Many of us have sometimes felt like the little boy who bowed his head to pray and said, “Hello, is anybody up there?” There are times when God seems so distant. Even worse, there are times when He seems downright deaf.
When one of my two boys says, “Daddy, I want to talk you,” that child has my attention. He doesn’t have to beg or audition for it. The mere fact that I am a loving father and want to hear whatever my child might deem worthy to discuss is all it takes. Well, in Matthew 7:7-11, as part of a teaching on prayer, Jesus says this:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his sons asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Okay, so we understand that God will not only do anything that an earthly father will do but also “how much more” than the earthly father. We like the sounds of that, don’t we? And if we stopped right there we’d have a nice little blog post. But we can’t stop right there. Do you know why? It’s because the title of this post isn’t “How Much More.” The title “Is Anybody Up There?”
I know what Jesus said. I also know that I have sometimes felt like I was talking to the ceiling as I tried to pray. I’ve asked and not had it given to me. I’ve sought and not found. I’ve knocked and had the owner behind the door seem out of town. So what do we do with such times? How do we explain them? How do we keep our faith during them?
I think the best approach we can take is to go back to Christ’s comparison of God and an earthly father. I’m sure that each of my two boys sometimes thinks that I am distant, but that’s not because I actually am distant. It’s simply because I don’t treat every conversation that I have with the child as if it’s the singular most important conversation that we will ever have. I’m hearing what the child is saying, but I don’t feel the need to immediately rush to the child’s side and smother him with kisses and assurances. Do you see my point?
Let me explain it another way. Experts in the New Testament’s original Greek tell us that the Greek behind Christ’s words from Matthew 7:7-11 are best translated as “keep on asking,” “keep on seeking,” and “keep on knocking.” The teaching is that God doesn’t always immediately grant the giving, the finding, or the opening. Sometimes He only grants it after you’ve gone to Him with many, many repetitions of the same request. So let’s say that you are in the midst of requesting the same thing for the fifteenth time but you don’t really feel like God is hearing you. That’s like my son Royce hitting me with his fifteenth request to go to McDonalds. If I haven’t taken him for those fries by then, he might feel like he’s talking to the wall. But the reality of the situation will be that I’m just waiting on the best time to take him to McDonalds. I’m hearing the fifteenth request, just like I heard the fourteen that came before it. I know what I’m doing, even if Royce doesn’t understand me.
I can’t say where all this finds you today, but maybe you’ve been praying and praying for a certain thing that God hasn’t granted yet. And maybe you’re wondering today, “Is anybody up there?” Well, God had me write this post for you. Yes, He’s up there. Yes, He’s listening. Yes, He heard all your previous prayers. He’s just waiting on His perfect timing to grant your request. Remember, if an earthly father can eventually get his kid to McDonalds, how much more can a loving, all powerful, heavenly father grant your requests?