Christians believe that if you pray - in other words, communicate with God - he will always hear you. Your prayer might be complicated or a very simple ‘Help!’; it may be whispered or shouted or be a silent cry from deep inside but if it is genuine, God will be listening. The Bible teaches that God loves each one of us and wants us to know him and talk to him. He wants us to pray in all kinds of situations.
Prayer feels good because we are connecting with God and sharing our hearts with someone who loves us. Prayer can be exciting too - when we engage with God, we open ourselves to him directing our lives and changing us. It could be that God’s answer to your prayer is actually a change in your own attitude or actions.
Saying a prayer is not like making a wish. Praying is a focused way of seeking God’s help. Jesus Christ taught his followers how to pray and to believe God would answer them.
There are many times when we can see prayers being answered. It might even seem that God has intervened miraculously, perhaps to heal someone from illness. And when we come to God to ask his forgiveness for the things we have said and done wrong, we can be absolutely certain this prayer will be answered.
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God’
Letter to the Philippians 4 verse 5-6
However, God does not always give us what we want. Sometimes the answer to our prayers might be a ‘no,’ as if we reached a red traffic light. We might not understand why, and the negative answer might be very difficult to take, but God sees the bigger picture. We can be sure God is not turning away from us.
In the Bible, the book of Psalms is a collection of prayers and songs to God. Some are expressions of joy, praise and thanks, but others are anguished cries where the writer has experienced difficulties and is calling out to God for help. Being a Christian and loving God does not make anyone immune from pain, but they do have a deep reassurance that God is with them whatever they are going through.
‘The Lord is near to all who call on him…’
Psalm 145 verse 18
On other occasions, the answer to a prayer might be ‘wait’ – like reaching an amber traffic light. This can be hard too. Our busy culture doesn’t like hanging around, but prayer is not about instant gratification. God does not work to human timescales. And while we wait, it is fine to keep praying and seeking an answer. Prayer, like talking to anyone, is about developing a closer relationship. Time talking to God is never wasted.
If you would like to buy a longer booklet exploring this question, please go to https://www.cpo.org.uk/explore-project