Do you pass along information from one conversation to the next? I’m not talking about gossip, but rather things like sharing good news from one friend to another, or perhaps passing along a concern that a friend asks us to pass along to other people. (Yes, this sounds a little like Facebook, but it’s as old as human communication.) For instance, when I get off the phone with a friend or family member, my wife will often ask if I learned anything interesting. Passing along information from one person to another is an important way that we share and connect. We might share interesting events that happened to our friends, or something funny that they told us about their experiences.
In the same way, sharing with others about our conversations with God is a great way to pass along what we learn. For instance, if we tell our friends that we are praying for them (and being specific about what we are asking God about, on their behalf), they can then share answers to those prayers with us later. Talking about what you learned during your prayer time or Bible reading may give someone else insight into their own Christian walk. In addition, being open about our prayers with others encourages both them and us to remain faithful to regular conversations with God. Whether you prefer to call, tell, post, tweet, or broadcast important news to others, don’t be afraid to include details of your prayer life. As this chain of spreading God’s glory to others expands (whether we are sharing His answers to our prayers, or just showing others that we trust God by praying to Him), praise to God’s name – His “fame” – can grow exponentially. And who knows, the next life that is changed – through honest sharing like this – could be your own.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 illustrates how those with gifts of wisdom or knowledge have a part to play in the body of Christ (the church).
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 NIV
As you read through this passage, consider what message God has put on your heart, today, that He wants you to share with others.
Do you have any friends (or acquaintances) who like to hear their own voice? This isn’t a topic for us to judge other people about, but I suspect you’ve been in a situation where you had no choice but to just sit and listen while someone went on and on. (I’m not talking about cases where someone needs to pour their heart out, and just needs someone to listen. Instead, I’m reminded of the person in Mark Twain’s short story, “Jim Blaine and his Grandfather’s Ram”, if you ever had to read that in school.) These people are 95% talk, and when they stop to listen, the first thing you say triggers something else that they can expound upon.
Unfortunately, I’ve been “that guy”, sometimes. I really appreciate that my friends – and colleagues – are a forgiving bunch, and I can sometimes catch myself before going too far into a monologue. If that wasn’t bad enough, though, I’ve also sometimes been that kind of person to God: I just babble on about my issues and requests without stopping to listen. I’m too much like the pagans in Matthew 6:7, hoping to sway God through sheer volume of prayer, rather than through seeking God’s will and His direction. Don’t get me wrong: Praying a lot isn’t bad, nor is praying consistently about the same things. Talking to God in prayer without listening, though, is only half of a conversation.
Let’s compare two verses, both written by the same group (the “Sons of Korah”, apparently, based on the notes about these psalms). In Psalm 84:8, the author asks God to listen:
Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
Psalms 84:8 NIV
Then, in Psalm 85:8, the author says that he will listen to God.
I will listen to what God the LORD says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.
Psalms 85:8 NIV
Both of these activities are important, and neither one – by itself – makes up a conversation on it’s own. Just as being a friend who only talks but doesn’t listen isn’t true friendship; if we are “freeloaders”, and expect our friends to take care of all of the communication in a relationship, that friendship isn’t well-balanced, either. Our friendships should neither be monologues nor one-sided “news feeds”, and neither should our relationship with God.
So, although talking to God is absolutely a good thing, when you’ve shared what is on your mind with Him, open up the Bible (or a Bible app on your smartphone), and see what God has to say to you on the subject. Then, throughout the day, keep your eyes and ears open for words from other Christians, or circumstances in general. Look for God’s reply to you, and then you will have all the parts to a real conversation.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Editor’s note: This devotion originally appeared at fcccanton.com (now https://www.firstchristian.com/) as a Study Guide for the August 17, 2014 message on the subject of Prayer. It’s updated a bit, and reprinted by permission. However, I still have a few of these archives, written before this particular site was launched, and this one seemed to remain applicable today.