Read Job 30:20
20 I cry to you and you do not answer me;
I stand, and you merely look at me. (NRSV)
Some of us may get the feeling sometimes that our prayers just vanish into thin air. We wonder if they are heard. And if they are heard, we might go on wondering at the apparent lack of response. Or we might debate within ourselves whether the prayers we utter make any difference to us or to others.
Christian orthodoxy protests at such thoughts. Of course God hears us, of course he responds, even if those responses are sometimes hard to figure out. And of course prayer makes a difference even if we can’t always precisely calculate that difference.
Even so, that doesn’t make our uneasiness vanish altogether. Though it might prevent us from giving up on prayer completely. I might sometimes feel as if my prayers are hitting the ceiling and that no matter what or how I pray it seems to make little difference. Those feelings are not to be buried or denied. They are to be faced as one uncomfortable truth in our mixed-up lives of faith.
But somehow, I cling to the bottom line of faith which is that God is there whether I sense him or not. That he hears and responds whether I discern or approve of his response or not. That my prayers make a difference even if I can’t always measure that difference with precision.
This seems to be the essence of faith: trusting even when trust is hard; believing something to be true even if objective evidence seems lacking. It is, ultimately, what keeps you and me praying. We somehow trust that our prayers don’t just end up in thin air.