Have you ever wondered, “is God listening?” In my last post, I talked about glorifying God. But how do we do this? One of the ways is by coming into the presence of the Lord on a daily basis in prayer.
Prayer is one of the spiritual disciplines we so often neglect. In our modern age, things seem to get in the way. Work, family, life in general. Who has time to sit down and spend any time in prayer? Yet, as believers, we have missed one of the greatest gifts we have been given in this life. Through our high priest, we have access to the inner throne room of the Almighty God. We are given the ability to have personal and intimate conversations with the King of kings. Prayer is not simply asking God for the things we want in life. It is not time spent trying to control the situations around us. Prayer is the ability to converse with the Lord and try to better understand His will. We spend time in prayer to build a relationship with the Lord and to align our mind and thoughts with the will of the creator.
Lord, give me faith!
When I was young I continued to ask God to give me greater faith. I longed to have a deeper relationship with Christ, and when the Lord didn’t strike me with biblical faith that had yet to be seen in the modern world, I wondered why He was neglecting my prayers. Certainly, God’s will was for me to have a greater faith, a faith that could move mountains. Why wasn’t He granting such a request? What I failed to realize is that God had already done His part to answer my prayer. The Lord had gone above and beyond what I had asked. He had given me the Scriptures to read and access to the throne room of God through a high priest and savior, Jesus. He had given me the perfect circumstances to build my faith. What I had failed to realize was that God had given me what I needed, but you can’t run a race without moving your legs. So often as believers we expect God to give the magic touch that will instantly grant us what we desire. But this is not how God works. James tells us:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4.8 ESV)
God Gives us the Tools
Later in life, I asked the Lord to help me with patience. I realized I was easily frustrated, quick to react, and didn’t want to be a man with a short fuse. I began asking God to grant me patience. Like my prayer for faith, I expected the Lord to strike me with an instant gift of patience. But instead, my wife told me we were expecting a child. God did not give me instant patience, rather, He gave me continued situations in which I would have to practice and exhibit control. He would give me years of opportunities to practice patience, something I continue to work on daily. After coming to the realization that God had answered my prayer for patience, but not in the way I had expected, I began to think of my prayer for greater faith. What situations had the Lord placed me in to test my faith, to strengthen my faith and to build my faith? What tools had I been given to grow my faith into what my mind had imagined so long ago?
The answer was sitting in front of me. God had given me His Word. I committed myself to read the Bible daily and spending time in prayer. I began trying different methods within my prayer time such as prayer lists, a prayer journal and prayer apps on my phone. When I didn’t feel like praying, I would use liturgical prayer to set my mind in the right place. Low and behold, my faith began to grow. Spending time in the Word of God and in prayer on a daily basis helped my faith become stronger and my relationship with the Lord become more and more real.
Practice Makes Perfect
When we ask for something from God, we may not get the instant response we expect. Rather, the Lord may put us in situations where we will have to use the skills we pray for or test the resolve we have asked God to give us. In Acts 4: 29, the disciples asked for boldness to preach the Gospel message even against strong opposition. This prayer would be granted, but only because they would be put into situations where they would experience persecution. So much so that many who prayed this prayer in Acts 4 would give their life for the Gospel. God would grant boldness, and the proof of this is that these men were bold enough to lose their life for the message they were preaching.
Likewise, we too should pray for boldness, but when we do, we should expect to be placed in difficult situations where our boldness for the Lord is tested. God may not give us instant boldness to preach the Word, but what He may give us are opportunities to implement and use our boldness to further His kingdom.
So, is God listening? The answer is yes, but as believers, we need to remember that the answer we expect might not be the answer God will give. If you ask for patience, faith or boldness, expect to have it tested regularly so it can grow.
Post Featured image by Ben White