Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Listening in Prayer

I'm about to watch The Princess Bride with my kids. Love that movie - great casting.

I once heard actor Mandy Patinkin (from the movie) talk about the time he met Princess Diana. He and the others invited to visit the royal palace that day were told what to do and say as they came through the receiving line. Wait your turn in line. Do not extend your hand to shake until she offers you hers. Let her guide the conversation and then move along quickly for the next person in line to meet her.

While waiting in line, Patinkin thought through what he’d like to say to the Princess. He wanted to mention a cause near and dear to this heart that he thought she would appreciate. When his turn came, the princess smiled warmly, extended her hand to him and said something like, “I love your work in film.” And Patinkin replied, “That’s not really what I wanted to talk to you about.”

He proceeded to say what he’d planned. Only later did he realize his guffaw and feel embarrassed. The princess responded to Patinkin’s violation of protocol good-naturedly.

Patinkin tells the story well – making you feel sympathetic for him. Of course, we naturally feel for him. Who wouldn’t feel nervous and rushed under such circumstances? Who doesn’t spend time in conversations thinking of what they plan to say next?

I think his story sticks with me because it reminds me of myself in prayer. How often I come before the throne of God, with the opportunity to hear what His Highness would say. And instead, I want to move straight to my pre-determined agenda. I want to pull out my list of requests – rattle them off –  and tell Him how He could address each one.

And then let Him move on to the next person. As if this were a receiving line rather than a relationship.

I’m sure Patinkin was happy to have chance to share his cause with the Princess – a woman with the heart and ability to do something about it. But I wonder if he doesn’t also long to know what she might have said to him that day had he let her guide the conversation.


  1. Thanks for the reminder....I need to be still, listen more and let God be the lead! This theme seems to be everywhere for me these days. I believe God is up to something =)

  2. AnonymousJune 30, 2011

    Thanks so much for this post Rachel. I have been struggling with prayer lately and this was a humble reminder of how it is really supposed to be.
    Have a blessed day!

  3. I can relate to this. I've caught myself bringing my requests to God, telling Him how it could be done, when it could be done, and how great it would be. As if He needed my input! I'm working on being more open to what He has to say.
    God Bless,

  4. AnonymousJuly 01, 2011

    such a great illustration!

  5. Wow great reminder to let God control the conversation!!!



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