Have you ever felt like God is not listening when you talk to him? Do you question his presence and abilities? I think we all have. Especially me.
I have questioned God a lot, especially when he takes his time answering my prayers. Yet, God is helping me grow in patience regarding prayer. I’m even discovering how much power there is in prayer!
Let me share with you what God is teaching me and how I’m growing in him.
It connects me to God and convicts me of sin
First, I know that prayer connects me to God. Just like when Jesus was here on this earth, he was constantly praying to his Heavenly Father. Jesus prayed for us that we would be one, just as he was one with the father (John 17:21). Jesus praying was him being one with, and connected to, the Father. When I pray, I am connected to God, and from that connection God is able to convict me of sinful heart attitudes.
I must admit that I don’t pray as much as I’d like to. I can be easily distracted and I don’t like it when God gets to the root of my heart problems. For example, when God corrects me in my attitude, sometimes I put this wall up and refuse to listen. Recently I experienced this with my singleness. It’s so hard to watch some of my friends get married and “move on” in life. I want to move on with them and it’s easy to get frustrated with God.
In prayer, God exposes my distrust and my frustration with him. It’s not sinful to feel discouraged or disappointed about being single, but it is sinful to be angry and blame God for my singleness. God reminds me of the cross: as Jesus surrendered his will to the Father, trusted him even in pain, and died for my sin, I am called to surrender my will to God the Father, trusting him with my present life and future even when it’s painful. The beauty of the cross is that it not only brings healing and forgiveness for my sins, but it gives me free access to his throne. I can come to him boldly, without hesitation.
It sustains me
Secondly, when I pray, it sustains me for each day. In Matthew 26:41 (ESV), Jesus warns me to
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Every day I know that I’m in a battle between my wants and desires, and God’s. My flesh (sinful nature) wants to do other things besides talking to him in prayer. For instance, just before I drift off to sleep I always pray, thanking God for the good day that I had and asking him to help me get through the next day. Some nights I feel so exhausted that I just want to skip my prayers and go to sleep, but I know that if I don’t pray I won’t get the strength that I need to face the next day.
God answers in his time
Finally, God always answers my prayers in his time, even if I may not like the answers or his timing. In the end I know that his plans are better than mine. I think of the words that Paul wrote: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’’ (Romans 8:28) God always has my ultimate good in mind.
I need to come to God with a humble heart, willing to wait for him to work. This also reminds me of Samuel. Even though he was very young at the time, God still wanted to use him. God called Samuel and Samuel waited for God to work through him in his timing. Samuel’s response was, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:9)
Sometimes I often wonder why God wants to use me especially since I’m in a wheelchair. For some reason, he healed me and has a plan for my life. All I have to say is “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” I believe this is what prayer is all about. I come to God in humility, and listen and wait for him to respond, always trusting that he is in control.
How about you? Why do you pray?