The Lord Who Hears.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. -1 John 5:14-15
If there is anything I have learned over the years, it’s that the Lord truly does hear our prayers- every last one, even those we may think silly or insignificant. I know this well because I’ve been reminded of it time and again as I look back on a childhood wrought with pain and see glimpses of His presence. There is one particular prayer that stands out above the rest, one I sent up in anguish during the hardest and darkest night of my childhood.
My mother was an alcoholic. I’ve been told as a toddler I knew the difference between Bud and Miller Light. I could grab her choice from the fridge at her request. I also knew how much she had to drink by how glazed her eyes were and her smell, Exclamation perfume mixed with the scent of sweat and alcohol When she passed out I practiced pretending I was elsewhere. I’d read long novels about princesses and far away things, imagining myself anywhere but my current circumstances. Sometimes I’d even squeeze my eyes shut and pray to a God I wasn’t sure could hear me. I wanted so much to believe He did.
Around fifth grade, Mom took up cocaine. She began selling her body for drugs. She stopped coming home at night. She completely gave up, it seemed. One week we couldn’t find her, it was as though she vanished without a trace. She arrived back home late one night, days later, muddy and scratched with dried blood on her arm and legs. I was already in bed but could hear her stumble in, my stepfather had been waiting each night for her, falling asleep on the couch and waking early. He heard her fumbling with the keys and yanked open the door, pulling her inside. They fought, their screams must’ve been heard for miles. I put the pillow over my head and sobbed while praying to a God I didn’t yet know,
God, if you are up there make it stop. Please. I can’t do this anymore, I’m tired of this. I don’t want to be scared anymore. Please God give me a happy family, help me to sleep without worrying about her, and God if it’s possible- can I have a window seat someday? I’d really like one of those.
A childlike prayer, yet one no child should have to pray.
The next few years were devastating. There aren’t enough words to describe the downward spiral my mother took but suffice it to say, she succumbed to her addictions and took others’ lives in the process. In one quick instant, on a late summer evening, five people died in an alcohol-related car accident caused by her destructive choices. Two of those lives were my young sisters, one was my mother. As a result, I stopped talking to God. I didn’t believe He had heard my desperate pleas to “make things right” or “heal her.” I grew bitter, feeling abandoned by the Lord who had comforted me for so long. Why became a constant question. Why them? Why this way? Why my sisters and not me? In all of my begging, pleading, questioning, it seemed He remained silent...so I stopped asking. I gave Him the silent treatment. Slowly, I pulled away.
The next few years I drifted into depression, loneliness, and isolation. Though I was now living with my dad and stepmother, stable and Godly parents, I still couldn’t bring myself to talk to God. I didn’t trust that He heard me. I didn’t believe He cared.
My junior year of high school, Dad lost his job and found another in a different part of the country. We moved abruptly in the middle of the school year, away from all I had known. As I walked in the front door of our new home, I felt the full weight of the years behind me. I leaned against the entry wall and slid down, my world crumbling. I began to sob. I felt utterly abandoned by everything and everyone, especially God.
Until Dad called to me from across the house.
“Abbie, come see the room we picked for you.”
I stood up, wiped my tears, and moved toward his voice. I wandered down the hall, turning toward the bedrooms. A door was open, I walked in. Dad was standing there, smiling.
“What do you think?” He gestured, sweeping his arm around.
It was then I noticed what he couldn’t have known, not my earthly father anyway.
There, taking up nearly an entire wall, was a window seat.
My very own window seat. The long-ago prayer request heard only by God. Not only had He heard it, He answered each request that dark night. I now had a “happy family,” I could “sleep without fear or worry,” and that final request- one that may have appeared trivial but not to God.
Not only did He hear, but He never stopped listening. He didn’t “go silent” all those years, I simply refused to pay attention. I stopped talking to Him. He was patiently waiting for my return.
The moment my eyes rested on that window seat, I knew what I’d use it for. That seat became my place of prayer. It was where I met with God. I sat there many nights after, sharing everything with Him because I knew He was listening to all of it.
And He does. He hears you. Every word of every prayer you have ever uttered.
Don’t be dismayed if He doesn’t answer immediately or in the way you think He should. Be still and know He is God, His plans are not ours- they are far better and for our good. Trust Him. Be encouraged that He knows the desires of your heart and He longs to hear you speak them- from the mountains that seem unmoveable to the pebbles that appear insignificant.
They matter to Him, just as they matter to you.
He is waiting patiently, ready to listen.
All you need to do is speak.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. -James 4:8