Recently, the Lord has been “echoing” the importance and power of prayer to my heart; about praying as God’s “beloved.”
I wouldn’t consider myself a “good prayer.” My prayers aren’t particularly eloquent. They’re often short and poorly worded. For this reason I have often been hesitant to pray aloud in front of others. Spontaneous prayer can make me feel silly. I don’t like that I can’t edit spoken prayers the way I do something I write. My private prayers are often written in a journal or spoken without words just in my mind. Those prayers are really more like a conversation. An ongoing conversation.
Throughout my day, I jump in and out of conversation with God. I almost always start my day with a cup of coffee and time spent studying the Bible. Inside my Bible I keep a notecard that says, “Today I’m praying for” and below I list out specific prayers. Prayers for family and friends, for our local church, for my family. For myself. These are my “persistent” prayers. The ones I have on repeat for a period of time. Then there are the prayers that come out throughout the day more like petitions that pop up when the day gets frustrating or I find myself repeating a situation I had hoped to avoid. And there are the simplest of prayers that stream through my mind and sometimes under my breath, “You are God and I am not. You are God and I am not.”
I try not to whine to God. Not to complain when things don’t go my way. I try to remember to thank Him for my blessings in my prayers as I move about the day. To acknowledge that everything I have is His.
I try to remember when I pray, when I talk to God, that He loves me. He loves me not for anything I’ve done or could ever do, but in fact, He loves me despite who I am and what I’ve done. He loves me and sees me through His son Jesus.
The prophet Daniel was called “greatly beloved” two times in Scripture. Both times, this moniker or description of Daniel is connected to Daniel having been shown a revelation of the future. Daniel was “greatly beloved” and God gave Daniel significant visions of the future (some that have yet to be fulfilled).
God also called Jesus “beloved.”
In Matthew 17:5 when John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, baptized the Lord in the Jordan river, a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
In many of the Apostles letters they refer to the recipients of their letters, the members of the churches as “beloved.”
We aren’t “beloved” because of who we are, but whose we are. We aren’t “beloved” because we belong to the “right church,” or follow all the rules or give a certain percentage in our tithe. We are beloved because of Christ’s death and resurrection that covers our sins and brings us back into right relationship with God the Father.
Does it matter what “church” we attend? Yes, but only so far as it is a church that is rightly teaching the Gospel and not a false one. Does following the “rules” of God matter? Yes, our lives are so much easier and we enjoy so much more freedom when we obey God’s laws. Is there blessing when we give joyfully of our resources that God so generously gives to us? Absolutely. But these don’t “add up” to reasons for God to love us.
And being beloved means to be “close to,” “in relationship with.” No one is truly beloved to us if they are unknown.
God called Daniel “greatly beloved” and gave Daniel visions of the future. And Daniel spent significant time with God. Prayer wasn’t unusual for Daniel. It was a regular, everyday, ongoing part of who he was. Maybe today you’re thinking, “well I’m no prophet. I pray, but God hasn’t given me visions of the future.” But He has. Through the prophets, like Daniel and Jeremiah and the Book of Revelation, written by the Apostle John, God has given us many visions of the future. But not just “us” as in “the Church,” but “us” as in “humanity.”
We often hear that our world is dark. It is.
And yet, we live at a time when so many many multitudes of people have access to God’s Word like never before. Most of us carry around mini-computers in the form of smartphones in our pockets and can access the scriptures at anytime, in a variety of ways. What a cool thing that is! But do we take advantage of it? Are we making an active, daily study of the Bible?
Do you ever wonder or worry about “how it all ends?” You don’t have to. The answer is right in front of you. Do you understand it fully? Probably not. Daniel certainly didn’t. I don’t. But just because we don’t yet fully comprehend (if we ever will) the full revelation of God, doesn’t mean that God hasn’t laid it before us.
Daniel knew it. He knew he was beloved by God. Do we? Are we living that way? Are we proof to the world outside our front door that God is love? How about inside our home?
Are we praying like the ones God loves? Do we ignore God and only come to prayer when we are in need? I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past.
Do we forget our relative position to God until we want something? Do we forget that He is God and we are not? It’s actually easier to do than you might think. Even for believers. Even for those making an active effort to walk with Jesus.
We can give our hearts and lives to Jesus and still think God needs “our help.” Still think, “I’ll take care of such and such and this and that, instead of bothering God with such a trivial thing.” We do this because we don’t want to give up control. We do this because even though we say we trust Him, we struggle to fully trust Him. Foolishly we think we can still make things better or work things out in our own worthless efforts.
We believe, but like the father who sought Jesus’ help for his mute son, we still harbor places of unbelief.
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, ESV)
We remember our position relative to God. We put our trust, our full, complete trust in Him. We don’t worry that we aren’t eloquent. We don’t let the enemy tell us lies about prayer or the validity of our prayers and praise. We are persistent.
Do not discount your prayers because you don’t see the mountain move. Do not discount your walk because you haven’t received a vision. Do not discount your gifts because they haven’t put you on stages or built up your bank account. Do not discount God’s love for you because you feel unlovable. Do not discount your voice, because you have not heard His. He hears you.
He hears every prayer. He knows every need. He feels every wound. He is familiar with every scar. You, me, every person who has ever lived and everyone who ever will is created by God, loved by God, regardless if they believe it or not. Do not discount God or His love for you. Seek first His Kingdom, not your castle. Read His Word. Talk to His Heart. Hold fast to hope and His promises.
This promise, in the book of Jeremiah, just one verse after the well known Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This promise is one of my favorite in all of scripture: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13).
And wedged between these two verses in another promise. A simple promise.
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29:12)
It isn’t fancy. It was a corporate promise, originally intended for the people of Israel, but applicable to you and me today. Applicable to the believer and to the one teetering on the edge of belief. To the one wondering if God hears their prayer even though they never step inside the doors of a church. Curious if God knows they exist, even though they haven’t given Him much of a place in their lives. Yes. God hears those prayers too. And He desires relationship with each and every one of us.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”2 Peter 3:9, ESV
Pray. Start Praying. Keep Praying.
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