God can hear all of our prayers, all at once. no problem.
Cell phones are everywhere, at least almost everywhere. Billions of calls and messages cross the network hourly, and those voices and messages all go to the exactly correct device. In spite of many thousands of phones connected to any given tower, the system accurately knows where every bit of traffic is supposed to go, and it gets there—instantly.
If human beings can devise a system like this, is it any wonder that the Almighty can handle the many “calls” and “messages” directed to Him? The One who devised our brains, can He not tap into those brains and understand our thoughts? In particular, the prayers we direct to Him? The brain is a very weak transmitter, but it is a transmitter. Cell phones are weak transmitters—yet humans have devised ways that what is transmitted can get to its destination anywhere in the world. Surely the Almighty can do at least as well.
Standing before the Persian emperor, in the middle of a conversation with the monarch, Nehemiah says, “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (Neh 2:4) This is in the interval between the emperor’s question and Nehemiah’s answer, clearly spoken in his heart, not out loud. When Hannah prayed for a son, she “was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard.” (1 Samuel 1:13) Abraham’s servant Eliezer describes praying for a sign to direct him to find a bride for Isaac, and says, “Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out…” (Genesis 24:45)
God heard all these silent prayers. He can hear all of our prayers, all at once. No problem.
Everyone, I think, sometimes feels like their prayers are going nowhere. And if the Lord’s answer to our prayer turns out to be “no” or “not right now”, we are prone to wondering if He hears us.
On the cross, Jesus prayed out loud, quoting the beginning of Psalm 22. I believe that he spoke this trying to direct his hearer’s minds to the psalm, because the psalm was playing out in real time before their eyes. He was still trying to reach them! But the point for right now is that Jesus himself was thinking of the psalm, and the prayers David expressed there are his prayers. The rest of it was in his heart.
Take a look at the psalm and pick out the prayers. Especially note the prayer in verses 20-21a, “Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion!” He’s not asking or expecting to evade dying. With his dying prayer, what he is praying for is to be raised. And the rest of verse 21 and verse 22 are his first words upon being restored to life: “You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” What follows is what he says to his brothers and sisters. Yes, David wrote it, but prophetically—it’s fulfillment is Jesus saying to us:
Before the cross Jesus prayed, “If it be your will, let this cup pass from me.” On the cross he prayed, “Deliver me… Save me…” But he had to drink it, and he wasn’t saved from having to die.
Do we think Jesus concluded his Father didn’t hear his prayers? Of course not. Should we conclude, if we have to go through something terrifying and agonizing, that God isn’t hearing our prayers?
If you’ll permit me to paraphrase, here’s what Jesus is saying to you, coming out of his own agony: “Hey, listen! I’m telling you, you who believe in the Lord, He rescued me! So praise Him, glorify Him, stand in awe of Him. Understand: He doesn’t belittle your pain, He’s not turning away from you. He has heard, when you cried to Him.”
He has heard you.