How God Hears Prayer
In Psalm 4:6, David cries out, “Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
Isn’t this a beautiful phrase – ‘the light of your face?’ The very countenance of God is warm and friendly toward us. Perhaps you have known someone like this. Maybe you have a friend like this – perhaps a father figure in your life, or a mother figure. This is a person that you know, and trust, and care for. Most importantly, they care for you, and you have a relationship based on love, joy, and friendship. You may be discouraged and downcast, but when that person walks into the room and looks at you, you see the love, friendship, and care written on their face. You instantly know, ‘It’s going to be alright.’
God is like that to David, and if you are a Christian, you know something about this. When God smiles on you, everything is going to be alright.
Isn’t God’s face always toward us? If we are his children, we always have a relationship with Him. He is always our Father, and He always loves us. That doesn’t mean that He is always pleased with what we do. That doesn’t mean that we can always sense His pleasure. Sometimes we feel as if ‘the light of his face’ is dimmed from us.
What do we do when we don’t sense God’s smile? Some people just give up. They feel like they can’t pray, they can’t go to God, they can’t make a request, and they feel hopeless and helpless. They can’t sense God looking in their direction.
But this is the great difference between God and man, between your earthly and heavenly father, or your physical and your great spiritual friend. When a man is angry with us, or when we don’t sense their pleasure, we fear to ask them for anything. God is not that way. David realizes, far more than ever, his need for God to lift up His face. The fact that he doesn’t sense that smile of God, is exactly the reason why David calls out for it.
Imagine that you want a raise at work, and so you decide that on Monday morning, you are going to go in and ask for it. Well, Monday morning, you put on your best suit, you comb you hair, you get to the office early, you go to the receptionist’s desk and you ask to talk to your boss. She looks up at you and says, ‘He’s having a terrible day already, the budget looks bad, he spilled his coffee all over his suit, and he yelled the last guy out of his office.’ Of course you would be very foolish to still ask for that raise.
But if you recognize your need for God, and yet you feel downcast, discouraged, depressed, hopeless – if you feel like God isn’t there for you, or God isn’t working in your life, or God is just sending bad things in your direction – in short, if you feel like God is against you and won’t answer your prayer – why then, I say, is the best, the most perfect time you could hope for to come into his presence and pray for grace.
This is faith – not to bless God when all is pretty and rosy around you, but to trust that He is a God who hears even when all the circumstances seem discouraging. Do you remember the Syrophoenician woman? She was a gentile ‘dog’ who had no part in the Messiah, but she was so bold as to ask for a heavenly favor twice. The first time she received no response. The second time she was insulted. What did she do? Was she discouraged? Did she rebook her appointment with the Savior, like you would do with your boss if you wanted a raise? No, she rather asks all the more, and it is this – her faith – which is rewarded and blessed, and she goes away with the gift which she desires.