He Listens

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

I’m more than two years into my journey of becoming closer to God, and although I’m certainly closer to Him than I’ve ever been, I sometimes wonder if I am pleasing Him. Specifically, I worry that my prayers may not be what He’d like to hear.

Occasionally I fall asleep before finishing my prayers, and although I finish praying when I wake up in the morning, I can’t help but think that I’m being lazy by crawling into bed before I begin praying. Maybe I should get on my knees to pray; perhaps then I won’t fall asleep.

And I do get anxious at times, as when asking for something for myself. I boldly and earnestly ask God for things for others all the time, but I feel guilty when my request is for my benefit. How dare I ask?

And to complicate matters, I fear I am not thankful enough when I pray. Often I make my requests first and then remember to be thankful, but too often all I say is “thanks for everything,” which seems so much like an afterthought, or I say thanks for the same things over and over again, i.e., for my family, my wife, my health, my salvation. I worry I do not rejoice enough for all the things I am blessed with, the many things that go right and turn out well in my life.

And yet as I write this, I, once again, remember something a Pastor told me – it isn’t performance that gets you into Heaven. I can never be “good enough” to earn a place in Heaven. Rather, it is only by His immense mercy and grace, mercy and grace which are extended to me even though I will always fall short of His hopes and expectations for me, that I will have eternal life.

Each time I’ve remembered that kernel of wisdom, a wave of thanksgiving comes over me, for I am immeasurably thankful that in spite of myself, I can never disappoint Him so greatly that He would close the door on me. He might desire that my prayers be more of this or that, but He is always delighted to hear my prayers nonetheless.

So I will pray today and tonight, both for myself, my family and many others, and I will ask for many things. And I will not only remember to express my thankfulness for my salvation, blessings and answered prayers, I will be thankful in the moment as I am praying. Thankful that even with my flaws, my errors, my missteps, omissions and blunders, He still listens to me.

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I am a depraved, morally bankrupt wretched sinner through and through. I’ve attended church sporadically most of my life, haven’t spent a minute in seminary and only recently gave the Bible more than a cursory review. I’ve attended exactly one theology class and I dropped out of that. However, in spite of my moral infidelity, I’ve come to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I’ve learned my salvation isn’t the result of what I do, but rather what Jesus has done on my behalf. I didn’t find the Holy Spirit, He found me. And in our relationship I have invited Him to change me, to use me for His purpose, to conquer my will with His own. Praise the Lord, for even an unworthy, chronic sinner like me can experience and give testimony to His glory!
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