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Have you ever felt frustrated trying to figure out how to have a conversation with God? We know that talking to him is not staring at the ceiling conducting a one-person monologue while God patiently listens, but we are not quite sure how to move past it.
Let’s think about this for a second, what if you had a relationship where you only talked with that person when you needed something?
You wouldn’t learn the sound of their voice, their humor, their interests, their joy, and their pain. You wouldn’t have a friendship but an acquaintance. There would be no hope of moving past the basic levels of friendship because you have a need-based transactional relationship.
I don’t know about you but I want to know the sound of Gods voice, I want to have inside jokes, I want to sit in his presence, I want his voice to be the one I listen for when I wake up, and the last one I talk to before I go to sleep. I want to have the deepest soul friendship I can possibly have with God. C.S. Lewis, St. Ignatius, King David, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, and countless other unknown people have experienced this type of relationship.
We know we serve a talking God. There are numerous examples in the Bible, starting with Adam and continuing on to the present day. He is always communicating with us. Our role in the conversation is to not only talk, but to practice active listening.
Here are four questions that we need to ask ourselves in order to move past a transactional conversation and into a deep soul friendship with Jesus.
Are you Ready to Hear from God?
2. Are you Practicing Listening to God?
3. Are you Spending Time with God?
4. Are You Pursuing a Soul Friendship with God?
1. Are you Ready to Hear from God?
There are literally thousands of articles, books, and conferences centered around hearing God’s voice, but have you ever wondered what he will say when you do hear him? What he will ask of you?
I love the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22. He comes to Jesus expecting one thing (to be praised for his good deeds), and instead, he gets thrown a curve ball, with the challenge to reorder his life to follow God.
I think a lot of us dream that God will speak to us in the same way he visited Mary or Paul in the New Testament. We want booming voices, angelic appearances, and impressive callings.
We want to have the distinction among our peers of someone who
hears directly from the Almighty God.
When God calls someone into foreign missions, or ministry we can’t ignore that there is a romantic prestige to the call. Everyone around them knows that they have been called to a life of sacrifice and service. They are applauded, sometimes misunderstood, and generally acknowledged as a Godly, selfless creature.
But what about when God calls us to not gossip about our enemies, to load and unload the dishwasher without complaining for 92nd time today, to clean up dog poop, and to encourage our spouse after a long day? That calling is not remotely romantic, there is no choir singing our praises, and no prestige for being super Godly, it just sounds like a lot of hard work done without an audience.
We need to ask ourselves, are we desperate for a deep love relationship with God? Or are we trying to find our acceptance and validation in our perceived Godliness?
A soul friendship with God is developed not in front of a crowd, but in the daily, mundane moments of our lives. As we invite him more and more into our day, we encounter the lavish love and character of God, and our lives are transformed.
2. Are you Practicing Listening to God?
Imagine you get the opportunity to have lunch with Mother Theresa or Billy Graham and you spend the entire time talking incessantly about your thoughts, feelings, and problems, barely coming up for air. It sounds like crazy behavior because it is crazy behavior!
When you sit down with one of your role models you want to learn and glean everything you can in that precious time. You ask questions and share your story but you don’t spend the time monopolizing the conversation.
Dallas Willard, says it this way, “People are meant to live in an ongoing conversation with God, speaking and being spoken to.”
When you engage in a conversation with God, imagine you are verbally tossing a ball back and forth. Talking is important but you must also practice listening. Unlike talking, listening takes time and effort. The practice of spending time in silence and solitude has really helped me develop my listening skills.
A practical suggestion would be to start off by setting a timer for two minutes and just be quiet, focusing on the Father. You can slowly increase your time with God as the Holy Spirit leads you. To be real, I have to say that I have found this practice to be challenging, but so CRUCIAL to developing a deep relationship with God.
3. Are you Spending Time with God?
We can get a little obsessed with trying to hear Gods voice that we forget that listening to someone is only a part of a relationship with them. Think about those people in your life where you don’t have to keep the conversation going in order to avoid the awkward PAUSE? You can just sit and be… No performance, no effort, content just to be in each other’s presence. It sounds so life-giving, right?
Unlike our spouse or best friend, God is literally with us all the time. You come to know him through a balance of talking, listening and EXPERIENCING life together.
“Hearing God cannot be a reliable and intelligible fact of life except when we see his speaking as one aspect of his presence with us, of his life in us. Only our communion with God provides the appropriate context for communications between us and him.” ― Dallas Willard
Over time, your experience with God, not just your conversation will serve as a framework for recognizing his voice in your life. When was the last time you stopped and just spent time with God? No requests. No conversation. Just enjoying each other’s presence?
A practical suggestion would be to invite him into your favorite activity or hobby. Say something like, “God I invite you into this time. I want to enjoy your presence and just hang out with you as I participate in this hobby/activity.” Then just be aware of his presence with you as engage in the activity. You bring God joy just by showing up and carving time out of your day for him.
4. Are you Pursuing a Soul Friendship with God?
It is impossible to form a deep relationship if the extent of your interaction is a quick text message every couple of months. You have to invest time, energy and effort in order for the new relationship to grow. This means that instead of using God as a crisis manager you come to him as a best friend, learning to delight in spending time together.
“It is much more important to cultivate the quiet, inward space of a constant listening than to always be approaching God for specific direction.”-Dallas Willard
In order for your relationship with God to grow, you need to take an active role in feeding, watering, and spending time in an environment that will help it grow. Practically, this looks like spending time with God consistently, practicing talking and listening, inviting God into your day, spending time in community with fellow believers, and reordering your life around him.
Let’s be honest, as a mom we can live at the mercy of good intentions. But good intentions don’t build a deep life-giving relationship with Jesus. I’m sorry but I am not going to wait twenty years until my kids are out of the house to go deep in my relationship with God… I need him now! The foundation of learning to have an ongoing conversation with God is in the little choices you make every single day. I promise you it’s worth it!
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What about you? What is your #1 issue when it comes to having a conversation with God? feel free to leave me a comment and don’t forget to follow Most Important Work on Pinterest!
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