Do you ever wonder why answers to prayer tarry? Is it that God is teaching us to wait? Are we not correctly hearing the voice of God? Is God trying to deal with something in our lives?
Of this we can be certain: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
When we pray in alignment with the will of God, we know that He hears us and that His will cannot be thwarted.
But what about when our prayers – even prayers for things that would bring God tremendous glory – seem to go unanswered?
First, we have to remember that “no” is an answer. God will sometimes choose not to allow something that would bring Him glory in order that something else might bring Him greater glory.
Still, what about those prayers that seem to receive no answer? Could there be something hindering our prayers?
The Bible tells us there are several reasons why our prayers might not make it past the ceiling; for example, an unforgiving heart, habitual disobedience to God, or the need to confess and repent of a particular sin.
But if we make ourselves aware of these potential problem areas or loose connections, we can find ways to keep the lines of communication open.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
One of the greatest privileges afforded to us by the filling of the Holy Spirit at salvation is the ability to converse with God. I mean how amazing is that?! We can talk with God.
The majority of Christians I’ve come across believe that God hears their prayers. We believe God is big enough and good enough to at least listen in on the words we speak to him. But too few Christians I’ve met believe that they can hear God.
For a long time I thought that God didn’t really like to talk, or at least not to me. I thought there were a chosen few that heard from Him often, and that He might speak to me about things that really mattered, but that was about it.
Then in a moment of desperation I reached out to God and really tried to listen, and He spoke. Then He spoke again the next day. And pretty soon I realized that God actually wants to converse with me. I learned that God cares deeply about the little things.
He wants to abide in us and we in him, even in that which feels mundane. He cares about the daily goings-on of our work, school, and family. He cares about our mental musings. He is a good, present Father that loves having conversations with his children.
When I hear the word prayer I often get a mental picture of God up high and me down below. I think a more accurate picture is God and me sitting across from each other like friends or family.
Why would I believe God is distant? After all, He sent his Son to die on the cross, tore the veil that we could know that his presence is available, and filled me with his Spirit that I would never be apart from him again.
He did a whole lot to ensure there would be no distance between us. But still I act as if I’m “lifting up” prayers when God himself dwells inside me.
Maybe the reason Scripture says that God’s voice is still and small is to remind us that He really is that close. He doesn’t have to shout. He’s right there. A whisper is enough.
Let’s take time today to talk with God, not at God. Let’s open up an ongoing conversation like we would with a good Father or friend. Let’s make space to listen, trusting that He is good enough and real enough to speak. And let’s experience how life-giving it is to have a conversation with a God who knows us, dwells within us, and loves us unconditionally.
What would you like to talk with God about in this moment? What care or joy do you want to welcome him into?
Tell God how you feel. Ask him your question. Ask him for whatever you desire in this moment. Often journaling your feelings, questions, or thoughts can help keep them sorted out a bit better.
Ask God for His heart on your feeling, question, or thought. Pay attention to any way He chooses to respond. It could be simply a sense of his presence. It could be a phrase, image, or idea. Know that God himself dwells within you. Trust that He will speak to you in the perfect way.
Write down or mull over what it is you sense him saying. Take a moment to rest in the reality of his response and allow it to sink from your head to your heart.
God speaks in all sorts of ways. Sometimes you’ll get a phrase or sentence. Sometimes you’ll get an intuition or sense. Sometimes you’ll get a picture or image.
The wonderful thing about the Holy Spirit dwelling with your spirit is that there is a whole range of ways God can and will speak to you. He’s not limited to the way we have conversations.
He can speak straight to your heart in all sorts of ways. As you go about your day make the decision to talk with God about what’s going on. Ask Him for His thoughts on questions or problems you face.
Let Him speak into insecurities or fears you have. Ask Him to reveal his love when you feel empty or tired. Choose to converse with God and discover the goodness of having a continual conversation with your heavenly Father.