I was getting really irritated. I was getting bored and I certainly wished I was somewhere else. Ayo had been keeping at it for several minutes now. Both of us were talking about something I’m not even sure had any bearing or moral lesson. Or maybe I should rephrase – he was doing the talking, a one-man conversation better called a monologue. And each time I tried to say something; he would either cut me off or just continue his tirade like my opinion was not called for and I didn’t even exist. I’ve had several experiences like this and it irritates me to no measure.
But even as I huff and puff at this breach in classical communication, there is a realization that dawns on me that there is a lot of this going on in the Christian body, an alteration in what ought to be but is not – Prayer.
I’m quite sure that if I asked people what they understood by the term ‘’prayer,’’ I will probably be getting something along the lines of; “Communication between man and God,” from nothing less than 50% of them and rightly so. But there is a problem, not in the definition but in the understanding of what it is.
As a communication student, I’ve had my ears full on what communication really means. One of the classical definitions I’ve heard over and over is; “Communication is the exchange of information, ideas, thoughts, feelings etc between two or more people with the receiver(s) having a clear understanding of the message and then giving a feedback.” I won’t bore you with the details and technicalities of it but communication is not complete without feedback. Almost everyone will agree with this definition that if one doesn’t get a feedback, then communication hasn’t taken place; at least not effectively. So why do we find it hard to apply this to God also?
Several times I’ve heard it stressed that prayer is very important in growing spiritually and each time I picture it in my mind, I can imagine God sitting up there and little me down here talking, talking, talking and God listening patiently, it never occurred to me how very inappropriate that picture was. The absurdity of this kind of communication dawned on me fully when I was discussing with a friend of mine and he was talking about how he wasn’t really “big” on prayers and how his prayers entailed him drafting a long list of all he wanted to pray about, then reading them back to God and there the prayer ended. I thought it was really funny and you may think that it’s really ridiculous but that is what most of us do, we give God this long list (maybe not a paper list) of what He should do for us, stay for few minutes; talk, talk and talk! And think we have prayed. What happened to communication? What happened to fellowship? (Which is even the main reason why we were created), what happened to listening?
Little Samuel was born of a covenant and as such, at a tender age, given to the work of God and lived in the temple with the Priest – Eli and his naughty sons. From 1 Samuel 3, we see how God called Samuel to be a Prophet and gave him a message about Eli. Before this happened, there was an antecedent. In verse 3, the Bible talks about Samuel lying down in the temple/tabernacle of the Lord and whenever tabernacle is mentioned, it speaks of God’s presence. So, Samuel was in God’s presence and then suddenly God calls him. This just tells us that for us to hear God we need to be in His presence and this is in the place of prayer (fellowship).
Although Samuel did not immediately recognise God’s voice, through persistent search he got it. If he had probably laid there on his bed after the first or second time and just assumed it was someone playing tricks (probably one of Eli’s notorious kids), he wouldn’t have gotten the revelation he did. So, in listening to God persistence is very important.
One very important thing that’s very striking was the fact that throughout the whole conversation Samuel was silent after he said “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). This lad was probably terrified and must have also been very excited about the fact that The Almighty was talking to him, especially at a time when “the Word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” (1 Samuel 3:1). I’m sure he had a thousand things to ask God for, I certainly would have! But instead he just lay there silently as God spoke. What an attitude!
There are times when we as Christians are not to talk to God or do anything but listen. Times when we put all our thoughts, petitions, even intercessions (as self-sacrificing as that is) aside and just listen to what God has to say, reading and meditating on the word and times when we should just ‘’be still” and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10), this also speaks of worship, not in singing or eulogies but as The Message says: ‘’Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God….” (Psalms 46:10)
It speaks of devotion, of taking “long, loving looks,” of still hearts and silent lips – “Quiet down before God, be prayerful before Him…” (Psalms 37:7 – the Message), of “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Therefore, let us stop boring Him with our monologues and diatribes, keep quiet and allow God speak!
Sidenote: I know I’ve been MIA for some time. How long now? A month? I apologize. Lately, I’ve had this crazy deluge of work thrown at me and it’s been kinda hard to keep up with the tangled world that is blogosphere. Please, bear with me. I still need a bit more practice at this. Pleeaase, have mercy! Pleeaase? Pretty pleeeaase? Sooo…am I forgiven? *most whining smile*. Oh, thank you! You’re a darling!
Oh well, see you some other time then. Let’s just hope “another time” wouldn’t have that much apology attached to it. That was really draining. Alrighty, toodles!