January 12, 2018
Does God Really Hear Our Prayers?
Does God Really Hear Our Prayers?
In our “connected” society, we work to make our voices heard on earth. We tweet and blog, post videos to YouTube, and use various other forms of social media to get the word out—whatever that word might be. Here in Washington, DC, where I work, people march, lift placards, and petition Congress, hoping their voices will be heard and will make a difference.
Whenever I see people gathering together to make their voices heard, I’m reminded of the promise in Matthew 18:20 that whenever even two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, he is in their midst. As followers of Jesus, we need to realize that when we come together to pray, we invite the palpable presence of Almighty God, and we make our voices heard in heaven.
In prayer, I believe humanity cooperates with divinity. As we bring our souls into alignment with the Creator of every good thing, we avail ourselves of God’s goodness, wisdom, and power. Moreover, there are things we will never receive except by request only—blessings that hang on the silken cords of prayer.
James 4:2 (NKJV) says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Moreover, we must pray believing, as Abraham did, that whatever God has promised, he is also able to perform.2
When Jesus went to his hometown, as recorded in Mark 6, the people there were skeptical of him.
They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.3
Mark 6:5 is one of the most startling Bible verses I know: “Because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them.” It doesn’t say he wouldn’t do any miracles; it says he couldn’t do any miracles. Such is the dampening effect of unbelief. On the other hand, Jesus says that if we have faith “even as small as a mustard seed,” we can move mountains.4 Such is the power of making our voices heard in heaven.
When we lift our voices to heaven, it makes an unmistakable difference. So how do we do that?
First of all, we must pray from a sense of need. God instructs us through the psalmist Asaph: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”5 When I was a young man, I used to have about forty-five seconds of prayer material. It wasn’t that I didn’t have needs, but I often didn’t recognize them as prayer worthy. Then I got married and became a parent—and suddenly I had plenty of prayer material.
God wants us to pray when we need him. And in our day and age—with everything happening in our nation and around the world—we don’t have to look very far to see our need for God. At the same time, we’re not to worry. In Philippians 4:6-7, the Bible says, “Have no anxiety about anything, but pray about everything—with thanksgiving.”6
When Jesus prayed his wonderful intercessory prayer in the upper room the night before he was crucified, the Bible tells us “he lifted his eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son that your Son also might glorify you. As you have given him power to give to as many as would receive him eternal life. And this is life eternal, that they might know you—Abba, Daddy—and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’”7 God wants to have an intimate relationship with us, in which we come to him as our Father, and our voices are heard in the courts of heaven.
Why do we pray?
We pray to “acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”8 We also pray because we share mutual interests with him. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”9 Moreover, we pray because we and God have a mutual enemy. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”10
For whom do we pray?
The apostle Paul instructs us: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”11
We should pray with the knowledge that we have been invited to speak to our omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God. When our prayers are directed toward the enhancement of God’s name and the accomplishment of his purposes, we can expect that our voices will be heard in heaven. When our prayers are heard in heaven, our need for guidance, strength, healing, mercy, grace, and wisdom will be met by the God who has given us this promise: “All glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”12 We can pray with effectiveness, even when it seems that God is silent. We can pray every prayer expecting divine assistance.
- Romans 4:21
- Mark 6:2-6
- Matthew 17:20
- Psalm 50:15, ESV
- Author paraphrase.
- John 17:1-3, author paraphrase.
- Psalm 100:3
- John 20:21
- 1 Peter 5:8, NKJV
- 1 Timothy 2:1-4
- Ephesians 3:20
This article is adapted from Make your Voice Heard in Heaven: How to Pray with Power by Barry C. Black, Chaplain of the United States Senate.