Have you ever really thought about what authenticity means?
Webster’s Dictionary defines authentic as “being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, with no pretension.” In a world of political correct perfection, this is a tough feat. Being authentic means being vulnerable and risking that what you have to say, or who you are may not be accepted. We are by nature social beings, and acceptance is an ingrained desire, so we tend to adjust our words, mannerisms, and story based on who we are talking with. I recognize that sometimes it is necessary, but are we being authentic?
Now consider a conversation with God. Having grown up in church I can think of many times that I resisted praying in front of others because my prayers were not flowing and full of big words to impress those around me. And as a pastor’s kid I felt it was my responsibility to be able to pray at a different level.
When I reflect on Matthew 26 verses 39 and 42, I see a very different picture of authentic prayer. In verse 39 it says:
Going a little further he [Jesus] fell with his face to the ground and he prayed, my father if it is possible may this cup be taken from me yet not as I will but as you will.
And then 42 it says again
He went away a second time and prayed, my father if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it may your will be done.
Can you feel the honesty and vulnerability in those prayers? Jesus, the son of God, the second person of the Trinity, spoke authentically to His Father, showing His pain, His fear, and speaking His plea. Authentic.
If there is one thing about my understanding of talking to God, it is that He knows how I think, so why pretend to Him that I think differently when I am praying. I think directly, clearly and with direction. Shouldn’t my prayers be the same?
Authentic prayer as being vulnerable and trusting that the Lord will readily receive my words – as someone who intimately knows me.
Because he does.