Honest Prayer

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Sometimes I get a little crabby with God. Let me clarify. I tell God what angers me, what hurts or disappoints me. In other words, I’m just honest about what’s going on.  My filial love for God grows when I admit that I am his child in need of his care.

When I unload my burden in prayer, God hears it, receives it, and cherishes it. Call it what you like. This is no highbrow prayer. It’s prayer from the pit, or the gut, from the dark recesses of the heart. Real. Honest.

Filial love is beyond where I acknowledge that God is God and I am not. (Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great starting point for prayer too.) But the grace of one’s baptism is way past that… it’s living one’s true identity as a child of God.

Sometimes it takes a while to get honest about who we really are before God. Years even. But when our egocentricities and mistakes take their toll, the cry from our heart leaks out. Fortunately for us, God knows all about it. And he has been waiting for us to bring him whatever is tearing us up inside.

Closer than my next breath, God my Father is ready to move in my situation if I give him room to act.

In our moment of relinquishment God does his best work. God waits for those honest moments – conversion moments! —when we lean more into him, and less on ourselves.  Its then we unpack the truest gift of baptism – our redemption!

The Church has many soulful, traditional prayers: the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Creed, the Angelus, the Mass, etc. The Psalms are prayer-songs.  Words or phrases from them often match our identity and circumstances.

And yet, there is a time and a place for our own honest heart cries before the Lord. We don’t have to sanitize our prayer or pray well before the One in whose Name we were baptized. We just have to mean it.

When I am dealing with hardship or trials… when I fear I might burst into tears if I stop long enough to admit that out loud… then I am ready for the honest prayer that God wants most to hear. As I open my misery to God’s sovereignty, his grace pours in.

The Gospel proves this:  In the darkest moment in history, Jesus, the Son of God, cried aloud from the cross of crucifixion to his Heavenly Father: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Mk 15:34)”  (In that moment, Jesus was praying from Psalm 22: 2.)  It was the cry of his heaving, broken heart.

Jesus prayed openly and honestly. Even in anguish, it is still a filial prayer… The prayer of a Beloved Son to a Father. Honest filial prayer is transformative.

Jesus surrendered his prayer and his life for the sake of God’s better plan. In return the Father transformed that lowest moment into an exalted one: yielding Salvation for the world.

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. (Heb 5:7-9)”

Copyright 2011 Pat Gohn

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About Author

Pat Gohn is a married "empty-nester" with three adult children. With a Masters in Theology, a Bachelors in Communications, and a heart for adult faith formation, Pat writes, speaks, blogs, and produces media with a eye toward faith sharing, teaching, and evangelization. Pat hosts the Among Women Podcast and is the award-winning author of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood. Learn more at PatGohn.net

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