Updated: Jul 8, 2021
I've cried out to God with the same request for years. Sometimes it seems He has turned a deaf ear to my prayers; as if He is completely ignoring my pleas for His movement. Have you ever felt that way? Like your prayers are hitting the ceiling and bouncing back at you; just like a basketball bounces off the rim of the hoop when the shot falls short. If so, let me offer you a little hope on this Saturday morning!
If you've read the Bible or been in church for any length of time, you've heard the story of Moses. How the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt. How the Egyptians were cruel task masters and how Pharaoh ordered all the male Israelite babies to be killed at birth. You probably know how Moses' mama hid him for months and how she made a reed basket and put him in it on the Nile river when she could no longer hide him. Pharaoh's daughter found him and took him into the palace to raise as her own. Then years later, when he was all grown up, Moses went out among the people. When he saw an Egyptian being cruel to an Israelite he killed him. Then he got scared and ran away, ending up in Midian as a shepherd - from riches to rags.
Exodus 2:23-25 says:
"Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and He remembered His covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act."
Notice the first phrase: "years passed". The Israelites had been crying out to God for years. Had God not heard their cries before? Had He forgotten about them? God never forgets His people. Isaiah tells us:
"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See I have written you on the palms of My hands..." Isaiah 49:15-16a
When my third child was just a few months old I was taking him to his dad's office to meet all the folks there. I had gotten everyone ready, he was in his carrier at the door, older sis and brother were safely in their carseats; I shut the door, got in the van, cranked it up, and began to back out of the garage. As I was backing out I heard the soft voice of my then 3 year old, "Mommy, you forgot Andrew." I quickly stopped the car, grabbed the keys, and ran into the house; where I found Andrew sweetly sleeping in his carrier right where I'd left him. Needless to say, I felt terrible. What kind of mother forgets her nursing baby?!
We may feel that God has forgotten about us. We may feel He isn't listening to our cries.
In Exodus 3 we learn another truth about God. Moses is tending his father-in-laws sheep. He has taken the flock far into the desert and ended up near Mount Sinai. Moses is minding his own business, doing what shepherds do, when suddenly he sees a phenomena he must check out; a bush on fire but not burned up! Being curious, Moses moves closer when he hears God speak:
"'Moses, Moses!' 'Here I am!' Moses replied. 'Do not come any closer,' the Lord warned. 'Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father - the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.'...Then the Lord told him, 'I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land...Look, the cry of the people of Israel has reached Me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead My people out of Egypt.'" Exodus 3:4b-10 (select verses)
God didn't appear to the people who were crying out to Him for deliverance. He appeared to the person He had chosen to deliver them.
This gives me hope and assurance that God is hearing my prayers even when it doesn't seem He is listening. Maybe, just maybe, every time I cry out to God He is speaking to the person He has chosen to bring His answer through. And maybe, just maybe, He is doing the same for you.
Psalm 34:17 says:
"The Lord hears his people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles."
The truth is: God hears us. He sees us. He knows our troubles. And He desires to rescue us from them. When the time is right, He will send His rescuer to us in answer to our prayers. We can't rush God's timing and we can't manipulate His answer. What we can do is this:
1) Keep our confession current to ensure God hears our prayers.
Psalm 66:17-18: "For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened."
God does not, indeed cannot hear our prayers when sin is present in our lives. But the moment we turn to Him in confession and repentance He hears our cries for help.
2) Praise God through our difficulties and unanswered prayers.
Habakkuk 3:17-18: "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord."
Despite the circumstances of our lives or the status of our prayers, praise is the powerful tool that places us in the presence of God.
3) Be persistent in our prayers and thankful in our circumstances, no matter what.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18: "Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
Being persistent in our prayers, even when they don't seem to be heard, is paramount to knowing God's will. Being thankful in our circumstances, even when they are difficult, keeps us grounded in Christ Jesus.
4) Don't give up praying for the thing God has laid on your heart, no matter how long you have been praying.
Daniel 10:12-13: "Then he continued, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before you God, your words have been heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.'"
There is a spiritual battle going on around us. Satan does his best to keep God's answers from reaching us. But if we have kept our confession current before God, praised Him in all circumstances, remained thankful no matter what, and kept praying; we can know God has heard our prayers. And if He has heard them, He will answer them.
Don't give up. Keep praying. If God isn't answering you, maybe it's because He's speaking to the one through whom His answer will come.
Until next time,
God bless and keep you,