“Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” Isaiah 58:8-9a (NASB)
The people of Israel were complaining that God did not recognize their religious actions. God responds to them that their fasting was half-hearted and done with the wrong motivation. Insincere fasting resulted in contention, fighting, and pretense. Fasting consisted of more than just an outward ritual and a mock penitence, it involved repentance over sin resulting in humility. Turning from sin, and caring for those in need was required for God to acknowledge their obedience in fasts. In contrast with the complaint of v. 3, a time will come when the Lord will be completely responsive to the prayers of His people. This will be done when they are converted and giving evidence of the transformation in the kind of works that reflect a truly repentant heart This verse is an interesting way to describe what happens when we pray. Seek God with the right heart and God will pour out His blessings. God has a way of letting us know that He is listening when we pray. When we are praying in earnest we’ll be aware that God’s is there and listening because He has promised to be there.
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest.” – Psalm 22:1-2 (NASB)
Can anyone read these verses – especially the first verse – without remembering these words were uttered by Jesus on the Cross. We are also pretty sure that most of us at some time in our lives, and maybe even right now, have experienced emotions similar to what David was feeling here. We have anguish that overwhelms; we cry out to God but no answer comes immediately. But of course we don’t claim to know what Jesus went through and felt when God poured out his wrath on his Son who carried all our sins with him to the cross. Even David writing these words while guided by the Holy Spirit, was not feeling what Christ felt. But he was feeling separation and deserted. Further in this psalm, we learn that David did have his head on straight. He knew God had not deserted him or turned His back on David. The last words “I have no rest” are better translated “there is no silence for me.” And for us when God seem absent or not taking up our cry, we too can’t let up continuing to worship God with what we know is true. That is what David does.
“Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24 (ESV)
Each of us carries burdens that drive us to seek help and answers from God. So we talk to Him in our prayers⸺both spoken and thoughts which we address to our Lord God. How then, do we perceive that God hears our prayers? We know He does because the Bible tells us that the effective prayer offered with clear conscience and relationship with God will be answered and bring about much in the way of answers. Sometimes we may talk about heaven being so far away. However, it is within speaking distance to those who belong there. The greater context of this verse is about a time yet to be. But we see a promise in this verse even for us today. We are promised that God knows our prayers before we speak them and he both hears and answers them according to His will⸺as we learn elsewhere in the Scriptures. Whatever we ask, according to God’s will, we receive to the glory of God. So it is in this promise today. God answers before we even call and hears before we even voice our requests. Yet, we continue to pray according to the will of God.