A man named Lars was arrested on a bogus charge. They confined him in a dungeon prison, where the stone walls leaked and rats stole his dinner. He believed that another man was imprisoned in the cell next to him through the stone wall, but he never knew for sure because the guards had said they would punish anyone who communicated or spoke.
Lars paid the price for talking to the wall, trusting that someone was on the other side listening. They whipped him until they realized that wouldn’t stop him so they were satisfied with laughing at him. They knew what Lars knew not- there was not even a cell next to his, nor another prisoner to speak to.
What crazier thing can you think of than a man speaking to a wall with no one behind it? AND getting punished for it! Especially when there seems to be no response in return.
Is this what happens in Prayer? Are we speaking into the sky and words disappear like air from a leaking tire? What if there is no one to hear them? What do people think about us?
Faith. Prayer into an empty sky requires faith. Maybe this is why we are required to do it- to exercise our faith with every word. To prove our faith to the one listening, if there is anyone there. Why else would we do such an absurd thing, besides that we have faith.
There were times when Lars doubted anybody was listening to him but he told himself, “Either someone is there, or someone is not there. That’s the only way I’ll ever make a difference in this cell- if I can help someone else.” So he decided to believe someone was hearing his quiet voice. He spoke encouragement to his potential comrade. He spoke of his family that he missed. He sang songs from his childhood, from the good days.
Lars, did not realize that there was NO cell next to his own. But what no one else realized was that it was instead the backside of the captain’s quarters that shared walls with Lars. And each day as Lars poured out his heart the Captain of the prison paused in his writing and bookkeeping and listened. It didn’t take the Captain long, when hearing Lars’ voice and stories, to realize that Lars was a friend from his childhood. And when Lars sang the old songs of their neighborhood, when things were good, it brought the Captain almost to tears in reminiscence. It was the captain Lars was ministering to.
At first the captain did not respond at all because he wanted to see how far Lars would go. But when he saw that Lars would not stop believing that someone heard him, even with the ridicule and punishment he received, he knew Lars could not have committed the crime they accused him of. Eventually the Captain developed a system of tapping on the walls to communicate.
Lars heard the tapping and at first thought it was just the dripping of water or a chain hanging against a wall, but he decided to listen. It took faith and practice but he eventually began to understand the code that the Captain was sending him.
After 2 years in the jail, Lars’ ears had become keen to the language that others thought was just a “swinging chain” or “drips of water”. And the night came when the message was tapped through the walls, “You have proven yourself to me with your good faith. Tonight, I will help you escape, Lars.”
And that is one reason why we pray. Though sometimes we wait through long years of silence we choose to talk into the sky and have faith anyway. And this faith is what ministers to our Captain (though our captain is on our team). It is this act of faith that shows him our love. It also shows him that we want him to exist so badly and that the hope in our savior is worth all the effort.
And we choose to have faith because there is only everything to be gained- people can only be helped by it. There is nothing to lose, except for people to think we’re a little bit crazy.