I once read that prayer is conversation with God. If that’s true, then we should be hearing from God all the time. Conversation implies 2-way talking where one party says something, then the other party responds.
I’ve found there are 3 ways to get people to respond to what I’m saying. One is to stop talking; two is to ask a question that they can answer; and three is to say something I know they don’t agree with. Like telling a taxi driver in Singapore that you like Bush better than Kerry. Now, you’ve got a conversation going!
It seems to be the same thing with God. Often, we don’t hear from Him because we are content to do the talking. He is a good listen, after all, but He would like to get in on the conversation a lot more than He does, if we would just make room for Him. The number one way to get your conversation with God going is to stop talking.
Being the only male in a house with 3 girls, It can sometimes be like the old saying, “I can’t get a word in edgewise.” You know the feeling, you have something to say, but by the time there is enough of a pause in the conversation, the train of thought that goes with your very clever comment has already left the station. You either have to resurrect the previous line of thinking or just drop it, and pretend you have nothing to say. How many times has God been left out of our praying because we didn’t give Him enough time to speak?
Asking questions is another great way to start a conversation. That’s why young couples have so much to talk about, they are curious about each other, and can spend hours finding out what the other one thinks about all sorts of stuff. As we get older we can run out of questions, and the conversations become less than exhilarating. But we should never run out of questions with God. He holds the secrets of the universe and of the human heart. We will never explore the full depth of His knowledge. Is your prayer time full of questions, or are you too busy telling God all the stuff you know?
Some of the most energized conversations I have enjoyed came out of controversy. My daughter Julia has very strong opinions, (she is her mother’s daughter) and anytime I want a lively conversation I can simply make a statement that crosses one of those opinions. I may not get to say anything else, but I’ll hear a lot from her.
God is a little like that too. Have you ever noticed how quickly you hear from God when you tell him what you have done wrong? Or when you get real honest and challenge Him on how He’s handling some situation? Just check out the last part of Job. He got an earful when he challenged God. How about you, when was the last time you were so honest with God that it got Him to respond?
Don’t be satisfied with knowing God as a “good listener”, there’s a lot more to prayer than telling God what you know. He needs you to hear His heart too, and to embrace the burdens that concern Him. Let’s make prayer the “conversation with God” it’s meant to be.