I am writing you a new command,
its truth is seen in him and you,
because the darkness is passing
and the true light is already shining.
Anyone who claims to be in the light
but hates his brother is still in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother lives in the light,
and there is nothing to make him stumble.
I John 2:8-9
When we pray, we open ourselves to God who is light. The thought of this can be frightening at first. We may fear that the light will expose all that is wrong with us in a way that will be condemning or punitive. But as we look more closely at this text, we see that the light of God is the love of God. Moving toward God’s light, opening ourselves to God’s light in prayer, is a movement out of the darkness and blindness of our hatred, toward the light of God’s love.
God’s light does indeed expose the darkness that is in us. But not to condemn us. God’s light exposes what needs healing and correction in order to free us from our self-serving ways, our defensiveness, our pride, our judgement, our condemnation of ourselves and others. God’s light frees us from all that is damaged in us and empowers us to love as God loves.
If our religious pursuits lead us into self righteousness, hardness of heart, judgement and condemnation, we are not moving toward the light of God’s love. All of these symptoms are signs that we are still in the darkness. Sometimes, out of fear that God is harsh and condemning, we strive to please and placate an angry, abusive god. We may call this prayer. We may call this right religion. But according to Scripture it is not.
Prayer brings us in humility and growing openness into the presence of our Creator who is light, whose light is the light of love. This is not a God that needs to be placated, but a God who heals us, blesses us, receives us and leads us in the way of love. This is a God who pours out all of who God is to us. As we move into the light of God’s love, we are changed, we are released more and more from the darkness of our hatred, we are filled more and more with love.
This was the heart cry of the psalmist in Psalm 4:6: ” Let the light of your face shine on us.” Free us from the darkness of our hatred, our resentment, our judgement. Remake us with the light of your love. Let the beautiful, healing light of your face shine on us.
I have hatred in my heart.
I am bitter, resentful, judgmental.
I feel entitled to this hardness.
I cling to this darkness.
But it consumes me
and hurts others.
This hatred blocks your Spirit.
It blocks the light of your love
from shining in me
and through me.
Shine on me.
Shine in me.
Let the darkness pass,
let your light come.
May I live in the light of your love.
Ask God to show you where there is darkness in your life. Ask God to reveal whatever hatred, resentment or bitterness exists in you. Invite God to free you from the darkness of your hatred, your resentment, your judgement. Pray that the beautiful, healing light of God’s face will shine on you and empower you to move out of the darkness and into the light of God’s unfailing love.