I also get the feeling that nobody is interested in listening. When I walk across the campus where I work, I would say that three out of every five people I run into either have ear buds in listening to what the kids call “music” or they are talking on one of those blue tooth thingamajigs. It’s like they want no contact with the outside world. Or maybe they just don’t want to talk to me. Nah, that couldn’t be it. I’m just glad I don’t act like that. Or do I?
While praying recently, it occurred to me that I am not as far removed from the “entitled” culture as I would like to believe. When I pray, I talk, and talk, and talk making sure that I get the chance to say everything that is on my mind and heart. Then, I say “amen” and go about my business. I make sure my voice is heard, and then I don’t even give God the chance to respond. I move right along with my day with my proverbial headphones on only paying attention to the things I think are important.
The only reason I came to this realization is that I honestly felt God telling me to stop talking during that prayer. I was praying very hard about an issue that has been on my heart for many months, in the same way I had prayed about it almost every day. Once God finally shut me up, He dealt very directly with me on that particular matter. I also felt Him saying, “If you would take more time to listen, we could have taken care of this a long time ago.” Ouch…very ouch.
I have been told by several people that I consider spiritual mentors that listening is a vital part of prayer. However, our culture is so busy and so much about “me” that it is tempting to say what you have to say and move on. We don’t want to take the time to let God respond to our thanks, our requests, or even our praises.
We need to stop approaching prayer as “my” time with God, and start to view it as “our” time to talk specifically about our relationship. If it becomes “our” time, we are more likely to give God His time to speak. We are more likely to actually listen and let Him guide us. We are more likely to actually experience God and allow the Holy Spirit to take hold of our lives in a very real way. All we have to do is take the time to listen. Pretty simple, huh?