How would I, as a passenger, feel if the airplane pilot was showing signs of complete distraction while taking my plane off of the ground? And what if I were to go in for a doctor’s appointment and all she seems able to discuss with me are her impending divorce proceedings? Or what if I take an evening and go in for teacher-parent night at school and all the teacher does is complain about the school principal, school board, and county commissioners? Well, in any of these cases I wouldn’t feel very good about the relationship between me and these highly distracted individuals. I would be concerned.
I wonder if this is how God feels about me sometimes? Is he concerned? Does he not feel very good about the relationship between him and me?
I often open a prayer conversation only to lose track in a matter of moments, sometimes, and end up spending more time fighting my inability to keep focused on my prayer time than being able to converse with and listen for God. It is very disheartening.
Perhaps I am weak. By chance I suffer from insufficient faith. Possibly I am worn and weary. Perchance I don’t yearn – yes, yearn – enough for a healthy relationship with God. Maybe I simply don’t understand what is at stake.
Talking to God is unlike any other kind of conversation a person can have with another. Talking with God actually – I mean, to have a real talk – means being honest in speech and focused in listening. Sometimes we talk about talking with God when really what we should be doing and should be meaning is that we are attempting to have a dialogue with God. A conversation is not a conversation when one person is doing all the talking and the other person is doing all of the listening – this is not a conversation. It might be called a rant, a lecture, or a dump – but it isn’t a conversation. Maybe this is how I think I need to converse with God – talk talk talk.
We all know that listening is harder than talking. Most all of us are living proof of this idea – we can gab all day long but to listen to someone else is almost impossible. Talking is easy and cheap. But listening? And I mean the kind of listening where words are heard, they are mulled, and ideas are formed. The kind of listening that might lead to sympathy or empathy. Or maybe compassion. Or perhaps listening will cause one to take up arms and take action – necessarily so. Listening to understand is so, so important.
This may describe an appropriate conversation with God. Talking to God with some coherence and purpose is important. But so is listening with focus and intentionality important. I think that when this happens – speaking and listening – then and only then will God and I actually have a conversation that, after a few moments, will mean something to both of us.
Understand that I am not talking about the prayer times when I may babble from pain, hurt, or despair and I can’t say or do any better. Rather, I am talking about the times that are intentionally set aside to be with God. A time and location is allocated for the express purpose of spending time with God.
The seating is fine. The setting is comfortable. The ambient noise and atmosphere is acceptable. I feel prepared. It is the beginning of moments with God. This is all good – so far. But for me – and Satan hits fast and strong – I lose it about right here more often than not. Just when I enter through the door to the room of prayer. I am overwhelmed by scratches, bites, itches, and squawks of distraction. It never fails.
There are days when I let God draw me in and we can converse. But there are more days when the noise is too great – after trying for too long, I give up and leave. And I feel ashamed. And tired. Weary.
I am confident enough in my faith to know that God will wait for as long as it takes for me to draw to him. He will continue to encourage and reach out. He will give me strength when I need it. God will not let me down.
It’s just that I desire to be a good partner in a healthy conversation with God.
If you know how to pray, I want to hear from you. If you would like to pray together, be in touch. If you struggle like me, share with me.