Me: Howdy, Prodigal. You look so far away on the bench?
Prodigal: Am I far away or are you one the that is causing the distance?
Me: That is a good question?
Who has not been in a position that we feel God is far away? In fact I think that is more common then we would all admit. How do we get close to God? What are the small steps that make that possible? Dorothy Sayers breaks down our feelings about God and how we feel when we speak to him in prayer. I would like to share what she has written.
If a person wrongs me unjustly, I have several options. I can seek personal revenge, a response condemned by the Bible. I can deny or suppress my feelings of hurt and anger. Or, I can take those feelings to God, entrusting God with the task of retributive justice. The cursing psalms are vivid examples of that last option. The authors are expressing their outrage to God, not to the enemy.
Instinctively, we want to clean up our feelings in our prayers, but perhaps we have it all backwards. Perhaps we should strive to take all our worst feelings to God. After all, what would be gossip when addressed to anyone else, is petition when addressed to God. What is vengeful curse when spoken about someone (“Damn those people!”) is a plea of helpless dependence when spoken directly to God (“It’s up to you to damn those people-only you are a just judge”).
I see the cursing psalms as an important model for how to deal with evil and injustice. I should not try to suppress my reaction of horror and outrage at evil. Nor should I try to take justice in my own hands. Rather, I should deliver those feelings, stripped bare, to God. As the books of Job, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk clearly show, God has a high threshold of tolerance for what is appropriate to say in a prayer. God can “handle” my unsuppressed rage. I may well find that my vindictive feelings need God’s correction-but only by taking those feelings to God will I have that opportunity for correction and healing.
My own personal healing has come in the form of tears, grief, anger and calling out to God with all those emotions at once. I can say that people in my life have not been able to take those raw emotions at times (Aaron my brother has done a pretty good job) but only God has been able to take those emotions over and over again until I am drained. Only God is available 24 hours a day and has not time limit in our prayer time. Taking these emotions to God does this make you closer? Trust me try this over and over again long enough and God will seem very close!
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Jennifer Van Allen