Psalms 116 opens by saying, “I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (NLT)
Hear: to perceive, to be aware of, to listen.
These opening verses in Psalms are my favorite “discovery” so far on this journey of identifying “I am” scriptures. The word picture of him bending down to listen is precious. It immediately reminds me of those people who bent down to listen and talk to my son when he was a toddler. It touched this mother’s heart deeply when the senior pastor where we worshipped at the time, Dr. Larry Robertson at Hilldale Baptist Church, got down on one knee in the foyer one Sunday to engage with my very talkative two-year-old. I could name others, but that’s the first time I remember it happening so distinctly – what a beautiful picture and lasting impression.
To bend down to listen meets someone on their level. It’s a beautiful illustration of both humbling yourself and elevating the other person. It creates a sense of worth. It also demonstrates purpose and intentionality, focus and attentiveness. Level eye contact means you value someone enough as a human being to listen, really listen, to what they’re saying. Bending down says, “I’m here and I know you’re here. I care about what you have to say. I'm paying attention. It’s important to me. You are important to me.”
Friend, this is exactly what God does when we pray. He bends down to listen because he cares. Of course, He can hear us perfectly fine that’s in no way affected by proximity. Don’t miss the picture, He wants us to know that he genuinely cares. He wants us to know that he is intently listening and that he values whatever we’re saying. Beyond our words, God also hears the emotions of our hearts when we can’t form the words. When the emotions are too raw for words, the Holy Spirit interprets for us. Romans 8:26 tells us, “… the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (NLT)
As women, especially, we struggle with being heard. It seems we’re too young or too inexperienced, we’re not authoritative enough or too opinionated, we express ourselves too much or we’re too quiet. Sometimes, we’re not heard because we’re not the man in the room or we’re not the dad. I remember bedtime being particularly challenging with my son for so many years. I would tell him over and over to go to bed and stay in bed. He just wouldn’t stay in bed or go to sleep unless I was laying down with him. Occasionally, I would travel or work late only to come home to find him peacefully sleeping…in his own bed…by himself. I would ask how bedtime went only to get a response like, “I told him to go to bed and he did.” Excuse me? How did that possibly happen? You told who? You said what? And, he just did it? For whatever reasons, mom’s rules weren’t heard. Mom’s rules, mom’s opinions weren’t really important until dad said so. That one tiny crack of discouragement become twisted and escalated it into a mountain of destructive thoughts like, “You’re not important. You have no value. You don’t matter…to anyone.” (Are you seeing the same downward spiral graphic that I am right now?!)
The truth is that God says I am heard. In fact, He bends down from heaven to meet me right where I am because he doesn’t want to miss a word. He doesn’t want to miss one single concern of my heart. He doesn’t want me to incorrectly believe what I what I say doesn’t matter. The weight of that truth brings tears to my eyes even now. That hurt in my heart may always be a little raw; it may never completely go away. Nevertheless, I will work to set aside hurtful emotions and confront them with truth. God says I am heard. You are too.