Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Psalm 51:6

There is probably one percent of us that no one else knows about. Thoughts that are shameful, secrets we will never share, ideas that are out of character for us, fantastical notions that if anyone knew, we’d be mortified. This one percent is probably not known by anyone—not a spiritual father, not a therapist, not a spouse, not a friend—only by God and an individual. And because we’re not going to share these thoughts with anyone, we will never get any kind of advice or counsel in dealing with them.

In the last reflection we discussed the life of David, the King and Prophet. His outer persona was one to be feared, respected, even admired. But inwardly, David had jealous thoughts, lustful thoughts, murderous thoughts. He had, in a sense, committed the perfect crime. For him to order someone to the front line of battle was not something unthinkable. For that man to die in battle was also not unthinkable. For David to console the grieving widow was not unthinkable. And for that consoling to go beyond that was also not unthinkable. Only David could put the whole story together, and when he finally was confronted by Nathan the Prophet, who saw into his secret heart, it caused him personal pain and private shame. It tore up his secret heart.

Where was David going to unburden his secret heart? It wasn’t going to be publicly, in front of his people, or even privately in front of his subjects. No, this shame and pain was too embarrassing to take anywhere. Thus, he took the pain to God and asked for wisdom in his secret heart.

Psalm 51:6 reads: Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore, teach me wisdom in my secret heart. God desires truth. Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.” If Jesus is the truth, and we can only come to the Father by Him, and thus by truth, then we have a problem with that one percent of truth that we never admit or address. This is why David writes verse 51:6, asking for God to teach me wisdom in my secret heart.  Because the “secret heart” is the place that only God can penetrate, since no one else is going to be given access to it.

Psalm 50/51 is a great Psalm to pray for repentance and renewal, but also for direction. We can sit with just verse 6, and ask God to penetrate the depths of our secret heart.

If we are honest, we can all relate to King David, in having feelings that are too painful and shameful to let anyone else in on. I have heard some of these pains in confession, things that people have shared with me that they say “no one else knows,” not their spouse, or their parents, or their closest friends, nobody. My Spiritual Father, when he hears confessions (during the time when people are making their confession), always has his eyes closed, and I have adopted the same practice. Because many times in confession, people unburden their secret hearts of their pains and I know that it is embarrassing, so I do not want to watch the unburdening of pain or shame. Thankfully, we have this sacrament where we can be unburdened of the weight of our secret hearts. And God can wipe out our secret guilt in this beautiful sacrament.

However, many of the struggles of the secret heart are habitual, they are not wiped out in one confession and then never done again. And many of the pains in the secret heart are not sinful, they might not even make their way to confession. Some of these pains include deep seeded doubts, anxieties and insecurities. Many people struggle with low self-esteem. Some people have low self-esteem all the time. Many people are paralyzed with fear and anxiety. Many people feel stuck, some think that there won’t be a better tomorrow.

Psalm 50/51 should be prayed often for many reasons, one of which is to address the secret heart that weighs so many of us down. Several times in the New Testament, we read “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26; said is a similar way in Mark 10:27, Luke 18:27) It seems impossible for the pains of the secret heart to be comforted. However, what seems impossible with us is possible with God. The pain of the secret heart is comforted with the wisdom that comes from God. The pain of the secret heart is part of the fallen world, and there will be a pain that each of us carries as long as we live in the fallen world. This is yet another reason why prayer is so important, because in prayer, we can pour out to God the feelings of our secret hearts without shame or embarrassment, and we can receive the comfort that no one else can give to us.

Each time I pour out my secret heart to God, I feel both comforted and emboldened with confidence that I can keep going. One of my favorite Bible verses is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (NKJV) And one of the many things we can do, and can only do through Christ, is carry the burdens of a secret heart without shame and with some degree of confidence.

I encourage you to share the pains of your secret heart with a spiritual father whom you trust in the sacrament of confession. So that you can hear from another human being that you can depart in peace and without shame. I also encourage you to find a trusted counselor or priest and seek help for the pains of your secret heart. Because these pains, left untended, can lead us to despondency and despair. But relieved of these pains, it’s like a giant weight lifted, and we can live life more fully.

There are going to be some things you won’t ever admit to anyone. There are some struggles we will carry deep within our secret hearts that will never be shared with anyone. Will these silent struggles cause us to be eternally condemned? I sure hope not. God knows what our secret struggles are anyway, so if we are unable to share them with anyone, we should share them with God, and ask Him to put wisdom into our secret hearts, to give guidance in the place where no one can reach us.

Have mercy on me, O God. Have mercy on me.
Look upon me, God my Savior, with Your merciful eye, and accept my fervent confession.
(Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Ode One, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)

May our secret hearts be filled with God’s love, light, encouragement, forgiveness and wisdom.


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here:


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