My sister called me the other day in tears.
“I’ve been praying so hard, every day, for God to work in my husband’s life, and I just don’t see any changes. It gets so hard sometimes. I just wish God would throw me a bone and give me a sign to let me know my prayers are being heard.”
I felt her pain as I listened to her cry over the phone. How many times have we prayed earnestly for something or someone and it seems God is not listening? Our prayers appear to fall on deaf ears, and we become discouraged wondering if we will ever receive an answer.
As we were talking, it occurred to me our obligation is not to wait anxiously for responses to our petitions, but our responsibility is simply to pray. That’s it. Often, when our prayers are not answered in our time frame, or in the manner we expect, we toss aside this vital communication with God.
“My prayers aren’t working so why should I bother?” is a statement I hear frequently. James 5:16 tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” If you are only praying expecting your answer in your time, you are missing the purpose of prayer. Prayer is powerful and effective because it reflects an intimate fellowship with God. This deep, personal relationship is demonstrated in our prayers and acceptance of God’s will in his answer.
My daughter and her husband were expecting a little girl over a year ago. On a visit to the doctor, it was revealed the baby’s brain was not developing. In fact, the baby had no brain. It was devastating news for them, but we prayed for God’s intervention. I believed with unwavering faith God could change the circumstances. What better way to demonstrate His supremacy? However, the results I desperately prayed for did not come to pass, and my precious granddaughter passed away. It was heartbreaking, and I couldn’t understand why God allowed such a tragic situation in the lives of my precious daughter and son-in-law. Nevertheless, I still believed God was in control, and His will was done.
There are two important things to remember when we think our prayers are going unheard. First, we have assurance from God He hears our prayers. Proverbs 15:29 tells us, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
Our petitions and entreaties are not drifting around in empty space but are in the presence of God, and He is listening. Psalm 145:18 reinforces this: “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
If we are praying sincerely and if we are genuine in our relationship with God, He is hearing our prayers.
Imagine conversations with friends where they are venting to you about situations in their lives. You just listen and do not respond as they pour their heart out to you. Does this mean you don’t care about your friends’ problems? Not at all. You are listening to them and absorbing the feelings with which they are dealing. Perhaps you don’t have an answer to help them with their problems, but you are present. They know you are there to hear them, and this gives them comfort.
Our relationship with God is similar. We have an intimate conversation with Him, prayer, and He listens as we bring our petitions before Him. He doesn’t interject his thoughts and opinions on the matter as we spill our frustrations and anxieties. His answer might not be immediately apparent, but we can be assured and comforted He is present and His plans for our lives are going to be fulfilled. 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
The second important fact to keep in mind is that we are to pray continually and without ceasing. Be tenacious! We are a society that expects immediate fulfillment of our desires. We don’t like to wait and, if we have to wait, we give up and move on to something else. Prayer is one area where instant gratification doesn’t apply.
We are instructed several times in the Bible to persevere in our prayer lives. 1 Chronicles 16:11 tells us to “seek his face continually.” Colossians 4:2 reminds us to “continue in prayer” (KJV). 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually.” God wants to know how important your prayer request is to you. Do you truly want life changes in a spouse, or isn’t it that significant? Do you actually want God to heal you of a certain medical condition, or isn’t it worth praying about? How essential is God’s response to you? Enough to pray continually and without ceasing?
I have been afflicted with Crohn’s disease for many years. In the past year, it became more severe with frequent bouts of pain, which were agonizing. I never considered praying for healing from my disease because I believed it was a “thorn in the flesh” I had to bear. However, after much Bible study, I’m convinced God wants me to pray for my health. For the past few months, I have been asking God to remove this debilitating illness from me. It hasn’t happened yet, but I am “praying continually” because I believe God honors persistence, and I have faith He can heal me. In the process, I am developing a closer, more personal relationship with my heavenly Father.
You can be confident God hears you. Don’t give up if it appears your prayers aren’t being heard. Be tenacious. Pray continually for His will to be done in every area of your life. If you cultivate an intimate, prayer relationship with God you will begin to see amazing answers to your prayers in His time.
Lynne Stamm is a North Carolina-based writer whose published works include books, Sunday school curriculum and articles in a variety of publications. She has degrees in elementary education and Christian education.
- What does it mean to “to pray continually and without ceasing”?
- Have there been times in your life when you’ve felt your prayers weren’t heard?
- Have you found God working in your life despite periods of doubt about the effectiveness of prayer?