From Conversations with God by Allison Bown
Words are bridges that connect us and keys that unlock our thoughts. Words link others to our experiences and open doors to share our dreams. We may be an extrovert with words for every occasion — or an introvert, who with a few, wise phrases, can get directly to the heart of the matter. And whether it’s in an intimate conversation or a boisterous group of friends, we share a longing for others to listen to what we have to say.
Everyone wants to have a voice.
Everyone desires to be heard.
Everyone… including God.
Conversation is an integral part of friendship. You tell me something interesting. I wonder what it means and ask you to tell me more. Your thoughts spark mine and I share my insights with you. That prompts a memory for you that gives us both a better understanding and I express my gratitude for your wisdom. There’s give and take; exchange and dialogue.
Hopefully, we know more about each other when we’re finished and are renewed by the interaction. New questions may have been provoked, which makes us want to talk again. Or maybe we just laughed together, cried together or exchanged a few words that said everything. Conversations can take so many forms — but at the end, we delighted in the exchange and felt understood by someone who cares about us.
But far too often, that’s not at all how we see the concept of prayer, which is, at its very essence, a divine conversation as friends of a Faithful Friend.
Prayer is meant to be an exchange; a dialogue between God and us. We see God’s desire for communication from the beginning of creation with Adam. He chatted with Noah, Abraham and Joseph. With Moses, God spoke face to face, as a man would with his friend (Ex. 33:11). God loves a good dialogue and He made us in His image. And when Jesus came to Earth, He taught us something very important about having a conversation with God.
You can’t hold a conversation if you don’t speak the same language.
In John 12:27ff, Jesus is talking to His Father and expresses His desire that the Father’s name will be glorified. Papa replies to His Son by saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again”… a voice Jesus heard clearly. However, verse 29 says that some people who stood by heard it and thought that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”
The same Voice spoke — but not everyone heard the same thing.
On eight different occasions in the Gospels, Jesus uses the phrase, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Apparently, just possessing these sound receptacles on the sides of our head doesn’t guarantee understanding with our hearts. Far too often, God is speaking. He is sharing His heart in His native tongue: the Language of Promise. However, if we are listening in the Language of Problem, we may mistake the very reassurances we are looking for as vague rumblings that don’t hold much meaning for us.
The Language of Promise is the language of conversations with God.
He doesn’t speak the Language of Problem, so He can’t answer with it.
Imagine if God responded in the Language of Problem:
“OH NO! (sounds of moderate car crash) We hadn’t planned for a car accident. Dang… that was a new car too. Gee… I sure hope Allison remembered to put her insurance card in the glove compartment. Hey, Jesus — is her medical insurance up to date? That’s gonna be a real problem if she forgot to send in that check. Can we get an angel to check on that? Okay, now, how are we going to make sure her bills get paid this month if she’s off work for a while. Maybe we could get some friends to help her put a garage sale together….”
It seems like a ridiculous example, but isn’t that how we pray sometimes? We talk non-stop, laying out all our problems as if God is totally unaware and limited in His capacity to help us. And in doing so, we miss His greatest gift in any adversity. While we’re listening for how He will fix our problem, He’s telling us us who He wants to be for us now that He couldn’t be at any other time. He loves us too much to only give us quick-fix solutions when He knows that one glimpse of His glory, His mercy, His love… will transform us forever.
When we fine-tune our hearts in stillness, worship, thanksgiving and rejoicing, we begin to hear clearly the promises He is speaking:
“I’ll never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
“I love you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
“Here’s My peace that passes understanding. It will guard your heart and mind in Me.” (Philippians 4:7)
In stillness, we listen — and become deeply certain that He is God. (Ps. 46:10). We are happy to wait, until He shares His side of the conversation. And when He begins, we know that we’ll encounter a divine exchange of wisdom, grace and encouragement, with the Holy Spirit to help us with what we may not comprehend. We’ll be able to share our heart with Him, express our confidence in His true nature and allow confidence and faith to rise.
God longs to fulfill the desires of both His heart and ours. He wants us to know we have a voice and we are heard. And He delights in speaking and knowing He is heard as well… which is not difficult once we both speak and listen in the same Language of Promise.