At its core, prayer is nothing more than conversing with God. Prayer is us drawing near to God through talking to Him and praising Him, and it is God drawing near to us because He promised He would do so.
Although there are many aspects of prayer, they never change the core of what prayer is; which is simply communing with God. [Related article: Is Talking to God the Same as Praying (Biblical Answer)].
Many times we complicate prayer and overthink it and because of this many Christians lack intimacy with God. But the truth is prayer is not complicated at all. It is simply communing with a loving and holy God.
What does communion/conversing with God look like?
It looks like thanking Him for everything that he has done for us, asking Him for help, singing praises to Him, asking questions, etc.
It is us communicating our hearts to Him through thanksgiving, requests, and singing praise. These are the foundations of prayer.
Every man of God utilized these three aspects of prayer in their prayer lives, and every teaching on prayer always mentions at least two out of three of these aspects of praying.
Here are a couple of verses to illustrate my point:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phillipians 4:6).
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
“And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10). (Related article: Prayer Life of Daniel & How to Pray Like Him)
Everywhere that you see prayer mentioned in the Bible, you’ll find thanksgiving or praise nearby. (Related article: Singing in the Spirit: What it is & How to do it).
The reason for this is because this is how we commune with God. We express our hearts about issues and thoughts we may have, we ask Him for help or guidance, we thank Him for who He is and for all the amazing things that He does for us, and we sing praises to Him cause he alone is worthy.
When we come before Him with worship, thanksgiving, and requests it is a perfect balance between honoring God for who He is and expressing our hearts to Him in a trusting way.
Now, although prayer is a conversation, we should remember that God is holy and that he should be reverenced. And although God is our Friend, we should not talk to Him as if He’s our homeboy.
There is a healthy balance between talking to God as our Friend and Father and still honoring Him as God who is holy and righteous.
For example, when we come before God in prayer, we don’t say, “Hey, what’s up God? I got something I need you to do.”
That would be a little rediculous. We wouldn’t talk to a leader of a country, a judge, a prestigious CEO, or even a father that we highly respect that way, so why would we talk to God that way who is infinitely more superior?
I understand that God is our Father and Friend and He loves us, but the truth is He is still God and He should still be reverenced as God.
So, instead of saying, “hey, whats up?” as we would to an earthly friend.
We say something along the lines of, “Heavenly Father, thank you for always being with me and for loving me. I come before you right now because you are good and I desire to know you as a friend.”
Jesus even told us that the first thing we should say when we pray is to address God as our Father and then praise Him for His holiness and goodness. (Related article: Prayer Life of Jesus & How to Pray Like Him).
“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9).
So, in short, prayer is a conversation and we should express our hearts of gratitude, love, and need to God, and we should always remember that God is a God who should (and will be) reverenced for all eternity so we should converse with Him in a respectful manner.
Is prayer a one-way or two-way conversation with God?
Prayer is meant to be a two-way conversation. Prayer is fellowshipping with God, and fellowship with a person requires communication among both parties. This is true in any relationship. It is also true in a relationship with God.
Now you’re next question will probably be, “how do I know when God is talking to me?”
And that question is an entire article by itself, but I can give you some quick tips in regards to hearing God communicate to you.
First, when God communicates to us, He primarily does it through His word. He teaches us about the Bible, reveals His will through the Bible, and then we obey it. When we read the Bible it is God revealing to us who He truly is and how we should conduct our lives.
So, believe it or not, reading the Bible is a form of God speaking to us. [Related article: Spending Time Reading the Bible (Common Questions Answered)].
Second, hearing God speak is not as you would expect. It’s true that God can speak to us audibly at times, but most of the time He speaks in a still small voice down on the inside of us.
And when He speaks, you’ll know its Him. His voice carries a great confidence and it always inspires faith.
There are two passages that support this claim about God’s voice, 1 Kings 19:11-13 and 1 Corinthians 2:10-13.
“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
“So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him” (1 Kings 19:11-13).
Elijah was a prophet of God. He knew what the voice of God sounded like, and he understood that God was not in the extravagant things such as a strong wind or fire. Elijah only knew that God was about to speak when He heard a still small voice.
But what is a still small voice and how does it sound? Well, that’s the next passage we were going to cover.
Just to add a little context here before we look at the verse, the apostle Paul is explaining how the Spirit of God reveals spiritual truths to spiritual people (aka followers of Christ). While he explains this, he reveals a profound truth about hearing the voice of God. Lets look at the passage.
“For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”
How did God reveal these truths to the apostles and the early Church?
“For who among people knows the thoughts of a person except the spirit of the person that is in him? So also the thoughts of God no one knows, except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.”
In this passage, Paul states two incredible facts:
(1) The Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God, just like our spirit knows our thoughts.
(2) God gave us the Spirit of God so that we can know what God has given to us by hearing Gods thoughts.
So this passage reveals that God’s voice sounds very similar to a thought.
If you don’t believe me, read the passage again, its clear as day. God has given us His Spirit, and His Spirit knows his thoughts, and God desires to impart His thoughts to us because they reveal what God has given to us in Jesus Christ.
Now you may say, “what about Isaiah 40:13, “who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him”?
Well Paul addresses that in verse 16 when he quotes that same verse and then says, “But we have the mind of Christ.”
Don’t you think it be ludicurous to believe that you can have Christ’s mind but not His thoughts?
Now obviously, this requires discernment. Not every thought we have is God.
We need to learn to walk with God and renew our minds to discern when it is God speaking to us and when it is just ourselves.
This is why I mentioned that God’s voice carries confidence and faith when you hear it. It is usually challenging (in a good way) to your spirituality, and it usually carries wisdom that will leave you awestruck.
Basically you will know it’s God’s voice because it will always align with the Word of God and because it will be so wise and profound that you will know its not you.
Now its important to mention that I don’t believe that you’ll hear God speak to you everytime you pray, although I do believe it will happen often.
So when you pray don’t focus on the fact of hearing God or not hearing God. Instead, just spend time with Him and enjoy His presence and you’ll hear Him speak. Its not your job to force God to speak, but it is your job to live in thanksgiving and prayer.
The Bible promises that if we draw near to God He’ll draw near to us (James 4:8). And it also gives us an example of this in Acts 13:1-2.
“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
So, in short, prayer is meant to be a conversation that we have with God. We draw near to Him through praise, thanksgiving, and prayer. And then He draws near to us with His presence and His voice, and as this exchange takes place it is called conversing and communing with God.
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