Don't Make God Talk to a Mask.

The thing that kills prayers is pretending to be perfect.

Luke 9:18-22 (ESV)

Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

This passage proves an important theory. The reason that Jesus wouldn’t let people (or demons) talk about his true identity is that it could disrupt His plan to be crucified. The second paragraph above says it all in one sentence. Those dots are absolutely connected here. Jesus has always been walking on the road to the cross.

Think about what that must have felt like. He’s living on death row. Jesus knows, really knows, what’s coming (even more than people on death row). Yet somehow he doesn’t let it get to Him until His arrest is imminent.

That’s focus.

Have you ever wished you knew your future? That’s a normal wish, but the more you think about it in detail, the less attractive it looks. Everyone’s future includes good things and bad things. Could you handle the stress of knowing? Could you still focus?

This matters to how we pray. Our prayers are almost always about the future. We often ask for a certain future because we think we know what the “right” outcome should be.

This isn’t wrong. The Lord did say, “Ask whatever you wish,” but we’ve all learned the hard way that some of our prayers turned out to be pretty dumb. In retrospect, we see that we were asking for the wrong thing.

We don’t even know what our future should be. If we knew what it actually would be, we’d go nuts arguing with God.

That’s why long, spirit directed prayers can be so powerful. Whatever your prayers are, find time to give them their due. It’s OK to ask God to give you the outcome you want, but it’s better to seek His will.

Some of the most productive prayers can look almost wrong. Screaming at God, “What you do want here?” sounds insulting, but it’s also close to parts of Psalms and Jeremiah.

The thing that kills prayers is pretending to be perfect.

Don’t make God talk to a mask.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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