How do I know God answers prayer? I am sure that this is a question on every person’s mind sooner or later. Do I know that He hears and answers me? Am I confident that when I close my eyes to pray, God is paying attention? Do I have faith that believes God responds to my prayer? Meditating on prayer, I was thinking on Mark 11:22-24:
“‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
So how do I get this kind of faith that believes my prayers are answered?
The verse actually gives us the answer: “Have faith in God.” Well I say, that does not tell me anything! But I missed a small little word: “IN.” Have faith IN God i.e. faith IN the One who makes the promises.
It is God we are praying to, He is the One we are in relationship with. In this relationship with Him we get to know Him, we build a love relationship with Him, we increasingly become aware of His presence and we become aware of His capacity to answer prayers. In relationship with Him we get to know His heart. We spiritually SEE who it is we are trusting, He gives light to our eyes, we see His face and the expressions of His heart. We HEAR the heart of the One who gives the promises, the tone of his voice, the tenderness of his words.
When we SEE and HEAR Him, we understand WHO it is we are praying to. When we know Him, fear fades in our hearts; we know His character and know His dependability, His faithfulness. Then we have faith IN Him and His promises because we know Him as our Father, His character and His power to hear, answer and respond.
Paul after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus had SEEN and HEARD God like never before. This encounter with Jesus brought about such a sureness in Saul (later Paul) that we see a new behavior evident from the moment of his conversion. Acts 9:11 “The Lord told him: “Go to the house of Judas on Straight street and ask for a man from Tarsus, named Saul, for he is praying.”
From the moment of Paul’s conversion, having seen and heard God, he is praying because he knows where to go for what he needed: to go to the presence of the Lord, in prayer.
Then as his ministry grew, Paul’s life demonstrates that “sureness in prayer” as he says in 2 Tim 1:12: “… because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”
Paul having SEEN and HEARD Jesus, knowing who God is; knew that prayer was answered because he had faith IN God. He knew the heart and the person of God and knew that He was ABLE.
As new believers, after having encountered God: having SEEN Him and HEARD Him calling to us, it is easier to believe that God answers prayer. Time, fear and circumstances however, deposits doubt into our hearts so that we no longer SEE and HEAR God as clearly as we once did. For you and I, it is time to draw near to God:
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8)
When we draw near to Him, rebuild our relationship with Him, we SEE and HEAR Him once again. Then, we like Paul, develop a confidence in prayer, knowing that our prayers are answered. How do we know that our prayers are answered: because we know WHO it is we are speaking to.
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