What is prayer? The correct answer to that question stems from an understanding of the words, "with" and "to". In reality, prayer is my communication with God. It's talking and listening. It's giving and receiving. Too often we refer to prayer as, "My communication to God." Prayer isn't a one way street. God's not a genie in a bottle. God's not a divine butler. Often we get confused and assume that prayer is our opportunity to talk and for God to just sit and listen. We think it’s our opportunity to tell God what we need and where we want His help. But that's not what prayer is all about. What prayer is all about, is when we speak to God and God speaks to us.
I'm reminded of the old story...
Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. "I closed the door," the boy replied, "lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking."
You see, far too often we fill our prayers up with talking and asking and pleading. We spend so much time talking and God is never given an opportunity to speak. We forget to stop and listen. The question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear Him.
Consider this challenge as you pray: speak less and listen more. Try listening for twice as long as you talk. If you pray for 5 minutes a day, try listening for 10 minutes in addition to your 5 minutes of talked. Give God the opportunity to speak to you, you won't be disappointed. I'd love to hear your comments as you try this in your prayer life.