Do you talk to yourself?
I do. All day. In fact, if you follow me much, you’ll know that I often recommend podcasts. I listen to them a lot just to stop the voice in my head for a while.
That voice in my head is usually not the most positive either. Can you relate? Its usually a litany of things I’ve done wrong, or things that are going wrong, or ways I wish things were different, a massive to do list, you get the point. All day I deal with that voice, sometimes mundane things, sometimes really hard and heavy things.
And then something weird happens when I go to pray. Suddenly everything sounds rosy. My prayers often sound like this… Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day, thank you for this food, for my beautiful children, for my wonderful husband, and for all the many blessings you give me each day. Please help me to get through my day for your glory, amen.
I pray that prayer even though I wish I could be done this day, I’m tired of cooking the same food, my children are driving me crazy and my husband and I are fighting. I might be struggling to notice any of the blessings that God has given me. I might feel anything but grateful and blessed. Yet, I pray this rote prayer anyway.
Why do I do this? It’s as though I’ve forgotten that God knows all my thoughts. That He hears that voice in my head just as clearly as I do. That he knows every hair on my head, so He absolutely knows every trial I’m facing today, how overwhelmed I’m feeling, how discouraged I am.
I pray these rote prayers because it’s hard to be honest with God. There’s a vulnerability, an opening up that is so difficult for me. Or at least it used to be. Several years ago I decided I was done with these kinds of prayers. That I needed to have some difficult conversations with my God if we were going to have a closer relationship than we did at that time.
And the idea came from Elijah.
We’ve seen him on the mount, by the brook, and eating that miraculous meal. And next we see him have a honest, heartfelt, hard conversation with God.
“And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” I Kings 19:9-10
Elijah pours out everything he’s feeling to God here. You can sense his discouragement. That he feels God has let him down after everything Elijah has done and sacrificed for Him. He feels alone and in danger.
And this is after Elijah had actually asked God to kill him earlier in the chapter. Talk about an honest conversation with God.
Next week we’ll look at God’s response to Elijah, but for now, what do we learn from this hard conversation? The main lesson I learned was this - have them. Have those hard conversations with God. Be honest. Tell Him what you’re thinking.
Even if it seems weird or hard or disrespectful. God is not scared by what you’re thinking or feeling and neither is He surprised.
So often I think I’m hiding it well. As though I could fool God. But He already knows. And as my Father, He is longing for me to run to Him with everyone of those thoughts and emotions. Just like He comforted Elijah by the brook, He longs to comfort me. He’s waiting for that openness and vulnerability that make for a much closer relationship.
So pour out your heart today. No matter what’s in there. He knows, He’s ready, and He wants to help.