God has graced me with a few good friends with whom I can share almost anything. I’m not so transparent with everyone, however. I’m not extraordinarily private—it’s just that some people don’t have any experience with the things I’m thinking about and going through. So why try to tell them, when such a conversation probably wouldn’t go anywhere?
But I have learned that I can always share these deeper parts of me with Jesus. Why? Because He can relate.
Hebrews 4:15-16 says that Jesus experienced human life as we do—with all its temptations, hardships, and challenges. And now He acts as our sympathetic high priest, representing us compassionately before God when we come to Him in prayer. So we can talk to God with complete confidence, knowing that He will give us mercy and grace to help us, no matter what state we find ourselves in.
While meditating on this truth one time, I stumbled onto a creative prayer practice that I sometimes use when I want to tap into the Lord’s understanding. It works like this: When I’m experiencing something I know I should share with Him, I start by trying to recall a situation in which Jesus may have experienced something similar.
If I’m lonely, for example, I might think of Jesus alone in the garden of Gethsemane when He wanted His friends’ prayer support, but they fell asleep. Am I feeling misunderstood? I think of Jesus in the upper room with His disciples who, the night before He died, still didn’t understand who He was or what He was about. Impatient? I think of Jesus living thirty years as an obscure carpenter before it was time for Him to move into His public ministry.
Once the Holy Spirit has helped me to identify an incident from Jesus’ life that proves to me that He really can relate, I use my imagination to put myself in the story with Him. I try to sense how He might have felt and what He might have thought or done. I see Him experiencing longings, frustration, sadness, or anger (to name a few examples) and then watch Him handle these very real human emotions—without sin!
This simple practice connects my heart with the Lord’s. I feel compassion for Him, and I know He feels compassion for me. I worship Him in awe over His perfect responses to every trial. And then, knowing how much He loves me, how perfect He is, yet how sympathetic, I talk to Him about whatever is on my heart or mind. And as Hebrews says, I trust that I will find mercy and grace for my need—because He can relate.
(This post was adapted from an article I wrote for Pray! magazine in Jan/Feb 2008.)