I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,
Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Then said I, Here am I; send me.
Isaiah 6:8 (KJV)
Have you ever been in a situation when you just didn’t know what to do? There just didn’t seem to be any good options or maybe there were several good possibilities but you didn’t know which one to pursue? You’ve made pro and con lists of all your choices, but it’s not clear what your next step should be.
Your heart cries out, “I wish God would just tell me what to do.” But all you get is silence.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could talk to God just like we talk to our friends and ask Him what to do? Imagine this scenario: You ask God a question. He answers. You hear His voice. You answer. He responds, then asks you a question. You respond. He tells you what to do. You have a conversation.
What does it take to hear God’s voice and have a conversation with Him?
First, I think there has to be the expectation and faith that it can happen.
The Bible is full of conversations that people had with God. If it happened then, it can happen now. And I’ll come back to that in a minute.
A Sunday School teacher in the church I grew up in told the class one day that God doesn’t speak to us today because we have the Bible and that’s all we need. I just couldn’t accept that. Eventually I left that church.
In the many years since, I have talked to God and He has talked to me too many times to count. Sometimes I start the conversation. Sometimes He does.
In fact, I write many of these conversations down in my journal. And I recommend you do the same.
How do you have a conversation with God?
How do you have a conversation with anyone? You ask questions. You share your ideas. More importantly, you listen.
Have you ever met someone for the first time and just felt like you wanted to get to be friends with them. And it just happens naturally. I remember in 7th grade on the first day of this one particular class, I looked across the room and my eyes met another pair of eyes looking at me. I knew at that moment that we would be friends even before a word was spoken.
When we got together later that day, the conversation just flowed naturally. We asked each other questions about what we liked or didn’t like and other silly stuff 7th grade boys talk about. Nothing dirty though.
You can have the same kind of conversation with God.
Maybe you already talk to God on a regular basis and He talks to you.
But if it seems like it’s you doing all the talking and you never hear God’s voice responding, then maybe it’s time for a fresh approach.
May I be so bold to ask: When you pray, are you doing all the talking? I know a couple of people who never stop talking. They think they are having a conversation with me, but they never listen to a word I say. They never ask me about myself or what I think. It’s all about them.
This is the way some people pray. They think they have to tell God everything–as if He didn’t already know.
In a good conversation you talk and listen. In getting to know a new friend, it’s natural to ask questions about where they’re from, what they like to do, what their favorite music and movies are.
Ask God some starter questions
Back to writing in a journal. If you’re having trouble hearing God speak to you and would like to have an honest to goodness conversation with Him, I strongly urge you to get a journal and write down the questions that you would like to ask God.
Pretend you’re actually writing a letter to God.
This may sound totally ridiculous but I would start with “beginner” questions, similar to what you would ask someone you just met. For example, “Hi God, how was Your day?” or “What did You do today?” or “What do You like to do for fun?”
Ask direct questions like you’re actually talking to someone. Because you are. You’re talking to the One God, not at Him.
Once, I was in a stressful situation and I finally cried out, “God, what do you think about all this?” He replied instantly, “That’s not the way I created it.” Somehow, that struck me as so funny that I burst out laughing and all the stress was gone, even though the circumstances were the same.
Getting to know God
In order to have deep and meaningful conversations with God, first there has to be a genuine desire in your heart to really get to know Him on His terms. Ask God about Himself. Ask Him why He loves His children so much. Ask Him to show you how He sees things instead of trying to convince him about what you see or think.
Ask Him why He loves you.
There are lots of stories in the Bible about God talking to people. You can get to know a lot about God by reading these stories. But in order to have the same kinds of conversations with God that the Bible folks did, you have to get to know Him, as you would a friend.
And it’s okay to share your frustrations with God, just as you would with a friend. It’s not that you need to tell Him something He doesn’t already know, it’s about being honest with Him. Take Elijah for example. He was a mighty prophet for God, but when the wicked queen threatened his life, he felt like a failure, fled for his life, and basically asked God to take his life, since he thought he was the only person left on earth who was faithful to God. He didn’t think life was worth living anymore. (See I Kings 19:4)
God entered into the conversation with him, but did not grant Elijah’s request to die. God had information that the prophet didn’t. There were 7,000 people who were still faithful to God that Elijah didn’t know about.
In the conversation they had, when Elijah complained about what was going on, God told him what to do: go stand on the mount instead of stay in this dark cave you’re in, go anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi to be king over Israel. (I Kings 19:15, 16)
In other words, God said, “Get out of your pity party and go do what you’re good at, giving authority to the kings I have ordained.”
Right after Elijah left this “cave of escape,” on his way to obey God’s directions, he met Elisha, whom he would mentor as his successor.
Not bad for a day’s work in the life of a prophet. First, ask God to take your life. Complain that there’s no one left who’s faithful. Get rebuked by God. Hear the still small voice of God. Get commissioned by God to anoint two kings. Meet a man who will follow in your footsteps as a prophet to continue the work of God.
The conversation between Elijah and God is raw and honest. Elijah isn’t trying to pretend he’s someone he’s not. He is a holy man, true, but he’s not trying to fake holiness when he feels down and out.
Let this be an example to us. Be honest with God. Open your heart. But don’t be surprised if He rebukes you. He will also encourage you and tell you what to do next.
How can you talk to God?
If Elijah can have a conversation with God then you and I can too.
As I said above, I have found the best way to get a conversation going is to ask questions directly to God, to talk to Him as you would a friend. He is indeed the best Friend you will ever have.
When I’m recording my conversations with God in my journal, I write out my thoughts in cursive and I print what God says in response. This helps the flow.
Here is a tiny example of a recent conversation, just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
Me: Dear God, prepare my heart to serve You in the way that will glorify You the most. My preconception is to be like Jesus, to help and heal people.
God: That is reasonable. Do you truly desire to follow Jesus?
God: Are you willing to sacrifice self to the degree he did, 100%?
Me: I say I am willing. I have struggled to do so. Sometimes I’m more successful than others.
God: I know your heart and it is full of right motives. I will bless you. Glorify Me and not yourself.
Me: Another desire in my heart is to share the Comforter with all mankind.
God: I see this desire in your heart. I AM the One who put it there. I will honor this desire. Go forth and preach My gospel. I AM with you always. Don’t be afraid of the nay-sayers.
I have bared my soul a bit here. But I have to tell you, when I write down my question or my thoughts, an answer comes instantly. It really is a conversation. I could never come up with some of the things God says to me.
I hope you will try this journaling process. There are so many ways to talk to God. And so many ways for Him to talk to us. He may speak to you with a gentle breeze or a row of daffodils. He is always talking to us and responding to the questions and concerns in our hearts.
Listen for His voice. You will hear it. Respond. He will hear your voice. And if you want to hear more, do what He tells you.
And now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have conversations with God? What has He told you that you weren’t expecting?
Blessings to you,