When you think back into your childhood, what memories come to mind? Good ones? Not-so-good ones? Maybe you remember events that sculpted or changed your life. Perhaps something “rocked your world.” It might be a special activity is your first thought. (I’ll share one of my memories directly below.) But, I’m guessing you remember many ordinary days filled with ordinary things. Interestingly, this sets the stage for most of life. We spend long stretches of time waiting and listening for what comes next. Additionally, waiting and listening directly impact all your relationships.
Waiting And Listening
I’d like to share one of my memories. As a child, I remember waiting – and waiting. Plus I was listening intently to hear special words every summer – “We’re going on a trip with our trailer!” Finally, my waiting and listening brought the desired day.
Going on a trip with our trailer meant I could do some activities I enjoyed.
You see, we worked a week ahead to prepare and load the small, “pull-behind-the-car,” bubble-shaped trailer. It was really small. But it was cool! You could sleep 6 people (crammed), cook in the tiny kitchenette (barely), play games at the “take-down” table (which collapsed into a bed). There was a nifty tiny closet and drawers here and there, under and over, in every possible cubby – for all our stuff.
But the part I enjoyed so much – even before we left – was baking for the trip. I was old enough – nine or ten – to bake special treats to take along. Consequently, I turned out frosted dessert cupcakes, breakfast bran muffins, and cookies. Then I’d package and load them in the overhead storage at the front of the trailer.
Truly, I felt grown-up.
Waiting And Listening – Part of Life
As years passed, I became aware that waiting and listening are essential skills. Surprisingly, the need of those two skills shows up in every facet of life. A few examples:
- Listening to lectures and waiting through years of education to gain coveted degrees and launch into life.
- Listening to weather forecasts till frost danger passes in spring to plant vegetable crops – then waiting for harvest in the fall.
- Listening and waiting for sales of particular items throughout the year to be ready for birthdays and Christmas.
- Waiting for Christmas and listening intently for special traditions people hope to enjoy.
- Waiting for a special visit with a friend – and listening to what’s on their heart.
- Pursuing a closer walk with God – waiting and listening for His input toward fresh growth.
I learned waiting and listening don’t happen automatically. Because they are strengths that are adopted, practiced, and refined, they influenced my adult life. Subsequently, waiting and listening began to change my relationship with God and others – and my prayer life.
I’d like to explore how these ideas affect relationships – especially with God.
Waiting And Listening – Part of Communication
- Things they think He wants to hear,
- Interests they have and want to pursue,
- Desperate needs for intervention, provision, and help,
- What He surely must already know.
Dictionary.com says prayer is –
- Devout petition to God or an object of worship.
- Spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.
But prayer is so much more! Interestingly, prayer is to God as communication is to relationship.
What It Isn’t
Sadly, prayer can become a ritual, artificial interaction . . . where we do most of the talking . . . and supposedly, God does most of the listening. That’s not what prayer is. Additionally, this empty, vain practice is terrible communication – not effective for building a relationship with God.
Prayer is not an instant “get-what-you-want” practice. Subsequently, it’s not going to the “spiritual store” and coming away with armfuls.
Have you ever had one of those conversations with someone where you realize (after a few minutes) it isn’t a conversation? It’s a monologue – and you haven’t said a word! Prayer is certainly not one-sided.
These are common failings in human relationships. Incidentally, not waiting and listening works against good communication and healthy relationships with others. This is exceptionally true with God.
What It Is
We just identified some things prayer is not. Additionally, it’s helpful to define what prayer is in practical, daily applications.
1. Communication And Relationship
Considering communication is critical to relationship, one wonders if prayer is much more than we commonly think?
- There’s critical “buy-in” to waiting and listening that affects good communication. A kind of ownership of interaction together.
- Typical of every dear friendship, “eagerness to connect” matters. So, leaning into God to listen to His thoughts and wait to know His guidance – also matters.
- Active waiting and listening builds stronger relationships. It’s also essential to wait and listen to God to actively nurture a relationship with Him.
2. Doing Life Together
Of course, to know God should mean an eagerness to just do life together. To share from your heart with a companion. The joy of a significant friendship. You never have to be alone when you do life with God.
As already mentioned, communication is essential – but not necessarily always with words. Quiet waiting and listening builds deep bonds. Enjoying the abiding comfortability of togetherness nurtures intimacy. Awareness of the special companionship God initiates – and then pro-actively initiating back (by faith) – helps you do life together.
Prayer nurtures worship. Consider how waiting and listening affect these scenarios of worship.
- The greatest Being in existence extends His hand and heart to build close relationship with you. So you respond with worship (deep gratitude and respect) which means you are willing to wait and listen.
- Wait and listen for God’s promises and blessings, tucked in the folds of each day. He created all things, holds all things together (including your life), and He loves you.
- God’s grace and mercy are personal and eternal. Listen for His help in troubles. His kindness made a way to cover sin and open a door to eternity. Wait eagerly for this day. These, too, are acts of worship.
Communication and relationship, doing life together, and worshipping God – all involve waiting and listening. In actuality, this also builds a solid prayer life.
Scriptures About Prayer and Relationship With God
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” (Is. 64:4)
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear (listen) a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Is. 30:21)
“You will call on Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will answer you.” (Jer. 29:12)
“You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)
“Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray.” (Ps. 5:2)
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Mt. 6:6)
“Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)
All these verses suggest intimate relationship – a dear friendship with God. And as far back as memories go, no one has ever lived who is like God. He is:
- Set apart.
- Always doing something profound.
- Always ready, willing, eager to interact with you.
- The friend you long for.
- The reason to live.
- Alive and Active to help in your life!
Scripture strongly supports prayer is communication and relationship, doing life together, and worship.
Waiting on God is active faith. Because God is faithful and good, you can wait with confidence and live with purpose. The most dynamic Person who ever lived, loves you with everlasting love. And He is eager for your friendship. Are you eager for His?
Jer. 31:3 says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
Your expectant waiting brings delight to God. It shows you have “buy-in” to the relationship. You can trust He’s already in action on your behalf, even during long seasons of waiting and listening.
The best way to actively wait and listen is to cultivate a grateful heart. Interestingly, a grateful heart opens the way to receive –
- Whatever God has in mind.
- More of God, Himself.
- Personal friendship with God.
- God’s deep, abiding love.
Application Thoughts And Questions
- Are you learning to wait and listen?
- Have you pursued communication and relationship with God in practical ways?
- Are you eager to “do life together” with God?
- How can you grow in worship of God?
- List several ways you can actively wait and listen while growing closer to God.
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