I saw a hilarious comic posted on Facebook describing what it would sound like if we were to speak to our friends the same way many of us speak to God. In the comic, a man tells his girlfriend, "Babe, could you just, just pick up some milk, Babe, when you're at the store? Just go ahead Babe and just, just go to the milk section, Babe. Just grab a gallon of milk and just, just place it right in your cart. Babe, just, thanks, Babe. Just." The expression on his girlfriend's face is priceless, because it says what is exactly on the readers mind, "Has my boyfriend gone off the deep end?"
Unfortunately, the way the comic depicts prayer for most people is not too far from the truth. Although we may have heard that we should speak to God as we speak to our friends, this concept just seems excruciatingly difficult to grasp. We end up like the man having a one-sided, awkward, and distant conversation with God when we know in our hearts that this time of prayer could be so much more. You are not alone!
If you desire to have a more intimate relationship with God, here are three suggestions to get you started:
Ask God, the Holy Spirit, to be with you and guide you
The Holy Spirit is truly a Friend and Advocate who dwells within us to help us in our spiritual journey towards God. "...The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5), and this very same Spirit is what prompts us to respond to God's love through prayer.
Like the man in the comic, many of us go to God only when we are in need of something. Do we do this with our friends? Hopefully not! In prayer, God invites us to share what is on our hearts and on our minds throughout each day and not just when we need something.
God wants to be part of your every day life, but He can only do so if you let Him in. God does not need us to be polite and on our "best behavior" when we are with Him. He does, however, need us to be honest. God desires to be with you when you are angry, sad, hurt, frustrated, bored, happy, or any other emotion. He is patient and understanding when you are upset with Him after the death of your mother. He is merciful when you have fallen so far that the people you loved the most no longer want anything to do with you. He is compassionate when your heart has been broken, and He is joyful when you receive a promotion at work or deliver your first born child!
What do you share with your best friend? Your confidant? Your spouse? This is what God yearns to hear from you today! God loves all of you, and there is nothing you could share with Him that would ever make Him love you any less.
Prayer is a conversation not a monologue. Throughout my time as a Young Adult Minister, the most common question I am asked regarding the spiritual life is, "Carrell, how do you hear God? How am I suppose to listen to Him when He can't talk back?"
God, however, can and does talk back! He could be speaking to you right now, but if you do not know what His voice sounds like or are constantly surrounded by noise, it is very easy to miss Him entirely. The best way to know what God sounds like is to read the Gospels which are the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible. Understanding the life, teachings, and passion of Christ will help you discriminate between the voice of God and the voice of the Enemy.
Then, take some time in silence to hear what He is trying to tell you. God is limitless, and He can speak to you through a myriad of ways- a scripture passage, a song on the radio, advice from a wise friend, a character in a novel, a line from a movie, the homily at mass, a piece of artwork, and others. Ask God to help you listen more effectively to His voice, and you will not be disappointed.
May you draw closer to our good, good Father who loves you completely and desires to be with you through prayer!