“How long, oh Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘VIOLENCE!’ but you do not save me. Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?” ‒ Habakkuk 1: 2-3 (NIV)
Have you ever heard a talented pray-er (one who prays?) I sometimes try to be that person with flowery words, straight out of King James or Shakespeare. Talented pray-ers have a great gift. For me, however, flowery prayers can be a way to hide.
In truth, the best prayer I ever prayed—one that kept my life from going off the cliff—was an angry one. I think I even cussed. (I’m not recommending you cuss at God.) Why was it the best? Because I was honestly talking to God when I wanted to do just about anything else. I was mad and ready to commit acts of violence on bad people. Why? I was an eighteen-year-old who had just learned that someone I trusted was an abuser. Statistics say one in five women are abused at some point in their lifetime. In my circle of family and closest friends, the number at the time was seven of eight.
I was getting ready to do something rash when a voice inside my heart said, “Pray first.” Pray? Now? Are you sure you want to hear from me right now, God? Because, “church Danny” isn’t here today. You want my hate, my anger shouted at You? I kid you not, I heard Him say, “Yes.” I should have felt moved that he cared about me, but I was so worked up that I marched out into the woods and began yelling at Him. I don’t remember everything I said. But, I remember knowing that He cried with me. His grief, His love were strong. And He didn’t judge me for questioning Him. He held me. He let me know that He sees all. Not in some mystic hyper-spiritual sense but in a real “you’ve seen a tiny slice of the pain I see every hour” kind of a way. His love is so complete that He can’t rest until every child who would come to Him, comes home.
I don’t like fake people, do you? Then why do we think God wants us to pray fake prayers? In our joy, we should pray joyfully. In our sorrow, we should share our grief. When we’re angry, He’s a big God who can hold us while we calm down. He wants a relationship with us. He doesn’t want us to act holy, He wants to make us holy. By sharing our true selves with him, we allow Him to work. When you’re praying, be real.
- Danny Bell