Most major religions involve prayer in one way or another. However, sometimes it can seem that no one is listening and you are simply talking to a blank wall. You may wonder, does God really answer prayers?
I remember one day when I was 15 years old. I was having a very bad day. Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong at school, and nothing improved when I came home. I felt unnoticed, unappreciated and unloved.
I went into my bedroom and shut the door. Alone, I offered a simple prayer: "Do you love me?"
Immediately, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of love so strong it felt almost like a physical hug. It made me cry. In that moment, I knew that no matter what, God loved me and always would.
I can say unequivocally that God does answer prayers, but sometimes we need to learn how to recognize his answers.
It is important to understand what kind of answers God will give.
This is the best answer, the answer we were hoping for. It may come when we ask about important life decisions such as changing jobs or moving to a new city. It means that God approves of the path that we have chosen and will guide and support us in our endeavors.
God's wisdom is not our wisdom. Something that may seem like a good idea to us might not be the best for us. It's important to have faith that God loves us and will never lead us astray. When he says no, it is because he has something better in store.
I'll let you decide
God will not make all our decisions for us. Sometimes, we are asking about two equally acceptable options. For example, you might be trying to decide which college to attend. God may guide you to one or the other, or he might simply allow you to choose which one you think would be the best fit for you.
It is also important to learn to recognize God's answers to your prayers.
Sometimes, God will bring thoughts into your mind that will guide you to your answer. For example, if you are considering a new job, he might make you aware of a benefit that you hadn't previously considered. Alternatively, he might show you a negative that you had overlooked.
Positive feelings of peace, calm, joy and certainty are a good indicator that the answer to your prayer is "Yes." Negative feelings like fear, confusion, frustration and uncertainty may indicate that the answer is "No."
For example, when my husband first met me, he knew with certainty that he was going to marry me. He feels like that was an answer to prayer. Since I have been blessed in our marriage, I tend to agree with him.
Many times God answers our prayers through the actions of others. Maybe you have been laid off and are looking for a job. Then, a friend casually mentions that he heard about a shop in town that was hiring. Perhaps you've felt lonely and needed a friend, and then someone calls you out of the blue.
A friend of mine was moving to a new home. On moving day, all the people who had offered to help were unable to make it. Although my husband was at work, he made a few phone calls and got a couple of people to pitch in at the last minute. My friend later told me that she had prayed that they would be able to find help, and she was grateful God answered her prayer through my husband.
Have you ever had a thought come to your mind that you should drop by and visit someone or give them a call? You might be that person who can answer the prayers of others.
I think that sometimes God sends little messages to let us know he is aware of us and that he cares. It might be a certain song that comes on the radio at a particular time, or an inspirational quote or scripture that we stumble upon just when we need it most.
I remember when I was a young mother. I had four children age 6 and younger. It seemed like there was always at least one child who was having a bad day. If my toddler was cheerful, then my baby was cranky. If my baby was calm, then my kindergartner had a rough time at school. I distinctly remember thinking, "Will my kids ever have a good day at the same time?"
It wasn't officially a prayer, but the very next day, a miracle happened. They all had a great day. My baby was calm, my toddler was cheerful, my older toddler was happy, and my kindergartner had a great day at school. From morning to night, my whole family had a very good day. It didn't happen again for years.
I felt like this was God's way of encouraging me, letting me know he knew how hard I was trying to be a good mom. I've remembered that day when I have been faced with other discouraging parenting moments.
Answers to prayers may seem like simple coincidences. But as you learn to recognize answers to your prayers, you will begin to see God's hand in your life.
I'd love to hear from you. What are some of the answers that you've received to prayer?