There were once twins, two boys born at the same time from the same parents. As they grew up they found that life was not as easy as they thought it should be. They found out that they did not have all the answers, did not always know what to do, or how to face the situations that came up in life. They were very lucky though, in their village was an elder who was very wise. People even came from other villages to ask advice of this elder and they had him right there to ask questions about their problems or even just listen to what he knew of life. As the boys grew older people noticed that even though they looked exactly the same, had the same parents, were the same age, that they were growing up differently, one was growing in wisdom while the other one continued to make foolish, childish decisions even though he was growing into a young man. If you knew them you would know however that the difference was in how they asked questions of and listened to the village elder.
The foolish boy would come and sit at the feet of the village elder, he would tell the elder about his life, his challenges and his happiness. He would tell him everything going on and even ask very good questions of the elder, but when he would finish one question he would only pause for a short time before moving on to the next one. If the answer did not come immediately then the boy thought that it was not coming at all and he moved on to the next question or situation. The few times that the elder was able to speak to this boy he frustrated the boy in that he did not just tell him what he wanted him to do, instead he would tell him stories from the elder’s own life, or he would give him a task to do that to the boy did not seem to have anything to do with his problem at the time. The boy was frustrated with the elder telling stories or giving out tasks that did not help him with his problems. The boy continued going, but also continued to not learn or grow from his time with the elder.
The second twin, the one that was growing wise also went to the elder but he approached him differently. He would also tell the elder about his life, his challenges and his happiness. He would tell him everything that was going on and ask him questions. In this way the two boys were just the same. The wise twin though spent more time with the elder, because instead of just talking and talking and talking he listened. After he asked a question he paused to hear what the elder would say. After telling the elder about his life he would pause to watch his face and see the approval or disapproval given by the elder’s facial expressions, expressions that he had learned to read after years of watching the elder. And the stories, the boy loved the stories of the elder as much as he sometimes worried about the tasks. The boy dwelled on the stories given to him and found in each one multiple pieces of advice and wisdom on how he should act in life. And the tasks…the tasks were always hard, but when he did them he grew and often learned how to handle the various challenges in life. As he grew his wisdom became evident in that his times with the elder started to have as much to do with him as they had to do with other people in his life.
So the two boys grew up, one wise and one foolish because one had learned to not just talk to the elder, but to listen and be with the elder. This story is very similar to how we approach God in prayer. Prayer is about being with God. There is talking involved as we let him know about our happiness and worries, God wants to hear about our lives, and our requests for his help for ourselves and others do not go unheard, but just as in sitting with the village elder there is more to prayer than just talking. If we do not learn to listen we will not grow closer to God, we will not learn about who God is. If we do not listen to and think about his stories or obey when he gives us a task we will not grow in Godly wisdom. We have the ability to talk to the creator of the world, because he chooses to listen, but we will not grow closer to God and more like Jesus if all we do is talk.
What is good for us is that God left advice even on prayer in his stories and place of wisdom. I want to talk about some advice that the Bible has on prayer and on talking to God.
-Matthew 6:7-8 The first boy kept talking and talking and talking and he never learned anything from the elder. The second boy told the elder what was going on, but then stopped talking and just listened. This part of the Bible says that we are to let God know what is going on, but that our prayers are not more special just because we keep talking and repeat the same things over and over again. We must talk, but we also must at some point stop talking.
- More than just not talking though we must learn how to listen to God, we must recognize his voice when we hear it. 1 Samuel 3: 2-10 In this story God does not speak until Samuel recognizes that it is God speaking. His voice can be heard in many places, from the Bible, to Godly advice of elders, to our own lives and creation and direct prayer. If what you hear matches what you know of God and what you read in the Bible than it is probably from God and you can always ask other Godly people to help you know for sure.
- God’s voice is often heard pointing out what he is already doing in our lives or things that God wants us to be doing, just like the elder that gives a task. Matthew 6: 9-13 You pray this many Sunday’s. It asks us to put God’s will first by being a citizen of his kingdom as well as shows us that he acts in our life by helping us resist temptation and providing daily needs.
We have a daily opportunity, every minute of every day to talk to God the creator of the world, that loves us so much. Please take that opportunity and pray to God and in prayer also listen and learn how to recognize God’s voice in prayer and in your life. There is a proverb in English that God gave you one mouth and two ears for a reason, because you are supposed to listen twice as much as you talk. I think this is the most important when spending time with God. He is the ultimate village elder and you will not find better wisdom than when you learn to listen to God.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
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