Do You Pray for God to “Break” You?

broken_vaseSomeone was telling me about this a while back. Praying for God to break him.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked. “And where is it in the Bible?”

He was probably taken aback by my questions, and didn’t know the answer. He just prayed it because other people did.

Oh, please hear my heart on this one. I’m all for people asking God to work in their hearts, to turn their hearts more to Him. I do it all the time myself.

But I don’t believe anyone in the Bible asked God to break him or her, and I don’t believe we have any instruction to ask for that.

He is not the Breaker. In fact, HE is the one who was broken for you!

I told my friend, I believe if we ask that, we’re asking Him to do something that’s contrary to His nature.

Mark 14:3 is one Scripture people sometimes use to support the idea of our needing to be broken: “And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.” But this ointment represents Christ Himself, the one who was broken for us, in our place.

good_shepherd1He is not the Breaker. He is the Rescuer, the Healer, the Restorer. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

People are broken when they “turn every one to his own way,” as Isaiah 53:6 talks about, and they stumble in places they shouldn’t have been or even fall over cliffs. Isaiah 65:14 says, “My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you [the ones who do not follow Me] will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit.”

People are also broken by other people, by thoughtlessness, carelessness, neglect. Or by evil. (One friend wondered why she should ask God to break her when wicked men in her life had done just exactly that. I told her she shouldn’t—she should ask God to rescue her.)

If we say, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours,” then that’s using an idiom to ask for our longings to be aligned with the Lord. David’s heart was broken over his own sin, and God received him. Psalm 51:10 and 17 say, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Even if they ask for their pride or their wills to be broken, that’s not so bad. But what seems strange to me is that people are saying we should ask God to break . . . not our hearts, not our pride or wills, but break us. He just doesn’t do that.

I think when people ask God to break them, what they’re really asking for is a change in their hearts, a change in their wills, their desires, their emotions. Turning to the heart of God.

So I told my friend that instead of asking God to break him, he can ask God to change his desires to align with His will. One of the joys we can find in Christ is the joy of changed desires. We can come to Him confidently asking for this, and expecting it to be answered.

We can expect to grow in true holiness, which is more and more treasuring what God treasures and despising what God despises.

I talk about this aligning of desires a good bit more in my upcoming book,  (in the section telling you not to give up your rights). but I’ve made only passing mention of it on this website. This is an oversight I want to remedy.

So that means I hope to be expanding on this topic in the coming days, but for right now, I want to say that our Savior has no interest in breaking you—He’s already been broken for all of us. I hope you’ll be able to hear that, especially if you’ve been abused.

Instead, He wants to heal you and restore you. He wants to hold you and keep you. He wants to turn your heart to Him.

This is sanctification . . . this is what it means to walk in the Spirit. As we look to Him in faith, He accomplishes the progressive turning of our desires to be more and more aligned with His. (Breaking might happen because of our own mis-aligned wills or the evil of others, but He won’t be the one doing it.)

The psalmist said, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”

That’s a joyful request all Christians can expect to be answered. He wants to restore our hearts to Him.


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5 years ago


Shary Hauber
5 years ago

Not only does God not break us he doesn’t even condemn us when we sin. He doesn’t bring terrible things into our lives to show us how bad we are. What he wants is for us to relax in his arms and learn how much he loves us. My Mother was an example of this. When a two year old threw a terrible temper tantrum she picked him up and held him close. He screamed and fought as she calmly held him. When he would pause in his screaming she would say I love you. She never told him to stop his tantrum she just held him. The beauty of seeing how her love won, as after awhile he turned and I said “I love Tanta”. That is how I see God treating me. His love is unconditional even in my tantrums.

Brenda Linn
Brenda Linn
4 years ago

Oh thank you so much for voicing these truths.

So many times, after suffering the terrorism of the abuse in my marriage, I would sit in church, hungry for gentleness, kindness and healing. Instead, I would hear sermons and songs talking about God breaking, crushing, consuming and burning me up.

I remember sobbing in ‘prayer’, “God, are YOU abusive too?! Is that how you treat me?!”

God is NOT abusive. He is my Healer, my Defender.

He has used Jeremiah 29:11 hundreds of times to affirm His goodwill toward me.

Viviann Harvey
3 years ago

THANK you!
At age 70 I am still stuck in place arguing against this deadly teaching of penal substitution; less than most of my life, but still it is hard.
Good reasoning and teaching is SO helpful! <3 Thank you!

3 years ago

I’m writing worship songs in my language (swiss german) and had a line about asking God to break my heart in it.
I asked a friend to look through the song and check it for theology and she pointed out this line to me. I googled it and found this article, which is very helpful.
In my language it’s not very common to ask God to break our hearts. But I think through the influence of English songs it made its way in my prayers and in my song without me really thinking about the words thoroughly. It’s exactly how you said: What we really want to ask, is for God to align our heart with his will.
I’ll try to find a different line for my song!
Thank you very much for this article!

Madeline Hill
Madeline Hill
2 years ago

Asking god to break us is the same thing as him healing us. “Create in me a clean heart” is a very popular psalm and I think that means in Order for God to do that, he has to break us first. He has to take away the things we find comfort in, the things we THOUGHT we were relying on him for. He has to take those things away, the sin, in order for him to create a clean heart and heal us. Brokenness is not a bad thing, though it may seem like it in the moment, it is a way in which we can learn to rely on God completely!!! So yes I DO think it is bibical and right to say God break me!!!

6 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca Davis

Is that sarcasm Rebecca ? I agree with Madeline : it is around asking God to gift us with true repentance because our deceitful hearts don’t go there easily. Read Psalm 51.17 : God looks for a broken spirit and a contrite heart heart. It is in scripture.

Joe hernandez
1 year ago

So many people are pushing the prayer for God to break them, Even some constantly crying in abnormal rite. So I did a search on the prayer. The only verse they use is the one you clarified: a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Then they say, “See God will not despise us and He will not cast us out if we pray to be broken.” This is universal, generational, irrevocably the truth. But He does say it any where to pray that the Father wouldn’t despise us or pray that He wouldn’t cast us out. Or pray that we would be broken so that we could be accepted and I despised. On the one hand, It’s best to be quiet around defenders of this practice. They will become extremely angry and offended.

On the other hand, after a lengthy study on the beatitudes I’m convinced that the blessing, good and adventurous life belongs to the poor in spirit. But what this means is you and I are submitted and ever yielding to the Holy Spirit and the service of the local church.

Finally, a horse that is broken is worth more. And a children of the Father who are forever yielding and humbly submitted are more useful

1 year ago
Reply to  Joe hernandez

Broken in referring to a horse means a horse that has lined up its will with its trainer’s will. Good trainers never “break” a horse to the point that they have to put it back together. A horse submits its will.

1 year ago

I always thought that when you ask God to break your heart for what breaks yours means he will give you a heart after the lost, or ill, or suffering for their faith etc and it moves you to pray for those people and practically help too?

1 year ago

Thank you for sharing this!


[…] About suffering in an abusive marriage . . . I recommend three of my posts: “In which I have a small argument with a Puritan about suffering,” and “Does God crush you like a rose to make perfume?” and “Do you pray for God to ‘break’ you?” […]