Written by Jesse Fenn
Does God hear our prayers? Whether you’ve grown up in church or you’ve never stepped foot in a church, you know that the answer of the Bible is a resounding yes. But perhaps a better question is “How does God hear our prayers?” I live on a busy street, so I hear noises constantly, yet If you asked me to recount what I heard, I wouldn’t even know where to start because I rarely, if ever, give any thought to them. Parents will tell you that they hear children’s screaming differently as parents then they did before they had kids. When a friend from school talks to me about national security, I hear it much differently than when I hear the president of the United States talk about national security. I hear things that my parents tell me differently than I hear things that strangers tell me. We hear things differently depending on many different factors. So how does God hear our prayers? Does he hear them as white noise? Does he hear them compassionately, judgmentally, indifferently? The Scriptures answer these questions for us. Specifically, the Scriptures teach us that God does hear our prayers and hears them as both a sovereign king and a loving father.
A Sovereign King
In Psalm 113, the psalmist exhorts us to praise the Lord, and expounds on the nature of God, showing us why he is worthy of praise. The psalmist first establishes God as a sovereign king. Psalm 113:4 says that “The Lord is high above the nations and his glory is above the heavens”. The psalmist goes on to say that God is seated on high and looks far down on the heavens and the earth. This is amazing imagery! This imagery reveals to us just how great the gap between God and man is. To human beings, nations are about as powerful a force as there is on earth. Think back only a handful of decades ago to WWII. Think about all the violence and terror just a few nations inflicted on the world. But God is high above the nations. To God nations are small. God is seated on high. This imagery is meant to make us think of a throne. God sits enthroned above the nations and the heavens and earth. God looks far down on the heavens and the earth. Remember the last time you flew on an airplane? Remember how small the city you were leaving looked? Good looks down on unimaginably vast universe he has made and to him it is small. It’s small because he created it and governs it. He is king over it. This is the God who hears our prayers. When God hears our prayers he hears as a God who is in complete control over the entirety of the universe. It’s one thing to ask a friend for a favor. It’s another thing the president of the United States for a favor. Your friend may be willing to help you out, but he or she may not have the ability to. You can be pretty confident however that the president has the authority and the resources necessary to do the favor for you. When we pray to God, we can know that he has all authority and resources. Nothing is beyond him.
A Loving Father
But the Psalmist goes on. After the psalmist expounds the sovereign kingship of God, he goes on to say in verses 7-9, “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!” So this same God to who is high above the nations, this God who sits enthroned above the heavens and the earth, this God to whom the universe is small; this same God concerns himself with the well-being of people. And not just kings and rulers and priests, but the lowest of the low; the poor and the needy and the barren woman. A few years ago I had the experience of seeing President Obama drive by in his motorcade. I should clarify…I didn’t actually see the president. What I saw was about the 30 police cars, about 30 police motorcycles, 2 helicopters, and 3 armored limousines, one of which contained the president. Can you imagine if the president of the United States came by in his motorcade, and demanded that everything come to a screeching halt. All the police cars and motorcycles, all the helicopters and armored limos, everything stopped and president got out of his car to talk to the homeless people in the area and invite them to the white house. Well this is the kind of God that Psalm 113 presents to us. A God who is infinitely distant from us in his majesty, his authority, and his being. And yet this God has concerned himself with the needs of the lowest of the low. It is for this reason that Jesus instructs us to pray, “Our Father in heaven”.
God hears our prayers as both a sovereign king and a loving Father. So pray to this God. Pray to this God boldly and reverently. Confidently and humbly. God hears our prayers as one who has all the power and all the authority needed to answer them. He also hears our prayers as one who is loving, compassionate, and personal; as a Father. This is how he hears prayers and this is how he answers prayers. If God has not answered your prayer, you can know that it is not because he lacks power or authority. You can also know that it is not because he is indifferent. Our God is a loving Father who desires what is best for his children. He is also a sovereign king who has all power, authority, and knowledge to act accordingly. So pray to this God. Trust this God. And ultimately, follow the exhortation of the Psalm 113:9 and praise this God!
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