I realized recently how much my conversations with our daughter Allie have changed since she joined us almost seven years ago. Because she was only two, many of our “talks” consisted of her speaking a language we rarely fully understood, though I did my best to interpret, mostly to my advantage. 

For example, well past nap time, strapped in her carseat, Allie may have wailed her garble, “Momma, tape nappie detting house appoo youa doing too.”

I’d interpret this, “Momma, I want to take a long nap when we get home so you can take one too.” Passing back her paci, I’d say, “I love you, Allie.”

And she would reply, always with clarity, though sometimes through sniffles, “I wuv you, too.”

Before long, our conversations evolved.

“Momma, who da best princess?”

“Um, my favorite is Belle.”


“Well, she’s lovely, kind, and she loves to read.”


“I’m not sure. Maybe because she’s a bookworm, which means reading is her favorite pastime.“


“Um, I guess ’cause she loves it.”


You get the picture. (Usually I needed a nap after one of those chats.)

The other day, Allie and I had a real conversation — one that included lots of good questions, more than just the single word “why.’ It wasn’t about anything deep or abstract, really. Just about movies and the actors that acted in them — who they portrayed in the stories versus who they are in real life. That sort of thing. It was delightful.

But our chat left me pondering how time and maturity have a way of doing that — how they should change the manner in which one speaks. How one listens. Even how one responds. 

And I’m thinking, the same should be true in my conversations with God — where I need to both speak and listen. Where I’m always called to respond — to forgive, to seek forgiveness, to rejoice, to act charitably and so on. 

Honestly, there have been times when I’ve tried to manipulate what God’s said, using it to my own advantage — perhaps claiming that I didn’t really understand Him anyway, so I was justified.

And then there’ve been times I’ve heard Him loud and clear. Rather than submit to His will, however, I just keep asking, “Why?… Why?… Why?…” (Oh, I’m so thankful He’s patient.)

I’m not sure Allie came away from our recent conversation having learned anything of great significance. In fact, if I asked her today what and who it was we were talking about, she may not even remember. The point is, we talked with one another. We communicated — each of us taking our turn to listen and speak. There were even silent pauses in all the appropriate places — allowing for reflection. Mostly, we enjoyed each other.

And so it should be with prayer — those precious moments we spend with Jesus. When one both listens and speaks or even sits silently — reflecting on God’s goodness. His faithfulness. His calls to action.

He always hears us. His Word, though not always immediately clear, is trustworthy. He understands, even when we don’t, and He delights in us, just as He invites us to delight in Him. 

Even when all we can manage is garble — our moaning coming from between clenched teeth — He understands our weary hearts, because He knows us completely.

And one thing is always clear. Can you hear it?

“I love you.”