Over the past few weeks I have heard, from different church members, variations of the following questions and statements:
“Does God really hear my prayers?” & “I don’t think God hears me when I pray.”
“Does God answer every prayer?” & “God either says yes or no to every prayer.”
One person mentioned they were bothered by the phrase “unanswered prayer.” Their reason was that God answers every prayer; however, most people don’t understand that “no” is an answer as much as “yes” is. To this person’s point, indeed, people often feel their prayers are only answered if God gives them what they want.
I do believe that God hears the prayers of those who call Him Father (1 John 5:14 CSB). Unfortunately, we associate, “I didn’t get what I want” with “I didn’t get an answer at all.”
While it is true that “no” is as a much answer as “yes”; it is also true that God has no obligation for an immediate response at all.
Perhaps our biggest misconception is in God’s silence. We do see in scripture where God is, at times, silent. Take the Israelites while being captive in Egypt (Exodus), or Job 30:20 just to name a couple. What we see is that usually, this period of silence (short in God’s eyes) is a time of preparation for the believer. God neither says “yes” or “no”, but says nothing for a time. It’s in His silence; however, He is preparing us for what He is about to do either in or through us. While we are waiting, we exercise our faith in believing, trusting, and continual prayer. In fact, I think God is more active while we are waiting than when He answers (whether yes or no). We should likewise be more active while we are waiting as well.
There are some things that I have been praying for quite some time, and I don’t believe that God has said “Yes” or “No” just quite yet, but I trust and know that He hears my request/s and He is up to something while I am waiting. His answer is worth waiting for!
Psalm 130:5 (The Message)
I pray to God—my life a prayer—and wait for what he’ll say and do.