Have you ever attempted to communicate with someone who doesn't listen? Even on my best days, that always tends to annoys me. These people may ask you a direct question, and then before you can even begin to formulate your response, they have already answered their own inquiry. Or, possibly you've ran into those who will simply talk over you without the slightest regard given to what you're trying to say. It's your story, but they are intent upon finishing it. Many of these people, although well intentioned, are a "pushy folks" who aren't really concerned with what anyone else thinks. Although they engage you in communication, they are only doing so as an offering of cultural custom. Their true intentions and character are revealed in their profound lack of genuine concern for real two-way communication, a characteristic that never goes unnoticed to anyone...except to them.
Have you ever taken a moment to examined your communication with God?
I believe that prayer is our most important avenue for authentic interaction with God. It should be powerful; it should yield benefits into our life. Consequently, I've heard so many people tell me that their prayer life is cold, and God seems to be unresponsive. Or, some say that "they just don't get anything out of prayer." That breaks my heart. In these situations, as with all other situations between God and man, we are always the problem.
Our prayer life isn't weak because God is too busy with other concerns to listen. The Almighty is not frustrated with us, and He's not giving our time to someone else. He's there, and He's certainly listening.
There's many reasons that our prayer life could be diminished, and again, they all involve problems on our side of the line of communication. Maybe we're praying without faith? Is it possible that we might simply be praying out of habit...the same rehearsed prayers, voiced in the same mundane mindset, with a heart that isn't expecting much? Or maybe, just maybe, we're praying fervently...but we're not listening.
Prayer is communication with God. It's not dictation. We have every right to take our petitions to the throne of our LORD. Christ provided that right to us with His incredible sacrifice on Calvary. By His wounds, we are not only healed. His wounds, His death and His resurrection have altered the format of our communication with God. Now, in confidence, we can boldly make our petitions known to a mighty God...a God who is ready to talk.
God's Word gives us this incredible glimpse of our ability to communicate with Him...
"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." – Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
However, God's Word doesn't say anything about that right lending unto us a power to demand anything. Our communication with God is certainly not grounded in demands, and furthermore, it is not a negotiation with God. Our communication with Almighty God is to share with Him the details of our life (which He already knows), to tell Him what's on our heart, to celebrate the victories He has led allowed us to win, to bring our defeats to His throne...and all of this to seek His will and direction. For that, we must listen.
Our communication with God, at the expense of the sacrifice of Christ, is a two-way interaction. We pray, then we listen. The listening could possibly be the most important aspect of prayer, and I'm quite certain that it is the most overlooked component. Sadly, we often never give God a chance to respond, or we simply don't pay attention to anything that happens following our 'time to talk.'
We pray, and then we simply act on our desires...but we've prayed about...right...so it's OK? God didn't immediately burn a message in fire on the wall with His holy direction. He didn't quickly send the Ark-Angel down with a 'read-receipt' and instructions regarding our request...so, we just do it our way. Our way is the best anyway, and it has to be God's perfect will...right? Don't be fooled. We might want to give God a moment to prepare our hearts and our lives for His response...a response that we should be listening for intently.
We pray for things that we deem important, and those things probably are important. Sadly, we may only pray when we classify something as important. When we have a sick parent or a financial crisis, then we're all about taking that to God. We recruit friends to pray for us, we post our desire for prayer on social media, and we certainly pray ourselves. But is our prayer based on the genuine desire of seeking God's will, or is our prayer one that is based on persuasion?
I've guilty of trying to persuade God. I've used some of the best techniques that I know in an effort to alter the divine will and perfect mind of Almighty God. I've begged with God, and I've pleaded very weak cases for my desires, with a conviction that was palpable on my end. And, in that impassioned presentation to God of the reasons 'why I'm right,' I've failed to listen. Consequently, my failure to listen placed me definitively out of God's will and perfect plan for my life. In that, I suffered.
Our prayer life is important. It's very important. I believe it's the most important thing in our life. And what's really important about our prayer life is the fact that it is in a two-way conversation between us and the Creator of all things. When we fill that communication with only our requests (and possibly our demands), and we fail to let God speak, then we aren't communicating with God. We're only communicating to God. When we spend our time in prayer trying to persuade God into agreement with our own personal will and agenda, we must understand that we're not really praying for communication...it's only a dictation of our 'wants.'
God delights in answering our prayers. Our heart's desire should be a reflection of God's perfect will. However, our heart, and even the hearts of His most devout followers, does not always reflect that perfect will. We all have our expectations and desires, and those will not always line up with what God is doing. In that fact, our default-mode in prayer should mimic the prayer of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to being led away to trial and execution...
"Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
– Matthew 26:39 (NIV)
Pray for what you want, but be willing submit to God's will. Our will is certainly one that is fallible and prone to lead us directly away from real relationship with God. God's will is perfect, and it is only in His will that our lives will be blessed. Our prayer life should be one that leads us to God with the purposed intention of finding His will...not persuading Him to conform to our agenda.
Have a blessed day, my friends, and let your prayers be real communication with Almighty God. He has things to tell you...and He doesn't blog!
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!