When listening to a person’s words, be sure to hear their heart.
“God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.” Psalm 66:19 NIV.
Have you ever been listening to someone, then realized you had not heard very much of what they were saying? I think everyone has on some occasion, either as a speaker or listener. When listening to a person’s words, be sure to hear their heart. Hearing is more than just a physical capability; it can and should be a practical means for an emotional connection. Disinterest, or some measure of distraction, can lessen a person’s ability to truly hear what another is saying. Hearing someone – really hearing with your heart – requires interest, attentiveness, and identification with what concerns them. Listening attentively and hearing compassionately build meaningful, caring relationships.
Let’s apply those thoughts to the practice of prayer. Ever wondered why you sometimes may not be as motivated to pray consistently or confidently? I think prayer can become inconsistent if you are unsure God will be listening. And it logically follows that any lack of assurance of His attentiveness to your needs reveals uncertainty about His personal care for you. Those doubts inhibit prayer. Peter encourages, “Casting all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NKJV. Listening and hearing reflect genuine caring. Be sure of this; on God’s part, genuine caring is never in question.
Joyfully, the Psalmist wrote, “God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer nor withheld His love from me.” Psalm 66:19-20 NIV. You are more eager to pray and more confident when you do so when you are persuaded that God loves you, and listens to your voice and hears your heart.
Additionally, the Bible is clear that the will of God must be uppermost when you pray. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 NIV. I suggest the description, “righteous man,“ implies a person desiring the will of God in their life above all. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV. Effective, fervent prayer begins with a lifestyle of submission, submitting every plan and desire to God’s sovereign will.
Ask boldly, but trust His wisdom completely – “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Read Romans 12:1-2 NIV. That should be how you would always describe God’s will for your life as, “good, pleasing and perfect.” Trust God to answer sincere prayer, always at the time and in the way consistent with His will and wisdom for your life.
There are times you will carry a burden requiring prayer, but may be unsure of God’s will in a matter about which you pray. God’s Word has an answer for such times. “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray.” Romans 8:26 NLT. Could that describe you or your situation presently? Here’s the answer: “But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” Read Romans 8:26-30 NLT. Read that thoughtfully, then consider it joyfully, “the Spirit pleads for us . . in harmony with God’s own will.” That is prayer to which God listens and hears – and answers!
My prayer for you today is that you know God cares and hears when you pray.