Why Pray? Is God Really Listening?

February 25, 2021

Why Pray? Is God Really Listening?

It’s common to wonder whether prayer makes any difference or is even worth the effort but people who have a meaningful connection with God through prayer would respond…Yes, it absolutely makes a difference…it’s my lifeline. Learning to prayer is so worth the effort! 

Scripture teaches that you were made for a deeply connected, life-giving relationship with God. At the core of any great relationship there’s honest, heartfelt communication. The language of our communication with God is prayer. New languages can be frustrating, but everyone can learn. And when you add the fact that you’re talking to someone you can’t see or generally audibly hear that adds a whole other layer of complexity and yet in other ways prayer comes naturally. So let’s break it down a bit.

Prayer has two basic parts---talking and listening. If you’re like most people, we usually think first of the talking part. That’s a great place to start. Scripture teaches us that God loves to hear our voices. Psalm 116:2 says Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Isn’t that an amazing picture? God loves the sound of your voice.

So what do we talk to God about? We can talk to God about everything. The most common type of prayer, that comes naturally to most human beings, is a cry for help when we’re in a difficult situation. There’s nothing wrong with that prayer but there’s so much more as we grow in our relationship with God---prayers of gratitude (thanksgiving), praying for others (intercession), acknowledging our wrongs (confession), praising God for who He is (adoration) and more.

No matter which kind of prayer we’re engaged in God wants us to be real---to come to Him just as we are without pretending. Prayer isn’t a performance but an opportunity to bring our real selves--our struggles, joys, imperfections, and uncertainties and questions-- to the One who knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us more than we can imagine. He’s always poised to listen, and He promises to help.

A common reason people give up on prayer is---I tried it and it doesn’t work. Usually what is meant is something like this---I told God what I needed or wanted Him to do and He didn’t do it, so I guess prayer doesn’t work.

This frustration is really understandable, but it also misses the heart of prayer because it’s more transactional than relational. It’s kind of like viewing God as a big vending machine---put in the prayer and out pops the answers. Learning to trust God to answer our prayers in the way He knows best is a big part of our journey of faith.

When think further about this approach to prayer it would mean that God is limited by the wisdom and foresight of the people praying. Thankfully He isn’t. He’s infinitely wiser than. He listens to our prayers and cares deeply but in His goodness He doesn’t always give us what we ask for. Sometimes we can see later why God didn’t answer our prayer the way we wanted and we’re really thankful. Other times though unanswered praying is just really painful and difficult to understand.

Talking to God is a big piece of prayer but so is listening. There’s no healthy relationship where one person does all the talking. God wants to talk to us too. And when we think about who it is we’re talking to we’d be crazy not to be quiet and listen. Listening is challenging and sometimes we’re nervous to be quiet and listen for God’s voice. We’re afraid of what He’ll say. Will we hear words of disappointment or anger?

If we ever wonder about God’s posture towards us all we need to do is look at the Cross. God so deeply longed to have a relationship with us that Jesus came and died so that we could be forgiven and welcomed into God’s family. God loves you more than you can imagine and He not only loves you, He likes you. You can have confidence that you’re coming to a loving Heavenly Father and whatever He says will be because of His deep commitment to your good.

God speaks in many ways including through Scripture, other people, nature, music, and the inner nudges of His Spirit in our hearts and minds. The starting point is to say a simple prayer something like this:

God, I want to hear your voice. Please help me learn to discern Your voice from all the other voices around me and in my head. Thank you that you want to speak to me. I’m open and ready to listen. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Pray with confidence knowing that you are a loved child of God and that He is listening and wants you to know Him.

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