When I was in choir in high school and college, I constantly had to remind myself to sing from my diaphragm, not from my nose and throat. One unpleasant side effect of singing shallowly rather than deeply was that my ears would pop, and the sound of the other voices around me would become muffled. Everyone could still hear me, but I don’t imagine they enjoyed what they were hearing. I should have learned after the first dozen or so times of doing this, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to remember to consistently sing the way that made the fullest, most harmonious sound, and the one that didn’t injure my ears or offend anyone else’s.
More often than not, I pray the same way. I utter the surface words, but I forget to allow my spirit to join in. I believe the prayer still reaches God’s ears, but when I pray from the surface rather than from a deep place, I stop up my spiritual ears, and it’s difficult to hear His voice in reply.
When Jesus opened the ears of the deaf man in Mark 7, he sighed. I haven’t unearthed the context enough to know if His sigh was one of frustration or compassion. I prefer to believe that it was the latter. Still, sometimes I wonder if He sighs and shakes His head every time I choose to pray from the surface. I have never heard His audible voice, but I wonder if, after opening my stopped-up, stubborn, spiritual ears, He might say something like this:
Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? — Mark 8:18 (NIV)