I’ve become acutely aware of the fact that much of the Christian life is lived in the middle of almost and not yet.
The other day, a friend of mine opened up about how so much of parenting relies on trusting in the fruitfulness of the seeds her and her husband plant now for the years to come. She acknowledges that indications of goodness are there, but the fuller realization of their children’s identity in Christ will come when they reach adulthood. She prays persistently in faith of what is yet to come, and time will tell.
Isn’t that just your favorite answer? Time will tell.
This phenomenon looks differently for each of us. Maybe you’re praying for healing, conversion of a loved one, fertility, your future spouse, for a job, for a strengthened marriage, or for financial stability…
Whatever it is, do not grow weary!
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14
He is listening. It can be tempting to wonder if he even hears us, but John crushes this doubt.
God hears your prayers. And there’s more…
St. Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians on the armor of God closes with telling us to grab hold to the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and he proceeds with this,
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18
I’ve got to be honest with you, the exhortation to “keep on praying,” makes me want to pull my hair out. Because sometimes it feels like the rosaries, hours in adoration, journal entries, and persistent asking isn’t making a difference.
So why, Paul? Why should I keep on praying?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve grown tired. Sometimes a fresh conviction comes, but often times you feel like you’re mumbling the same prayer requests, or you’ve started to notice that you ask for them less often. Somewhere deep down, your hope has eroded.
But Jesus is still listening, and he responds,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
St. Paul exhorts us in his letter to the Ephesians because he knows that when we bring our desires to the Lord, we meet Jesus in the asking.
When you come to Jesus in your weariness, the one who has taken the weight of your burdens upon his cross listens intently. In exchange for your anxieties and the frustration of living in the almost and not yet, Jesus reveals how much you mean to him. His wounds reveal the extent of his love for you, you’re worth it all.
In my experience, when I press in to prayer, the presence of Jesus soothes the ache of my heart. He draws heaven and earth back into proper perspective. A reminder that I am not living for this world. The painfulness of the prayers where I experience almost and not yet, heightens my awareness of eternity, the “not yet” that all of creation groans for.
Jesus longs for our union with him. He more than anyone can empathize with the desire for fulfillment and healing in the face of pain and suffering in this world. Even better though, is the truth that the one who listens to us in prayer is the fulfillment of it all,
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
So yes, keep on praying, as St. Paul encourages us. Keep praying because Jesus hears your prayers, he receives your burdens, and he offers you the fullness of his love in return. And this perfect love casts out the fear of being forgotten or unheard.
Your perfect Love is intimately aware of your longing, and is working for your good.
Believe me when I say I need this word of the Lord as much as you today. So let’s pray for one another!