We have started a Manhood Right of Passage in my house. My four-year-old son has started to wrestle with me at any given opportunity. The play-by-play goes something along these lines:
We grapple for a few seconds, I pull some sort of move I saw on TV one time (or learned in my grade school gym class), pin him to the family room floor, count to 3 and declare myself the winner. When I let him up, he stands up, dusts himself off and says, “OK, now it’s my turn to wrestle you.” To him, the person wrestling is the person who is on top, in control and ultimately wins the match. He doesn’t quite understand yet that wrestling is a two-person activity – there is not the wrestler and the wrestl-ee.
I got to thinking how sometimes that is the trap I fall into when it comes to prayer. I hope not always, but too often, I talk AT God, not WITH God. It’s not that I don’t know better; it’s just that often I am so focused on what I want that I forget to listen to what God is telling me. It isn’t even that I am praying selfishly; it’s that I just I don’t let prayer be a two-way conversation. The solution is rather simple – stop and listen. If I take the time and push aside all the noise that can enter my head when I am still, giving God my attention, I can allow Him to speak to my heart and let Him guide me.
One way I have found that helps me is asking questions; I mentally (and sometimes verbally) change my prayer request into a question. Instead of saying “God, guide me as I go through this situation” or “I have a big decision to make, help me make the right one”, I change it to “God, what would you have me do here?” or “What is Your way in this situation?”. In essence, I am praying the same things, but in asking a question, I am putting myself in a position to listen for an answer. Sure, I still have to be patient and allow for God to speak; I put myself in the attitude of listening and consciously seeking.
As I said before, Christianity is a relationship, one where two-way communication is just as important as with any other relationship. So, if you are wrestling with prayer, maybe it is time to stop, listen and start asking.