And I said: "O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day. – Ezra 9v6-7
This is an interesting passage on prayer. As Ezra began his prayer he said this – ‘I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to you.’ The reason for his contrition and embarrassment was the sins of the nation.
First of all I have to say that I respect and admire Ezra’s attitude about prayer. He knew that he was talking to the holy, perfect, righteous God. He knew something that we all should know – we are never worthy to approach our God. He did not mince his words. He acknowledged that the sins of the people with excuse or equivocation. Ezra was embarrassed. He was humiliated. He was ashamed.
But look, he still prayed. He did not cower in his shame. He also knew that God was living and kind and gracious. He knew that God cared. He knew that despite his shame and embarrassment the God of all grace would listen because he came in a spirit of sorrow, contrition, and repentance.
Sometimes it is hard to pray when we know that our lives are not pleasing to God. We too can find ourselves in situations where we feel ashamed to pray because we know what we have done.
As we raised our children we tried to encourage them to talk to us no matter that they had done. I am sure there were times when they were ashamed to talk to us and did not talk. But I look back at the times when despite their fears and shame they came to us to set things right. I praise God for those precious times.
Our God is willing to hear us when we come in the right spirit, with hearts that are truly sorry for our sin. In fact, when we are Christians we can enter God’s throne room with confidence because of what Jesus Christ has done for us (Hebrews 4).
Our sin should make us ashamed to pray – but the grace of God through Jesus Christ can give us the confidence to push through and talk to God anyway.