Most counsellors will tell you that communication is the most vital component of a marriage. When a couple sets aside time with no distractions to talk, they generally have a healthy relationship. Conversely, it is very difficult to maintain any relationship without authentic communication. I have found this to be true in my marriage. My wife and I go through spells where we feel close to each other and times when we feel distant from one another. Each time we pause to reflect on why we feel distant from each other, it has inevitably been due to the lack of quality communication or talk time.
When life gets busy, we tend to attend to what shouts the loudest. Our relationships can subsequently play second fiddle to work, bills, children, etc and if we are not intentional about our talk time, we can drift apart. Our relationship with God is no different. When I was growing up, someone defined prayer as “talking to God”, I believe this definition is still accurate. We pray in one of 2 ways; there is corporate prayer when we unite with other Christians to pray and there is individual prayer when we are one on one with God. There are examples of both types of prayers in the Bible, however, the quality of our individual prayer life is usually a reflection of the quality of our relationship with God.
While it is a great experience, corporate prayer alone will not build your relationship with God. This mirrors our other relationships. You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and start telling them about your life’s story. That would be weird even if it was someone you met as part of a group. You need to get to know the person and decide if he or she is someone you can trust before you open up to them. This is how we build relationships. We can only engage in deep conversations with people we trust.
Another thing about corporate prayer is that it tends to be other people’s words. While there is nothing wrong with saying prayers, there is something very powerful about articulating your joys, desires, vulnerabilities, worries, etc in your own words to God. Some of us enjoy poetry as a way of expressing ourselves but it would be a strange relationship if both parties only spoke to each other with other people’s words.
We are all invited into a one on one relationship with God. This is an incredible offer but it means we have to get to know who God is, His character, His story and so on. This isn’t something anyone can do for us. Wouldn’t it be strange if all you knew about your partner or friend was what other people told you about them? That would be a poor foundation for any relationship. In the same way, it is going to be very difficult to have a relationship or meaningful conversation with God if you don’t know Him. This is why reading and studying the Bible is fundamental to the Christian life. The Bible reveals God and His character so that we can get to know Him.
Once there is a relationship, the quality and regularity of meaningful communication are essential to cultivating it. In your relationships, do you talk often about the things that matter most to you? Do you make time to share your deepest needs, struggles and triumphs? How often have we heard people say; ‘I didn’t know he was going through that’ or ‘I didn’t know she felt that way about this or that’? Many relationships are superficial because one or both parties struggle to be vulnerable or make time to talk. We can do the same thing with God. God wants to be the centre of our lives, for that to happen, we have to talk to Him regularly about the things that matter most to us.
My wife and I have made it a rule to switch off the TV and our phones when we have our talk time. It is very difficult to have deep conversations when we are distracted. Most of us crave 100% attention from our partners when we have something important to say. This means setting aside time when you are doing nothing else except talking or listening, both of which are equally important in our relationships. The more we talk and listen to each other, the stronger and deeper our relationship becomes. This is true of all relationships, including our relationship with God.
So how is your talk time with God? Have you set aside time with no distractions to talk to Him? How often do talk to God? Are you real or superficial with Him? Do you know what is on God’s heart? Are aware of what He is doing? The prophets remind us that God has feelings. He cares about every detail in our lives and He cares about what is going in the world. I am constantly amazed that God listens to me when I talk to Him, I am even more amazed when He confronts me about my life and intervenes for my good. So often I experience His love and mercy which I don’t deserve. The more I get to know God, the more I want to know and share Him.
How about you? God already knows everything about you, will you make the time to get to know Him?