When It Seems God is Not Listening
Ever been praying and it felt like your prayer wasn’t getting any higher than the ceiling? Most of us have had that feeling at some point in our lives. We are not alone. In the Old Testament book of Lamentations, we see the author experienced this same sort of feeling when he says, “Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer,” and then again, “You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through.” (3:8, 44)
If we had our “druthers” as my grandmama used to say, we’d rather this not happen. Our hearts long to go into every prayer encounter with God with an assurance in our heart that He hears every word we speak to Him and a confident expectation that He will act on our behalf in response to our prayers. But when we depend on how we feel, it can affect our faith. We may begin to feel that our prayers are hitting that invisible ceiling and wonder what we’re doing wrong that they aren’t getting through. Or we may feel that God isn’t listening, He’s ignoring us. We sometimes feel he’s not acting fast enough, and wonder if that means He’s abandoned us. We could even buy into Satan’s tactics and feel that we’ve been so sinful, so bad, that He won’t ever listen to us. In fact, how many times have we asked someone else to pray for us, because (although we do not consciously admit this) we wonder if maybe God would answer them, when He seems to be stalling on us? Do you ever feel that need to bring in the big guns for the battle, so you call the holiest friend you have at the time and ask them to pray? There’s nothing wrong with doing that, in fact, there is power in multiplied prayer. But there is a problem at the core of our belief if we fall into these ways of thinking.
When we depend on how we feel, it can affect our faith.
So how do we counteract these feelings? How do we strengthen our faith? The same way we counter any of Satan’s other attacks, with God’s Word! According to scripture, are there requirements to prayer? Things that make us able to communicate with God better? Are there things that block or hinder our prayers? Just what is prayer anyway? And what about a “No” answer, is that an answer or is it God not responding to us? What about when we wait for years for an answer? Many of you aren’t bothered by these questions; your faith carries you through. But there are others out there, like me, who have fought this spiritual battle many times, as Satan has used our feelings as mortars to bombard our faith and to try to make us back down and doubt ourselves and our effectiveness in prayer.
Let’s take a look at some of those scriptures, so that we can effectively wield our sword of the Spirit and destroy those incoming missiles directed at our faith. (For a more comprehensive look at prayer than we have time, space here, or the theological genius to depart to you, check out the prayer resource links at the end of this article.)
When should we pray?
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18
Pray continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
How are we to pray?
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. Colossians 4:12
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray:
but deliver us from the evil one.’ Matthew 6:5-13
Our prayers will get results.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 2 Thessalonians 1:11
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7-11
For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. Philippians 1:19
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. Colossians 1:9
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Colossians 4:3-4
Our prayers are fruitful even when we don’t know what to pray.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26
Our prayers can be hindered by our behavior.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1 Peter 3:7
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. 1 Peter 3:12
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matt. 6:14-15
The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29
Our prayers are eternal, ever before the Lord.
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Revelation 5:8
Ladies, we can walk forth with an assurance in our heart that He hears every word we speak to Him. But we must believe His Word and NOT trust our feelings.
Most all of you are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11. You could probably quote it. But are you familiar with Jeremiah 29:12-14? It states, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” You can call on Him. He will listen to you when you pray. He hears. He is not playing Hide and Seek with you – He wants to be found by you. Are you seeking Him with your whole heart Dear One? Then you will find Him and the answers to your prayers. You can have a confident expectation that He will act on your behalf in response to your prayers. Isaiah tells us, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4) Don’t become weary with waiting. Lack of an answer today does not mean “No,” and it does not mean God is not listening. Every word you pray rises to God’s ear. Be faithful in Waiting on Him – be it a week, a month, a year, 10 years, or a lifetime!