Talking to a God Who Listens
I have a confession to make. There are times when praying is really a struggle for me. I can get so busy that I neglect to pray. Or my prayers focus on a laundry list of things that I, or those closest to me, need. I can forget to pray for others. When people ask for prayers, I do try to stop in the moment and pray for them. But, having crossed that off my mental to-do list, I freely move on to the next thing without keeping their request in mind.
Then there are times when the problems of this world, our country or even my own family seem too big for my small prayers. So, why bother?
I can also wrestle with understanding how my prayers intersect with God’s will. If he already has a plan, do my prayers even make a difference?
It can feel overwhelming and confusing. But God’s Word tells us to pray:
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. James 5: 13-18 ESV
1 Samuel 12:23 goes on to say, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.”
So, I really want to be someone who not only prays for the things that affect me and those closest to me, but also someone who cares about and prays for all the things that come to my attention.
Not too long ago I learned that someone I know was suffering from a debilitating condition with no known cure. He is someone I really admire. His wife is pretty special, too. So are their kids. I wanted to truly commit to pray for his comfort and healing, and for the family. But my track-record for intercessory prayer left a lot to be desired, so I turned to God for help. I prayed that God would remind me to pray for them.
Wow. Did God ever answer that prayer! I have literally woken up in the middle of the night thinking about this family. Additionally, there are about a dozen “triggers” that God has used to remind me to pray for them throughout my week. As God has woven concern for this specific family into the fabric of my heart, I have become more aware of the ways others around me are struggling as well.
God used one particular family to draw me in to more compassionate and vibrant conversations with him. And these conversations have not only helped me become more sensitive to the challenges others face, but they are helping me to gain perspective on my own problems. Perhaps that is one of the ways God wants to use my prayer is to change me.
I will never know exactly how my prayers intersect with God’s plans, but I do know that God wants us to come to him; that he came to us first. God listens to us. Queen Esther was able to speak to the King because he held out his scepter to her Esther 5:2 . Similarly, God has extended an invitation for us to speak, through Christ, “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” Ephesians 3:12
Our conversations with God are meant to be ongoing; not limited to any time or place. We should train our hearts to pray without ceasing…for our family and those closest to us, for the people, issues and situations we learn about, for the Church, and for ourselves. Pray to a God who listens; resting in the confidence and peace of being heard. Without knowing how your prayers will be used but fully trusting that each time we have a conversation with God, something is being accomplished.