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Let Me Hear Your Voice
Sometimes it's the wrong request.
My brother, who is quadriplegic, cannot speak.
Sometimes he uses a computer, à la Stephen Hawking. But when we want efficiency, we use a little signal: “let me hear your voice.”
It is a guttural sound we are after, something like a melodic groan. Dustin, do you want ice cream? “Let me hear your voice.” Should I wheel you into the shade? “Let me hear your voice.” Do you want to stop watching FoxNews? Please, oh please, “Let me hear your voice.”
There are other signals too. Dustin can raise his left hand, or look up to the ceiling for, “yes.” All forms of assent, for when we’re in a hurry.
Something you should know is that 100 percent of the time, Dustin will not give you the signal you have asked for. “Let me hear your voice” and he will raise his left hand. “Look up for yes” and you will hear his voice. In this way, he signals something more: he might be handicapped, but he still has agency and a will. You don’t control the message, because you don’t control the messenger.
We who hurry are humbled. We must slow down to pay attention. And then, we can have our answer.
Lately, my morning Bible reading has become a bit wooden. I am up early and the house is quiet, but my mind is “anxious and troubled about many things1.” What to make the kids for breakfast, are my lymph nodes swollen, how should I finish a project due the next day. These are thoughts, not prayers, and they don’t even come in order of importance. They just flop around in my mind like a fly dying on the windowsill. Then the coffee’s half gone and I look at the clock. Whew. Better hurry.
And so I say a little prayer like this - well, not “like” this. It is this, verbatim: “Lord, let me hear your voice.” I say it quickly, flipping to my page. Let’s crack this puppy open and exegete.
I must ask myself: if my 65-pound brother in a wheelchair prefers that I respect his chosen word, what about Jesus? Jesus, the exact representation of the glory of God. Jesus, whose word sustains the universe.2”
In my hurry, I must be humbled.
It isn’t that asking God to speak is wrong, per se. Scripture is full of this plea. But the issue lies with my intent: demanding that God get to his point, because I need to get on with my day.
Maybe I need a new prayer. Maybe it’s simply this one:
Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
have mercy on me,
"Have mercy on me, a sinner." This is the prayer of blind men, begging to see light. It is the cry of dying men, aching for a cure. It is the confession of a rich man, reckoning all he has done wrong. This is a prayer Jesus answers with fresh vision, healing, and forgiveness. 3
Have mercy on me, a sinner.
In my hurry, this is the prayer that humbles.
I’m not a chanter, and I don’t usually go for rote prayer. But I am finding that these words put me in the right place to receive God’s choice of expression. If your Bible has been feeling a bit stale lately, perhaps they can help you too.
For more on the history of this prayer, here is a great video:
And a helpful song: