours, I continued to pray for the Spirit to soften that child’s heart and bring conviction. Later in the day, I asked, “Is there anything you want to talk about while it’s just ‘us’?” and the head dropped, the words of confession came. God had done it! I was able to tell this child that the Holy Spirit is always with us and knows everything. He wants what is good for us, and will bring guilt when we have done wrong; He forgives and cleanses immediately when we confess and repent. The Lord also taught me that He is the better, always-present and perfect One to bring about conviction, that our children are His to deal with, that I need not (should not) try to do His sanctifying work. This approach is modeled all through Scripture.
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?'” Isaac questions conniving Jacob repeatedly, “Who are you, my son? Are you really my son Esau?,” giving him numerous chances to fess up about his elaborate, deceptive plot. Nathan tells David a heart-wrenching story that mirrors his own weakly-excused greed and malice. Peter asks Sapphira to explain what happened, giving her a chance to come clean after her husband had already borne punishment for their agreed-upon lying. “‘Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.’ And she said, ‘Yes, for so much.’ But Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?'” (Genesis 3:8-9; 27:18-24; 2 Samuel 12:1-13; Acts 5:8-9) In every case, the truth eventually comes out, but conviction is deeper and the results more effective when the Spirit is given time and space to work.
Lord, You sent Your Spirit to convict, and to restore to comfort and abundant life. Open my ears to hear your “Where are you?” and my heart to admit the truth. Keep my lips from interrupting Your work, and teach me instead through intercessory prayer. May I willingly give You room to do your thing and have Your way– with me, with those I love. (John 10:10; 14:16-17; 16:7-9,13)