As a child, on Sunday mornings when our family went to church, I had to substitute my comfortable T-shirt and shorts for a skirt or dress. My complaining only brought a stern response from my parents, which, because we are British, went something like this: “You wouldn’t wear those (referring to my T-shirt and shorts) to go and see the Queen, would you?”
I vowed never to make my children dress up for church. Yet, as my teenage son walks out the door on Sunday morning in his sports shorts, the words leave my mouth before I can stop them: “Can’t you put on a decent pair of shorts for church?”
I scold myself for not only breaking a promise, but for muddling up my priorities with what God sees as important. Scripture tells us God doesn’t look at what we look at. He looks inward over outward. He looks at our hearts. He’s not bothered by my son wearing sport’s attire or a sports jacket for church. However, I care because I worry what other people will think, not only of my son, but also of me. Putting on smart clothes for church makes us look respectable to other people.
God looks beyond our appearance to deep inside us. He knows what we think. He understands our motivations. He’s well aware of our emotions. God sees stuff no one else knows about.
If God knows our hearts, then we can pour out our hearts to God. Yet, often we dress up our prayers just like we dress up for church. We have polite conversations with God because it makes us look good. Psalms assures us we can have confidence God will not be appalled by our inner goings-on no matter how ugly they are. But more than this, revealing our thoughts and feelings is an opportunity to ask God to purify our hearts, to be forgiven, and to move on.
We can still be respectful to God in prayer, but we don’t need to look respectable. God wants down-to-earth talk, not dressed-up conversation. Today, what do you need to talk about honestly with your heavenly Father?
(Photo courtesy of morguefile and taliesin.)
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