By God’s grace I have had the opportunity to do missionary work in Liberia, West Africa. During my time there I had the privilege of visiting a lot of orphanages, some on a weekly basis.
I saw hundreds of orphan children. Babies, toddlers, children, teenagers. Some well fed, some not so well fed. Some with beds to sleep in and roofs over their heads, some without. Some of these orphans were in the city, some were way out in the African bush. Some were healthy and loved to play, some were crippled and lame.
I remember one boy named Francis. He was probably around fourteen, but he didn’t know his true birth date because his parents died when he was young and no one was there to share the details of his early life, a common problem amongst orphan children. Francis was a free spirit and did not like the rules and expectations of an orphanage, so he lived in a shipping container in the port, wheeling and dealing with the sailors to provide food for himself. Just from talking to all the sailors from different countries he had learned multiple languages: English, Russian, Ukrainian, French . . . Francis could speak them all. He was a genius.
I remember visiting the HIV/Aids hospice and visiting the orphans there. Some were just a shell of a human being, nothing but skin and bones. I remember one baby girl there, her name was “Princess.” She couldn’t have been more than five or six months old. She had the AIDS virus and was blind. As she sat on my lap, she felt my arm and hand with her fingernail, becoming acquainted with me the only way she could.
I saw many, many different types of orphans doing many different things during my time in Africa. But there is one thing I can’t remember seeing any orphan do. In all my time there I saw them playing, laughing, fighting, silent, sick, speaking multiple languages, blind with AIDS – but what I never saw was crying.
I can’t remember not one orphan crying. Every normal kid cries for something or other, and you’d think kids with these types of lives would cry the most. But the sad truth is that orphans don’t cry because they learn from an early age no one is listening. No matter how long or hard they cry, no one comes.
The people who ran the orphanages were extremely loving people from what I saw, but the ratio was around 100 kids to every 2 adults. Even if they wanted to help a crying child there simply was not enough hands to go around. And so you could go into a room full of infant orphans and it would be dead silent because those orphans knew they were alone and no one was coming. It was truly heartbreaking.
Our spiritual life should look nothing like this. You’re not alone in this world. God has not abandoned you. Thus, unlike an orphan with no one to listen, we should cry out to God day and night because he is listening day and night. We should pray to our Father always because he is always there fathering us. We should never give up and lose heart because God is always seeking to strengthen and love us, to lead and guide us.
You will never worship and pray to God always if you do not believe his presence is always with you, if you doubt in the nearness and greatness of his love.
Do you know there is not one verse in the Bible about God not hearing the prayers of his children? He may tell us to wait, or he may say a gentle no, but he never just ignores us. There’s no example of even the smallest prayer accidentally just slipping by him. Matthew 7:8 says, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.”
This is the very reason Jesus came to earth to begin with. God knew that in our sin, we could not come to him as he desired (Psalm 66:18, Romans 5:8). He sought to show his great love by coming in the flesh, dying on the cross, and being raised from the dead so that if we believe in him and follow him, we shall have everlasting life with him (John 14:2, John 17:3).
John 1:14, 18 (NLT) states, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. . . . No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” Jesus is “near to the Father’s heart” and came to bring us near too.
Jesus came to earth to draw the lost to himself by showing them in a personal, intimate way how much he cares for them. Jeremiah 31:3 says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
If you don’t believe God is listening, if you doubt that he will come to help you, like an orphan you won’t cry out to him. The more you believe that your Father is good and loves you, the more your heart will seek after him.
Our prayer life is a reflection of what we believe about God’s heart towards us.