‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD. (Isaiah 1:18)
Ever had a conversation with someone who doesn’t listen? All they do is talk; and even if you do get a word in, the conversation quickly gets round to them again. But have you ever thought whether your talking to God is rather like this? All talking and no listening? In the Bible, it’s two-way conversations that often prove to be the best prayers, as people ‘talk things through’ with God.
One of the longest prayer-conversations is in Exodus 3:1–4:17, where God calls Moses to lead his people and where Moses finds lots of excuses for not being suitable for the job. Just look at some of the ones he comes up with:
‘“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you.” (3:11-12) ... “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” (3:13-14) … “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” (4:1-2) … Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent …” The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? … Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (4:10-12) … But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well ...”’ (4:13-14).
What a conversation! And how our own praying might be transformed if we prayed a bit more like that, seeing prayer as a two-way conversation, listening and responding, until the issue is clear. Try it today – as you walk, as you travel to work, as you drive the car, as you stand at the sink. God invites you to do it!
For God does speak - now one way, now another - though man may not perceive it. (Job 33:14)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont