This week I’m going through the lessons of Group’s PandaMania VBS and considering how they apply to more than just kids!
God Listens To You
“You know what I am going to say even before I say it”
Last week, I quietly explained to my oldest daughter that even though people are friendly and strangers ask her questions, doesn’t mean they always have time for her entire life story. Perhaps not everyone can listen to everything she has to say.
She replied, “But I just like to talk and I have a whole lot to talk about.”
Thus, when a friendly cashier asks how old my kids are, they give an unabridged biography as an answer.
And when the lady cutting their hair asks where they go to school, the girls launch into a weekly schedule that lists off all their normal activities and then give an infomercial about their preschool and kindergarten.
My PandaMania VBS leader materials for Day Two say:
Kids can tell you exactly what it’s like to be ignored or unheard. They know what it feels like to talk to a busy parent or teacher, who responds with a distracted “mm-hmm.” They’ve been that hand, waving in the air, that didn’t get called on to share an answer. And even when someone is tuned in, kids may not have the words to express what they’re feeling. . . . God not only hears our voice . . .God hears our heart!
There’s a powerful promise buried in this simple lesson—God Listens to You. Just like my kids may sometimes feel like I’m not listening closely enough, there are times when I feel as if God has gone deaf or, even worse, is choosing to ignore me.
Last week, a prayer request came through my email and I prayed: “Please don’t turn away from this request; please don’t hide your face from us. Please hear what we are asking of You and deliver them. Don’t be deaf to our pleas, not this time.”
I’m not alone in this prayer.
David asked, “Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth” (Psalm 54:2) and “To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit” (Psalm 28:1). Asaph prayed the same: “God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God” (Psalm 83:1).
Have you prayed this before? The request of attention, the desire for God’s ear, that He would really hear the petitions you bring so passionately before the throne? With particular fervency sometimes we say, “I know I pray things all the time, God, but I need you to really pay attention to what I’m asking right now. This one matters more than normal!”
The promise we are teaching the VBS kids this week is that God always hears us, not just what we say, but even when we don’t know how to pray within the confines of words. Even when the desires of our heart are too bulky to be smashed into syllables and sounds and long “before a word is on my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely” (Psalm 139:4)
God doesn’t tune us out as we pray or ignore the outpourings of our heart. Psalm 10:17 says, “Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their hearts. You will listen carefully.”
He hears what we pray. He hears our heart’s cry even when words escape us. During the tough times, heaven may seem silent and our prayers may seem to bounce against a ceiling rather than land at God’s feet.
Regardless of how you feel, though, you can trust in an attentive God who hears the prayers we offer on our knees, the whispers as we lie in bed at night, the tears as we fall in despair in His presence. God listens to you.
We know this because God doesn’t change. From beginning to end, from person to person, our God is consistent in His character. So, just as He threw down fire from heaven in response to Elijah’s prayer, so He hears and responds to our cries for help.
In 1 Kings 18, Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah not just to a test of their gods’ power, but also of their gods’ ability to hear them. He declared, “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God” (1 Kings 18:24).
God’s character–the things that sets Him apart–isn’t just that He is able to deliver us; it’s that He truly hears our cries for deliverance.
And so the prophets of Baal danced and shouted. “At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention (1 Kings 18:27-29).
Their god was silent. Their god was deaf. Their god was unimpressed by their passion and unresponsive to their cries.
Not our God.
Elijah sloshed water all over the altar so it was running down over the soaking wet sacrifice and spilling onto the ground below. He prayed, “‘Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’ Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!'” (1 Kings 18:37-39).
Answer me, God, for the display of Your glory! So that everyone watching my life and these circumstances can see and declare, “The Lord—He is God! The Lord–He is God!”
The song we will sing tonight at VBS says, “God knows every word before you even say it; He hears every prayer before you even pray it. So let Him hear you now. So let Him hear you shout! He knows you. He loves you. God is listening.”
Be assured of that today and rest in that promise. Remember that what defines God is that He is alive and active, powerfully able, and mercifully responsive to us.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King