Prayer is quite common! Many people, whether they would count themselves believers or not, would admit to calling out to 'someone up there' in times of need, whether or not they know anything about God.
What makes the prayer of believers different is that we are not just talking to anyone, but we are calling out to a specific person - a heavenly Father as revealed by Jesus. This makes a difference. A prayer offered to ‘someone or something vaguely out there somewhere’ has no assurance of being picked up - the one offering such prayers cannot even be sure whether there is anyone out there. Yet we can be absolutely certain that our prayers will be heard by ears that are inclined towards us and from a heart that has proved its love for us.
It’s not that God does not listen to the prayers of those outside the body of faith, but we have an assurance that our prayers are taking place within the context of relationship; the relationship that we have with him and he with us.
When you next pray, rather than simply making your request, pause for a moment to consider the relationship in which this prayer is taking place. The Father loves you with an everlasting love, he fashioned you in the womb, has adopted you as his very own child and gave Jesus for you.
Such is his love for you that of course his ears are attentive to your prayers.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission