Communication takes a miracle. The 500 most commonly used English words have an average of 28 meanings each! So the odds that you actually know what I’m saying here are not very good. The odds that I know what I’m saying are even worse. If connection happens at all is pure wonder! In fact, I believe that human communication is one of the clearest proofs for God’s existence and evidence that we’re truly made in God’s image.
When communication does truly happen, when things “click” – and we’ve all been in situations where the conversation takes wings – it’s because certain extraordinary elements come together. The most important is something we can call “synchronization.” Researchers studying a film of people talking around a dinner table noticed that as the conversation “clicked” the participants began mimicking each others’ movements, intonation and posture. Communication “worked” when they synchronized, gave up “plotting” and “lecturing” and instead “engaged” with their friends by listening and responding. That’s the secret – listening and responding.
I found my voice with my Jill this way. [For the first part of the story, see “No More Mr. Plastic Man, July 10, 2009]. It happened one night after a college class we shared. At the end of the session we were assigned to “affirm” someone. Jill and I stood on opposite sides of the room looked around and found we were the only two without a match. I broke into a cold sweat. She rolled her eyes.
We sat down together. Miraculously, we started talking, really talking. Instead of worrying about how Jill perceived me I found I had crawled outside myself to listen to her voice. That’s when I found mine. Instead of plotting out my words I responded to her. No more “Mr. Plastic Man.” We communicated. The room emptied; it began to rain; and an hour later we were still lost in conversation, forgetting our past prejudices, forgetting the time, we engaged… A few months later, literally!
God is an actual person and the principles of communication work for him as well. After all, God made them those rules! Real prayer begins when I stop trying to script and say the right things, in the right voice, at the right time of day. Prayer begins when I stop making it “I” and synchronize with God’s heart. I needed to stop trying to impress Jill before we could engage; I need to stop trying to impress God as well. As I submit my heart into his, listening and responding, prayer becomes easy and natural.
Prayer is listening and responding to God, then listening to God’s response and responding again. Think tennis. Prayer is tennis with God.
How do you “sychronize” with God. How do you listen to God’s communication, then respond, then listen again to God’s response and respond back?