We often wonder whether God hears our prayers. Even when we acknowledge that God deals with each petition we send His way, we experience doubt because we don’t understand how He has handled our plea. Yet instead of asking “Is God hearing me?” we should be asking God to help us grow closer to Him and gain a better understanding of His ways. We should echo the words of the psalmist, “You have dealt well with your servant, O Yahweh, according to your word. Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe your commands” (Psa 119:65–66).
We often misunderstand the concepts of discernment and knowledge. Discernment allows us to know God’s will and perceive the decisions He would have us make. Knowledge helps us to understand God Himself, primarily His character. Both of these concepts are grounded in our relationship with God and others, both empower us to work for Him—and we are called to cultivate both qualities in our lives.
Unless we know God, we’re incapable of successfully doing His work. We must be willing to talk to God honestly about our relationships, as the psalmist does in Psalm 119:69–72. The psalmist acknowledges that he needs God’s help in all matters of his relationship with God and all matters of his relationship with others. He understands that he cannot even begin to know God without the power of God helping him.
We must be empowered for action, both in the intimacy of prayer and in the reality of relationships. And we must support what we believe with our works, as the letter of James call us to do: “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (Jas 2:14–26).
Reflecting regularly on how God has worked with us and is working in us allows us to recognize that everything in our lives has a purpose. God often works in others through us, and that great calling requires us to have knowledge of Him and discernment about His workings in our world.
How are you discerning the great work of God in your life? How are you enhancing your knowledge of God?
John D. Barry