Have you ever been in a conversation, where the other person did all the talking? Where you could hardly get a word in edge-wise, because the person with whom you were trying to talk went on and on and on, barely stopping to breathe?
I regularly meet with colleagues and friends in ministry, and I am sometimes embarrassed at the end of an hour of conversation, to realize that the other person has hardly said anything—that our conversation, if it can even be called a conversation, has been all one-sided from my part. It has been a monologue more than a dialogue.
Unfortunately, monologue is also a good description of my conversations with God. When I pray, I typically plunge ahead with my list of requests without ever pausing to think about what God may want to say to me.
Devotional writer, Henri Nouwen writes this: “The core of all prayer is . . . listening.” And in another place: “Praying is first and foremost listening to Jesus, who dwells in the very depths of your heart.”
Jesus frequently said, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” Of course, He wasn’t speaking about physical ears. He was speaking of the openness of the heart to discern spiritual truth.
It makes sense that prayer–communication with God would include both talking and listening. But how much listening do we do when we pray? Are our ears even open when we pray?
We have been considering this theme recently in our sermon series on prayer. On Sunday, Paul suggested that I put a reminder somewhere in the middle of the weekly prayer request list that we stop talking and listen to what God may be saying. So here it is, at the beginning of the list!
This is not a recommendation to look for some mystical experience during your prayer time, but rather a reminder that prayer is meant to be much more than throwing a weekly list of requests heavenward. It is meant to be fellowship with God.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
Hope to see you Sunday!