Prayer is a rich subject and one we should pay more attention to. Part I of this subject will focus on what heaven is up to when we pray. When we understand what’s going on up there when we communicate with God, hopefully, it will encourage us to pray even more. I’m optimistic that it will motivate us to pray without ceasing and pray steadfastly (1 Thes. 5:17; Col. 4:2). Lord willing, in March, we’ll deal with Part II, which will center on some practical things we can do to enhance our prayer lives.
Why is prayer so vital in the life of a Christian? Because it’s our main lifeline to God. When we pray, we dial God’s hotline and tell Him our deepest desires and feelings. If prayer is such a vital resource, why do some of us struggle so mightily to pray consistently? And I’m not talking about praying over our food!
On a podcast I recently listened to, one of the hosts suggested that one of the reasons we struggle to pray to God consistently is because it’s hard for us to be vulnerable and lay everything out to God who doesn’t talk back to us. It’s easy for us to talk to others because we have an instant feedback loop, but it’s not the same when we speak to God. Heaven may be silent when we pray, but that doesn’t mean heaven isn’t active. Let’s consider a few things heaven is up to when we pray.
God Listens to Us
Have you ever stopped to think how special we are to have our Almighty Father listen to us when we pray? With everything He has going on in the universe, He takes time to listen to us whenever we call out to Him. And He’s not listening haphazardly; He’s listening attentively. Consider what David exclaimed in Psalm 86:
(Psa. 86:1, ESV) Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
“Incline” means to stretch out, bend, or bow. Have you ever told someone to lean closer to you so that you can tell them something without anyone else hearing you? You probably do it all of the time. I sure am guilty!
That person leans towards you with interest or “inclines their ear” so they can hear what you have to say. Now, with over eight billion people in this world, God takes the time to incline His ear and listen to what we have to say. It’s personal with Him. Does that not make you feel special?
The same idea is expressed in other Psalms, as well. Check out Psalm 31:2; 71:2; 88:2; 116:2 for further study. We customarily bow down before God when we pray (Eph. 3:14), but, at the same time, He’s bowing to us, ready to hear whatever we have to say. Not only is He inclining or leaning toward us, He’s also listening to our every word.
Why is God listening to us so attentively? Because He cares for us! (Rom. 8:15–17; Gal. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:7). He cares about our well-being and our issues—from the smallest to the most significant things. As His chosen people, He cares for you and me; that should make us want to fall on our knees and tell Him what’s on our hearts even more so than we’re doing now!
Jesus Defends Us
We have the best advocate money can’t buy, and His name is Jesus. As brother Dan Winkler once wrote, “Jesus is at God’s side, but He’s on our side!”(1) As our advocate and mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), Jesus knows what it feels like to be tempted even though He never sinned (Heb. 4:15).
He knows what it feels like to be hurt. He knows what it feels like to be mocked and ridiculed; because He knows what it feels like to go through these things, He is speaking to God on our behalf when we approach the throne of grace (Heb. 9:24).
When we pray to God, we should be confident that Jesus is right there pleading our case along with us. This should motivate us to approach God with what’s on our hearts. He not only listens, but He has our Advocate right there beside Him defending our cause (1 John 2:1).
This is one of the many benefits of being baptized in the blood of Jesus. We can’t reap the benefits of this kind of relationship in any other religion. So, here we have another reason why prayer is powerful and the work of heaven while we pray is remarkable!
The Holy Spirit Thinks With Us
Romans 8 could be called “the Holy Spirit” chapter in the Bible because it details the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christians, especially concerning prayer (Rom. 8:26–27). Sometimes, we can get so weak and can be in so much pain that we can’t muster the words to pray. They aren’t understandable to those around us, let alone ourselves. But you know Who does understand? The Holy Spirit. Just like Jesus is on our side pleading our case, the Holy Spirit is, too, as He intercedes for us in prayer.
The word ‘help’ in Romans 8:26 is translated as sunantilambanomai (soon-an-tee-lam-ban'-om-ahee) in Greek. It has the word picture of someone assisting us with our burdens. The same word is used in Luke 10:40 when Martha begged Jesus to have Mary help her in serving. The Holy Spirit aids us in our burdens when we approach the throne of grace. Is that not encouraging?
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit thinks right alongside us when we pray. He’s peering into our minds to understand what we seek to get off our chest. God, who searches the heart, reads the mind of the Spirit to see what’s on our minds (1 Chron. 28:9).
So, even though our prayers can sometimes amount to groanings, heaven is communicating about what’s on our hearts! This shows us that our prayers don’t always have to be elegant. We don’t always have to go to God with the “thees” and the “thous.” When it’s too hard to communicate to the Father, rest assured that the Holy Spirit knows exactly what we’re trying to say.
What is heaven up to when we pray? Like someone who presses their ear up against a wall to hear the conversation better, God is listening to us. Like a lawyer pleading their client’s case in the courtroom, Jesus is defending us. And like a telepath who searches the mind, the Holy Spirit thinks with us.
If you think your prayers are not being heard, think again. Heaven may seem silent when we pray, but the One who dwells there is busy working it out for us. That should give us the courage and the strength to speak to Him even more.
If you’d like a good resource on prayer in addition to the best resource, the Bible, I encourage you to purchase a book by Dan Winkler called Something Happened When I Prayed. It’s available on Amazon for $9.99. You won’t be sorry if you add it to your bookshelf. May God bless you as you begin 2024 on a path to a better prayer life!
Winkler, Dan. Something Happened When I Prayed: God Hears. God Is Near. d&d Publishing, 2020.