Does God REALLY Answer My Questions?

By way of commenting on yesterday’s I Don’t Let Go; I Don’t Let God, a reader named Claudia wrote in to ask:

What I really want to know is: If you do ask Him something, does He answer? I’m not talking big-special-effects-budget, voice-from-the-sky type of answer. Someone once described it as ‘a still small voice’ (and yes, I do know that comes out of the Bible). Really? Is God really there, and does He really answer, even if only in your own heart/mind? The possibility is astounding to me.”

First, Claudia, thanks for your respectful capital H’s. It’s easy enough for non-Christians to deride Christians (as in this typically obnoxious comment from yesterday), so … way to be nice!

Secondly: Yes! Be astounded! Because without the slightest equivocation I can say that God does indeed answer any and every question I ever ask of him. And His answers are always extremely clear—it’s never a waffling, open-to-interpretation sort of deal; it’s always a very firm, very clear directive. Half the time, it’s an answer I hadn’t even considered before that then seems so obvious it’s practically embarrassing.

One weird/great thing is that God’s answers to my questions always come immediately, too. I’m forever going, “Dear God. I’ve got this problem. You see, I—oh! Cool! Thanks!”

I once wrote a bit more deeply about how God answers questions via my post  When God Makes 2 + 2 = 5.

I don’t know if it’s true for you, but I know that for a lot of non-Christians, “God answers my questions,” sounds just like, “I’m a delusional dink.” All I can ever say to that is … whatever. Turning to God for critical input works like (literally) nothing in this world. In that very important sense God is as real as the computer I’m using and the chair I’m sitting on. The fact that God so invariably, clearly, and immediately answers my most difficult questions is, in fact, one of the great and enduring ways that he regularly lets me know just how very, very real he is.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://facebook.com/missmgmnt Shannon

    I can say without hesitation that God does answer my questions. It's not always the answer I want… and even last year I threw a prayer-hissy-fit and accused him of ignoring my prayers… then wouldn't you know it, as the year goes on I get a job in an industry I've been trying to get back into (with perfect hours), I was able to get funding to pay off old school loans so I could start on my Masters, my boyfriend and I got back together after a year separation, and I bought a house… yeah, kinda shut me up pretty good right there! ;-)

  • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

    It sounds kind of weird, but in the silence—God's wisdom abounds.

    I'm reminded of the many times my kids ask me "why?" and I just stand there looking at them lovingly…knowing full well that they know the answer. They say, "What?". They wag their heads. They sigh, they scoff, they slam their door.

    In the end, they almost always know the answer and they act accordingly. Not so different between me and God.

  • http://happycatholic.blogspot.com Julie D.

    Actually, all the times that I threw out there the question, "Are you there?" when I was an atheist/agnostic, I never got back an answer, even the frivolous, smartass kind that Christian Beyer gives above (although he gets extra points for making me laugh so hard).

    It was only when I finally accepted the possibility that God might truly exist and stopped fighting that something ever came back (and it was not from the ether or my subconscious or intuition … nothing I could think up myself would ever stun or surprise me the way that those answers did).

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    Hmmm, and here I was thinking John may have been writing sarcastically. You see, I hear God just about as well as Mother Teresa does. Her memoirs lament the face that God was silent for decades in her life, and she often felt commited to her path but very doubtful of God's presence.

    And there you go — the one thing Mother Teresa and I have in common!

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    Sorry about the typo above; I meant "lament the FACT". Although "lament the face" does have a ring to it.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    @Redlefty: As the great Christopher Hitchens has pointed out so thoroughly, Mother Teresa was a fraud. John Shore is not.

  • newposter

    I had the same reaction as Redlefty. It was the "you see, I -Oh cool! Thanks!" line that did it for me.

    In all seriousness, (1) I'm dubious that anyone is particularly good at discerning their own crazy ideas from God's crazy ideas. I'm sure not. (2) Why are some Christians so quick to assume that everything good (or for that matter, bad) that happens to them is God speaking? If we agree on nothing else, I think we agree that sin is in the world, which means stuff happens all the time that isn't God.

    Dean Smith wrote in his book that if his sons were playing each other in tennis and one of them asked him to help them win, he'd probably laugh, and imagined that God had the same reaction. There are things in the world that aren't a zero-sum game, but a lot of it is.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Brian: That was kind of you. Thank you. And you raise such an interesting point. As I wrote the piece I was trying to recall in what way, if ever, I used to access the divine (as we'll put it) when I had a question, and no time at all came to mind when I'd done such a thing. But are you saying that sometimes, when life really has you stuck, you physically isolate, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, settle in, and see … what happens? If any answers come to you? That's so interesting (if you do/have)! Could you share an example of how such a thing has ever worked in your life?

    Red: You're a Christian, yes? And are you really saying that if you're at an important crossroad in your life—or are deeply stressed about something in your life that you feel helpless to change—and pray to God for his input/wisdom/guidance/direction, you get back NOTHING? That's … extraordinary. Is that right?

    You know what's true for me? Quite often I've prayed for direction from God, gotten back nothing, and as a result understood that what I thought was a big decision isn't one of any true importance at all. Sometimes that's how I KNOW that whatever I've been pondering is inconsequential. It's been a long time since I experienced that—after awhile you just kind of know the stuff God give a **** about one way or the other—but once, for instance, I prayed about whether or not I should accept a particular job offer. I got back no answer at all, and so then realized that God could care less what job I take, as long as it isn't doing anything immoral. So I find no answer at all to be as helpful and true an answer as any I ever get. To me, that silence rings.

    But I assume, Red, that you're not talking about questions you bring to God that you know DO matter, and DO need an answer. You say you ask for clarity and insight about things and situations where you really DO need them, about things that you know really DO matter, and you rarely get back anything at all?

  • Kara

    I've begged God for answers before and gotten back nothing. It was ridiculously frustrating.

    It was only a good long while after the fact that I realized that "nothing" had actually been "something," and that it had been exactly what I'd needed, and that I'd ended up exactly where God had wanted me.

  • http://happycatholic.blogspot.com Julie D.

    I have to agree. Before I was Christian I just could not comprehend how anyone really knew that God was answering them. However, there is something perhaps about having Him speak directly to you that sharpens focus? Not sure how to describe it but it is real.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    I was baptized at age 11 and have been a Christian for the 22 years since, and once served as a deacon for a few years. I've preached to small and large churches on a few occasions, and have taught countless bible classes and group lessons.

    And no, I can't recall a single time I felt like I heard God, either in answer to a question/prayer or just in an epiphanous flash in my brain. Prayer itself has always felt empty and futile to me, at least the models of prayer I've known in the churches I've attended.

    While I consider myself "Christian' and do "pray", what I mean by those words is probably very different from most people. Through it all I do believe that God exists and is in me (in all things, actually), but I have no powerful experience to illustrate that. Heck, I don't even have a mundane personal story to illustrate it.

  • http://www.whitenoisemetal.com Brian Shields

    John: It works pretty much the way you put it. I know you don't think highly about your neighbors at Self-Realization Fellowship, but I do use some of the techniques I learned there. I think the difference between what I do and what some of the other commenters have suggested is that I'm not looking for some sort of external communication. I'm simply opening myself up to whatever energy may come, remain agnostic about the nature of that, and then listening. Hey, it works for me.

  • Christine

    There was a time before I was a Christian when I thought that people were insane for saying that God speaks to them. Then I had someone say to me “Why not ask him to speak to you and see what happens?” So, feeling foolish I did. And He did. I challenged, He answered and I was left thinking “Now what do I do?” For me the simple answer was to follow the God that saw fit to talk to me in a very direct way. Claudia, you wanna know if He speaks, why not ask Him?

  • http://gothiquefae.wordpress.com gothiquefae

    Amen!

    G.

  • http://reedducks.wordpress.com Christian Beyer

    I remember the first time I asked God a question: it was in my classroom and for all I could tell it was just me and Him. I really didn’t think he would respond but I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly he answered.

    Unfortunately, his answer was wrong. But I did give him extra credit for participation.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    I don’t think you have to believe in (a) God to benefit from this phenomenon. If you humbly open yourself up to whatever you want to call it, God, your own intuition, the collective unconscious, your subconscious, the astralplane, whatever, you will often come up with answers that were unavailable by only applying your conscious mind. What I call “agnostic prayer” works much the same way.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Red: That’s so completely interesting. Thanks for sharing that.

    Brian: I’ve made an obnoxious joke or two (I think it’s actually two exactly) at the expense of the SRF group, but trust (as I’ve also written any number of times) that I have a great deal of respect for them. Yogananda’s book, “The Autobiography of a Yogi” meant a very great deal to me, from when I was about 12 to … gosh, I’d say 20. I read it all the time, and it greatly informed by understanding of God—and does to this day. I’m extremely grateful for the philosophy upon which the SRF is founded.

    And it’s such an interesting point, isn’t it—the question of how a Christian KNOWS that he’s heard God, as opposed to the sort of more general, Universal Wisdom you feel you access.

    Believe me, when I talk about hearing/talking to God, I know it sounds … well, pretentious and crazy, to name just two on that side of the fence. But what can I do? Like you, all I have is the solid truth of my experience, same as anyone.

    What great comments we’ve had here. (Plus newposter’s.)

  • Diana

    “Yes! Be astounded! Because without the slightest equivocation I can say that God does indeed answer any and every question I ever ask of him. And His answers are always extremely clear—it’s never a waffling, open-to-interpretation sort of deal; it’s always a very firm, very clear directive. Half the time, it’s an answer I hadn’t even considered before that then seems so obvious it’s practically embarrassing.

    “One weird/great thing is that God’s answers to my questions always come immediately, too. I’m forever going, ‘Dear God. I’ve got this problem. You see, I—oh! Cool! Thanks!’”

    1) I’ve actually been having the above experience a lot with, of all things, my keys. I’ll be looking frantically for them (I’m seriously not the most organized person in the world), running late, and in desperation will say something like “Lord! Help me! I can’t find my–(smacks forehead as she spots keys)–thanks, Lord!”

    2) When I was younger, I’d occasionally go on some kind of complaining rant toward God over something that was going on in my life about which I was unhappy with God for one reason or another. God would usually let me talk for a while and then when I started going too far, I’d hear (in my head?) a very distinct, parental voice saying “Alright, now that’s enough!” You know the tone. It’s the one that your parents used that made you realize you’d better just shut up and do what you’re told. And it pretty much had that effect on me.

    3) I’ve also had the experience of not getting exactly what I wanted exactly when I wanted it only to find out later that it was in my best interests that I didn’t get my way–leading to one of those sheepish “I’m sorry, Lord” prayers.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    To me the key is to shut off the internal monologue and listen. I'm not at all sure what I'm listening to is a "general Universal wisdom". I suspect it was inside me the whole time but I was too busy talking to myself to listen to it.

    I also think it's generally healthier to be agnostic about the source of the answers I uncover. While God talking to John Shore seems benign to me (or even hilarious in Penguins, Pain…) there are some people who KNOW God is talking to them and telling them to hijack planes and fly them into buildings. It seems to me the world would be a better, safer, and dare I say it, more godly place if fewer people KNEW God was talking to them and more were unsure about the source of the message and the necessity to act upon it.

  • http://happycatholic.blogspot.com Julie D.

    No kidding. I might be prompted to forgive someone one or say the rosary. That's a whole different level than hijacking a plane. Oy.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Oo, oh! (Hey, isn't it weird that there's no way to spell the sound you make when, say, you're raising your hand in class real extremely because you want the teacher to call on you? You know? Where the sound you make then—the "Call on me!" sound—rhymes with "Coo! Coo!", but it's just the part where the O's are? You don't spell it "oh, oh!", and you don't spell it, "ew, ew." It's just … unspellable.)

    But … ew! ough! I'm gonna do a separate post about that Most Excellent Point Brian just made. Like … now.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    Jennifer, your instincts are good here and I think you're close to what is going on. As I mentioned in my previous comment, I believe that God is present throughout the entire universe, so I can never overcome the feeling of silliness when bowing my head, closing my eyes, and talking loftily as if to a distant caretaker. Why do that if he's right here? That conflict is always there when I'm asked to pray publicly.

    My form of prayer is what many people would call introspection, much like Brian mentioned. This doesn't always fit with a Trinitarian worldview where Jesus or the Holy Spirit interecedes for us and takes our requests and needs to God. In my eyes it's all just God, and He's here with me/us.

    Now sure, when I get get quiet and introspective then insights will emerge. But I've never experienced something so completely outside myself that I could attribute it to God. But for me His silence is a part of my faith, and is why I try to be very humble in my walk. I don't KNOW God even exists, let alone cares about my day. But I choose to live as if He does.

    I think the KNOWING thing Brian wrote about is just how some people are wired. In the New Testament Paul KNEW that killing Christians was the right choice of action. Then he had a miraculous vision and some time in the desert and then KNEW that converting people into Christians was the right choice of action, even though it was exactly the opposite of what he knew before.

    People like that get things done, no doubt. There's a place for them in the world, but I think there's a place for people like me too. I'm not really sure I know anything, and doubt I ever will. And I've got no problem with that.

  • Claudia S

    Thank you, everyone, for your clear and honest answers. You have given me a whole lot to think about. Now I’m going to re-read all the comments a few more times, maybe twenty or so, and then I’m going to ponder. Thank you again.

  • http://thom-signsofastruggle.blogspot.com/2010/02/sex-and-church-dont-ask-dont-tell.html Thom Hunter

    I'm coming to this conversation a little late in the game, but the comments were so interesting I couldn;t resist jumping in. I've asked God plenty of things through the years and He's been very patient with my reputation . . . which clearly demonstrates that I probably miss some of the answers and ask Him to please repeat Himself. What I have really discovered is that God "reveals" Himself over a time in response to the questions I ask. He knows when I'm ready to hear. I don't always know that. I do believe God hears and responds to every question. I just think sometimes the questions we ask are so "of the moment" that we don't stay engaged. As for the answers? I know He loves me and so I know He answers. We are the guilty ones when it comes to silence.

  • Jennifer

    Red- I don’t know you at all but perhaps you live your life as a prayer which is why you feel actual prayer is empty. Being mindful in the Lord in all your actions, thoughts, in all your daily living. I have a poetic mind and through my daily life I’m reminded of all God’s wonders. This is also to me more fulfilling then prayer, but it could also just be another form. Like an ongoing mindful blessing which can only be from God.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    I'm actually not that bothered by the silence at all. On the contrary, it would bother me deeply if I thought God was helping me find my keys while the pleas of starving children went unanswered.

  • http://micicart.blogspot.com/ Aleksandra Micić

    John, I know what you are saying. And I know that the feeling you have goes beyond words that you wrote. It is important, from my experience, to be ready to accept the answer. Several years ago there was a spiritual conflict ahead of me with some “people”, I could see them all prepared to throw bricks and stones at me (verbally not literally) and it didn’t happen until I told God that I am ready. Felt somewhat like Jesus crussified but the reward of peace and love in my heart in abundance was there after all the fuss. Whenever I’m confused and don’t not what to do, I get in my mind a little rimider of my hert and my love for His truth inside and I know the answer, and many times the answer is not what I would want, but then it actually is, because I want what He wants for and from me.

  • http://micicart.blogspot.com/ Aleksandra Micić

    wrong spelling… sorry… “reminder of my heart” not “hert”… :)

  • textjunkie

    Actually, I thought John was being sarcastic too when I read his entry. I was raised in the charismatic speaking-in-tongues-and-seeing-visions practice, and I’m *extremely* cynical about people who claim they hear from God or “jesus told me…”. In practice I’ve found it’s more often than not, their way of putting God’s imprimatur on what they wanted to do anyway, but they knew it was going to tick off their spouse/children/friends/financial planner/therapist/etc.

    That said, my experience with God’s intervention where I was convinced of God’s presence and not just my own id going nuts–I think I can count that on the fingers of one hand, after a lifetime of being a Christian–has been usually visual imagery, sometimes something like an echo. So experiences vary. And I certainly know a LOT of Christians and non-Christians who have gotten extremely depressed that they don’t EVER “hear” from God or feel like God gives them any guidance–not only Mother Teresa. :)

    So yeah: Ask God, and practice hearing/understanding/identifying what is God and what is last night’s dinner or your childhood trauma. But don’t expect that God will answer instantly, or think that there is something wrong with you or your relationship with God if your experience doesn’t match John’s or anyone else’s.

  • http://www.marygraceholmes.blogspot.com Angela

    I haven't ever had God audibly answer one of my prayers, but I have had Him answer many of my prayers including one I thought He had not heard. Last year I prayed for "the complete healing" of my baby who had been diagnosed at our anatomy ultrasound with a fatal chromosomal abnormality…I was asking for a miracle. And three weeks later, she died in utero. After reflection, I realized that He had taken her to be with Him in heaven, where she would be "completely healed". Sometimes God answers our prayers in ways that are unexpected.

  • Deebates215

    God does answer questions!! He answered my question, through a dream. Before I went to sleep I asked very specifically for an answer. Be very specific about what your asking for. Here’s the MOST important part. I can’t emphasize this enough! Acknowledge God during your prayers, tell him that you TRUST Him, and BELIEVE it in your heart. I can’t promise that he will answer it that night, but he will give you answers. For me, it wasn’t the answer that I was looking for but he explained a lot to me through my dream. The COOLEST part, was that I asked and He answered!

    If anyone needs help, or want to know more feel free to ask. God Blesses

  • Lisa Kelly

    I truley think God is not hearing me ..I have asked him a question for quite some time now and I just don’t hear an answer or see anything changing to let me see he is talking to me , maybe I am unsignificant to him , I didn’t used to think this way but now the more I am in more emotional and physical pain I can’t understand his purpose for me is to let me suffer my whole existance on this planet ?? why does he feel the need to punish me from birth with people who do not care for me ?? mother ,family , spouse ??? the only unconditional love I get is from my dog and I think he only does it cause he’s hungry…….why does God let some suffer their whole lives while others do nothing but hurt people and break laws and are happy …and don’t tell me that is not God its Saten cause I think that is a cop out …

    • Jill H

      Hi Lisa, while I believe that God hears everything, I won’t claim to have the exact right answers for your very important and very understandable questions. The questions you raise here are questions, I believe, every thoughtful person has asked at one time or another. I know I sure have, and more than once.

      Sometimes I’ve demanded these answers from God in broken-down, abject grief and rage. Sometimes answers have come through other people (angels in human costume!), sometimes I’ve had to patiently wait, sometimes I needed a good night’s rest to start again.

      What I can tell you for sure is that there are people that are listening to you, and that what you’re saying matters. You are not insignificant, even when you feel that you are. I wish that you felt the love in this very moment that you are searching for, and that you’d always know that love never fails. If you cannot feel it tonight, or believe it is inexhaustibly eternal for you, then I will hold that space for you in this moment. If you can’t hear God tonight, hear another person that cares. Be well.

  • bongs

    hi every1

    i have in 2 close occassions asked God questions that He answered immediately.

    I have to say, I was thouroughly amazed at how quick the answers came.

    All I can say is that God does answer prayers.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X