Who wouldn’t want to talk to someone with credentials that include: Creator, Helper, Strength of His people, Everlasting Light, God of Peace, Loving and Forgiving God, Comforter, Faithful and True?
In my last post, I encouraged you to talk to God. It occurred to me that maybe we should delve into this a little further. There are a number of ways we can talk to God. I’m going to share my experience with you and I hope you will share yours with me.
When I was a child my family sat around the dinner table and my dad said a standard prayer each night. “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food”. Short and appreciative, but we were recognizing God’s participation in our lives.
The bedtime prayer I was taught was, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”. This was then followed by a list of everyone I wanted God to bless, which was much the same every night, but did allowed for some childish variation and was the beginning of really talking to God. This night time ritual was overseen by one of my parents. I was brought up to believe there is a God, a God worth learning about, and a God who knew me. From my perspective, it was a one-way conversation, but God heard. The “die before I wake”, part didn’t really bother me, but I have to say, I remember at that age, being concerned about somebody or something coming in my 2nd story bedroom window or hiding under my bed.
What childhood prayers do you remember? I’d like to hear them. Please enter them in the comments.
Today, in churches and gatherings all over the world, Christians recite the Lord’s prayer, in spite of the fact that Jesus specifically told us to pray in solitude. But in defense of this practice, it IS the only prayer that Jesus spelled out and he said “For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.” He also quoted from Isaiah 56:7 “My house will be called a house of prayer” (Luke 19:46). So saying a group prayer that he gave us, in his presence, must be OK.
Matthew 6:5-15 New International Version (NIV)
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from the evil one.’
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Just Me and God Talking
The other notable part of this scripture, is “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him”. So why ask Him for anything?! My experience indicates that God wants us to communicate with Him, but there is no need to repeat the same request over and over. What I have found to be more important is being sincere and speaking to God from my very core, from my heart, in honesty and vulnerability…laying it all out there…getting personal. I have to believe that it is more beneficial for me to recognize the need, the reliance on God, than it is for me to explain to God what I need…since He already knows. Make the request and then trust that He will address it as He sees fit. When I have heard back from God, it has been in response to this kind of heart-felt plea or expression.
This, of course, is where the ability to recognize God’s response becomes important, which may not be evident if we haven’t trained ourselves to listen. This is where the work comes in…the study of spiritual truths and meditation.
In 2004 the city where I live was expected to have a direct hurricane hit and my house was in a low area. I prepared the best I could and then went, with my family, to the home of a friend who lived on higher ground and in a house with all the latest hurricane protection features. I had pleaded with God to protect us from the storm. I remember exactly where I was when He answered me. As we got out of the car and approached the friend’s front door, I felt suddenly calm. God told me we would be fine. It turned out to be a beautiful day, hardly a cloud in the sky. After a morning visit with our friends, we went home.
Talking All the Time
There’s one more aspect of talking to God that I want to mention. What does it mean to “pray without ceasing”? I don’t think God necessarily wants us to excuse ourselves from the world and join a monastery so that we can pray all day. I think the apostle Paul was telling us to make God a part of our daily life, like a friend that we talk to every day, wherever we are. Our constant companion and counselor. No need to text. Some people talk out loud to God, but He hears your thoughts just as well.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Any Final Thoughts?
Billions of people talk to God and we don’t all do it the same way. And, certainly, God communicates with us in many ways. I would like to hear about the ways you converse with God. I’d also like to hear about how He talks to you. What examples stand out in your mind? Please enter them in the comments. Thanks.