My pre-teen daughter walked up to me today as I started to write this post and read the title. She said, “Do you hear me? What does that mean?” “Well,” I said, “you know when you pray to God and it seems like He doesn’t hear you?” Her response was quick, “Oh yeah, I get that all the time!” It starts early, doesn’t it? We pray, but don’t see quick results, or any results at all. We can start to wonder if we are wasting our time.
I’m sure we have all felt that way. Our heart may ache as we send our prayers heavenward, but we just don’t see any response. Logically we know that God hears and answers in His own time, meeting our needs with more grace and mercy than we can ever imagine or deserve. Despite knowing these things, when we are in the midst of tribulation, our hearts still ache and we wonder if God simply doesn’t hear us.
I am reminded of the psalmist in Psalms 130:1,2 where he prays “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!” I imagine him thinking, “Please hear my prayers. I’m at my wits end, please, I’m calling for mercy! How long, Oh Lord, how long?” Like us, he knew God was there, but he didn’t feel heard.
I often need to remind myself that God does hear my prayers. I suppose that is due to my impatience. I find it hard to sit and wait quietly. Instead I tend to stress and make myself sick from worry. When I take the time to remind myself, I find that I am much more able to trust in God’s timing and goodness.
It all comes down to trust. I need to trust what I know. I need to trust God. If I could always remember to do this, I would have so much more peace in my life, but instead I struggle with fear and worry. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” God’s ways are so much bigger than ours. We can’t understand, but we can trust, and that is what we need to do when it feels like God does not hear our prayers.
I wanted to come up with a list of things that would remind me that God is in control, even when I feel like He is not listening to my prayers. I decided to use the word “trust” as a starting point.
T – Turn to others for support. It is so easy to start to feel all alone when you think no one is listening. It is helpful to turn to our husbands, families, or friends when we feel this way. God has put us in communities for a reason – we need their support. It is important to acknowledge that everyone feels this way sometimes. It’s normal and it’s okay. I often feel guilty for questioning and feeling that God doesn’t hear me, but I am a broken person, as we all are, and my weakness doesn’t lessen my love for God
R – Realize God is at work behind the scenes. I know God hears my prayers. I don’t even doubt it but it is still so easy to feel unheard. One of my favorite passages comes from Matthew 6:25-34 where we are admonished to not concern ourselves with day-to-day worries. Verse 30 reads, “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” I am the one with little faith! The whole time that I am worrying and stressing that God has not answered my prayers, He has been meeting my needs and blessing me in wonderful ways that I don’t even notice.
U – Understand the need to read my Bible and pray. Continuing to read my Bible and pray even when it is hard helps me develop closeness with my Lord and the closer I feel the easier it will be to trust in His timing. Psalm 34:18 reminds me that it is when I am at my weakest that I often will feel God drawing the closest to me. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” I need to pray anyway. I need to praise, pray for my needs, and call out in my frustration to God because He is near!
S – Stand strong in my faith. This can be hard. It is easy to get caught up in having a pity party. Focusing on my worry is often much simpler than remembering that God is in control. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (NIV) I appreciate how this verse warns us to be on guard. It is so effortless to fall away and get lost in our own worries. That’s the easy way out though. Instead we are to stand strong in our faith, knowing that our loving Father holds everything in the palm of His hands.
T – Take time to be still and wait. God’s timing is perfect and sometimes it means we have to wait. Waiting is hard, but also so necessary if we want to follow God’s will in our lives. Psalm 25:5 says, “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Can I trust enough to wait all day long rather than getting caught up in worrying?
When we start to feel that God is not hearing our prayers, worries pop up and expand like angry storm clouds. They threaten our judgment, darken our thoughts, and make us question what we really believe. Placing our trust in God, even when it is hard, is the only thing that will banish our fears and lead us back to the center of God’s will.
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