The psalmist encourages us: ‘Pour out your hearts before him’ (Psalm 62:8). That’s easy enough when there is a strong sense of God in our lives, and our hearts are full of gratitude and praise, and good, positive feelings. But what of those times when ‘negative’ feelings predominate?
It is particularly important to share the emotions we consider negative with the Lord, such as disappointment (even anger) with God, bitterness at the unfairness of life, fear, desolation, grief, and confusing doubts.
Sometimes we can make the mistake of thinking that we should only speak to the Lord of positive things and positive emotions, and so we bury the negative ones.
A sign of intimacy is when we can share our whole life, warts and all, with a true friend. The strength of the friendship shows itself in trust and openness. That’s the sort of relationship that the Lord wants with us.
Therefore, strong emotions admitted, named and shared in prayer, far from blocking our relationship with Jesus, become part of that bond and deepen it. Speaking candidly about these feelings means our prayer is genuine.
We are letting the Lord into our real lives and his love can flow.
Honesty in prayer leads to intimacy with God. Hiding our negative emotions and always having to put on a good face weakens friendships, including our friendship with Jesus. Then, our prayer can be just going through the motions; we grow distant from the Lord and our relationship with him becomes formal rather than personal.
The first person we meet in prayer is ourselves. Authentic prayer is showing ourselves to Jesus with candid honesty. Honesty is a sign of intimacy and honesty deepens intimacy.
The real person before the real God – that’s real prayer!