Have you ever wondered if God really hears you when you pray? I have. It can be hard to keep praying to an invisible being, even if you truly believe he is there. And is there a right way and a wrong way to pray? Or a right or wrong place? Does God only listen when you are at church, or on your knees? This morning, Rev. Singleton used Psalm 5 to answer some of these questions.
First of all, a little background. This psalm was written by King David. The psalm doesn't say exactly what was going on at that time in David's life, but it does appear that he was in turmoil, as he was praying for rescue from his enemies. In verse one, he asks God to give ear to his prayers, and to even consider his groaning...those wordless prayers your heart makes when you don't know what to pray. How could David be so sure that God would listen to him?
First of all, he was bold. He asked God to give ear to his prayers (vs.1), and to listen to his voice (vs.2). Verse 3 says that he will eagerly watch for the result. David knew that God was listening to him, and that he would receive an answer. His words show that he thoroughly expected God to do what he asked. So, his boldness came from faith.
In order to persevere in prayer, you must have faith. Sometimes we have to wait for an answer. That can be really hard, and that is when I, personally, get the most discouraged. It sometimes feels like my prayers are bouncing back at me from the ceiling, instead of soaring to God's ears. But God is good to us. He knows what we need, as well as when we need it. If you have to wait, don't think of it as a delay, but as a time of preparation so that everything goes right. My son really wants a car. However, he is too young to get a license, so he has to wait. If he had a car right now, it would be useless to him. There will come a time that he will need one. Then, it will be a blessing. God is a good father. He gives us the things we need, instead of the things we want. On the other hand, this doesn't mean that we give up. My son spends a large amount of time looking at cars. When he is finally ready to get a car, he will have a good idea of which car would be best for him. We can continue to pray while we are waiting for God's answer.
Now, about the place to pray. Verse 7 tells us that David went to God's house: His holy temple. I have good news. We have it a little better than David. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul says "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" Hallelujah! We do not have to go anywhere to speak to God. God is with us all the time. We are God's temple! His spirit dwells in us! So how can it matter where you are, or what position you are in? Verse 3 says that David will pray in the morning. There are also songs that say to pray in the evening. First Thessalonians 5:17 says we are to "Pray without ceasing." Well, if God is always with us, this should not be too hard. We can wake up and pray before we even get out of bed. We can pray while doing the dishes, or driving to work. We can pray at night before we go to sleep. We can have a constant conversation with God, because he is with us all the time.
There is one more thing. God won't reject you or your prayers because of anything that you have done. However, he is not a fairy godmother or a genie in a bottle. He wants a relationship with you. And this relationship has to go two ways. You can't expect him to hear you if you reject him. But if you call on him for salvation, he will always hear. Read this from Romans 10:9-13: "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Call on him, and confess that Jesus is Lord of your life. And then make it happen! Let Jesus lead you into a relationship with his father. And don't try to go it alone. Jesus told us that there is strength in numbers, even when we pray: “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:19-20) This is not to say that you can't pray by yourself. Of course you can, and you should! But you also need to be connected to others who believe in Jesus. This world is hard sometimes, and being with other believers gives you a support system to help you through those difficult times.
The middle of the psalm talks about David's wicked enemies. But even so, he has confidence that God will protect him. Verses 11 and 12 read:
But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may exult in You.
For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord,
You surround him with favor as with a shield.
Take refuge in God today. Allow him to shield you from your enemies. God loves you. He will hear you when you call on him. There are no "dead zones" in God's network. Come to him with boldness; in faith.