Have you ever felt like your prayers puffed feebly into the air like so much wispy vapor, then vanished—without accomplishing a thing?
I think we've all experienced the resounding silence of heaven and the uncertainty of whether or not a particular prayer mattered—what we may think of as a prayer bounce-back.
Yes, there are times when it seems our prayers aren't getting anywhere. But the truth is, our emotions are not a gauge to our prayers' effectiveness; God is always listening. John 11:41-42 says "Father, I thank you that You have heard me. Yes, I know that You always hear and listen to me."
That means that regardless of how we feel, we can take comfort in the fact that God always hears us. He hears us because He is waiting and listening, the same way the mother of a newborn goes about her daily activities with her ear tuned in to the baby monitor. The moment the baby makes a squeak, mama instantly hears.
When you are tempted to think that God doesn't hear or understand you, or that your prayers don't matter, remember this:
God wants to talk with you. He's the same God who walked with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening. He longs to spend time with and listen to you, as well. "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people..." (Psalm 149:4a)
Your prayers delight Him. I'm so glad that God doesn't rate our prayers on eloquence, finding exactly the right words, or praying exactly the right number of minutes. We don't have to check off a specific set of rules as we pray. In fact, sometimes a simple, whispered Help! is more powerful and effective than anything else. "Blessed be God, Who has not rejected my prayer, nor removed His mercy and loving-kindness from being (as it always is) with me." (Psalm 66:20)
He never misunderstands us. Nothing is worse than feeling upset, hurt or confused because we've been misunderstood. Eons ago I lived out a particularly painful time in my marriage when I felt deeply misunderstood by my husband. Yet during that time God allowed me to realize that "He knows the secrets of the heart" (Psalm 44:21b). We can say to the Lord, "You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thoughts afar off." (Psalm 139:2)
Your prayers have eternal value. Our prayers accomplish more than we know this side of heaven, and I’m confident that on the other side we’ll fully understand that. So whatever you do, don’t stop praying. “The earnest, heartfelt, continued prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available, dynamic in its working.” (James 5:16)
Remember, prayer is simply (1) connecting and communicating with our heavenly Father, and (2) listening for and hearing Him. We can confidently pray knowing He longs for that holy connection as much as we do.
So go ahead—dare to pray and believe that God hears you and understands you—because He always does.