By Elisa Morgan
I’m wondering … what’s the most honest prayer I’ve ever prayed?
Heal my mother of alcoholism. Bring my father to believe in you. As I found my voice with God, my earliest prayers were Honest, “Take This Cup” prayers. Give me what I want. Remove what I don’t want.
I know “Take This Cup” prayers. “Take this cup!” I’ve prayed over my children’s choices. “Take this cup!” I’ve prayed over the broken me I discovered as a result of my responses to their choices. “Take this cup!” I’ve prayed as a dear friend was diagnosed with State 4 cancer. “Take this cup!” I’ve prayed in my marriage, in my mothering, in my career, in my neighborhood, and in my extended family relationships. Take this cup!
And yet, as I consider Jesus’ version of honest, I’m challenged as to how honest I’ve really been with God. Is there more honesty that what I’ve discovered so far? What if I made Jesus’ honest prayer Real Elisa’s honest prayer?
Also, because Jesus drank the cup of suffering—all of it—any “cup” we hold has already had the sting of eternal consequences removed.
But there’s something else Take This Cup prayer offers for us, for you and me. Because Jesus was completely honest—agonizingly honest in asking God to remove the cup, yet ready to drink the cup as God directed—we can be honest too in asking God to remove the cup of our daily deaths.
Take This Cup prayer is “what I want” prayer. A plea to remove the pains and sacrifices we face in our lives. This grief. This rejection. This misunderstanding. This injustice. This addiction. This debt. This loneliness. This not-enoughness. This shame.
We pause and ponder how we could follow Jesus’ example and pray our own version of “Take this cup.” Gasp—isn’t that selfish? How does our pain compare to what Jesus endured?
It doesn’t. Of course, it doesn’t. But our pain is still our pain. Jesus prayed his prayer coin of honest and abandon, embracing the intimacy he possessed with the Father and modeling the intimacy we too can possess. If he died to provide such a relationship, how can we not enter in ourselves?
In fact, by not praying our own version of “take this cup,” we might actually be doubting God. As if he isn’t able. As if he isn’t God enough to act in the matters that concern us.
In my best being, I know that something is missed when I avoid honesty. Something raw and scary, yes, but something essential to living. When I cover up my needs with defensive self-protection, I shield myself not just from the world’s wounding but also from heaven’s wooing. Honest prayer can be our teacher, if we allow it to do its work.
When we start honest—with ourselves and with God—we ready ourselves to receive not just what we think we want but what our good God wants for us.
Adapted from When We Pray Like Jesus: Courageously Honest and Fearlessly Abandoned Before God, by Elisa Morgan.
Elisa Morgan's latest book is You Are Not Alone. She is the cohost of the podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her other books include When We Pray Like Jesus, The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.