Thursday, September 28, 2006

"The starting point is to be honest"

In the first sermon of a planned series titled "Finding God When Life is Hard," Mark D. Roberts has this to say about prayer:
"Most of us have learned somehow that we're not supposed to be honest with God when it comes to our doubts, our fears, our anger, our disappointments. So we end up saying things that we think we should say in prayer, like, 'Thank you, Lord, for this suffering,' when our hearts are crying, 'Why have you let this happen to me?' And when this sort of prayer game seems too inauthentic to bother, we stop praying altogether. The example of Job gives us permission to be honest with God, even when that honesty is very untidy.

"Recently a woman shared with me a sad story. After praying for her non-Christian mother for decades, her aged mother, who was struggling with a potentially terminal disease, finally gave her life to Christ. And you know what happened? This poor mother's physical symptoms got worse, and then she got mad at God, understandably so. The woman who shared this with me said, 'I don't even know how to pray to God about this. What should I say?' My first response was, 'Well, you might begin by telling Him that you think this really stinks.' The woman was shocked: 'I'd never thought of saying that. But that is what I think. That's how I feel.' You see, by failing to tell God what she really thought and felt, this woman was unintentionally creating distance between herself and the Lord. Rather than finding God in the midst of her hard life, she was losing touch with Him. Her starting point with the Lord was simply to be honest.

"My friends, God wants to hear what you really think, what you really feel. Trying to fake him out doesn't work. Moreover, it keeps you far from the Lord, rather than leading you to Him. So, if you want to find God when life is hard, you can begin by stopping the game playing, and by telling Him exactly what's going on inside of you. God can handle it all: your fear, your doubt, your discouragement, your anger. He yearns for the real you, not some religious icon you've created to fake Him out."

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