One of the most intimate experiences two people can have is to talk. Recently Ruthie and I were at the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, TN. Nearly 10,000 folks sat in the auditorium listening to stirring Southern Gospel music, and in the hallways outside the main seating area the various music groups had their “product tables,” another name for the booths where they sell their CDs, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and photographs of themselves.
We know many of the artists so walking the halls is almost as gratifying to us as sitting inside to listen. But I spotted something that got my attention. The baritone from one of the quartets was sitting in an upholstered chair, the kind with big arms. On his lap was a little girl, maybe 4, that I would learn was his granddaughter. I watched them for several minutes because they were both obviously enjoying the banter that was going on between them. He would whisper something in her ear and they would both giggle. Then she would say something in return and they would both chuckle. Obviously they were in ecstasy.
By and by she scooted off his lap and headed down the hall. As she approached where I was standing she looked up at me and with a broad smile said, “That’s my grampa!” I thought, that’s the stuff memories are made of.
One of the best definitions of prayer I’ve ever heard is this: “Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend.” Like my two friends on the overstuffed chair, prayer is the joyous exchange of matters of interest between two hearts deeply in love. One doesn’t monopolize the conversation while the other only listens. The one doesn’t spend the time asking favors of a stranger. It’s a conversation.
The language is comfortable. Questions are common. But they are not generally, “Why?” questions. They are more often questions that begin, “What would you like to see change in my life?” Or, “How can I bring you more joy?” Or maybe, “How can I help you change the world today?” Sometimes I sing to Him. He likes that. Sometimes we chuckle together. In my mind I love to hear Him laugh. Sometimes I am quiet and work at listening to His voice. It’s not easy to cut out the chatter, but it’s important.
Of course there are things I ask Him for, people I love that I’m concerned about, and people I am trying to love and I need His help on that. But mainly we just talk. As friends. I discover He likes that. And so do I.
By Don Jacobsen