“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and grace to help in time of need” (Hebrew 4:15-16).
Prayer relies on the ordinariness of Christ’s incarnate experience as a man. His deity did not exempt him from the common frustrations of getting a splinter in his hand, running out of time in a day, or being unable to get to sleep. In fact, Hebrews says he experienced every possible way of being tempted, though he never sinned. He felt the pain of lost friends and betrayal. He experienced sickness, weakness, and exhaustion. He experienced the loneliness of traveling from village to village, no home to return to.
The incarnation therefore totally obliterates the excuse that we cannot pray because God will not understand or empathize with our problems. Far from it! Christ, as our mediator, continually intercedes to God for us as one who fully understands the limitations of our humanity. That means nothing — no matter how small or insignificant — is off limits in prayer.
I like remind the girls in my youth group about the story of Corrie Ten Boom, who would pray over the tiniest details as she fixed watches. Before the Nazi occupation of Holland and the building of the hiding place that the Ten Boom family is famous for, Corrie and her family operated a watch shop. Each day, she would work on fixing the tiny parts of each watch while praying. “God, help me find where this piece fits.” “Lord, I can’t find where the problem is. What wheel should I check next?” There is nothing — I remind the girls — too small to bring to God in prayer.
Few of us have the leisure of stopping ordinary life over advent. Work, childcare, school continue on. But in the everyday routine, let us take the time to reflect on Christ’s humility and sacrifice in coming to this earth to live life alongside us. He relates — and that makes all the difference in prayer.
Watch for the next Advent Devotion on Monday!