Many times, prayer is described as talking to God, but this is the less important side of prayer. “Thus says the LORD: I commanded my people, saying, Listen to my voice.” God knows everything. He even knows what is in our hearts before we do. Still, he listens to us. We know very little. (This is not a statement of false humility; we really know very little.) Even the most educated person does not know the answer to simple questions like, “How can I be happy?” We should be sitting before God, eagerly straining to hear what he has to say.
When we listen, we are exposing ourselves to being convinced. When we listen to sitcoms on television praising sin, we should not imagine that we are unaffected. When we listen to gossip or mean words, we should not suppose that we are above the person speaking. Satan loves the pride in us which, at the same time, prevents us from listening to God’s teaching and encourages us to presume we are immune from the evil influence of evil speech.
The voice of God is not very loud. Our free will is as fragile as a house of cards; if he spoke too forcefully, it would be destroyed. We can only hear his voice when we have turned off the television and the radio. Even then, the sounds we listen to all day reverberate in our mind. We could sit in a silent church, but the voice of God will still be shouted down by a voice in our head that is concerned with those many unimportant details that consume our lives. God is so very polite. He will never interrupt any other speaker. He waits until every other voice is silent, and then he speaks.
When he does speak, God does not say many words. He told St. Francis, “Rebuild my Church.” He said to St. Augustine, “Take and read.” He said to Mother Theresa, “I thirst.” He said to St. Paul, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” So many of the saints point to an experience of hearing a few words, perhaps a whole sentence, perhaps even a very short conversation, which changed their lives. Their whole life’s work became simply a matter of following what these words called them to. God has two or three words for you also. If you heard them, your life would be changed completely.