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How to have a conversation

by davesandel on January 9th, 2021

Saturday, January 9, 2021                  (today’s lectionary)

Saturday after Epiphany

How to have a conversation

Beloved, we have this confidence in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. So if that is so, then we know that what we have asked him for is ours.

Prayer takes many forms and fits into many formulas. One of my favorites is A-C-T-S … adore, confess, thank and supplicate (which means ASK). But prayer is usually something we do, rather than something that is done to us. We don’t experience God praying for us, at least not often. We mostly pray to God more than praying with Her.

Rosalind Rinker discovered and then shared with the world what she calls “conversational prayer.” But before she writes about this kind of prayer, she explores the idea of conversation itself. What is it exactly? What’s involved in the art of good conversation?

Conversation is a practice which should provide communication between two or more people. Unfortunately, it is usually listed among the lost arts of today.

“Two or more people” means marriages, and it means friendships. Two or more applies to politics and business and negotiations of every kind. It applies to what we call “self-talk,” conversation between parts of myself. And it certainly applies to prayer, with two or more gathered and especially with God himself. How do I talk to God? Can I talk to God like I talk to everyone else, and is that even a good thing? Do I trust God to trust me when I talk with him? Can I learn to listen as much as I speak? And if that’s the case, then how can I know who I am listening to when God is not present like a human companion?

Ros Rinker has much to say about all of this. But first …

To understand conversational prayer, it will be a great help if we get the following four points about real conversation clearly in our minds.

      1. When we converse, we become aware. Aware of the other person, his rights, his privileges, his feeling, and if we converse long enough, his total personality.
      2. Good conversation implies that we must take turns and do it gracefully. When one person does all the talking we call it (if we are polite) a monologue.
      3. Finally, it should be clear that to converse we must all pursue the same subject, and pursue it by turns. We are, in a sense, the listening and speaking members of a team. We have agreed to agree upon our subject of conversation, and to do this each one must decide what is relevant and important at the moment.
      4. To carry on a conversation of any significance or interest, each person must use his memory to recall, his patience to wait, his alertness to jump in, his willingness to get out, and above all his capacity to hold back the disruptive. In other words, he should be in tune. Rosalind Rinker, Prayer (p. 24-25)

Sometimes I feel frightened by my imagination, when fevered images of danger and death attack me. But quite often and in quite a different way, my imagination provides a yellow brick road for me to travel toward God. Is that good, is it safe?

Dear children, keep yourself from idols. Jesus must increase; I must decrease. No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.

I’m halfway through Rosalind Rinker’s book. Soon I think I’ll have more to share. Prayer is such a simple thing, until we grow up and suddenly it’s not. I am sure God wants it to be simple again. We don’t know his thoughts, but we have our own thoughts, we don’t understand his ways, but we have our own ways, and more than anyone else, God is interested in hearing about them and sharing with us what he thinks.

Sing to the Lord a new song of praise, for the Lord loves his people. Let our praises for you be in our throats. This is the glory of all your faithful.

(1 John 5, Psalm 149, Matthew 4, John 3)

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