A few weeks ago I needed to go grocery shopping. When I parked my car I followed an individual into the store who was talking on their cell phone. As we entered the store they must have lost coverage because they kept repeating: “Hello, can you hear me? Hello. Hello. Can you hear me?” This mantra continued as the individual grabbed a cart and began walking down an aisle. It persisted as they turned the corner to the next aisle.
I have no idea if they ever reconnected with the person on the other end of the call, but I did wonder why they just didn’t go back outside or find a quiet corner of the store to continue their call.
As I thought about this, it occurred to me that more often than I care to admit this experience is often a good reflection of my prayer. I spend a lot of time and use a lot of words talking to God, but when I don’t get an immediate response, I sometimes wonder if my prayer “got through.”
At these times, I have to remind myself that prayer is not about me talking to God, and expecting God to answer immediately and on my terms. Rather prayer is about being open to the will and work of God. It is about me bringing my prayers and petitions to God, but then being open to how God might respond to them.
In talking about prayer I deliberately use the word “respond” as opposed to “answer” because I have discovered that while God doesn’t always answer my prayers in terms of doing what I want, there is always a response of some kind. I only need to be open to the manner, form, and timing that response takes. God is there and God is responding; it is just that for whatever reason, I’m not open to, or able to discern God’s response.
I truly believe that not only does God hear our prayers, but also that God responds to our prayers. This leads me to wonder/suspect that in reality it is probably God who is saying to me: “Hello, can you hear me? Hello. Hello. Can you hear me?”