Less talk, more listening

Do you pray? How often do you pray? How do you pray?

I suspect that many of us can remember being taught by our parents and teachers to recite the standard prayers such as the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, The Act of Contrition, etc. and to say them on our knees just before we went to bed each night. We also were taught to ask God to help us with all the important issues that confronted us in our daily lives. We looked to God as the purveyor of goodness, the giver of all that we believe we need: “God, I really need to pass the exam tomorrow.” “God, help me find a job.” “God, I really need to win the lottery.”

Hands in prayer

Hands in prayer

The fact is that, for most, prayer is a one-way conversation. We talk but never listen. It is no small wonder that the most common complaint heard is “I pray and pray and pray but God never answers my prayers.” How can we hear God’s voice when all we do is talk?

Imagine sitting down with a friend who you have known for a very long time. Your friend begins the conversation by asking you for a favor but continues to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk and …. You are never given the opportunity to respond. Good conversation requires active participation from both parties, both talking and listening. Why shouldn’t the same hold true in prayer with God?

But I listen but God never answers.” Really? I suppose if you are expecting a deep booming voice speaking from the clouds you may be correct. God only responds that way in the movies. God responds to us in many ways, we just have to be open and listening. Look around, open your heart and you will hear God.

When all we do is ask God for what we need or want we are really separating ourselves from Him. It is as though we believe that God has no clue what is going on in our lives so we feel the need to tell Him. God knows what we need; He always has and always will. There is no need to bring Him up to date. Looking at it that way the “I need” becomes “because you are aware” or “since you know where I am right now.”

The most common excuse that I hear for not praying is that there simply is not enough time to pray. Really! Just how long does it take to offer a prayer to God? I tell my students that the best prayer one can offer to God requires only two words…”Thank You.” I tell them to thank God and then to be still and listen. God loves you, knows what you need, and always appreciates your gratitude.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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