Can I Pray?

prayer - bacon - breakfast table

Just a few hours ago, my family invited a 10-year-old girl into our home. Through Safe Families, we have opened up our home to a lot of kids over the years. Some stay for a weekend, others for weeks, one stayed for two years. But the little girl I met yesterday did something no one ever has in our home. She asked a question at the dinner table.

My wife Noel and I made supper for all 5 kids. The table was loaded with eggs, pancakes (including gluten-free for two of the kids), and bacon.

Let’s just pause to appreciate the bacon.

I’m back now. The table is set and Noel asks, “Who would like to pray?”

“Can I pray?” our guest whispers.

“Of course” my wife answers.

“Can I say anything to God?”

“Yes you can.”

Then this girl, who was celebrating her birthday away from her mama and siblings, unleashes an honest prayer to God that left me in tears. She asked God to help her be good while her mom works things out, to help her be strong because a couple of months is a long time and she thinks of her mama always, and that she would try hard to hang on tight.

There are many times, too many times, I fail to pray this honestly before God. In recent days, I’ve been studying the Psalms of Lament. These passages are raw complaints before God they often follow a simple format: an expression of ruthlessly honest thoughts and feelings before God, calling to God for help (often out of desperation), and affirming trust in God by turning to praise. Let’s pause to look at Psalm 69:

Verses 1-12: Raw expression of thoughts and feelings before God

Save me, O God,

   for the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in the miry depths,

   where there is no foothold.

I have come into the deep waters;

   the floods engulf me (Psalm 69:1-3)

Verses 13-18: Calling to God for help

But I pray to you, Lord,

   in the time of your favor;

in your great love, O God,

   answer me with your sure salvation.

Rescue me from the mire,

   do not let me sink;

deliver me from those who hate me,

   from the deep waters (Psalm 69:13-14)

Verses 30-36: Affirmation of trust in God

Let heaven and earth praise him,

   the seas and all that move in them,

for God will save Zion

   and rebuild the cities of Judah (Psalm 69:34-35)

Maybe you are facing something raw in your life right now. Can I just encourage you to pray honestly before God? Take a lesson from a 10 year old, you can say anything. God is stronger than the words we say to Him, He is closer than the trouble we face, and His strength is higher than the depths we find ourselves under.

Romans 15 verse 13 ICB translation

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