In a 2015 Pew Research Poll statistics about prayer reveal some interesting findings about Americans:
55% of us pray daily
23% of us pray weekly
21% say they seldom or never pray
Even among those who are religiously unaffiliated, 21% said they pray daily. Women (65%) are more likely than men (46%) to pray every day. Older people (60%) are more likely than younger adults (45%) to say they pray daily.
Given the nature of prayer, how much of it is talking to the Lord?
How much of it is listening to the Lord?
“God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak” is an old Irish proverb [so I am told] although I have heard that “proverb” quoted by many speech teachers over the years and I don’t think they were of Irish descent.
This begs the question, how much of prayer is listening? And if much of prayer is listening, then are people hearing from God?
I found it humorous that Dr. Willard quotes Lilly Tomlin who says “that when we speak to God we are said to be praying but when God speaks to us we are said to be schizophrenic.”
This points out the difficult nature of telling anyone about receiving a word from God.
It is hard to tell about your encounter with a UFO.
It is hard to tell about your near death experience.
It is hard to tell about your experience if you have been molested as a child.
It is hard to tell about your encounter with God, especially if God speaks a word to you.
No one wants to be labelled “crazy” or eccentric.
Just the other night I attended a meeting that discussed a book about relationships. The whole book centered on walls that people erect around themselves. The author told the story from interior monologue and you got to see the inner workings of the minds of the characters and you could see their tensions, their misgivings and their misunderstandings. You could see the trouble caused by not sharing information. People had serious physical and mental problems caused by walling off others from their lives. Some people came to incorrect conclusions about characters and lived for long periods of time with those conclusions. Misery was brought about by this unshared thinking.
This summer has taught me the value of sharing. Because of health emergencies in my family and in the family of my wife I have seen firsthand the positive effect of breaking down walls.
Feelings get shared, good advice gets given and people begin to help each other and understand each other.
However in normal circumstances we get in such habits of keeping information to ourselves.
What is the worst thing that can happen if you share with a friend or loved one the idea that you got a word from God?
They may think you strange.
They may think you are making a wrong interpretation.
They may think you are arrogant since God has singled you out for a word.
But should you really care?
It is shaking up the status quo to share this information. Jesus shared his thoughts with people of his day and the religious leaders did not like his sharing at all. The Sadducees and Pharisees were very upset that this Man seemed to know more about God than they did.
Do religious leaders today want us to not admit that we have a word from God?
Maybe they want to be the only ones who receive a word?
Dr. Willard says that “it is well-known that people go off into all sorts of errors and become quite unmanageable once God starts ‘talking’ to them.”
Again, should we really care?
Is there an upside to sharing information about hearing from God with your loved ones?
I don’t advocate stopping people in the street and revealing that “God has spoken to me” or “My Lord and Savior have given me a word.” But if you have a loving spouse or a very dear friend, it might be wonderful to share news about God speaking to you.
I dearly love my wife and I know she loves me. Sharing information like this can bring us closer in our relationship. She is a very accepting person; not very judgmental. She is a safe comfortable person to talk to.
Even if I told her about my word from God and she calls me crazy.
It won’t be the first time.
It won’t be the last.