A certain mystery surrounds conversation with God. The word used through the centuries to describe this act is prayer. Few—if anyone—will declare contentment when it comes to assessment of a personal prayer journey.
My parents began to teach me to pray while learning to talk. I made a formal commitment to Jesus over 55 years ago. Although praying is part of my life, I could not feel more inadequate. Often when asked to pray for someone my voice responds with a quick “yes,” and my mind wonders why such a request would come my way.
Why is God Speak a mystery?
Do I make it too hard?
Perhaps it is appropriate to remind myself of principles to help me understand God Speak:
1. In first-century Palestine, Jesus told a story about the good father who stood ready to give his child bread upon request. A good God and a good father provide for their children’s needs. Those I receive in abundance from God.
2. God is Holy—He is not Santa Claus. I live in a Santa Claus world. Santa Claus has new bicycles, shining BMWs, new fashions, flashy fishing equipment, and the latest technology. There is not a box store big enough to contain it. Something tells me shiny things are peripheral to God’s concern for my life.
3. When I find myself speaking to God about my want list, I cheapened our conversation.
4. Prior to His death, Jesus’ garden prayer closed with “not my will but your will be done.” As I think over my prayers, I must ask the question, “is my side of the conversation self-centered or is it God-centered?” I want to learn to pray with the desire for God’s will to trump mine.
5. I have no doubt that Jesus hurts when I hurt and is concerned about those of my concern. However, as I talk with Jesus I must remember His perspective is broader than is mine. He sees the eternal. God’s answer is always right for me even if I don’t immediately understand.
6. To create a friendship, conversation must be dialogue. Certainly, I don’t want to belittle God’s Holiness. At the same time, I want the freedom to talk with God while driving, while in a restaurant, or while cleaning my garage.
I love the scene in the movie Glory where the soldiers are praising God around the campfire. As each soldier directs God, he looks to the heavens with eyes open, arms animated, as he shouts the desire of his heart to the Father.
7. I marvel at reading Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets. Authenticity characterizes the writers’ address to God. Their words are direct, refreshing, and challenging. “What are you doing God? Can’t you see what’s going on? I’m hurting down here. Where are you? Why don’t you show up?”
I don’t hear these prayers at gatherings of the church. I don’t hide anything from God by not expressing my frustrations and questions. He sees the inside of my heart prior to my rant. I find anytime I am alone is a great place to interrogate God aloud.
8. God has not spoken to me in an audible voice. However, I have no doubt of His presence in the conversation. The key for me is to be in receiving mode.
9. I must remain within reach of His Holy Wavelengths. He speaks to me through Holy Scripture. I often hear Him through counsel of friends. I sometimes find God speaking to me through books and articles. If I am walking in tune with God, I find thoughts surface in my mind and Holy impulses to act or to refrain from a specific situation. By walking with Him, He speaks to me in countless ways.
Finally, a word of caution—not every impulse that comes through my mind is God on the phone. It may be my enchiladas were too hot and spicy. However, I do find the nearer I stay to Holy Scripture and the more time I spend holding up my side of the conversation, the closer I come to Holy dialogue and learning God Speak.
What are your reflections? Stay tuned. – Gary J. Sorrells