When The Heart Speaks

None of us knows when it will come — news that shocks, or hurts, or sends one into hopeless unbelief.  “Surely it can’t be!”  We shout to ourselves, knowing all along that the news we have received is true. Some want to walk away to think alone.  Others seek out family or close friends to talk it out.  All of us who have a personal relationship with God want to pray — but sometimes words won’t come.

I experienced the above this week, receiving news about a dear friend that I didn’t want to be true.  Tears slowly came to my eyes as the fact of what I was reading from my friend hit me.  Suddenly I was feeling a pain deep inside, an unwanted hurt that I could not send away.  The thought came that I must pray.

I wanted to pray, to lift my friend’s situation to our Father, but words would not come.  Not one word formed in my brain to utter on behalf of my friend.  Thankfully, I knew this didn’t matter.  Prayer is so much more than words.

Have you ever felt so distressed that forming sentence structures to speak out as a prayer escaped you? If you have ever experienced that and felt a weak failure, then please take comfort in knowing that prayer is not confined to written or spoken language.  While prayer can be given in words, the words themselves aren’t necessary.  You see, it’s all a matter of the heart.

The Bible reminds us that it is God who sees what is in the heart.  Mankind cannot hide from God because He sees what no one else can see.  Words often reveal what is in the heart and they also hide what is there to human onlookers, but never to God.  He knows all.  He sees all.  “…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  I Samuel 16:7

For our subject today, when you come to a point of such distress that you want to speak words of prayer but cannot — you are actually at that point in a place of prayer.  When you have a desire to bring your pain to your Father, to ask His help and comfort, He is already hearing and answering.  He listens to the pain of your heart better than you can interpret it yourself.  He knows why you cry.  He takes that grief or fear and begins His response to your heart’s prayer.  Isn’t that absolutely beautiful?

Father does not require words.  He requires that we give Him our heart and all that is in it.  To be aware of His presence is a life walking in prayer.  To have a desire to give Him our pain is a life that lives in prayer.  That is why He tells us that He holds our every tear in a bottle.  Why does He do that?  Because every tear represents a prayer of the heart, calling out its need for hope, comfort, and guidance.

He cares about all that hurts us.  He hears our heart.  He holds every tear.  He answers every prayer.

Prayers — A Heavenly Collection

Have you ever wondered if your prayers really do any good? Do they matter? Does God truly pay attention to what you pray? The resounding, joyful answer is an absolute — yes! One of the most beautiful reminders of this fact is recorded in Revelation 8:3-4: “Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great quantity of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people, to be offered on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of the saints, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.”

If our prayers didn’t matter, there wouldn’t be so many encouragements in God’s Word to do that very thing, and to do it with regularity. Our prayers matter for so many reasons: they keep our own minds concentrated on the holiness and goodness of God, prayers replace our worries with God’s own peace, prayers keep us focused upward on the possibilities of God rather than on the impossibilities of ourselves, prayers give hope in situations that otherwise fill us with despair. Prayer comforts, brings joy,and adds peace in our hearts no matter what winds of trouble blow around us. That’s what prayer does for us.

What does prayer do for God? Our heavenly Father never forces His will upon us. Even when He knows we are taking wrong paths and making unhelpful choices, He leaves the will to seek Him or not, up to us. When we make that choice to ask for God’s guidance and His comfort, we see from the above passage of Scripture, that our prayers are so precious to our heavenly Father, that He collects them. Angels guard them and offer them on the golden altar of God Almighty, where the sweet incense of our prayers waft up to His very presence on His throne. Isn’t that a beautiful picture of just how precious are our prayers to our Father? Isn’t this a lovely reminder that, indeed, our hurts are of great concern to our Father? He loves. He cares. He desires to intercede, bringing His own calm to quieten the storms in our lives.

Are you ever troubled that you don’t know the right words to say? Do you ever consider that your prayers won’t be acceptable to God because you are not eloquent in speech? Take heart, because God does not look for smooth-tongued prayers; He looks for genuine cries of the heart. He is not concerned with your expertise, or lack thereof, of articulation; your Father is concerned with what troubles you, and that you ask for His help, and that you develop an inner spirit of true worship of Him who is holy forever, rather than on the things of this world which are temporal, fading away it its despair and futility of living.

Your prayers are precious to your heavenly Father — that’s because you are precious to your heavenly Father. Therefore, never cease to talk to the One who loves you beyond measure. Your prayers make a heavenly difference.

The One Necessary Thing

The Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, are records of Jesus’ life on earth. In it we read about many of the miracles He performed. We take note of Jesus, the great storyteller, revealing spiritual truths through everyday experiences and examples. We see Jesus and His busy schedule: teaching His followers, healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, preaching in the Synagogues, debating the religious leaders of the day, casting out demons, even settling disputes among His disciples.

Yes, Jesus was a very busy person, teaching many truths about successful Christian living. However, throughout His ministry, it is interesting to note that Jesus points only to one crucial thing that is necessary to living the abundant Christian life. There is only one thing we must practice in order to know His peace, courage, strength, joy, and direction through all our days.

We have no record that Jesus ever taught a seminar on sermon preparation. There is no record of Him giving instruction on how to conduct a feeding program and helps to the poor. He never gave a lecture on healing ministry, He never suggested a tea cafe to reach the community or a daycare center for the children. There is no record that He gave instruction on conducting a youth camp at the Sea of Galilee. All of the above are wonderful tools today, that when led by the Holy Spirit, the love of God can be shared. Even so, there is no record of Jesus giving any teaching on these matters.

He taught one necessary thing: it’s a tremendous spiritual truth that is absolutely essential in order for any of the above to be effective in leading others to know Jesus. It’s a necessary thing in order for any of us to maintain inner peace in the midst of turmoil. It’s a thing often ignored; it’s often put aside until a later time; it’s often hurried through on the busiest of days. It’s the thing called — prayer.

How to pray is what Jesus taught, and it is what He showed us by His own example. Even on His busiest of days, when He was ministering all day and into the night, it is recorded that “Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray.”Luke 1:35

Jesus tells us how to pray in Matthew 5:9-13. We call it The Lord’s Prayer. It’s a tremendous model on how we should pray. There is another instruction on prayer that Jesus gave us, recorded in Matthew 7:7-8, “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.”

There are those who would read these words and quickly say that they have asked, sought, and knocked, and God did not answer their prayer. Here is an important truth: God always answers our prayers. Sometimes He says, yes. Sometimes He says, no. Sometimes He says, wait a while. In the meantime, we are instructed to keep asking and seeking and knocking. Why do this if the answer is wait or if the answer is slow in coming? Because asking and seeking and knocking is for our benefit. Those actions keep us focused heavenward. When we focus heavenward, our very thoughts take on a more godly attitude. When we take on a more godly attitude, then God is able to build strength of character in us. When strength of character is built in us, then faith and trust in our Father grows more secure.

Too often we focus on that which we don’t understand, and we quit praying. Jesus urges in His teaching to — keep on keeping on. That determination and obedience is what sharpens our spiritual ears to hear Him when He speaks. If we aren’t ready to listen, it stands to reason that we will never hear. When we do not hear, discouragement sets in, and we declare that God doesn’t answer our prayers. It’s a spiritually debilitating circle. It doesn’t have to be so!

Let’s determine today, and each day as we awake, that we will obey the teaching of Jesus and we will pray; we will talk to Him, telling Him quite simply how we feel about things going on in our lives, what we feel we need, perhaps how we are worried about those around us, what we would like to happen in our world, etc. Ask God for help with everything that troubles you or confuses you. Just talk. Pour out your heart in your own words. When we do this, we will grow to understand that prayer is for our very best. We will grow to a greater understanding of God and His ways. We will come to know a joy so great it can never be measured. Remember this — of a certainty, such immense joy can never be found — without the one necessary thing — prayer.