There's nothing sweeter than listening to the babbling of a baby. A bit later, we smile and encourage their attempts to speak. Even though their words at first are not clear and sound a bit like nonsense to our ears we nonetheless praise them, understanding that human language takes time to learn. Eventually their words become clearer and clearer and soon words turn into sentences.
Next comes the terrible twos. Every third word seems to be "no" and we often say, "You need to listen and obey Mommy and Daddy, sweetheart." We know what's best for them and seek to protect them from danger and to teach them that listening and obeying are important to their safety.
So it is with prayer. Most of us begin our prayer lives with endless babbling to the Lord. No doubt He is proud of these early attempts to communicate with Him and like a proud parent, even encourages it. As we grow in Christ our words become clearer but we are still very wordy and the conversation tends to be a bit one-sided at best. Like toddlers, we have learned to speak but have not learned to listen as of yet. Still, God seems to like the sound of our voices and seems pleased with our prayers. We are filled with consolations of every kind and blessed abundantly.
And then comes the silence. With our tendency toward verbosity this silence terrifies us. What did we do wrong? Why does it feel as if God no longer hears our prayers? Where is the leaping of the spirit we have come to expect during prayer?
During this time God is teaching us to simplify our prayer, to pray with our hearts and not just our mouths and minds. He is also teaching us to listen. Listening and obeying are two of the most important part of prayer. God speaks to every heart but it is hard to hear the sound of his voice if we don't shut up from time to time. Between the noise of the world and our own inner "yak, yak, yakking" sometimes His voice is drowned out by the cacophony of interior wordiness, sometimes by the shouting of the world that surrounds us.
We know by faith that God knows all souls intimately. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Certainly, He hears the whisper of a silent heart that beats like a drum for Him. Our prayer is taken over by His words rather than our own for His thoughts are far above our own.
The Heart of God gathers the hearts of men into Himself and when we accept this "gathering" our hearts begin to beat in unison with His.