I have to be honest with you–I’m a little scared to right this post. I’ve thought about writing it several times, but I was afraid of the consequences. Kind of like when you pray for humility or brokenness…you know you need it, but you don’t really want what it takes to get there.
But here goes….
Have you ever been stuck in a sin for an extended period of time without having suffered the consequences of it? You know what you’re doing is wrong, and you know that eventually it will blow up in your face, but until then you just keep on doing it? For some people that may be sexual sin, for others it could be financial corruption, and for others it could simply be gossip or fits of anger or jealousy.
Whatever the sin, you know it’s wrong, but because you haven’t dealt with any repercussions as of yet, you keep indulging it, keep pushing it, and play it out as long as you can. As long as you don’t have to deal with the negative effects, then the cost of giving it up is not really worth the trouble. It is short-sightedness at its finest.
I, personally, believe this is one of the most miserable places to live. To dwell in that place for long is to live in constant fear. Deep down, I know the consequences will eventually come, so I have this horrible anxiety hanging over my head. When is the shoe going to drop? How long can this really last? And when it ends, what will my life look like afterwards?
In addition to that anxiety, I also hate the feeling that I am getting away with something. There is nothing worse than knowing you’re a total hypocrite. Everyone looks at you as if you’re this wonderful Christian, but you know better. You see what they cannot, and because of the disconnect between those two lives, you feel empty. And the longer that disconnect exists, the larger the emptiness grows.
Well one morning at church I was meditating on all of these things as I worshiped, and a surprising thought began to creep into my heart: “Lord, show me your wrath.” Crazy, huh? As soon as the thought popped in, I wanted to push it right back out, but I instead decided to pursue it a little. Where did that thought come from?
The longer I pondered it, the more I discovered that it is rooted in my understanding of God’s very character. As much as I hate parading around like a super-Christian, knowing all along that I’m a hypocrite, I’m sure that God detests it even more. Jesus never spoke too highly of the Pharisees, after all.
But on top of all that, I don’t want to serve a God who looks the other way when His people commit sin in His name. That is a weak God, that is an unjust God, and more importantly, that is an unloving God. Why would God simply sit by and let us engage in behaviors that are self-destructive? To let us get away with our sin when it is eating us alive is not really love at all.
That is why Scripture tells us that God disciplines those whom He loves. When we experience the consequences of our actions, God is teaching us about His ways, and refining us in the process. To refrain from doing so would mean that He essentially doesn’t care.
That God, an apathetic, distant, passive God, is not the kind of God I serve. And that is why I was compelled to pray, “Show me your wrath.” I wanted to be reminded of God’s awesome holiness and His mighty justice. I want to serve a God who cares deeply about His children and how they live their lives, a God who protects His children from the sin that threatens to consume them. I want to serve a God who hates the sin that steals, kills and destroys all that is beautiful in this world, and I want to serve a God who declares war on that sin. I want to serve a God who pushes His servants toward excellence, honor, and holiness, and does not settle for mediocrity.
It is for all those reasons that I prayed that crazy prayer one Sunday morning. I’m still kind of bracing for the results, but I think it gets to the very heart of who our God is, and why we worship Him. We do not serve a passive God who casually sits by while we ruin ourselves and slander His name in the process. We serve a God who loves us profoundly and defends His glory as well. That is the God I love, and that is why I prayed, “In the face of my blatant, ugly sin, Lord, show me your discipline, show me your love. Show me your wrath.”
Will you be so bold?
This is so true! What a brave prayer…it is definitely right there with praying for humility and brokenness.
Other hard prayers I’ve discovered recently is praying to overcome loneliness and praying to learn to pick up your cross daily. Overcoming loneliness means having to face your fears and loneliness straight on to wrestle with yourself to make peace and make peace with God. Taking up your cross daily is a struggle. This prayer seems to result in learning how to fearlessly abandon yourself and shut out your thoughts to allow in God’s thoughts. It is definitely a change from being an auto-pilot christian, and to give up control. And yet, while is so hard and frightening, it seems to be an easier method than keeping control. It is freeing.
I think praying for God to show you His wrath will be liberating. Scary, humbling, and liberating.
I prayed that prayer just recently, and NOTHING could have prepared me for what came after. While it was terrible to realize somethings about myself it lead to amazing healing in myself, my husband and our marriage. It is totally freeing. I always thought if God truly revealed in me things I’d have to change, or “give up”, I’d be miserable. I now know it’s quite the opposite, I’ve never felt so free in my life. I physically feel lighter and my husband has said the same thing about himself.
I hope you have braced yourself because when you pray those dangerous prayers God doesn’t hold back. It’s as if He looks down on you and says, “Ok, you asked for it…” and so the ride begins.
I can tell you this, it’s a ride worth taking and then one worth sharing.
Thank you for your words, I can’t seem to get away from God’s leading ways lately – no matter what blog I read, what book I pick up, or what sermon I hear God is constantly reminding me to hold fast.
I dont know of anything in scripture where someone prays for the wrath of God. However, the early church did practice public confession, repentence and penetance. Perhaps this is a better method that actually allows you to move beyond your failings with a supportive community. Modern Christianity has privitized faith so much that we assume our repentence is between the individual and God. Maybe you need some communal guidance rather than praying for God to hurt you. I dont remember Jesus suggesting that.
I’m glad the last person posted their comment, because it brings up an important point. There is a difference between an extreme asceticism or sadism in which we punish ourselves because we’re unable to move past our sin, and a desire to receive godly discipline. God’s wrath is His proper response in the face of sin, and in order for us to understand the darkness of our sin, it is appropriate for us to witness this side of God at times. It is not at all about punishment–it is about remembering why God hates sin, which sometimes means being allowed to observe its destructive power. That said, my desire to see God’s wrath is unrelated to my guilt, but instead reflects my desire to reconnect with this side of God in a way that convicts and transforms me in my discipleship of Christ.