From my earliest childhood, I remember hearing the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel from I Kings 18. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Elijah was the sole prophet of God in the land, and the people were following false gods. He called out the prophets of Baal and challenged them to a public duel on top of the mountain. They each prepared a sacrifice and would pray to their god to see whose was real. The god who was real would answer by fire and burn the sacrifice up. As the prophets of Baal tried for hours to get their god’s attention, Elijah mocked them.
I always thought very poorly of those prophets and even laughed at the way Elijah mocked them. But now I wonder if we are any different than they were. We may serve the God who won that duel, but we have resorted to their tactics to get His attention. We seem to believe that there is something you and I can do to earn His favor or to get an answer to prayer. We pray loudly, we stomp, we circle, we make promises and even put ourselves in danger to test God to get Him to answer. But God isn’t looking for that from us.
What He’s looking for is found in verse 37 in Elijah’s prayer. He said, “Answer me, Lord, answer me, so that this people will know that you, the Lord, are God, and that you are bringing them back to yourself” (GNB). The prayers God responds to are ones that bring Him glory and allow Him to do the work. Religion is all about working to get a god’s attention and favor to do something for us, but Christianity is about letting God draw us to Him. It’s not about what we do; it’s about what He does. He hears each one of our prayers according to 1 John 5:14, and He sees our intentions. You don’t have to do anything crazy to get His attention. He loves you and is constantly drawing you closer to Him.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Years ago, Tracy Lawrence sang a song called, “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”. The chorus said, “You find out who your friends are, Someone’s going to drop everything, Run out and crank up their car, Hit the gas, get there fast, Never stop to think, “What’s in it for me”, Or “‘It’s way too far”, They just show up, With their big ol’ heart, You find out who your friends are.” It’s a good reminder of the people in your life that you can count on for just about anything. God is One in whom we can count on in times of need.
King David had some incredible insight into who God is. He was a man after God’s heart, but he was also a man who lived a life of faith and trust. His psalms hit home with us because he was constantly in situations that required great faith and he wrote out his prayers. His desperation often matches our own and he gives words to prayers we need to pray in those moments. He found God to be a true friend who would never turn us away in our time of need. In Psalm 9:10, he wrote, “May everyone who knows your mercy keep putting their trust in you, for they can count on you for help no matter what. O Lord, you will never, no never, neglect those who come to you” (TPT)
You and I can go to God in our time of need and He will not neglect our need. I can tell you that He doesn’t answer each prayer the way I want Him to, but then again I don’t give my child everything he asks for either. Just like I look at the whole picture and make a decision for him, God does that with us. He meets our needs and never turns us away when we go to Him. His plan for our lives is greater than you or I can even imagine. For us to fulfill that plan, we’ve got to learn to trust Him the way David did. It’s not an easy path and things won’t always go your way, but if you keep trusting in Him, you’ll find that you can always count on Him no matter what.
Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash
Have you ever been in a situation where you were pouring your heart out to someone and then noticed they weren’t listening? I’ve learned from experience that it’s pretty hurtful and rude. I’ve been accused of not listening on more than one occasion. I even went to a training once to teach me how to be an active listener. They taught me that I need to make eye contact, lean in to the conversation, nod my head and make some noises to suggest that I agree. It turns out that it takes a lot of work to listen.
What I’ve found out is that when people think you’re not listening to them, they quit telling you things. They quit having deep discussions, and sometimes they quit talking to you all together. Imagine if you had those feelings toward God. There are times where we are in a deep struggle, and we’re pouring out our heart to Him, but it feels like He’s not listening. Our prayers seem to fall flat and never get past the ceiling. It happens to all of us.
David was one who constantly cried out to God for help and told Him everything on his mind. In Psalm 116:2 he reminds us, “Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (NLT) He found out that God is an active listener who leans into our prayers to listen. He gives us His undivided attention when we cry out to Him. We no longer have to worry that He isn’t listening or doesn’t hear us.
When you pour out your heart to God, He’s actively listening to you. He doesn’t get distracted or zone out. Even if it doesn’t feel your prayers are going past the ceiling, God is there in the room with you. As the Psalmist wrote, He bends down to hear you. He leans into the space where you are so you can feel His presence and know He’s there hearing every word. Where man fails to pay attention, God never does. You can pray as long as you have breath knowing that God hears every word and intent of the heart.