Prayer, Who is Listening?

I had an interesting experience when a group of us were praying at the church a month ago. The others in the group had prayed and I was closing. I was waxing eloquent (in my own mind) as I was conversing with the Creator of the universe. My prayer included statements like “God, You’re so amazing!” and “You are awesome!” when all of a sudden I hear this voice from behind me, “You’re not so bad yourself!”

I was shocked. As it turns out my phone was in my back pocket listening. Something I said activated Google Voice so that when I said “You are awesome” Google Voice came out with an appropriate response. The reverent atmosphere of our prayer meeting was completely ruined but we sure did have a good laugh! God does have a great sense of humour.

This experience made me think of a question. Who is listening when we pray?

In one of Jesus’ sermons he said, “When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get” (Matt. 6:5). In Jesus’ example there were a lot of people listening. They made sure of that, but was God listening? Probably not!

There are lots of examples in Scripture where people are coming together to pray. The Lord’s Prayer is one prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray in a group setting. The book of Acts records that the early church gathered often to pray together. On one occasion it was noted that when they had finished praying together the place where they were gathered shook and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31). Certainly God heard their prayers.

When I finished high school I moved to Calgary to find a job. I stayed with my grandparents until I had enough money to rent a place of my own. What a privilege to spend those days with them. I did shift work and from time to time would come home just after 7:00 a.m.. On more than one occasion I would find them together praying earnestly for missionaries, family, and friends. I have no doubt that they prayed for me regularly as well. Hearing them pray has left a lasting impression. I’m sure God heard their prayers too.

There’s one more idea that I’d like to explore. Are we listening when we pray?

Prayer, after all, is a conversation. If it’s not a conversation then we’re simply treating God like a vending machine, making requests for healing, material goods, or for his help in an emergency. It’s not a bad idea to open the Word of God when we’re praying with the expectation that he wants to speak to us (even if it’s the whisper of the Holy Spirit). If we haven’t heard from God when we pray then the conversation isn’t quite over.

So, who is listening when we pray? Certainly God listens, and just as important, I hope we’re listening as well. If you haven’t been listening lately, try it. It’s important! Oh yes, and don’t forget to put your cell phone on silent mode.