Is there any parent here who cannnot identify with this picture? —The hands over the ears when you’re trying to get a point across to your child?
So what do you do? Well–after you’ve yanked away his hands–I would bet that you’re speaking a bit louder to him. In fact, you might even be shouting!
We’ve talked about God’s speaking silently to our hearts, giving us gentle direction, or confidence, or leading us softly where we need to be. But there are times when God does not speak softly. He SHOUTS!
And during these times, His voice is demanding. What He desires to communicate to us may be what we NEED to hear, but what we don’t WANT to hear. Like the boy in the picture, we put our hands over our ears, too, because what God wants from us may require us to change something we’ve grown accustomed to, something not very good for us.
How many times do we close our ears to His voice pounding inside us––or should I say warning us?––to do what we ought to do?
God is SHOUTING then, in order to shine out some action on our part—some change in our behavior.
The actions or events that come to us then, may be ones we wouldn’t chose ourselves because they’ve ultimately been caused by our own sinful behavior.We may even have to suffer a loss, or humiliation before we will change our sinful ways. God allows our suffering. And His allowing it is a loving action. Of course we can choose not to listen. God never takes away our free will.But during these times, God is SHOUTING.
There are also times when WE cry out TO GOD. He is our parent, after all; our Father. This is not quiet prayer. This is prayer of need, maybe out of sorrow, or fear, or defeat. We NEED God. We don’t want Him to leave us alone. We let Him know it. We ask. We knock. We SHOUT.
God is listening to both our prayers–the quiet ones, and the loud ones.
But are we listening to Him and His will for us? Or do we cover our ears like an impudent child? If we want to know God’s will for us, then we have to be open to PRAYER. We NEED to pray.
In my novel, “A Hunger in the Heart,” the main character, a boy named Coleman, looks at his mother Sarah Neal, who is an alcoholic with a crucifix hung around her neck and a rosary in her hand. And the boy sees a hypocrite.
“How can you pray?” he asks her. She looks back at him and says, “Because I’m a sinner, Coleman. If I wasn’t sinner I wouldn’t need to pray, would I?”
She’s not completely correct about that, but at this point, all she’s thinking about is sorrow for her sinfulness. God is present to Sarah Neal, just as God is always present to us. And in prayer we make ourselves present to HIM. We acknowledge God’s presence. And this is just what He wants us to do—acknowledge Him, reach out to Him. Right here. Right now. No matter the circumstance.
For some of us prayer takes a humility we haven’t been willing to give. It takes the acceptance that despite the current hype that we ought to be totally independent, we know somewhere deep inside us that we can’t go it alone. We need another’s hand.
When we pray God is listening. We can tell him anything without worry because He loves us. In fact, He’s madly in love with us.