Most parents experience the “be careful what you ask for you may just get it” principle in their lives. As much as the cooing of a baby is so cute, we simply can’t wait until he or she starts talking. “Use your words,” we tell them when they are having trouble telling us what they want. Then the chilling reality hits you. As soon as the child learns how to string words together, they chatter nonstop. They become uber inquisitive and ask a million questions. And loudly too. We stop asking them to use their words. Instead, we wonder how their vocabulary got so big so fast. Sit them down with some activity, like coloring or puzzles and let them converse with themselves for hours.
Some of us have brought our fondness for talking into adulthood. And that includes praying. Praying is a conversation, an opportunity to use our words to tell Him about our ups and downs, our triumphs and struggles and our needs. It is a time to ask God to help in those areas where we need help. Chatting with God is as easy, or maybe even easier, than chatting with another person. For those of us who thrive on communicating verbally, prayer is the best of all worlds. We can talk as much as we want and someone who holds the universe in His hands is listening.
Psalm 66:16-20 says: “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”
What we can sometimes forget when we are communicating with God is that communication is a two-way street, even though sometimes it may not feel like it. And we cannot forget that a relationship involves two, not one. Prayer is a conversation. God doesn’t just hear our words, He also responds. So it is more than just talking to God, it’s about listening to Him as well. The bottom line is this: God earnestly desires to talk to us and spend time with us through prayer. And what I discovered is that having a real, intimate relationship with God is not about using the “right” words, spiritual techniques, twisting God’s arm, or trying to live a perfect life. It is about knowing Him. To have that relationship, we have to learn to listen to God, not just talk to Him.
There is a family in the church who lost a child. They never questioned their core belief in God. Rather, they were were clinging to their personal understanding and faith in God and His promises, seeking answers on their knees in prayer. “Why did this happen?” “God, talk to me, show me the good in this.” “Touch my heart, Lord.” They had a longing to experience God—to feel the love, strength, and comfort of Jesus. They were praying using all the words they could think of and it didn’t seem like anyone was listening. There were no answers.
And then they did something that is hard for most people to do. They stopped talking. They became quiet. They tried to clear their mind of all the clutter, emotions and questions and focused on being still. In that stillness, God gently said “I am here.” And there was peace that no amount of words could match. The experience was not supernatural. It was not the loud, deep voice you hear in movies. It was more an awareness of His presence. The family believes God’s presence was there all the time, but was drowned out by all the noise in their lives at that time. The stillness heightened the awareness of God’s presence, His will, and His guidance. The family discovered that when we face turmoil and desperate times in our lives, we don’t just need answers from God, we need God.
So while there may not be many lulls in the conversation when using our words, there is power in being quiet and listening to God and to allow our prayers to become a dialogue with the one who holds our lives in His hands.
1. Are there times when it seems our prayers/words are not getting through to God?
2. Are we better listeners with people than with God? Do we need answers from God or do we need God?
3. When praying, do we leave God an opening to communicate with us? Do we leave an opening for God to talk about something else that may be more important?
4. What areas of your life have you received guidance from God? Do we thank God for His guidance? Did you trust the guidance and more importantly, act on it?
5. Pray and ask God for the wisdom to hear His voice and His direction in our lives.