I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
God hears and answers prayer. I know this because scripture reveals it time and time again, and over my own lifetime I find it confirmed. However, knowing, believing, and feeling that prayer is effective and important are all very different things.
I KNOW God answers prayer because scripture both teaches it as fact and illustrates it through historical narratives of real life stories of God interacting with actual people. I also know it from seeing answered prayer in my own life, and in the lives of the community of the church in which I live and serve.
I BELIEVE God answers prayer as a matter of faith and good theology. I trust the scriptures, and my past (like this psalm encourages me to do) to inform my faith. And I do have to believe to pray well because God is unseen and His sovereign choice means that He answers prayer in His time, and as He desires, and not always as we want, even as prayers are always answered as He wills.
What I FEEL about prayer is the least important part of my theology, yet is the most common of my experiences and my deepest struggle. It is humbling to pray, and sinful feelings of pride may keep me from it. Feeling angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed at a situation that is out of my control can lead me to sin in unbelief, in selfish or demanding prayer that is not really prayer, and in praylessness. So feelings don't matter as much. I must prayer and not faint. That requires discipline and is one reason why the Holy Spirit must also intercede for my less than faithful prayers. I must not be unbelieving, but must pray.