“I don’t want to talk about you, like you’re not in the room… I want to look right at you, I want to sing right to you”.
When the worship leader sang these words, everything changed for me.
I realized that there have been many times when I “prayed” that I wasn’t aware that God was right there in the room with me. Instead I would pray as if sending up a message, never sure if it was reaching Him, and not waiting for a response because I wasn’t really believing that He would respond.
This was especially true when I was upset about something and basically using my prayer as a way to petition God for something I wanted.
I also realized that when things were going well, my “prayer” time decreased dramatically and was even more hurried in a “send it up and move on with my day” type of way.
Sound familiar to anyone else?
I am happy to report, that prayer has taken on a whole new vibrant meaning for me over the years!
But I realize that there are many people who fall into the traps that I once fell in.
I want to encourage you and offer my experience with changing the way I prayed. Instead of calling it prayer, I call it “talking with God”.
Here are my 5 Steps to Talking with God on the Good Days
Step 1: Immanuel
I remember that Immanuel means “God with us”. That means that He is RIGHT HERE IN THE ROOM WITH ME. I take a deep breath and settle into this realization. If I am not able to relax and really believe this as true, then I do something to make sure my Relational Circuits are on.
You see… the relational circuits (RCs) in my frontal lobe are not just meant for me to be able to relate to my human and animal friends… they make it possible for me to connect with my Creator as well!
Step 2: Restoring my RCs
I’ve personally discovered a few different ways to “brighten” my RCs.
- Shalom for my Body exercises- Watch this video of Dr. Jim Wilder explaining how to do them!
- Appreciation- for me it’s helpful to start journaling about a time I felt appreciation or a time when I felt close to God in the past. (5-bar moment)
- Meditation/Deep Breathing- I use an app on my phone sometimes to help me keep track of time etc. it’s really good for reminding me to stay focused on my breathing or relaxing my body rather than “thinking” so much. For me, I’ve found that over-thinking is a sure fire way to DIM my RCs not brighten them!
- Humor/Laughter- Sometimes a little break from “the norm” is good enough to get my RCs back on. I can usually switch over into appreciation quickly from humor. J
- Worship music- listening to or actually singing worship music that I can relate to is also a good trick for getting my RCs on. And, it’s biblical too—remember how Elisha requested a harpist to help him connect with God in the Old Testament?
Step 3: Using my right brain’s best feature
For everyone outside of the Life Model works world, it’s common knowledge that the right brain is where us “creative folk” do our best work. It’s where color, and images, and beauty are derived. But even if you’re more of a “left-brained logical” personality type, you still have a right brain!
Try this- I’m assuming that you are not in your bathroom right now reading this- so I want you to try to picture what your bathroom looks like. Close your eyes if you have to and imagine the layout of the room. Can you see where the sink is in relation to the toilet? Can you see if you have a tub or a standalone shower? Do you know what color the walls are? Can you see in your mind what kind of things are on the wall or on the counter top? Is the cap on your toothpaste?!
There, I’m willing to bet that you could answer all of those questions. That means that your right brain is capable of picturing things that you’ve seen before. So, for this part of my talking with God habit, I simply picture Him in the room with me (or me somewhere else with Him). I draw from what my imagination has already seen of what God “might” look like. Typically, I can more easily picture Jesus based on common depictions of Him throughout centuries.
I don’t get into philosophical arguments of whether or not my “picture” of what He looks like is accurate or Hollywood’s idea. I just go with it.
Picturing him as a living, breathing person makes it so much easier to assume He’s hearing me. It makes it simpler to pause and wait for His response. Whether I’m talking to Him out loud or writing it down in my prayer journal …strike that… my “talking with God” journal… it’s truly a relational exercise.
Step 4: Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving
On any normal day, where I don’t have crisis or “reason” for talking with God, it’s helpful to begin simply with telling Him something I appreciate. This could be something I’m thanking Him for or just something I enjoyed and want to tell him about. He is always happy to hear from me about these things. Even though He is “always with me” and already knows about whatever I’m telling him, He loves to hear my perspective on the event.
Step 5: Be still
After I share from my heart, in a conversation with anyone I know, I usually don’t walk away assuming that the person won’t respond to me. I pause and wait to see what the person is going to say. In the same way, I have learned to “Be Still… and know that I am God” at this time.
Knowing that He is God, knowing that He is good, knowing that He is a loving Father, a joyful Creator, a Faithful Friend all of this helps me wait for His response. Would a good, loving father, or a faithful friend completely ignore me when I share my joys with him?
Of course not!
So I wait. I keep picturing Him—and knowing who He is—and I receive the impression of a response. Sometimes it’s words, sometimes it’s pictures, sometimes it’s just feelings. But I always know He is with me and I am not alone. Peace (Shalom) – is the result of these “talking with God” moments throughout my day…. on any given day.
The more you practice “talking with God”, the more natural it will become, on the good days and the bad days. (Stay tuned for a post about talking with God on those bad days next month!)