Why I Love Easter and Hate Public Prayer

Over the last decade or so, I have grown to love celebrating Easter and hate praying in public. That love/hate relationship collided on Sunday. Here’s the story.

First Easter. Why do I love it so much now? Perhaps it’s all the cultural baggage and insane busyness that weighs down Christmas. Perhaps it’s getting older and thinking more about death and resurrection. But I think the answer lies somewhere else. I have come to feel sharply the daily presence of Jesus, in all of His surprising playfulness and shrewd compassion. He is no longer the Lamb of God on the cross; He is the Lion of Judah on the loose. And if He came back from the dead, anything can happen.

Second, public prayer. Here’s why I hate it. From blessing the food to praying in the pulpit, I have been robotic and canned over the years. Instead of speaking out of my heart, I spoke prayers of what was expected of me, perhaps to please others or even impress them. It was my thickly clad religiosity that was on display, a religiosity that nearly suffocated me, not heart connection to a Father who yearns to wrestle with me. 

I grew to hate it all until the tragic death of a friend. Of all things, I was asked to pray at the funeral, leaving me uncomfortable and downright flummoxed. What was I to say to grieving, angry, confused mourners? Any religiosity would sound like a mockery on stage. Out of desperation, I asked Jesus for help right before the funeral. He gave me the idea of praying through Psalm 23, and then I heard this, “Just speak to Me.” My response to Him was simply, “I can do that.”

And I did.

Yesterday at the Easter service, I was asked to read Scripture and pray. I didn’t even think about my uneasiness until driving to church. The Scripture reading was no problem, but prayer? I hated the thought of verbalizing religious platitudes to a large, expectant audience. That’s when I heard it again: “Just speak to Me.” My response again: “I can do that.”

And I did.

I sang my heart out with the music, read Matthew’s account of the resurrection, and then spoke to Jesus, the Lion of Judah on the loose.

Today, the day after Easter, He is still on the loose, always working, always wooing, always surprising. How is the Lion on the loose in your life?

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