How to Talk to God, Pt. 1

Scripture: Ephesians 6:18
One of the important parts of a deeper relationship with God is prayer. What is prayer? How do you pray? How can you strengthen your prayer time? This broadcast looks at different modes of prayer. And a pattern for our prayers to keep us focused.
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our Host Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw as they open the Bible and talk about themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's Word.

John Bradshaw: Hi and welcome to Bible Talk where we talk about the Bible and how the Bible affects us today. I'm John Bradshaw, with me is Gary Gibbs. Hi, Gary.

Gary Gibbs: Hi John, today we have a very practical topic. We're going to be looking at how to maintain a vibrant relationship with God through our prayer life.

John: We've talked about that devotional life aspect here and prayer is part, a key, an integral part. When we've spoken about this before, we sort of assumed that without going into the nuts and bolts of prayer. Why don't we talk about how we can make a prayer real, how we can make a prayer work and how to pray? Let's start with that, how does a person pray. We tell people to pray but let's talk about the how to's.

Gary: When I first became a Christian, we would assume people know how to pray automatically but like a little child, you have to teach a child how to walk and how to talk properly. I think it's important to look at how to pray. I remember the first time that I knelt down with a group of people and they were praying around a circle. I don't think I heard anything anybody said because I was counting the number of prayers until it was my turn trying to figure out what in the world was I going to say. How do we talk to God? Should we be overly focused on what we say?

John: I heard that someone once said that prayer is just a matter of opening up the heart to God as you would open up your heart to a friend. It's communication, isn't it? Verbal communication!

Gary: It really is, and one thing that I have found in my prayer life, it is opening my heart but I find I do that better when I'm praying out loud. If I'm just talking in my head to God, which I do that as well but I find if I could find a quiet place where nobody thinks I'm crazy talking to myself, that I'm pouring out my heart to God, the voice inflection depends the expression and it really is like I'm talking to a friend.

John: I have found that praying out loud helps me focus if I'm just in my mind and praying your mind is fine, let's not get that wrong. That's to pray silently. In fact the Bible says to pray without ceasing which means to always be in an attitude of prayer turned towards to God and open to receiving God. It doesn't mean you've got to spend your whole life on your knees. If you're going to pray without ceasing, you're surely not going to pray out loud the whole time. But when you're getting that real connection time with the Lord, that devotional time, it seems to me and from what you've said, it just works a little bit better on a number of levels if you speak it out loud. You can focus a little bit better, perhaps formulate your thoughts a bit better and I think you're just not going to get so distracted.

Gary: Have you ever... You get up in the morning and you're lying in bed there and you start praying and before you know it, you drift right back off to sleep?

John: Hey, I can't do it, I know people who can, I cannot pray in my bed. I've tried it a number of times and all it does is lengthen my sleep time. I don't know what it is; I'm just not awake until I'm awake.

Gary: I'm the same way and if I crawl in the bed at night and I try to pray while getting ready to go to sleep, that is so comfortable. That pillow is so soft, I just go right to sleep so I have to get up out of bed and I like to kneel because that's a posture that you see demonstrated in the Bible. Jesus knelt in prayer, David knelt in prayer, Solomon knelt in prayer, they knelt and that's a posture of reverence and as I kneel in prayer, it keeps me awake and it keeps me focused.

John: Now I'm not going to ask you this question, I'll assume this. You're not saying people have to kneel when they pray. You can pray in any number of positions but for me, sitting is not my praying position. Lying prone - to me that's not praying. That's associated with other things. Sitting is relaxing, standing is something else, and kneeling is prayer.

Gary: So should prayer be uncomfortable, is that what we're saying?

John: No, I don't think so. But prayer ought to be reverent, prayer ought to be prayer. Now if you can sit down in your armchair and pray to have a meaningful connection, hey, God bless you. Doesn't work for me but it seems to me that it's good to adopt the Biblical model and when you're really connecting with God, something I like about kneeling, it speaks about humility and submission, doesn't it?

Gary: I think that's an important thing. If you're going to meet a king or a queen or a president, there would be certain protocol that you would go through to meet them. I think when we kneel before God, we're acknowledging God as the Creator and the King of the universe. And that position does something to deepen our impression but as you said, we need to be praying all the time in every position but we're talking about that special time that you set aside everyday. Kneeling is a good thing to try especially if you haven't tried it before. Hey John, I want to come back to this issue of praying out loud.

John: OK, sure.

Gary: I have shared this with people before and I shared with them how it revolutionized my prayer life.

John: How you do that, revolutionized?

Gary: It did because before, as I was just praying within my head during my formal prayer time, my thoughts just weren't as connected or as mature. But as I start expressing them verbally then I have the voice inflection and all, it's like I'm talking to a friend and I found my prayer time lengthen and become more meaningful. I want to ask you a question, what do you think the typical response was when I propose to someone that they ought to try praying out loud? Give me a wild guess.

John: Why wouldn't people want to do that? Maybe they pray in the presence of others and to pray out loud wouldn't be cool, I don't know what?

Gary: Here's what I found and this surprised me. But I heard it numerous times, they were afraid that if they prayed out loud, the devil would hear their prayers.

John: Oh, come on. I've heard that too. People have asked me that question now that I've come to think of it, "Should I pray silently so the devil can't hear me?"

Gary: You think we're going to fake the devil out, he's not going to hear our prayer. Listen, when we're praying, we're in the audience chamber of God and I don't believe the devil can be there and if he can somehow hear our prayers, so what? God is more powerful and the most powerful position we can be in is in a position of prayer.

John: I believe that the devil would flee from the presence of one who is praying and pouring their heart out to God. If you got to worry about this as you pray, just say, "Lord can you ask the devil to leave right now." I'm sure, he will. We don't need to worry at all about the devil hearing our prayers and then running around to trick us or frustrate us. "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world," according to the Bible. OK, go ahead, you've got a thought.

Gary: I do. The Bible says that even though we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against these powers and high places, spiritual powers and high places, as we're praying, we're putting on the armor of God. Ephesians 6:18 says, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication."

John: That's important to remember that because when you hear the armor of God, you hear about the shield and the breast plate and the sword but prayer is part of that armor of God. You don't have all the armor on if you're not praying.

Gary: You know, we have a little book that we're going to make available to our listeners who can call-in or write us and get this little book called 'Armor of God' and it will teach them how to be successful in Christian life.

John: You've got to get that, Armor of God, you'll hear the number, and you'll get the address; write us, email, or call us. We'll send that to you free, Armor of God. It will be a blessing to you. Our gift to you and it will help you in your spiritual walk. Now there are a number of ways you can pray, let's call them formulas, methods, I don't think you have to follow any.

Gary: I would say we don't have to have a formula but there are some things that remind you of different aspects of prayer that make the prayer life meaningful.

John: I'm getting asked all the time by people, "How can I pray and not get into a rut or my prayers end after about two minutes, what do I do?" There are a couple of things that I recommend, let me share one. If this isn't new to you, I don't guess and perhaps there are some people listening, you have heard this, that's OK. A-C-T-S, you've got that word, it's an acronym. 'A' stands for adoration, 'C' stands for confession, 'T' stands for thanksgiving, 'S' stands for supplication or asking.

Now I want to tell you, Gary, when I was growing as a young Christian, I incorporated this into my experience because I found I was going kind of round in circles in my prayer time. So I started off with the 'A' for adoration and I would praise God.

You know most people don't spend anytime giving God praise. You read the Psalms, the Psalms is just praising God all day long, He says we should. The most people do is when they say, "Well, praise the Lord." But praise God and praise Him for who He is and what He is and what He is capable of and for His glory. I spend some time in praising God.

Then the 'C' is for confession, I'm confessing my sins to God. God has asked us to do that. It helps me to remember the sinfulness of sin and the holiness of God. 'T' is for thanksgiving, now if you would just sit down with a list with a piece of paper and make a list of the things that you're thankful for, suddenly you're not praying anymore two minute prayers.

You've got prayers that will last all day long and then 'S' is for supplication or asking. Asking for things you want, that's OK. Ask for things you need and I found this revolutionized my prayer time and really drew me into an experience with God that I was not having.

Gary: Often we start with the supplication; shouldn't we just talk about what we need? We say, "Lord, please help me with this, please help me with that." It's very important, I think, to be very specific in our prayers. You mentioned confession a moment ago?

John: Yes sir.

Gary: When we confess, it's very easy to fall in this trap. "Lord please forgive me for my sins." I don't think that does a whole lot for us. I think what we need to do is we need to be specific. It's OK to be general at times but it's also important to be specific to say, "Lord, forgive me today, I lost my temper." Forgive me for this, forgive me for that. I think it's important to talk to God about those things and kind of rehearse especially at the end of the day. "Lord, why do I lose my temper?"

What was that situation there and talk to Him about it and as we do that He will impress us by His Spirit of the dynamics that are taking place in our life that we keep falling in or we fall in to that particular sin.

Then these become learning events, John and actually God, through prayer and confession now can actually cleanse us of those things. But I would propose that if we go through our life with this general... "Lord, please forgive my sin all the time," and we don't specifically confess and talk it through with God, we're going to keep falling in to the same old sin over and over again.

John: There's something that I want to mention and that is this. I know some people... Many people approach prayer in the wrong attitude. Prayer is when I come to God and tell God what I want. A prayer is a club I use to beat God into doing what I want Him to do and that's not what prayer is all about. Certainly there is an element of prayer, "God I want this, God I need this, God please would you grant this," but I believe that there is more to it than that than just telling God what you want.

I think prayer is also for listening for and discerning the voice and the will of God. "God I want a new car," just for instance and I'm not really considering God's will before long though through prayer and bringing us to the Lord and talking about God about this.

What I realize is that there's another priority that I ought to be putting first. The Lord has led me to making a better decision, a more appropriate decision. Prayer became the arena where I found the will of God for my life rather than the place where I imposed my will upon God. You see what I'm saying, don't you?

Gary: I do. Prayer is really a supernatural experience. You don't hear an audible voice speaking back to you but there's this impression in your mind as you talk to God and I want to encourage our listeners in their prayer life to not only talk during their prayer time but to also listen.

John: Amen.

Gary: And as you do this, you will become more in tune with how God speaks to you and you'll be able to discern His voice but it is something you can only experience. You can't fully describe how to hear the voice of God, but if you'll spend that quality time with God, praying and listening and you'll marry that to your Bible study time, you will find God will give you wisdom and insights that you're not getting anywhere else. It's only coming through prayer.

John: Someone said that prayer is the key and the hand of faith that unlocks Heaven's storehouse. There's power in communicating with God. [music]

Gary: And that power, you can experience if you'll just do it.

John: That's right. That's what Nike said, right? Gave us good advice, just do it. Thank you so much for joining us today. Join us for more here next time on Bible Talk.

Announcer 2: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed. It expands on the subject including information you want to know. To receive this free, informative, Bible study guide, simply call, write or email and ask for 'The Armor of God.' The toll free number is 866-Biblesays. That's 866-2425372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, PO Box 1058, Roseville, California 95678 or email us at Bible Talk is being produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of Life Talk Radio.

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