A Prayer to Prepare Our Hearts
By Jessica Van Roekel
“A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low, the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” – Isaiah 40:3-5
Christmas is my favorite time of the year, but it’s Thanksgiving that prepares the way. I spend the month of November reflecting on all the Lord has done for me. By the time December rolls around, joy bubbles and bursts in my heart. I hang the twinkly lights and display the nativity. I sprinkle decorations throughout my home, and wherever I look, I’m reminded of why I celebrate Christmas—Jesus, Incarnate, God with us.
These verses from Isaiah have layers of meaning and application. They refer to the return of the Jews from exile after the Babylonian king deported them from their homeland. This deportation was a consequence of their disobedience and inability to consistently worship and live for God. Their time in Babylon was like a long wilderness journey.
That leads us to the next meaning of these verses—the Promised One who would make a way through the wilderness so that we might see God face to face. God promised a Messiah who would take away people’s sins for good and for always. His name is Jesus, and we celebrate and fall to our knees in worship because of the freedom he gives.
The final application of this passage points to God’s complete liberation of his people at the end of time when he establishes a new heaven and earth. The New Testament applies verse three to John the Baptist. John called people to prepare for the Lord by repenting, which indicates a complete change of heart and mind from our own way to God’s way.
When we consider our own preparations for Christmas, may we prepare our hearts to receive him. We can examine our thoughts and attitudes and eliminate the ones that turn our hearts toward doubt and despair. Our hardships don’t exclude God’s presence in our life. Like the Israelites, sinful habits can create a chasm between our hearts and God’s.
We don’t have to live with the gap; we can prepare to receive God’s forgiveness through repentance. Repentance prepares the way for our hearts to be united with God in our life’s journey. God is with us. He is everywhere all at once. This is a concept we sometimes forget because of the difficulties we face.
Journeys through difficult hills and valleys have a purpose. They are an opportunity for God’s glory to shine through us. Each time we choose to trust, we strengthen our faith. And our faith shines bright as a testimony to others and becomes a stone of remembrance for us. We can look back on the journey and use it to prepare our hearts to remember God’s faithfulness for the next time we face arduous burdens.
Our troubles can cause us to struggle with dissatisfaction in our lives. We are sojourners while we wait for our eternal home. We can use this present time to prepare our hearts for eternity. We can choose to grow in spiritual practices by throwing off the things that hinder us. We can sow habits and choose responses that indicate we live by the Spirit. Longing for the glory of God to be revealed is a way we prepare our hearts for heaven, our true home.
Lord, as we consider this holiday season, may we prepare our hearts to receive more of you. Our lives sometimes lead us down rocky paths into steep ravines that seem impossible to climb out of. Remind us of your presence in our lives. Help us make our hearts ready. You have good in store for us. You long to reveal your glory in our lives. We praise you for who you are and what you can do. Come, Lord Jesus, into our prepared hearts.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
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Jessica Van Roekel loves the upside-down life of following Jesus as she journeys to wholeness through brokenness. As an author, speaker, and worship leader, she uses her gifts and experiences to share God’s transformative power to rescue, restore, and renew. She longs for you to know that rejection doesn’t have to define or determine your future when placed in God’s healing hands. Find out more reframingrejectionbook.
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