It seems that there are two distinct camps concerning the approach to God in prayer.
On one side, you find a bunch of King James-speaking types who fill their prayers with ‘thee,’ ‘thine,’ and ‘thou.’ The women all have long hair (probably up in a bun) and floor-length dresses. The men are sure to be wearing a tie and wingtips, or at the very least, some classy looking loafers. Large glasses are optional, but encouraged. They are, for sure, a very sincere bunch of Christ followers.
Opposite them is a group of young and irreverent punks who call God ‘Daddy’ and just say whatever they like. The women wear earrings, too much make-up, and too much hairspray, and the men all have beards that look unkempt and style their hair in an abominably long fashion. In addition, they seem unable to tuck in their shirts, and somehow find it appropriate to wear shorts in God’s house! They are also a sincere bunch of Christ followers.
I’ve certainly over-simplified these people, but I’m sure you’ve got at least one person in mind who fits into both categories. Personally, I like my beard and my necktie. I’m a complicated sort of a mess. I think both camps have a lot to offer, and I’m of the opinion that we can find ourselves in both camps at different times. Both have their place, but neither has a corner on the market.
Consider the teaching that we ought to hit God with both barrels when the chips are down. The theory here is that God already knows our heart, so why try to cover anything up? And in theory, this is a great approach. However, the next time you disagree with your boss, I challenge you to hit him with both barrels. What do you suppose his answer will be? Chances are good that he will no longer be your boss, and he will no longer be signing your paychecks. You have to treat your boss with respect and dignity. He is in charge, after all. You might not agree with everything he does, but you can’t act like a toddler and expect to be treated like an adult.
The same is true with God. We’re called not just to salvation, but to spiritual maturity. We can’t stay babes in Christ forever. For many of us, I’m afraid that the milk has long soured, but we’re still refusing to eat anything of substance, still throwing a tantrum when we don’t get our way, and still wetting ourselves during the night. God will change your diapers just as long as you need Him to do so, but it’s possible that someone of your stature in soiled pants in enough to turn someone off of Christianity. Your childish attitude isn’t just your problem. It affects those around you more than you can realize, and probably refuse to realize because you’re selfish and immature. In short, it stinks, and no one wants to be around it.
Disagreeing with God is tantamount to unbelief. You’re saying that you are right and He is wrong. You place more trust in your own wisdom than His. That’s thin ice. Just as the man who cried out to Jesus that He help his unbelief, maybe instead of whining, we should pray that God would conform our will to His. Instead of putting God in His place, we would do well to allow Him to put us in our own. Let’s stop complaining when we don’t like God’s plan, and instead repent of our rebellion and just let Him be God. He’s been God forever, and is doing a better job than you could ever do.
Be honest with God, but try respectful of God, too. He loves you regardless, but you’d make a great adult!
The following hymn was originally written in Latin, probably by a guy named Bonaventura in the thirteenth century. It was translated to English by Frederick Oakeley and first published in 1853. The hymn sings to me a tale of juxtaposition. In Christ’s sufferings, we are blessed. In His death, we find life. Through His humiliation, we are exalted. It’s a great little ditty, and one of my best interpretations to date, if I say so myself. Feel free to disagree in the comment section. I can take it.
Fires burn best in the cold.
Light shines brightest in the darkness.
Joy is best known juxtaposed to pain, and
Silence is most deafening when uninvited.
Born in the lowest of places,
In the smallest of towns,
To the least-likely family,
God was born a man.
Without man’s approval,
Despite man’s opposition,
Christ spoke the teachers to silence,
And gave a voice to the mute.
He is strong in my weakness,
Exalted in my humility,
Glorified in my brokenness, and
Graceful in my sin.
Sight is given only to the blind.
Healing is just for the sick.
Rest is given to the weary, and
Life is reserved for the dead.
Check out the original here.