How do you talk with God?
Copyright 2018 Brian Davis - CC-BY-NC-SA
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. Heb 8:11
Let's start with a different question. Why would you want a relationship with God? I personally have a hard time asking that question with a straight face. What I'm really thinking is, "why wouldn't you want a relationship with God?" God is our creator. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what makes us tick, what we want, need and the how to make us fulfilled. More than that, He wants us to be fullfilled. He is planning on a life for us that is extraordinary! For I know the plans I have for you, to propser and not harm you, to give you a future and hope! (emphasis mine). What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him 2 Cor 2:9. God has amazing things in mind for us. Won't you let Him in and receive them?
It is often said in the Evangelical church that God wants to have a relationship with you. This begs the question, how does one pursue a relationship with God?
Relationships with people are quite tricky enough. We build connection with people through shared experiences and feelings. That's why people like to watch movies together. Isn't that a silly thing to do? You both sit in the same room and stare at screen without looking at the other person or talking to them. But you want to do this with friends, not with strangers. Family movie night is a thing. Partly it's just to enjoy a movie, but you could that on your own. For most people I think they find that the movie is more enjoyable because they are sharing it with someone they love. Now there is a shared experience, a shared story, a shared emotion that connects you. Can such a thing exist with God?
I think so. God is with us everywhere and all the time. The beach has always been an especially spiritual place for me where I can feel that God is right there with me and we share that experience. The salty taste of the spray, the thundering power of the waves, the cold water biting at my feet. When I have that feeling of His presences I try to bask in it, drink deeply in it because it's not just a feeling. It is a rock hard truth. God is with you, and I mean like present, is a truth at least as real as gravity. I just don't feel that way very often.
Sometimes I tell Him about an experience. I tell Him how I feel and what I think.I get the sense as I am telling Him that He is nodding and saying, "mm hmmm", "I see", "of course". These things are not figments of my imagination they are the truth! God understands us, our feelings and frailties. He has mercy for our failings.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Heb 4:15 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench... Mat 12:20
Pray always the Bible says. This is how we talk to God: constantly. One of the few direct commands in the Bible regarding how to pray. Pray with hands lifted up, heads uncovered. Pray in humility, come before the throne with boldness. Work our your salvation with trembling and fear. Walk humbly with your God. And through it all pray without ceasing. In Christ the veil was torn from the top to bottom and God opened the lines of communication. At anytime we can come before Him and talk to Him. I believe He wants to hear the mundane and crisis. He wants to hear the rapture, the sorrow and pain, and the joy and peace. He wants to hear confession, adoration, thankfullness, petition, and exhultation. God wants us to talk to Him, to sing to Him, to play for Him, to write to Him, and to work for Him. He wants everything to be part of our relationship with Him. He is in all things and through all things we can connect with Him. He is so interested in intimacy with us that He put his Living Spirit inside us so nothing could separate us from His love. Nothing could separate us from Him.
But in a relationship communication is two way. How does God talk to us?
God spoke directly to Abraham, like a friend talks to his friend. That relationship was not unique in the Bible, but it was rare. In all of history it has been very, very rare. I would not be quick to dismiss God talking directly to you or me because I believe God can do whatever He wants. But if a voice came to me in an empty room I would be pretty suspicious. Maybe that suspicion is why God doesn't talk directly to us often. Or maybe God has His own reasons for being more indirect. Whatever is the case it is clear in scripture that while God's voice can come booming out of the clouds, or even speak as a friend, He rarely does. More often He is a whisper in the mind or His voice is a message through a prophet. It is the mark of God's true people that we believe God even when He is silent.
It's interesting to me. It is not recorded that David, the man after God's own heart had any direct communication with God. He is spoken to through Samuel and then Nathan the prophets. And he uses the high priest to dicern God's will, but he does not seem to receive direct communication from God like Abraham or Moses. and yet when David emerges from the obscurity of shepherding, to slay the giant Goliath, he is certain beyond a shadow of doubt, that "God will deliver you into my hand." That speaks of a relationship of faith. One in which David spoke to God through cries for deliverance, and he received answers.
Now we often think we have cried to God for deliverance and not received an answer. I think often we cry out, "God take this hard thing away from me!" And God answers, "No, it is better for you to go through this fire." We don't want to hear that. It's hard to hear that. But the faith of David tells me, that if God has suffering for us to go through, if He does not deliver it is not because He doesn't hear, and it's not because He doesn't answer. It's because the suffering is part of His great plan for us. He will take it and use it for good.
The Bible says that God speaks through His people. Do not take lightly the exhortation of your pastor or Godly mentor. Do not even discount the worldly wisdom you hear from teachers and leaders. God can use whoever He pleases to speak to you.
But the Bible is also clear: "test the spirits (1 John 4:1). Measure what you hear against the Bible. God's word is the standard of who God is and what He will do and say. This is why it is so important to study the scripture. It is how we know when God is speaking to us, and even more importantly, it is the conduit for most of His words directly to us.
How often have I had questions or doubts and found the passage right under my fingertips that brought answers.