There was a movie I watched several years ago called The Island. It wasn’t a particularly good movie, I don’t think, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for your “must watch” list. The premise of the movie was this: there is an island where clones of the rich and powerful are cultured, so that in the event that the original person living in the real world would need an organ transplant, or anything of that nature, there would be an identical donor ready for harvesting. The clones only received up to an elementary school education, because the clones can’t be too smart, otherwise they could revolt; so the only solution was to ensure they stayed ignorant. There was a character in the movie, a technician for the island, who was friends with the main male character, and at some point he mentioned the name ‘God’. The clone he was speaking to, not knowing anything about God, asked him, “who is God?” The technician then replied, “you know when you have a problem and you ask for help?” The clone replied, “yes.” “Well,” the technician said, “he’s the guy who’s not listening.” The truth of the matter is, this is what people think, and it can certainly seem that way sometimes. There is a new movie called Silence, which is about the Jesuit Missionaries who went out to Asia and are ultimately martyred for their faith. The movie, and the book it is based on, receive its name from the fact that it seems that God is silent in our affliction. So, it is understandable, to an extent, that people would assume that God does not hear our prayers, our cries for help and comfort; but here’s the thing: the promise of God’s love is not that there will never be bad times, the promise of God’s love is that He will always be there with us when they come. As Catholics, and as any Christian from the various denominations, we follow the God who suffers. Isaiah speaks about the suffering servant, who we know is Jesus Christ. The picture above depicts the Agony in the Garden, the moment in Scripture when Jesus Christ is praying to God, right before His Passion, that the cup He must drink from pass from Him. Notice, however, that He also prayed, “not my will be done, but Yours.” As you can imagine, Christ would have felt very alone in that moment, especially since his disciples kept falling asleep. Christ was in such emotional turmoil that He actually began to sweat blood, which is an actual medical condition called hematidrosis. Brothers and Sisters, He was in agony. If ever there was anyone who could understand your suffering, it is God Himself. So, does God hear our prayers? The short answer: Yes, He does. God is all-knowing, He already knows the desires and the hurts of our heart long before you utter them to Him in prayer, but He wants us to ask Him in prayer, because it requires us to recognized that we need Him and that we can do nothing on our own. God desires us to pray to Him, not because He needs our prayers, God needs nothing from us, but because he desires a relationship with you. You. God desires a deep and intimate relationship with each and every one of us. It isn’t as though He is pursuing a relationship with billions of people at once, it’s as if He is pursuing specifically you, personally and intimately. Anyone who is, or who ever has been, in a relationship knows that there must be communication. God desires us to pray to Him because we need to recognize our need for Him and because He wants us to come to Him in relationship and burning desire. God is all loving, He wants to give you gifts, He wants to bring you happiness, but He wants you more than anything. So, yes, God hears your prayers, He hears all things. He hears the thoughts of your mind, He hears the secret longings of your heart, He hears your pain and He hears your distress, God hears it all. So, yes, God hears our prayers. Now, a mistake we often make is that we assume that God doesn’t hear our prayers because He doesn’t give us what we want. Think about this, if you wanted to touch a hot stove, would your parents let you do it? Or, if your own child wanted to touch a hot stove, would you let them do it? Odds are you wouldn’t, or they wouldn’t. Why? Well, because you love them and you don’t want them to damage their bodies and experience pain. How about this. If your child wanted to eat an entire cake by him or herself, would you let them do it? Probably not. Why? Well, because cake is unhealthy and it would make your child unhealthy and they would become very sick. You wouldn’t want them to do that to themselves because you love them. How about in the Gospel, when Jesus says, “who among you, when your child asks for bread, would give them a stone? Or, if he asks for a fish, would give him a snake?” As a loving Father, who thought of you and desired you from all eternity, and manifested you in time; who with His own Hands, fashioned your soul from His own Divine Love, would God ever give you anything that would hinder your salvation? Truly, God wants you to be happy, but He also wants what He knows is good for you. He doesn’t want to let you touch that hot stove, or eat that entire cake. He wants to give you bread and not a stone, a fish and not a snake. So, God always hears your prayers, and he always gives an answer, just often times not in the way we expect or immediately desire. But, He will never infringe upon your free will. Now, imagine a grown man or an older child who knows that touching the hot stove will damage his body and cause him pain. He has the understanding of the consequences, and so he will be allowed to do it. But, as friends and family, would we sit idly by and let him do it? No, we would do everything in our power to dissuade him and to prevent him from doing so, but in the end it is his choice to do so. God does the same with us, only He holds Himself back from infringing on our free will, because it’s a precious gift that He has given us, and out of a perfect love, He refuses to deny us that gift. And here is the beautiful thing about God’s love, while He will not force us to not touch that hot stove, He will invite us into His Divine doctors office for healing, for love, for affection and soothing of our wounds. So, does God hear our prayers: Yes, absolutely. Does God answer our prayers: Yes, absolutely, not always in the way we want or expect though, but you can bet that whatever answer He gives you, it will be infinitely more than you could have ever dreamed of. But here’s the thing, just like in that move, The Island, Satan will try to keep you ignorant. He doesn’t want us to know God, because he knows that the more intimate our knowledge of Him, the more we will desire to know Him, and the more we desire to know Him, the more adamantly we will pursue Him. Just like the owners of the island wanted to keep the clones ignorant so they couldn’t revolt, so Satan tries to keep us ignorant. Just like the owners of the island desired to harvest the clones to fill their own pockets, so Satan tries to empty you so that he can fill himself up. This is why prayer, adoration, thanksgiving, contrition (sorrow for your sins), thanksgiving, and contemplation is so important; because as we come to a fuller and more intimate understanding of God and who He is, we start to see ourselves more clearly, and we realize just how much we truly need God as our ultimate happiness.