One of the saddest things anyone can tell me is that talk is cheap.
I know where they’re coming from. They have the emotional scars to prove it, so I don’t dispute that experience.
It’s a sad thing to hear, because talk at it’s best is designed to be enriching, not cheap at all. In fact in as much as those with the emotional scars suggest the talk was cheap, the wounds indicate that the talk was actually very costly.
It’s something I am very much aware of. I will say something in the excitement of the moment and then later on the rubber hits the road and the actions are not always as consistent and persistent as the exciting talk. It really is only the grace and mercy of God that doesn’t allow me to get bogged down thinking about what happened as a result of the words not meeting the action. I’m grateful for the forgiveness God offers and the way He gives to make things right.
The episodes only reinforce, however, the importance of good communication, coming from a good place to bring about good for the speaker and the hearer.
This is why there’s a plea to not pray in vain. Communicating with God really is one of the most beautiful things in life. The Father loves to communicate. The Son loves to communicate. The Spirit loves to communicate. And we have the opportunity to join them in the communication. Even in our inadequacy in communication, the love is there to help us. We can communicate. We can join in the communication.
There are conditions on that though. Unfortunately it is a reality that some expect to make their demands to God and because they utter certain words they expect God to respond. It’s clear throughout His communication with us, that He’s not looking for us to be perfect before we pray, but there are certain conditions – specifically the conditions of our heart – that will make our efforts at communicating with Him worthless.
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. (James 4:1-3 NLT)
It’s worth highlighting this part as a whole because we remember James is talking to people who pray. He’s not talking to strangers to prayer. He’s talking to folks who make a claim to follow Jesus. His words are fairly blistering. Notice the key to useless praying – the motives.
That’s not the only place where the motives and the attitudes form a barrier to effective communication with God. He has no time to engage with those who self-centred. It should give pause for thought to consider our motives when we pray. It should give pause for thought to check if our desires are in line, if our attitude is in line.
History is replete with what happens when people pray and persist in prayer with the right motive and the right attitude. It’s not even about getting everything you ask for, it’s about getting closer to the one you pray for and a desire to be like Him. Growing in that sense sees prayer becoming less self-centred and also less likely to be episodes of pointless communication.
It’s here that we can begin to see how our words really can be enriching.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden