Receiving a New Heart as Prayer

I will give you a new heart
and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

Prayer is allowing God to radically change us. God is the One we speak to, listen to, worship, serve and rest with as we pray. Over time, in these encounters, God begins to change our heart. Our heart of stone is softened, broken open and replaced with a heart of flesh. Hearts of flesh are hearts that are vulnerable. Unlike hearts of stone which are defended and well protected, hearts of flesh can feel both pain and joy.

Because flesh hearts can feel pain, we often find ourselves wondering if we would be better off with a stone heart. We do not like to be vulnerable. But there is no other way to experience love. Love is vulnerable. Love lays down its protection. Love exposes its tender longing for respectful intimacy. Love grieves with those who grieve, rejoices with those who rejoice and cares for one’s neighbor as oneself.

Our vulnerable longing to give and receive love is the deepest truth of all about who we are. This longing exists in each one of us. It is this tender, powerful longing that God desires to unearth in us. It is to awaken and free this longing that God offers to replace our stone hearts with hearts of flesh.

The miracle of this heart transplant–this radical change in us–takes place as we are exposed to God’s love, to God’s vulnerability toward us. God expresses a vulnerable longing for intimacy with us. God seeks us out. God calls to us. God invites us. God risks our unresponsiveness, tolerates our hesitations, refuses to give up on us. And, over time, we begin to experience our vulnerability in a different way. We see the flesh-hearted life for what it is: a life of Love.

It is in repeated encounters with God’s vulnerable, active love that our own hearts begin to soften and break open.

You gazed at me,
inviting me to gaze back into the ocean of your love.
It was unbearable.
I could not sustain a gaze at first.
Only glances.
Your love fell in waves against my shame and fear and pride,
carrying away small segments at a time.
It felt like certain death.
And so it was.
Little by little I died.
I thought there would be nothing left.
But you knew the seed of life you had once formed in me
would lie exposed, aching with love and longing.
And so I was.
I was unearthed
by your loving gaze.
You treated me as though I were the pearl of great price
that you had sold everything to buy.
And so you had.

Prayer suggestion:

Invite God to give you a heart transplant. Offer to God your defended, well-protected heart. Ask God to expose your tender heart of flesh.