Father, do you hear me when I pray?
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I am currently reading Denise George's "Tilling the Soul", courtesy of sMel. She struggles with her pain after her father's death, and questions whether God actually hears her prayer. Her story, her revelations abt prayer very much reflect how many of us feel, I believe. And I would like to share this with all of us who have felt discouraged in listening, and have not heard from our Father in heaven.
"I am learning that God is, indeed, the author of prayer. He listens. Trusting God with our prayers is the heart of Christian life. God hears our prayers. I don't doubt that anymore. He ordained prayer and gave it to us as a gift."
This surprised me, as I had never seen prayer as a gift before. But let me continue with what Denise says.
Looking back, I now realize that during daddy's illness, I didn't want a loving heavenly Father who walked with me through my pain. I wanted a genie in a bottle, someone who granted my every wish. I begged God for an immediate response. I wanted God to give me what society gives - the instantaneous! As you well know, you and I live in an instant society - instant potatoes, instant oatmeal, clothes dry-cleaned in one hour, eyeglasses made while you wait. We can become frustrated when God's answers don't come as instantly as our cell phone's speed-dialer or our digital camera's photo images.
I yearned for instant answers, for quick cures, for an immediate healing. I never stopped to consider the valuable lessons God wanted to teach me, my family, my friends and others about himself, about pain and about prayer. Lessons about living with a confident faith in a world of suffering and uncertainty. When God refused to answer my urgent prayers immediately, I thought he wasn't listening. I believed he didn't hear my pleadings. I thought that maybe he wasn't all-powerful. That he wasn't the mighty Father I had been taught to trust. I even questioned his love.
During these grueling years of deep contemplation, prayer and struggle, God helped me to find answers to my questions and to reach a turning point in my faith. God has been showing me new insights into prayer and suffering and himself that, frankly, I had never considered. Foundational truths like, yes, God hears our prayers. He listens to us when we pray. He always answers our prayers. But I am discovering that his answers come in his own time, not ours.
"People get frustrated with prayer because they are looking for an instant response and when it doesnt' happen, they get discouraged. It is as if God should be like a genie, rub the lamp and get immediate action. God does not work that way. He is not a God of quick fixes. He is a very patient God who heals gently and thoroughly," (Father Joseph Girzone)
Wait for the Lord, and be strong, take heart
, and wait for the Lord
- Psalm 27:14
As God's children, we try to pray, but prayers may seem empty and futile. I am learning, however, that even when answers don't come quickly, when God seems absent, we can still trust him to hear us. We must not give up our faith during our waiting periods, during our personal "dark nights of the soul". When God is quiet, our part in prayer is to keep praying, to keep trusting, and to know with full assurance that God is with us, loving us, and listening to our prayers.
The righteous call out, and the Lord hears them
. - Psalm 34:17
I know that Denise and I are not the only ones who have felt loneliness and pain before. Take heart, for the Lord hears your prayer.
...though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls - 1 Peter 1: 6-9.