God and Prayer
How do you talk to God? Does God actually hear our prayers? The Curiosity Collective brings together thought leaders, subject matter experts, pastors, and theologians to explore these difficult questions.
Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection
- Do you ever feel that you need to “fix yourself” before you talk to God?
- How might you differentiate between your own thoughts and feelings and God’s answers to your prayers?
Dude, you, you shouldn't let people know that before, before, before you film them. Prayer is faith, man, you've got to— God can— if you believe God can hear you, then talk to him. The way that I think you should talk to God is, uh, first of all, you've got to, you've got to wash your hands and stuff, and make sure you're all cleaned up, and, and then you've got to put on a suit, and then you put on a real— put on a suit and be all, and make sure you're really clean. You've got to cut your hair and make sure there's no hair on your face because, um, he doesn't like hair on people's face. And then you have to, uh, then you've got to clean your car, too because when you get to the place, you gotta be, like, a park, you want to be able to show up in a clean car and then you get there, and then you, then you drop on your knees. You can't pick the left knee first or the right knee because you can't go left or right. God's not like the right-wing, but he— God... both knees need to drop at the same exact time. Ideally at, like, 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon is the perfect time. You go up to the highest point in your neighborhood. You don't have to leave and find a mountain, because that's not realistic. Go to the highest point in your neighborhood, whether it be your neighbor's hill or wherever. You just go there, drop both knees at the same time, and then the first words out your mouth have to be... um... okay, I'm going to stop because that's ridiculous. The way that you talk to God it's just like I'm talking you right now. You could literally say, "hey, God, what's up?" Like, for real. You just talk to him. There's not some big ceremony. There's not this big thing.There's not this big— you just talk. He knows your heart. He wants to have a conversation with you. What father, regardless to what their children have done, if their father comes to them and really needs to talk, what father's not going to listen? What good father won't listen? He's a good father. I've been in, I've been in, I know of prayer circles where people were brand new Christians or didn't know anything about God, and they're cursing in the prayer circle, like, they're cussing in the prayer. You don't think God hears that? You think God is like, "no, stop it!" No, 'cause he hears you cursing when you're not praying. He knows where you are. You've just got to meet— he's gonna meet you exactly where you are. So whatever you want to say to him, you can say it. He's hearing it anyways. But you're not speaking to him. He wants you to speak to him, right to him.
Prayer? This is a real struggle for me. I'm very Type A. I like to know what the plan is, what the schedule is, I want to make sure that I'm doing everything exactly how I'm supposed to. I wanted to know how do you do it? How do you do prayer? What does it look like? What are the rules? What are the steps? In my mind, it always looked like this kind of— I know it sounds silly— but I really always pictured someone sitting in a room with candles lit and music playing and like, a window half-opened and breeze coming in, and it was just this like, euphoric moment of praying, and using all the right vocabulary, and I thought do I have, like, a greeting? Like, do I start with a greeting and do I have a closing line? Like, how do I do this? And for a long time, I faked it and I just sort of did what I saw other people doing 'cause I didn't really understand it. And there was one night that I was laying in bed and I was just like, "oh, God, would you just help me? I, I'm so confused about this. I'm so frustrated, and I don't know how to pray. I don't know how to..." and again it wasn't a voice; but it was just this, like, keen understanding that God was like, Okay, that's what I'm asking you to do. That's it. There's no formality to it - I just want you to speak to me like you would talk to anyone else." And so, um, so I took him at his word and I did. And it was silly things. I'd be walking around my house just in my head kind of going, "okay, Lord, give me patience. Oh my goodness, my children are driving me crazy. Give me patience." Or you know, I'd have something coming up. My husband would be traveling, I'd pray for safety on his flight. But... it's not a fool-proof thing. It's not like you can ask for a specific miracle or situation in your life, and all of the sudden it comes to fruition. But you start the conversation, and you continue listening, and eventually I believe you'll hear him. It's God's nature to want to meet you in your questioning.
How do you talk to God? It's weird to think actually that, like, if we speak out loud that, like, the creator of the universe is actually hearing you. Um... I often times find it's weird. You'll get used to it later but as you get maybe started in just learning how to speak to God and communicate, I'd actually encourage you to write, write stuff down, just like you would write a kind of a cute note to some new girlfriend or, um, a note that you might write to your, your sons or daughters about something you saw them do that you loved. Um, maybe start writing your thoughts to God. Um... you might find that it actually feels more real that way, and then slowly move, uh, toward just speaking to him out loud. I don't really take time anymore to just stop and talk to God for a half hour. It seems kind of weird. Um... because God promises to walk with me throughout the day, I just try to talk all day long to him. One thing that has been helpful to me, honestly, is to ask him things, and to then be quiet and see what enters my heart and my mind. It's, it's, it's been amazing growth for me to literally say, "God, are there any people today that you want me to pray for?" And all of the sudden, I get a download of names. "God, is there anybody today— I've got two hours free tonight— is there anybody that I could go encourage?" And it's amazing how I just get one, one name. Um... so when you ask God things, ask him specific things. Maybe stop after you ask him something and just see if he speaks back to you— if some impression comes into your heart— and then when it does, try to act on it. And then I think if you will do those things, you'll actually start to see that God is relating with you. He is communicating with you, and he will show up in your life.
Sometimes I say it out loud, sometimes I pray it in the quietness of my heart. Um... Hey, God, I want to, I want to see you today. I... want to hear you today. I want to know you today. I don't, I don't want to just know facts about you, but I want to really know you today, so that I can follow hard after you today. And I think in in saying that out loud or sometimes just praying it in the quietness of my heart, that's sort of my proclamation that I'm going to look for God in everything. I'm going to... ask God to let me hear his perspective in some situation I might face, rather than my own, that, um, everything that I go through, I'm going to filter it through the reality that this is an opportunity to get to know God in an even deeper way. I mean, certainly through the good times, but also through the really, really hard times. I think some of the times that I've come to really understand God the most is when I'm facing something so hard that, you know, I just think I have no wisdom in this situation, and... when I press into God, in that, I, I come to know a little bit more about who he is, because the Bible says that we can ask God for wisdom and that he'll give it to us, and when he does— especially in those hard times— we come to know him. We come to, to know just something deeper. So, "I want to see you. I want to hear you. I want to, I want to know you, God, so that I can follow hard after you every day." Does this mean that I don't still yell at my kids, and then regret doing that? No, of course, I, I still yell at my kids. I'm, I'm a messy mom. Um... does it mean that my husband and I suddenly all get along all perfectly? No, it doesn't mean that. Does it mean I'm always successful in all of my business adventures? No, it doesn't mean that, but it does mean that I establish that God is in control, and I acknowledge that by saying, God, I want to see you. I want to hear you. I want to know you, so that I can follow hard after you every day. And it's not that my physical eyes see God's physical form, It's, it's more like, God, I want to see evidence of your hand right here in the midst of what I'm facing every day." The more I establish a pattern of having God's perspective, the more my perspective about things I face hopefully will become like his.
I was talking to my daughter not too long ago, um, and I was asking her, "why do you believe in Jesus?" And she said, um, "I believe in him because I read about him in the Bible, dad." And I said, "well, that's a great answer, um, but, but we read about hobbits and trolls and wizards and other things. Like, why do we believe that Jesus is real?" And, um... she thought about that. I could tell she was really, really processing that question. And then she says, "Dad, do you remember when we were praying for some families, and, and we prayed for some friends, um, Darcy and Kimball and their kids, and then you remember how we saw them at Home Depot, like, just a few minutes later?" Like, 15 minutes after this drive we had taken, we had been praying about this family. "And, and, and remember, dad, how we, we looked at each other and, and we felt like that's an answer to prayer?" And, and she said, "that's why I believe in Jesus." And to me, it was just a really, really cool moment, um, not only because like, my child had faith but because this idea of, you know, maybe there really is some, some sense of, of of meaning and purpose, and, and our human lives intersecting with what's happening in a spiritual way and in a, in some other kind of dimension, and because our lives were being put out there to try to pray for the good of this family that we had experienced Jesus in a, in a personal way. Uh, that was a pretty amazing moment.