Saturday, December 02, 2017

Really Bad Prayer

The Garden of Eden, so beautiful in Genesis 2, looks like a crime scene in Genesis 3. There, over in the shadows are two victims, or are they in fact perpetrators. And while it looks like they may be huddling against each other in fear, it also appears that they may have their backs turned toward one another.

If prayer is man talking with God, then the second recorded interaction between God and Adam is really bad prayer. It is the case of dis-eased expression from a sin-sick soul. God says, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the forbidden tree?” Adam’s (prayer) answer reads like this: “The woman you gave me - she gave to me, and I ate."

In crossing the boundary of disobedience, Adam passed from innocence to enlightenment. But this enlightenment was not progress. It was rather “the knowledge of good and evil,” or, the experience of evil at a physical, sensual level. And having experienced it, he could not un-experience it. His perceptions were forever changed. His partner was now also his rival;  his Friend now invoked servile fear. He had lost something innocent in his humanity, and had sadly become a different kind of creature.
Far from confessing, Adam blames the woman - “she gave it to me.” And he blames God as well: “The woman you gave me,”. As if to say, “God, you are ultimately responsible for this mess. It’s on you.” And far from interceding for his wife, he accuses her (a most devilish activity). Admittedly, it is pretty tough to intercede for someone who has sinned when we have already followed their lead. True intercession requires a connection, but also a distance. Adam blew it on all counts.

When we find ourselves in our own crime scene, and find that we ourselves are the criminals, our prayers need to be clear and accountable. Answer God’s questions. If you honestly don’t know the answer, admit it. Don’t blame. Allow your soul to be dissected. Don’t evade. Be humble and accept responsibility. Don’t make excuses. Admit what you did, take responsibility, and ask for mercy. 

Prayer is a high privilege, and should not be made a mockery. It is an invitation to speak with the Almighty, and we might do well to speak the truth. It is an opportunity to give glory to God, which we steal when we seek to establish our own righteousness. It is a chance to display our intended humanity, as we think, and speak, and ask, and believe - something lesser creatures cannot do.

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