Day 15: Does God Really Hear my Prayers?
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” —Matthew 21:22 (ESV)
When Huck Finn’s guardian, Miss Watson, told him that he would receive whatever he sincerely prayed for, Huck prayed for fishing hooks, but to no avail. He concluded that her words “warn’t so.” Furthermore, “if a body can get anything they pray for, why don’t Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork? Why can’t the widow get back the silver snuff box that was stole? Why can’t Miss Watson fat up? No . . . there ain’t nothing in it.”
Amusing? Yes, but if we’re honest we must admit that there have been times when we have wondered whether our requests make any difference in what happens in the world. How many times have I asked for healings that didn’t happen, for protection that wasn’t given, for conversions that didn’t occur, for the end of bloody wars that drag on mercilessly?
Petitionary praying requires, yea demands, great faith. You can’t prove that our prayers make a difference or that they make no difference. Many good and bad things happen in our world, but you can’t prove that any of it is connected to prayer. Nor can you prove the opposite.
Faith in a God who hears our prayers and governs nature and history in view of them is based on our faith that God really sent Jesus as the savior of our world. Faith, in turn, is based on our conviction that God raised him from the dead on the third day.
If we believe in Jesus, then we must believe that his God and Father wants to hear our prayers and that they do, so far as God sees fit, really alter the world.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” –Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV)
In this and many other Gospel texts, Jesus invites us, as God’s sons and daughters, to carry our requests to a loving, listening Father. These requests include the mundane (“Give us this day our daily bread”) and the sublime (“Thy kingdom come”).
Ultimately, each of us must answer this question: “Does God really hear my prayers, and does he take them into account as he governs the world, or does he not?” Don’t wait for proof. Join me in trusting in the God revealed by Jesus Christ.
Written by Dr. Barry Blackburn, Professor of Biblical Studies