God Hears Every Prayer, and Much More Than That

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 27, 2014 0 comments

by Logan Ames

There truly was no more obvious way to begin this week’s post than with a reference to the fantastic movie “Bruce Almighty,” especially since it happens to be on TV as I write this. Every time I see the movie, I’m reminded of how selfish and arrogant we are when it comes to our prayers and desires and what we think God “should” do about them. In addition, I’m reminded that nobody can be God quite like God can, even though we sometimes think things would be so much better if we were in charge. In the movie, the main character is a news reporter named Bruce who very early in the story gets angry at God and judges that God is not doing his job very well. He refuses to follow his girlfriend’s advice to turn to God during difficult times, begins a barrage of blasphemies and insults toward God, and declares that praying to God wouldn’t help him because God either isn’t listening or just doesn’t care.

In his anger, Bruce goes for a drive and actually begins to ask God for a sign, but fails to see the many God sends because his anger and bias are clouding him. When God finally gets Bruce’s attention and lures him to the place where he reveals himself, he provides a series of wonders to show his identity and power beyond Bruce’s doubt. One of these “impossibilities” is a file cabinet that appears to be very small but is said to contain anything Bruce ever did, said, or thought. When he opens it up, it stretches all the way across a big room. God proves to Bruce that he has seen, heard, and recorded EVERYTHING, including that which was merely thought.

This week, we are addressing a question that we have probably all asked at some point, and maybe you have, too. That would be the question of whether God really does hear our prayers or not. Let’s first think about the alternative. If God doesn’t really hear our prayers, that would have to mean someone somewhere created the fabrication we call “prayer” and that billions have been deceived. But we can’t conclude that someone fabricated the idea when we see in Genesis 3:8-10 that the very first conversation that went back and forth between man and God was initiated by God himself. Furthermore, the New Testament shows that Jesus, who was God in the flesh, taught about prayer in Matthew 6:5-15 and promoted a conversation between the disciples and the Father.

Since the alternative to God hearing our prayers doesn’t make much sense, I want to explain why a very critical error is made when we believe in God yet question whether he hears our prayers. However, the error is not directly with the question, but its implication. If we believe God exists but aren’t sure he really hears our prayers, we are wrongly implying that there is even anything which God cannot hear. Take a look at David’s words in Psalm 139:1-12. Within those verses, David confesses his understanding that God searches and knows him, that he completely knows David’s words before they are even spoken, that he knows all of David’s thoughts and everything he does, and that even if he wanted to David could not get away from God even if he went all the way up to the heavens or all the way down to the depths of the grave. David, a man who used to live as though his actions were hidden from God and wouldn’t have consequences, now understands and accepts that God sees what is done in secret and hears even our most private thoughts. Too often, we view prayer as if it is only what we speak out loud in the presence of others or what we speak directly to God. God surely hears those, and a heck of a lot more.

We are actually fortunate that God hears more than what we say. We rarely know what is truly best for us and can’t see past the way we feel in the moment. This is shown in the movie when Bruce is given the powers of God temporarily and gets tired of having to hear everyone’s prayers, so he develops a system that automatically answers everyone’s prayers with “yes”. He blows it off as “making everyone happy” when in reality he is just lazy and doesn’t truly care about the individuals anyway. A woman “loses 47 pounds on the Krispy Kreme diet”, people get jobs they haven’t earned, and over 400,000 people win the lottery, which considerably lessens the amount they win. Everyone’s wishes being granted leads to total rioting and destruction in the city. The real God reminds Bruce that people don’t have a clue what they really want and challenges him to pray about what he really cares about rather than his fleeting surface desires and cliches like world peace that he thinks are what God wants to hear. God knows what’s weighing on our hearts and minds anyway, so we might as well just get right to it.

This is shown through the life of a little-known Bible character who is the inspiration for a book that became a best-seller. In “The Prayer of Jabez”, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson writes about a man who is only mentioned for two verses in the whole Bible. In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, we meet Jabez, a man who was so named by his mother because his name sounds like the Hebrew word for “pain”. In a culture where a child’s name was believed to be prophetic, Jabez’s mother gave birth to him in pain and likely either didn’t want the child or believed his life would be marked by pain. Imagine growing up with that hanging over your head. Yet, Jabez’s response was not to try to take the reins of his own life. Instead, he cried out to God saying, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain” (v. 10). We then see that God granted his request, which means that God obviously did hear it.

You may ask why God would grant Jabez’s request when so many others pray for the same things and God does not grant them. After all, that is what causes us to question whether God is really hearing the prayers. The point once again is that God hears a lot more than just what we are saying. God knows the back story, every single time. He knew about Jabez’s unfair burden, and he knows about yours, too. Skeptics say that Jabez’s prayer teaches a “prosperity gospel”. Let me just tell you, those words personally annoy me like crazy. Is there anyone out there that God does not want to see prosper? He may not want everyone to prosper with worldly things, but he certainly wants us all to prosper in the abundant life he offers. He knew Jabez’s heart and that he was trusting God and inviting him to be a part of his life and every move. When we selfishly pray for prosperity with wrong motives, James 4:3 says we will not receive that for which we ask. Remember, God always knows the motives with which you pray. He hears everything you say, and everything you don’t. So next time you question him and what he is doing, I encourage you to question your own motives instead.