How do you know if God is listening?
Even when it feels like God is distant, he always hears and answers our prayers.
In the movie Bruce Almighty, God decides to take a holiday and give his powers to an unsuspecting man named Bruce. One of the first things Bruce must deal with is the constant stream of prayers pouring into his mind. He tries filing cabinets. He tries post-it notes. He tries emails. And when he tries to answer all the prayers, more and more flood in!
Sometimes when we pray, it can feel like our prayer is one of the millions of emails flooding into God’s inbox. He couldn’t possibly have time to care about what we’re saying! Sometimes we feel like it’s not worth praying, because God never answers.
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Here are three truths about prayer that will reassure you that prayer is worthwhile.
God is always listening to his children. How do I know this? That’s what the Bible promises! Here are some verses that tell us this:
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ - Jeremiah 33:3
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears. - Psalm 18:6
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
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. - 1 John 5:14
God keeps his promises
So God promises to answer our prayers. How do we know he’ll keep that promise?
Throughout the Bible, God consistently keeps his promises.
- He promised that the Israelites would enter Canaan and make their home there – and it happened.
- He promised that Abraham’s wife Sarah would have a son even though she was too old – and it happened.
- He promised to send Jesus – and he did.
God has proved that he keeps his promises, so we can trust when we pray he will keep his promise to listen.
God answers prayer
Even if we know that God keeps his promise to listen, sometimes it can seem like our prayers aren’t that important to God – he’s so big and busy and can feel so far away! When he hears our prayers, is he doing something about them? Or are they just sitting in the inbox of his computer?
No matter what, God answers our prayers. The Psalmist expresses in Psalm 17:6, “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” Notice what he says: not “you MIGHT answer me”, but “you WILL answer me”!
However, we need to be careful to recognise that sometimes God’s answer is not what we wanted. Sometimes we might ask for something and God will say no, or wait. Sometimes we’ll pray consistently for something for years and it won’t happen.
In those moments, God isn’t ignoring our prayers. He is simply answering them in a way that aligns with his greater will for the world. Perhaps it isn’t part of his overall plan to say yes to your prayer.
But don’t let this discourage you too much. We can trust that when God says no, or wait, he has a good reason. We may not understand that reason this side of the new creation, but God always keeps his promises and he promises to do what’s best for his children.
So when you pray, pray with confidence. God says he will listen, he always keeps his promises, and he answers prayer in a way that aligns with his will. Always.