“By our trying to clean ourselves up and do the work that God alone can do, prayer is put in service of our need to feel good about our spiritual life. If we go to prayer looking for a mirror to reflect our goodness back to us, prayer will never be a life-giving place of honesty.”- Kyle Strobel and John Coe
“O LORD, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?”- Psalm 88:14 (ESV)
As Kyle Strobel and John Coe continues Chapter 4 of Where Prayer Becomes Real, they make this observation. That we all desire to truly be looked at and attended to deeply. In other words, we crave attention. Yet, we also fear our sins exposing us. Just as Adam and Ever hid from God in the garden, the fallen human soul attempts to hide its badness.
Thus, we want God and others to see us in our goodness. But when we fail to experience that goodness, we assume that it’s better to hide. The authors go on to explain:
“Perhaps the most deceptive temptation is to believe that the way we see ourselves is the way God perceives us. This is deceptive because it takes our brokenness and projects it onto God. When we pray, ‘Why do you hide your face from me?’ which is a perfectly good and honest prayer, what we really should mean is, ‘Lord, why does it feel like you’re hiding your face from me?’. . . prayer invites us into struggle with God — to tell him why we are struggling with him. Rather than seeing those struggles as invitations into a deeper life of prayer, we are tempted to just ‘pray better.’ ”
In addition, Kyle and John counsel, we tend to turn to fantasy when we grit our teeth and pray better. However, God calls us into His presence in reality. Not fantasy. But we pursue fantasy because it feels safer. And maybe, just maybe, we think, God won’t notice.
As a result, the authors assert, we find prayer alienating, lonely, and, quite honestly, boring. When this occurs, prayer serves as a means to manage God. Hardly the way to fuel an intimate life of prayer.
Today’s question: What Scriptures help you avoid using prayer as a mirror to reflect your goodness back to you? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Honest about sin and brokenness”