Communication is so hard.
What we call communication is actually us talk for a while, then pausing a little as the other person talks as we wait for a break so that we can begin to talk again. And the other person is probably doing the same thing. This isn’t communication, it’s just two entities talking. Communication, by definition, is two sided. It’s relaying information as well as receiving (and hopefully comprehending) information. It’s not just talking. It’s listening.
Even as I write this a quick article popped up in my feed where the author quotes Cash Nickerson, author of The Samurai Listener: “Unfortunately most people don’t remember because they don’t hear it in the first place.”
We are inherently bad at communication with one another so naturally it seeps into our prayer life, which is the origin and foundation of all communication. The very first conversation in history was between one man and God, where each spoke and each listened. But then came the Fall, where our communication became warped with selfishness, ignorance, judgement and agendas.
For the next few weeks I want to wade into the warm waters of Prayer with hope and practicality. Personally I feel like I am still in Prayer Elementary School and am usually embarrassed by my felt inability. But I know I am learning and growing. There are times in my prayer life that I am actually listening to God, and sometimes find out that God is also listening to me (why does that surprise me?).
Let me tell you this story from last week, and then in my next post we’ll pull out our archeological tools and begin to uncover the ancient art of prayer:
I was sitting in a chair on the beach at sunrise last week, reading my bible and praying. I felt really stuck in my prayers, not even knowing how to vocalize what was in my heart…no even KNOWING what was in my heart. So I began to literally and simply pray to the Holy Spirit, confessing that I didn’t know what to pray for and asking Him to pray to the Father on my behalf. Two minutes later a lady I’ve never seen before slowly passed in front of me on a bike, turned to me, and said “I’m praying for you this morning”.
That’s it. I never saw her again. I didn’t run after her and asked why she had said that. I just sat there and thanked the Holy Spirit for this gift, for this reminder that He is listening…AND He is communicating with the Father on my behalf.
So why does this matter? We are free! Free to pray, and free to stumble in our prayers. Free to be eloquent and free to sound like an incoherent child. The Spirit is the translator that connect our mouth to the Father’s ears and the Father’s mouth to our ears. So take the pressure off and just begin.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
For more depth on the Holy Spirit prayer on our behalf, listen to THIS sermon by Ligon Duncan (super amazing pastor/preacher/professor).