Why do human relationships break down? Often it’s because of a communication gap. We forget to adequately listen to and speak clearly to family members and friends. It may be an issue of ego: Certain that we are speaking clearly enough for everyone to understand us, we fail to listen to them. Focused on our own needs, we endlessly chatter on about our personal lives. In contrast, when our relationships are healthy, we become attentive listeners.
In marriage, a lack of healthy communication is often the culprit when a relationship goes sour. With my wife, Angie, often I am tempted to walk in the room, rattle o a list of needs, and expect her to meet each one. After all, she’s my wife and loves me. Right? Of course she does. But it is disrespectful and devaluing to her when I demand her service but never give her my love. Instead, my conversations should be a way for me to love her by listening, heeding her calls to action, and responding with the heart of a servant.
The same communication gap is why we desperately need the right view on prayer. Without properly understanding this spiritual discipline, we will lapse into abusing our relationship with God. In our immaturity, prayer too often is about getting our point across to God rather than coming under His loving hand. We hold up our needs in an arrogant fashion and demand to be His priority. Our prayers border on self-idolatry when we displace God from the throne so we can ascend to His position. is sinful and disjointed view of our salvation places self at the center of God’s kingdom.
In treating prayer as a spiritual discipline, we learn to respond to the loving activity of the Father. In prayer, I tell Christ of my love for Him and ask for the Spirit’s filling so I can obey the will of the Father. In bowing my will before God in prayer, I show my deep love for all He has done and will do. Even more, prayer is the moment that I declare my love for God in the most intimate of circumstances.
Taken from my latest book, Habits for Our Holiness. To discover more about this spiritual discipline, take a look at chapter four entitled “The Great Conversation: The Practice of Prayer.”