Honesty in prayer

March 22, 2007

I was looking through the archives at the excellent blog Wheelie Catholic today, and came across a post that struck me. Ruth offers some great advice about being honest in prayer, even when you’re angry with God. She faced a great crisis of anger with God after a car accident in her mid-30’s that wasn’t her fault, from which she became a quadriplegic. She writes:

The question I had to ask was: “I don’t mean to question you, God, but about my spinal cord. What were you thinking when that driver plowed into me?”

No, it’s not an easy thing to say. To be more precise, it’s not an easy thing to pray.

Because, as Father Mc Closkey points out [see How to Handle Anger With God], we need to learn to be honest in our prayers – and honest with ourselves and God. That’s where I think I learned more spiritual maturity in my journey from anger to acceptance – was in acknowledging the kinds of feelings I had .

I also had to grow up – and accept that we have free will, which some of us exercise in destructive ways. The driver who caused my accident was on medication and not substance free – a choice made before driving. But I learned that God did not cause my accident, nor did He wish me to have it. It was the result of a very bad choice by the other driver.

Whether I wanted to face it or not, feeling anger was part of the process by which I healed. When I prayed during Mass “..just say the word and I shall be healed”, I wasn’t praying for a miracle so I could hop up and walk around again. I was praying for spiritual healing, so I could reconcile what had happened, deal with my anger and move on with my life with my disability. Some of my prayers to God were angry asides. I remember saying “Thanks alot, God – now what am I supposed to do?” I had my own personal showdown with God and it could have gone either way, I thought at the time.

But I think my honesty pulled me through with God. It led me to a new level of closeness with God, one where I can pray without hiding my sins from Him. I know it is okay to go to God just as I am, vulnerable and weak at times, yet able to be strong through His grace.

Though my spiritual challenge has been far different, more of a mundane undercurrent of apathy rooted in doubts, I have found that this sort of honesty in prayer is exactly what I needed to do to pull through. I never believed in God strongly enough to be angry with him. My reaction to tough times in relation to God’s role in it all was more of a confused, “What’s going on here?” But I brought that to prayer, along with everything else.

And, as Ruth describes in her post, I believe it was this sort of honesty that brought be to a new level of closeness with God, and opened me up to receive strength through his grace.

[comments closed for Lent]


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