One of the things I talk to sales reps about is the 80/20 rule. I try to teach them to let the customer talk 80% of the time and they should only be talking 20% of the time. If they’re talking 80% and the customer 20%, they won’t have enough information to make a good recommendation. The interaction should be about the customer not them. I think the same rule should apply to prayer.
What if in our prayer time we let God speak 80% of the time and we only spoke 20%? How would our lives change? How would our faith change? We have a greater need to hear what God says then He has of what we have to say. He knows what we are going to say before we even speak. He knows the intent of our hearts. He already knows us inside and out. It’s us who have a need to know Him.
I’m not writing this as someone who has accomplished this consistently with God. I’m writing this as someone who has a greater need to know God more. I use words to fill up my time with God more than listening. When I do listen, He speaks. He’s always speaking to us, but we rarely listen to what He’s saying because we’re too busy talking during the time we give Him each day.
I love how the Message writes the conversation between Jesus and His disciples concerning prayer in Matthew 6. Jesus said in verse 6, “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.” The reason for prayer is to shift the focus from you to God.
Imagine how your life would be different if you shifted the focus from your problems, schedule, bills, hurts, hopes and dreams to God. Mark Batterson tweeted yesterday, “Talking to God about your problems is fine and good, but FAITH is talking to your problems about God.” We fill up our time with God talking about our problems instead of getting to know Him. We tell Him our needs, but never ask what His needs are. We ask for His help, but rarely offer our help.
Most of us would never want to be in a relationship as one sided as that. So why do we think that God wants to? I believe He wants to engage in conversation with each one of us. He wants us to get to know Him on a deeper level than we ever imagined possible. First of all, it takes finding that quiet, secluded place every day. The next step Jesus said was to just be there simply and honestly. He didn’t say to fill the silence with words. Just be there in that moment with God and listen. Open yourself up to what He has to say to you. That’s when you’ll begin to sense His grace and know Him more.