I’m re-reading what has become a new favorite of mine, The Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller. He talks about the welcoming heart of God in chapter one, about how we think we have to be all organized and perfected before we can go to God. Miller says, no, we need to come to God like little children–snotty nosed, whiny, needy, egocentric–however we find ourselves on any given day: “Come to me,” he says.
When we find the disciples on the road one day in Mark 9:33-37, they are arguing, “Who will sit at God’s right hand?” they challenge each other. Sounds like children trying to cut in the front of the line at elementary school, doesn’t it? But is it really okay to come to God like this? So completely self-absorbed and prideful? Yes! He wants us to come to him with no pretense, no putting on a facade of godliness, no pretending we are something we are not. Come snotty, come proud, come angry, come sad. Come!
As I read Miller’s second chapter, I realized that I had been avoiding God lately. We’ve been experiencing some pretty serious “stuff” lately, and I have found that when I spend time with God, I cry. And cry. And cry. I had been thinking, “When I feel better, I’ll go to him, then I can really pray, and not just cry.” I didn’t want to cry anymore, so I simply stopped going to him. But sometimes we need our Dad and his welcoming heart in order to finish the grieving process.
Miller calls his readers to a new, realer form of prayer. One that involves unlearning some of the things we’ve been taught over the years, for example, that we have to cover a, b, c whenever we pray, or if I do x, y, z, then he will hear me, or I have to kneel when I pray. You know what I mean; you’ve probably had a few ideas pop into your head already.
I have to get over the idea that prayer is a duty, rather than a release and a connection and a relationship and a blessing and something like air that I cannot live without. I have to learn to simply go to him, no matter my condition. Preoccupied? Go to him. Grieving? Go to him. Guilty? Go to him. Just go.