What Sound from Earth Can Always Be Heard in Heaven?

Do you ever feel as though prayer is a mystery beyond understanding?

Like sometimes it feels as though you’re really grooving in your prayers, they’re flowing like poetry, and holiness is just dripping from you like sweat but nothing is happening?

Then other times, you’re stuck for words and praying is more like moaning during sickness or sobbing at death or sighing with love. Words plop out onto your prayer corner floor like huge, wet frogs, broken bricks, or amateur love poems and it feels pathetic but then things happen?

Yeah, it’s weird, isn’t it?

I’d like to think that, because I’m a woman of words, God really admires my prayers and is so bowled over by my eloquent delivery that He can’t move fast enough to respond.

He’s not.

It’s natural to look for the “Open Sesame” and the “Abracadabra” of prayer. We’re all prone to it. Whenever I see an article on prayer or someone shares a phrase, a formula, or a prayer secret they’ve used that brought amazing results (meaning, they got what they wanted), I’m drawn to it like a fat girl on New Year’s day is drawn to the promise of Jenny Craig.

But it isn’t our words that reach His ears, really. That would make the writers, the poets, the preachers, and speechwriters the rock stars of prayer while those who fumble and stutter would be left hopeless before Heaven.

Stammering Moses seemed to have a standing audience with God so that blows that theory out of the water, right?

God reminds me often that it isn’t my poetry that impresses Him. It’s the incense of my heart that rises to His throne. That incense carries with it, either the stench of my pride or the pleasant aroma of humility and it’s on the latter that my words rise and are heard in Heaven.

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

Leave it to God to deliver the good news (we don’t have to be adept with words to pray to Him and be heard) with the hard news (the condition of our hearts is the vehicle that drives the journey of our prayers.)

Oh, right, my heart.

We devote hours trying to devise the right words but cultivating hearts that please Him shows up way down on our “To Do” list.

Maybe because it seems so hopeless when we open the doors of our hearts and stand to survey that landscape.

Sometimes, it’s like volunteering for the clean-up crew at Ground Zero. We scan the wreckage of our hearts littered with debris and pits of garbage so dense we get tired just looking at it so we turn around and go home thinking, hoping God will just listen to our words and leave that closet door closed.

We want neat, easy prayers with rapid, tailored answers. Pure hearts just seem like hard, messy work. Eww.

And truthfully, it would be hopeless if it weren’t for Jesus.

He’s not put off by the stench and disorder of neglected or abused hearts. In fact, He’s more aware of how badly they’re in need of renovation than we are. Sometimes, we look them over and decide all they require is a little touch up and a new coat of paint, all the while He’s seeing a project for Extreme Soul Make-Over.

We all require new hearts. Transplants.

In Ezekiel 11:18-21, when the nation of Israel had filled their world with idols and false religion, God told them this: “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

So, hard, prideful hearts are a no-go for God. Fleshy, squishy, bloody, bleeding, broken hearts get His attention.

And He knows when we’re faking it. Eloquent prose can’t cover a heart of stone and, as inconvenient as it is to have a heart of flesh that bleeds and breaks, the sound it makes reaches the throne of heaven.

That is prayer. The sound made by a fleshy, broken, bleeding heart that beats for Jesus Christ.

Are you up for it?

It’s yours.

Repent of your pride. Turn from your sin. Ask Jesus for a new heart. Watch the door of heaven open and see mercy rain down like a river from His heart to yours.

Real prayer is kind of messy but it’s a mess that moves mountains.

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1 Comment

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  1. Pam says:

    “Eloquent prose can’t cover a heart of stone.”

    This makes me thing of the Point of Grace Song that says “So, I’ll sing la la la la la la la la la . . . and you fill in the words.”

    Thanks for the reminder that it is not the perfect words that make prayer good.