God Hears and Responds to Our Prayers

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Last week where we considered Habakkuk’s dialogue with God (1:2-4), whereby, he asks questions that many of us ask of God: How long? Why?

Prayer is a dialogue, not a monologue

Like Habakkuk, we may often feel like our prayers to God are a monologue, one-sided, lost in silence. In v.5 God answered Habakkuk in a way he wasn’t expecting, telling him to be prepared and utterly amazed at what he was going to do. We need to prepare to be astonished at what God will do.

God’s answer to Habakkuk’s lament is that he will use a violent foreign nation to bring about change and enact judgement on His own people (vv. 6-7). The idea of God choosing to discipline his people in found elsewhere in scripture, e.g. Proverbs 3:11, Hebrews 12:6, Revelation 3:19.

It may be difficult to justify or explain how God works in our lives to bring about change, but we can say with confidence that He loves us and, because He loves us, He disciplines us.

Habakkuk’s second complaint (1:12-2:1)

My God, my Holy One … My Rock

Habakkuk is totally mystified and confused because he doesn’t receive the answer he was expecting, but he clearly affirms the character of God. His questioning is grounded in his personal relationship with God and his worship of God.

Questioning God is not a faithless reaction, but rather a radically faithful response by those who know Him and love Him.

There was no sense of irreverence or impertinence on Habakkuk’s behalf. Here was a faithful believer simply asking the ‘How’ and ‘Why’ questions from ‘a position of relationship’ and ‘a posture of worship.’

Asking questions of God is typically human and comes naturally to us. Habakkuk’s example here is the vital perspective that we must embrace as we do this.

"Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?"

Habakkuk 1:13

In vv.13-17 we see Habakkuk’s struggle to understand how such a loving and holy God can contemplate allowing such horrendous things to happen to his own people: it simply doesn’t add up. How was this the answer to his prayer? (Cf. Jeremiah 12:1, Job 21:7-9).

God said that His response was going to be utterly amazing and difficult to understand (v.5). Perhaps, like Habakkuk, we need to be content to be shocked, surprised and in a state of disbelief at the way in which God chooses to answer our prayers.

"I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint."

Habakkuk 2:1

At the end of his second complaint, Habakkuk anticipates an answer from God and so repositions himself to await God’s reply. Next week we will consider the importance and discipline of waiting on God to answer our prayers. In the meantime, as you pray, lament and question God:

  • be prepared to wonder and you will be amazed at what God is doing
  • always assume the posture of worship, and celebrate and affirm the character of God
  • be prepared to wait, or you will probably lose out
  • Why might it sometimes feel like our prayer life is a monologue rather than a dialogue?
  • Can you identify recent answers to prayer that were shocking and unbelievable?
  • How do you think you would have reacted to God saying He was going to use a violent nation to discipline His people? Why should we not resent the Lord’s discipline?
  • Take time to reflect/meditate on each of the divine title Habakkuk uses when praying to God. How do you address God in prayer? Why is it important to maintain balance when lamenting?
  • Do you, like Habakkuk, ever feel a tension between God’s character and God’s ways? How do you respond when people question God’s character?
  • Why is waiting good?
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