Someone 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.
He 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 Untwisting Scriptures, in the section telling you not to give up your rights.
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.
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.
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.
That’s it exactly, Brenda. God is NOT abusive. I’m so thankful that you have learned that about Him too!
I’m leaning that !
This is how i felt too ! I perceived that I had been mistreated in some vague way as a child and had a lot of self pity about it…So am glad to learn God isn’t like those people who offended me or hurt my feelings. I guess it’s the same kind of thing!
I don’t yet feel able to repent of my part in !y childhood issues but I do like to embrace the idea that God just waits patiently for us to come to Him.
I’m a strong willed very proud woman and it would not suit me to be conde!ned or criticised my God
Because of my sinful hatred towards my own father in perceiving him as bad in what he did to !e I could not relate to God as a loving father
I rejected my own father as I hated loving father figure types and this caused me to be unable to see God as a loving father and to be full of fear and shame and terrified he would crush me like a bug! I
I know I haven’t turned from my sins yet as I’m not ready to repent of all that pride as self will and casting myself as the victim but I have been born again so I know He loves me
As a child I used to think He hated me. I could see His face scowling at me in anger and disgust as young as seven years old. He could see the filth in me but the faith I was brought up in was about salvation through keeping the Law.
So I’m learning to believe the dialectic that even with all !h sin which I have yet to overcome and be set free of He still loves me!
He loves you too! I know how hard it is for you as I have been there!
If you’ve trusted in Jesus Christ for your salvation, then the Heavenly Father does not see you as filthy. This article is about that: https://heresthejoy.com/2019/10/heres-whats-wrong-with-god-looking-through-the-filter-of-jesus-to-see-his-children/
I guess you’ve come to understand that our salvation is not by keeping the Law, but is through faith in Jesus Christ, who transforms. I have many articles about that–it’s what this whole website is about. Here’s one of the early ones: https://heresthejoy.com/2013/06/a-song-i-love-to-hate/
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!
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!
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!!!
I’m so sorry to hear that.
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.
It wasn’t sarcasm, though this blog post is 5 years old and I might not fully agree with everything in it today.
However, it’s important to read Psalm 51 in context. David had been hard-hearted and unrepentant. Now, with Nathan’s exposure of his crimes, he was repentant. When a person’s heart is hard like granite the way David’s was, then yes it needs to be broken, as David’s was.
But for a person to pray “God break me” is a different matter. The person who is praying that WANTS God’s will in his/her heart. He WANTS to follow God and be shown any sin so there can be quick repentance. A person with a heart that is that tender doesn’t need to be broken, he or she simply needs to follow God and listen for His voice.
When David was a young man taking care of the sheep, his heart didn’t need to be broken; he was already tender to the ways and the voice of God. It was when he became hard-hearted that his heart needed to be broken. And after it was, he wasn’t asking for God to break it. He was simply observing that this was what needed to happen in order for him to return to God.
Rebecca, This post may be five years old, but the message in the Bible that you speak of is timeless. I just finished a devotion about asking God to break us, and He does not do that. Thank you for bringing this to light and nd challenging this false teaching.
My heart isn’t tender
Since the age of 7 I had a bitter angry heart I hated men hated God etc
When I was a 15 year old I went to a youth camp and there was this lovely woman there. She was so kind to me and actually spent time with me and seemed interested in me which was a new sensation .
She prayed for me that God would break my heart . She meant so well but I felt profoundly distressed when she prayed that because I had a problem with self pity and believed in some vague way I had been mistreated a lot in !y life. My mantra in life was “it’s not fair! I deserve better than that!” I hated my father and all men, not even consciously but like a very very deep rooted thing inside. For some reason I was a child who found it hard to trust love or gratitude. So I had this attitude I had been broken by my parents in some way! so I understand what Brenda means
I think I feared God would control me somehow if I submitted to Him.
I do find the bible difficult . I was born again in my 20s but in my 40s I have trouble with the concept of God being someone who expects so much. The other day someone was telling me about self care and self compassion being a sin and to always put others first and I really felt my flesh rising up in rebellion . I do wonder why God punishes cowards in hell, too because I always was a coward. I had night terrors, OCD, anxiety attacks since age 7 as well as separation anxiety. I didn’t ask to have those things but it see!ed like God would punish me for them
I already felt mistreated and punished and hated discipline as it see me to do with fear and shame . And I hate anyone shaming me ! I am v proud , and shame is like kryptonite to me.
I re!ember Sunday school and children singing about Jesus love and realising i wasn’t loveable. I had an angry and bitter heart and was a v resentful self pitying little girl. Why would someone clean and lovely want me? I wasn’t one of those innocent kids. I knew things I shouldn’t have at that age and knew I was dirty . In was 7 and already full of rage and hate for the world . I even hated my own father and he was a committed Christian .
I a m struggling to repent of my s in of self pity and I am weeping as I type this
I a m constantly praying for the holy spirit to work a miracle in my heart but I just don’t feel ready to give up my tears just yet because the grief feels so real to me. I find it hard to accept my own role in my issues as a child and teenager and in.my present life
I think a lot of !y anger is the bible’s representation of women and how a wide must submit to her husband! I didn’t want to be like my mum who ended up a drudge always walking on eggshells to keep from getting harmed
I did see a deliverance minister who told me I needed to repent of my victim mentality and to stop seeking psychotherapy for my CPTSD and BPD because these things are demons. He warned me that if I didn’t do that then demons would destroy my brain with Alzheimer’s and my body osteoarthritis and stomach issues.
I did try and repent o f those things but have not yet succeedes!
Another minister told me the devil was lying to me about my childhood and putting false memories on there of abuse and I needed to repent
I tried but I don’t know how het!
I’m born again and have repented of other sins and was baptised in water and with holy ghost. I know I have the holy spirit inside me and can do anything but this wicked spirit of rebellion and pride in me just won’t leave me!
First of all, I’m so sorry for what happened to you.
Self care and self compassion are certainly not necessarily sins. This article talks about that: https://heresthejoy.com/2018/02/should-you-love-yourself-a-response-to-desiring-god/
Shame is a terrible emotion; I would think all of us hate to be shamed. Our Lord God doesn’t do that. In fact, Jesus took the shame for us on the cross.
CPTSD is not demonic; it’s an indication of (likely) chronic trauma in childhood. I am so sorry that a deliverance minister threatened you in this way. You really can’t repent of CPTSD–it is something that has happened in your brain, and it needs help. There are various means to get help for it.
I’m so sorry that a minister told you that the devil was putting false memories in you about childhood abuse. I wonder what made him think he had the inside scoop about that.
I pray that you’ll find trauma-informed help, someone who can help you sort out any genuine sins from the effects of anything that may have happened to you.
Yes, meaning that our hearts are broken because of our sin. We are crushed with disappointment in ourselves. And He lovingly comforts us and woos us back to Him.
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
Thank you for your thoughts, Joe.
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.
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?
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?” […]
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Thank you, Rebecca! For years, after I was saved, the Christians that surrounded me were obsessed with their need to be broken by God, so that they could be mightily used of God. I always thought was, and, is,a cruel and nasty view of God. God saved me, healed me, and loved me.
Wow. I really swallowed the kool-aid! Thanks for exposing these lies!
We have many people that just build themselves not God, that build them. So Jesus said I will build my church, He is the portal molding us into his own image, if only we surrender ourselves to him, to complete his process in our lives.
whoever shall call upon his name shall be delivered. We can not be living in sin and be asking for more grace of God, he is the God of decipline. Jesus said every tree that my heavenly father have not planted shall be uprooted.
Hi this is not true. I don’t mean to be rude but this is not truth. The Word of the Lord can break you to mold you. If one is stiffnecked and hardened, yes break me!!!! Jeremiah 23:29 “Is not my Woed like fire that consumes all that cannot endure the test? Says the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks the most stubborn rock in pieces?” God cannot break someone who thinks they got it together. God cannot rescue someone who is not broken. Brokenness must be so we can come to a point of humility. Anyone seeing this please don’t believe in false truth. God does not want our opinion He want our heart. When God breaks you He doesn’t hurt you, He just crushes up everything that exalted yourself so He can have your all. Let Him. He doesn’t break you like this world, please die to yourselves so that He may take place within you.
Here is the full context of Jeremiah 23:29.
“Am I a God at hand,” declares the Lord, “not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord. “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat?” declares the Lord. “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who steal my words from one another.”
It’s clear from this context that this Scripture does not at all refer to God’s beloved children. It refers to the wicked, especially the wicked who pretend to speak for God.
About dying to yourself, I’ve written a series. It’s here: https://heresthejoy.com/2017/07/dear-christian-your-marriage-is-not-supposed-to-kill-you/