September 6, 1989
“VOYAGER is so distant that by the time its radio signal reaches Earth it will be reduced to the strength of only one 10-quadrillionth of a watt. That is 20 billion times weaker than the power used to operate a digital wristwatch.” (Edmonton Journal, August 13, 1989)
Not only has man created a satellite capable of going across our solar system and sending out signals, but also we have receivers here on earth able to detect those unimaginably weak signals and translate them into photographs and other information. This is even more marvelous when the pollution of our airwaves is considered. Shortwave radio, radar, television, AM, FM, telephone, electricity, lightning, sound waves, crowd the atmosphere. What hope for a tiny whisper from outer space? Yet we have “ears” that hear it.
The creative capacity of the human species amazes even us, and so it should. Yet whatever power we have to create is but a reflection of the far greater power of the One in whose image we have been created.
For instance, suppose for a minute what the “ears” of God must be like. With a human population of several billion, and conditions of need in every corner of the world, the prayers that go up to Him must number in the millions every moment of every day. Some will be shouted. Some will be whispered. Some will be from groups praying the same requests together. Some will come from alone and lonely souls. Some will be given in anger. Some pleading. Some will be exceptional in their articulation, others expressed by a simple thought.
Sad to say, in spite of the amazing power of God revealed in what He created, many people think, “Prayer is a wasted effort, God doesn’t hear.”
Some gods don’t hear. Psalm 115 describes idols invented by the hands of men, “...they have ears, but they hear not...” Amazingly, those who fashion idols will talk to them in full confidence that they are heard, yet refuse to bring their needs, fears, concerns, and hopes to the One who created the materials that make up those dumb objects.
The Psalm writer, David, knew that the God he worshipped was not deaf. He said, “Blessed be the LORD, because He hath heard the voice of my supplications... The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalm 28:6 and 34:15)
Notice that he said God hears the cry of the “righteous.” Because of their faith in God and in His promise to send a Savior, God’s people Israel of the Old Testament were called righteous, even though they did not always act like it. It is not surprising that God warned them He wouldn’t listen to their prayers if they disobeyed Him. However, He promised this to those who walked with Him, “... before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” (Psalm 66:18 and Isaiah 65:24)
The promise that God would hear His people is repeated in the New Testament. This time it is given to those who trust in Christ, the Savior God sent. (1 Peter 3:12) But along with it are the same warnings: disobedience blocks answers. It is not that God cannot hear but He will not respond with a YES when we willfully ignore His commands.
Self-centered requests are not heard either. James 4:3, for example, says we have not, because we ask with wrong motives.
Prayer is the marvelous privilege of the child of God. Through prayer we not only see requests become reality, but we also learn His will, discover the difference between mere wants and true needs, become purified in our motives for asking, and deepen our capacity to stand in trials.
Keeping our life clean and our sin confessed, gives us the great privilege of communication with the Creator of the very universe into which we are sending spacecraft. We have His promise that He hears every word, even every thought, sent up from those whose hearts and lives are righteous before Him. So the signals we send, regardless of their frequency, modulation, pitch, or even their strength, get through. And His answers make keeping those communication lines open worth the effort.