Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
Many moons ago, shortly after I accepted Christ, I prayed day after day that the Lord would make me like Jesus. And yet it seemed that nothing ever changed. I was still impatient, angry, prideful, demanding, and arrogant. My language was far less than edifying. My holier-than-thou attitude resembled that of the Pharisees. Why, Lord? Why, when I beg you endlessly to change me, do you not do so?
Then, in the middle of one my rote, dull, senseless prayers, it hit me and it hit hard. I really didn’t want to be like Jesus. The truth of it washed over me like a downpour. Jesus was hated. His friends abandoned Him. He was unpopular. He sacrificed. He had no home to call His own. He was selfless. He loved the unlovable. He touched the untouchables. He forgave seventy times seven.
Why would the little girl whose father chose not to know her want to be abandoned? Why would the girl who wasn’t popular in school want to be unpopular and hated in the adult world? Why would the woman who was angry and harbored unforgiveness want to be forgiving? Why would the woman who felt she was unappreciated want to sacrifice? Why would I want to be homeless after working so hard to own a home? Why would I want to love the annoying, clueless, stupid people in my world?
It was a turning point. The realization of my condition flooded me with despair and repentance. I sat on my bed and sobbed. Oh, Lord. I don’t want to be like Jesus. You ask too much. But I do want to want to be like Jesus. It was probably my first honest, heartfelt prayer since coming to know the Lord. It was a prayer He was delighted to answer. Not that I’m always like Jesus…just ask my family…but most days I’d genuinely like to be more like Him.
Slowly, bit by bit, the Lord has chipped away at the years of wounds and sins and has revealed glimpses of the woman He intended me to be. Slowly I’ve come to realize that being like Jesus is about loving God and loving people (yes, I know that’s in the Bible; I don’t always catch on so quickly). And when I love God and others, I am changed from the inside out and my life is richer than I ever imagined possible. My conclusion to the matter? An honest prayer, no matter what it may be, is a powerful one, and pleasing to God.