“Have you prayed about it?”
My friend’s words were not unfamiliar. I was walking through a dark night of the soul, and he was offering the counsel I had already heard from several people. I mumbled, “Of course I’ve been praying about it.” This dear friend forcefully placed his hand on my shoulder and asked, “No, have you prayed about it?” His inquiry made an important point: there is a difference between mumbling a few words in prayer, in going through the motions, and actually praying as if God hears us when we pray.
Our boldness in prayer is inextricably linked with our knowledge that God knows us, loves us, and hears us. Today’s readings provide a powerful reminder that all three of these things are true. Jeremiah 33 shows God’s people in great difficulty; Jerusalem is besieged on all sides by the Babylonian army. Through Jeremiah, the Lord invites His people to call on Him that He might “answer [them] and tell [them] great and incomprehensible things [they did] not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). This is a summons, an invitation to cry out to the Lord and discover those “things” that are unsearchable and beyond the grasp of finite human wisdom.
The Lord showed Jeremiah a vision of a future in which God’s people live at peace with Him because He will keep the promises that He made to King David. Though the city of Jerusalem was under siege and about to be defeated, the Lord told Jeremiah that He would restore the fortunes of the city and rebuild it. He would forgive the iniquity that caused the disasters, and the city’s restoration would be proclaimed throughout all the earth. Because of His grace and mercy, every bit of damage done by the Babylonians would one day be undone by God. Judah could be sustained in their disastrous present, knowing that God would usher in a glorious future.
Those of us who stand on the other side of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ inherit these precious promises, for those of us who have faith in Christ have been adopted as God’s own children. And one day, we will reign forever with God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in a kingdom that will never end (Romans 8:16–17).
One implication of both God’s adoption of us and His promises to us is that He invites us to pray to Him. Just as He told Jeremiah to call on Him and see “incomprehensible things,” He invites us to call on Him and receive incomprehensible blessings. He beckons us to come boldly to the throne of grace when we are weak, so that we might find help in our time of need, finding strength through Him, even in our weakest moments (Hebrews 4:16; 2 Corinthians 12:9–11). He commands us to no longer be burdened by our anxieties, but instead to bring them to Him so that we might experience His peace (Matthew 11:28–30). Because He loves us, He keeps His promises and gives us hope. When we finally do seek Him, we find that He is all we’ve ever needed.
Written by Scott Slayton