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How do I break out of the monologue habit?

This morning I was struggling with a relationship. The relationship comes with complications that are bothering me. And I want to take action. Instead I took it to God in listening prayer. I asked him the question, “What do I do about this relationship?” God said, “Wait it out.” Ugh. Not …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

This morning I was struggling with a relationship. The relationship comes with complications that are bothering me. And I want to take action. Instead I took it to God in listening prayer. I asked him the question, “What do I do about this relationship?”

God said, “Wait it out.”

Ugh. Not what I wanted to hear; I wanted to make a decision. But God’s still, small voice interrupts my self-focused patterns of behavior and gives me his counsel, guiding me along a narrow path. How else can Jesus be Lord of our lives if we don’t give him this kind of veto power over our decisions? That’s what a Lord does. To call him “Lord” when you can’t hear him is specious and seems hypocritical to nonChristians.

Here’s something I wrote about the issue in
The Art of Listening Prayer: “If your experience interacting with God feels like a monologue, if you hunger for intimacy with God the Father, but feel stuck, unclear as to how to actually go deeper, then you need to see that it
is possible to converse with God. In fact, you’ll see that he invites conversation and expects to regularly interact with us.

Like Esau, many of us trade this birthright for a cheap imitation – stale religion. But there is a way out. The same God who gave us the spirit of adoption, who invites us to call him “Abba Father,” gives us the right as his children to talk to him conversationally. Don’t you hope against hope that this is true? Aren’t you just waiting for someone to show you the way?

There is a way, and it involves the give and take that we expect in any conversation. It requires that we ask God questions and wait for him to respond. Because it involves this process of listening, I call it ‘listening prayer.’ It’s far more art than science, and practice does help. We need to get in the habit of asking God more questions and then expecting his response.”

Comments (4)

  • God was able to free me from bondage today and I know He was able because of my time with Him this week. Unlike you, I DIDN’T go to God about a relationship and reacted…a reaction based on hurt from the past. God showed me how my anger and bitterness towards past situations were blatent sin and how evil I could be because of hanging onto it. I am chosing to be sad for these people and how they are hurting our Lord and not worry about me. It’s not about me. It’s all about HIM! I will start to pray for these people.

    I know God was only able to break through to me because of my time with Him this week. Thank you, Seth, for the encouragement and challenges you give us all. I am freed at last.

  • I began this book only a few days ago and immediately God used my own kids to teach me a lesson. I have 4 girls who range in age from almost a year and a half up to 10 years old. After school one afternoon they were especially chatty. Constantly they would all come at me from all sides (even the smallest of them!) to tell me about all that was going on in their lives. By bedtime I was feeling overwhelmed as I hadn’t had an opportunity all day to say anything on my own behalf. I specifically sat down with the 2 eldest (school-aged) kids to tell them how I felt and that if they had a friend who only ever spoke at them and not with them they wouldn’t feel too good in that relationship either.
    Early the next morning when I got up to spend time with God, he reminded me of how I felt the night before. He taught me that I was in the habit of praying, unloading my cares, complaints, requests, petitions, etc. on him, only always talking and that he doesn’t have an opportunity to get a word in edge-wise. He showed me that he has much to show me and to say and that I needed to stop every now and again to give him the opportunity to do so.
    I love the book, Seth!
    It’s awesome!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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