Do you ever feel like you do all the talking when you pray? This post is adapted from an article I wrote for the September/October 2008 issue of Pray! magazine. I hope it will inspire you to try dialoguing with God instead of just monologuing. He has things He wants to say to you!
In the past when I read Jeremiah 33:3 where God says, “Call to me and I will answer you,” I didn’t think He meant it literally—that I could call and He would answer, that I could talk and He would talk with me.
In those days, my prayer was one-sided: me yakking at God, and God “talking” to me through the Scriptures. But that’s not really “call and answer,” is it? I love God’s Word. I read and meditate on it every day and depend on it to keep me grounded in truth. Still, on a relational level, that kind of “conversation” alone wasn’t satisfying. I longed for a personal relationship that included personal conversation.
Over time, however, I started noticing Scriptures that dared me to hope that maybe God never intended for His input to be confined solely to Scripture. “If any of you lacks wisdom, ask”; “My sheep listen to my voice”; “Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (James 1:5; John 10:27; Isaiah 30:21).
Emboldened, I began to experiment. I journaled on topics I wanted to hear from God about—questions, problems, issues I hoped to gain His perspective on. Then, a few weeks later I’d review to see if He had responded. Often He had! For about one in four prayers, I’d recall a Scripture or a sermon or an impression or a word from a friend that had addressed the things I’d asked God about. I was excited! That is, until a friend challenged me.
“You only hear from God 25 percent of the time? I feel sorry for you!”
“What do you mean? That’s way better than before,” I protested, deflated.
My friend then taught me some pointers about dialoguing with God that immediately and forever changed the way I communicate with Him. It’s incredibly uncomplicated. I simply write down what I want to say to God, then I listen expectantly and record what I think I hear Him speaking to my heart. I then respond to what He says and listen again. It’s like having a conversation with someone who knows and loves me—in fact, that is what it truly is.
Sure, there was trial and error along the way, and sometimes I share my dialogues with mature, discerning friends to ensure I’m hearing accurately. But 1 John 2:27-28 reassures me that hearing from God is normal and any believer can learn to do it:
[The Holy Spirit] lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.
Since discovering that God really does answer when I call on Him, I cannot go back to my old monologues. To live life without wise, personal guidance and loving encouragement from my heavenly Father is inconceivable to me. I hope you also will discover the thrill of having Him answer you when you call on Him.