God, my God why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from
the words of my groaning?”—Psalm 22:1 (ESV).
I must confess, I have of late developed a glaring dislike
for prayer meetings, praise and worship sessions and overnight prayers. The
dishonesty that goes on in those ‘religious gatherings’ is alarming, and am not
suggesting that I am honest myself.
Every Christian is aware that God knows the deepest of our
thoughts and sees them before we are even subconscious enough not to know why
we did what we did. He already knows yet we can’t help it but put on layer
after layer of mask when we go before Him in prayer.
“I love you Lord.
“You are so great,
“You deserve all the glory and praise.”
You know deep down that your feelings are ill-assorted with
what you are saying. You know that the “I love you Lord” is not what should be
said at that moment. We Christians are better than the rest because we know how
to fake it.
A Halloween decoration before a Holy God.
To say, “I love you Lord” when all we feel is disdain toward
To shout, “You are great, Lord” when all we feel is a Divine
To mutter, “You deserve all the glory and praise” when all
we feel is a Heavenly screw-up.
I have seen church people who are lazy to even stand up to
say the Apostle’s Creed but then try to boast of their strong faith. They can’t
clap, but will do it anyway. We fake it better.
Hear this screw-up that was after God’s Heart, his name is
David: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” He continues, “Why are you so
far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”
If there is ever any one place where we should be putting
off our masks, it’s in the presence of God. Prayer ought to be a stripping away
of all the layers of pretense; and the tearing down of all our spirited
attempts at being what we are not.
That is what David does, and surprisingly, God doesn’t break
His legs. Neither does He kick him in the head.
I know that it’s crazy for unholy people like us to stand
before a Holy God and not be consumed by His wrath. It amazes me that a Celestial
fireball flying at the whims of a Glorious Deity has not reached down to
It’s because of Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Hear St. Paul writing to
the Romans: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, “Abba!
Father!””—Romans 8:15 (ESV).
What Paul is saying is that because of Jesus who died for
all our efforts to save ourselves, we have been adopted by God and He is, and
will always be our Father—Abba! Hence we can go boldly before our Father and
tell Him everything without holding anything back. Fathers never kick their
children out of the house because they stole a toy at school.
Being Abba’s child is my assurance that he is not going to
kick me out. In Christ we are sons and daughters with a seat at the table and an
Therefore you can go before God and tell him how He has
screwed it all up for you.
When it feels like God has forsaken you and instead gone for
vacation to the sandy beaches of the Kalangala Archipelago, tell him that.
You don’t have to dribble praise slur at Him as if you are on
autopilot. Relationships thrive on honesty, and yours with God is not an
exception. It is, and it has to be the stripping away of all the multiple
identities we wear to save ourselves.
Writing in his autobiography All is Grace, Brennan Manning, a Roman Catholic priest who deeply
got the gospel and preached grace until he couldn’t move anymore had this to
say at the end of his Ministry:
“I’ve been a priest, then an
ex-priest. Husband, then an ex-husband. Amazed crowds one night and lied to
friends the next. Drunk for years, sober for a season, then drunk again. I’ve
been John the beloved, Peter the coward, and Thomas the doubter all before the
waitress brought the check. I have shattered every one of the Ten Commandments
six times Tuesday. If you believe that last sentence was for dramatic effect,
Brennan knew the depth of his sin but also never forgot that
he was Abba’s child. So he was bold and sure of God’s love for Him even when
his love for God failed.
That is my prayer for you this week, that you will let God
strip way the falsehoods you are basking in. To quote Brennan Manning again,
“It’s better to live naked in truth than clothed in fantasy.”
Because on the cross, Jesus was forsaken so that we will be
That is your lifeline, AMEN.
For the next three weeks, I will be taking time to specifically talk about
prayer. It won’t be a guide “On Becoming a Prayer Warrior”, but I promise you
it will be different.