I recently ran a poll on Disqus asking "why Do Christians hate prayer?" I know, I know, we don’t hate prayer, per se, we just never do it.
I get it.
Of course, people immediately engaged the clickbait with PIRANHA-like instincts, to tell me how much they didn't hate prayer! Eventually the outrage subsided and some real answers began to emerge.
The number one response was exactly what I expected it to be:
People don’t approach God because they’re not perfect.
The instinct here is right on – you should be perfect to enter the presence of a holy God - Just look at Uzzah - but the conclusion is a little off.
This is the typical recipe for a lie from Satan – part truth + part lie = whole lie – See Jesus in the wilderness.
Agree With Your Adversary
I once heard a teacher reference Matthew 5:25 in regards to shame,
“Agree with your adversary quickly while you are on the way”
The word Greek word for Adversary is used for Satan elsewhere.
When you experience shame and condemnation, the thought was agree with the accuser right away, but don’t buy into the other half of the lie.
“You’re right, Satan, I did have a ton of sin in my life, but thank God Jesus made me a new creation and paid for my sins once and for all!”
I’m not sure how I feel about the hermeneutic on this one, but I love the thought!
Super Attractive Lies…
The shame and condemnation truth/lie equation is one of the easiest to believe because it feels so right! Never has sin felt so much like righteousness as it has with shame. God hates sin; I should feel bad about it! Right? Isn’t that called conviction? 15 years into my journey with Christ, there’s not a lot of lies I don’t immediately recognize as such. But with condemnation, the counterfeit feels so similar to the authentic that it's incredibly hard to discern between the two.
Projecting ourselves onto God
When we think of God as merciful, we view him as such, through the lens of our own mercy and forgiveness towards others – which happens to be both finite and fallen.
Here’s what I mean.
If Suzy messes up and lies to you, you'll forgive her once - IF , and only if, she apologizes. We may do it two or even three more times if we’re really great Christians, but eventually enough is enough! Essentially we have a mercy tank, that has so much mercy and patience, and when we’re out, we’re out. If you have kids you know the first 3 times your kid spills milk on his outfit, you may handle it like a champ, but the fourth and fifth time in as many days, and your tone begins to change.
Because your tank is running low…
This is where we get it all wrong about God.
God’s goodness, his mercy, and his hesed, is not finite like ours, but infinite. God has no tank, and nothing in his nature has a beginning or end.
We also show mercy because we have to, and assume the same about God. I’ll forgive because I have to, even though I’m hurt, and it's hard. Where we show mercy because we have to, God shows mercy because he loves to! That’s right, it’s something he loves doing! Time and again the scriptures remind us that he delights in showing mercy! It’s like a favorite hobby to him.
The key to enjoyable prayer lies in knowing how much he enjoys giving us the grace we need to boldly approach his throne, and confidently engage his heart.