Honest with God
I went to lunch one day with a rancher friend. After ordering chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, green beans, and corn bread and rolls, the conversation with his friends flowed from the price of cows at the auction in West, to the height of the grass in the fields before cutting to bale, and arguments over the best place to buy feed. Much of this was salted with strong language and open, rugged Texas conversation. Then one of the men sitting next to me asked, “So what kind of cattle are you running?” Then I let out those conversation-altering words, “I’m a pastor.” Apologies gushed and the talk moved much slower and a lot less honest and open.
But it’s not the way folks go into protective mode when talking with a professional minister that concerns me today, it’s the way I try to hide from God in prayer what I’m actually feeling and experiencing.
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus talked to His Father about a subject they had talked about even before the world began. The climax of the entire Redemptive Story was to center in the cross where the Messiah would die for our sins. This was the reason Israelites in the Old Testament had sacrificed thousands upon thousands of animals. All this pointed to the moment in time when Jesus would die for us, and yet in Gethsemane it looks like He wants to turn away. Listen to how God’s beloved Son prays in the Garden.
“And Jesus withdrew from them about a stone’s throw. He fell to His knees and began to pray, ‘Father, if you desire, remove this cup from me, but not my will, but yours be done.’ Now an angel appeared to Him from Heaven strengthening Him. Jesus was in agony, fervently praying, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. And getting up from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them asleep from grief. And He said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Wake up and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation.’” Luke 22:41-46
Rationalistic theologians argue over how Jesus could even have talked to His Father like this, and they come up with acceptable possibilities of what He meant. But all this head fails to understand the heart. We must enter Jesus’ world. We need to understand the difference between objective, rational talk and intense, fervent emotional prayer. Jesus was able to go to the cross in total control and submission because He was not afraid to pour out His feelings as a human being to His Father.
LORD, Your Son was divine, but I thank You that in this prayer He shows that He was fully human like me. Anyone getting ready to have spikes driven through their hands and feet, to be placed on a tree and then mocked and shamed, and to have their Father turn away is going to have strong feelings against the entire ordeal.
O Jesus, wake me up! Protect me from avoiding pain by sleeping. Teach me to pray, to be honest with God, like You, and to pray long enough till I can join You in saying not my will.
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