3 Min Script
Well hello again, and again I am still thinking about prayer and still wondering about lots of things concerning this subject. Here is one for starters, why is it that for lots of people, it seems to involve lots and lots of talking? I guess they think it’s a one way conversation, a monologue rather than a dialogue.
I have travelled quite a lot and seen many things concerning prayer; prayers that are written on paper and then pinned to trees to flutter in the wind, lots of religious people seem to have things like beads to pray with, and perhaps these things are helpful, I don’t know, but it still all seems like one way traffic. Once, when I was abroad, travelling in the back of a taxi, the driver suddenly stopped the car, scribbled something on a piece of paper, jumped out and put the paper and some money into a box on the wall. When he got back into the car I was curious and asked him what that was all about, he smiled and told me it was a prayer.
In another country there was a crowd of people around a big glass box with a statue in it. I sidled up to one of the people on the edge of the crowd and asked ‘Do you speak English?’ I find that’s always a good way for me to start a conversation. ‘Yes’ they said with a smile. So I asked him what the crowd of people were doing. He told me, ‘we are praying to our god.’ I asked him, ‘Why is your god in a big glass box?’ He smiled benignly and explained ‘You see if the god wasn’t in a box everyone would touch the god and the god would get dirty!’
It seems to me that the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, his birth, death and resurrection is all about repairing the broken relationship between us humans and Father God. Now for a relationship to be a real one it does seem to me that there ought to be two-way communication, rather than just one way. And I know that some people do talk a lot and expect others to just listen, but I really don’t think God is like that. Jesus said to his followers, ‘I don’t want to call you servants because a servant does not know what the master is going to do, instead, I call you friends because you do understand, I have told you what the father has told me.’ That’s in John’s gospel, chapter 15 verse 15
Now I don’t think that communications ended with the first followers, those early disciples. Hey, I am a follower and a disciple of Jesus and maybe you are too. I want to know what the Father’s business is, don’t you? Yes I know we have the Bible, but this is a new age and whilst the values don’t change some things do. For example, I don’t worry too much about falling off a donkey like Paul, but I do worry about crashing my car! So yes, I do want a two way conversation.
So it seems to me that I need not only to talk to God, to pray, but I also need to listen to God to see what he is saying to me. Let me tell you a little story, I was working with a guy called George Canty and he would sit on a platform in a meeting and often tell me things that were going on in the lives of people sitting in the audience, people he had never met before and neither had I. I said to him one day, ‘Why does God tell you these things and not me?’ He said, ‘Maybe you’re not listening, maybe you talk too much.’ I remember going home, lying in bed and saying to God (praying that is) ‘God I do want to talk to you, but I also want to hear you, can you talk to me?’
Now I would say God spoke to me, but it wasn’t a voice I heard with my ears, it was more of a perception in my mind, it seemed as though God said to me, ‘Yes I will talk to you, I have always been here and wanted to, but you have been busy talking to me and not listening.’ So I said to God, ‘Okay, if this is you talking to me, and not something I am making up in my head, and it’s not me having a conversation with myself, help me to know that it really is you.’ God said to me, ‘Well now, what does this verse say?’ and he gave me a chapter and verse in a certain book in the bible.
I lay there quite a while thinking and thinking and finally I said to the voice in my head, ‘Actually, I don’t even know how many chapters are in that book, and I certainly don’t know what that verse says even though I have thought and thought.’
The voice in my head said, ‘Well there is that many chapters in that book, and this is what the verse says,’ and the words of a verse ticked through my head, then the voice said, ‘you have a Bible right by your bed on the cabinet, look it up now and see if that really is what the verse says.’ I switched on the light, picked up the Bible and thought, ‘oh dear this is not the version I usually read, so what it says in here will not be in the right language, it won’t in the words that I originally learned, I’ve got this completely wrong, this is just my imagination .’ And then I heard the voice say, ‘Did you think that I didn’t know what version of the Bible was by your bed!’ How embarrassing. I turned to the verse and it said, word for word, what I had heard in my head.
I know God wants to talk with us, learning to listen is the hard thing and hearing correctly is sometimes even harder, we will talk more about that next time.
Adrian L Hawkes
For UCB 3 min spots
Editor A Brookes