"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
It is common to hear many Christians refer to “talking with God”. It leaves many wondering, guessing, or assuming what is meant by this seemingly religious rhetoric. In this article, we will examine the many different ways we communicate to God, how He communicates to us, and the most effective ways for keeping these channels of communication open. Theologians seem to complicate the basics of communication with God in fear of being viewed as charismatic in their theology. Some simply lack the faith necessary to speak with God on a personal level. Whatever the reason, here at SCM we desire every believer to have as much communication with the Master as possible.
The first order of business for anyone who wishes to speak to God is to simply do just that. It’s as easy as opening our mouth and speaking, just as we do with everyone else. There is no secret formula or ritual to communicate with the Lord. Some people prefer to do this quietly to themselves and sometimes it is necessary to your immediate circumstances. Whatever method you choose at the moment, you can be assured that God is hearing the cries, desires, and needs of His children. To pray out loud or within is a personal choice, however I do believe that there is a special advantage to speaking our needs out loud (Proverbs 18:21 & 12:18). Praying God’s power out loud lets the enemy trying to prevent your breakthrough know that help is on the way. Words are powerful, especially in prayer as God wishes to give us the desires of our hearts. Covenants and blessings were often passed down by word of mouth in the Old Testament era. These blessings were powerful gifts from God himself. So what are the forms of communication with God? The most obvious way is as we said to just speak to God. You can choose a more formal route such as prayer and even worship. Worship includes music, crying out to him, service in His name, and even obedience to God. Many people fail to even acknowledge God until a crisis arises in their life. This is when they begin to pray or cry out. The most sincere form of worship to God is obedience. To be obedient we must continue our side of communication with Him on a regular basis. Our concerns and needs are much more apt to be granted when we maintain that relationship with God on a consistent basis. If you find yourself in regular situations where you are in a crisis and the only common denominator is that you cry out to God only when this happens, that could be the reason He is allowing such suffering to come your way. If the only way He can hear from His children is to allow them to feel the pain of suffering, we are at least much better off spiritually this way. I want God to know that I need Him in the good times as much as I need Him in the bad times.
The other side of the equation when speaking to God is hearing back. This tends to be the least common referred to half of the conversation. I hear many people say, “I pray, but I don’t hear anything back” or “God must not be real because He never speaks to me.” There are often many possible and many times multiple reasons for there to be an assumed absence of communication from God’s side. The most common being when we aren’t listening to Him. For the unbeliever, it is ignoring the conviction to confess faith in Him and to commit our lives over to Christ. How can He be expected to answer our concerns when we appear to blatantly ignore His? Most believers don’t seem to hear from God because we are not sincerely listening in the first place. When I speak to my wife, she thoroughly appreciates it when I stop all that I am doing to speak to her. She wants full attention, eyes fixed on her, and your body still. When this happens, our communication goes nearly flawlessly. We seem to forget this approach when it comes to God. We need to stop what we are doing and focus solely on Him when we wish to hear back. This may include getting away from routine life, seeking a quiet place, or being alone in solitude. Many people have designated what they call as a “special prayer closet” where they can get alone with God and speak with Him. Another reason for the assumed lack of response when speaking with God can be that we are ignorant of the many methods that God can use to communicate back. Part of this ignorance is the fault of the local church and the other part is our own. Scripture explains the many ways and means that God often uses to communicate with us. This subject is often over-looked by the local church because it is not well understood by most ministers.
So what are the methods that God uses to speak? These include: audibly, through His Word, prophetic dreams, His people, un-believers, conviction, affliction, and circumstances (John 10:27, Hebrews 1:1-2). To hear God speak audibly is not only rare, but also a miracle. Saul, who would soon become Paul, heard the voice of the Lord as he was blinded by God. However, after his conversion Paul did not regularly report hearing the audible voice of God, but rather His guidance and conviction. For most that hear the audible voice of God, it is a one-time life event. God often times speaks to us through His Word. To hear him in this fashion, we have to be willing to crack open a Bible and read it. It may be old-fashioned, but I always keep an actual Bible around for this reason. Just having a phone app or a copy on the internet isn’t sufficient enough. A few days ago, God began to confirm the message the minister was about to preach was for me by first allowing me to flip to the exact scripture in the Bible He was about to preach on. I had no idea what scriptures he was planning to use or what the message was about. All I know is that the message was confirmed in several different ways from God that day to let me know it was for me. That’s how God speaks through His Word. Many times, if God confirms and answers through His Word He will follow it up with the other indirect methods of communication. He may show you a scripture, follow it with conviction, and confirm His Word through another believer. God also loves to speak to use through our dreams. This happens often to me and is followed usually through conviction. Dreams are powerful and many times prophetic as it was for Joseph when he was young man. Peter dreamed a revelation from God on the rooftop of a house that helped the church get past a cultural blockade dealing with the gentiles (Acts 10:9-16). Do not discount your dreams until you have prayed diligently as they are often a warning for coming danger as well. God often speaks through His people in coordination with other forms of speaking to us. I have personally had many ministers and fellow church members prophesy things to me that have come to past. Just as He speaks through His people, He may also choose to allow a sinner to speak prophesy to us without that person even knowing the meaning of what they are saying. We have already discussed conviction as it often coincides with other forms of God speaking to us. Conviction can be best explained as tugging on the heart of man, such as when your heart was tugged to get saved by Christ. God can speak to us through our trials, afflictions, and circumstances. Many times we will experience things, but not receive the message He is giving to us until a later time. It is almost always when we are going through a trial or affliction we cannot envision the end result. We have to remind ourselves at that moment that God can see the big picture outside of the circumstances. Trials often help God trim off the spiritual fat in our lives, leaving us a more lean and fit Christian. That allows God to then reveal His reason and plan for what he has allowed us to endure.
Once we get those lines of communication open, how do we keep them? This is a good question, but also very easy to answer. And that answer is, the same way we got them open. This comes with obedience, holiness, humbleness, and willingness to hear God’s still calm voice. We need to eagerly seek God daily (Matthew 6:33, Revelation 3:20). This includes diving in His Word, developing and ongoing relationship with God, speaking on a regular basis with Him. The more time we spend in prayer, the easier our conversations begin to be with Christ. God wants and does what He can to provide us with everything we need to do these things. All He needs in return is our effort and faith. “Do your best and let God take care of the rest!” Praise God that He was willing to lower himself off the throne of heaven to be given as a sacrifice for our sins, so that we may have this communication with Him today. We should never take our opportunity to speak with Him for granted.
Proverbs 18:21 King James Version (KJV)
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Proverbs 12:18 King James Version (KJV)
18 There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
Acts 10:9-16 King James Version (KJV)
9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
John 10:27 King James Version (KJV)
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Hebrews 1:1-2 King James Version (KJV)
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Matthew 6:33 King James Version (KJV)
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Revelation 3:20 King James Version (KJV)
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.