So many of us struggle with communication in our relationships, and I’ll be the first to admit that I am the worst.
Plenty of times I have viewed communication with my loved ones as an obligation or something to check off my to-do list. But I’ve learned that communication is much more than a task.
Communication actually is the relationship.
And since prayer is our main form of communication with God, prayer is our relationship with God.
Here are 4 ways we can look at our relationships with people to learn about our relationship with God.
1. Are you distant? Imagine if your spouse put everything before you and gave you only the scraps of their spare time, and then used systematic, habitual communication with you. What if they solely talked to you when they were either extremely happy or extremely sad? What if they only talked to you briefly, maybe a minute in the morning and a minute before bed? Even if some of these conversations were deep and amazing, you would still be heartbroken and always yearning for more of them.
This quote from Richard Foster is a wonderful description of how God feels when we may treat Him this way:
Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence. He is inviting you – and me – to come home, to come home to where we belong, to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in. – Richard Foster
Just as in any relationship, we shouldn't take our problems out on God. Though we may get busy with work, have a bad day, or go through tough times, we shouldn’t get distant. We should actually use this as an excuse to keep the line of communication open – not even leaving our problems at work or where they belong – but bringing them all to Him.
Try writing down whatever is bothering you on a piece of paper. Pray about it and then tear up the paper. The problem is now in His hands! This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us and it is given to us. 1 John 5:14
2. Do you spend quality time? The quality of our communication and the quality of time spent go hand in hand. Are we giving God the firstfruits of our time, or are we giving Him the leftovers? Are we spending enough time with God for it to leave an impression on us? We usually walk away from a conversation with a friend with something to think about, even if it’s something tiny. It doesn’t have to be an impassioned, blood-sweating prayer in order for it to be meaningful. Sometimes it’s the smallest interactions that bring us the most joy.
Try reading a part of the Bible or a devotional. Pray God will speak to you as you read. When something stands out to you, stop reading and meditate on it. If you have a question, pray! He’s sure to answer you in one way or another.
3. Are you doing all of the talking? Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they talk on and on, but as soon as you say something, they change the subject? Or maybe you were the one talking their ear off and weren’t interested in what they had to say. I remember talking to my mom on the phone and I was so caught up in my own thoughts that I didn’t hear what she was saying and I hung up with her in the middle of her sentence. It made me sad to know that I made her feel unimportant and unheard.
Communication is a two-way street, and listening is just as important as talking. How many times have we shut out God’s voice by doing all of the talking and not listening? And we definitely don’t want to miss out on what God has to say to us – it’s most likely the answer to our problem.
Aside from talking to the Lord, try taking some time out to just bask in His presence and praise Him. It is during these times of praise that we feel His Loving, Truthful presence the most, as He speaks into our hearts and minds. What I love about this is that whether you throw your hands up and sing or go watch the sunset, the way you praise is totally up to you. Praise Him the way you know how.
4. Lastly, are you constant? Although we are told to pray without ceasing, I must admit that it is difficult to pray all day long when we must work and take care of our homes. This is when the relationship we’ve been building with God in private has its chance to shine outwardly and bear its fruits. After genuine communication, we’ll find the Lord influencing our words, behaviors and actions, regardless of our physical whereabouts.
Depending on His Spirit in our day-to-day lives will become less and less foreign and difficult. It will feel as natural as a relationship with our closest friend.
After all, that’s exactly what it is.
Read more about prayer: