You will never be good enough, and that is okay.
Truth be told, God’s love for us is not determined by the good things we do, or shockingly, even the bad. His love is a free gift offered to us from the moment He breathed the breath of life into us. It is a radical reality, and one that we cannot often parallel in this world. It is what makes our ability to converse with God so incredibly profound.
Consider for a moment what Jesus says in the passage Pastor Mike preached about on Sunday out of the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 7:7-11(ESV) …
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Do you believe that? Can we truly ask anything of the God of the Universe? Is it really possible for us to seek and find the One who, in Revelation 22:13, says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end”?
To both those things, I say an emphatic YES! But here is the catch: Though we can do these things, we must do something that, for many of us, can be one of the hardest things of all—we must trust the connection that is in place.
When tragedy strikes, how do we respond? When we ask for a miracle of healing for cancer or some other serious ailment for our loved one, but the healing never comes, how do we make sense of those prayers or the God who did not seem to answer? When we witness an unimaginable act of evil and do not see justice served, how do we give that over to God and not take it into our own hands? You could pose question after question, desiring answers for all of them, only to be left wanting with so few answers.
And yet, God is close at hand and listens to every word we pray to Him. God loves His image bearers—His children—more than we could possibly imagine. What we do not always understand is that God’s love for us is far deeper than we can know, and out of that deep love, He joins into the prayer conversation with the big picture in view, just as a good earthly parent tries to do. Even when we do not see the answers to our prayers, we ought to trust what He is doing behind the scenes.
We get a rare glimpse of this idea in Daniel 10:10-15 (ESV) when the author (Daniel himself) describes a profound encounter he had after an intense conversation with God. He explains it in the following way:
“And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. And he said to me, ‘O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.’ And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, ‘Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days…’
“When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute.”
And after further talking with this angelic being, Daniel elaborates on this experience further with something we can all benefit from in Daniel 10:17-19:
“’How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.’
Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. ‘Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,’ he said. ‘Peace! Be strong now; be strong.’
When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.’”
Just as Isaiah was humbled before the Almighty (see “The Story Behind It”), Daniel too, found he was undone before God’s messenger. In our humanity, we will always come short of earning our way to be heard by God, but fortunately for us, there is no prerequisite to seeking Him. In the same way, He gave Jesus, His only son, over to be crucified so we have the chance do what David longs for in Psalm 23:6, and “dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
As you move forward in continuing your conversation with God, remember what Jesus said, once again: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. … [Because] if you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
So, ask away … and trust that regardless of how God answers, His kingdom is advancing, and as we follow Him, we can join Him in those efforts. Prayer is the beautiful beginning of all these things.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF …
- How do I view the idea of “prayer”? (Speaking to the air? Having a two-way conversation? A religious practice? A list of requests?)
- Am I talking with God daily? Why, or why not? What do my conversations with Him look like?
- How could I begin trusting God’s deep love when prayer disappoints?
- When have I seen the beauty in answered or “unanswered” prayer?