Can I be candid with you? Let’s face it. Those are words we’d prefer to run away from, because candor usually means we’re going to hear a person’s unfiltered opinion… very possibly about something we’ve done. On the other hand, if you hear those words from your best friend, you’re apt to lean in. Friends – best friends – thrive on honesty, even when it’s awkward.
Yesterday, our small group had an amazing, in-depth discussion on what it means to be “candid” with God. As Dr. Kalas explains in Chapter 2 of Longing to Pray, he chose the words candor and candid quite deliberately. “I might have used the word honest, but I have a specific image in mind.” The image is similar to an unbecoming candid snapshot of ourselves where we think, “I don’t look like that!” when apparently we did at that moment! Sometimes being candid with friends means revealing emotions we wish we could take back later.
Dr. Kalas calls these “just now” moments. Moments when we’re at the height of our anger, or disappointment, or mourning. Moments when we speak openly from a place of deep pain. Later, we may realize we didn’t really mean everything we said. But “just now,” in the midst of our lamenting, we say what we feel.
This is how the psalmists approach God. They say things that seem to border on blasphemy to us. In Psalm 44, the Sons of Korah accuse God of making them “like sheep for slaughter… scattered us among the nations. You [God] have sold your people for a trifle.”
Wow! Now that’s candor. It’s also an example of what it sounds like to give voice to pain. The psalmists tell us that God can handle our cries in those “just now” moments when we’re questioning his love and doubting his presence. As Joni Eareckson Tada (a quadriplegic as the result of a swimming accident) said to a reporter’s question, “Sure, I still get angry [at God]…. sure, I’m angry…. I just think it’s better to get angry at God, than to walk away from Him.” As Dr. Kalas says, “This is the wisdom of candor.”
Those remarkable persons who left us the prayers that make up the book of Psalms believed in God so much that they dared to tell God exactly how they felt, even when their feelings were irreverent, doubting, and accusing…. Beneath the anger was a loving trust that was certain the friendship could stand the kind of ugly stress that expresses itself in nasty words. (Longing to Pray, p 24)
Don’t avoid God because your words aren’t all roses and sunshine. Our friendship with him is strong enough to handle our “just now” moments. As the psalmist writes, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). God knows our pain. Don’t be afraid to speak your feelings, or to ask for strength and peace. You might even find a psalm that does both.
God bless you!
What an amazing discussion we had during Sunday School today as we started Chapter 1 of Longing to Pray! Please feel free to share our website information with others who might be interested in learning more about prayer, especially those unable to join us in person (shut-ins, those recovering from illness, a co-worker two counties over, your cousin out West… maybe as far West as Hawaii LOL!).
Our brainstorming board from this morning is below, as well as a brief outline of things we discussed:
- More people pray than believe in God. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? This was the conclusion of a study conducted in Britain. The study also revealed that most of the prayers sent up by both believers and non-believers are somewhat self-serving (praying in desperation, or wanting prayer “just in case”). However, all prayers – no matter what the motivation or belief of the individual – reflect a very innate, human need/desire to speak with a higher power…. maybe it’s the tug of the Holy Spirit. We just need to remember that there are many different ways to talk to God that don’t involve asking for something we want or need (praise, thanks, forgiveness for others).
- We all desire to pray well. But what does that mean, really? Sometimes our prayers are extremely basic – help, thanks, and wow – and they might not be the most eloquent prayers. Thankfully, there aren’t any wrong ways to pray. As long as we talk to God (even with all our uhs and ums), our Father listens. Something as simple as “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” reflects our relationship with God as our Lord and King who has the power and desire to forgive our sins – a need we have on a daily basis. Bottom line: Don’t let fear of not praying the “right” way keep you from doing it.
- The Psalms are the very heart of the Bible. Located in the center of the Bible, the Psalms are poems, songs, and prayers that reflect every human emotion. Our hearts can be broken, inspired, filled with joy. The Psalms capture it all. As Dr. Kalas says, the authors of the Psalms are experts in prayer. We will learn so much from them by “listening in” on their conversations with God.
Next Sunday we’ll wrap up any lingering thoughts on Ch. 1 and move on into Chapter 2. Comments are enabled on all blog entries, so continue the discussion here throughout the week if you like 🙂
God, thank you for such an awe-inspiring group of people to worship and study with. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who compels each one of us to seek you out so that we may share with you our praise, love, cares, frustrations, and fears; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.