“The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.”
~Psalm 6:9 (NIV)
“But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.”
~Psalm 66:19 (NRSV)
What is a ready-made and predictable question—the abovementioned title—took me by mild surprise when it was asked of me in the early hours of a recent morning.
How do we know God truly hears our prayers—those shouts from our groaning, burdened hearts that deal with calamity, betrayal, and the spirit’s desolation? Any decent answer to such a question requires instant and ongoing reflection in justifying the right answer for the occasion. No ‘pat’ answer will do.
So, why would God hear and how do we know?
Encountering The True And Living God By Prayer
The God of the universe and all creation sits ever present everywhere in life, whether by our circumstances, geographically, or by the presence of the Spirit residing within each person, endorsed of love.
We can be assured that God does hear, not simply because that’s the promise of the Bible, but we can know that God has designed life around the portents of love, and prayer is such a universal human need (very few people do not pray); God is love and would not have designed us to reach out in prayer had he not the capacity to hear our prayers.
We can know, without any doubting in our hearts, and without justifying it within our minds—by pure faith good enough for the saints of old—that God does hear every single one of our prayers.
Indeed, God feels every silent temptation, hears every troubled thought, and is privy to all our secrets—good, bad, and indifferent; so good is the grace to know we’re never condemned. The Lord understands our human plight.
One Sure Sign Of An Encounter With The Living God
If there is one sign all Christians agree on, that demonstrates God has heard our prayers, it’s this: by the sense of gentle peace felt deep in our souls, a tranquillity that transcends understanding, because we have offered, in faith, our prayers in honest forthrightness.
There are many ways to have an encounter with this living God—a Lord living within us and all through life, especially in the scary bits. And in the present context it’s via prayer that this living God makes himself known to us by that sense of peace... the problem or issue that precipitates our prayer has not gone and the pain is still there, but a strange peace coexists with it enabling us to keep our heads above the threatening waters. That peace remits hope, giving us the ability to dig in and get through, somehow.
After we have prayed we should know God has heard our prayer, simply because of the strange lightness of heart we feel, despite the pain present. If we don’t feel heard we should pray more and keep praying until we feel heard. God hears all prayer, but we need to know it within our hearts by a peace that transcends understanding. If we don’t give up, God will show up.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.