The first step is to begin to talk to The LORD. This is commonly known as prayer but, unlike the impression often given, it need not be formal, repetitive, long, boring or religious. The best way to think about prayer is as if you are talking to a close friend who understands what you are really like, yet still wants to help you get your life sorted out. He is the best dad ever, and as such wants to hear you tell Him what is on your heart and mind. He will not even mind if you shout in frustration either at yourself or at Him from time to time. However, we also need to remember that He is a holy God who is righteous, just and merciful in all He does, so we do need to be humble when we speak with Him as well as being thankful for His reassuring arm around our shoulders.
The important thing about prayer is not using the right words, but that we open our hearts to our Father in Heaven. Remember we have already mentioned the man who prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Jesus said that this man’s prayer was both heard and answered by His Father. No long speeches or repetition of words which did not come from his heart, just an honest appeal for mercy. That is the best way to start talking to Him.
Jesus said very little about the mechanics of prayer. He warned against praying in a way designed to get you noticed by other people - the religious leaders of His day used to make a show of themselves by praying on street corners (elsewhere He called this a pretence). Far better, Jesus taught, to go into a room by yourself and talk to your Father in secret. He added that His disciples’ prayers should not consist of meaningless words repeated over and over again, assuring them that His Father knew their needs before they asked Him. It is very odd therefore that many people have turned the outline prayer He gave them into one which most of the people who frequently repeat it don’t pray from their hearts! This prayer is known as the Lord’s prayer these days and it does highlight six aspects of our relationship with The LORD which are good for us to consider as we pray. These are: worship of the Father in heaven; prayer that His will should be done now; a request that He provide for us - especially food; a plea that He goes on forgiving us, whilst remembering that He requires us to forgive others; an appeal for His protection - especially from Satan; and finally, further worship which remembers that He has final authority, authority which will last forever.
Another thing which Jesus said about prayer was that when we ask His Father for something in complete confidence, we will receive it from Him. There is more to be said about faith later, but for now it should be noted that Jesus is not encouraging us to screw up our emotions so as to make ourselves “believe” something will happen. (That is more akin to the occult practice of visualisation.) What Jesus referred to was hearing from His Father concerning His will, then asking that His will should be done on earth. This highlights something else about prayer which is often forgotten. Prayer is often thought of as what we say to God - in other words as a monologue where we tell Him what is on our minds. However, there are many examples throughout the Bible of prayer being a dialogue between a person and God. This is a major difference between Christianity and most other faiths and religions - The LORD is a God who speaks to His people. It has already been stated that no one can come to Christ without the Father drawing them to Him. Being attracted to Jesus Christ in this way is the result of the Holy Spirit speaking to us even while we did not realise it. The work of the Spirit is to bring each one into a closer relationship with The Father. Therefore if we are willing to listen, He will continue to speak to us for the rest of our lives, and it is through Him revealing the Father’s will to us that we will know what we can ask for in faith. Asking the Father for something as a result of hearing from Christ what His will is, is what Jesus meant when He said we were to ask in His name - i.e. on His authority.
Hopefully, you will have already begun to talk to The LORD by now. If not, we encourage you to make a start. Either way we encourage you not just to speak to Him, but also to listen for Him speaking to you. God speaks to people through different ways. The Bible records how He has done this throughout history, and now that it is widely available it is the simplest way to discover His will in our lives. However, it is not the only way that God speaks to people today. The Holy Spirit continues to use dreams and visions, as well many other means to reveal His will to us. Once The LORD spoke audibly to a young boy called Samuel, whilst at another time he made a point of not revealing Himself to the prophet Elijah via dramatic things like a storm, a whirlwind or fire, but instead used a still, quiet voice. In whatever way The LORD chooses to speak to you, it is the inner conviction brought by the quiet, peaceful voice of the Holy Spirit which impresses most powerfully upon Christians His will for them. We encourage you to learn to listen to Him.
Next: Repent from dead lifestyles
Journey Into New Life - Home Page