Growing up in the Catholic Church instilled a sense of quietude and stillness to my worship. So, when I decided, for numerous reasons, to seek spiritual fulfillment in other denominations it was quite eye opening to witness how others worshipped. Years ago while attending a nondenominational church the person leading worship told us to ‘open our mouths and shout to the Lord otherwise he wouldn’t hear our prayers’ (I’m paraphrasing slightly as I don’t remember his exact words). At that moment I allowed a simple ‘hallelujah’ tumble from my lips but I was confused, I’m talking Scooby Doo funny noises confused! I wondered if what he said was valid, did God not hear my silent prayers all these years? I was comfortable praying in silence, it’s what I did, I can even remember as a kid sending wrapped gifts to Jesus at Christmas for his birthday in my head, did Jesus really not get all my gifts?!
I sung in the choir my last couple of years in elementary school (and honestly I lip synced a lot, I was quiet, weird and honestly didn’t like the sound of my own voice, but that’s a-whole-nother story!!) but as far as praying from my heart aloud, the extent of my vocal contribution was limited. It mainly consisted of reciting the Lord’s Prayer, the Nicene creed and Hail Mary with other members of the congregation. All other communication that I had had with God was silent, between He and I, or so thought. Since that day in church, I’ve heard it said many times in various ways that you must open your mouth in praise to truly connect with God and over the years I have gotten more comfortable praying out loud, but continue to say silent prayers regularly. I recently decided to research how God hears our prayers and wanted to share some of the biblical information I found.
Throughout the bible we read about people praying out loud, even Jesus, but there are also some examples of silent answered prayers. One of my favorite people in the bible is Hannah because she had such faith as she yearned to have a child. Through the reading of her story I can almost feel her angst over the barrenness that plagued her, but she kept petitioning the Lord because she knew He was the only one that could truly help her. In 1 Samuel 1:12-13 it states that ‘she continued praying before The Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard.’ Hannah herself states that she had ‘poured out her soul before the Lord’. In another example in Genesis 24, we see that Abrahams servant ‘spoke in his heart’ prayers that were answered by God. In addition throughout the bible we are told that God searches our hearts and knows them, also in Psalm 94:11 it tells us that God knows the thoughts of man (although it goes on to say that they are futile) and in Job 42:2 we are told that no thought can be withheld from God. Although, I clearly see the importance and power of speaking verbally to God and singing praises to glorify His name these verses and stories are encouraging to anyone like me that sometimes can’t seem to get the words out and feels the need to sends up heart prayers. I also wanted to touch on some other ways you can pray or connect with God.
Writing down my prayers: I’ve always kept a journal since I was a child, although I’m not always consistent and may have missed a day (or a year) here and there I always find my way back to journaling. Many times I address my entries to God and am able to tell Him about my day, what troubles me or how thankful I am for the day.
Praying the scriptures: This is something that I’ve recently started doing is year. I have a notebook and write scriptures pertaining to certain situations, like loneliness or anger, and try to refer to them in times of need. I notice that praying them, whether silently or verbally, seems to help a great deal.