In last week’s post, I wrote of our need to pray. Why do we need to pray? Because Jesus did. And Jesus is God. So, if He, as the Son, needed to pray to the Father, then we do too.
But the concept of prayer is scary to most people. Why? In part because we make it more than it is. What do I mean? Well, prayer is simply communicating. Granted, that communication is with an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, holy, and unseen God, but it is still simply communicating. So, today, I want to show you that prayer is not really much different than how you already communicate. We simply need to adjust our mindset a bit.
1. Send a Message, Expect a Reply
Whether you communicate by voice, mail, email, texting, or some other application, most of the time you send a message, you expect a response. Certainly, exceptions exist, but for the most part, our sending is meant to be received, and ordinarily, a response is not only welcome, it is expected.
In today’s world of electronic communication, that reply is expected quickly. If I text my wife a question, I probably expect an answer soon, and if I do not get one, I might send another text, or even call. With the internet, we can send and receive messages from virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of seconds.
Unfortunately, we expect God to answer the same way. But, He is not obligated to respond immediately like so many are accustomed to doing themselves. And, our expectations do not make it right – if anything, this idea is only recent in history.
I listen to a lot of biographies via Audible. Currently, I am in the process of listening to at least one biography on every American president as well as other important figures in the history of the United States (in two-plus years, I have made it to John Quincy Adams, so right at 50 years as a nation). I am constantly astounded as to how often they wrote letters and other correspondence even when, in the case of many, they were overseas for a portion of their lives. The challenge was that they had to ask questions and wait for months for a response as the letter went across the Atlantic Ocean to America and then back. But the key is that they expected a response. And they often got one – even if it wasn’t always the response they wanted.
Again, prayer is a form of communication. So, we talk to God, ask Him questions, etc. But instead of merely sending a message, we should expect a response. That is what makes communication a conversation. Ultimately, a conversation means relationship and that is what humanity truly desires.
2. Receive a Message, Send a Reply
Most of us do not really think of communicating with God as a true conversation because we cannot see or audibly hear God, and we often experience long delays in hearing from Him.
But I would suggest that is because most of us do not regularly engage in the conversation with the proper expectations. If my wife is talking to me, she expects me to be attentive, and depending on what she says, she expects a response. That response could be affirmation, a rebuttal, a question, etc.
The same can be true with God. But most people do not expect God to speak to them. I do not mean audibly, although I believe it can happen. I am referring to God’s Spirit communicating to us, within us. Certainly, we must learn to listen for that “still, small voice,” but we must also be ready to respond when we hear it.
We must also realize that God expects our communication to be real. Yes, He is holy and should be revered, but that does not mean that we cannot talk to Him as a Person and even ask Him questions (as many people fear doing…I will cover this idea in next week’s blog).
Again, prayer is communication, and more specifically, it can be a conversation. Thus, as we hear God speaking to us, we should welcome the opportunity to both speak to and hear from Him.
3. Check In Regularly
The third and final point of this post is to be regular in our communication with God. How often do you communicate with your best friend? Your child? Your parent? Etc. Whatever form of communication we might use (and/or know that the other person prefers), we keep regular contact with those who are important to us.
It should be no different with God.
In last week’s post, I share about Jesus spending time talking to the Father and even learning what He was to do each day (John 5.19). Jesus was constantly “checking in.”
Paul wrote that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5.17, ESV). This sounds more difficult than it is. If you have a smartphone, just consider how quickly you check it when you receive a notification. We might consider that communicating without ceasing. And after we have checked a message and/or responded to it, we often continue to think about the text, or message, or person, etc. for the next several minutes.
I will suggest that is not much different than praying without ceasing!
So, check in regularly with God. Send Him messages and expect a response. When you receive a response, send Him one back.
That is communication.
That is prayer.
The question for us is: Do we really want to communicate with God? Or do we want to simply present our wants and needs (even demands) and walk away?
As I mentioned above, next week’s post will focus on questioning God. And I will also include a teaser towards the announcement that will be made in early September.