Chapter OnePraying for Honesty
The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
Proverbs 12:22 TNIV
"Where were you last night?"
Molly eyed her daughter, watching carefully for any hint of
deception. Her maternal instincts had kicked into overdrive,
but she wanted to give Jenna a chance to tell the truth before
she confronted her with what she already knew: that Jenna had
left a birthday party and then shown up-much later-at
a girlfriend's house where she had been invited to spend the
"I was at Allie's house."
"How did you get there?"
"Brian drove me there after the party."
Molly had never heard Jenna talk about anyone named
"Brian," but she had heard-from another mom-that Jenna
had left the birthday party with a boy.
"Who's Brian?" Molly asked.
"He's a friend of Allie. He offered to take me to her
"Did you kiss him?"
"Mom! What's with all the questions?"
Molly hadn't planned to ask about the kissing; the question
had simply popped into her head. And now that Jenna had
sidestepped the issue, she sensed that she had hit a mark.
"Did you kiss Brian?" she repeated.
"No, Mom!" Jenna scoffed. "Nothing happened!"
There it was: the slightest cloud that flickered across Jenna's
face, signaling to Molly that her daughter was not telling the
truth. Molly didn't really care whether or not Jenna had kissed
anyone; that wasn't the issue. It was the lying about it that
mattered-and lately, it seemed, Jenna had been lying about a
lot of things. She lied about what she ate; she lied about whose
clothing she wore. She even lied about things that didn't make
any sense-like when she told a friend that she had broken a
picture frame, when Molly knew that she hadn't!
Later that night, Molly turned to her prayer journal. She
flipped back through the pages, her eyes scanning the prayers
she had written during the past few months:
Write your word on Jenna's heart, that she would choose to
hate sin and love your holiness. The words were based on Psalm
119:9-11. Gather the wheat in Jenna's life, and burn up the chaff.
Luke 3:17. Before a word is on her tongue, you know it completely,
Lord. Shine your light on the darkness in her life, and lead her in
the way everlasting. A few verses from Psalm 139.
As Molly reread the prayer, she realized that she was exhausted.
"Father," she prayed, "I am too tired to fight this
battle. If Jenna is not telling the truth about kissing Brian, I
am going to let it go-but I am trusting you to work in her
life and to smash the spirit of lying that is trying to take up
residence in her heart."
The prophet Jeremiah would have understood Molly's fatigue,
as well as her heartache. Way back when he was a teenager,
about six hundred years before Jesus was born, deception
was evidently a way of life among God's people. "Beware of
your neighbor!" the prophet warned. "Beware of your brother!
They all take advantage of one another and spread their slanderous
lies. They all fool and defraud each other; no one tells
the truth. With practiced tongues they tell lies; they wear
themselves out with all their sinning. They pile lie upon lie
and utterly refuse to come to [God]."
With practiced tongues they tell lies.
There's no question that lying gets easier with practice and
that our teenagers are growing up in a world where kids learn
to deny guilt, shift blame, withhold information, twist the
truth, break promises, and even tell straight-up, bold-faced
lies-often without even blinking. We might think that this
sort of blatant deception is a modern problem, but consider the
fact that Cain, history's very first teenager, lied to God-to
God!-after he had murdered his brother. "Where is he?" God
wanted to know. "I don't know!" Cain retorted. "Am I supposed
to keep track of him wherever he goes?"
When teenagers lie, it's often for the same reasons that
adults do: to impress people, to advance themselves (academically,
financially, or in some other way), to protect their friends,
and-like Cain-to get out of trouble. While these reasons
may make a lie understandable, they should never make lyingacceptable. God doesn't wink at deception. Not only did he put
lying on his Top Ten list in the Old Testament, but at the end
of the New Testament he lumps liars with cowards, murderers,
sorcerers, and a host of other vile creatures, saying that their
place will be in "the fiery lake of burning sulfur." And-just
in case we need some cake with that icing-he punctuates
the rest of the Bible with such words as "hate," "detest,"
and "abhor" to describe how he feels about dishonesty. And
why wouldn't God feel this way? Where, after all, do lies come
from? From Satan-the one Jesus called "the father of lies"!
Peggy is a mom who places a high priority on honesty. She
taught her kids that omitting details from a story was the same
thing as lying, and she prayed that if they were ever doing anything
wrong, they would be caught. She also prayed that they
would always tell the truth, no matter what.
Little did Peggy know what would happen when God answered
those prayers .
* * *
The can of soda smashed through the window, spilling its
contents onto the living room floor. Car wheels drowned out
the sound of the boys' laughter as they sped away. As members
of their high school's championship soccer team, they were all
too familiar with late-night pranks, and this latest-a stealth
attack on the home of their archrival's leading scorer-seemed,
in their adolescent minds, to be a brilliant idea.
When Peggy learned that her son, Charlie, had participated
in the vandalism, she took a different view. "It was a definite
moment of stupidity," she said. "The boys had planned to put
Oreos on this other fellow's car as a practical joke, and the
prank got out of hand."
But that was just the beginning. Called into the school office
the next day, the boys learned that they had been caught on
videotape as they purchased their arsenal of soda and cookies.
"Do you want to tell me about it?" the school official asked.
To a man, the other culprits-all considered "team leaders"
by their coach and the other players-denied any wrongdoing.
Charlie, though, could not keep silent. As an honor
student and a well-known leader in his church youth group,
he felt that he needed to confess. He had no interest in staging
any sort of a cover-up, and he fully believed Jesus' words in
John 8:31-32: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my
disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set
you free." Charlie had made a mistake; now all he wanted was
to set the record straight and make amends.
"You're crazy!" one of his teammates cried, when he learned
what Charlie had done.
"What were you thinking?" asked another. "We need
to stick together. If you hadn't confessed, they never would
have been able to prove we had anything to do with what
Never before had Charlie so keenly felt the pain of rejection.
But as it turned out, his teammates' ire was the least of
his worries. The man whose house the boys had damaged was
not about to settle matters quietly. Rather than accept payment
for his broken window and soiled carpet, he decided to
go to court-and in the end, Peggy and her husband wound
up shelling out more than $10,000 in lawyer and court fees.
Not only that, but Charlie's conviction-all but assured by his
confession-went on his permanent record and, in addition to
having to perform 250 hours of community ser vice and attend
six months' worth of youth offender classes, the judge ruled
that Charlie had to spend three days in jail!
"I cannot begin to tell you the pain I felt having to watch
my son walk into that jail," Peggy said. "As the gates shut behind
him, locking him in with a bunch of felons, I felt like
all my dreams for him were shattered. I knew that his future
would never be the same."
And indeed, Charlie's reputation was tarnished. During his
college application interview, one of the interviewers pulled
up his name on the Internet and discovered that he had been
indicted for a felony. After a lengthy explanation, Charlie was
accepted at the university-but two years later, when he tried
to lease an apartment near the campus, he was turned down,
based on the results of a routine criminal background check!
"I never dreamed that telling the truth could be so costly,"
Peggy said. "But I have discovered that, very often, our greatest
growth comes from our greatest failures. Charlie has taken
responsibility for his life, and he is mature beyond his years. He
has compassion for others, and the grace that he shows is only
that of someone who has experienced the grace of God."
"And," she continued, "I've learned some lessons, too. I
have had to learn how to forgive the man whose desire for vengeance
did so much damage to my family. I have learned that
just because someone makes a bad decision, they are not a bad
person-and they need grace and mercy, rather than condemnation
and judgment. Most of all, I have learned that, despite
what I sometimes think, I am not in control of my teenager's
journey toward God-but God is."
Very often, our greatest growth comes
from our greatest failures.
Poised for Prayer
Telling the truth can be costly, but holding on to a lie always
comes with its own set of-far more dire-consequences.
Scripture is full of train-wreck stories about lives gone awry as
the result of a lie: Rebekah deceived her husband and-for all
practical purposes-lost her favorite son. Jacob lied to his father
and had to run for his life. Ananias and his wife lied to the
early church about money-and dropped dead on the spot!
Stories like these can make us shudder. But if you've caught
your teen in a lie, or even if lying seems to be your teen's preferred
communication style, don't panic. Instead, try to discover
what motivated the lie-Fear? Insecurity? A desire to
"cover" for friends?-so that you will be better equipped to
pray. Also, keep talking about the importance of truthfulness
and integrity, looking at the issue from God's perspective. (My
friend Lisa knows that her kids are heaven-bound, but she had
them memorize a shortened version of Revelation 21:8-"Liars
go to hell"-just to keep them on their toes.)
Remember, too, where lies originate. Satan is the father of
lies, and he likes nothing better than to get us to believe his
twisted words. One of the things I liked best about Peggy's
story was that she refused to listen to Satan. She could be living
in a prison of bitterness, but she chose to forgive the man
who hurt her son. She could have seen the entire experience
as a tragic mess, but she has chosen to find God's redemptive
purposes instead. She could have beaten herself up over her
failure to successfully manage her son's life, but she has learned
to let God be in control.
What about you? What are the lies that Satan is trying to
get you to believe? Has he told you that you have blown it as a
parent, and that you will never get it right? Has he whispered
that your teenager is a mess, and that nothing will ever change?
Don't listen! Don't believe it! Counter lies like these with truths
from God's Word: Philippians 1:6 says that God has begun a
good work in your child, and that he promises to finish what
he starts. If you could talk to Molly, the mom I mentioned at
the beginning of this chapter, she'd tell you that God is definitely
at work in Jenna's life. Not only did Jenna confess to-and
ask forgiveness for-lying about the kiss (Molly's instincts
were right!), but in the past year, the shadows of deception have
all but disappeared. Today, she and Jenna enjoy a relationship
marked by open communication and truthfulness that goes
beyond anything Molly could have ever imagined.
Satan may be the father of lies, but Jesus Christ is the Truth.
Let's call out to him, trusting in his incomparably great power
to change our hearts and set our families free.
Prayers You Can Use
Cause __________ to put off falsehood and speak truthfully
to his friends, his teachers, and to us, for we are all members
of one body. Ephesians 4:25
Keep __________ from deceitful ways. Teach her to choose
the way of truth so that she will never be put to shame. Let
her run in the path of your commands, knowing that you
have set her heart free. Psalm 119:29-32
Let __________'s words be truthful, so that they will stand
the test of time. Give him a heart that is filled with peace
and joy instead of deceit. Proverbs 12:19-20
Keep __________'s tongue from evil and her lips from speaking
lies, that she may love life and enjoy good days.
I know, Lord, that you examine hearts and rejoice when you
find integrity there. Let all that __________ does be done
with pure motives, and make him always want to obey you.
See to it that his love for you never changes.
1 Chronicles 29:17-18 NLT
Guard __________'s life and rescue her; let her never be put
to shame. May integrity and uprightness protect her, and
cause her to put her hope fully in you. Psalm 25:20-21
Help __________ to stand firm, with the belt of truth buckled
securely around his waist and the breastplate of righteousness
guarding his heart. Ephesians 6:14
Cause __________ to be careful to lead a blameless life,
having nothing to do with evil. Do not let her slander her
friends or classmates in secret, and keep her from practicing
deceit or speaking falsely. Keep your eyes on her and draw her
near to you, so that she might stand in your presence.
Satan is a liar and the father of lies. Don't allow __________
to listen to Satan or carry out his desires; rather, cause him
to tune his ear to hear what you say. Let him receive and
believe the truth that you speak, knowing that you are his
Father and that he belongs to you. John 8:42-47
Let __________ always be a truthful witness, no matter
whether she is defending her faith or giving a report about
something that she has seen or done. Show her how much you
detest lying lips, and cause her to see the extravagant delight
that you take in her when she is truthful.
Proverbs 12:17- 22
Keep __________ from willful sins. May the words of his
mouth and the meditations of his heart be pleasing in your
sight. Psalm 19:13-14
Cause __________ to hold to your teaching, to be your disciple,
and to know the truth-and let your truth set her
free. John 8:31-32