Part of my daily routine is praying through the morning office of the divine hours. As a guide I use Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours. The appointed prayer for the week of October 6 was this:
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon your church the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This prayer struck my heart and stayed with me for the entire week. For a few days I carried a copy of this prayer in my pocket, pulling it out to pray over at times, often reaching in my pocket for my phone, feeling the paper, and remembering the prayer. It became my lifeline, connecting me to a source that I desperately needed even when I didn’t realize the desperation. As I prayed and meditated, God shared with me many truths.
It’s interesting that we (as Christians) pray to a God that desperately wants to hear from us and talk to us. In fact, this God wants to hear from us even more than we long for or need to pray. But this is not meant to make us feel guilty because we don’t pray enough, instead it is a reminder of just how much God desires relationship with us. God doesn’t need us, we need him. God can survive without us, we can not survive without him. We can’t serve God and give him something he doesn’t already have, but he can and does for us. And yet, even though that dichotomy is true, God still desperately wants to hear from us. He wants to hear our voices. He wants to know our triumphs and fears. Like a grandparent, he finds joy just in being in our presence, listening to us and watching us. We pray to a God who isn’t distant or hidden, but like the teenage girl who waits in anticipation for the phone to ring from the boy, God is waiting in anticipation for us to talk to him.
And this God who is longing to talk to us wants to provide for our needs and is willing to give even more than we could even imagine to ask for. We don’t pray to a God with limits, one who has a defined set of resources that he is trying to conserve. We pray to a God who created everything and can give and will give beyond anything we ever dreamed of. There is no limit to what he can and will shower upon us. We don’t need to go to him in trepidation, fearful of what he might say or worried that he can not provide. Instead, we should approach the throne with confidence that we are asking a God who can provide more than our wildest imaginations and who desires and finds joy in providing for us.
And God doesn’t provide because we deserve it. God doesn’t give to us because we have earned the privilege. It’s not that we are so good that God must give. God provides for us not based on our own merits, but based on merits and mediation of the Son, Jesus Christ. God provides for us because we have been claimed by the Son; because our identity and our life is so wrapped up in the Son that to God we are innocent, pure, spotless. And God won’t just give us what we ask for, he will give us even the very things we are afraid to vocalize, afraid to admit, afraid to make known. God knows our inner hearts and even things we are afraid to ask for he hears, and he answers.
And so with renewed faith, we approach our Father with prayers, supplications, thanksgivings; and because he is so good, we find peace in his presence.