We all know that true communication is becoming a lost art. With all the new technology being created to eliminate the need for face-to-face communication, we are losing the ability to do the latter well. However, we are still wonderfully gifted at communicating about ourselves. How many of us find ourselfs in an extremely one-sided conversation? Either the person we are conversing with has failed to do anything but talk about their problems, as if it they have some urgent need to tell us about their neighbor's insistence to keep up their extremely offensive Romney sign in their front lawn. Or, they just have to tell us about their daughter's new boyfriend. I believe we all go through this, maybe even on a daily basis. However, have you considered that you may be part of the problem too? I know I am guilty of these selfish conversations. I sometimes have a conversation with someone that is leaning completely in my direction, and when the person I'm talking to has their two-cents to put in, I find myself only vaguely interested in what they have to say. Why is this? Let me be bold and suggest we are all extremely selfish. We all need the satisfaction of talking. We all need to get our issues out in the open. It literally relieves stress for us. However, when we recieve that satisfaction, we are unwilling to give someone else that privelage.
Excuse me as I also blame this on facebook and every other technology out there. Technology has completely slowed our attention span. We have to adapt to the fast pace of the media if we are going to thrive in this world, and with this, we all lose our ability to be patient. We need answers quickly. Our natural ability to sit down with someone and have a sincere conversation has died. It is now a struggle to keep our mind focused on one thing for so long. So as we are having that conversation, we find our mind easily wandering to everywhere except where it should be: in the conversation.
Now, if you will, allow me to connect this with prayer. Spirituality is a huge part of my life, and speaking my mind about the lost art of communication brings me to the most important communication of all: the conversations we should be having with our Heavenly Father. Unfortunately, these conversations require a much deeper amount of dedication than those with others around us. In this case, we get no physical presence to ground us. We have no societal pressures to keep us talking and saying the right things. We have no anchor keeping us on our knees. We must be 100% dedicated to the conversation in order for it to be a success.
I often find myself repeating the same things in my prayers. It becomes a broken record I press play right before going to bed. It is insincere and impersonal. Let me make this analogy. How often do we call businesses and get a recorded message? Do we like these? Or even worse... how often do we get telemarketers that leave recorded messages as soon as we pick up our phone? I find few things more frustrating than this. What keeps us listening? Nothing. We are all lucky that God is such a patient loving father because He will always listen. However, you can imagine his disappointment when He recieves "calls" that are merely recorded messages.
The first step to ridding ourself of this problem is to give each prayer the attention it deserves. I try to set myself a visual so that I stay focused on what I am saying. I try not to forget that I am indeed talking to someone who is listening.
The next piece of advice I would suggest is simple: talk to God like you're talking to a friend. This is for one simple reason... God is our friend. "Even to those who don't believe and want to leave him behind."
This next section is I think the most important thing I have talked about. Like with all conversations, we must listen. Prayer is no different than any other conversation in this aspect. Like all conversations, we must be as willing to listen as we are to talk. We must remember not to hang up the phone right after we speak. How are we going to hear what He has to tell us? We aren't going to hear audible words. All of us hear the Lord differently. Sometimes it's merely a good feeling. Sometimes we recieve promptings and answers through our own thoughts. These come only when we are willing to listen. The Lord has things to tell us, even if they're simple things like "It's going to be OK," or "Trust me," or "I love you."
As the values of good communication becomes increasingly more difficult to uphold, we have to make a pledge to not give up on it. Let's learn to listen.