So I think it’s safe to say that you know how to talk to your friends, right? I’m a relatively quiet person, and I don’t do all that great with small-talk with people I don’t know well…but, buddy, let me get on the phone with my sisters, my close friends, or my mom…and the conversation will go on for hours. We talk about the weirdest things sometimes. Birds’ nests in the yard, tv, the weather, relationship issues, what we bought when we went shopping…just whatever we’ve been up to. We all live away from each other (:(), so talking over the phone is the way we stay caught up with each other’s lives. So there’s the phone and there’s facebook (which I’m pretty bad at updating) and there’s texting. I’m sure you use all of that and, maybe, more. If you’re anything like my youngest sister, who is 17, your phone is practically another body part. And let’s say you miss a call from your best friend. Say you miss two, three, four calls. Your friend is going to get irritated with you, right? He/she wants to be involved with whatever is going on with you. They’re going to leave you angry voicemails of the CALL ME BACK RIGHT NOW variety.
And, assuming you like that person, you will call back. Because communicating with another person is how you maintain a relationship. It’s how you let them know you care. You build a friendship on conversation and quality time together…you know you have a good friend when the two of you can sometimes just sit in silence, comfortable in each other’s presence.
The same deal goes for building a relationship with God. How amazing is it that we have the ability to speak to our Creator? Even more awesome is the fact that He WANTS us to speak to Him. Of course He already knows what’s going on in our lives, but would you rather just look at someone’s status updates on facebook and check out the pictures or would you want that person to call you up and tell you, personally, what they’re up to and how they’re feeling about things? It’s even better if they invite you over, share their time and their life with you.
In that same way, God wants to hear from you. He longs for us to take time out of our day for Him, to have a space of time when we can tell Him about what’s going on in our lives. Having this time to focus on Him invites Him to work in our lives…we can get to know Him, hear the quiet whisper of His voice. This is something I’m working on in my own life — and so I challenge myself and you to do this: turn off your phone, shut the laptop, turn off the tv. Designate a time to be alone with God. And even if it feels a little awkward at first, try speaking out loud to Him. (This is something else I’m really working on.) The spoken word is powerful — Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue…and when Jesus talks about prayer, He gives us examples of what to SAY…not just what to think.* And, if you give it a try, once you get past the feeling weird part, you’ll feel the difference yourself. Try this –Right now, think: I am loved. Now, say it out loud: I am loved. It feels different, right? To me, it feels more real when the words come through and are spoken into the world…and like the prophet Hosea said to Israel (Hos. 14:2), “Take words with you, and return to the Lord.”
So speak to Him — and He wants to hear from your true self, your honest self. And don’t rush through it — when we speak to God, we need to wait to hear what He wants to say to us…sometimes just sitting in His presence, with praise in our hearts and words, is the best thing for us. As someone reminded me recently, God wants us to ENJOY our relationship with Him! That means enjoying our time with Him…giving Him a chance to wrap His arms around us, to give us peace if we’re hurting. And, yes, He’ll let you know if you’re doing something displeasing to Him. Listen to those warnings. He’s looking out for you, for your future. Bottom line? It’s a two-way relationship. 2 Chronicles records this message from God: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” If we do our part to reach out to Him, He says He WILL hear us.
One more note on this whole communication thing. Speaking your prayer to God is the most important, powerful way we have to speak to Him…but it isn’t the only way. I’ve always been more comfortable writing out my thoughts than vocalizing them, so sometimes I write out prayers or simple praises to God…if you like to draw or play music or whatever way you like to express yourself…you should try using that part of your life to offer up words and/or worship. It’s another dimension to your relationship with Him…
Let’s take our time with Him today, and like King David, we can say: ” Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications**. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise him.”
*I’ve learned some of these thoughts on prayer from a book called Prayer, the Heartbeat of the Church, by P. Douglas Small.
**supplication: fancy word for humbly asking for help!