Christianity Questions: How do I pray? – Part 4

 

So far in Part 1 we talked about repetitious babbling.  In Part 2 we talked about asking God to do what he’s already doing.  And in Part 3 we talked about asking God to do what he’s not going to do.

 

“I know I need to pray more.”  ”I don’t pray like I should.”

 

These are things I’ve heard countless times and things I’ve probably said myself at some point. And, we’re right – we probably should pray more, and we probably don’t pray like we should.  But at the foundation of these statements is a misconception, I think.

 

It assumes that we should be saying more things to God.

 

Which is a slight misunderstanding of what “prayer” is.  Prayer is communicating with God. Which implies a two-way interaction.  Me speaking to someone, and someone speaking to me.  Someone listening to me, and me listening to someone.  It can’t only be one way.

 

We don’t necessarily need to be saying more things to God.

 

Do not be quick with your mouth,  do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. -Ecclesiastes 5:2

 

We do, however, need to be communing with God more.

 

Commune:

-to converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy, etc ; interchange thoughts or feelings.

 

I know you’ve probably heard this analogy related to our relationship with God – If you had a wife, or husband, or friend and you never spent time with them, and then the few times you did pay them attention you did all the talking, asked them a bunch of favors, and then left before listening to what was on their heart, would you call that relationship healthy?  Of course not.  More pointedly, would you even call that a relationship?

 

We need to take the time every day (multiple times a day?) to be alone with God.  To go somewhere and close the door and block out the world.  Even if that’s just the bathroom stall at work.  Seriously.

 

And then we need to listen.

 

We need to repent of all the crud in our life up to that point in our day and then we need to make room for the Holy Spirit to fill us so that God can guide us.  So that we can hear him.

 

Listening to God is a subtle science, and our ears have to be trained to hear His voice.  He is often times that still, small voice and sometimes He sounds just like us thinking.  That is why it is so important to find the time to commune with him, to have that profound intimacy that leaves us supple to His words and His will.

 

And for those wondering – yes, I do believe that God “speaks” to us through the Bible.  But we do a disservice when we imply that is the only way that God can speak to us.  If such was the case then most followers of God from the beginning of time wouldn’t have been able to “hear” from Him, including Adam, Abraham, Jesus, and Paul.  And, in my experience, the written word of God only comes alive to a person who is filled with His Spirit and/or already seeking Him.  God’s Spirit is alive and wishes to communicate with us, we just have to train our ears to hear.

 

Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” – Mark 4:9

 

Do you listen to God in prayer?  Or do you do all the talking?

 

 

Comments

  1. I agree with you completely on this. Yes, we hear from God through the Bible, but we need to be listening at other times too (preferably all the time).

    You noted some (Abraham, Jesus, etc.) that listened for God’s voice in addition to reading/studying the scriptures…. the truth is, there would be no Bible if it weren’t for believers that listened to God’s voice. The whole book is the writings of those who listened for God’s voice. God didn’t grab Moses, hold him down and force his hand to write the words God wanted — God spoke, Moses listened and wrote it down.

    We do need to balance what we hear against the Bible (ie, don’t believe the message if it conflicts), but we still need to maintain the habit of pursuing God and whatever it is he has to say to us.
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    • Excellent point, Dan. And I agree with you on the last bit, too – and probably should have mentioned that in my post somewhere. :)

      • the post was just fine without adding that point in! (Sometimes we spend too much time throwing in disclaimers…. it’d be nice if we didn’t have too — it should be obvious to Christians that of course we have to make sure what we’re hearing from God doesn’t conflict with the word.)

        BTW – liked the Bohemian husband’s post from Saturday. It lined up with sermon I heard at church yesterday…..
        danmcm recently posted..Stunned by BeautyMy Profile

        • A to the men. It can be nauseatingly frustrating how many disclaimers you find you have to lay down once you start writing publicly, just to combat some of the comments you know will come. :)

  2. The most powerful thing I ever read about prayer (and I have no idea what it was now. A book? An article?…. gettin old ;)) said very much the same thing you’ve said here. That it’s an ongoing, back and forth, speaking and listening conversation with God. It also said that you should be in prayer really at all times, from the time you get up in the morning till the time you go to bed at night; that your life should essentially be one big prayer! I always try to re-evaluate from prayer life from that standpoint, and it *always* helps me get back on track when I feel like I’ve been off line.
    Jen ~ The Path Less Taken recently posted..Comment on Christian Unschooling, Part 4: That Pesky Word, "Radical" by JulieMy Profile

  3. Six words.

    “He sounds just like us thinking.”

    Thankyouthankyouthankyou for those six words.

  4. Yes! I do remember when I was going to church and so involved in church and around people that really knew how to God speak, that I thought they were the ones that really knew how to pray. Up to this point, my prayer was like an ongoing conversation with God and in my simple words. The more I was around them, the more my praying became like theirs. I started using their language. Where as before getting “churched” I prayed more from my heart. After leaving church, it slowly came back to how it is now. I have to be careful when I am around churched people though because I can slip back into that. I also do see the importance of taking the time to go into the quiet to talk to God and not just when I am going about my day. I do believe He talks to me through my thoughts, songs-even through the one’s that wouldn’t be considered “Christian” :) , through nature, other people, especially my children and even tv programs or movies. I think He speaks to us a lot more than we realize but when we keep ourselves so busy we don’t see or hear Him. Which is why I try to shut everything off at least once in the day and just listen. I like to talk to God in the car and then have it completely quiet to just listen. To be honest there are times I hear Him but ignore him because I don’t like what he is saying and being who he is he doesn’t stop until he has my attention. :) Now that I am going to church again, I am trying to be very careful to not fall back into “God speak” or to being “churchafied” and not thinking for myself and also not assuming that they are like the former church people that I knew before and giving them a chance. Anyways thanks for letting me know there was a 4th post. :)

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