Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Does God hear your prayers?


“2 He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Jonah 2:2 (NIV)

Do you ever wonder if God is listening to you? Are there times when He listens and times when He doesn’t? If so, why?


“14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)

Alright, so “if” we pray according to His will He hears, so how do I know His will? Without getting into all the ways different people discern God’s voice or will in their lives, I just want to say that if anyone sincerely desires to know God’s will, God can and will show them. And He will show us in a way we can be clear about it. Someone might say I have been asking God about this or that and He has not replied. It could be that Jesus’ brother has counsel for us:

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…” James 4:3

Sometimes we are not really seeking His will but trying to get Him in on ours. Instead of thy kingdom come, thy will be done, it is my kingdom, my will. If we really want to know what He wants, we will know because He will show us. How He does that is always up to Him. But make no mistake, He can get that done.

Jonah, in the depths of God’s loving discipline, cried out to God and God heard him. What happened? Could it be that Jonah had a change of heart? Of course, you might say, who wouldn’t? This is exactly what I mean though. The other day I was talking to a friend as he confessed that it seemed like when he really hears from God is when he gets desperate. I have come to believe that my heart condition is a major key to an audience with God. Another one of God’s prophets wrote:

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

These words are written to people who were anything but wholehearted. So God designed a season of captivity to get their hearts recalibrated. God knows when we are serious. He also knows when we are half-hearted and distracted by the world and its desires. Jonah had the pull of the idolatrous city of Tarshish and all its trappings on his heart. He turned away from God to his own way. It happens to all of us from time to time.

Could it be that only the heart that is pure or sincere in a matter gets God’s attention? Could it be that God sometimes lovingly creates those conditions for us if we will not? Maybe to get an audience with God, you have to be somewhat passionate about it. Maybe He has to be first in our lives after all. It is no coincidence that as soon as Jonah starts talking about making sacrifices and repaying vows the fish spits him up on the beach with a whole new course setting.

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