Q. I heard a preacher this evening on television say that God did not hear a prayer unless it was verbally stated. He said that God did not hear a silent prayer and also that we should be kneeling when we pray. Do you agree with that? I cannot kneel anymore and a lot of time I pray silently and have always thought He heard me and answered. Also if He does not hear silent prayers, how do the people who cannot talk and use sign language get their prayers through to Him?
A. This is a legalistic approach to prayer that’s inconsistent with the nature of our relationship with God. For example, 1 Thes. 5:16-18 tells us to pray continually, giving thanks in all circumstances. Fulfilling this command according to the preacher’s instructions would require us to be on our knees speaking aloud to God all the time.
Genesis 24:10-21 contains a great example for our learning. Abraham had sent his servant, Eliezer, to find a bride for Isaac. When Eliezer arrived at the designated place, a public well, he asked the Lord for a very specific sign to be certain he had found the right person. The Hebrew wording of Genesis 24:12 allows for either an audible or a silent prayer. But if he had prayed audibly Rebekah, who arrived while he was praying, could have heard him describe the sign he was seeking, making its fulfillment meaningless. Genesis 24:12 only makes sense if the servant prayed silently.
Also, in 1 Samuel 1:9-20 we can read about Hannah praying silently for a son. Verse 13 says, “Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.” Verses 19-20 tell us God heard her prayer. She bore a son and named him Samuel which means “heard of God.”