Henri Nouwen writes that, in the act of praying, we not only listen to God, we listen with God. In prayer we are not listening to some distant voice, but a voice that now lives in us. To pray, therefore, is to dwell in the presence of God with all we have and are: with...
"...our fears and anxieties,
our guilt and shame,
our sexual fantasies,
our greed and anger,
our joys, successes, aspirations and hopes,
our reflections, dreams and mental wandering,
and most of all our people, family, friends and enemies,
in short, all that makes us who we are."
In prayer I come into God's presence. All of me. With God.
I allow God to speak to every corner of my being.
Nouwen writes: "This is very hard since we are so fearful and insecure that we keep hiding ourselves from God." (Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, 83)
Our tendency is to only show God the parts of ourselves that are more presentable. This makes our prayer "very selective and narrow." (Ib.) "And not just our prayer but our self-knowledge, because by behaving as strangers before God we become strangers to ourselves." (Ib., 83-84)