Lily Tomlin once created a character who asked, “Why is it that when we talk to God we’re said to be praying, but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?”
Most of us are people who pray. We may raise our hands in the air or fold them quietly in our laps. We may talk outloud by a mountain stream or whisper heartfelt needs by a bedside. We may sing our prayers or dance our prayers, chant our prayers or write out our prayers, but whatever form it takes, we do it for one reason. We do it to talk to God.
When you think about it, that’s a pretty phenomenal idea. Imagine that little old you has a free pass to the inner chambers of the King of the Universe, and not just to an assistant or an eager listener, but to the One who can actually hear your heart and respond. God may not always hear your words, but He always hears your heart. You’re connected through a single channel with no worry about whether your signals are working or you have enough power to get through. You just have to show up. In fact, this channel is open at a moment’s notice, in a heartbeat.
Why do we pray? Love? Fear? Connection to God? Need? A variety of reasons. We love knowing we don’t have to fill out a form, get on a waiting list, have VIP status, but that we simply have to come. We know that we don’t have to “feel” it, we don’t have to understand it, we don’t even have to enjoy it, but something about it, draws us. We get to come as we are, whether we’re running on empty or full of gratitude and love. No prayer posture, no dress code, no prepared speech, just us with our hearts in our hands.
Perhaps we question the need for prayer or even the unsettling thought about whether God will answer our prayer. Maybe we’ve prayed out our circuits and it seems like the light never goes on. Maybe we’ve done everything right, been faithful to the task, obedient beyond measure and yet when we’ve gone to the throne room with our need exposed and our very lives at stake, we’ve still gone away empty. It’s a puzzling feeling and a paralyzing thought. It ties our hands behind us and creates quiet despair. It opens the door to self doubt and self worth. Everything in us suffers because we forgot one important thing.
There is only one God. From the beginning of time to the end of time, only one voice is clearly heard across the Universe. That One has the advantage, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, all love, all power, all knowing and therefore answering our simple desires, our greatest hopes, our deepest needs for our good. When we’re out of the power to run, when we’re stopped by the side of the road, maybe that’s when He can actually catch us in a moment when we can hear. Maybe that is the empty place that He can fill.
The late Mother Teresa said this about prayer. “Love to pray. Feel often during the day the need for prayer, and take the trouble to pray. Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him.”
Ah…what an incredible thought. We pray to make us able to receive God’s answers for us, to make our hearts ready for what He would have us know. 1 Peter 3:12 reminds us, “The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right and His ears are open to their prayers.” Perhaps doing right then, means we show up, even when we’re running on empty, even when we’re not sure what else to say, what other thought to have because deep down we know, we understand, we have a God with an open door policy. All we need then is an open heart to receive Him.
Exercise your prayer rights! You’ll feel better every time you do.