In Jamaica, we have a saying “suck salt through wooden spoon” that means to endure hardship, usually over a prolonged period. As we mature as believers, we “suck salt” by relinquishing more and more of our entitlements, freedoms, pleasures, and comforts to make room for what God values and desires.
Shot Glass Prayers
That wooden spoon can hold various types of salt, like a sacrificial donation of money or confessing an embarrassing sin to an accountability partner. It can also involve what I call “shot glass prayers.”
People often suck salt that has been coated on the rim of a shot glass before swallowing the drink. To pray a shot glass prayer, you have to “suck salt” by enduring the hardship of asking God to do or give you something that you don’t even want.
Imagine asking God for a sense of gratitude for the boss that ridicules and undermines you at work. To forgive your rapist and to lead him to salvation. To help you honour your political leaders despite their corruption, cowardice, and incompetence.
Instead of increasing your comfort and pleasure, “shot glass” prayers bypass those goals to seek what God’s heart ultimately desires: righteousness and purity of heart.
Feel the Burn
These prayers aren’t long or wordy or enjoyable. You almost have to spit the words out of your mouth because they rub against your desires, plans, and even your rights. Like the examples I mentioned earlier, they feel unfair or unjust in the moment, but you pray them out of sacrificial obedience to God’s word and will for your life.
As your throat literally burns from an actual shot of vodka or tequila, shot glass prayers burn because they are painful and uncomfortable. Only God’s grace strengthens us to endure and embrace that burn as refinement through fire (Malachi chapter 3, verses 2-3).
There’s a difference between a cocktail and a shot. Both may have the same alcoholic base (e.g. rum or vodka). However, a cocktail is imbibed slowly (the taste is enjoyed and delicately savoured), while shots are gulped quickly. Shots have no chaser to sweeten their taste or to quell the raw burn of the alcohol when you swallow.
Similarly, shot glass prayers are never slowly savoured or enjoyed. It is impossible to enjoy the sacrifice of dying to your flesh and walking in the Spirit instead (Galatians chapter 5, verses 16-17). Just like with a shot, you tilt your head back, open your mouth and get it over with as quickly as possible.
Effect not Taste
Another difference between cocktails and shots is the role the alcohol serves in each drink. The alcoholic in a cocktail contributes to the taste by complimenting other ingredients and adding depth and body to the overall drink. In stark contrast, a shot has no chasers (like juice or syrup) to water down or counteract the potency of the alcohol. The only point of alcohol in a shot is to get drunk. Shots are only taken for the effect (intoxication), and never for the taste.
Distilled spirits (e.g. rum) influence our behavior and attitude. In the same way, the explicit purpose of shot glass prayers is to invoke the influence of the Holy Spirit in our behavior and attitude (Ephesians 5 verse 18). This can take the form of healing to eradicate the bitterness of the past, faith to believe God’s promises in the present or the right posture heart of to facilitate God’s will in the future.
Jesus had a shot glass
God, in His mercy, has given us a High Priest in heaven who can strengthen and sympathise with us in the pain and sacrifice of every shot glass prayer we utter (Hebrews chapter 4, verses 15-16).
Jesus sucked salt while he sweat blood in Gethsemane and was serving and protecting friends whom He knew would betray Him. His throat burned as He screamed “My God, why have you forsaken me?” He tilted His head back and opened His mouth one last time to quickly shout “It is finished!” so our Father could finish a glorious work in us (Philippians chapter 1, verse 6).
Jesus said His own shot glass prayer: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” We can rest assured that as we drink from the cup of sacrificial Christlikeness, we do not drink alone.
Kacy Garvey is a Christian poet, speaker and activist. In 2011, she launched "Rahab", an outreach to prostitutes in Geneva, Switzerland. She is a USAID certified HIV Testing and Counselling Provider and has also successfully completed training in Trafficking in Persons conducted by the International Organisation on Migration (IOM). She performs original pieces of spoken word poetry to various audiences, and in 2014 and 2018, she launched “Undone” and “Water Jar”, the first and only Christian poetry albums published in Jamaica thus far. As a founding member of the Love March Movement (since 2012) and #MarriageMattersJA (since 2018), she is a regular presenter on the science, politics and biblical worldviews on sex and sexuality. In January 2021, Kacy launched Caribbean Christian Response, an online movement that reviews the news from a biblical worldview and gathers millennials across the region to pray together and seek God’s heart on these issues.