The truth of the matter is, we all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives— altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter. Frankly, this side of eternity we will never unravel the good from the bad, the pure from the impure. But what I have come to see is that God is big enough to receive us with all our mixture. We do not have to be bright, or pure, or filled with faith, or anything. That is what grace means…
— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the Heart’s True Home
I’m constantly wrestling to be okay with who I am versus who I should be. I’m always evaluating myself and my situation to determine what qualities I should be expressing and displaying. I’m always asking myself,
“What does this situation demand?”
And rarely asking myself,
“How do you feel? What do you need?”
It’s just part of my nature. Or more honestly, it’s just easier to ask and answer the first question. It’s so much easier to answer an essay question than it is to simply express myself. I just give them what they want. I still don’t know what I want, much less how to obtain it.
The same thing happens when I pray.
I know scriptures and forms, I know what to pray for and who to pray for, but I seldom come to God to ask for what I need. I ask for rest when I’m tired and I know how pray my way through money trouble, but I don’t pray for my deepest desires to be fulfilled. I don’t pray for my little insecurities or my fears, I don’t even pray for joy or success. I typically don’t pray for things that wouldn’t matter to people outside of myself because I don’t want to seem selfish, wasteful, or trivial. But God accepts all of these things. He wants to hear them and wants me to stretch my comfort zone to share them. It’s difficult and uncomfortable, and I don’t always feel that I’m good at it, or that it’s really worth it, but like Richard Foster said,
“That is what grace means, and not only are we saved by grace, we live by it as well. And we pray by it.”