How a Prayer Offered in the Kenai River Led to a Changed Heart and a Full Net
By Jennifer Wier
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Jennifer's Story
I’ve never been much of an outdoors person, but somehow I found myself standing waist-high in the cold current of the Kenai River during the famous Alaskan salmon run. The air was crisp and the sky was gray. Noisy seagulls circled closely overhead, waiting for a tasty meal, and seals were on patrol just a few yards away, watching me curiously. I had endured a long, rainy week of camping for the sake of my husband, who had been looking forward to this all year, and dip-netting for Alaskan reds was to be the highlight of the trip. I was just eager to get out of the rain and home to my warm bed, so I offered up a quick prayer asking God to fill our nets quickly. I knew He could — after all, He had filled nets with fish before.
But as I looked down the beach at the hundreds of other people who had come out to catch enough to feed their families through the harsh Alaskan winter, I found my prayer changing.
“Actually, God, we’re okay. If any of these people really need these fish to feed their families, please let them catch the fish instead of us.”
I knew not everyone would recognize the true source of such provision, having heard some of the people chanting what I understood to be prayers to their ancestors that morning. So I added, “And let them know it was from You.”
As I looked up at the cloudy skies and out over the river, I was suddenly reminded of Jesus, who stood in the Jordan River all those centuries ago, and how the sky opened up to reveal the voice of the Father coming down from heaven, telling people who He was. I found myself praying, “Lord, make your glory known in this place, too.”
Somehow, over the course of just a few minutes, my prayer had changed. What began as me asking God for an easy day of fishing so I could get home to my bed had turned into a plea for God to reveal Himself to a bunch of strangers standing beside me on the riverbank.
I wondered how many of the other prayers I’d prayed over the course of my life had been self-focused? I knew that the Lord invites His children to ask Him for the things we need and that He cares about even the smallest details of our lives, down to the very number of hairs on our heads. But doesn’t He also extend an invitation to step into a story that is bigger than ourselves, one that turns our attention toward the things of heaven, leads us in the way of love, and shapes our hearts to reflect His own?
Lord, make your glory known.
It was at that moment that I heard God speak in a whisper to my heart: “My glory is made known when the hearts of my people are transformed.”
My heart had been the one changed that day. His Spirit had transformed my prayers from self-focused to others-focused to God-focused. I had known He was the giver of good gifts, but I realized it was far more satisfying to ask for those gifts for others and not just for myself.
We eventually filled three coolers to the brim with enormous salmon that day, and everyone who stuck around long enough on what turned out to be a record-breaking day of fishing enjoyed the bounty, too.
What I carried home with me, besides all those fish, was the realization that while God surely provides for his people in abundance, He cares more about our hearts than our comfort. I still pray that those strangers who cast their nets beside me will have their own encounters with Him, and I count myself blessed to have heard His voice and experienced His glory right there in the river.
Photo Credit: Unsplash, Chad Madden.
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest writer series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive notifications for each new essay, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a link to a FREE five-day devotional (45 beautiful pages!) called, “Closer: Five Days to Hearing God Louder.” Each day features teaching on one posture and a guided journaling section to help us practice taking steps toward hearing God louder in our every day.
Learn more about each of these five postures:
1 | Seek: If I Seek God, Will I Really Find Him?
2 | Know: Will God Speak, Even to Me?
3 | Expect: Can I Expect to Hear God?
4 | Listen: How Do I Listen for God?
5 | Connect: Is God Really Right Here?
New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!
Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Jennifer Wier is a writer, professional counselor, and military spouse currently stationed in the wilds of Alaska with her husband of fifteen years and their four spunky and resilient kids. Their transient lifestyle has grown her awareness of the things are unshakeable, igniting within her a passion to chase after what Jesus says will last forever. Jennifer earned her MA in counseling psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has worked with clergy, university students, teen mothers, and community members in need of mental health support. She regularly writes about the intersection of life and faith on her blog, where she encourages her readers to keep their eyes on eternity.