Therefore let us persuade ourselves without any hesitation that God is ever so ready and prompt to hear our prayer and to grant what we ask for, as Ps. 66:20 praises Him: “Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me!” And the name of God that is suitable to the highest degree and proper is Hearer of Prayer. Indeed, it is just as proper as the familiar name Creator of Heaven and Earth.
And God not only hears a prayer that is offered without specifying particulars; but let us maintain that even at the very moment a prayer is uttered that which is asked for is being done or has been done, just as very many ever so pleasing words of the psalms testify, such as “To Thee they cried, and were saved” (Ps. 22:5), where simply no particular at all is added.
Consequently, the one who cries out is here; God, who hears is there. Just cry out, and you will be heard, as Ps. 34:5 urges: “Look to Him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.” And from this source Isaiah has taken the very beautiful promise (65:24): “Before they call, I will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Thus in one place Bernard has stated excellently and piously: “Brethren, do not despise your prayers; but know that as soon as you begin to pray, your prayer is read and written down at once in the presence of the Divine Majesty.”42
Of this way of praying all the monks have no knowledge, for they merely mumble their prayers on account of obedience to the church or to their own rule. Accordingly, you should pray with such trust and full assurance that you maintain that your prayer has been heard before it leaves your mouth. But if what you are asking for is not granted so quickly, your prayer will not on this account be in vain. It will be granted in His time, and what you wish will be granted, or something far better and more desirable.
Therefore let there be no doubt whatever about being heard. Indeed, when I ask God to hallow His name against the pope and against the Turk, I know that my prayer has certainly been heard before I add the amen; for before I have begun to pray, God has seen the motion and the desire of my heart, and this He sees and hears far sooner than my lips utter the words.
But hindrances of many kinds are put in the way, for the devil resists and disturbs this confidence in whatever way he can. Our flesh and hearts do not burn with faith; nor are they stirred by constantly meditating on and dealing with the statements and examples of this kind that should be reflected on by the heart and often repeated for the purpose of stirring us up to prayer against the pope and all potentates who persecute sound doctrine. But if the desired effect or result does not follow this year, it will surely follow in another year.
But among all the examples of prayers the one described in Dan. 9:20–21 is outstanding and a jewel, so to speak. I earnestly commend it to all godly people. Daniel says: “While I was still speaking and praying, etc., behold, the man Gabriel, etc.” All this is described, not in order that we should read it only once in passing, the way we are accustomed to become acquainted with secular examples, but that we may be instructed, and in such a manner that we maintain that it pertains to us. Nor should we have any doubt about being heard; but we should leave the place, the time, and all particulars to the will and counsel of God.
Whoever does this will experience through the actual result how wonderful the power and efficacy of prayer is. For “likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weakness … and intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). And Eph. 3:20 states: “Who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” We ask solely for these outward blessings: peace, quiet, good health, and the things necessary for this life. But God’s power surpasses all our understanding, hope, and asking. Consequently, God bestows on those who call upon Him more and greater things than the human heart can comprehend or request; for we worship Him whose power and beneficence are boundless. Indeed, He also determines all the particulars, the place, the time, and the person far better and more successfully than we would prescribe with our thinking. Therefore let us habituate and stir up our hearts to prayer, in order that many may pray together; for the greater the number of those who will pray, the more quickly and more abundantly they will get what they ask for. But one must pray in the name of Christ, not of Mary, Peter, or other saints, as the papists are in the habit of doing. But of this we have often spoken elsewhere.
Luther’s works, vol. 4: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 21-25 p 267-269