This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5, verse 14.
For a long time I struggled with prayer. The Lutheran in me was trained to feel inadequate, like a worm, standing in front of God. He’s God and I’m not. Because I’m a damn dirty sinner, all my best, most devout actions are, to God, like filthy rags. I’m just some created thing, some low being who isn’t worthy to tell God what I’m feeling or thinking or want or just to chat.
And I was afraid to admit things about myself to God. I’ve done so many things in life that I’m ashamed of, that I really wish I could take back, or change, or even ignore. It’s just that they’re mine. It’s not that I’m afraid of the consequences of my sins without Jesus. I know I’m forgiven. But I’m ashamed of them, wish I didn’t have to admit my failings, my wrongs, my sins. I’m forgiven, but those sins seemed too big to overlook.
Brother, was I wrong!
You see, part of knowing I have eternal life here and now is knowing I can talk with Jesus about these things. It’s just that it used to be difficult to find a way to do it without feeling like I’m talking to the air. A friend of mine took up walking last year, and he says he does a lot of praying when he walks. So, I followed his lead and found it really works well for me too. Sometimes I talk with God about what’s on my mind: family, work, writing, politics; anything. Sometimes I walk for blocks just thanking Him for everything around me, even things like the walk itself, or trees, birds, air, shoes, the air in my lungs; again, anything. Sometimes I talk about my sins and my failings, asking His forgiveness. And sometimes I pray for others, everyone from my wife and kids to the president to strangers driving by on the road.
In my heart, not even very deep in my heart, I KNOW Jesus hears these things. I know it because He said so. Because He said so, He hears me and imparts peace. It’s a cleansing peace, knowing I’ve connected with Him, offloaded some of my cares and concerns. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” He said and I believe it. I believe it because carrying the yoke of prayer with Him relieves me. I feel better, cleansed, freed from things that bothered me.
All because He hears. All our prayers are heard. Whether we see it or not, and whether it’s soon or not, all of them are answered as well, though sometimes not in the way we expect. Yet it’s always for God’s will and purpose which, in the end, is always for good.
Lord Jesus, hear my prayers and help me to always open my heart to You.