Written by Heather Broughman
Prayer is not simply a one way conversation. There is more! Here is some encouragement and tips to grow your prayer life and hear the voice of God!
Imagine with me that you are standing in front of a closed door, and on the other side of that door is God. You open the door, poke your head through, and tell Him “thank you,” repent, and ask Him for what you need, but before He can respond, you retreat. You close the door while He’s still outside, and that’s all, you’re done. Oftentimes this is what our prayer life looks like. A one way conversation where we’re doing the talking but never really quite inviting Him in. Sure, we take our request before Him, but He’s never given the opportunity to respond or to speak back. While we may be informing Him of our needs, we never really quite invite him into our situations. Maybe we think that’s all there is. That prayer is this one way conversation, but there’s more!
When was the last time you read the book of Habakkuk? It’s short. Only three chapters total, but it has a lot to teach us about dialoging in prayer. Here’s what I love about Habakkuk, the guy knew how to ask a question! “How long must I ask for help before You hear me, God?” “When are you going to save us?” “Why do you not do anything about the injustice in our land?” He didn’t just tell God about the situations at hand, but rather humbly inquired of the Lord. Habakkuk’s petitions and questions are recorded for us to see. But you know what else is recorded? God’s answers.
Habakkuk knew he didn’t have all the answers. He knew that there were gaps in his understanding of the situations and circumstances that he and his people faced. So instead of opening the door and rattling off his prayer list, he asked God questions, flinging the door wide and inviting Him in.
Sometimes I think we forget that God can and wants to speak to us. Perhaps the fact that we have permission to humbly inquire of the Lord slips our minds and we don’t even think to ask Him a question, let alone wait for Him to respond. But time and time again God’s Word tells us to call on Him and He will answer. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to Me and I will answer you.” In Psalm 17:6, the writer states, “I have called upon You, for You will answer me.” Isaiah 30:19 declares, “He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.” Prayer was meant to be a two-way conversation. By asking God questions, we are inviting Him into our situations instead of merely keeping Him on the perimeters of them.
So what’s keeping you from inviting God into your circumstances? The book of Habakkuk demonstrates that God will respond. What questions do you need to ask Him? No question is too big or small for God to handle. He is not put off by the questions we ask Him, but instead I believe He rejoices that we are giving Him an open door to step into our circumstances with us! Ask your questions and then wait. Give God space and time to speak; perhaps through a picture or maybe a verse of Scripture. A thought or idea may come to mind. Test it against the Bible and see if the thought lines up with God’s Word.
Here are a few tips on hearing the voice of God:
- READ THE BIBLE. There is no better way to get to know God or His voice than to read His Word.
- BE PATIENT. If you’re new to hearing God’s voice or haven’t stopped to listen for a while. Take the pressure off and give yourself some time to listen. Some people listen better while sitting still and others hear better when outside or walking. Find out what works for you.
- FLUSH ANXIETY + FEAR. Anxiety and fear have a way of muffling God’s voice. Stop and give them to the Lord and ask for His peace instead. Then take a couple of deep breaths and see TIP 2 again.
- START SIMPLE. Start with a simple question like, “Lord, what do You want to say to me today?” It’s a great place to start, and by asking the question, you’ve just invited Him in.