He Hears Us

 
matt-palmer-171734.jpg

Some of my earliest childhood memories are early mornings spent going to morning prayer. I vividly recall my mother briskly waking up my sister and me before the light of dawn, hastily throwing layers and layers of clothes on us. She would drag us groggy children down the stairs to the parking garage so we could get to church in time for the sermon. Every morning, the Korean-speaking pastor would open the service with a message I could never understand. I painfully sat in the pews with drooping eyelids, trying my best to stay awake and keep my head from bobbing. As soon as the pastor concluded with a closing prayer, the lights would dim and the speakers would blast instrumental hymns and worship songs--that was my cue. For the next few minutes, I would writhe around in the cold, stiff pew chairs until I was lucky enough to find a comfortable sleeping spot. I would doze off to the sight of people rocking back and forth on their knees, some with hands lifted high. Strong and tremulous voices of elderly men and women crying out were my lullaby. These childhood memories are the earliest memories I have of prayer—the earliest memories I have of God before Christ came into my life.

I used to think prayer was waking up early in the morning because maybe God heard my prayers better if I made them before the sun came out. I used to think prayer was more authentic whilst crying, yelling, or shouting. I used to think prayer was more effective when done rocking back and forth on my knees. I used to think prayer was telling God my needs and wants, like telling my wishes to a genie in the sky, hoping to find answers. As a child, I knew prayer was something all good Christians did. It was merely a means to earn my brownie points in heaven.

While some of these things might be arguably true, I discovered true prayer has nothing to do with any of my preconceptions. Prayer isn’t better heard at a certain decibel and doesn’t work any better a certain way. Prayer isn’t about giving God your wishes and it certainly won’t earn you any spiritual brownie points or merit badges. The heart of prayer isn’t even about finding peace, comfort, or answers to my doubts and hardships.

It wasn’t until nine years ago when Jesus radically transformed my life that I finally understood what true prayer really was. The heart of prayer is not about gaining more of anything else but God Himself.

“And this is the confidence that we have before Him: If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we already possess what we have asked of Him… And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:14-15, 20

Prayer is intimacy with God—a hidden and secret place spent with Him in His presence just as Jesus did with the Father (Matthew 6:13, 14:23, Luke 5:6, 6:12). One of the greatest and most powerful truths for every child of God is this, that when we call upon His name, He hears us (Jeremiah 29:12-13, Psalm 34:15). He sees and hears every tear, cry, and groan too deep for words (Romans 8:26-27). Whether in thinking, crying, shouting, singing, or dancing, the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer (1 Peter 3:12). As we pray to Him, we begin to seek His face. As we seek and find Him, our desires then become to simply know Him and draw close to Him—thus reaching the heart of true prayer.

The key to confident prayer is confidence in Christ, trusting we can approach the throne of God because the blood of Christ made the way for us (Hebrews 4:16, Ephesians 3:11-12, 1 John 5:14-20). It is in prayer where we respond to His Word and He shares His heart with us in return (Matthew 6:9-10). As we surrender to His will, it is where a moment in His presence can change the course of a lifetime. It is in the secret place where we humble ourselves and confess our sins. Then, He pours out grace upon grace and lifts us up in return (James 4:6-10). As we enter His rest and stillness, the peace of God transcends all understanding, fears, anxieties, and doubts (Philippians 4:6-7, Hebrews 11:6). When we ask, seek, and knock, we find that God not only answers, but also gives graciously, abundantly, and immeasurably more because He cares for us (Matthew 6:8, 7:7-12, Ephesians 3:20, 1 Peter 5:7, James 1:5, Daniel 9:18). Prayer is where He reminds me of the wonderful cross--where I lay my life down over and over again because He first loved and gave Himself for me.

If there is one thing I am confident of since my many childhood years spent at early morning prayer, it is that God knows, hears, and uses our prayers. My hope for you is that prayer would not be a means to an end but that prayer would become the destination and Jesus Christ the prize. May prayer no longer be a mere instrument to change our circumstances, but may prayer be our secret place where God transforms our inner being into His likeness with ever-increasing glory (1 Corinthians 3:17-18). Friends, may we never lose the wonder, never forsake the calling, and never take for granted the power and privilege we have of prayer.

Miya Joo graduated from Biola University with a B.A. in Business Administration and is now an administrative coordinator for 4 Christ Mission. She is currently living in Buena Park, CA. 

 
esther chungComment