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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

On a recent Sunday after church, when I picked up my two-year-old son from children’s ministry, I asked the volunteer how he’d behaved that day. To my surprise, she told me that he’d behaved well (he’s been going through a tantrum stage). She warned me that his pants were a little loose and had fallen down once or twice. Bored by our conversation, he wriggled out of my arms to return to play with the other children. As he ran away to play, I noticed his loose pants slide down to his ankles, revealing his chubby legs and diaper. Some of the kids pointed and laughed at his “nakedness.” Oblivious to their taunting, he continued to happily play with a toy train that was nearby.  As he shouted “choo choo!” to no one in particular, I thought to myself, my son is literally “naked and unashamed.” He had no idea that he was supposed to be embarrassed because he was exposed in public. Naked and unashamed. In our appearance-obsessed culture, we rarely use these two words to describe ourselves. We may use one or the other, but rarely both.

In the very first marriage recorded in scripture, Adam sings of the oneness that characterizes his and Eve’s union when he says that she is “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). Scripture goes on to describe the couple, saying, “…and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:24-25). This description evokes a sense of innocence between two people who are one with God and each other; joined by a covenant devoid of shame or embarrassment. Unfortunately, this oneness between creator and creation, and between husband and wife, was short lived. After Adam and Eve disobediently rebelled against God, they became aware that they were naked (Genesis 3:7) and, for the first time ever, being in the presence of a Holy God felt like a curse and not a blessing. Laden with guilt over their sin, and unable to hide their internal shame, they blamed one another and settled for fig leaves to cover their nakedness.

As a distant relative of Adam and Eve who has inherited their sin nature (Romans 5:12), I am well acquainted with the overwhelming sense of shame that I feel when my sin is exposed in God’s presence. It’s an awful feeling that can cripple my prayer life as I try to “hide from God” and thus forfeit the grace that God promises to give us when we seek Him (Hebrews 4:14-16).  

The beauty of the Gospel is that when Adam and Eve tried to hide from God, God sought them out, covered their transgression, and set the plan in motion to restore man’s broken fellowship with God. The animal skins provided by God to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness (Genesis 3:21) foreshadowed the blood of the sinless lamb that was shed for the sins of mankind when He was slain on a cross. Because Jesus the Christ was naked and unashamed as he “endured the cross” in our place (Hebrews 12:2), in Him we can draw near to God, free from guilt and shame, covered by His blood, and clothed in His righteousness. In the hymn “Rock of Ages”, songwriter Augustus Toplady sang of the beauty of the deep, inner covering that Christ provides.

“Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace.”

Being naked and unashamed in God’s presence frees us up to have the same disposition in the context of Christian community. My little boy was naked and unashamed because he didn’t know any better.  Clothed with the righteousness of Christ, I can be honest (naked and unashamed) about my struggles with brothers and sisters in Christ who can remind me of the worth and value of God’s promises (Galatians 6:1-3).  Pastor Matt Chandler once said, “The church is a gathering of men and women who have covenant with one another and Christ to do life together.” James 5:16 reminds us that “doing life together” looks like confessing our sins and praying for one another. Let us find grace in the God who calls us out of hiding and back into a covenant relationship through Christ, so that we might draw near to Him, naked and unashamed, and find healing and rest for our souls.

Yolanda Solomon
Ministry Fellow at Columbia
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