Good communication also involves listening. In fact, listening is perhaps the more important part of a conversation. I've often encouraged people through the years to develop the art of listening when they've sought to improve a relationship with someone. It's tempting to begin formulating a response to someone before they've finished speaking. But a good listener will wait and then respond.
Prayer is one of the most intimate ways we can communicate with our Heavenly Father. A pitfall for many of us is that we tend to make it a laundry list of requests rather than the dialogue it is meant to be. In Matthew 6, Jesus contrasted some of the more ritualistic forms of prayer practiced in His day with the type of heartfelt prayer that Lord desires from His children. The culmination of Jesus' teaching is the prayer we call "The Lord's Prayer", but it has been rightly suggested that this simple and beautiful prayer is "The Disciple's Prayer".
I’ve been in several churches now where the “need for prayer” is often emphasized but corporate prayer is never put into practice. Oh, there may be one or two cursory prayers said to start off the morning or just before the preacher gives the sermon, but the prayers we said in the kind of church services I grew up in are gone. I’m not sure why this is so. If we believe prayer is necessary why aren’t we doing more of it? I understand that sometimes corporate prayer can be viewed as a ritual, but quite frankly I find the ritual of singing for 40 or so minutes before the sermon just as rigid. I miss praying as a congregation for persecuted Christians, the needs of the congregation and the world at large. I don’t believe any of those reasons to pray have ceased, so why aren’t we communicating our concern over them to the One who can truly answer them? If we believe that God still speaks to us through prayer today, why aren’t we giving Him a platform to do it? Many a great revival has taken place when the Church Universal (that is believers around the globe) has recognized the importance of both personal and corporate prayer. Is it time for your church to give prayer a larger role in your time of worship? The Lord told Solomon that the Temple would be a place where He and His people would converse in prayer (2 Chron. 7:11-18, specifically vv. 14-15). I believe the same is true of our churches.
Think about your prayer life this week. How often to you converse with God? How deeply? Do you listen for His response? Is your prayer life composed of a list of requests or do you include other aspects, such as praise and confession, into your prayers? One of the beautiful things about prayer is that it is profoundly individual on the personal level. There is no "one size fits all" formula that everyone must do in order for it to be done right. I know people who have a quiet time every morning and pray for an hour straight. I also know others who pray while they commute, clean the house, or take a walk. It does not have to be flowery or eloquent. It just has to be heartfelt. But it must always include listening. After you pray, don’t just get up and go. Sit and take some time to listen. However, or wherever, you pray, take time this week to listen to God's response. He hears and He answers.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre