Have you ever felt too dirty to pray? Too stained by sin? Soiled by habitual failure? Have you ever just felt like giving up because you KNOW God can’t possibly listen to anyone as bad or hypocritical as you? If so, congratulations are in order because you’re in great company. We ALL feel that way sometimes. The irony is that we’d probably be in worse shape if we didn’t feel that way! And the tragedy is that we too often allow those feelings to silence our hearts and keeps us far from God.
“A sense of unworthiness hardly disqualifies me from prayer; rather, it serves as a necessary starting point. Apart from feeling unworthy, why call on God in the first place?” Philip Yancey
The truth is that when it comes to feelings of unworthiness, our hearts are deceptively wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). They would have us believe that God cannot or does not want to hear our prayers, that God wants nothing to do with us and that we are far from Him. The reality, however, is quite different. When Christ died, he didn’t die for nearly-worthy or the almost-righteous; he died for the worst and the least. And even if that is you, you’re safe.
There are times in out spiritual lives when we simply cannot trust how we feel and must rely solely on what we know. One of those times is when we are attacked by feelings of unworthiness. The Bible is pretty clear that we’re all unworthy (Psalm 14:1-3), but it’s also clear that Jesus isn’t about to abandon any of his sheep (John 10:27-28). You might wander off and fall in a ditch somewhere, feeling lost and broken again, but regardless of how you feel, you need to know Jesus is there. So take a cue from Joshua, be strong and courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6). Know that if you will just humble yourself before God, He will hear your prayers, and like the perfect Father He is, he will hear them with love and compassion. So, “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) even if you don’t feel worthy.