I think it's a dying art.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about communication.
We have plenty of that!
Technology has made it possible to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world.
And the wonders of social media aren't all bad.
Personally, I'm not on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or any number of other avenues of social media communication.
But, I do love the *instant-ness* of texting – (especially the world of emojis that has opened up for me with the purchase of my new phone!)
And, I am grateful for Blog Land.
I appreciate the gift of written words and the power of their impact.
But, there's a downside to this culture of instant communication. I believe we've lost the art of face-to-face conversation. (Though I am encouraged when I see people conversing over their $25 cups of coffee at *$'s…)
I looked up the definitions:
Communication: the imparting or exchanging of information or news; means of connection between people
Conversation: verbal talk between two or more people in which thoughts, feelings, and ideas are expressed, questions are asked and answered, implying a close familiarity
Conversation is more intentional.
Conversation is more personal.
Conversation is more meaningful.
I recently read a blog post about prayer.
It talked about paying attention to it, and questioning whether we're really conversing with God or just going through the motions.
It convicted me.
Sure, conversation with God is a bit more challenging because He's invisible.
But this doesn't make Him less real.
So as I pondered my relationship with Him, specifically as it concerns prayer, I discovered some things.
First of all, prayer should be a priority.
It's not meant to be an afterthought or an add-on to all the other "spiritual" things I do.
It must be an intentional pursuit.
Jesus didn't take prayer lightly.
He made it the cornerstone of His faith walk with the Father.
And, it often took priority over more "pressing" matters – like noisy crowds and complaining disciples.
Am I concentrating on removing myself for intentional time in prayer?
You know, I could really do with some improvement in this area.
Yes, there is a time and place for *arrow* prayers, and for short snippets of communication with God.
It's OK to kinda *text* Him throughout the day.
But prayer must never be at the bottom of my to-do list.
Second, prayer should be conversation, not just communication.
It's meant to be personal.
God desires that we talk WITH Him, not just AT Him.
He wants a dialogue, not a monologue.
It really helps me to picture the Lord sitting beside me when I talk to Him, just like any other friend. I picture looking into His eyes, and really being transparent and honest.
Sharing my innermost thoughts and most intimate feelings.
But again, conversation is not meant to be a one-way street.
This means that part of prayer is listening to God speak.
For He is an active partner in my prayer life.
He has things to say.
He wants to be transparent and honest. He wants to share His innermost thoughts and intimate feelings.
He wants to be real…Himself.
Am I doing all the talking, or am I having a personal, give-and-take conversation with God?
I can do better.
Finally, prayer should be meaningful.
I don't know about you, but in my opinion communication these days seems to be fluff – lots of content, but little substance.
In an instant, we can see a selfie, read a tweet, place a message on a wall.
But honestly, does it really enhance my life to know that so-and-so is doing this-and-that and going here-and-there?
And am I doing that sort of thing with God?
Am I only giving Him tossed-out fragments of my life?
And is that meaning anything to me (or Him) at all?
I've always been a person who enjoys serious conversation. I'd much rather talk with one person than mingle with a crowd. And, I don't enjoy staying on the surface – I like my conversations to go beyond superficial or frivolous trading of information.
I want my conversations to go deeply inward.
I want meaning.
And of course, this is how my prayer life should be.
You know, as I ponder this whole thing about prayer, there is one thing that really helps me understand it.
It's putting myself in the place of God.
How does HE feel about it all?
I can only liken it to my relationship with my own children.
And as I ponder what I want out of my relationship with them, and how I want our communication to be, I believe that I gain some valuable insight into how God feels about prayer.
(If you don't have children, try to picture someone in your life that you love, that you're in a relationship with. I know you can ask the same questions…)
How hard would it be if they rarely talked to me at all?
And what if they were always too busy, in a rush, or distracted when we finally did speak to one another?
What if I wasn't a priority?
Wouldn't I feel lonely and ignored?
How might I feel if they talked to me like I was a stranger?
Or if they did all the talking and never let me share myself?
Wouldn't I feel sad?
And what would it feel like if they only talked to me when they needed or wanted something from me?
What if they never talked to me just for the delight of conversation?
And honestly, wouldn't I grow tired if every time we spoke they were upset, complaining, slightly angry with me, disappointed in something, impatient, or any other negative feeling?
Wouldn't I wish to also hear their joy, and excitement, and laughter?
How much would it hurt to think that they took me for granted?
("Oh yeah, Mom's always there")
And what if they never spoke about their appreciation for my presence in their lives?
Or never told me they loved me?
Wouldn’t I feel dejected by that?
Thinking this way really makes me stop and think about how I talk to God.
And then I begin to understand how our conversations are supposed to be.
God wants to hear from me just the way I want to hear from my own children.
Frequently, in appreciation, just for fun, in need or want, honestly, and affectionately.
Yes, when it comes right down to it, prayer really isn't that mysterious.
It's just God and us and open hearts.
Quick chats and deep dialogue.
One-on-one, back-and-forth, give-and-take, talking and listening.
Two people who deeply love each other, desiring each other's company, just sitting down to share with one another.
Talk to God.
Listen to Him.
And be forever changed by the conversation!
How's your prayer life – are you having real conversation with God?
I just called to say
I love you.
I just called to say
how much I care.
I just called to say
I love you.
And I mean it
from the bottom
of my heart.
My sheep hear My voice,
and I know them.
(Lyrics by Stevie Wonder)
This is a lot of Scripture, but it's oh-so-good!
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
(Philippians 4:6, NIV)
"Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, NLT)
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." (1 John 5:14, NIV)
"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."
(Hebrews 4:16, NLT)
"'Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.'" (Jeremiah 29:12-13, ESV)
"Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…" (Colossians 4:2, NASB)
"'And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.'" (Matthew 6:7-8, NIV)
"'But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.'" (Matthew 6:6, NLT)
"'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'" (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV)
"In my distress [when seemingly closed in] I called upon the Lord and cried to my God; He heard my voice out of His temple (heavenly dwelling place), and my cry came before Him, into His [very] ears." (Psalm 18:6, AMP)
"In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:26-27, NASB)
"The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray." (1 Peter 4:7, NIV)
"The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God – it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]." (James 5:16, AMP)
"Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly." (Psalm 5:3, NLT)
"It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night…" (Psalm 92:1-2, NASB)
"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." (Psalm 55:17, KJV)
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable and pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my [firm, immovable] rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14, AMP)
"Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors.
And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
(Matthew 6:9-13, AMP)
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