If you’ve ever found yourself pondering this question, don’t panic, it’s a very common question about prayer. I’ve asked it myself. In fact, you’ll find yourself on a long list of people who have wondered the same.
The short answer is simply, yes, God does hear you. God hears you in your pain. God hears you in your joy. God hears you in your prayers. But how do I know this to be true? How can I be sure God hears me when sometimes my prayers seem to go no further than the ceiling in my office? Here’s how I know. First, God promises to hear our prayers. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) And second, God keeps His promises. God heard Abraham when pleading for the righteous at the destruction of Sodom (Gen. 18). God heard Israel when they were enslaved in Egypt (Exodus 3). God heard David in the midst of his darkest times (Psalm 116). God hears His people!
So why does it feel so often that we are not heard by God when we pray? Sometimes it’s our own doubt that gets in the way or we simply listen to that old deceiver telling us that God isn’t listening. Pride, selfishness and un-forgiveness can also be contributors in the sense that God doesn’t hear. But to answer this question we need to look deeper at 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“If my people, who are called by my name…” The first step in having God hear your prayer is to be called by His name. Too often people try to get the benefit of God’s blessings without accepting God as Lord and Savior. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18) You cannot expect to have your prayers answered or heard when you love sin more than God. You must “…turn from your wicked ways…” To receive forgiveness of sin and be called by His name is to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
“…will humble themselves…” Just as the scripture says in Hebrews 4:16 I often approach God’s throne boldly, but never proudly. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.“ (1 Peter 5:5) We cannot have a proud heart or attitude when praying to God. In prayer we must humble ourselves and submit to His leading, wisdom and mercy. We must put aside our own agenda and seek completely His will.
This leads us into the next point, “…and seek my face…” Many times we treat prayer like a last resort to any trouble we come across. But if we would approach prayer as our first step in any situation we could avoid a lot of pain and heartache. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) This is a blessed promise but there’s more to the phrase “seek my face.” Prayer is a conversation with the Almighty God, Creator and Redeemer. It is an opportunity to have a relationship with the Heavenly Father. God wants His children to know Him, talk with Him and share with Him just as any good father does.
The next time you are faced with the question of “Does God hear me?” ask yourself these questions as well: “Am I called by His name?”, “Am I humbly or proudly praying?” and “Am I seeking to know Him and His will?” When answering these questions honestly we may find the real questions isn’t does God hear us, but do we hear God?
Author: Tom Ford, Family Life Pastor Stanton First Church of God