Well, here we are at camp once again, but this year is extra special for me. My kids, who I have been dragging to camp for years are growing up, and this year Noah has come to camp as a camper for the first time (add sniffling sounds here).
It’s a strange mixture of joy and feeling very old all at once. Kind of like carnival ride induced nausea (sorry, it’s the best analogy I could come up with).
One of the fun camp activities is the blob which most of our kiddos (and some of our sponsors in need of medication) conquered.
I’ve included it because my son Noah is the first one on the video and he makes his daddy proud.
I love camp for a ton of reasons. It’s fun, you never have to dress up, showering is really just a suggestion… hmmm… perhaps I share too much.
The best thing about camp though is the way it simplifies life. The absence of TV, radio, normal responsibilities and routine schedules lets you look at life through a completely different set of lenses for these five days.
God is bigger, the world is smaller and our problems don’t even look like problems anymore. They just look like things God hasn’t covered yet.
So, that’s why I want to answer this email question today:
So, I guess my question is this, is it okay to have casual conversations (with God) by being the “real” me, or should that be something I step into a “super holy” personna (which just feels sooo not right and almost untruthful) to speak to Him and converse?
As I am writing this, I am sitting in the back of the worship center of our campground where a missionary is talking to our kids about her time in a Muslim country during our morning missions fair. Right now there is an Arabic prayer ringing through the sound system that is the call to worship she hears in her town 5 times a day.
Although, the Muslim people she minister to speak Russian they are required to offer their prayers in Arabic. A language they don’t even know, but they are taught that it is the only language God accepts.
I remember Jimmy S. back in college at Fort Hays State University. He was a great guy and college ballpayer who I invited to my dorm room Bible Study. He gladly accepted and said, “Yeah! I’ve been a Christian my whole life.”
However, he was shocked and sat there with his jaw dropped wide open the whole hour. After the study I said, “Dude, you looked scared… are you OK?”
He said, “That was in English!”
Jimmy grew up in a Greek Orthodox Church and had never missed a Sunday, but had never heard about Jesus. He didn’t speak Greek. Go figure.
For most of us we would never think that we should try and connect with the intimacy of faith, or try to plumb the depth of our souls using foreign languages and cultures that we don’t and never will understand.
Yet, somehow, within our Christian religious subculture we have created a Christian-speak and Churchese that has become fluent and familiar to the faithful, but is just as foreign and difficult to those who did not grow up in that world as Arabic to a Russian, or Greek to a Kansan.
For us to be holy our prayers do not need to sound like this:
“Our Dearest Heavenly Father, you are worthy of all our praise and my heart is overflowing with thankfulness for all your goodness. You are familiar with all my ways Lord God and I submit myself to Your sovereign authority. Please accept my humble presence before Your Almightiness! Amen and Amen”
Seriously… who talks like that?
God does not require anything of us other than authenticity and sincerity. He wants honesty in our words because he already knows our hearts. If you think God wants us to put on some kind of religious show then read these verses:
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Mic 6:8). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Heb 4:16). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Mt 6:5-8). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
In fact, most of our best prays are made up of very few words. There are times I cannot even come up with the words that my heart is feeling. You know what I am talking about? The Apostle Paul did:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Ro 8:26-27). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
So, how do we come to God? Do we come formal and stifled, with some kind of ritualistic pomp and circumstance? No.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Lk 18:16). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Earlier this week, in a single conversation, a kiddo asked me where the book of John was in the Bible, what time we went to dinner and if I farted (apparently they thought they smelled something, and no it wasn’t me).
Yes, if you sent you kid to camp… it was your kid.
I love it. That’s the simplcicity of a child and the attitude that God asked us to have with Him.
Come to God as you are. There is no need to put on any kind of show for Him. He already knows what you’re thinking, what you’re like, who you are and believe it or not, He likes you.
Go ahead and pray. This is one thing none of us can jack up.