Jen’s Gem: Keep it simple.
I was a good kid growing up. I didn’t get into any trouble and followed the rules. My biggest challenge was my mouth. I could be “fresh” as my Mom would call it. A bit sassy, but never with an intention to hurt or be mean.
The response I typically got was a “Who are you talking to?” followed by a time out in my room until an apology was uttered. All was well until the next time my mouth got ahead of my brain. When my kids were old enough to talk back to me, I found myself responding with the same “Who are you talking to?” inquiry, yet I kicked it up a notch.
“Who EXACTLY are you talking to?”
This was the stop gap for them to know they crossed the line into disrespect, resulting in their own time outs. I have little tolerance for disrespect. My kids could be angry with me, disagree with me, but when they stepped into disrespect, it didn’t end well for them.
Our words are so powerful, aren’t they? They can elevate someone’s day or crush it. They can break a heart or fill it with so much love, you want to pop.
This week a podcast I was listening to was focused on the words we use to speak to God, our Father in Heaven. While I’ve heard similar teachings from other people over the years, for some reason, this week it hit home.
My prayer life growing up consisted of rote, memorized verses that meant nothing to me. They were spoken out of duty, obligation, and a bit of fear actually to make sure I was always in God’s good graces. In my young adult cray cray years, these words were more akin to “God, get me out of this mess!” Recently, because of the worldly challenges I’ve been facing, my prayers have been resembling a Johnny Carson monologue, brain dumping on God.
However, this teaching emphasized that prayer is not a monologue – it’s a conversation. That means one person talks, the other listens. Rinse and repeat. It also noted that we are talking to our Creator, our Father – who knows every word we are going to say before we even speak it! He’s not surprised by what we pray about. He’s not bored with it. He’s not rolling His eyes in frustration. He loves to talk to us and He loves when we talk to Him.
But how we do this was the crux of the message. Are we talking to God as if we were reciting a verse from Hamlet with thee’s and thou’s and comest’s and go-eth’s? Are we spewing out well-rehearsed words just to fulfill an obligation? Are we going on and on about the same topic as if God doesn’t understand or already know all of the details?
“For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” (Psalm 139:4)
The teaching brought to mind the many phone conversations to my Mom and Dad. Something along the lines of “Hey Mom or Hey Dad, how ya doing?” They’d be so happy to hear from me, they’d respond with excitement, love and interest in our conversation. I’d share my week, they’d share theirs. I’d ask for advice, they’d offer it. When the call was over, I could hear the longing in their voice for our next one.
I suspect this is how God feels. He treasures our conversations and can’t wait to hear from us. He wants us to talk to Him as if we’re talking to our earthly fathers. I have to wonder, when we get all “thee and thou” with Him, is He asking Himself, “Who are they talking to? Don’t they know Me?”
Perhaps that’s exactly it. Maybe we don’t know Him.
When we don’t know people, we tend to use more formal language. As we become more comfortable, we relax, speak casually, and eventually when trust is formed, we let our guard down and share our guts with them. I believe when we hold back and keep our loved ones at arm’s length, that it hurts them because they feel like they’re not trusted or loved enough for us to share our “real lives.”
Does God feel the same way? I believe He does.
God cares about us. We are His children. He cares about broken washers and air conditioners, about college tuition challenges, and even grocery lists. He cares about everything we do. We’re His kids. He wants to help us. Our prayers can and should reflect this. A simple, “God help me,” is a prayer. “Good morning Lord” is a prayer. “My heart’s broken God” is a prayer. “Thanks for the beautiful day” is a prayer.
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13 NKJV)
Prayer is a conversation. When we talk to God like He really is our Father, we may finally find the answers we’ve been seeking. We may finally experience that peace that has alluded us. We may even discover that God truly does love us more than we can know.
This week I’d like to encourage you to think differently about your prayers. If they resemble a Shakespearean sonnet, I dare you to go rogue and talk normally. If they resemble those famous Johnny Carson monologues, stop talking and be still. And if your prayers are non-existent, a simple “Hey God, I’m here and I need your help” will open the door to what I’m sure will be a great conversation.