“How very simply does the good man pray, and yet with what weight of meaning! He uses no ornamental flourishes; he is too deeply in earnest to be otherwise than plain; it were well if all who engage in public prayer would observe the same rule.” C. H. Spurgeon
Be real when you pray. God can handle it! He does not want some superficial, fabricated, over religious fake of you. He wants you! He wants the heartbroken, angry, hurting, fearful, joyful, and thankful you! Peter tells us to “give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7). With all of your might and with all of whom God made you, cast your cares on Him. It’s the humble, the real, and the transparent with whom God wants to dialogue. When the real you intersects with the true God, amazing things happen.
Just before telling us to give our worries and cares to God, Peter also tells us to “humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6).
To be humbled means “to be leveled, to be reduced to a plain”.* It means to get to who we are underneath all that superficial, shallow, and surfaced self that culture encourages; it’s the real person who feels rejected and dejected.
To be humble is often understood as being humiliated, but that is the farthest from its definition. To be humble means to be authentic – to reveal the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the temperamental, the all! Is it uncomfortable to be real? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely!
God already knows who you are, but often we come to Him all dressed up, full of “false” confidence and that “I got it all together” apparel. Sadly, this is not only false; but it also makes our prayers ineffective. The phony do not get the attention of God; only genuine faith does. And faith is best planted in the one who can be real.
One of the hardest things about prayer is that we must place ourselves under God’s authority – His control rather than our own. When we decide to be humble before the Lord, to be real with who we are, and understand that God’s hand is a hand of love, grace, mercy, and comfort; then we can come to Him trusting that He is our good, good Father, who only gives us good gifts. We can confidently approach the throne of grace, knowing full well that our good, good Father will bless, not curse. He will hold, not hurt. He will lead, not desert.
Again Peter says, “give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Did you see that? He cares about you. He cares about me. He cares for His people. This concerned Father is the God we place ourselves under. We are under the shadow of His wings, and He protects, as well as loves.
Why would we not bow under this? I’m shaking my head in wonder at myself.
Since we serve a God, who is a good, good Father, He delights in exalting His children. To exalt means “to raise us up to dignity, in honor and happiness.”* He is pleased to put our feet in a spacious place, and to grant us the strength and peace we desperately need in any and all situations that we face.
We may find ourselves strangled by the net of troubles in our life, but the net does not strangle our Father in Heaven. He is outside that net and has every intention to cut it with His omnipotence. As C. H. Spurgeon says with such description, “When we poor, puny things are in the net, God is not. In the old fable the mouse set free the lion; here the lion liberates the mouse.” Oh, how true! When God exalts us, He liberates us from the net of troubles and lodges us in the promise land of His favor.
There was a time in my life when my heart was so troubled. My world had turned upside down. I thought the scar of pain in my soul was wounded forever. The details of the situation I am not at liberty to share, but I can tell you about how I felt. And I can tell you how I prayed to our good, good Father.
The laceration this situation put on my heart was indeed unbearable. I remember so clearly the drive home from church that night. I went over and over in my mind what had happened. I cried and cried. The tears were so many that I could barely see the road in front of me. I prayed out loud. I screamed at God. I cried to Him. I told Him of my disappointment, my pain, my inability to forgive…my hopeless premonition. Broken, wrecked beyond belief, I bowed under His wing and asked Him to help me. “Help me forgive. Give me the grace that is foreign to this land. Make me a vessel of mercy. And please God, heal my heart and make it whole again.”
I’m telling you; He did just that! Today, I don’t even know what that pain felt like anymore. However, I do remember that God lifted me. I remember the mercy, the grace, the forgiveness that saturated my soul – literally my very being. And today, that situation has become my ministry to others who find themselves in the same place.
Oh how our God restores, so that we can restore others! God is really good at turning our misery into His ministry! He’s amazing like that!
I learned from that time in my life that God could take all of me. I was leveled. There was no energy to fabricate a false happy. Unhappy was all I knew. The pain was my intimate friend. My companion was despair, failure, and infamy. However, in that humble state, I reached up. I looked at the Maker of my life. I got real! And what freedom I felt!
Getting real with all of my being, God showed me that I could step onto that holy ground where the One and Only, could revive what had been lost.
I don’t know what you face today. I do know that life is full of its troubles, but none is bigger than our God. He knows all, can heal all, and overcome all. Pray, my friend. Come to the Father of Light and tell Him plainly all you feel and think. And watch…wait for it…He will exalt you. He will bring you to that spacious promise land that you want so badly!
Oh, how His grace is fully sufficient in our time of need. We just need to get real.
*definitions are from blueletterbible.com