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God Isn't Listening
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God’s not feeling me. I pray, but nothing happens.

Pastor Steve Answers:

Actually, God is listening and answering your prayers and your friends' prayers. But we usually think of God listening or answering only when we seem to be getting the results we want.

Perhaps what you need to do is change what you're saying in your prayers. For example, instead of asking God for merely good grades, ask Him to teach you what you need to know. Rather than asking God for a special someone to like you, ask God to help you care about somebody you can't stand right now.

I can't explain why so many things happen the way they do. But I can tell you that I've found that the Psalms are a great resource for me when it seems like God is listening, and when it seems like He isn't doing anything about my situation.

I've underlined certain parts in the Psalms so I can find them quickly, whether I want to shout to God for joy or to cry out to Him in anger or frustration. The Psalms can become your prayers too. Check out these passages from the New Living Translation. Circle the ones you'll want to pray when it seems like God is listening. Underline the ones you'll want to pray when it seems like He isn't listening.

"Unless the Lord had helped me, I would soon have died. I cried out, 'I'm slipping!' and your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer" (Psalm 94:17-19).

"I cry out to God without holding back. Oh, that God would listen to me!" (Psalm 77:1).

"Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer and did not withdraw his unfailing love from me" (Psalm 66:20).

"In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and rescued me. The Lord is for me, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" (Psalm 118:5, 6).

"Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again show me favor? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be kind? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?" (Psalm 77:7-9).

"Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by any evil" (Psalm 119:133).

"Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us see your miracles again; let our children see your glory at work" (Psalm 90:15, 16).

"The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you' " (Psalm 32:8).

"Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you" (Psalm 37:5)

"Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again my Savior and my God!" (Psalm 43:5).

I can't give you a quick-fix answer as to why it seems that God answers some prayers but ignores others. However, I have found it helpful to use the Psalms as my prayers rather than getting bitter and cutting myself off from God.

It sounds like you're very close to actually praying by wrestling with God. That's a completely different world compared to reciting a wish list to Him. Welcome to deeper levels of intimacy with God! Welcome to an experience of listening to God instead of merely talking to Him.

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By Steve Case. Reprinted with permission from Insight Magazine Online. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION © 1996.

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