If you consider what happens each Sunday during worship when the gathered Body has corporate prayer, then you come to realize that it isn’t just a time when one person speaks while everyone else is silent. As one of those who regularly is charged with offering the pastoral prayer on behalf of the congregation, I know that what we hear is my voice, even with the occasional “shh” or cough. But God, who hears what we cannot, the voice from within each one of us, hears a multiplicity of voices. My voice speaking the prayer is instantly intermingled with the internal voices of every person, whether they are praying or not. Their inner monologue is heard loud and clear by God. For every person gathered in the pews, whether they simply echo my words, add their own prayer concerns, or have drifted into other realms of thought, are heard crisp and coherent by God. God can make out the whisper of things we would never speak out loud, something that is too painful, too embarrassing, too intimate. Somehow God is able to take in all of these voices heard simultaneously, and not hear a cacophony, but something more akin to a symphony.
So while we cannot hear as God does, the next time you’re sitting in worship for the prayer of the people know that God is listening, God is hearing all that is spoken and unspoken. Every thought, like a musical note, is carried from your inner self to the Selfless Lord of All. It does not matter to God the melody of the voice speaking, or the eloquence of the voice inside, but the intention of each of us. You are part of a body of work that moves the Lord, brings peace to the Divine soul, and honors God in its mere existence. When you are intentional about your part in corporate prayer, God is more than pleased to respond with a standing ovation.