Several years ago, there was a panel discussion that included and Anglican Bishop, a Catholic Bishop, and a Rabbi. The discussion focused on life, dealing with suffering and illness, and the general unfairness of life. One of the questions that the moderator asked was this: “When you pray, do you ever get upset with God and really lay into Him?”
“Oh, no,” the Catholic Bishop said, “We always pray with respect.” And the Anglican bishop pretty much said the same thing: “We always pray with the greatest reverence.”
It was the Rabbi who offered a different response. He said, “We believe as Christians do that we are called—-actually chosen by God. That’s not just a pious thought. It really happened. God chose us and we are his people and He is our God! So when things aren’t going well, we say to God, ‘Come on, God, we need your help! You’re God, right? If you called us, and we have to go through all this suffering, how about giving us some of your grace—-giving us your help!’
We talk to God in a very straightforward way. And we pray to God in this way because we trust God.”
The two bishops were not looking at the rabbi, they were staring straight ahead. The rabbi turned to them and said, “Even the Apostles, when they were in a boat during a terrible storm, and there was the threat that they were going down, woke Jesus up and said, ‘Aren’t you concerned for us?’ And Jesus got up, calmed the storm and said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’
Isn’t it also true that even on the cross, Jesus begins to pray that famous psalm: ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’ But that prayer ends with an expression of great faith and trust in God—-‘Father into your hands I commend my spirit.’
So I think that when you pray, you can speak plainly with God. God can take it! He wants you to do it that way.
Isaiah writes: “For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed…” In other words, “You have freed us from our burden.”
The rabbi gives great advice, I would say. So pray to God like you mean it. Pray like you expect God to do something. Pray in a way that ensures God will hear you. Prayer should really be a reflection of the kind of relationship we actually have with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Have confidence that God hears you, that God cares about you, and that God will help! What does the Lord ask in return? That we have some faith.