Faith: The Loud and Soft Of It

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When I was growing up I discovered that there were two kinds of faith.  There was soft faith and loud faith.  People in my life practiced both types and I am so glad that I was exposed to both.  I think we all need a little faith change from time to time so that we are open to new ideas, new prayers, new promises, and new beauty.  Before I explain both types, please know that whatever form your faith takes is exactly right for you and perfect in God’s eyes.  As long as we have faith, He will hear us.

Up until I was 14 years old, I went to Lutheran and Episcopal churches.  At those churches, we prayed quietly.  The minister said all of the things that should be on our minds and then we softly said, “Hear our prayer, oh Lord.”  As near as I could tell, we didn’t talk about our faith or talk back in our faith, we just agreed and hoped God was hearing our quiet plea.  The beautiful thing was, He was hearing every thought, word, and deed.  I believe God hears our hearts when our mouths can’t find the words to say.  He also hears our actions loud and clear.  Whatever was coming up from all of us in that church or around our dinner table as we said Grace, or at bedtime as we said, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”, He was listening. After all, I figured those were the only times each day that people prayed.

What I was shown was that those quiet prayers were followed by beautiful and faith filled acts of service.  We lived on a busy street in a suburban neighborhood.  There were kids riding bikes and people walking dogs and families enjoying their yards.  One weekend afternoon, we had a knock at the door and there stood a girl who had been riding her bike.  She was in desperate need of a bathroom and back in those days and in that neighborhood, people didn’t need to be afraid that some harm would come to them if they stopped to ask for help from strangers.  My parents let her in and showed her to the bathroom.  You would have thought my brother and I had never had a houseguest before.  We were curiously thrilled to get a closer look as she came out.  She was so grateful and my parents didn’t think anything of having helped her.  We also gave a ride to the Charles Chips man when his van broke down.  Charles Chips was a home delivery company for cookies and chips and all sorts of goodies.  We were driving down a crowded thoroughfare and there he was.  The Charles Chips man.  Standing beside his disabled delivery van.  My parents stopped.  They recognized him.  He recognized them.  They invited him into the safety of our car and we took him to the nearest gas station where he could get help.  This was the norm in our family.  If someone needed help, you helped.  It was part of our faith.

The summer after I turned 14, my brother and I went to stay with our grandparents for 6 weeks or so.  It was there that I learned about loud faith.  My brother and I went to the Baptist church for the first time and I’m sure that my mouth was open and shock was registered on my face by the time that first service ended.  The minister was loud.  He walked around and shouted a little bit.  He called people by name.  He asked us what was in our hearts.  Then, a most unbelievable thing happened.  Someone in the congregation answered back.  It was a loud and hearty, “Amen!”  Out loud!  In church!  I kept looking around out of the corner of my eyes hoping to see who might be getting in trouble but it turned out to be more than one person.  What was going on there?  Then came the time to pray.  Our heads bowed and I waited for the cue to say, “Hear our prayer, oh Lord.”  It didn’t come.  That minster, the preacher as I was to be corrected later, asked us to pray.  All by ourselves.  I have to admit I was a little lost there at first.  Fortunately, Aunt Beverly was by my side that day and she prayed enough for the both of us.  I had never heard anyone pray like that, out loud.  She asked for help, she asked for forgiveness, she lifted up people I knew and people I didn’t know.  I felt confused but energized by the end of that time in church.  During the next week, my aunt talked to me about my faith.  She talked to me about church.  My grandfather sang some church songs for me that were in a language I understood.  They made faith come alive for me even outside of the church service.  That summer, my brother, my cousin, and I went to church camp.  What a shocker that was to be loud and bold about God all week, with other kids my age.   When that summer ended, I had a new outlook on my faith.  The foundation that my parents, Grandma Barbara, and Grandma Ruby, had laid for my love of the Lord was firm and true.  On that foundation, in the house of the Lord, Aunt Beverly, Grandpa Ken, and Grandma Lucy opened the windows so that God could hear our shouts and prayers.

I am blessed beyond measure that I have had the role models I’ve had and the warriors who have always pointed me towards God.  Whether it’s been a soft and gentle nudge or a loud and boisterous slap on the back, I was witness to their love and service.

Matthew 21:22  And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

Notice it doesn’t say what kind of prayer?  Pray loud, pray soft.  Pray in your own way, in your own heart, and in your own voice.  He will hear.  Have faith.