Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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When He Doesn’t Seem to Hear

Season:  Crying Out   Buy

Dannah Gresh: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth often says, “Anything that makes us need God more is a blessing!” But that statement has some implications. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: So, Lord, . . . I’m not sure I want to say this, but what I need to say is, “Lord, don’t let me have a day—a single day—where I’m not conscious of my need for You!” Because the more conscious we are of our need for Him, the more we will cry out to Him!

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, for October 7, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy: Desperate times call for desperate prayers! That’s a line we’re parking on throughout this month, and I think there’s no question that we’re in desperate times. I don’t see anybody looking quizzical when I say that. Even people who don’t know Jesus realize we are in desperate times.

But what the children of God are realizing is that desperate times call for desperate prayers! And that’s what we’re encouraging women around the world to do, during the month of October in particular, but not just for the month of October. We’re going to need these prayers in November and December and not just in 2020. We’re going to need this in January and February, and 2021 and 2022. Until Jesus comes, we’re going to be in desperate times that need desperate prayers! 

But we’re particularly focusing on this theme during the month of October here at Revive Our Hearts. We’re encouraging you to participate with us in a 31-Day Cry Out! Prayer Challenge. If you sign up at ReviveOurHearts.com, we’re sending an email to your inbox every day this month. It will have a little devotional you can read with a theme for that day and then some prayer prompts.

So all around the world, we’ll be praying on the same themes in one accord, crying out to the Lord in these different areas of concern. I hope you’ll join us in crying out to the Lord during these days! Now, let me invite you to turn in your Bible if you would to the book of 2 Samuel, chapter 22.

In the Old Testament David was a man who knew how to cry out to the Lord. You see a lot of his crying out captured for us in the psalms. In some of the historical books, we see the context for some of David’s prayers and his crying out the Lord. I just want to focus on one of those descriptions here at the outset of this session, in 2 Samuel chapter 22.

Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song [your prayers can become a song!], on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. (v. 1)

So David, for years, though he had been anointed and appointed to be God’s chosen king for Israel, there was Saul who stood in the way. He was an egomaniac. He was crazed, and he was determined to get David out of the way. So he became a spear thrower, Saul did, and aimed his spears at David. 

But time and time again, God allowed David to be rescued and to escape. Because when God appoints you for a job, nobody’s going to take you out until that job is done. And so David, of course, had human fears, but again and again he cried out to the Lord. And this was a particular time when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, from that hand of Saul.

Now David is the king, and he put together a song. David was, as you know, a songwriter, a psalm writer. He played his harp; he sang to the Lord, and he composed this song. He talks about crying out.

Verse 7 [NKJV], he says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God.” Now let me just say, when you cry out to the Lord, don’t forget to come back and thank Him when He has answered! 

Because we cry out to Him in desperation, and then the Lord delivers us and rescues us, and then somehow we just go about our business and forget, “Oh, Lord. You did something amazing here!” So David doesn’t forget. He composes a song to commemorate, to remember what God had done. He remembers, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God.”

As you think about your life, are you facing any distress? I mean, really, who isn’t, in some way or another? Our distresses may look different. A woman shared with me yesterday about how her extroverted husband has been battling with depression—deep depression—in recent months, without really any explainable, understandable reason and how that’s been impacting their family and his work. She’s been in distress! 

I have precious friends (as I’m sure do you) who are battling with long-term, chronic, excruciating physical pain and illness with no end or cure in sight. They’re in distress! There’s no light at the end of the tunnel for them.

Maybe it’s parents that you feel you can never please. Maybe it’s a colleague in the workplace who is a constant irritation! You say, “Well, that doesn’t seem as big a distress as other things.” If you’re in the middle of it, it feels distressful! Right?

Maybe it’s a husband who’s addicted to pornograpy or who has not been faithful, and you know it. You’re in distress because he has not acknowledged it, and he has not repented of his sin. Maybe it’s your own sin. Sin you feel, “I just keep doing it again and again and again, and I just can’t get victory over it!” That’s a distress.

David says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God.” In your distress, are you calling to the Lord and crying out to Him? 

Not only do we have personal distresses, but our world is in distress. I live here in the United States of America; we’re in a crazy election season. We’ve been, as has the rest of the world, in this pandemic. There are so many issues in our streets, in our cities, in our places of government. But whatever country you live in, there are distresses there, too. 

I’ve heard about distresses from our sisters in South Africa and in different parts of Europe and in different parts of Latin America. Our world is in distress, and this is a time to cry out to the Lord. Now, I want to ask you to think for a moment about why we don’t cry out to the Lord.

In fact, if we could just get this mic here to pass around (we have just a small handful of us in the room), I’d love to hear from you. Why don’t we cry out to the Lord more, more often, more quickly? With just the women in this room, is there something that comes to your mind about why we don’t cry out to the Lord?

Woman 1: The ugly word of “pride.” 

Nancy: So why does pride keep us from crying out to the Lord?

Woman 1: Because I think I can do it myself.

Nancy: Okay, self-reliance, self-sufficiency: “We can fix this! We just vote in the right people.” Or we just do this, or we do that. Pride isa big reason we don’t cry out. Any other reasons?

Woman 2: An unworthiness for the answer that we’re hoping for, maybe in our own downfalling, in the way we see ourselves, not feeling worthy of that answer.

Nancy: And the fact is, we aren’t worthy, right? But Christ makes us worthy. But we feel, “Why should God hear me? Why should He do anything for me?” Well, only because He is good and gracious. But, yes, we feel unworthy to even ask! 

Woman 3: Wondering if He really cares to hear what I’m going through. Does He really care?

Nancy: With all the jillions, gazillions of problems in the world, why would God care about my problem, my distress? Does He really care? Now, theologically we know He does, but kind of on an emotional level we wonder, Does this really warrant going to the King of the Universe, to ask Him to help with my distress?

Woman 4: Not really wanting to let go of what it is that you’re distressed about because you want to see a certain outcome. You’re afraid that, “If I give this to God, I’m not going to be able to open my hand and say to Him, ‘It’s okay, You can have the outcome to whatever it is that You want.’”

Nancy: That’s a big thing when we’re praying for kids, right? For family members that we love? “What if I really give this distress over to the Lord, and He doesn’t answer it in the way that I’m hoping He will?” 

Calling out to the Lord requires that we come to Him with open hands, with open hearts saying, “Lord, not my will but Yours be done!” 

So that takes surrender, and we may not be there. So many reasons, these and others . . . Maybe we’re not sure that He’s really willing to help us. Maybe we’re not even sure, in the deepest parts of our hearts that He’s able to change anything, because these circumstances seem impossible!

Maybe we don’t want to look foolish. What if we cry out and we cry out together with others and then nothing happens? Are we going to be embarrassed? Are we going to look foolish because we prayed and God didn’t come through?

When we are in trouble, and when we cry out to Him, the Scripture tells us again and again and again that He hears and He answers. So look back at 2 Samuel chapter 22, verse 7: 

In my distress I called upon the Lord; I cried to my God, and He heard my voice from His temple; my cry came into [entered] His ears.

When we cry, He hears! And not only does He hear, but He also delivers! He rescues; He saves. Look at verse 17 of 2 Samuel 22: “He sent from above. . .” I love that! God is in heaven; He sent from heaven. 

He took me; He drew me out of [many] waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy. (vv. 17–18)

God did the impossible!

Trouble led to crying out. Distress led to calling upon the Lord, and David says when he called out to the Lord, when he cried out to the Lord, God heard him and God rescued him. God delivered him. Psalm 34, verse 17, David says it in this way: 

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.

Well, we’ve got to ask a question when we read a verse like that: “All their troubles? God delivers them out of all their troubles? Why do I still have these distresses and these troubles that I’ve been praying about for, ‘yea verily these many years?’” What about times when it seems that God doesn’t hear or that He doesn’t deliver us out of trouble?

We’ve got to ask those questions. Now, some of this is mystery, and I can’t explain the mysteries of God to you. This is where there’s a lot of faith involved, that what God says is true, even if it doesn’t seem true. But Scripture does give us a few reasons why God may not respond to our cries.

Here’s one, Proverbs 21, verse 13: 

If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered (paraphrased). 

If we ignore the cries of others who are in need, why should we think that God is going to do something about our cries? God cares about how we care about the cries of others.

Here’s another one; this is a tough one, Malachi chapter 2, verses 13–14. (I didn’t write it, but I’m going to read it.) 

You flood the altar of the Lord with tears, weeping and wailing because he no longer pays attention to your offering nor [accepts them with pleasure] from your hand. (ISV)

You ask, “For what reason?” Why isn’t God hearing? Why isn’t God responding? Why isn’t God doing something? God says in this case, it is, 

Because the Lord acts as a witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you [have broken faith with] her, your partner, the wife of your [marriage] covenant (v. 14 ISV). 

God says, “You made a vow.” He’s saying to husbands and Israel there, “You broke your vows, your covenants with your wives. So why should the covenant-keeping God hear your cry when you’re in distress?”

Now, we could spend a whole series on unpacking that topic. I’m not going to do that here, but I will say that in a culture where divorce is so normative, so mainstreamed—including in our churches—we need to think about this as being a factor (among others) as to why God may not hear and answer our cries. If we don’t take His covenant seriously, then can we expect Him to take seriously our cries?

Here’s another one: Hosea chapter 7, verse 14, says, 

They will not cry to me from their heart—instead, they wail on their beds.They gather together [for grain and new wine], turning away from me (ISV). 

Now this is the Old Testament prophet speaking to the people of God in a season of apostasy. The people have walked away from God, but they’re still going through the religious motions. They’re crying out to God, but God says, “You’re not crying out with your hearts! What you’re doing is wailing upon your beds.” 

You can see this when you’re counseling with people sometimes. They’re very distressed; they’re very upset; they’re very concerned, but you realize, “This isn’t really a cry of repentance, or at least it doesn’t sound that way.” It sounds more like they’re wailing upon their bed. They’re distressed about their circumstances, but not willing for their hearts to change. 

“They gather together for grain and new wine,” but they’re more interested in relief and in the benefits God can provide than they are in being sanctified and God being glorified. “They gather together for grain and new wine . . .” “They want My gifts, but they turn away from Me, they don’t want the Giver!” Whew! Those are hard words, aren’t they?

So there could be reasons spelled out in Scripture—those and others—why God may not respond to our cry. But here’s something else we need to understand, and that is that God does not always deliver us on our timetable or in the way that we had hoped.

Of course, there are times when God answers and delivers immediately. We come back to our prayer group and we say, “I prayed last week, and here’s what God did! Praise the Lord with me!” Thank God for those moments!

But don’t you find that there are more occasions when you pray and you cry out, and it doesn’t seem like God is doing anything, at least in the immediate time frame? I think one of the reasons for that is that God wants us to keep crying out. If we were to pray just one time and all of a sudden our prodigal kids are returned, our marriages are restored, our countries have people come to repentance and nations turn to God as they did when Jonah preached in the book of Jonah. That was a miraculous turning of a whole nation and culture and people-group to the Lord! We’d love to see that. 

But I think in our day, and in many days, that perhaps God is just wanting us to keep crying out for as long as it takes—to be persistent and persevering in prayer when it’s hard, when it takes more faith, when it looks like He’s not doing anything!

Exodus chapter 2:24 tells us about how the children of Israel cried out to the Lord from Egypt, in their slavery, and it says that God heard them. We know that because we’re reading Exodus chapter 2. But they didn’t have the book of Exodus; they didn’t have chapter 2. They didn’t know the end of the story; they didn’t know how God was going to redeem them.

For all they could tell, God wasn’t listening. They saw zero evidence that God had heard or that He was doing anything about their desperate plight. God didn’t deliver them immediately; that doesn’t mean He didn’t hear. But they couldn’t tell that He’d heard.

In fact, the pressure got worse before it got better. Before they were delivered from slavery, they ended up in worse bondage! Then they got delivered from slavery—praise God, they’re out of Egypt, their cries have been heard, their prayers have been answered!—and then God takes them into the wilderness for what ended up being forty years. They get more pressure all through that time. You know why? Because they needed to keep crying out to the Lord every day of their lives! 

The first day that I have that has no pressures or problems in it is probably going to be a day that I don’t cry out to the Lord.

So, “Lord,” I’m not sure I want to say this, but what I need to say is, “Lord, don’t let me have a day—a single day—where I’m not conscious of my need for You.” Because the more conscious we are of our need for Him, the more we will cry out to Him!

Luke chapter 18:2–7, remember the story Jesus told about the desperate widow who went before this unjust judge, who couldn’t have cared less about her need? But she didn’t go just once, she went again and again and again and again, until finally this judge says, “Though I do not fear God and I don’t care about this woman, I’m going to do what she asks me to do . . .” Here is where I like the King James Version, “. . .lest she weary me by her continual coming.” 

And then Jesus said . . . “Shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him, though he bears long with them?” (v. 7).

Long time to pray . . .Ddon’t give up! That widow didn’t give up; she kept going, kept going, kept going. Jesus said, “Your Father in Heaven is not like that unjust judge. He longs to answer. He’s able to answer. He is hearing, but He wants you to keep coming and keep crying out to Him day and night for however long it takes.

Habakkuk chapter 1, verse 2, the prophet cried out, “O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear?” 

Was God hearing? Yes. Could Habakkuk tell that God was hearing? No. So he cries out, 

O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, "Violence!" And You will not save.

God had heard. In fact, God had already set in motion the answer to Habakkuk’s prayers, but not the way Habakkuk expected, not the way Habakkuk was looking for. Habakkuk had to come to the place where he was willing and ready for God to answer his prayers in God’s time and in God’s way.

Let me tell you who really understands this, and that’s our Savior. Jesus cried out in Gethsemane, He cried out on the cross, and in both cases—from a human standpoint—it would have appeared that God had not heard his cry. It appeared that God did not save Him, even as He cried out.

But God did hear, and God did save His Son—just not in the way, just not in the time that we would have written the script. So Matthew 27, verse 46, says, 

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice [from the cross], saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" 

For in that moment, God actually did turn His face against His Son, not just His back toward His Son, but His face against His Son. God poured out all the wrath we deserve for our sin on His own sinless Son of God.

Of course, you know that that prayer is Jesus actually praying Old Testament Scripture. We find it in Psalm 22, and as we come to the close of this session, let me invite you to turn in your Bible to Psalm 22. I want you to see more of this prayer that Jesus was referring to. Psalm 22, verses 1–2:

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? [This is a Messianic psalm, prophetic of Christ the Messiah.] Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent. 

He’s saying, “You told us to cry day and night? I’ve cried day and night, and You’re silent, You don’t hear!” Do you ever feel that those words could be your words? Of course you have.

Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed. (v. 4) 

What’s the psalmist saying? “You did it for others, but you haven’t done it for me, for my cry.” 

Verses 19–21, he doesn’t give up,

 But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me! Deliver Me . . . save Me! 

The psalmist never stopped praying, never stopped crying out. And Jesus by referencing this prayer was saying He would not stop praying, even when it seemed that God was not hearing, that God was not answering. “Help me, deliver me, save me!”

And then you come to the end of verse 21. Finally! After long days, nights, hours of crying out, “You have answered Me.” And this is where we have a hint at the resurrection, that Jesus did not stay dead.

It looked like He was not saved, His life was taken, His life was not spared. God “did not spare his own Son but [freely] gave him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32 ESV). But He didn’t stay dead! God raised Him from the dead! And the Messianic psalm says, “You have answered Me.” It’s not in the way I would have asked or scripted it, but You have answered!

And look at Psalm 22, verse 22: 

I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You. . . . For he [God] has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has he hidden his face from him. But when He [Jesus] cried out to Him [the Father], He heard (vv. 22, 24).

The Father heard His Son when He cried; even though the Son died, it was not the end of the story. And when you cry to your Father in heaven, He hears, and the day will come when you will praise Him in the midst of His people.

Hebrews 5:7 says it this way, 

Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear. 

He cried to the One who was able to save Him from death. He did die, but it says He was heard. This is a mystery! I don’t understand how you can pray for something, cry out for something and just the opposite happens but then you come back and you say, “God did hear my cries!”

Charles Spurgeon wrote these words in a wonderful devotional book of his called Chequebook of the Bank of Faith. It’s a book of daily promises from God. Spurgeon says, 

Why do I not call on His name? Why do I run to this neighbor and that, when God is so near and will hear my faintest call? Why do I sit down and devise schemes and invent plans? Why not at once roll myself and my burden upon the Lord? My case is urgent, and I do not see how I am to be delivered! But this is no business of mine. 

“It’s not my problem,” he’s saying, This is God’s problem.

He who makes the promise will find out ways and means of keeping it. It is mine to obey His commands; it is not mine to direct His counsel. I will call upon Him and He will deliver me! 

That’s what the psalmist said in Psalm 50, verse 15: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

God is able. He’s willing. He’s available to help. He’s waiting for us to cry out to Him. 

Let me close this short series by reminding us of one prayer, one cry, that God always hears and will never turn away. You read about it in the Old Testament in the book of Joel chapter 2 and then again in the New Testament, Romans chapter 10, verse 13, “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 

Listen, there’s no point in being delivered from temporal distresses, problems, troubles, and circumstances, but neglecting to call upon the Lord to save you from the ultimate eternal distress of His wrath and His judgment against sin.

You can get things fixed down here on earth: get your marriage back, get your kid back, get your job back, get your whatever you want back. You may be able to get those things, but if you could get the whole world and get to eternity and lose your soul because you never cried out to the Lord to save you, you would be, of all people, most miserable and to be pitied. 

So the Scripture says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Have you ever called upon the Lord to save you . . . eternal salvation? Today you can do that.

Acknowledge your need, that you are a sinner, that you deserve God’s wrath, His judgment. But you know Christ died on the cross and bore that wrath and judgment of God, drank the full cup to the last drop of God’s wrath for you. It was your sin and mine that put Him there! And today the invitation to you is, “Call upon the name of the Lord, and you will be saved!”

Dannah: I hope you know that that invitation is for you! God loves you so much. My heart’s desire is that you would know that today and that you would call out to Him. Nancy will be back in just a moment to lead us in prayer. 

But first I want to invite you to cry out with Nancy and myself and women all around the world as we seek to pray desperate prayers in this desperate year! It’s all a part of the Cry Out! prayer challenge that we’re offering at Revive Our Hearts this month.

You can learn more about how you can pray with us through to October 31. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com. You can sign up for the prayer challenge and get more information there, which means that we’ll get to send you an email to encourage you every single day and to guide you in your prayers . . . or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Have you ever thought of your home as an embassy of the King of the Universe? I guess that would make you an ambassador. Tomorrow Barbara Rainey joins Nancy in the studio to talk about it. I hope you can join us for that. But now, here’s Nancy to lead us in crying out to the Lord.

Nancy: Oh Lord, I pray that even in this moment, there would be women—perhaps men—young, old, religious, not religious, churched, non-churched, here in the United States and in other parts of the world who would call out to You and would be saved! You’ve promised that when we cry out to You, You hear and You deliver. And the greatest deliverance You could have possibly given to any of us is the deliverance from our sin and from Your judgment! 

And, Lord, thank You for the promises we’ve meditated on over these last few days, that when we cry to the Lord, You hear, You answer, You deliver us, You rescue us! Then, we will give You glory! 

So, Lord, as women we’re joining our hearts, our hands around the globe during these days, crying out to You, saying, “Lord, we need You!” We need you for our own lives and distresses and troubles, but we need You because our families are in distress and in trouble. We need You because our churches are in distress and trouble! We need You here in the United States, Lord. This country is in such horrific distress and trouble on every hand! It’s true not only in this country that I love, but in other nations of the world as well, for we have forsaken You and Your law.

So we cry out, O Lord, and we say, “Have mercy upon this nation and the nations that we represent in our crying out. Have mercy upon this world! Deliver, O God, rescue us from pride and sin and self-sufficiency and anger and hatred and bigotry and selfishness and arrogance and greed . . . and all the things that keep us from experiencing Your presence and Your goodness in our lands!” 

We cry out to You, O Lord! We cry out, and we’re not going to stop! We’re going to keep praying. We’re going to keep crying out day and night with our voices, trusting You, believing You, for Your promises are true! 

We cry out together: “Lord, come and have mercy! Come and deliver and rescue Your people and glorify Yourself, that the world may know that You are God and may believe because we have cried out and they have seen You at work. And this we pray, not for our own sakes, not for our own happiness, not for our own well-being, but for Your glory and for Yours alone! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Calling you to cry out. Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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