Will My Prayers Be Answered?
'Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there.' The author is unknown but his or her words ring true through the centuries.
However faith can be tricky. It's easy when you're filled with it but sometimes a leap in to the unknown and having faith that God will be there for us, can be a test. Will our prayers be answered? Is God listening? Trusting that He will and He is, is part of knowing you're a Christian, Jew or Muslim.
What then, is prayer? In the bible Matthew 6:6 advises 'But when you pray, go to your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.' And he goes on to talk about the Lord's Prayer and explains its importance to Christians.
What prayer about?
The Lord's Prayer is a good prayer but I always feel it does a lot of asking. We ask for daily bread, freedom from temptation etc but we don't get to say many thank yous.
A lot of what we pray for is about requests - that Aunt Betty will get over her flu, that we will get that job, for guidance etc. But wouldn't it be great, perhaps even just polite, if we stopped asking and started our prayers by appreciating all the wonderful things we already have in our lives? The sunshine, refreshing rain, bird song, our health, wealth, families, happiness and our own unique skills? It's called counting our blessings for a reason; after all He's working hard for us all the time!
Perhaps there isn't one right way to pray. The church/synagogue/mosque/temple shows us one way when we learn the prayers we've been taught since we were children. But a conversation we might have with a loving parent-like God is another way...
And this is the point about the question in the title
- the thing about conversation is that you have to listen for the answer.
Sometimes answers come in an instant (think Hollywood-movie style) or within an hour, week or lifetime. But we have to have faith and believe: believe that if we have our answer or if we don't it's for a good reason and part of God's plan.
And sometimes the answer that comes isn't the answer that we're looking for (an interview where you didn't get the job for example) because His plan is for something better for you. Sometimes we need to listen very hard to hear the answer or we must make the first move. God loves to help those who help themselves.
All this brings us back to faith again.
Some of us have it in bucket loads, strong and unquestioning but for others is waxes and wanes like the moon and we realise that losing it sometimes is the price we pay for having it in the first place.
If you're looking for faith, then think about this: faith is belief. We all believe that the earth is round. Why? Because we've seen the pictures. We believe that if we throw a ball up it will come back down. Why? Because we've seen it happen. And we know that spring will follow winter. Why? Because year after year we see it. In other words we have evidence and that maintains our faith that the world is round, that gravity exists and that the seasons are predictable.
So in the same way, when we're looking for the answers to our prayers or for faith, we need to look for His love and work in our lives. It might come in a happy coincidence, in the all traffic lights being on green so that you get home for your son's birthday surprise, or in a kind word from a stranger on a bad day.
If life was easy we wouldn't value it so highly - learning to dance in the rain makes us better at it and appreciate the ups more when we have occasional downs.
If, when we pray, we can put our hand into the hand of God, we will find no better guide.