24 Jun I Can’t Pray Any More Beautiful, Meaningless Prayers
Scalding water beat on my back as I rested my forehead on the shower wall. The tears falling down my cheeks mixed with the water from the shower, and one was as hot as the other.
I didn’t want to cry — I tried to resolve that I wouldn’t — but I’m one of those people who cries when she’s angry, and this day, I was angry.
I was angry at God.
Sometimes my prayers are generalities, like “Lord, would you keep my kids safe today?” and some are more specific. The prayer I had been praying and keeping in the back of my mind for a couple of years was very specific. I had asked God to grant one very small request — a request that, in my mind, He had no reason not to grant. It was small in the grand scheme of things, a minor blip on most people’s radar, but one that mattered a whole lot to me.
But He said no.
He said no, and to be blunt and very non-spiritual sounding, I was royally ticked off.
And this is why. He said no, and He didn’t explain why. He said no, and then He was silent about it. He said no, and Him saying yes was very important to me.
His no felt like a slap in the face.
Brene Brown writes about the stories we tell ourselves, a phrase I’ve come to love, and her teachings on this come back to me often. She teaches that whenever we’re in an emotional state, our feelings tend to drive our perception, and our facts tend to be clouded by our feelings.
I know this to be true.
That day in the shower, I told myself stories. I told myself that God didn’t answer my prayer because He didn’t love me enough to do so. He didn’t answer my prayer because it was too insignificant for Him to even pay attention to.
I was too insignificant.
Brown writes, “Storytelling helps us all impose order on chaos—including emotional chaos. When we’re in pain, we create a narrative to help us make sense of it. This story doesn’t have to be based on any real information.”
As I sobbed over God’s no that day, the story I listened to was not based on any real information. But it felt real. And that’s what mattered.
Here’s what I’ve learned as I’ve walked with Christ: He can handle us feeling what we feel, and He can handle us sharing it with Him.
I told him that day exactly how I was feeling, and even though our conversation didn’t feel like a prayer, that’s exactly what it was. We’ve been conditioned to think that prayer is formal and scripted, beautiful and tidy.
It’s often not — or at least, it shouldn’t be.
When I’m having conversations with my husband, they’re often messy and ugly. They’re certainly not scripted, and they sometimes get heated. I share with him the truth of how I’m feeling — rational or not.
Why should it be any different with God?
Certainly there should be a reverence, and always there should be a remembrance of who God is. But never should there be a withholding. He can handle our truths. He can handle our feelings. And not only can He — but He wants to.
I can say to God, “I love you and I trust you, but I don’t understand. I don’t get this, and I don’t like it.”
An admission of hurt or an acknowledgment of disappointment does not equal blasphemy.
I believe God honors honesty. And let’s hope He does, because I cannot pray any more beautiful, meaningless prayers. I can only be honest, saying when I’m sad, sharing when I’m upset, and questioning when I can’t understand. I want my relationship with my God to be real, and real, in my eyes, isn’t tidied up and sanitized. It isn’t fake and superficial. It’s raw. It’s truthful. It’s sometimes being angry and crying in the shower.