The God Who Hears
ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Our culture is devoted to hope, but we are short on conviction. Superstition still dwells in our hearts. We want to believe that we can be accepted to Hogwarts or Starfleet Academy. We want to believe that we can choose our own genders, and everyone must submit to our choice. Popular opinion is that anything is possible; reality shouldn’t get in the way. Believe what you want about cancer, the holocaust, or JFK, but nothing should be held rigidly, and certainly we shouldn’t believe anything to the exclusion of other opinions. Absolute truth and reality are allowed no place today.
When we find ourselves in a crisis, we are sorely tempted to call together all the leaders of all faiths and have them pray to the pantheon of gods, hoping that one of them will do the job. Or maybe we are hoping that the gods would all get together and cooperate, like comic book heroes who usher in a new utopian age of tolerance and prosperity. Prayer in such a context, even if one calls on the name of Jesus, is not prayer to the Triune God. Our God will not share the stage. He is not one among many. He is not ethnic. He is not satisfied to be the chief god, like Zeus. He is the only One. There is no other God. When Moses asks, “Who shall I say sent me?” He says, “I AM.” Prayer in any other name than the name of Jesus is idolatry. He ate with repentant sinners, but He refused to answer Caiaphas and Herod.
Jesus tells us to call upon His Father as our Father. He is the One who hears the prayers of His people, for He is our God by grace. He is everyone’s God, but not everyone knows or confesses Him. In the end, everyone will know. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess—in heaven, on earth, and even in hell—that Jesus is Lord. To pray to the Father through the Spirit in the name of Jesus is to confess that Jesus is Lord. That confession cannot stand alongside the idea that Jesus is merely a false teacher from Nazareth who was executed as a criminal and who is still dead. It cannot stand with the idea that Jesus is merely a misunderstood prophet of Allah. Prayer in the name of Jesus cannot stand with witch doctors and shamans who peer into the intestines of animals. Prayer in the name of Jesus must condemn those demonic lies.
Jesus is the real God. He will tolerate no pretenders. The One who makes us His in the waters of Baptism hears and answers our prayers. His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways. But He is good. His mercy endures forever. God’s will is always done, and His will is always good. And even when it seems bad to us—when loves ones get sick, when children are murdered in schools, when our hearts hurt with the pain of our sin—even when it means suffering shame and hatred from the world, heavenly hindsight will reveal that God’s will is always perfect. What He wills is exactly what God’s children need.
Pray for what you desire. You do not need to worry about forming the perfect request. Even before you ask, your Father knows what you need. You do not approach an angry God, but a God who welcomes your petitions, your praise, and your thanks for the sake of His Son. Through Christ, the heavenly Father is your Father who loves you.
You are not alone in prayer. God speaks in His Word. With that holy, inspired, inerrant Word, God reveals His good and gracious will for you. He exposes His loving mercy and kindness. He provides friends, family, food, all things. But most of all, our God—the One who provided the ram in the thicket so that Isaac would go free—He has provided His Son as a perfect sacrifice in your place, giving you that same Son to you in His Body and Blood. By His Word, He provides. He forgives. He renews. He hears…and He answers. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.