A few years ago I preached a sermon about being real with God when we pray Stop Faking It, in which I said;
“Stop faking, it. It's okay. You can say anything to the Lord anytime you feel like it, and in any way you feel like it. Now that doesn't mean that you can be disrespectful. Don’t ever forget that He is God and He can, like our parents used to say, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out, and make another one just like you”. What I mean is that you can be real with God, He won't come down on you for telling Him how you really feel. He is always open and real with you and he wants you to be real with Him. He's your friend and he loves you. When you have a true friend you can talk to them about anything, anytime, and pour out your soul to them. So let’s be real with God in our conversations with Him. Our prayers should be conversations where we talk to our friend and He talks to us and we are both open with each other.
We should let our real emotions show in our conversations with Him. After all He has emotions and He doesn’t deny them, or hide them from us.
Our friendship with God deepens when we risk being open and honest as we talk with Him. Let’s stop “faking the funk”.
When we learned to pray as children our prayers were what we heard adults say. “Lord I thank you for this food we are about to receive may it nourish our bodies in Jesus name Amen” “Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take, God bless mother, and father, bless my brother, etc., etc”. Our parents or grandparents told us we could ask God for anything so we did, especially at birthday and Christmas time. We would ask Him for anything, even things, that we know now He would never do, like killing that bully that chased us home every day. Mike Jr. said that He even prayed that the school would blow up so he wouldn't have to take a test. The point is that we didn't struggle with trying to figure out what to say and how to say it.
When we were kids, when we fell down and skinned our knee we ran to our parents crying because we knew they would make it better. We cried when we were disappointed, or angry, or sad, and sometimes when we were happy. As we got older and more mature all that changed, and now we’re all grown up. We don’t cry so much and we try reasoning our way out of hurts and problems. We don’t want our parents, family or friends to think we can’t handle things ourselves. It’s the same way in our relationship with God. All of a sudden we are big boys and girls and we don’t want to appear helpless. Suddenly we think that we have to come to God in a different way now that we are all grown up.”
Today, we have the tendency to put on masks. When people ask you how you”re doing, the answer is usually something like “I’m doing great.” oftentimes we say “I’m blessed and highly favored.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying this when it's true, what about when it’s not? We feel the pressure that we have to put the mask on, because after all we are people of faith and since God is good we have to feel good all the time.
But what do you do when you don’t feel this way? How do you approach God and people when your faith is small, when you can’t believe and when you wonder if God is even listening?
There is a story of a leper in one of the towns that Jesus visited. When he learned that Jesus was coming through went out and without any pretension begged Jesus the heal him.
Luke 5:12-13 NLT In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
This man was an outcast. He was probably in excruciating pain. He was a broken man, and in his brokenness he reached out to Jesus for help.
It doesn’t matter how you were broken. It may have been at a time when you were doing everything right. You were living right, serving right, giving right, and all or a sudden out of the blue you were hit with life. We live in a broken world and stuff sometimes happens. Even Jesus said it.
John 16:33 NLT I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
On the other hand, maybe you are doing everything wrong. You’ve made a series of bad decisions and choices and your life feels like it’s falling apart. You;re in a broken place too.
It doesn’t matter how you got there you are broken. So what do you do? I have a few suggestions and they all require that you remove your mask.
Too often we make the mistake of thinking we have to come to Jesus with everything right. The same mask we wear when we see and communicate with people we take into prayer. Here’s some advice. Stop thinking you have to always have it all right, all the time. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to have your faith right, your worship right, you have to pray the right words. That’s not what God responds to.
Take off the mask. Broken prayers aren’t perfect prayers, but they come from a place of humility and honesty. That’s exactly what God wants.
Psalms 51:17 NLT The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
2. God Doesn’t Only Respond to Our Faith, He Also Responds to Our Brokenness
Here is something very important that I don’t want you to miss about Jesus’ encounter with the leper. Before He healed him He touched him. He touched a man that had been shunned by society. He was an outcast. He may not have been touched by someone in years, but before Jesus addressed his obvious physical need for healing, he addressed the less obvious emotional need to be touched. This man never prayed a great prayer of faith but Jesus responded to a cry for help.
It’s ok to come just as you are. Don’t worry about having everything perfect, God will respond to your broken condition.
3. When You Touch the Heart of God, It Will Move the Hand of God
Jesus told the leper “’I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.”
I believe that this man’s situation touched Jesus’ heart and He acted.
Jesus acted immediately in this case but I want to caution you. When you remove the mask and pray broken prayers, sometimes God will change the situation instantly, however sometimes the situation doesn’t change but He will change you instantly. When you remove the mask you may come to God broken, but you will walk away whole.
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
If you are sick you may walk away healed, but even if God doesn’t heal you, walk away whole.
- If you are discouraged you will walk away encouraged.
- If you come with no faith you walk away believing God to do great things in your life.
- If you come with no joy you walk away with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
The beauty of the broken prayer is that God takes it, strengthens you and gives you the confidence to know that God is going to bring you through.
So take off the mask!