If going to church services has been part of your upbringing, you’ve no doubt experienced a wide range of the ways people pray. Some people pray loudly, others softly; some stand up and others sit or kneel; some have their hands folded while others wave their hands in the air.
I’ve been with people who cried while they prayed and others who, yes, actually laughed. I’ve smiled when someone was confused and prayed for a wife when it was the husband who had the need. And I’ve been with children who prayed for a sick pet.
In ways I certainly can’t comprehend, God is able to take in all this noise and somehow give personal attention not only to each prayer, but to each person praying. He’s able to see into the heart and mind and sort out what is said from what is meant. Amazing.
In his little volume on prayer, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, C. S. Lewis gives us a glimpse into what God hears, and what God knows. He writes,
“Infinitely various are the levels from which we pray. Emotional intensity is in itself no proof of spiritual depth. If we pray in terror we shall pray earnestly; it only proves that terror is an earnest emotion. Only God Himself can let the bucket down to the depths in us.”1
There’s an old saying that there are no atheists in foxholes. I’m not so sure. Maybe they’re just terrorized atheists.
“then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind)” – 1 Kings 8:39.
- C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2012), 82.