Taken and adapted from, “The Return of Prayers.”
Written by Thomas Goodwin, Puritan
Edited for thought and sense
…or that he cannot hear; or his hand shortened, that he cannot save; or his heart straitened, and he is restrained, that he will not. And thus you rob him, and despoil him of one of his most royal titles, whereby he styles himself “a God that hears prayers,” Psalm 65:2; who is so regardful of them that, in the passage of 1 Kings,8:59, they are said to be “nigh the Lord day and night;” they are all before him, and he sets them in his view as we do letters of friends, which we place in some conspicuous place, that we may remember to answer them, or lay them out of sight, that we may be sure not to forget them.
So the petitions of God’s people pass not out of his sight till he sends an answer, which is called ” speaking” as in the text; God speaking as well in his works as in his word. But you, by your neglect herein, make an idol god of him, such as were the vanities of the heathen; as if he had “ears and heard not, eyes and saw not” your need. Such a god as Elijah mocked, ” You must speak aloud (says he), he may be in a journey.” Even such a god do you make the God of heaven and earth to be, while you put no more confidence in him, or make no more consideration of your prayers to him, than the heathen did of their sacrifices to their gods.
Petitioners do not only put up their request, but they are used to waiting at great men’s doors, and inquiring, and listening as to what answer is to be given unto them, and it is part of an honour to a great men that we do so: and for the same end are we also to wait on God, as an acknowledgment of his greatness, and our distance from him, and dependence upon him; “As the eyes of the servants look to the hand of their masters, so do we (says David) on thee, till thou hast mercy on us,” Psalm 123:2.
And Psalm 130, after he had prayed, verse 2, he saith he “waited more than they that watch for the morning;” like those that, having some great business to do on the morrow, long for the daylight, and look often out to spy the day, so he for a glimmering and dawning of an answer. The same we have Psalm 5: 3, “In the morning will I direct my prayer to thee, and look,” that is, I will look for an answer.