Prayer is conversation with God. It is a dialogue with us doing both speaking and listening. We do wonderfully at the speaking. We don’t always do so well with the listening and, sometimes, God doesn’t speak for a while.
We see examples of this in scripture. God promises Abram and Sarai a child and that their ancestors will outnumber the stars. Yet, it takes many years before that promise is fulfilled. Paul prays that God might remove a physical infirmity that troubles him. But still, Paul continues to have this affliction.
What are we to make of this? Is God not listening? Not responding?
Prayer is not making demands of God, bargaining with God, or putting our faith coins in the slot and expecting God to spit out our good reward. It is a means by which we praise and thank God for being who God is and a means by which we speak to God our needs. God already knows the prayers on our lips even before we speak them (Matthew 6:8) and Jesus teaches us to pray for our needs. Paul writes that we should pray without ceasing. So, prayer is God’s desire.
We know that God hears our prayers (Exodus 2:24) and we wait, listen for, anticipate God’s response. Sometimes it comes quickly…through a flash of insight or a result. Other times it comes slowly, or even seems to not come at all.
What do we make of this?
We remember who God is and what God has promised. God is the one who desires life for us, fuller and more abundant. Who loves us so much God gave God’s only Son so that we might live. God is like the parent who listens to the request of a child, but who also keeps the bigger picture in mind. What this means is that sometimes the answer or response of God is no, or wait.
It does not mean that God has abandoned us or ignored us, just that the time is not right for a response. I also wonder if at times we just miss God’s response because it isn’t what or how we expected it to come.
In prayer, we should be bold to ask for what we desire, but also to acknowledge that God’s will is greater and more perceptive than our own. We should pray loudly, but also listen carefully for the still small voice of God.
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