“Where are you?”
This has become one of my favorite questions asked of all time. Within 3 small insignificant words lies an unexplainable amount of emotion. There is love and care that seeps from these words when a loved one is missing. Sometimes these words are spoken out of fear when we suddenly find ourselves alone after holding the sweet company of friendship or family. Sometimes these words are spoken in fun through a sibling’s game of hide and seek. In most cases, these words signify a relationship.
The first time this simple phrase is used in the Bible is when Adam and Eve first sin. After eating the fruit they were told not to eat, they experience shame and their reaction was to hide. Our omniscient Father God knows what they have done and knows what this would mean for the future of mankind. Yet, his reaction was one of compassion…”where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). It’s as if He was speaking over his children for generations to come, “I miss you.”
And He is still speaking this over us today.
Even as billions of voices of prayer and worship fill the heavens, God misses the sound of our voice when it is not being lifted up. The instant you turn your gaze off heaven and onto the world, God longs for your attention. As your prayers are burdened with mistakes and sins, God’s grace meets your every confession because His love for you is so vast that He doesn’t want dance through eternity without you. While you receive grace that is freely given, God gave up everything for you. When your voice is absent from the heavenly realms, you are missed.
Prayer is not something we learn to do well overnight. Prayer requires practice and to practice prayer is to pray. Prayer is not about knowing the appropriate spiritual language, or about knowing exactly how to pray for a specific situation. Prayer is about responding to God’s eternal question, “where are you?” and responding, “here I am.”
One of my favorite Psalms is found in chapter 27 verse 8, “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming (NLT).
I love the wording of the New Living Translation but I also think the NASB translation is really beautiful, “When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,“Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”
Prayer is not simply words that we send up to heaven with the confidence that they are heard, it is about a personal, intimate conversation. Prayer is less about talking and more about seeking. In a place of need, worship, longing, excitement, or heartbreak, we come on our knees seeking the face of our Father to guide, comfort, or to receive glory.
Trevor Hudson has written a powerful book called Beyond Loneliness, which goes beyond a study of loneliness in our world today and describes the longing of God for a friendship with us. He shares that he would often pray facing an empty chair because it reminded him that while our eyes cannot see a physical being, that the presence of God is all around us and that our prayers are intimate conversations. It requires authentic, heartfelt confessions and pleas just as much as it requires learning to listen.
As our LeadHer Chapter have spent November deeply studying and discussing what it looks like to leave a legacy of prayer, I have found myself redefining what prayer actually means to me. I long to leave a legacy not only of one who prayed without ceasing, but one who engaged in friendship with Jesus through prayer.
My challenge to you is to stop putting God in a box. God has never put you in a box. He doesn’t fit your prayers in according to his schedule, or choose to answer based on the spiritual articulation of your prayers. He misses your voice, He misses your presence. Visualize your prayers as conversations that transcend the depth of any relationship you have ever experienced on earth. As you share with Him your heart, remember that God has promised that He has collected your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), drawn near to you in times of heartbreak (Psalm 34:18), and rejoiced over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). Lift your voice and open your hearts to the God of heaven and earth who has written your name on His palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16). When He speaks over you, “I miss you,” how will you choose to respond?