Putting on the mask of superficiality started young for me. I was in kindergarten and it was circle time. My teacher asked,
“What is your favorite food?”
After much internal 5-year-old deliberation, I said,
“Spinach. Because it will make me strong like Popeye.”
Such a lie. I hated spinach. But, I wanted others to like me. I wanted a laugh. I wanted approval and admiration (as if spinach was the answer). So, I put on the mask of superficiality. It wasn’t the genuine me…my favorite food was really those awful little Vienna sausages in a can.
Superficiality can also spill over into our prayers with God.
We strap on the mask of a “good Christian.” We utter flimsy prayers we think we should say. We only go so far, not ever revealing our true person. We never expose our genuine thoughts, longings, and desires. We don’t want to admit the messiness of our condition. So, we put on the mask of superficiality praying to God through rote memory, keeping our relationship at a distance.
How do we turn those superficial prayers into genuine conversations with God? What kinds of things do we need to be honest about to build a genuine relationship with God and to have an interesting and satisfying prayer life?
1. Be Honest with your reality. Look at your situation realistically and talk to God about it. It may seem funny to tell Him what He already knows but it’s the admission and dependence that fosters sweet intimacy and genuineness.
Don’t sugar coat where you are. If you are in a tough place, see it, say it, and struggle within it. Things like: My dad has cancer. This was a terrible parenting day. That person is difficult to deal with.
David, one of the best prayers in the Bible, is a great role model to learn from. He didn’t close his eyes to his messy life. He saw it and faced it. He messed up big time with adultery and murder. His son was after his throne and rallied a coup to hunt him down. Thousands of men were searching to find and kill him.
“How many are my foes? How many rise up against me?” Psalm 3: 1
2. Be Honest with your emotions. You have permission to tell God your honest emotions, no matter how crazy they are. Pour it all out. As you pour out your heart, trust, intimacy, and dependence can be strengthen.
Again, we see David honestly and bravely telling God how he feels.
How many rise up against me! [defenseless] Many are saying of me [despised], “God will not deliver him [doubtful].” Psalm 3:1-2
He may have felt defenseless, despised, and doubtful. But, he talked with God about it- even when his emotions were unbrave, unfaith-filled, and lacked trust.
My salvation and my honor depend on God, He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:7-8
Let’s marinate on these two for a bit. Take some time for self-reflection and prayer.
- What is my reality right now?
- What things are going on in my life that are a struggle, difficult, challenging? Or joy-filled and a delight?
- How do I feel about those things? Angry, shameful, happy, excited, anxious, worried?
- Am I able to freely and honestly share these with God in prayer? If not, why? If not, try it now.
Talk with God about all that is swirling around your head and in your heart. I have found that honesty like this breaks down the walls and fosters such sweet intimacy with the Father who loves you so.
See you next week for Part 2: Turning Superficial Prayers into Genuine Conversations!