November 28, 2023
When You Wonder if God Hears Your Prayers
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"She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,' for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'" Genesis 16:13 (NIV)
Clinging to my pocket-sized cross, I whispered a simple yet desperate prayer: Please, God. Those were the only words that would come in the middle of a season of endless trials. My trust was being tested, and I wondered if God was even there.
Prayer can sometimes feel like throwing a wish to the wind, can't it? Maybe you've gone to God and He hasn't answered your deepest needs. Or perhaps you can't sense His presence. You doubt whether He has even been listening. Whatever it is, we can all wonder at times, God, are You there? Do my prayers even matter?
That was the story of Hagar in Genesis 16. She ran to the desert, ready to die, and God came to her rescue. When it felt like no one saw her, God did.
Hagar is not typically mentioned as one of the heroes of the faith. Hagar's fame comes from being the woman whom Sarah, Abraham's wife, gave to Abraham in hopes that Hagar would produce a child for their family. God had promised to give Abraham a son, but they didn’t trust Him to provide. Sarah took matters into her own hands. When the news broke that Hagar was pregnant, Sarah’s jealousy was too much for the two of them to remain in the same camp. And so Hagar fled (Genesis 16:1-6).
There is an interesting detail at the end of Genesis 16. After being mistreated and fleeing, Hagar found herself alone in a desperate place - especially dangerous for an expecting mom. But God saw her there and did not leave her unattended, unnoticed or overlooked. How did Hagar respond?
Genesis 16:13 says, "She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,' for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'"
This is the first time someone gave God a name in the Bible. The name Hagar used for God in this verse is El Roi in Hebrew. It means "The God Who Sees Me." While Hagar felt alone, the eyes of the Lord were upon her.
Hagar gives us an essential truth about our own visibility under the gaze of a loving God. This truth from Hagar is vital for guarding our hearts against the loneliness and fear we are tempted to feel when we wonder if God really hears our prayers. In our deepest, darkest moments, when it seems God is absent and unaware, He is there. Listening. Loving. Seeing. And always providing exactly what we need.
Friend, not only do the eyes of God see all things, but His eyes are on you. As Hagar teaches us, our God is the God who sees. El Roi sees you, and when you pray to Him, you are praying to the One who loves you and listens to you. He wants you to come to Him.
God, thank You for loving me and seeing me right where I am, just like You saw Hagar. Help me to come to You confidently, knowing that You see every detail of my life and that it all matters to You. I can rest in Your loving care for me and trust You for today and tomorrow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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When coming to the end of a day feels like coming to the end of ourselves, we often struggle to find the words to pray - or even know where to start. We just know we need God. Knowing well this weariness, beloved author Ruth Schwenk comes alongside you, offering encouragement and simple prayers of peace and hope with her brand-new prayer journal, Jesus, Calm My Heart: 365 Prayers to Give You Peace at the Close of Every Day.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Do you struggle to accept that God sees you and hears you? Why or why not? How does knowing Hagar's story encourage you in your story today?
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