Have you ever felt that even though you prayed, God just wasn’t listening? If so, welcome to the club. I think we can safely say that almost every one of us has felt that at some point – and rightfully so. Because it’s true. God sometimes doesn’t listen to, or even hear our prayers. What? Really? Isn’t God always ‘just a prayer away’?
I know it sounds harsh. We’d love to believe that no matter how bad we are, when we turn to God He’ll be there for us. Sadly, the Bible tells us clearly this is not the case, and it tells us why. The good thing is that it also tells us how to make sure God is listening wen we pray (which, by the way does NOT mean He’ll do things the way you want when you want).
First, to a God that knows your heart, your motives are important. James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” NIV In other words, praying selfishly for your own gain is not what pray is about. Some of you will remember a ’70s song by Janis Joplin ‘Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz. My friends all drive Porsches. . . .’. I don’t think that car ever showed up in her driveway.
Second reason – we simply are not living in relationship with God. Isaiah 59:1-2 “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities [sins] have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear” NIV Think about this. Why would you expect that you can go through life rejecting Him, but pull Him out and make requests or demands when you feel like it or become desperate?
Third reason – we worship the wrong things – our ‘idols’ that we talked about a few days ago. In Ezekiel 14:3 God said that some people had “set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?” NIV Relationship with God is a package deal. If you want His ear, His protection and blessing, He gets your attention, your worship and your love. He gets to be first (the most important thing) in your life. Period.
So, ho can we be sure God hears us when we pray? Simple – by being in constant, close relationship with Him. By allowing Him to take control of us in every area of life. This means regular, frequent communication with Him (prayer, devotions etc). It means honoring Him in everything er do, whether at home, alone, or at work. Jesus told John “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you” (John 15:7) NIV ‘remain in me’ means a constant, not occasional, relationship.
If you think about it, this all makes sense. Try to put yourself in God’s place. If someone rejected you, dishonored you, put other things ahead of you when you should have been the priority etc, the came to you for something because they had nowhere else to go, how would you respond? How would you feel? Exactly.
Pray today that God would help you to be a person whose prayers will always be heard. Ask Him to ‘remain in you’, and hold on to Him as tightly as you can.