Listening is a gift which we take for granted.
Growing up, my best friend was my cousin, who was the same age as I, and who came over almost every weekend to spend the day at my place. Sometimes she got to stay the night, and then we celebrated like there was no tomorrow with late night games which required us to pretend our (increasingly) noisy antics were all stealth-mode operations which the rest of the house was somehow immune to hearing. Usually resulting in panda eyes and bruises the next morning (from blind man's bluff in a house full of furniture.) Looking back on our friendship--swimming lessons, yellow noodles, drawing countless stories which were supposed to be joint productions but which I inevitably ended up monopolizing--I feel so chagrined that I was such a domineering, talkative, and generally insufferable child. I practically reduced my long-suffering cousin to a permanent listener, though with characteristic graciousness she insists she enjoyed listening to me.
Looking back, I am grateful for her listening ear. For so many children that I've met and worked with, that's so often all they want from adults. As parents or teachers, we're so conscious of our role as adults; there's so much to say, to teach, to guide. But for children brimming with excitement and wonder, they just want to talk. And it does so much to them when someone--and especially an adult at that!--listens seriously, sincerely, and with interest to what they have to say. Even if it's froth--like what I subjected my long-suffering cousin to all those years.
I am sometimes tempted to think that David had it good when it came to prayer.
After all, whereas we sometimes struggle to sense God's presence, when it seems we're talking to ourselves, David had first-hand, tangible, incredibly effective experience of God's realness, that God heard and answered his prayers. Wouldn't it be much easier for us to pray if God gave little encouraging 'mhmms' every now and then, affirming His presence and His listening ear? If we felt that He was there, the way David did?
It was a good reminder to read Psalm 116. David bursts into such confident adoration it's as if God has just taken him by the hand, he's brimming with the certainty of God's presence and favour. Ah, if I could feel that too tomorrow at seven in the morning, when I sit at my desk with a Bible in front of me while trying not to look at an open schedule, squinching my eyes shut tightly to try and force away the visions of dirty laundry, unswept floors, half written essays, and unread messages.
I am sometimes tempted to think that I too would be able to love God so fervently and passionately, be a woman after God's own heart, if He spoke to me the way He did to David.
What I found interesting when I read Psalm 116, then, was that David's joy stemmed from the simple fact that God 'inclined His ear' to him. David found comfort and strength in that knowledge even before God answered him. I realized I take prayer so much for granted, that I hardly think about the privilege of being heard by God. I forget that I end 'in Jesus's name' because Jesus was the One who made this relationship possible, enabled me to pray so easily, so directly, with all the struggles on my side--being distracted, finding time, learning how to pray. For David, in the Old Testament before Christ came, being heard by God was something much more--just last Sunday I covered the (very challenging) chapter 28 in 1 Samuel where "the Lord did not answer" Saul's desperate prayers. My Sunday Schoolers looked rather disturbed and asked, didn't God say He would always hear our prayers?
I was reminded again of the immense privilege we have as New Covenant Christians, with Christ, and the full significance of His death, the magnitude of what it accomplished for us. Because of Him, we pray 'in Jesus's name;' we pray with the assurance that He hears us; we pray with the confidence that our words--no matter how disordered or distracted or even insincere--are listened to.
"I love the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplication..."
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are