Have you ever prayed and felt it got no further than the ceiling?
Have you ever been convicted to pray and then thought, "Oh, what's the use."
Have you ever wondered if God actually hears all your prayers?
Most of us, in Christian circles, might not want to admit that yes, sometimes we do wonder about prayer and question its effectiveness and fail to persevere in praying through the long dark nights of silence.
But prayer is not like an ATM machine. It is not a fast food drive-through window. It is not a vending machine.
So, how do we keep praying?
Your Petition Was Heard
Let's look at the parents of John the Baptist, Zacharias and Elizabeth. They had wanted children all their lives. And they had prayed for children. They had lived righteous, blameless, obedient lives for the Lord (Luke 1:5-18). But they had never received the "Yes" answer to their prayers. They had never had a child.
But then one day, when Zacharias was doing his duties, in the Holy of Holies by the way, an angel comes and says to him, in the present tense, like the couple had just prayed that morning, "Your petition has been heard...Elizabeth will bear a son."
And I know, even though the Scripture does not say it, that Zacharias had long ago given up hope. Why? Because he ARGUES WITH THE ANGEL GABRIEL! (Note to self: if an angel of the Lord comes and give me a message, just believe it. No Arguing!) The prayer he had prayed all his life has just been proclaimed by an angel of the Lord to be heard!
Or how about this example: Daniel 9 contains a beautiful prayer of Daniel, in fact his prayer takes up 4/5ths of the chapter. And then all of a sudden Gabriel shows up (yes, the same Gabriel that showed up to John). And his first words to Daniel are, "As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given..."
Some More Proof
"I have heard them crying out... the cry of the Israelites has reached me" Ex. 3:7,9
"The LORD...hears the prayer of the righteous." Prov. 15:29
“In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple He heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. 2 Sam. 22:7
"The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." James 5:16
But reading about "the effective prayer" the question begs to be asked, if we know from the book of John that Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous why did it take so long for their "effective prayer" to "accomplish much" in the form of a young son?
Wait For It!
2 Peter 3:9 says: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness." God wasn't slow in answering their prayer. He was, rather, split-second perfect. Not only was He giving them a son, but their son was the one who was the fore-runner of Christ. John couldn't come until the moment of the ages was at hand. If God had answered their prayer sooner, John would have come too soon. If they had had other children before John, the miraculous hand of God would not have been evident in his birth.
Our greatest privilege on earth is to be a part of God's story of love and redemption to the world. And the way we learn our part is through prayer. Through the long, hard nights of prayer, when we do not feel it is being heard, and when we are tempted to faint and give up hope.
But don't give up hope! Keep praying! God hears you. He is not slow. Your cries have reached Him. Your petition was heard. As soon as you prayed an answer was given.
Wait for it.