Prayers For The Darkness (A New Book)

Prayers For The Darkness: on Amazon

In all my bitter wrestling with Evangelicalism, I wrote a book on Instagram. If you follow me there, there is nothing new in it. I don’t consider these prayers at all controversial. Yet I have received hostile, threatening rebukes for them. So here is my rationale behind the prayers, and behind the book — here is my appeal to you.

God doesn’t have a category for “taboo.” We have been trained to think of God as the best of all possible systematic theologians. There has never been a time in human history when God spoke, and the church didn’t try to use that speech as a means to control other humans — as a way to say:

  • “You can’t say that.”
  • “You can’t do that.”
  • “You have to do what I say.”
  • “You have to feel the emotions that I understand.”

No. This deeply betrays the heart of God in his moving toward us — in his speaking to us. God desires to encounter, not our best selves, but our true selves. God doesn’t know us by means of our resume packet, with photoshopped pictures and a highlight reel of our best moments. God sees it all. And he wants us entirely, nothing lacking, nothing overseen, nothing forgotten.

Our prayer life should reflect this. In spurning presumption, the fog of pretense is cleared between God and us, and we are able to approach him as seems fitting to us — to engage him in battle, to critique his character, to curl up into a ball and cry, to hurl profanities at him. We have been so conditioned to believe that we are responsible for how those in authority over us feel (though we aren’t), often our prayers are formulated to protect God’s feelings.

But they shouldn’t be. He can handle all the “blasphemies” and “heresies” stirring around in our hearts. Many times, there is truth in them that our Evangelical world would rather suppress than express — it fits “the narrative” better. And we wouldn’t want to disrupt the narrative.

But here’s one piece of truth we’ve forgotten: God doesn’t care about the Evangelical narrative. At least, not more than people. Not more than the individuals in front of us and beside us. God doesn’t care about Evangelicalism more than he cares about you. No. He cares about you more. Because Evangelicalism is an idea, an institution, a bank account — you are made by him, in his image.

Prayer that is fully honest — sacred and profane, articulate and fumbling for words, distrusting of God and engaging with him with all our misgivings on display — this is the prayer God is after. And this is the prayer that our hearts long to pray, if we would, for a moment, allow our hearts to “go there.” Go there with me. And, go further than me. Go for yourself into the disrespectful honesty that God desires from us more than anything.

I wrote this book when I hated God. I became very angry, very bitter. I began deconstructing the world in which I found new life. I began tearing down the pristine walls I saw as my own betrayal — words of life coopted by agents of death. I didn’t like being so deconstructive.

So, I committed to doing one constructive thing per day — to saying one true thing to God per day, publicly. This book was the result.

If the prayers make you angry, the book wasn’t written for you — or … maybe it was. It was certainly written out of my own anger and insecurity. Find out here: Available on Amazon.

2 Comments

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  1. Janet Petraglia May 1, 2017 — 8:53 am

    I just want to counter the scathing, critical input that you have encountered. That must scrape your heart raw. I am sorry. Know that the posts of yours that I have read over the years have much blessed & encouraged me. Your honesty & courage to express & address our struggles & fears is so helpful for those of us that have serious situations, doubts, fears, lacks; & to bring those things to the light of truth & hope. Thank you. You have honored God & served us well.

  2. AwakeningSardis May 3, 2017 — 10:14 pm

    Keep writing.

    I have come back to the US after living overseas for years to find I too have struggled with hating evangelicalism. I have seen such dark places within the church the last 18 months that go completely unchecked and unrepentant. I have been slandered and wounded by unrepentant protected Christians. Just last night I was journaling some of my own anger and frustration with non-sense, unGodly non-sense.

    It is hard to say things people don’t want to hear. It is difficult to be a prophet. However, you are correct. There is much more room for that in God’s economy to go to God in all honesty, as messy and profane as it may be. More mature believers who can handle peoples’ wrestling better I often find are more tempered and grace giving in their responses to that kind of struggle. Very often the Church can’t accept struggle. We are so laden with bad theology we need nice neat bows and tidiness. Psalm 88 is beautiful for thoe who do not have a happy ending or an answer to faith struggle just yet. Do we trust the Holy Spirit to convict people, change people, grow people or do we need to control them ourselves because of fear?

    I had a minister in England who invited me to talk to him in his office during an immense season of pain and suffering. I had spent most moments of driving alone, crying out and swearing at God. I was so angry for all he had allowed. My theology was a mess as I poured out my grief to this pastor. He handed me the biggest tissue box I had seen in my life. Empathized with my grief with a single sentence of “That must have been so____” and not once tried to fix my theology. I felt like a terrible missionary and was such trainwreck during that season but that one office time was like a ray of light through a dark dark room.

    I could not have been pastorally cared for better. My church was known as guardians of good theology. We had a reputation. What I experienced that day…was not the eagle eye of someone trying to keep the church tidy but a pastor who got the gospel and who could entrust people to God as he did what they needed most, to be listened to, prayed for and empathized with.

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