I was pondering Guerilla Christianity today. In church, as it happens. I just have a brief thought to offer you.
I said previously that real faith is a personal relationship with your higher power. If that is true (hint: it is), then prayer is the communication needed to develop that relationship. Real prayer. Prayer of joy, prayer of sorrow, prayer of hope, prayer of despair, prayer of vulnerability, prayer of anger, prayer of thanks.
Have you ever noticed how many people pray as if it is a duty – one to be completed as quickly as possible. Just a recitation of lines with less emotion than a middle school play. The Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Prayer of the Day, etc. All recited from memory without a thought given to the words. And behind the words – emotions, thoughts, feelings, desires, joys, and pain.
Have you ever had a friend ask how you’re doing, and you say ‘I’m fine,’ even when you aren’t. Don’t be ridiculous, of course you have. Everyone has. Sometimes you don’t want to talk about it. Sometimes you don’t want to admit it. Sometimes that friend is not close enough to you for you to share that pain. Sometimes they have not earned that trust. But sometimes, that friend calls BS on you, looks you straight in the eye and says ‘nice try, how about you tell me what’s going on.’ We can still ignore that friend, and no matter how much they care, at some point they will probably not ask any more. Not really. And you can say ‘I’m not ready to talk about it.’ You can claim that friend isn’t one of your ‘really close friends.’ Its easy to dismiss that friend, despite the fact that they just proved to you they care. They just stepped up to say ‘I want to help carry your burden.’ Sometimes they can help, sometimes all they can do is hold your hand, cry with you, and make sure you know you aren’t alone.
God wants to help. He’s NEVER going to stop pushing, prodding, and bothering us. Sure, we can ignore it. We can give a bored, passive, recited prayer and pretend we’re developing a relationship. We can list all the bad things that ever happened to us that prove God doesn’t ‘really’ care (I mean – I totally prayed that God would take away my heartache, pain suffering, etc and He totally DIDN’T). We limit God with our own limited vision. And often with good reason. When we are in the midst of terrible suffering, its sometimes impossible to see past it. That doesn’t mean you don’t have faith, it means you have more than you can handle. Yeah – that idea that ‘God never gives us more than we can handle’ – myth. Well, more specifically mis-quoted and out of context. There are thousands of examples of people being given ‘more than they can handle’ – sheesh, we’re just humans after all. But, we have a friend ready to show up the second we ask to say ‘tell me what’s really going on.’ Maybe to hold us, cry with us, and make sure we know we aren’t alone.
Be joyful in prayer, be angry in prayer (God can take it), be vulnerable in prayer, be despairing in prayer, be hopeful in prayer. Be thankful in prayer.
Most importantly – be REAL in prayer. Be raw. If you don’t have the words, just open your heart and ask God to take a look. Its not about composing a carefully crafted letter (or, heaven help us, a text message). God doesn’t take things out of context, he doesn’t get offended if we don’t phrase things right, or if we are angry. Just be real.
No more passive prayers. No more emotionless repetition. Its time to take this relationship to the next level.
Its time to get real.
It might be painful, it might be messy.
Its worth it.