“Is God really listening? I’m going through such a tough time right now that I even started praying again for the first time in years. Why doesn’t God answer me?”
Well, honestly, I think the problem might not be God, but it might be us.
Sometimes we are like the teenager who ignores their parents, grunts when spoken to, “forgets” to do chores when asked, and then all of the sudden comes in all nice and polite asking for the car keys and $20 to go to a movie.
Sometimes we are like the person who learned to speak French in school, but hasn’t uttered a word of it or listened to it being spoken in years. Then suddenly they take a trip to Quebec and can’t seem to understand what anyone is saying. Eventually, the language will probably all come back to them, but that doesn’t help much when they’re lost in downtown Quebec City. They need to ask and understand directions in French right now.
When we ask why God isn’t answering our prayers, it is quite possible that God IS answering, but it has been so long since we listened to the voice of God, that we don’t recognize it when we hear it. We have forgotten the language of the divine.
Last month, I wrote about how being a part of a church community builds relationships with others before you get to a crisis stage in your life. Then when the hard times of loss and grief inevitably hit, you have a group of people that you know have your back, because you have been there for them through their tough times. Our relationship with God also requires similar care and nurturing.
Of course, you don’t need to go to church to work on your relationship with God. You can do that on your own. But being around other people where the language of God is spoken and spiritual practices are supported and shared, can really help. At church, we do that for each other.
God loves us and will hear our prayers and pleas, even if we have been ignoring God for years. We are still God’s children, after all. Just don’t be surprised if the car keys and the $20 for the movie are waiting at the bottom of a can underneath the bag of garbage we were asked to take out ages ago!
Robin Murray is the pastor of Castlegar United Church