What is prayer?
It’s a conversation with God. In all good conversations, you talk and you listen. Prayer is listening to God.
What do you listen intently to?
Music? People? Your children? The News?
Do you have selective listening? That is, do you tune out certain noises or people?
There is a train near my home. It blows its horn every time it passes by, but I don’t hear it anymore. And sometimes I tune out my children.
What about God?
I suspect we tune out God more often than we realize.
How important is it to listen to God? One answer is in Psalms 81:11-16
“But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.
“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
The primary way we hear from God is by reading His Word. Perhaps we should consider that neglecting of God’s Word is a rejection of Him. He wants us to listen to Him. We reject God by ignoring Him or not reading His word. He also speaks to us through other believers, so failing to attend worship services and failing to have fellowship with other believers is ignoring God.
The Proverbs tell us much on the subject of listening to God.
let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.
Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.
“Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.
Mary was one who listened to our Rabbi; in fact she sat at the feet of Jesus. This is the story of Mary and Martha”
As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Luke 10 38-42 MSG
Imagine for a moment the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus and hang on His every word. Well, you can. We have a record of our Lord’s teachings in the Gospels. The 21st Century gives us the benefit of several versions of the Bible and numerous commentaries to aid our study. The choice is yours. Will you sit at the feet of your Savior, the Light of the World?
And when you sit at Jesus’s feet, will you really listen to Him, or will you do all the talking?
When we talk to God it’s often a one way conversation. We give Him our prayer requests and that’s usually the end of the conversation. Now think about a really great conversation you had with a friend. Was it a one-way conversation? Probably not. More than likely you took turns speaking and listening. You were focused on each other. No one dominated the conversation. But only giving your prayer requests to God is to dominate that conversation. Spend time getting to know Him. Dig into Scripture and learn God’s ways.