“Hi… Mom. Mom. Mom, Mom, Mom! Mom?”
“Do you need something?”
“Nope... Mom. Mom. Mom.”
“Are you wanting to talk with me, or are you just talking at me?”
I know I’m not the only one who’s had conversations like this. My kids know how to push my buttons like nobody else, and this kind of exchange is especially frustrating — which is why they find it especially funny.
Few of us like being talked at; we prefer conversations where we’re active participants. But how often do we talk at God, saying our piece, stringing words together out of mindless habit and never pausing to listen?
If we approach God simply wanting to be heard, we’ll miss out on a powerful gift: transformation by the Master Artist.
The Artist and the Masterpiece
When God made man, he didn’t speak him into being the way he had with the rest of creation: “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person” (Genesis 2:7, NLT).God sculpted Adam out of the soil with intention and care. He even shared a portion of himself, his own breath, to give man life. But God’s masterpiece soon ignored his Maker and did what he thought would fulfill him. As a result, death and decay entered a perfect world.
God could have discarded humankind like a potter tossing aside a lump of unyielding clay, but he didn’t. Instead, he sent Jesus to bring life to our dead, rigid places and make it possible for our Maker to sculpt us into the masterpiece we were meant to be.
Not Done Yet
We have to recognize that we’re becoming God’s masterpiece. That means we’re not done yet. My youngest child will sometimes ask me how to do something and then immediately say, “Never mind. I already know.” Often, though, her confidence isn’t based in reality and she ends up in frustrated tears because she’s unwilling to admit that she’s still learning.
I’ve had the same attitude talking with God. I tell him about a problem I want him to fix — and then I tell him how to fix it. I don’t want to admit that I’m still learning, so I proudly approach him like I’m already a finished product. But my posturing doesn’t fool God.
Pride tries to tell us that we have all the answers; it fools us into thinking that we can tell God what he should do. Proverbs 16:9 warns us that “we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (NLT).
We’re humbled as we’re reminded that we can come to God in prayer asking for what we want, but that ultimately God is the one directing our steps — not us. God is the one who accomplishes everything in us and the world around us; as we pray, we simply get to pay attention to and be part of what he’s already doing. Because he’s in control, we can release our pride and follow Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (NLT). God’s glory will be known as we are still, not in spite of our stillness.
We’re invited to pray as God’s friends, ambassadors and children, confidently asking him to accomplish his will and unreservedly pouring out everything in our hearts. But I believe the most powerful form of prayer can happen in stillness, when we say the fewest words. When we sit silently in God’s presence, humbly waiting and listening, we create space for the Holy Spirit to speak as he brings truth to our minds, reveals what’s hiding in our hearts and helps us see past the veil of our own understanding.
The Holy Spirit reshapes us to look more like Jesus as we learn his heart: “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT).
Being changed into Jesus’ glorious image isn’t simply a shift in our behavior and attitudes — it’s a complete reworking of our identity as we take hold of the truth that we’re new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
God’s transforming power is no small thing: “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19-20, NLT). The power that broke death is the same power that’s transforming us from the inside out as we hold still and let the Master Artist work.
Transformational prayer — coming before God with the goal of listening and being changed — is foundational to the Christian life. This is how we learn to live in relationship with him, to talk with him rather than at him. This is how we recognize and become attentive to his voice as he speaks to us through his Word.
As we quietly yield to the Master Artist, he pushes aside the clutter we carry and cups us in his gentle, scarred hands, sculpting us into breathtaking masterpieces who reflect his own radiance.
Your Turn to Talk With God
As you think about talking with the Master Artist, consider these questions and listen for his answers:
What most often keeps me from taking the time to be still and listen for what God is saying?
How have I seen God change me to reflect his radiance?
In what areas do I need to allow the Holy Spirit’s death-to-life power to transform me?