We are a little more than a week in Lent, and I’ve already discovered it’s time to take a good look at my prayer life. I’m starting to think it’s more than a feeling, thought. No, I believe it’s one of those Holy Spirit whispers I should listen to. How about you? Have you ever gotten something on your mind that just won’t let up and realized that it was God trying to get your attention? Me too, and it seems this is one of those times.
When I think about prayer, I envision prayer as a conversation with God. But I grew up thinking that I could only say certain things to God. When I was in third grade, we all had to memorize a specific prayer, and I had trouble doing that. I fact, I never did get it right.
I practiced with my mom, read it, wrote it, and worried about it. I dreaded having to recite the prayer in class and remember feeling a pressure that I know now didn’t come from God. The focus was on getting the words right, not to Whom I was offering them.
Boy, oh boy! The enemy sure starts on us early.
The truth is that God doesn’t want us offering Him rote prayers, memorized word for word, or offered under pressure. God wants us to share what is on our hearts, good or bad, pleasant or poor (Psalm 34:6). And just like a good friend, He is patient and wants to comfort us.
Good conversations stem from an authentic and honest give-and-take dynamic and a big contributor to the dynamic is listening. Undoubtedly, that’s hard to do without patience. We want to say what we want to say and move on, often not waiting for a response. Can you see how that’s taking without giving.
Patience allows us to slow the pace. Pause and give God a chance.
Listening with patience and joy
Listening is as essential to a conversation as speaking. But we can’t listen if we’re doing all the talking. For me, I can’t listen without help from the Holy Spirit. That’s because I believe the art of listening requires the spiritual fruit of patience, and that isn’t something we develop on our own. It is the Spirit’s job to cultivate patience in us so, we have to let Him work.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
—Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
And why not treat prayer like a conversation with God, our Best Friend? Let’s listen for His still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13). We can be sure He has something to say, so listen as a friend would.
When we have good news, a decision to make, or a disappointment to process, we rush to share it with a good friend? Discuss these things with your Good Friend, Jesus, and listen for His response. Whatever the answer is, we can experience joy in the intimate prayer that results from this deeply connected conversation. By the way, joy is also a fruit of the Spirit, so this is truly a win-win exchange.
Rejoice in your growing relationship with Jesus.
We can rejoice and approach God with confidence because we know that He hears us, and if we believe that He hears us, then we know He will answer according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). Give up your burdens and take comfort in the word of God and His presence in your life.
Find joy in the give-and-take dynamic of prayer.
He’s right here.
- How can you practice listening during your prayer time?
- Look for the joy in the give-and-take process of prayer.
- If you don’t already have a practice of prayer, why not try to establish a time every day that you can spend in conversation with Jesus and start growing that relationship?
Those of you who don’t know Jesus yet, THANK YOU for sticking it out to the end of this post. Please consider Jesus. Accept Him as your Lord and Savior and receive salvation and the Holy Spirit (John 14:23-26). Please allow Him to begin working in you. Your heart will change as His fruit grows. And that includes patience and joy.
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