Does God actually hear our prayers or is prayer just a religious activity? Prayer can be both.
The outcome of our prayers is determined by why and how we are praying.
Many people’s motivation to pray is often a religious ritual and not motivated by a desire to be in communion with God. Many official government activities include an invocation to start the order of business but for the most part, this is a protocol that is followed and many of the people who are in attendance do not want to pray or pray to satisfy the “will of the people” that placed them in their office.
Churches across the world assemble and pray prayers that are motivated by ceremonial ritual and are spoken out of rote memory. Many people, Christian and non-believers, engage in prayer before mealtime in a prayer that has been branded as “returning grace.”
Often this time of prayer is motivated by the same ceremonial ritual that is experienced in many churches, engaged in routine and has no influence in the lives of people to change behavior or the thoughts of those who participate.
Back to the question at hand, does God hear our prayers? We know that God is aware of all the activities that take place in His creation. Jesus makes this observation:
“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)
Jesus is making two points in this statement. First, the “sparrows.” When Jesus spoke about the sparrows they are not just any sparrows but birds that were purchased for “two farthings.” These sparrows were purchased for temple sacrifice. God’s attention is always placed upon our acts of sacrifice. The “hairs of your head” is speaking to the value God places on the lives of the people in His creation.
When we pray, seeking to acknowledge God’s power and offer our prayers as a sacrifice, He hears. The power of prayer is demonstrated when we direct our prayers toward God as we acknowledge His power, righteousness and glory.
James, the Apostle and brother of Jesus, said, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (Jas 5:16) When we pray, the power of our prayers is effected by our walk with God. This does not mean God does not hear our prayers but the words of James are a commentary of the power prayer holds for people who are “righteous.”
It is good for us to be reminded of this statement found in God’s word:
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Rom 3:10-12)
If there are “none righteous” how can our prayers be “effectual?” Our righteousness is not earned but is inputted in us by Jesus’ sacrifice. We find this truth presented to us in the words spoken by the Apostle Paul to the followers of Jesus in Corinth:
“For he hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Co 5:21)
When we pray we need to pray in the name of Jesus’ righteousness, not our own. Read what Jesus said about our prayers to God:
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16)
Your faith in Jesus is your power in prayer. We are warned not to pray prayers that are void of faith or that are offered in religious piousness and ceremonial ritual with these words:
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” (Jas 1:6-7)
The question you should ask is not- does God hear my prayers but will God answer my prayers. God is aware not only of the number of hairs on your head but also of every life situation you face. He is aware of all your life’s sorrows and concerns.
God not only hears your prayers. Come to God in prayer, placing your trust in the righteousness of Jesus and in faith. Call out to God in the name of Jesus and you will not only be heard by God but your prayers will “availeth much.”
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