Have you seen the meme that says, “You’re being held at gunpoint. The person holding the gun lets you make one phone call. If they answer, you die. Who are you calling?” You can probably think of a couple of people you know who never answer their phone. I know I can. What if it were reversed and they had to answer or you would die? Know anyone that always answers when you call? I fit into that category. I even answer the phone when the caller ID says, “Potential Spam”. I like to be available if someone needs something, so I answer.
Several years ago, my mom passed away after a year long battle with breast cancer. We prayed and fasted and had faith like you’re supposed to. We had purchased a dress for her to wear for Easter believing that she would rise up by then and be able to go to church. She didn’t get healed, and even died less than a week after Easter. To be honest, I got upset with God thinking He wasn’t available to answer our prayers. I decided I wouldn’t call on Him for anything again, but we could stay in contact, as silly as that seems. That was the case for a couple of years until I needed Him again. I knew that He would be available despite my tantrum and I began to go to Him again when I needed help.
Psalm 46:1 says, “God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in time of trouble— more than enough and always available whenever I need you” (TPT). While I can point to individual times in my life where I wish God would have answered my prayers the way I wanted Him to, the consistency of His character across millennia is that He is a safe place for us to run to in times of need. He does answer when we need Him most, and He does not abandon us. He is available for us to call out to despite the things we’ve done because when He looks at us, He’s not looking for our goodness in order to be available. His relationship with us is not about what you’ve done or your works. You are His child, redeemed by the death of His son, and like a good father, He’s there for you when you need Him.
Hearing is one of your five senses. It’s something we all do passively. It requires no effort on our part to hear things. Everywhere we go, we’re bombarded by sounds that our ears have learned to tune out. Because of that, sometimes when someone is talking to us, we hear them, but we’re not listening to them. When we have something important to say to someone and they don’t respond, we usually ask, “Are you listening to what I said?” We don’t just need them to hear the sound of our voice. We need them to pay attention, to comprehend what we’re saying and to do something about it. There’s a big difference between passively hearing and actively listening.
There are times in our lives when we pray to God where we don’t just want Him to hear our prayers. We need Him to listen to them and take action. In those times of desperation, our prayers are cries from the bottom of our heart going straight to the Father. We need Him to listen to our requests, to pay attention and to intervene. I’ve prayed many of these prayers in my life. Some have been answered and some have gone unanswered. No matter what, I know that God listens to more than the words of our prayers. He hears our heart – the pain and desperation inside. Like a good father, He bends down and says, “Don’t fear. I hear you and am working out my plan for you.”
Here are some Bible verses on asking God to listen to our prayers.
1. Listen to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my plea. Listen to me and answer me; I am restless and distraught in my complaint.
PSALMS 55:1-2 AMP
2. Lord, bend down to listen to my prayer. I am in deep trouble. I’m broken and humbled, and I desperately need your help.
Psalms 86:1 TPT
3. GOD, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries. Don’t turn your back on me just when I need you so desperately. Pay attention! This is a cry for help! And hurry—this can’t wait!
Psalm 102:1-2 MSG
4. I love the Lord, because he hears me; he listens to my prayers. He listens to me every time I call to him.
Psalm 116:1-2 GNT
5. You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.”
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.
Have you ever been talking to someone only to figure out they were looking at you, but not listening? It’s frustrating. You’re going through the emotions that you feel, describing each detail to them, and they aren’t even paying attention. Would you go back to that person the next time you needed the support of a listening ear? No! You wanted someone to listen and to help you, and they weren’t even giving you the respect of listening.
Have you ever felt like God was that way? Have you felt like you poured out your heart to Him in prayer, but it was like He wasn’t listening? It’s frustrating to be in prayer and to feel like your prayers aren’t escaping the room you’re in. Maybe you’ve tried praying louder or just sat there weeping in that place crying out to God for mercy. In any case, God is not like us. He does not have selective hearing. He hears every prayer, even those that seem to fall flat on the floor.
In Psalm 116:1-2, the Psalmist wrote, “I love the Lord, because he hears me; he listens to my prayers. He listens to me every time I call to him” (GNT). God hears every prayer you’ve ever prayed from the silent ones that you could barely muster the energy to say to the loud “can you hear me” prayers. When you and I pour out our heart before God, we have a guarantee that He hears us and listens to us.
We are not guaranteed to have every prayer answered, but we are guaranteed an audience with God every time we pray. Since He gives us an audience and hears us, we should have confidence and approach His throne where we will find mercy and grace to help us just when we need it (Hebrews 4:16). We don’t have to leave prayer frustrated because we know He hears us, and if He hears us, He will give us the grace and mercy we need for whatever our situation holds.