I often hear people comment on prayer in a negative way. “I prayed but God didn’t answer it.” “I prayed but nothing good came of it.” “God can’t hear my prayers; there are people out there with more important needs.” It saddens me to hear that people don’t believe God is listening to their prayers and answering them, but then I realize that I question too.
There are many places in the Bible where God is calling us to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray continually,” tells us He wants us to do it all the time; it is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. In a quiet time with the Lord last summer, I felt He wanted me to start writing down my prayers, making a list to put in my journal. My lists turned into more serious prayers - God’s will for my life, the plan for my future - and then into more focused prayers of needs and fulfillment through Him. Then, as I sometimes do, I got lazy and stopped making the lists. It didn’t seem like it was doing any miraculous works in me spiritually.
On a day when I was feeling particularly down spiritually, I was looking for notes from a great sermon I had heard and I found a journal that had been set aside. As I began to look through it, I found the lists of prayers. One after another they rang a bell of memory. I had been so quick to think the Lord was not answering my prayers! I didn’t realize he was answering them - I just wasn’t listening to Him!
God answers our prayers. “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:8. The answer, however, might not be exactly what we wanted.
Too often we pray knowing exactly how we want God to answer, and when He blesses us with His answers, we are blind to His will and see only the failure to meet our own desires.
I encourage you to make lists of your prayers. Return to them every so often and be amazed at what our Father has done in your life!