While in college I carried a cassette tape in my car from Paul Simon. It was a collection of his greatest hits from 1971-1986 called “Negotiations and Love Songs.” The title was a line from his song “Train in the Distance,” where it says “negotiations and love songs are often mistaken for one and the same.” It is a great line that captures the pictures of two people trying to live together in agreement without the existence of love, and they don’t understand the difference.
Recently I was thinking about my prayer life, and a similar line went through my head, “negotiations and prayers are often mistaken for one and the same.” There is the possibility that when we address God, we are trying to get him to do our will. We barter and negotiate when we speak with our maker. We say things like, “God if you give me this, then I will do that.” Our words offer God our obedience in exchange for his omnipotence.
Prayer is about opening our heart up to God and his will. It is an opportunity for us to submit our lives to his leading. We present our needs to God and live with the expectation of him doing his mighty work.
One question I am now asking myself about my prayers is, “Am I seeking God’s will or mine?” Am I trying to negotiate with God instead of offering my prayers? Negotiations and prayers are not one and the same.