Devotions for Times of Crisis ~ Day 6: “Does God hear my prayer? Why doesn’t He answer?”
Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
It would be one thing if God were the type of person who created the universe and then walked away from it, having no further involvement in what He’d made. Then the universe would just simply run on the laws and principles He had built into it, and we’d just have to deal with whatever comes our way on our own. It would be tough, but at least we’d know that we’re on our own and could plan accordingly.
But that’s not the kind of God that we have. We have a God who is intimately involved in the ongoing unfolding of creation, and who has told us in His Word that He wants us to bring all of our concerns to Him in prayer, and that He will answer our prayers. So we have learned to believe that God is there for us, and that when we really need Him He will help us when we pray to Him.
Yet when crisis hits us this isn’t always what we experience. Often when a crisis hits we pour out our hearts to God, asking Him in countless ways for His help out of the crisis. Yet nothing seems to happen. Our prayers seem to go unanswered, as if they had fallen on deaf ears. And so we redouble our efforts, thinking that a great show of our sincerity and our urgent need will rouse God from His slumber and quicken Him to answer our prayer, only to meet the same silence.
Then the frightful thought enters our heart that maybe God isn’t going to help us out of this mess. Maybe He’s angry with us and so will refuse to help us; or maybe in He’s powerless to help us; or maybe in the end He isn’t as “good” and “gracious” as we thought He was; or maybe the scientists and atheists are right, and God just doesn’t exist. But then who will we turn to for help and comfort and support?
Once again we must first listen to His Word before we let our thoughts dictate anything to us. We find in His Word that God promises to hear the prayers of His people when prayed in faith in Jesus Christ. He doesn’t say that He might hear our prayers, nor does He say that He might answer them; He promises that He will, and does, hear our prayers and will answer them.
As with all requests, our prayers can be answered in one of three ways: “Yes”, “No”, or “not yet.” God will answer our prayers because He has promised that He will. It may not be on our timetable, which only serves to remind us that God will not be bound by our timetables. However, He will hear our prayer and He will answer our prayers. In fact, the Bible assures us that our needs are known to God before we even bring them to Him. So here’s a thought: perhaps the Lord has been actively working through human history and the local circumstances of your life to bring an answer to your prayer before you’ve even offered it to Him. Perhaps the answer is being unfolded right now!
Hindsight is always 20/20. It has been my experience in life that oftentimes in my darkest moments when my prayers have ascended at the speed of light I’ve only seen how the Lord has answered those prayers once the crisis has passed. During the crisis itself I was forced to rely solely on God in ways that I hadn’t before. While that may have been unnerving, it grew my faith. And the next time a crisis hit me, it was very helpful to remember that in every crisis I’ve ever been through that I could look back once it was over and see how God had answered my prayers – and always in ways that I wasn’t expecting. It has given me assurance that the Lord does always hear and answer my prayers, and that patience is the key to the ability to see His answers to my prayers.
God is a faithful God. He has promised to hear us and to answer us when we call to Him. He doesn’t relinquish His position as Creator by promising to answer our prayers, making Himself bound to the whims and wishes of His creations. He still is in control. But it is a comfort that the One who works out all things according to His plans and purposes nevertheless invites us to come to Him and lay our requests before Him, promising to answer our prayers for Jesus’ sake.
God has promised to hear our prayers and to answer them. Because they are promises they call forth faith. No human being can give your absolute certainty that God will hear and answer your prayer. Our ability to be certain rests on the trustworthiness of God, who makes the promises. God is not a liar or deceiver, so He is trustworthy. So we believe that God's promise provides all the certainty that we need. And that is faith at work -- trusting in the promises of God in Jesus Christ.
Does God hear your prayer? YES! Will God answer your prayer? YES! Will He answer it in the exact way that you want? Will He take direction from you? Not necessarily. Sometimes He will, oftentimes He will answer it in unexpected ways. But it will always be with your eternal best interests in mind. He loves you too much to ignore your cries for help! He is a faithful God, and He keeps His Word.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes when I pray to you it seems that I get no answer. That causes me to doubt You and Your goodness. Forgive me for my doubts, for my accusations, for my lack of faith. Give me patience to wait on you, and give me faith that is certain of Your faithfulness to Your promises. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.