From the Basement to the Throne Room: The Power of Hearing Your Name

ALICE KIM|GUEST

In the spring of 2020, my parents were planning a road trip from Toronto, Canada to visit me and my family in Virginia. Then COVID-19 suddenly halted their plans, putting an indefinite pause to our reunion. Now, it’s been almost two and a half years since we’ve seen them; we’re still eagerly anticipating their visit.

During this in-between time, phone calls and texts serve as substitutes for face-to-face interactions. Memories of my parents   have moved to the forefront of remembrance and reminiscing, including those of my mom and dad praying.

My Parent’s Prayers

After twelve plus hours of being on their feet, preparing meals at their local eatery or punching the cash register at a one-stop convenience store, my mom would prepare one of her go-to, from scratch meals: a Korean stew, a pot of steaming rice, and an assortment of staple side dishes. My dad’s footsteps would echo past the wooden hallway, down into the basement. He would find a spot on the carpet.

Without restraint, a roar started from within his chest then reverberated down into his stomach. On his exhale, he cried aloud, “Lord!” “Lord!” “Lord!” in Korean. His pleas of utter dependence were balanced with moments of silence. He made room for tears to express his gratitude and grief. And as his voice carried through the air vents leading up into my room, I laid over the edge of my bed, leaned in with my ear inches away from the ground. I just listened.

My mom on the other hand, was less pronounced. I would call out for her, “Umma!” and find her in the walk-in closet with her back facing the open doorframe. She didn’t budge and break focus; she continued. The top of her foot and knees kissed the ground as her body rocked rhythmically back and forth.

Each word bled into the next and created a harmonious alto hum. If you paid close attention, you could hear the distinct groans, desires, and thanksgivings. Rather than retracing my steps back into the hallway, I lingered. I listened for my name.

It’s been a long time since my dad’s booming crescendos and mom’s soft murmurs contributed to my daily concert of background noise, but it doesn’t take much imagination to hear them once again. And when they tell me, “I’m praying for you and your family,” I can see them praying for me as they did when I was a child.

Prayed for by Name

There’s something special about our name being mentioned in prayer. It touches a vulnerable, child-like desire to be known. It communicates connection and care to our relational heart— we are not alone but we are remembered and loved.  Someone is thinking of us.

In Luke 22, we find prayer present in the midst of a busy scene with multiple plots of intensifying hostility. It’s as if the author wants us to know that in spite of the drama surrounding Jesus— which includes his antagonists scheming his murder; one of his twelve disciples, Judas, colludes with his haters; and Jesus introduces the practice of the Lord’s Supper before his itinerary to the Mount of Olives— he was intent on praying.

He informs Peter (also known as Simon), “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”[1]  Peter temporarily forgets Jesus’ words, but when he hears the rooster crow, he remembers. [2]

It was not the glimpse into the future or foreknowledge that diverted incoming heartache, but it was prayer that sustained, carried, and held Peter securely outside the courtyard, beyond the commotion, where he “wept bitterly.”[3]

What if, like Peter, we hear our name, “[your Name], [your Name]” followed by the assurance that, “I have prayed for you?”

What would that mean to you? What difference would it make in your situation? How would it change the way you live in the moment, make sense of the past, and move toward the future?

If we’re honest, we hesitate and shy away from making public our longings to be on someone’s thoughts. We don’t want to be a burden or inconvenience. We fear being too needy and eventually exhausting and over-extending the relationship. Yet, being in community invites us to step outside of our comfort zone and reside in the heart and mind of another, whether for a few moments or an extended season.

Knowing that someone is praying specifically for us grounds us. It gathers our fragmented, frazzled self and anchors us, that “[e]ven though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” [4]Prayer redirects us to see Jesus for who he  is, “… the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”[5] and “…the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” [6]

Next time we come across an opportunity to respond with, “I’ll be praying for you,” consider taking an additional courageous and compassionate step by asking, “Do you mind if I pray for you right now?”

Say their name. Join Jesus as he speaks their name in his unceasing intercession. Come alongside the good work God has already begun in their lives.

Let us pray for one another.

[1] Luke 11:31-32

[2] Luke 11:60, 61

[3] Luke 11:62

[4] Psalm 23:4

[5] Hebrews 12:2

[6] Romans 8:34

About the Author:

Alice Kim

Alice Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Emmaus Counseling and Consulting Services (emmausccs.com) where she offers gospel-centered therapy to the DC Metro area. She finds deep fulfillment in engaging people’s stories and bearing witness to the good work of God to redeem and restore. She is married to Sam Kim, pastor at Christ Central Presbyterian Church in Centreville, VA and they raise their two daughters.

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