March 31, 2020
Your answer to that question determines everything about you. If you believe God answers prayer, you will pray often and experience all the benefits of that arrangement with Him. But, if for some reason you think that prayer is meaningless—a mere shout into the wind—you will never communicate with God. And, in so doing, you will miss everything that matters and lasts.
Prayer is mentioned over 650 times in the Scripture and there are 450 direct answers to prayer recorded. If the Bible says much about something we should listen carefully, for God is trying to tell us its importance. The Scriptures testify of the centrality and certainty of prayer and God’s absolute willingness to hear and answer us when we cry out to Him.
ONE BIBLICAL TESTIMONY
Tucked in two verses in Judges, chapter 13, is one of these reminders.
Then Manoah entreated the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.” God listened to the voice of Manoah. (Judges 13:8-9)
God listened! What an astounding statement! Manoah was a little-known man that is not mentioned outside of these chapters. He was the father of Samson, the mighty judge of Israel. Why would Almighty God stoop to listen to him and why will He listen to us?
GOD HAS AN AGENDA AND HE WANTS US TO JOIN HIM
Manoah did not first approach God. God came to Manoah's wife telling her that she would have a son and that he would grow up to deliver Israel from their enemies.
Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son … and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:3-5)
The Lord had great plans for His people, Israel, but they were enslaved to the Philistines. The angel of the LORD (which was Christ Himself) initiated a conversation with Manoah’s wife telling her that she would bear a son who would deliver the nation. God had something He wanted to do and He was inviting this simple Hebrew family to join Him.
God can do whatever He desires, but He has many plans for this world that are only accomplished through His children. He must communicate with us and enlist our involvement. And prayer is His means of enlistment.
GOD WANTS US TO BELIEVE HIM, SO PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL
God’s operating principle with man is faith, but faith is not blind. God has designed ways for us to hear from Him and then He is wanting us to believe Him—to depend upon Him and expect that He will do what He has promised.
Manoah needed more information to believe. His wife had heard from God, but Manoah’s faith could not rest on her experience. He needed God to speak to Him and prayer was the solitary pathway to see this accomplished.
God wants us to depend upon Him every day and throughout the day. That is why He calls us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We need unceasing communion with Him so that we can have unceasing faith in Him.
GOD LOVES US, SO PRAYER IS A DELIGHT
It is man’s greatest joy to commune with God! Can you imagine what Manoah and his wife experienced? Christ came to them! Christ spoke to them! Christ directed them and “performed wonders” before them (Judges 13:19). Their testimony was that this encounter with Christ was “awesome.” They feared that they might not live because they had seen the Lord Himself and the experience was overwhelming.
There is no greater privilege than prayer. To be able to speak directly with God and to hear Him speak to us is a man’s greatest honor. But lest we think that it is all about us, realize that it is also God’s joy. What father doesn’t want to talk with his children? How much joy does a mother have when her little children or grown children communicate with her, expressing their love and heeding her advice? God is perfect in His love and He longs for our fellowship in prayer, which is one of life’s most humbling realizations.
Does God hear our prayers? The answer is a thundering “YES!” And this is why unceasing, Scripture-based prayer must be the foundation of our lives.
Lord, teach me to believe in prayer as I believe in You. Remind me often of its power. Lead me moment-by-moment to look up to You, seeking You and listening to You. Protect me from the emptiness of a prayerless life.
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