We live in a culture where people have fallen away from the practice of praying. Prayer has always been a staple of Christian life. It says, “God, I can’t do this without you, I need you.” It’s a reliance on someone who is really in control.
When I suggest we talk to God verses praying, we are mincing words. Let me share with you the slight difference. When I am speaking about praying, I think of rote prayers, or speaking to God in mechanical ways.
Let me say that rote prayers are not bad and even need to be encouraged. The largest book of the Bible, the Psalms, are rote prayers. For millennia, Christians have recited the words of David and many other authors of the Psalms.
Why are the Psalms great? Because they are part of God’s Holy inspired Word. When we pray with them, we know we are praying good doctrine and following inspired examples. In fact, the apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:19 that we should encourage each other in part by speaking or singing the Psalms to each other. We should not give them up.
When it comes to other rote prayers, I actually carry The Book of Common Prayer with me. It’s one of my EDC (Every Day Carry) in my bag. Why would a young person carry such an old book? Because there are times when I can’t put into words what I want to pray. This book helps. To note, there have been changes at time to the Common Book of Prayer that have false doctrine added in recent updates. Do your homework if you are going to pick one up.
If we are commanded in Scripture to sing and say the Psalms and have a rich collection of rote prayers in The Book of Common Prayer put together by great Biblical scholars of 500 years ago, why should we ever “just talk to God?”
First, we should talk to God in our own words. What if I don’t pray the right things to God? This is why Scripture reading and Bible study is so integral to the Christian life alongside prayer. There have been times my studies revealed things I was praying were not in line with God’s heart. Remember, prayer is not meant to align God’s heart with ours, but ours with His and His will.
When we pray in our own words, while it may not be poetic and eloquent, it is real and true to what we feel. We can just be honest with God. It is our own thoughts of praise and petition. It is more personal. While we may not be able to perfectly communicate what our heart says, remember that He knows our hearts. Think about it – do you like getting a birthday or Christmas card from someone with a prewritten message, or a personal one?
Second, talking to God involves being honest with Him. We are still praying, but when I say talking to Him, what I mean is that we talk as if He is sitting there with us, because He is. I once heard an author say that he actually has a chair in his bedroom, and when he prays he sits next to that chair, and tries to picture Jesus sitting there next to Him.
Talk to God, not in a disrespectful way, but a personal way. Talk to Him like you are having a friendly conversation with your buddy. Be honest with Him. We don’t want to be disrespectful, but be honest. Job does this. David and Habakkuk do this. Many others who wrote Scripture talk like this as well.
They ask questions. They question things that don’t seem just or fair. They pry. They say things like, “Why do the wicked prosper?” It’s an honest feeling.
When you talk to God you should be really honest and speak to Him. Don’t just offer rote prayers. You will find you will ask God hard honest questions, and that is alright. Just keep two things in mind.
First, it is alright to ask God, “What in the world are You doing?” However, we must ask it in the right attitude. We find this with the Biblical authors who are talking and praying to God.
Second, you must end with trust in God, even though you may not understand. God is God, and we are not. If we look at Job, David, Habakkuk and others, when we see their honest questions, we see at the end of their prayers and conversations with God that they always end with dependence on God and His ways, even when they do not understand.
Do you talk with God? I don’t mean offering up quick prayers, but do you talk to Him? Do you have conversations with Him? Do you ask tough questions, maybe of things you feel are even unfair? Then, when you don’t get the answers you hoped for, do you end with deferring to His magnificent, eternal, perfect will?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.