As a hospital chaplain, I’ve learned that God doesn’t always answer prayers in the ways we expect. Sometimes we pray for physical healing, and it doesn’t happen. Sometimes we pray for test results to be negative, and they are positive. Sometimes we ask God to make a miracle, yet the one that comes is not the one we’d hoped for. But I have discovered one prayer that God always answers in a way I can understand.
So I developed a habit. Whenever someone asks me to pray for them, if they don’t specify their request, I pray: “God, may your presence be felt here. May your Spirit fill this room and everybody in it. May you be near to us, and may we know it. We ask all these things, knowing that you hear us.” I pray this way for every patient and family who asks for prayer because I know that God will answer it in a way we can understand. Praying for God to show up teaches us to look for where God is moving. We ask knowing that God will answer. God’s Spirit will be sent to bring comfort, to guide our steps, to offer wisdom, and to fill us with the strength we need to take the next step in the dark.
God’s Spirit always comes when we ask because it never leaves us in the first place. Praying for God to be near reminds us to be still, to listen, and to pay attention when we sense God’s presence. God loves us so much that any time we seek God, we shall find God. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Isaiah wrote, and Jesus proclaimed (v. 18). When we ask for God’s presence, we shall receive it. God loves us enough to give us this greatest gift.
How will you take time to listen, to be still, and to feel God’s presence close to you today?
God Who Hears, listen to our cry for you. Be near to us. Send your Holy Spirit to give us comfort, strength, and the simple awareness of your love in each moment of our lives. Amen.