On Sunday night, her majesty the Queen addressed our nation. Growing up, as a family, we would always watch the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day. And having watched the Crown on Netflix, it’s given me an interest into the Royal Family and their protocols and the way you must curtsy or bow and only speak when spoken to and address the Queen in a certain way.
Isn’t it great that there isn’t a protocol when it comes to spending time with God and sharing what is on our hearts? Sometimes though, I think we forget that, and sometimes I think we are on our best behaviour, using our best words and trying to be a good and religious as possible!
The truth is, God doesn’t want out filtered down thoughts or for us to come and say what we think he wants us to say. He wants us to be real, to be raw and to be true to ourselves and what we are feeling and experiencing.
If we think back to the first Holy Week and Jesus in Gethsemane, he went there to pray because he was so overwhelmed and in despair knowing his death was near: In Matthew 26: 36-46 we read:
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’
He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’ When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’
Jesus knew that he had come to this earth to die. He had already told his disciples that this was the plan, but they hadn’t got it, and his arrest and death came as a complete shock to them, but Jesus knew.
And as the time drew near for him to be handed over to the authorities for them to kill him, he was overwhelmed with sorrow and was real with his father about it. He didn’t pretend “oh this is great, yes, get me, I’m so holy I don’t have any fear or worries about this at all, bring it on!” The passage says: Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ There was nothing about his body language or his words that indicated he was full of joy and excited about what lay ahead. He fell with his face to the ground. He asked that if it was possible, he didn’t have to go through what lay ahead, but finished with a desire to do the will of his father – not as I will, but as you will. His honesty is an encouragement and a lesson for us.
Today and in this week ahead, let’s make a conscious decision to be real with God when we spend time with him. Let’s not just say what we think he wants to hear, but let’s be honest. Let’s pour out our hearts and bring our frustrations, our fears, our health, our families, our boredom, our isolation, our joys, our mini triumphs or whatever else it might be to God and be honest about it.
And as we do so, know that he welcomes us, he doesn’t judge us, but he delights in us and says come, come just as you are, because I love you.