Thursday, October 27, 2016
Precise and Polite
Most of the time our prayers are precise and polite. We choose our words carefully. We use a language reserved only for the sacred quiet moments of our life. We pray in such a manner that our English teacher would give us an "A." And, if this has any truth in our private and personal praying, it is even more true of our public praying when our prayers are heard not only by God but other folks as well. Jesus addressed this in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do..." (Matthew 6:7) Heaping up empty phrases is another way of speaking about prayers filled mostly with precise and polite language.
Perhaps, those most susceptible to this prayer warning are those preachers who pray regularly before the congregation, or folks who pray at public events which seem to require a politically correct prayer to get started. While the 58th Psalm may raise some difficult questions, it is first and foremost an honest and heart felt prayer. Imagine someone praying publicly, "Lord, break the teeth of our enemies, let them vanish like water that runs away...let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime." (Psalm 58:6-8) Nothing politically correct here. Nothing polite. Nothing here but raw unfiltered emotions from the heart. If the 58th Psalm teaches us nothing else, it gives us permission to be as real and as honest as we need to be in our praying.
On our way toward being shaped into the image of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit, God does not need us to play pretend with Him. He is big enough, and always has been, to handle any outburst of anger, any bout of disappointment, or any season of doubt. The prayer of the Psalmist assures us we can express hot raw emotions instead of pious religious platitudes and still be heard and loved by God.