Excerpt from Life As We Would Want It..Life as We Are Given by Ken Gire)
The language of prayer spans the lexicon of human emotion. There are the light vowels of joy and the low gutterals of sorrow. There are the gliding consonants of faith and the hard consonants of doubt. The syntax is sometimes clear, other times convoluted. The sentences are sometimes punctuated with exclamation marks, other times with question marks. This is as it should be, if it is to be an honest dialogue. C .S. Lewis said that “we should bring to God what is in us, not what ought to be in us“. The “oughts” will keep us from telling the truth. They will also keep us from feeling the truth. Especially the truth about pain.
We can be too careful with our words, especially when we pray. We can be too quick to come to conclusions about what happened to us and why. Too quick to make sense of it all. Too quick to see God in it all.
When Jesus received news of John the Baptist’s death, He didn’t draw a lesson from it or talk about what good might come from it. He went away by Himself and mourned (Matt. 14:1-13)
When Jesus realized the nearness of His own death, he went to a quiet place and prayed (Matt. 26:36-46). Into that garden, where the shadows of death surrounded Him, Jesus brought His closest friends. His soul, He told them, was “deeply grieved, to the point of death” (Matt.26:38). He wanted them there, needed them there. Desperately.
Jesus reached into the depths of His soul for whatever words He could find that spoke the truth of his pain. Many of those words cut Him on their way up. We are told that He agonized with “loud crying and tears” (Heb. 5:7). We are also told that He fell to the ground, where He prayed fervently and sweated profusely (Luke 22:44)
This was no Renaissance painting. This was a real portrait, a portrait of how we pray when the earth beneath our feet begins to quake. We pray however we can, with whatever words we can. We pray with our sweat, with out tears. And with whatever friends we have who will sit with us in the darkness.