He was heard. {You can be, too.}

In just a few hours my home will be filled with groggy high schoolers. It’s the thing I love most about Wednesday mornings, that we get to open our space, flip a bajillion pancakes, and pray with our sweet students as they make their way across the street for another day in prison at school. And although I should be in bed, my mind can’t get over a passage I read in Hebrews this morning…

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…”

Hebrews 5:7-9

My academic mind grasped the obvious application immediately: we should pray reverently, like Jesus did. It’s the response I’ve gleaned from this passage in the past, when it seemed like a clear, straightforward, keep-on-reading, kind of application.

But something struck a different chord this morning and I haven’t been able to drop it all day.

Jesus was heard.

Jesus prayed loudly with tears in His eyes to a God who could save Him from death… and He didn’t get what He asked for.

We have the same hindsight complex for this moment in history that precludes us from mourning on Holy Saturday, the day after we remember Good Friday. The day before we celebrate Easter. We forget that a waiting world was devastated that day, sure they had lost the One in whom they hoped.

We see Good Friday in light of Easter.

We see Jesus’ unanswered prayer in light of our glorious salvation.

And it’s skewed our view, more than just a little. When did we start to associate heard prayers with answered-the-way-we-wanted prayers? As if prayer can even fail?

Prayer – our means of communication with the God to whom we’ve surrendered our brief collection of moments on earth.

Prayer – a time of submission, supplication, and adoration.

Prayer – a chance to listen, to receive, to abide.

Prayer – not the time for us to dump or to demand.

Prayer – a time to get real about the desires hiding deep in our hearts.

Prayer – a time to approach expectant for His presence, not His perks.

I struggle with the balance of desire + submission.

I know it’s a broken way of thinking, but I tend to oscillate between obsessing over what I desire to trying to rid myself of desire altogether. Pretending that I don’t really want anything and covering my insecurity about what I actually want with the guise of, “Your will be done.”

Mistake me not; I want His will to be done in my life.

But I don’t want to stumble into it muffling my unspoken desires out of some bogus fear that I’ll be less for wanting something He didn’t want for me.

Bottom line, my friends? If you don’t know what His will is, press in to your desires. Lay them out, examine them, and detail them to your gracious Father. Spoiler alert? He already knows them and you aren’t sparing Him a darn thing by refusing to ask for it.

Jesus’ prayers weren’t described as heard because He got what He wanted. He was heard because He spoke them. Because He laid Himself before Yahweh God and He cried, “Let this cup pass from me.”

And it didn’t. But you can be sure that Jesus didn’t walk to Gethsemane in shame because He asked for something He didn’t get. He walked in humility, knowing He could trust when His Father said, “No.”

I want to lean in, I want to trust, I want to be brave enough to ask for what I think I want. And then brave again to surrender it in order to receive what He knows I need. I want a heart that’s ready to pray, “Your will be done,” ready to receive whatever plan He has in place of my desires.

My most recent season has carried more loud cries and teary prayers than any other in my life. Both for things I desires and for things I fear. Lots of cries. Lots of tears. And tonight I’m resting in the beauty that we are heard, even when we feel forgotten. Even when our cries lead to suffering instead of the “answers” we think we wanted.

I’m hoping someone else needs to be reminded of this promise, this eternal, never-gonna-fail promise:

He hears you. He hears you. He hears you.

Pray prayers filled with desire.

Tonight I’m saying thanks to the mysterious author of Hebrews and the Spirit who inspired his words. Thanks to Jesus who modeled well the hard task of not getting what He asked for, but proceeding with rich grace anyways. And thanks especially to Yahweh, the God who doesn’t just listen, but hears.

May we have the courage to pray, “Your will be done.” in all things big + small, and the confidence to believe we are heard when we do.

{{if you want to press in more to such thoughts on prayer, I’ve been challenged greatly by God on Mute by Peter Greig and Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer by my dear Jack.}}