Me: "Father, I thank you for this day. It has been great serving you today. You are wonderful and awesome. I pray that you will continue to be with me as I go throughout the rest of my day. Oh, and thank you for this food. Bless it to the nourishment of my body, and bless my body so that I may do your service."
God: "That's great, but tell me how you really feel."
If we are honest, we have all been guilty of this at some point or another. We pray what we know we should pray. We pray what we have heard others pray, And when all is said and done, God just wants us to be real with Him. If you had a bad day, tell Him. If you had a good day, tell Him. If you are upset or depressed, tell Him. If you are happy, tell Him. We get so wrapped up in being fake to God that He might as well not be real to us. We are usually honest with our closest friends, so there is a problem with our spiritual life when we are more honest with people than we are with God.
I love the Psalms. Many of them are happy, but some of them you feel like you have to reread. The writer of the 10th Psalm talks about God hiding Himself in times of trouble. Have you ever felt that way? You could be having the best of days and ten minutes of the evening news could bring any of us to say, "God, why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" Maybe we don't talk like that, but we have all probably said, "Where are you, God?" The Psalmist talked about the wicked prevailing with no opposition from God whatsoever. I believe it is okay to tell God when we feel like that, but note that the Psalmist doesn't stop there. Look at His final words:
The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from His land. Oh LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
The important thing to remember when we pray is God's Word on the matter. While we should come to Him with our burdens and pain, we should also come to Him proclaiming the precious promises that help us deal with these situations. David writes a similar Psalm in Psalm 13. He asks God, "Will you forget me forever?". He talks about having sorrow in his heart all day, but he ends saying, "But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me." Again David is honest about how he feels, but he reminds himself of who God is and what He has done for Him.
Maybe you don't think you can talk to God when you're angry. In between Psalm 136 (His steadfast love endures forever) and Psalm 138 (Give thanks to the LORD), we find Psalm 137 which ends with, "Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!" In case you missed that, they just prayed a blessing on anyone who would take a Babylonian child and smash its head against a rock. How can someone pray that? The Babylonians did the same thing to their kids. They were angry. We would've prayed for the same thing. It is okay to hate certain situations. It is even okay to be honest with God and pray what you wish would happen. But eventually, we will need to come to a place of forgiveness. We will eventually have to entrust the hard things of life into God's capable hands.
Maybe you're struggling with sorrow, stress, anger, or even sin, and you don't know how to talk to God about it. Maybe you're afraid of how He'll respond when you tell Him about it. I've been there and what I've learned is that God already knows. You telling Him doesn't change how He feels about it; it allows Him to handle the situation. Prayer isn't for God; it's for us. It's the place where we can come to God and say how we really feel about something and trust that He isn't going to give us the strength to get through it.