When I first began my faith journey on December 4th, 1983, my prayer life can be best described as babbling out loud to God. Whenever anyone lives for themselves for the first 14 years of their lives, it takes time to learn how to live according to a new set of rules. Subsequently, praying to an invisible God felt like I was talking to myself. It wasn’t until college as I matured spiritually when I believed and sensed that God heard my cries for help.
When the water in the bottle was all gone, Hagar caused the youth to lie down under one of the shrubs. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about a bowshot, for she said, Let me not see the death of the lad. And as she sat down opposite him, [d]he lifted up his voice and wept and she raised her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the youth, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the youth where he is, Genesis 21:15-17.
Unfortunately, human nature and concepts like rugged individualism leads many people to trust in their own abilities. God is usually placed on the back burner until desperation results in calling out to the Lord as a last resort. This is the context of the passage above as Hagar comes to the conclusion that her baby boy is going to die. Homeless, dehydrated and left to fend for themselves in the middle of a desert, Hagar weeps in prayer.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. 18 The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent, Psalm 34:16-18.
Hagar’s answered prayer reminds me of God’s promise in the passage above. As for the righteous part from the Psalmist, Isaiah 1:15-20 uses snow in connection with confession. Those who fully repent of their mistakes to God are forgiven like the righteous. Therefore, whenever anyone pours out their heart in prayer like Hagar, can be assured that God does hear your voice.
by Jay Mankus