The Sweet Christian Bride

Talking with God, Part I: Brokenness

by admin on November 7, 2011 in Faith with No Comments

Prayer has been on my mind recently.

It’s like a vital muscle that for most of us remains underdeveloped.  Usually that is due to busyness, lack of faith, or misconceptions about prayer and God.

The go-to work-out routine for this muscle often includes a list of do’s and dont’s to keep us from making the muscle weaker, which certainly has merit.  We can miss the point, however, that avoiding making the muscle weaker does not by default make the muscle stronger.

So rather than dwelling on what keeps me from a vibrant prayer life, I have been musing on what draws me to it.

The most common draw to vibrant prayer, I think, is brokenness.  There comes a point in most people’s lives, even those who do not believe in God, when people fall to their knees in desperation and wish that a higher power was out there who could help.  These moments of despair usually come in crisis or tragedy, when a person realizes how little control he actually has over good and evil.  It’s the moment of recognizing the need for help.

You might know this moment as surrender, humility, confession, or any other host of words that puts us at the foot of the cross.  Brokenness is a precious jewel that has many angles. Like a diamond that is not yet polished, brokenness can look ugly and seem worthless until the refining process reveals irreplaceable value.

For some of us, the angle of brokenness that we encounter most is sinfulness; we come face to face with our depravity, and we don’t like what we see.  At this moment, we have a choice to harden and ignore or justify what we are seeing, or we can admit it and correct it.  Waffling at a point in the middle is too exhausting to maintain for long.

The need that many of us have to confess our sins and make things right speaks to the overwhelming conviction that there is righteousness and goodness and that how we are currently living is in opposition to that.  With the disgust for our sin comes the desire to be freed or cleansed from it, and often, the realization that we can’t do this on our own; our sinful will is broken.

This leads to the second angle of brokenness, which is futility.  At some point in every one of our lives, each of us will realize that we are not as powerful as we thought we were, as the media said we were, or as success demanded us to be.  We cannot defeat death.  We cannot solve world poverty.  We cannot will cancer away.  We cannot assure invincibility in our businesses and endeavors.  We cannot guarantee the faith or salvation of our loved ones.

There are things that only God can do.  Admitting this and accepting that we are not God gives us a choice between hopelessness, disillusionment, or surrender.  Either God can’t do these things either and all is hopeless; or the realization of futility was actually incorrect, and we carry on believing that we are capable of godly things; or God can indeed do all that we can’t, and thus, a relationship is formed with a Savior.

A last common angle of brokenness is humility.  Childhood and adolescence in America is often colored by narcissism simply because the lives of youths are programmed to move them forward in the ladder of future success.  It’s all about them.  Getting married, having kids, attempting entrepreneurship, and other marks of life-stage maturity, however, challenge narcissism.  To succeed in any of these efforts, we must recognize that life is not about us.  Teamwork and sacrifice take on a whole new significance.

Accepting that life is not about us gives us the choice to bemoan life or to embrace it.  When we don’t get our way, we can complain and manipulate circumstances to benefit us or we can trust that God’s plan for our lives is good even if  circumstances don’t seem to be to our advantage.  If we trust that God’s way is better than our own, we can also experience abundant joy in serving others for His sake.

To bring it back to the initial thought, brokenness presents a fork in the road, one direction leading away from God and the other to Him.  Experiencing the pain of sin, the weight of futility, or the jolt of humility on the fork that leads to God evokes from us a need to cry out to God for help.

This is prayer!

Crying out to God is coming into His presence in full recognition that you need Him.  It is a statement of faith that you believe He is real, that He cares for you, that He hears you, and that He can help you.  God yearns for our broken hearts to be given over to Him so that He can nurture us.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).  Why does brokenness draw us near to Him?  Because we finally see that we need Him.  We finally acknowledge that we want Him.  We found courage to test our faith in Him, giving Him an invitation to show up.

Of course brokenness is not something we go looking for or wishing upon ourselves, but circumstances that cause brokenness are inevitable.  Knowing that brokenness draws us to prayer changes our perspective on pain and difficulty.  Whether colossal tragedies or routine hurdles, we have daily opportunities to experience brokenness and choose the fork in the road that draws us nearer to God.

Especially if we are in a season of brokenness and are overcome with impossible odds and unbearable pain, we might actually develop a habit of crying out to God because of the volume of need to do so.  This is a gift!  Without trivializing the suffering we are experiencing, we are actually in a beautiful position to create habit.  We are that rough, unpolished diamond that is being refined for the purpose of becoming more valuable and precious to the one we belong to.

I invite you to look for brokenness.  I don’t mean seek it out and call it upon yourself; I mean to be alert for moments of pain, complaint, hopelessness, conviction, and fear that you are already experiencing.  When does your guest list become political?  When are in-laws squabbling?  When are you at odds with your fiancé?  When are you cheated in your contracts? When does grief trump your celebration?

In those moments, cry out to God for help.  In doing so, you are building a practice of prayer.

By Lindsay

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