This may sound like I'm bashing the church, but please know that I am not. I believe in the church - the rock upon which it stands. I believe in Jesus and the lessons He taught as He walked this earth, those same lessons that were recorded for us to read, embrace and live by in the Bible.
My issue comes with those that live fake-ly. Listen, if you are mad, say that. If you are hurt, say that. If you feel abandoned, say that. Speaking the truth of your emotions, your state of mind isn't going to send you to hell. Loving God means being real enough with Him to share with Him what you are feeling and thinking. Being real with yourself on your shortcomings, your fears, your dreams, your hearts desires will help you get closer to Him.
One of the best things that I've done on this walk was being able to be naked with Him even when I didn't feel comfortable enough to be naked with others. (Naked in the metaphorical sense.) There have been times and some of late where I just didn't feel that the real me would be welcomed in certain circles so I kept my mouth closed (and that was a feat in and of itself!). There are conversations that I've had with God that I never intend to have with another. Those are the times that I cherish the most. Those are the times when I feel Him near. Those are the times that are hidden in the secret place of my heart reserved just for God.
This closeness will not be manifested when you can't or won't get naked in front of Him. Tell Him your shortcomings. Trust me - He already knows. He already sees. He created you and the path that you are walking. You may ask then why do I need to tell him. Let's put it this way. Have you ever had your child try and hide something from you that you already knew. The only thing you wanted was for him or her to tell you. It was a trust thing between you and them. Same thing with God. He wants you to trust Him enough to be open and free with Him. Trust Him enough to tell Him the things that you don't want to share with anyone else. Even those things that you are ashamed of. God wants all of you. Not just the public parts - those parts that you share with others. He wants to inhabit the secret places that are dark and hidden within you.
Take time and develop a real relationship with God. I use to not understand the Lord's direction to pray in a secret place. Then I discovered the answer in the scripture. "5 And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." (Matthew 6:5-6 NKJV) After I took the time to really read and understand the scripture, I got it. It's not about being ashamed of praying or of God. It's about building a relationship with Christ where it's just you and Him. This doesn't have to mean an actual place. Your secret place could be the car on your way to work, you closet, or an inner chamber of your heart where you pray quietly to Him even in the midst of a crowd. I believe this is best illustrated by Hannah. She was praying at the alter but the prayer was in her secret place. The priest surely didn't get it and accused her of being drunk. But, God saw her. He heard her. She was in the realm where it was just her and God. She was in her secret place.
Some may say that they don't know how to pray. Let's go back to the scripture - "....you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men". Prayer isn't a formula. It isn't a bunch of words streamed together to sound nice. Prayer is a conversation that you have with God. It's a soul thing where your words are sent up to the heavens past the pearly gates and straight to the throne room. I know that many of us sit in church Sunday after Sunday hearing people pray for 10+ minutes and when they are done, you have no idea of what they said. Why? This answer can be two-fold. First, there is you. Are you open to receive what is being said and open to receive God's answer? Secondly, there is the person praying. Maybe they are the hypocrite described above and their prayer has no power. They are just streaming words together that sound good.
Prayer is when you lay your worries, fears, doubts, hesitations, etc before God and wait for Him to answer. Oh that part!!!! Some of us don't think God answers. He does. But, are you man or woman enough to accept His answer? I remember many moons ago, I was dating someone. Someone that wasn't right for me. I constantly asked God if he was "the one". I heard God say no but I kept on dating him. Then God began to show me things about the man's character. But, I kept on dating him. Thinking he would change. Finally, God sent a word by the Woman of God who was a guest speaker at my previous church. She said to me (paraphrasing) that I was in a relationship of Swiss cheese and I knew it. Well!!! You can't get any plainer than that. The relationship was done. See, God answers. Sometimes, we just don't like the answer. It's not about whether we like it or not. He knows what (and who) is best for us. Trust that He has your best interest at hand and heart.
Being bear in front of God will result in the best times of your life. Trust me, try it. Try just having a conversation with the Creator. And, don't get dismayed if you don't hear the answer as soon as you finish talking. God will answer. Even if you are under time constraints, wait for the answer. Waiting is better than having a redo because you messed up the first time. And, while you wait, don't be the hypocrite trying to be seen and heard as if you know everything. Sit in silence and with truthful lips praise Him for the answer that is coming.
Be A Blessing and Not Just Blessed