When you call Me, and come and pray to Me,
I will listen to you …
The Best Way To Get God’s Attention When you Really Need Him
If God looked at you and said “[Insert your name here], when you do this [insert His command here] I will listen to you and you will find Me …” or, “when you pray like this [insert prayer instruction here], I will listen to you” — would you do it? Stop whatever else you are doing or thinking about and truly ask yourself: Is having God’s ear and attention important enough to you that you would do anything He asked?
Holy Scripture is filled with commands, precepts, exhortations and prayer that serve as divine instructions for how to navigate through this life, draw near to God, and receive His graces from Heaven — direct avenues in other words by which to get God’s direct attention! There is nothing more important this side of Heaven than having a relationship with God; a relationship wherein He intimately knows you and listens to your every whim. But in order to implement these golden nuggets of divine Truth into our lives, we must know the Bible. We must know what God has said in the past.
There are certain places throughout Scripture wherein God gives specific instruction on how to get His attention. He tells certain people throughout the centuries for example, that if they prayer a certain way He will not only listen to them … but they will find Him. Whenever we read instructions like this in Scripture, Tradition or otherwise, our heart, mind and ears should immediately perk up and we should pay extra close attention.
This is exactly what God did to His prophet Jeremiah. By way of Jeremiah’s great faith and obedience, God gave him much more than just His attention. He gave to His people precise instructions to live by in order to come into their own proverbial promised land. For example, in Jeremiah 29 verses one through fourteen we read:
Jeremiah 29:1-14 [excerpt]
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel … Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their fruits. Take wives and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters. Increase there; do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you; pray for it to the Lord, for upon its welfare your own depends. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not be deceived by the prophets and diviners who are among you; do not listen to those among you who dream dreams, for they prophesy lies to you in My Name; I did not send them …
… For I know well the plans I have in mind for you … plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call Me, and come and pray to Me, I will listen to you. When you look for Me, you will find Me. Yes, when you seek Me with all your heart, I will let you find Me … and I will change your lot … and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.
In this passage, God exhorts His people to among other things continuously call on Him, pray to Him, and look for Him — to seek Him with their entire hearts, mind and souls. If they did so, He would ‘listen to them’ and ‘let them find Him.’ He would ‘change their lot’ in life and bring them back from a place of loss, despair and/or confusion — and the exact same promise for Jeremiah at that time of antiquity is still the same promise for us today.
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for woe … to give you a future of hope’ (Jer 29:11). Thank You, Jesus! What a promise! The God of the Universe will ‘let us find Him’ if we seek Him, trust Him, and love Him. So ask yourself, are you doing that? Are you seeking Him daily through prayer? Are you seeking His face by reading Scripture? Are you trusting Him with every decision of your life? When things are not going well, is He the first Person you go to for help? Do you love Him above anything and everything else?
Let this passage serve as a reminder to go to God first with everything. Give Him your “first fruits” of ever single day. Every morning begin the day by offering Him a prayer of gratitude for giving you this new day. Tell Him that you are consecrating your day to Him, and ask Him then to bless all the work of your hands for His glory. If you do this, you will draw near to God in ways maybe you haven’t done so in awhile. And in so doing, you will have God’s attention when you need it most.
Now what about prayer? Is there a prayer we could pray that guarantees God’s listening ear? Absolutely! We of course know about the Our Father, but if you haven’t read the Book of Daniel in awhile, there are little pieces of divine gold we should get reacquainted with. For one, Daniel chapter nine records:
Daniel 9:1-4 [excerpt]
I turned to the Lord God, to seek help, in prayer and petition, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. I prayed to the Lord, my God, and confessed, “Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and show mercy toward those who love You and keep Your Commandments and Your precepts!”
Similar to Jeremiah’s writing to the elders and priests in exile, Daniel also was in exile when he prayed this prayer — “Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and show mercy toward those who love You and keep Your Commandments and Your precepts!” Can you spot the common denominator in almost all of God’s promises for blessing? There is always a condition. This is because we all fall short of God’s glory and He demands that we straighten our ways before receiving His blessing. This is, after all, only just and fair — God cannot and should not bless sin.
So then, if we want God to listen to our prayers we must keep His Commandments and precepts — and then will the Lord above listen to our prayers:“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you” (Jer 29:12).
Perhaps now more than ever, believers must understand and begin implementing these types of prayers that elicit God’s attention and responses. We must also recognize that before we pray to Him, we must follow certain conditions, i.e. seeking Him with our whole heart and mind, and following His holy Word, Commands and precepts. Yes, there are conditions to be met in order to get God’s attention — and there should be. Thank You, God, for loving us enough to guide us to become a holy people!
Three Crucial Components for Getting God’s Attention
In seeking God’s attention, there are three crucial components we should keep in mind and follow at all times: a sincere appeal from the heart (and from a place of humility) to God; comprehensive confession, and an unambiguous request for forgiveness.
First, a sincere appeal from the heart means to give God your undivided attention with fasting. Yes, we cannot forget about fasting when we pray. The Gospel of Mark records Jesus having a conversation with His disciples wherein he explains the importance of fasting with prayer: “And when He was come into the house, His disciples secretly asked Him: Why could not we cast him out? And He said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mk 9:27-29).
Simply stated, fasting gives unfettered and undivided attention to God which strengthens prayer. We sacrifice the “god of our stomachs” for example, in order to sharpen our prayer for God. Because there is no eating while fasting, this means there is no entertainment — hence, unfettered and undivided attention to God.
Why do you suppose these outward signs of humility, repentance and devotion such as fasting, sacrifice and mortification seem so foreign to us in the twenty-first century? Inward attitudes of humility, repentance and laying bare oneself before God — striving towards perfect holiness — seem like foreign concepts to us today; but they definitely weren’t in the days that brought forth so many miracles and consolations!
This is why knowing our Tradition and studying Scripture is so important. We can never forget our traditions from old; we can never forget where we came from, the ways in which our earliest ancestors such as the Apostles were commanded to act and behave as well as the interior lives that have transformed ordinary people into miraculous and canonized Saints.
Second, comprehensive confession of sin acknowledges before a perfectly righteous and holy God that we have sinned before Him — and that we are sorry. Most all the prophets, psalmist’s and disciples of old began their prayers confessing their sinful nature and professing God’s greatness before they began to pray. This is not only wise, it is powerful. God loves the prayer of a humble and contrite spirit. Not only that, when we recognize who we are in comparison to our Almighty Father, we remain humble and meek … virtues that inspire us to strive more for God and for our own holiness, and less for the fallen things of this world.
Amen to the humble prayer of the psalmist, “Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my thoughts. See if there is a wicked path in me; lead me along an ancient path” (Ps 135:23-24). What humility! Notice how the psalmist asks God to lead him along the “ancient path” … not the modern-day, worldly path that promises only destruction in the end.
Third, an unambiguous request for forgiveness means to request mercy from God with an underserved compassion. We seek His mercy but we know that we don’t deserve it. That is humility. We must also seek His mercy without any thought of our own personal wants being the motivation. In other words, we seek forgiveness because we have fallen short before God and because we love Him so much, we feel sorry for contributing to His heart break; not because we want something from Him.
There is an old quote, “Many blush to confess their faults, who never blush to commit them.” While God may put many away in anger for their self-professed and prideful “goodness,” He will never do so for a soul’s confessed “badness.” As already stated, God will always listen to the humble prayer of His child. Humility is the key! And God knows the heart motives of every single person.
This is also why it is so important to build a relationship with God. Through relationship we genuinely begin to love Him. And it is through that love that our heart will ache when we sin against Him. This leads us to humble repentance — and that leads to getting God’s attention! See how this works? We can never out give God. When we give to Him, He will turn around and shower upon us His perfect love.
There is a way to get God’s attention when we need Him the most, but it will come with a set of conditions. God wants to bless you. He wants you to have an incredible life here and in the one to come. But in order to enjoy these benefits of knowing, loving and serving our Holy God, we must strive to “be perfect … as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). How do we do that?
By following His commands and precepts, and approaching Him with a humble heart and spirit. He has given us the words to pray. He has given us in fact an entire Holy Bible to read as a guide map to draw closer to Him, know Him and love Him, but we must choose to do the work. The great news is, we can do this one day at a time; one prayer at a time. It is a daily journey of prayer and drawing closer and closer to our Heavenly Father until one day we will meet Him face to face in all His glory. O thank You, Jesus!
Lord Jesus, we offer up this day and every day to You. Help us to walk along the narrow path that leads to eternal life with You. There is nothing we want more than to seek Your face, know You and love You all the days of our lives. Give us the grace and courage to understand and follow Your commands and, when we fall short, give us the wisdom to repent without delay and accept Your forgiveness.
We love You Lord, and we offer up all our sufferings for the reparation of sin committed against Your Most Sacred Heart. All the days of our lives, give us the grace to love You more and more. It is in Your good and holy Name we pray, amen.
For Meditation and Contemplation
As it is written in the law of Moses, this evil has come upon us. We did not appease the Lord, our God, by turning back from our wickedness and acting according to your truth, so the Lord kept watch over the evil and brought it upon us. The Lord, our God, is just in all that he has done: we did not listen to his voice.