I can guess what I would have said if I were Peter, James, or John. It would have been a whisper, cupping one of the others’ ears, slightly leaning in. Though soft, it would have been emphatic. Though muted, it would have been with alarm. “I can’t believe Jesus just said that! Is that even allowed?!”
The scene was a garden. It was the night Jesus was arrested. Emotions were high for Jesus. Energy was low for the disciples (they all three fell asleep). And as Jesus prepared for the awful road ahead he vented with his Father. He poured out all the raw and honest emotion anyone could express. He didn’t hold back.
As many times as I’ve read that passage, I’m still surprised. Are there not certain things we can’t pray? Are there not certain places we shouldn’t let our minds (and words) go? It seems, at first glance, like Jesus crossed a line. He is the Son of God after all. This plan was determined in eternity past (it seems there is no room for midcourse correction with that much history behind the decision). Was it really permissible to talk like that?
I’m thankful there was no midcourse correction. I don’t believe he would have changed anything.
But I’m also thankful Jesus was raw and honest with his Father. I’m grateful that he vented in such an extreme way. He expressed what I would have been too afraid to say. He didn’t cross a line. He drew a line and invites us to walk right up to it with confidence. Jesus shows us that we can say anything and express anything without holding back.
We just had the water filtration system serviced in our home. Water in our house goes through four different filters before it comes out of the faucet. I think that’s how I view the expressions of my soul. “I can’t say that” and so I filter the impurities of my heart so that God’s holy ears don’t catch my doubts, frustrations, angers (even at him), grief, pains and otherwise ugly thoughts.
However, at times it’s as if there are two shelves in my heart. One is empty and clean, from which the “deemed worthy” prayers up and lift off of the tip of my tongue. But another shelf, dusty and dank, holds all the prayers that were filtered and stayed. They are called inappropriate, off-limits, don’t go there.
In this example, Jesus tears into my heart uninvited and unannounced, tipping over tables and freeing the unbreathed expressions. He tells me it is okay. I can say anything. I should. There is no prayer off limits. I can go even there.
It is because, in the there, God can further shape and craft my heart. When I dismiss a prayer as “doesn’t make the cut” I miss an opportunity. In my raw and honest moments God speaks into the deeper places of my heart that I may otherwise keep guarded and silent. It is in that process, inside of my conversation with him, that God loves to step in and do his work.
How about you? What is stifled in your heart? Are you Quality Control over the Prayer Department or do you vent freely? I don’t know what the next step is for you in becoming more raw and honest with God, but I encourage you to take it. It’s a good place to go.