Sometimes I wish I could forget some of the stuff Jesus said.
Because when I remember, it really messes up my prayers.
Now I like to pray. For a number of reasons. Even putting aside the question of whether prayer ‘works’ (I’ll consider that in my next post). For example, prayer makes me feel just the right amount of religious. I get to tick my ‘give some attention to God’ box on my ‘things that make me better than the average person’ list. (In case you’re wondering, yes I just made that up. I don’t have such a list. Although, now I mention it….) Prayer makes me feel that I have done something to make me a bit more spiritual and moral, which personally I think feels nice.
But then Jesus comes along and ruins it. Because he won’t let me play that game. He calls me out, and forces me to make some very tough choices.
Here’s what I mean. Jesus says stuff like this:
“Why do you call me Lord, Lord. Yet do not do what I command?”
When I pray I tend to address Jesus as ‘Lord.’ I didn’t use to. In fact I thought it a bit odd when people did. But now I recognise that it’s a bit weird not to. What’s the point in praying to someone unless they actually are Lord? Preferably the Lord. I.e. Unless they have the power to do something about your requests.
But because of this question of Jesus, I now can’t pray without a moment of reflection, ‘Is he my Lord?’ ‘Am I living like it?’ ‘Or am I being a hypocrite?’
This moment tends to becomes a crisis. My answers range from ‘Not as much as I could’ to ‘Ah…’ I recognise that I’m acting like a disobedient and stupid school kid:
“Sir! Sir! Bobby’s hide my gameboy!” (I’m talking the original gameboy)
“And why do you have your gameboy at school?”
So I’m forced to confess my failings and ask for strength, help, guidance, forgiveness. Pride gives way, and finally becomes praise. “I thank you that I am not like…” becomes “Have mercy on me, a sinner” and then simply “Thank you.”
And thus what I intended to be a gently religious act becomes a moment of repentance: the shift once more from loving myself to loving God and loving others.
People say that you can’t have Jesus as your Saviour, unless you’re also willing to have him as your Lord. It seems to me that the reverse is also true. He makes sure of it.
What about you? Has Jesus ever ruined your prayers?