God Hears Us 5

Hebrews 4:13

A church member once told me a story about a young couple in a photo booth. It was one of those booths where you sit in this small space, close the curtain and have about four candid pictures taken of you.

Inside the booth, with the curtains closed, the young man apparently began to act amorous toward the young lady with some playful cuddling. The couple assumed they had some privacy in the little booth with the curtain closed. What they did not know was that what was happening in the booth was being shown on a TV screen outside the booth to the amusement of passers-by.

We may go through life assuming that we have a great deal of privacy in what we do. In a negative sense, we may also feel that we have a great deal of loneliness in life. No one knows what we are thinking. No one knows the pain we are suffering. No one knows our sorrows and fears.

But the author of Hebrews gives us some enlightenment on our situation. What is hidden from God? What does God know?

This passage could cause some discomfort. There is nothing that is hidden from God. God knows everything. This may make us worry that God sees all the wrong things we do.

This is true – God does see all of our faults and flaws. God is aware of the wrong we have committed.

But this passage can also give us comfort. God sees all that we are going through. He knows the goodness in our hearts. He knows the things we long for. He knows the purpose of what we do, and He knows all about those who have caused us pain.

We do not need to fear the eyes of God. Rather, we should be comforted in knowing that God understands us completely. There is no worry or fear or hurt that is hidden from God. When we turn to the Lord in prayer He will hear our prayer. He understands what we want and what we need.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can the knowledge that everything is laid bare before God give you comfort?

God Hears Us 4

Psalm 139:1-4

In the movie “A Christmas Story,” Ralphie asks his parents how Santa knows if kids have been bad or good. His father laughs and says, “Oh, he knows. He always knows.”

Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good because Santa is really your parents. They know if you have been bad or good because they know you completely. They have been with you since birth. They know the way you think and how you act. Your parents know you very well because they are with you almost all the time.

Psalm 139 begins with a comment on God’s presence. How does God know us? What does God know about us?

Nothing is hidden from God. We know from Psalm 139:13-16 that God knows us completely because He is the one who has made us. His understanding of us is complete.

But we can know that God will hear us when we pray, not just because God created us and not just because God knows all things, but because God is with us in all things. God is constantly present with us.

God is there with you in the morning when you wake. God is with you as you go through your day. God is with you when you find that time to rest. God is with you even as you sleep.

And since God is with you at all times He knows what you are feeling. He knows what concerns you have. He knows what has given you happiness. Prayer is simply a way of turning to the Father who is beside you and sharing a moment of conversation.

Before a word is spoken God knows what is going on. Yet we should speak those words anyway. We should pray to God, talk to God, confident that He knows what is going on. We know that God hears us when we pray.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can remind you of God’s constant presence?

God Hears Us 3

1 Timothy 2:1-2

Many years ago someone told a joke about prayers at mealtimes. He said, “What’s the difference between ‘grace’ and ‘a blessing’?” The answer – cold food. The implication is that some people pray really long prayers, and unfortunately sometimes those long prayers are offered before a meal where everyone is anxious to eat.

Many people may feel inadequate in their prayer life. They may feel that when we pray we should only offer long and involved prayers. Others may feel overwhelmed by the need of prayer. Where do you stop in prayer? Who is included and who is excluded?

The letter to the faithful disciple Timothy makes a comment on prayer. What types of prayers are encouraged? Who should we pray for? Why should we pray?

I believe there is no set way to pray. There are no specific words that must be used in order for the prayer to be valid. Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” And this passage in 1 Timothy reinforces the idea.

Our prayers should be for everyone – the sick, the struggling, our leaders, our nation, ourselves, our families and our jobs. We may not need to include all people in every prayer. Pray for this person on one occasion and pray for someone else the next time.

The point is that we should take everything to God in prayer. We should ask for help and healing. We should ask for comfort. We should ask for guidance. We should give thanks to God for the good things in life.

Everything that happens – good and bad, glad and worrisome – should be a reason to come to God in conversation. Having that constant connection with God will lead us to lives of peace and holiness. What is most important is to know that when we pray God listens to us. He hears us when we pray.

We may not get all the things we want, but if our prayer life is one where we submit everything to God we can trust that He hears us and that His perfect desires will be done.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you pray more often in your life?

God Hears Us 2

1 Kings 18:36-38

The story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal continues with Elijah’s opportunity to demonstrate God’s power. The prophets of Baal had failed to get any response from their false god, so Elijah had the people repair the altar to the Lord. He assembled a stone altar and dug a trench around it. On the altar he arranged wood and the sacrificed bull.

But he didn’t stop there. He had the people fill four large jars with water and pour the water on the altar. Then he had them repeat this three more times, dumping so much water that the altar and sacrifice was drenched and even the trench was filled with water.

What did Elijah do? What does he request? Why does he ask for this? What is the response from God?

It wasn’t enough that Elijah had an altar with a sacrifice on it. He added to the challenge by having a huge amount of water dumped on the altar. And yet, God heard Elijah’s prayer and responded. Fire came down from heaven and consumed not just the wood and the flesh, but the stones, the dirt, and even the water. God had demonstrated His authority and His very existence in a powerful way.

Elijah proved to the people and the prophets of Baal that the Lord hears us when we pray. God exists, and He is attentive to us in our times of trials.

What we see in this story is not just the contrast between a deity that is real and one that is not. We see a contrast in the behavior and attitude of the believers.

The prophets of Baal made a desperate and showy attempt to get a result. Elijah, on the other hand, came to the Lord humbly in his prayer. He also offered up his prayers not just for himself but for the benefit of others.

We don’t need to work to make the troubles in life heap up higher and higher. But we can take comfort in knowing that no matter how much our problems increase, God hears us in our prayers and can consume all the trials we face.

If we desire God to hear us we much approach Him in humility. We must ask God to help us, not with the desire that we benefit, but that His kingdom is glorified.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What is your attitude when praying to God?

God Hears Us 1

1 Kings 18:25-26

The other week on “The Amazing Race” one of the teams drove for a couple of hours trying to reach their next destination in the race. But eventually they discovered they had been driving in the wrong direction the whole time. It was an unfortunate setback for the team.

Sometimes we can go along in our beliefs for quite some time only to discover that our beliefs have been incorrect all along. We may find that we are going in the wrong direction in our faith.

In 1 Kings we have the story of Elijah, a prophet of God. There is strife in the land because the king and queen have begun to worship a false god, Baal, and systematically killed off all the prophets of God. Elijah confronts the people to force them to decide their loyalty – will they follow Baal or will they follow God?

To help them in their decision Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal – 400 of them – to demonstrate which god is real. He has them prepare an altar of sacrifice to see which deity can consume it with fire. In verse 25 what does Elijah have the prophets of Baal do? According to verse 26 what did the prophets of Baal do? What was the response?

We may react to such a story by claiming we do not follow any false deities, but in fact our faith may be heading in the wrong direction. Cultural icons such as Dr. Phil and Oprah have gained immense popularity with the general public because so many people believe these people can help them solve their problems. So many are eager to obey and follow the instructions and teachings of such celebrities.

But we must remember that when we are confronted with challenges in life we should first turn to our God. We must trust that our Lord hears us when we pray. He listens to our concerns and can offer true guidance in our faith and our lives.

When we rely on human leaders and guides we may be very much like the prophets of Baal. We may be offering our allegiance and our supplications to gods who do not hear us.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you learn to trust that God hears you?