Everyone has a filter on their mouth. No one speaks everything that comes to their mind the moment it pops up. Without such a filter, we would all look like terrible human beings and do a lot of emotional damage in the process. Most of us seem to have a similar filter when it comes to prayer, except for Moses. If you thought Moses was pretty brave in the way he spoke to God in chapters three and four, hold on, it gets better (or worse as the case may be).
Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O LORD, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all." – Exodus 5:22, 23
One might expect Exodus 5:24 to read something like this: “Then God smote Moses with lighting from heaven and the jackals licked up his ashes”. But instead God responds to Moses’ complaint and addresses his concerns.
As we consider the rest of the Bible (especially the Psalms) we find that this is consistent with the character of God. He is compassionate to those in affliction, patient with those grieved, tender-hearted towards the broken and helpless. Even when the cries of desperation verge on irreverence, God seems to welcome this sort of raw honesty.
In fact, we have every reason to believe that God would prefer that very sort of raw honesty over a pious, sanitized prayer that has been laundered of all our emotions. Too many people don’t pray at all because they’re afraid that they’ll get something wrong (the words, the motive, the attitude, etc.), but our biblical fathers of the faith certainly didn’t let that stop them, and we shouldn’t either.
Paul E. Miller speaks of that sort of prayer in this way: “Jesus wants us to be without pretense when we come to him in prayer…We know we don’t need to clean up our act in order to become a Christian, but when it comes to praying, we forget that. We, like adults, try to fix ourselves up. In contrast, Jesus wants us to come to him like little children, just as we are.” (A Praying Life)
1. Do you find it hard to pray? Or do you find yourself praying less than you might because you have your filter turned up so high?
2. Does the imagery of coming to God like a little child help in your understanding of what prayer can and should be like? What characteristics of little children would lend themselves to a prayer life that God desires?
3. What are some other reasons why you don’t pray more? What sort of steps can you take to change that?