A Conversation within a Conversation
Have you ever prayed mid-conversation? Not out loud, but just silently in your heart?
Have you ever been having a conversation with someone, and while they are speaking or during a pause, you start talking to God about the conversation you are having with that person?
It’s a conversation between you and God within a conversation between you and another person.
There’s an example of this in the Bible that may help illustrate things.
Nehemiah, cup bearer to King Artaxerxes of Susa, was burdened that his homeland, Jerusalem, was in ruins. The sadness was so evident on Nehemiah’s face, the king noticed it immediately and asked for an explanation. Nehemiah was afraid, but he told the king about the situation in Jerusalem anyway (Nehemiah 2:1-3).
The king responded, “What is it you want?” (Nehemiah 2:4).
Up until this point, Nehemiah hadn’t expressed what he wanted to anyone in this account. Maybe he didn’t even know.
What Nehemiah did next is significant. Instead of immediately responding to the king’s question, Nehemiah “prayed to the God of heaven…” and then he “answered the king,” (Nehemiah 2:4:5).
Nehemiah stopped and had a conversation with God within his conversation with the king.
What do you think Nehemiah said to God? Maybe he asked for favor from the king. Maybe he asked for God to order his words as he made a request of the king. Maybe he asked God what he should ask the king for. Maybe he asked for protection from the king, who, I’m sure, would’ve been well within his rights to fire, if not kill, Nehemiah for asking for time off.
At any rate, Nehemiah prayed before he responded.
And that half of a verse, when applied in our own conversations, could be a game-changer (when we remember to do it).
I’ve experienced some “success” with this concept while witnessing.
In a ministry I work with, I do a lot of “cold” evangelism, meaning I talk to strangers about their spiritual beliefs. I don’t have a lot of time to get to know these women, so I don’t have much to go off of as far as deciding what angle to take with them.
But what I do have is the Holy Spirit. He knows these women more intimately than I ever could, and He also lives inside of me, which is convenient.
When I get to the part of the conversation that involves asking a woman to tell me about her spiritual beliefs – and when I can remember to ask the Spirit to say through me what each woman needs to hear about Jesus in that moment – some pretty cool things happen. In other words, when I remember to have a conversation with the Lord within my conversation with the woman, things usually go better than when I forget to consult Him.
I may also have tried this “praying before I respond” concept with my husband and kids on occasion with varying degrees of success, but I wonder how much better communication and conflict resolution would go with them if prayer during conversation became the norm instead of the exception.
While it’s not a formula we can manipulate God with, when done with the right heart – one of seeking wisdom from the Lord and for the Lord – I think it’s a pretty wise approach to interpersonal communication.
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