listening

God's Ear

Croagh-Patrick.jpg

I arise today...
Through God’s ear to hear me...

The Lorica of Saint Patrick (St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer)

Parents know the difference in a child’s cries. They can tell when an infant truly needs something and when she is simply soothing herself to sleep. They can tell when a toddler is truly hurt and when he is just pretending. They know the difference between genuine screams and pitching a fit for attention or because the child did not get his or her way.

If we as human parents can understand how to respond to our children’s cries in so many different circumstances, God must certainly know how to respond to the cries of His children. How many nights have we cried ourselves to sleep, not realizing God was listening patiently and prayerfully on the monitor, aware enough to respond if we truly needed while also giving us the space we need as we learn to soothe ourselves? How many temper tantrums have we thrown thinking God didn’t care when He was actually just waiting in the other room long enough for us to calm down and re-engage in the conversation? How often do we sound like the child begging to “be blessed” with every piece of candy or toy in the store?

Just like earthly parents, God hears all of these cries. God listens. God waits patiently, just like the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Rather than forcing us to stay at the table kicking and screaming through the entire meal, God lets us get it out of our system and reminds us by His Spirit that we are welcome back whenever we are ready.

If we’re honest, there are simply times when children don’t know how to talk to their parents. Children are not always sure that parent’s will understand or even care about whatever seems so overwhelming in their little lives. We often wonder the same thing about God. Does God even want me around? Is He listening anymore? Have I run too far away for God to hear me?

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Romans 8:26-28 (The Message)

Romans 8:28 is often used to explain everything that happens in life as part of some Divine plan to do good for us, but the larger context shows us that this is really a passage about God hearing our cries. God even understands those times when we just need to scream and pitch a fit, when we don’t even know how to articulate what we really need. The Spirit even speaks for us, “making prayer out of our wordless sighs and our aching groans, for he knows us far better than we know ourselves and… he keeps us present before God.” That’s why Paul says God is working everything out for good.

God doesn’t always fix every problem in our lives, but God listens to us and even prays for us through every circumstance. When we feel like nobody is listening, we arise today trusting that God is a God who hears (John 5:14, Psalm 66:19, 1 John 5:15).

Shout. Scream. Cry. Argue. Question. Whisper. Be Silent.

Whatever you feel… whatever you need to express, do it openly before God. God hears.

Reflections:

1. Reflect on a time (perhaps even now), when it seems like your prayers are not getting through to God?

2. How do you feel about the idea that the Spirit is praying for you even when you don’t have the words? How might this change the way you pray and the way you experience God’s presence with you?

3. Pray along with Solomon as he dedicates the Temple is 2 Chronicles. Then worship and pray with the song below, “Hear us from heaven.” Envision God reaching out to invite you closer into his loving presence and know that you are being heard.

Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn’t large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I’ve built. Even so, I’m bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I’m setting before you right now. Keep your eyes open to this Temple day and night, this place you promised to dignify with your Name. And listen to the prayers that I pray in this place. And listen to your people Israel when they pray at this place.

Listen from your home in heaven, and when you hear, forgive.

2 Chronicles 6:18-21 (The Message)


Our journey through St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer continues next week:

... I arise today,
Through God’s word to speak for me…

Pray along with the full text of St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer