Thursday, February 7, 2013

Praying in earnest

I was thinking today about praying, and how all too often when we pray, we try to be proper.  We clean up our prayers and present them to God with our best English, using as many vocabulary words as we can think of, and trying very hard not to express the wrong sentiments in our prayers.  But maybe that's not what God wants.  Maybe, in his infinite love, he wants all of our prayers.  Maybe he wants our most sincere expressions, no matter what they are.  And when I was thinking about this, I started thinking about all the places in the Psalms where anguish, anger, pain, and despair are expressed.  And then I thought specifically of Psalm 22, which starts out:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

And then I realized - when Jesus was hanging up on the cross, gasping for his last, painful breath: what did he say?  "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  And I thought - what if... as Jesus hung there in excruciating pain... what if the infinite God of the universe who was made flesh and dwelt among us... what if every anguished cry of pain and despair that His children on earth had uttered to Him ran through his mind as He hung there?  And I think back on when I left the church as a depressed, angry, cynical young man and I wonder if Jesus thought about the anguished, accusing prayers I prayed in my time of loneliness.  And when I think of this, I think that this was His way of saying: "Me too.  I know what that feels like."

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