My eight-year-old sits at the piano bench in the nearby room. She has no idea the impact she has on me as she lifts her sweetest voice in spontaneous song to the Lord. I find myself arrested in an involuntary pause in the kitchen—refusing to miss this sweetest sound. Dinner can wait when that voice is uplifted.
Does she know? Does she have any idea what her song does to the heart of her parents? She might. For it’s hard to hide the effect of her sweet melodies on us—our countenances bursting with affection and our requests for more communicating our delight. Yet I know (for I believe it in the core of me) this is only a fraction of what the Lord feels when her fingers play, her chin lifts upward, her eyes close and she pours out those precious songs to Jesus.
I didn’t always know and believe how these prayers move the heart of the Lord. And my little girl is only at the beginning of entering into this most precious of truths. For though the faces of her mom and dad show the immediate impact of her songs, and our delight is anything but concealed from her little eyes and ears, connecting with the Lord—and His response to our lifted hearts—doesn’t always come as easily.
Sometimes, He feels distant. Sometimes our prayers feel like they are echoing in the silence.
It is in these moments of weak devotion that we need to remember, He is near and our heart towards Him matters and moves Him immensely—even when we don’t feel or discern the connection.
In Song of Solomon 4:9, our Beloved Jesus speaks to us and says, “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse. You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace.” He gives insight into what transpires in His own heart with every weak glance that we lift to Him and with every small choice of our will to love Him.
So many of these weak glances and small choices are made in the place of dryness, when we feel nothing. God does not define our love by emotion as we so often do.
We love to measure our experience of God by what is felt. Yet love cannot be evaluated with this system of calculation. God is the One who measures love and what we call barren He often calls fruitful; what we call wasteful He often calls well spent.
In our weak devotion, He is ravished over us. So unthinkable the words yet true, nonetheless. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, yet He has committed the affections of His heart to be overcome by the likes of you and me. Weak, fainthearted, prone-to-discouragement hearts of men. He has angels without number, and He knows each star by name, yet by my small heart, He is conquered. No army could overcome this mighty One. The kings of the earth take their stand against Him, and He laughs with divine amusement (Ps. 2:4).
Yet there is one thing, shall I say figuratively, one “weak spot” in His heart. He has allowed one arrow to successfully pierce His mighty heart—the arrow from a believer on the earth who offers Him the weak glance of a loyal heart (2 Chron. 16:9). It is the small choice of a voluntary heart to love and worship Him though it cannot see Him.
We stand on our tiptoes on the precipice of faith, peering into what is unseen with a steady gaze, ever searching the horizon for the One who is seated above (Col. 3:1). We peer into a mystery, and the glass that we look through is darkened and dim (2 Cor. 3:18). Having not seen Him, we love Him (1 Pet. 1:8), and so with a gaze reaching for what is unseen, we look to our Jesus in prayer. It is this gaze that overcomes Him and sends Him into this whirlwind of poetic song, “Turn your eyes away from me! For they have overcome me!” (Song Sol. 6:5). I imagine Jesus, with eyes as flames of fire, turning to His Father and exclaiming, “Look at her Father! She has not seen Me yet she believes! She is once more lifting her eyes to Me. She has chosen to fix her gaze again upon what is unseen. Oh, she overcomes Me! How she conquers My heart with her gaze!”
This is what is happening in the spirit while we struggle to believe on the earth. We lift up our weak faith as we come to Him in prayer. We choose again and again to believe that He cherishes our feeble words and holds each sigh close to His heart.
At the end of the day, after we have experienced what feels like nothing, we return to our beds and say with hearts of faith, “It counts, doesn’t it? I’m storing up something, aren’t I? These tears that no one else sees except You, You will show me one day, won’t You?” (Ps. 56:8). And we believe for one more day. We reach into the unseen. And though we feel the constant possibility that we could have just wasted today in prayer, we choose to believe that He sees differently.
What we feel is worth forgetting, He holds as precious in His remembrance (Mal. 3:16).
One day He will say, “It counts! It counts! Everything counted! It was all a part of My perfect plan. You came into agreement with something you could not even see or reach. And every movement of your heart, every choice of your will toward Me holds eternal worth!”
I believe these faint movements of my heart and yours, made in the times of such grey shadows, move His heart like no other time. The times—when I feel nothing yet choose to believe in His heart and His love—these undo the heart of the God of Heaven. On the days when every accusation lurks over my head and all the voices of condemnation join forces against me, my weak heart overcomes Him as I choose to believe what presently seems an absurdity—that God is for me and that my prayer, though weak, is wisdom.
These are the days He holds precious. Oh how they move His heart. I believe more than the days when we feel so much, when all is clear and when hope is so near. These barren days are called precious by the Lord. “‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed’” (Jn. 20: 29).
Each choice He records; each glance He remembers. And one very real day in our future, He will open up the book of remembrance and remind us of each one. He will say, “Do you remember this time? You were so discouraged, so disheartened, so desperate. Yet you chose once again to believe in Me and to receive My love. You said, ‘Yes,’ to Me though you could neither feel nor see Me.”
And I will stand on that day—amazed. Amazed by His great love and overwhelmed by His tender mercy.
We may not always feel His nearness. At times, we may feel like we’re lifting our eyes and are songs into the air, rather than to a real Person. But it is not our perspective that propels us forward, it is His. He sees. He hears. And He is moved by our prayers. And even when we do not sense His presence or feel His nearness, we can be confident that He is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).
When I hear my daughter, freely singing all that is in her heart—I am reminded of we’re all to do. We’re to sing with hearts wide open and faith full throttle—open and upward— to the Lord. And though we may not always feel or immediately sense His presence, we can know that He is never indifferent to such prayers. In fact, they move His heart immeasurably. And in the age to come, He’ll overwhelm our hearts again and again as He recounts to us the story.