I was interested to hear this comment today: ‘I was so angry I couldn’t even pray. But I did talk to God. I just told him how I felt. I told him how angry I was.’
While I understand – and empathise with – the sentiments expressed, they present a problem with the way we think about prayer, don’t they? Somehow we think we have to bring a well-constructed monologue to God before we can call it ‘prayer’ – something that somehow echoes biblical language, is worthy of true Christian devotion and certainly begins and ends correctly. A bit like the essays we all had to write in school, really. A good beginning and a good ending with a well-constructed body of expression in the middle.
Why do we think that? Is that how we talk to our friends, our parents, our spouses? Would they not be offended if that was how we approached them? Wouldn’t we be offended if they came to us with well-constructed, pre-arranged monologues instead of spontaneous conversations which lead to meaningful dialogues?
God longs for us just to ‘tell him how we feel’. Isn’t that what the Psalmists did? Isn’t that what real prayer is?