A couple of years ago I found the online music site, Pandora. (I say I found…more specifically, someone like my interweb-saavy husband or my kids found and I overheard them talking about it….that’s usually how I find the cool stuff!) I’ve been a devoted user ever since. I specifically like to listen at my desk at work so I can quickly select a station that fits my mood. I have really diverse stations like Jazz Fusion, James Taylor, Jeremy Camp, George Winston, Kari Jobe, Keola Beamer, Jars of Clay (and four Greek/Mediterranean stations…it’s a long story…)
I say I’m a devoted user, but I have to confess I’m also a free user. Which I totally appreciate, but the free use comes with a small inconvenience. About every 20-30 minutes or so the music stops – usually mid-song – and a polite little bubble pops up on the screen that asks, “Are you still listening?” They pay the artists for every song played, and they “don’t want to play to an empty room.” Sometimes I’m so absorbed in what I’m doing I really couldn’t say how long the music’s been suspended….
I’ve been talking to God for as long as I can remember, and I mean that quite literally. Not usually in a “kneel by the bed and fold your hands” kind of way, but as though he were my invisible friend. I couldn’t see him or hear him out loud, but I always knew he was there. And so, I talked to him. That’s how I came to understand that prayer isn’t a skill one needs credentials in (though I’m sure there are “Doctors of Prayer” somewhere out there.) And, for me, it’s never been intimidating or scary. I have always believed God was actually interested in what I have to say, and I’ve spent thousands of hours telling him all sorts of things; praying for others, praying for my family, praying for myself. And I never once doubted He was listening.
So, I’m listening to Pandora this morning and the music stops and I see, “Are you still listening?” And for the first time….and I’m not making this up….for the first time, I felt like God was asking me the question. (Sigh) I’m a really good talker (ask my husband!) but my listening skills….well, let’s just say they get keener in times of trouble and leave it at that.
But I so want to listen to God. I want to get lost in divine mysteries and hear words that speak to the deepest places of my heart. I want to be consumed with love and faith and hope for the world. I want to remember what it was like to talk to my invisible friend about my Barbies and my dog and my hurt feelings.
And then I’m going to try to slow down enough to listen back. After all, even invisible friendship needs two-way communication, right? And I know that takes faith, which for some reason not of my own making I seem to have in abundance. It’s in the discipline that I falter. So, I am going to spend more time listening. I don’t imagine God wants to talk to me about Barbies, pets and hurt feelings, but whatever it is, I know it’s an incredible gift to be asked to listen.
So, every time Pandora reminds me to listen, I am going to take that as an opportunity for intentionality and say…… “Yes, God….Yes, I’m still listening.”
Beautiful analogy. I too have always thought of my prayers as more like “talks” with God and as if he is a friend I am confiding in. Other times I feel as if he listens to me like a parent. I also listen to Pandora for free and I will never be able to so quickly return to listening to the songs again without thinking of this entry. It is important to stop and listen, even though sometimes we may not want too or don’t like what we hear.
So glad you understand, Lafonne. Now when I see “Are you still listening?” from Pandora I’ll not only think of prayer, I’ll think of you, too!