I have the privilege of being an aunt to two adorable nieces. Because we don’t live in very close proximity to each other a lot of our conversations happen over the phone. It’s great fun and I savor the times that I get to talk to them (I relish it even more whey they are the ones who ask to talk to me rather than being dutiful nieces and chatting with their aunt.) However, because their young a good portion of our conversations follow this pattern: my nieces say something in their adorable but not completely intelligible voices. I say “what did you say?” They repeat themselves. I still don’t understand them. Eventually, either their mom steps in or I give up and change the conversation. There are only so many times you can carry on a conversation without the other one understanding what you are saying.
Unfortunately, I think many people view prayer in a similar way as my phone conversations with my nieces. They ask their questions and make their petitions of God, but He seems to only speak back in ways that they can’t understand. He doesn’t really seem to be hearing them as their lives do not conform to the requests that they have made. So they switch the conversation, or give up talking to Him altogether wondering what good it is doing anyway.
Scripture, however, makes it clear that God does hear His people. Not only does He listen to their requests, their heart cries and their pleas, but He is providing help through whatever storm they are currently facing. As David wrote in Psalm 28:6-9:
Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
It may be tempting to think “Of course David could write confidently; God provided the help he needed.” But if you refer back to the opening verses of that same Psalm, it is obvious that David’s rescue had not yet arrived (See Ps. 28:1-5). However, David knew that God heard his prayers and that help would come. So much so that he wrote about it as if he had already been delivered.
God’s servants today can share this same confidence with David. We can know that God hears our petitions and that He is busy working to bring about our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). Like David, help may not arrive in the manner or the timeframe that we expect, but that is not a sign that our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Instead, we can trust that God is working a greater plan and that according to the counsel of His will (See Eph. 1:11), He will provide exactly what He knows that we need at exactly the proper time.