God used to speak directly with human beings. Is it possible for us to talk with Him today? What does the Bible say about how to talk to God?
The thought of talking with God can be intimidating. Many ask themselves:
How can I possibly talk to God?
Does He know who I am?
What do I say to Him?
Would He even bother to listen to me?
How do I know He hears me?
Is there anything in my life He has any interest in?
Does He even want me to bother Him?
Why do we harbor such thoughts? The Bible reveals that God wants us to talk with Him and have a personal relationship with Him. But how do we do that?
Communication with God is called prayer. For generations, people have wondered how to pray. Jesus’ disciples even asked Him to teach them how to pray; and in answer, Jesus gave an outline for prayer in Luke 11:1-4 (amplified in Matthew 6:5-13).
Many mistakenly refer to this section of Scripture as “the Lord’s Prayer,” but close examination will show Jesus was not praying when He gave the answer to the request from one of His disciples. He was giving them sort of an outline to follow.
Talking with God as a friend
When we converse with acquaintances or family members, we generally follow a basic format. After greeting them, we inquire about their health or other subjects to indicate our genuine interest in their well-being. There’s give-and-take as the conversation proceeds.
And that’s basically what God wants us to do when we pray—when we talk to Him.
We don’t say exactly the same thing every time we speak with someone, do we? God doesn’t want that either. That’s why Jesus warned us not to use vain repetition when we talk with God (Matthew 6:7).
Kneeling in prayer is the posture usually assumed by God’s servants when they were setting aside the time to pray (1 Kings 8:54; Daniel 6:10; Luke 22:41; Acts 9:40; 20:36; 21:5).
However, do you ever stand while you’re talking with a friend? You can do that when you talk with God (Luke 18:10-13). Perhaps you sit in a chair when you chat with your buddy. King David sat when he prayed to God (2 Samuel 7:18). Clearly when the need to pray and seek God’s help arises, it may not always be possible to kneel and pray. At such times the posture is not what is important. God is interested in your attitude when you talk with Him. But, when we dedicate time for prayer in the quiet of our homes, the humble, respectful posture of kneeling is most appropriate for those who are able.
Deepening our relationship with God through prayer
Haven’t we found it much easier to talk with someone as our relationship with him or her grows? The first thing we need to do is get to know God. He reveals Himself to us through His Word.Satan, the great deceiver, would like us to think that our Creator is a harsh, stern, impersonal Being who is only to be obeyed and feared, and if we fall short of His expectations, He’s just waiting to zap us into oblivion. Nothing could be further from the truth!
God knows we’re not perfect, that we experience emotional ups and downs as we face the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
Our first conversations with a new friend may at times be stilted; neither of us may know exactly what we should say next.
As we begin a relationship with our Heavenly Father, we may feel the same way. Have no fear. God knows we are learning to talk with Him. He will listen to our words and our thoughts, no matter how halting or unsure we are in expressing our needs for others and ourselves. We need to learn to talk to God the way we would talk to a loving, caring Father, for this is what He is (John 16:23-27).
Prayer is personal, not a show
When we decide to talk with God, we should find a quiet spot. Jesus instructed His followers to go into a room and shut the door to enjoy privacy in communication with God—our communication is not for show, after all (Matthew 6:6). Make sure all distractions like radios or televisions are turned off.
At first we may feel embarrassed to kneel to pray. That’s okay. We just need to realize that our Father wants to hear from His children. We do not need to be embarrassed in any way when we come to Him in prayer.
Some people try to set aside a regular time of the day to pray. Both King David and the prophet Daniel found time to pray three times a day (Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10). We can be very thankful that we can go to God at any time—we don’t have to have an appointment!
Then all we have to do is start talking. Is that all there is to how to talk to God? In a sense, that’s it.
Listening to God
We’ve all been engaged in a conversation with someone who wanted to do all the talking, haven’t we? While God wants to hear what we have to say, He also wants us to listen to Him. God spoke directly to Adam, Noah, Moses and others in the Old Testament. He sent angelic messengers to others, and the words that were delivered to the prophets have been preserved for us in the Bible. Those who were with Jesus during His ministry on the earth also recorded His words for us.
How can we know what He wants us to hear today?
The epistle to the Hebrews tells us that God, “who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). We have His recorded words to read and study.