Is God Listening?
Sometimes it seems like God is not listening. But communication is a two-way street. Have we checked our end of the connection?
With widespread problems blanketing the world, many wonder: Is God listening? It seems there is no end to the cultural divisions, economic woes, health problems, food crises and wars ravaging our planet.
The truth is, God is aware of the problems going on, whether people pray to Him or not. He knows and sees everything. But today it seems like we could use His assistance more than ever. So where is He? Does He not hear our pleas for help?
“Can you hear me now?”
Cell phones provide an interesting communication analogy. I find it funny to watch people walk to different parts of their house, business or anywhere asking, “Can you hear me now?” They are hoping to get a better connection with the other person. People will go to crazy lengths to be heard, from standing on chairs, to going up to the highest point of a hill or even hanging out of a window.
Do we put in extra effort in trying to be heard by God?
Actually, God has no trouble hearing our words. However, there are reasons that He will not always answer (Isaiah 59:1-2; Psalm 34:15).
An example of communication breakdown
Consider the example of King Jehoiakim in Jeremiah 36.
God saw great problems in Judah, so He told the prophet Jeremiah to write down the impending judgments that were going to come on the nation. God was hoping that by hearing all the adversities that would be coming because of their disobedience to Him, they would have a change of heart.
Jeremiah’s scroll was taken to King Jehoiakim. The king was warming himself near a fire when the scroll was read to him. After hearing some of God’s words, the king took a knife, cut off that part and cast it into the fire.
Now since the scroll with Jeremiah’s prophecies was burned and destroyed by King Jehoiakim, did that mean that judgment was stopped? Since the king did not want anyone else to hear of the impending correction, did it not happen?
No, judgment still came on him and his people. All the things God was saying through Jeremiah came to pass. In fact, God had Jeremiah write them down again and add even more (Jeremiah 36:28, 32). If we don’t want to hear God’s words, it does not mean they will not happen.
Are we listening?
God gives us warnings so we can change and hopefully avoid the calamity ahead. He doesn’t warn us to taunt us, but rather He warns us out of love. He wants the best for us—even if it means correcting us so a more severe consequence will not happen to us later on. God gives us these warnings, hoping that we will see we have strayed from His paths and change our ways.
Stopped their ears
Zechariah also wrote about a breakdown of communication between God and man. “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear” (Zechariah 7:11). Verse 13 shows the results of the people’s unwillingness to hear God: “Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen.”
The more important question is not “Is God listening?” But rather, it is “Are we listening?” We need to listen more, not God. Why should He listen to us when we have rejected Him?
Does this mean He rejects us forever? No, when we choose to turn to Him, He will welcome us with open arms.
Listening and obeying
God would rather have us change ourselves and make the right decisions than bring punishment down on ourselves. However, the only way to change ourselves is to listen to God and accept His help. We cannot do it on our own, though we have tried time and time again. If we could, our world would not be in the chaotic mess that it is in.
We need to come to realize that the problems have come because of our lack of listening to God and then obeying. We cannot just listen and do nothing. God gave us His Word and commandments so we could do what is right.
What God was saying to King Jehoiakim was not pleasant and happy news, but it could have led to repentance and good results. However, the king was unwilling to hear what God had to say.
We have to ask ourselves, are we like that? Do we only want to hear the good things?
Are we going to follow King Jehoiakim’s bad example or are we going to listen? If we are unwilling to listen, then judgment will still come. We cannot stop the consequences of our previous actions by our own doing.
We need to start listening better to our Creator. He has the answers to all the problems out there, and we can find them by praying to Him for guidance and diligently studying His Bible. We must choose to turn to Him and listen to Him.
God is on the other end of the connection saying, “Can you hear Me now?”
See more about strengthening our relationship with God in the sections on “Prayer, Fasting and Meditation” and “Bible Study.”