Emotions and prayer (part 2)
Have we ever considered that how we pray to God can have an impact on getting what we ask for in prayer?
Maybe that’s why we tend to sanitize our words and feelings when we pray…we’re afraid that if we’re “too emotional” then we’re being “immature” and then God won’t listen. To compensate for this fear, we pray in a monotone or sing-song voice that we would never, ever use when talking with anyone else. However, Jesus trusted God the Father with not only his prayers and appeals, but also with his emotions that came out during them.
Hebrews 5:7 During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals, with loud cries and tears, to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.
The author of Hebrews makes an interesting connection between the reverence of Jesus’ prayers and appeals and those requests being granted. Jesus talked to the Father with full emotion; however, he remained reverent while doing so. From this, we see that we have the freedom to be open and honest with our feelings and emotions before God, but we do not have license to be disrespectful in our expression of them.
Think of a selfish child demanding something he wants from his father. His request will be self-centered, and he will only view his father as a means to the end he desires. Even if the son’s request is valid, a good father will be more interested in long-term health of their relationship than the particular request of the moment. The father may decide to delay or deny the request in order to ensure that the relationship is as it should be.
God always has our long-term best in mind, even if we are consumed by our immediate circumstances.
To be reverent means to have a respectful, healthy fear; to proceed with caution, be circumspect, or to exercise discretion. From Christ’s example, we see that it’s ok to be real with God…however, it is not ok to be rude. It was these reverent elements of Jesus’ prayers that ensured his requests were heard…and when we remember who God is, we’re more inclined to make requests that are in line with God’s desires.
So we must ask ourselves: In what ways are my own prayers “reverent”? Do I keep God the Father as the main focus, do I keep who He is in perspective? Or since I’ve been adopted into His family, do I sometimes forget that He is the King of Everything?
Perhaps this connection between being reverent and being heard was the reason why Jesus taught his disciples to begin their prayers with
Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus both modeled and taught that we need to reverently remember whom we speak to when we pray. The main focus of our prayers isn’t us, or even our requests…the main focus is the One we are offering the prayers and appeals to.
So let’s be fully honest and open with God when we pray. We are free to express our loud cries, our tears, our emotions…but we are not free to forget whom we are petitioning with those feelings.