‘In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” Psalm 18.6
This verse is very re-assuring – but also might be a little confusing! The reassuring bit is, ‘he heard my voice’. What a comfort to know that every prayer you have ever prayed has been heard; not one went into God’s ‘junk mail’ box, and on no occasion was he too busy listening to someone else. He has heard your voice.
However, the confusion that might arise for you is this: if God has heard your voice, then why does he not do more in response to your prayers? Why is it that so often your prayers seem to go unanswered? It has been said that God answers every prayer, but sometimes with ‘yes’, sometimes ‘no’ and sometimes with ‘wait’. Perhaps there is a fourth possible answer, which is ‘look around’. Often our prayers open the door for God to act in ways that we had not foreseen or imagined, and sometimes it is us who are changed by our own prayers.
Prayer is a real gift from God. It is not currency for a divine slot machine where we always get exactly what we want, but it is an invitation for the living God to touch our lives in whatever way he knows is best.