I have a question for you: When you’re in the midst of a conversation with someone and they’re talking, are you listening or just waiting to speak? Think about that. You’re at Starbucks gabbing away with your BFF (yes, I wrote that…moving on) and they say something that you have the perfect answer to, retort to, or story to go along with that. And then they keep talking and won’t shut up. You want to speak now. Are you actually listening or just waiting to talk. You never know what they say afterwards half the time (heck, they could have said they’d buy the next round…er…next cup of coffee).
We do that a lot though. We’re in the midst of a conversation and instead of actually listening to the other person, we’re waiting for our turn to speak. We’re waiting to give our input into the subject at hand that was like 5 sentences ago. I’m guilty of this, especially with my wife (whom I love and cherish and is totally awesome).
So, do you listen or are you just waiting to speak?
To be honest, the same thing is true in prayer.
Prayer is conversation with God. So many times we see talking to God as prayer but hearing God talk to us as being a bit weird (and maybe even looney tunes). Yet in prayer we have the wonderful gift to speak and converse with the creator of the universe by Jesus’ name through the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a great blessing. But how often to we truly and fully utilize this wonderful gift of prayer?
There are times where we approach God and just emotionally and spiritually vomit before Him. And that’s okay. There are other times where we lay our burdens and anxieties before him, and we’re supposed to do that (with thanksgiving too [Philippians 4:6]). And there are other times where we bring a laundry list of things we’d like God to handle and take care of. We hear things like “Bring it to God in prayer” or “I’m a prayer warrior” or “Pray hard.” All these are good. We are to come to God in prayer.
Yet are you listening to God or just waiting for your chance to speak?
Do you truly listen when you speak to God?
Prayer isn’t one way. It’s a two way conversation.
In prayer, God wants us to be still and listen. We read
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
God calls us to listen through the prophet Isaiah
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord.” Isaiah 51:1
“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.” Isaiah 55:2-3
“Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.” Isaiah 28:23
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21
God wants us to not just come before him with a laundry list of things for him to accomplish and giving Him some deitastic to-do list. He wants us to come before Him, seeking Him. Looking for Him. He wants us to want to know Him. Not just cognitively but like a friend, like one we spend time with. And the way you spend time with someone and get to know them is through conversation, and through actually listening.
God wants us to seek Him out and come to know Him
“Then you will call on me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” Jeremiah 29:12-13
To seek God is to listen for Him. To seek God is to listen to Jesus’ words and leading. To seek God is to pay attention to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding you.
Be still and listen. Be still and truly listen to God in prayer. It’s okay to be silent in prayer. It takes practice and time not to start making your day’s to-do list, write out the grocery list, or remember you forgot to feed to dog. It takes practice and time to just sit still, be still, let things go and not exist for a while and just listen to God, thinking on what is written in the Bible, His message and word to us.
Be still and listen, don’t wait to speak. When you do, you’ll find things begin to get just a bit more interesting as you come to God in prayer.