I think we have a lot of contemporary messages telling us how we ought to pray. Some of us are more susceptible to certain messages than others. I guess I can be pretty susceptible to the ones that basically boil down to “stop whining.” The ones that say you are always supposed to be grateful in your prayers, and never really cry out, because God is a good God and you aren’t going through anything that isn’t a blessing. You have nothing to say to Him except “thank You.”
I have struggled with that, because to me that seems dishonest. To pray, “gee, thanks so much” when your heart feels like it’s being torn in a million pieces feels like politely telling your grandma thank you for the ugly uncomfortable sweater that you secretly hate. It may be polite, and it may be proper, but it is hiding what you really think and feel.
Adam and Eve hid.
God didn’t say, “Thanks for hiding; I really didn’t want to see that, yo.”
He said, “Where are you?”
He doesn’t want us to hide; He wants us to come to Him, even in our sin and shame and brokenness, and to be honest.
At one point, I found myself praying repeatedly, “God, I just don’t even know how or what to pray.”
Recently I found myself drawn to reading the Psalms, and I realized that was His answer. The majority of the psalms are prayers, and they’re full of things like “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” They’re full of people crying out to Him about they way they have been wronged by this world and the people in it. Full of people asking God to be near, asking why He isn’t near, asking for blessings, asking for deliverance, asking for vindication, asking for mercy.
And God didn’t say, “You’re not supposed to talk to Me like that! Eat your peas and carrots; they’re good for you.” He preserved those prayers for us. Those honest prayers that said, “My God, why are You doing this to me?”
He doesn’t want us coming to Him pretending that everything is okay and then trying to deal with our hurt and confusions ourselves, without Him. When we are hurt and confused is right when we should be going to Him, but often we can find ourselves not wanting to approach God until we can come to Him with the “right” attitude. Because God is good, so if you’re not being grateful, you’ve got an attitude problem, right? Get back in line!
God is good. That’s why we don’t have to hide from Him. That’s why we can call out to Him for mercy and love. That’s why we can bring our brokenness to Him. That’s why we don’t have to wait until we can make ourselves perfect enough to approach Him. That’s why we can call out to Him and say, “Where are You?”