Prayer feels hard to navigate, not only for beginning believers but for those of us who know we’ve messed up. True, we’ve heard lots of talk about grace and forgiveness, but that all sounds fine and well until you’re the guy in the hot seat. Then, God seems a little bleaker, a little meaner, and a lot less approachable.
Unfortunately, shame creates this narrative and paints this gloomy picture. It counts out the color of God’s goodness and his unyielding love for all people. It makes us forget just how much He wants to talk with us, even when the conversation starts with, “Hey, God… you know that thing I said I wouldn’t do again… that thing You told me wasn’t a good idea… yeah, well, the thing is…”
Confession is uncomfortable because it’s such a pride killer, but there’s so much freedom on the other side of fessing up when you’re in the wrong. Yet, many churches and Christians have made judgment and cruel rhetoric their primary themes to force guilt.
Instead of getting tangled in those man-made shackles, let’s check out some of the wilder, less put-together prayers in the Bible that made all the difference in the world.
Hannah’s “Drunken” Prayer
Like so many women today, Hannah faced the depressing battle of infertility. Deep, deep down, her spirit wanted a child. She craved to know what it would be like to carry a baby inside of her for nine months and bring it into the world, pointing it to a God who would love it above all else.
Prayer after prayer, month after month, it seemed as if infertility would be her tattered banner, a flag she’d never fly high out of shame. As a woman in her day and time, providing children was not only the sole form of “work” or provision, but it was the primary way that she could honor her husband.
Her entire value rode on her ability to have children — and with time not on her side, she was desperate. In 1 Samuel 1:13 (ESV), Hannah drags her heartache to the temple. She was likely on her hands and knees, flat on the ground, sobbing, and heaving the worst sounds of misery and pain. However, her prayer was wilder, more fierce than mere sadness. Eli, the temple’s priest, thought she was drunk:
Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.
She was so desperate for this child that following the “prayerful” rules of bowing heads and closing eyes didn’t matter. Was a woman really allowed in the temple by herself? Probably not. That didn’t matter to her, though. Working out her faith, both its highs and lows, mattered most, and in this reckless prayer, God answered her. She became pregnant with Samuel — the very Samuel whom I and II Samuel are named after, the very Samuel who listened to God and appointed David King of Israel.
Prayer, no matter how guttural, downtrodden, or wild, is heard and answered by the God of all things good.
Jesus’ More Human Prayer
What’s so mind-blowing about Jesus’ crucifixion isn’t only the physical pain He endured, but the constant acts of selflessness He exhibited — while hanging from a tree, bearing the sins of humanity, and coming face-to-face with death.
The Gospels recall that He asks the disciples to take care of His mother and that He asks God to forgive humankind for nailing His body to the cross.
Yet, the prayer that seems fascinating to most while He is on the cross comes from Matthew 27:45-46:
Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
While Jesus was fully God, He was also fully human, and just for a split second, we see a deep, soul-like glimpse into His humanity. The God of all things is asking a question, demanding an answer, begging for His Dad to be there.
It’s raw, unnerving, and real — but that’s what’s beautiful about Christ. He humbled Himself long enough to take on human form so we could realize that prayers don’t always have to come from a place of joy, of thanksgiving, of jubilation. They can come from a place of deep confusion, utter loss, and complete loneliness.
The truth? God had never left Him, but rather, He had allowed Jesus to present His humanity in one last, final, big way to show us that things like faith, prayer, and life don’t always have to be so groomed.
Addiction in the face of God can seem quite terrifying, but challenging yourself to believe in a good God who made prayer available for everyone — no matter the sin, the circumstance, or time of day. Show up for Him, regardless of where you’ve fallen, and He’ll show up for you in ways you couldn’t imagine.
Prayer can be a tough, uneasy subject to cover in light of addiction recovery. Addiction often comes with regret and shame that’s not only hard to bear but even harder to let go of in light of forgiveness. At Renaissance Ranch, we celebrate a God who offers total forgiveness and freedom from confessing where we’ve stumbled as we earnestly seek complete healing. Sure, it’s not always easy to keep prayer at the forefront of your mind, especially when you’re in the grind of your recovery process, wondering if God would ever love you again. However, here at Renaissance Ranch, our staff believe that’s the pinnacle of recovery, restoring your soul with God and continuing to walk in the ways He has called you to. We know this is often easier said than done. Our staff at Renaissance Ranch is available to talk. Healing is hard, but you don’t have to walk through it alone. If you’re struggling with any aspect of recovery, we can help. To learn more, please call (801) 308-8898.