I’m not getting a lot of sleep recently due to our eleven-month old waking up randomly to scream her lungs out. We struggled a lot during the first five months, but then turned a corner and enjoyed four months of baby Maya sleeping through the night (I felt like a brand new human, it was glorious!). But now everything has changed for the last two months, and I’m up multiple times a night, and even when she’s quiet I’m not really able to relax because she could begin screaming again at any moment.
As it stands, I am actually alright with this arrangement. I could let her scream for an hour, and perhaps she’ll fall back asleep out of sheer exhaustion, but I just don’t have the heart for that. Despite what we know and have done in terms of sleep training, It’s absolutely a choice we make as her parents out of love to go get her and hold her and feed her and help her fall back asleep. The bottom line is that I don’t want her to suffer, and so if she is crying and it doesn’t let up within a handful of minutes, I’m going to go in there and be who she needs me to be to her – her father. And if it compromises my sleep, it’s fine. I can handle it. She’s my precious child, and she’s worth it. I love her more than anything.
This has also got me thinking about how I cry out to God in prayer. And I do. A lot. I have needs, and not just small ones – ones that I desperately require Him to take care of because I simply cannot. I cry out to Him for major things in my extended family’s life – stuff that is humongous and life-transforming and what I believe would be right in line with His will. And I cry out to Him whenever I see injustice.
I cry out to God a lot. I have needs, and not just small ones – ones that I desperately require Him to take care of because I simply cannot.
God wants us to cry out to Him, and He has given us His promise: “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Plus, He gives us many examples of that promise in action. Israel cried out while they were in bondage in Egypt, and God freed them. David cried out while in distress, and God saved him. Jabez cried out to God to bless him indeed, and He did. Samson cried out for strength to avenge his imprisonment and shame, and God provided it at the end of his life. Hannah cried out to God for a child, and He gave her Samuel. And Jesus cried out to His Father all throughout his life.
We know we should. Many of us do. But what I want to encourage you about is…to do it verbally. Out loud.
I know, I know. It feels funny and weird. It’s very awkward at first. And you can easily come up with a ton of reasons why you’d rather not:
“I’m too tired.”
“He knows my thoughts, and that should be enough because He’s God.”
“There’s always people around.”
“I feel like an idiot.”
“This is ridiculous and pointless.”
But here’s the thing. It does matter. At least in my life, it has mattered. And if your vocalizing of your prayer might just be the difference maker, shouldn’t you do it?
If your vocalizing of your prayer might just be the difference maker, shouldn’t you do it?
Trust me, I don’t want to most of the time. But I do because what I want more is for God to be moved by my prayers.
Why do I think it matters that we cry out loud to God?
Well, first off, it reifies your belief that He is the answer and that you are at a loss if He doesn’t do something. It makes the “ask” more existent, more tangible, more vulnerably “out there.” I believe that is important to God. He wants to know that we realize our only hope is in Him, and we’re not lazy or nervous or scared or hesitant to show Him (or anyone else) that fact. When it’s only in our thoughts and only in our head, it’s more…misty. It’s not substantive. It’s almost like you’re hedging your bets, instead of going all in. I believe God hears our silent prayers offered in authenticity and conviction, but I believe He is much more moved by those prayers that are declared out loud in bold faith.
He wants to know that we realize our only hope is in Him, and we’re not lazy or nervous or scared or hesitant to show Him (or anyone else) that fact.
Second, crying out loud to God in our prayers keeps our petitions fresh and real and genuine and from our heart, and prevents us from defaulting into the same repetitive drivel we offer up to Him over and over again from our mind and memory. You know what I mean, I am sure you’re as guilty as me. Again, this is laziness – we just say in our minds the same simple prayers over and over again.
If you want to have a vibrant and living relationship with Him (and I do!) which is unique and special, you have to approach and connect with Him in unique and special ways. Otherwise – and please don’t feel indicted when I say this – you’re just like everyone else. If life to the fullest is available to me by being different, I want that. I’m not going to let anything keep me from missing out, and then wondering at the end of my life why my relationship with God was so…anemic.
God can be persuaded by our repeated, genuine appeals. We know of multiple instances where He responds not the first time someone cries out, but when they cry out over and over again.
Third, I believe He can be persuaded by our repeated, genuine appeals. We know of multiple instances where God responds not the first time someone cries out, but when they cry out over and over again. Bartimaeus was blind, and cried out to Jesus for help, and when everyone else said “Shhhh, pipe down!” he cried out all the more – and was healed. Daniel cried out to God over many days for wisdom and understanding, and God answered that prayer not immediately, but over time. And we are familiar with the story told by Jesus of the persistent widow who kept coming to the judge over and over again for help against her adversary. In time, the judge granted her request – her repeated cries out loud for help made the difference.
My baby Maya does this. And in time, I respond. Because I love her. Way less, though, than God loves you.
Maybe your prayers aren’t loud enough. And maybe it’s time to cry out loud to Him. Do it every day for a week, and then make it a regular part of your prayer life. Do it in your car if you need to. And do it in a way He can deeply feel what’s on your heart. I’m not saying your prayers will be answered in a week, but they will be heard. And I believe that in time, He will respond. What is more, your relationship with Him will deepen, your faith in Him will grow, and your love for Him will flourish.
And that, to be sure, is His primary purpose when we cry out to Him in the first place.