Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Two-Way Conversation

A close friend of mine was on her way to pick up her daughter after a weekend retreat. The daughter was anxious to get home. The retreat hadn’t gone as she had hoped. She just wanted the experience behind her. Hearing the desperation in her daughter’s voice, my friend had decided to drive north that night rather than wait until morning. This was a difficult decision, because freezing rain had been predicted.

Sure enough, the roads began to ice over. My friend could feel that the car was losing its grip on the road. She made the decision to stop for the night. As she searched for a motel, what she feared most happened. A large SUV coming from the opposite direction lost control and slammed head-on into her car.

Thankfully, the Lord spared her any serious injury. The next morning, after being released from the hospital, as my friend and her husband (who had driven up to rescue her) continued the journey to pick up her daughter, her cell phone rang. “Where are you?” demanded the daughter. “How much longer until you get here?”

My friend rolled her eyes in disbelief. “Don’t you mean to ask HOW are you?” she corrected the thoughtless child.

Being a mother can be a thankless job. I can remember lying in bed, shivering with a fever, when one of my children came into the room. “Mom, what are you making for dinner?” he wanted to know.

We shake our heads at the insensitivity of our children, yet many of us are guilty of the same kind of interaction with our Heavenly Father. Much of our prayer life boils down to a list of requests. There is no expression of love. No interaction with the Father who loves us to sit in His presence. We don’t take the time to sit and listen, to give Him a chance to interact with us. Instead, we move through a roll call, naming our items one by one. Amen. It is truly a one-way conversation.

Recently I have been making it my goal to listen as much as talk when I approach the Throne of Grace. I spend time dwelling on His character and attributes. My desire is to keep HIM at the center of the prayer, and put myself at His feet, rather than trying to occupy the throne myself. When I make a request, I talk through it with Him. I am finding something amazing is happening. I am getting feedback from God. He pushes thoughts into my brain that are totally different than the train of thought I might currently be on. He gently reveals my sin in my attitudes and desires. Most importantly, He is floods me with a sense of how much He loves me and wants to bless me. But it must be on His terms, not mine. So I sit at His feet and wait for Him to guide me.

Does this sound a bit too bizarre for you? Is Julie Coleman going off the deep end?

How would you respond if you made a date for lunch and you experienced a one-way conversation similar to prayer? Your friend slides into the booth opposite you and immediately begins to talk at you, barely stopping for a breath. She gives an obligatory compliment on your outfit, then praises you for some action you have recently done. Then without missing a beat, she begins to ask favors of you. Would you watch her kids for a morning while she runs some errands? Could she have the recipe she asked for last week? Would you be willing to lend her some money? Come over and help her with the housework? As you patiently listen to her rattle on, the thought occurs to you that her relationship with you is all about what you can do for her. You wonder if she would bother with you at all if it was not for the needs you were willing to meet.

You get the point.

Prayer needs to be more than a wish list of requests. It needs to be a two-way conversation. Turn off the radio or CD player in your car. Spend time in the presence of the King of Kings as you drive down the road. But don’t spend all of it talking at Him. Spend time listening as well.

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