2011-08-03 - God Listens
Then you will call on me and pray to me, and I will listen to you'" (Jer. 29:12, NIV).
Question to Consider: When did you first realize that God listens to your prayers and cared about you personally? How often do you pause to think about this amazing truth? How can knowing this change your day-to-day life?
Parents often teach their children "bedtime prayers" or to "say the blessing" at mealtimes. We recite "The Lord's Prayer" at church. For many people, be they children or adults, I suspect these are just familiar automatic verbal exercises, at least for a while. At some point, each of us has to come to a personal awareness that God really does listen and care when we talk to Him.
For me, this realization was a pivotal point in my spiritual growth process. I was nine or ten years old and in the fifth grade. I was having trouble with peers and academics at school. The teachers I had were gruff and intimidating to a very shy little girl with almost no self-confidence. My sister was going through a period of illness, and there was a lot of family stress.
Though we didn't attend church regularly, we did go sometimes. I'd heard the "basics" about God. one thing I knew was that God cared about me and that I could talk to Him. I started talking to God about little things like math homework I couldn't understand and items I'd misplaced. It seemed that He was giving me direct answers. I would find the item I'd misplaced and math problems would suddenly start making sense. I also talked with Him about feeling alone and scared. Knowing He was there listening and caring made me feel better.
An adult might have said these things were coincidence, or that I understood my homework because I had more confidence. Other "reasonable explanations" might have been that I figured out the homework because I was smart enough to get it, or that I would have found that misplaced object anyway. You know, the "It'll turn up" philosophy. It makes sense that believing God was there to talk to would lead to me feeling less lonely. Maybe those things are all true. I was a kid, though, and had that childlike faith that said God was listening and caring and answering. I felt a stronger and stronger sense of God's love for that shy little girl going through a tough time. I felt more and more sure that I could trust God to take care of me, and wanted to talk to Him more and more, and draw closer and closer to Him. Faith was becoming personal.
The next year, I began attending a local Christian school. My sixth grade teacher spent a lot of time teaching us Bible stories and songs and the truths of who Jesus is. I was very open to learning, and soon, to asking Jesus into my heart and life. I think my heart was very soft to Jesus because of my previous experiences with prayer. I believe the realization of God's love and personal interest in me, from the year before, was part of His unique way of leading me to a place of readiness to trust and follow Him.
I think many people pray while they're seeking after "something" and unsure of exactly who they're reaching out to. They know they need help, and a part of them is seeking to reconnect with someone or something more powerful than they are. I believe this may be part of the process of coming to a genuine relationship with the Lord, and an understanding of the Gospel. God knows the hearts of those who pray. He knows if they are reaching out in faith for more and more truth. I believe He will continue to show them who He is, and what they need to know, to make a decision to follow Him.
If you aren't used to talking to God and don't know what to say, it is okay to talk with Him about whatever is on your mind. It may seem weird to speak with Someone you can't see, but God cares and is listening. God is concerned about you personally. He wants you to talk to Him about your day-to-day concerns and to thank Him for the good things He has given you. He wants you to pray for others and for yourself. You can pray about knowing Him better, and ask Him to bring people into your life who can help you understand the Bible and how to grow in your relationship with Him.
If you've been praying for years, think of the times when God seemed to directly answer your prayers. Thank Him again for those times, and keep this awareness close, so you can share specific examples with others.
Dear Lord, thank You for listening when we come to you in prayer. Thank You for how You showed me Your love through answering my prayers. Thank You for drawing me closer to Your truth. Please help me and those reading this, to not take being able to connect with You through prayer for granted. Teach us more about the power of prayer. In Jesus' Name, Amen.