One of my earliest memories is my fascination with the telephone. We had one of those old rotary phones that my parents rented from the phone company. I loved the motion of swirling the dial to call someone. I love the click, click, clicking of the dial as it went around. It was the only phone in our house and it was on the wall in the kitchen. It had the longest cord I had ever seen and it could stretch all the way to the stairs where everyone sat when they used the phone.
I have always liked to talk. It has been something I have done since before I developed clear language. As a child, I could spend hours talking to my friends on the phone. My mother would get frustrated with me because she could not use the phone. My brothers would fight with me because they could not use the phone. The phone would get hot from hours of talking and my ear would turn red by the time I was done. There was always someone to yell at me saying, “If you talk any longer that phone will become part of your body”.
I always just shrugged it off and went about my happy childhood. But today as I read our scriptures and spoken with others. It occurred to me that most people view God as this far off entity, a God distant from the cares of humanity. I have asked people if they prayed. Some have said “No”, others have said “No God doesn’t hear me”, or “No God has more important things to do”. And I thought to myself, I talk to God more than I talk to anyone else now-a-days. God is the only one who has never complained about my need to express myself. I have never seen God as being far off, or above us, or too busy to deal with my petty needs. I just talk to God. I don’t use big words, or lofty language, I don’t always use Amens or titles. I just talk. I ask my questions and wait for inspiration.
How often do you talk to God? Is something getting in the way of your prayer? Or do you feel as if God doesn’t respond back and so you feel a little silly praying? It is easier to talk to a person who responds; an individual we can see and who shares in the typical experiences of life. When I would talk to my friends, we would talk about everything from annoying siblings, pets, our dreams, church, other friends, our families, our worries, our fears, our struggles, the things that made us laugh, movies, roller skating, birthdays, work, and boys. I feel like we can have the same intimate conversations with God. God wants to hear from us. God wants to be an integral part of our lives.
God should be as close to our hearts as the telephone was to my life as a child, and as our communication devices are to our lives today. God wants to be included in the conversations of our lives. He wants to be thought of and spoken to when we are suffering. He wants to face our questions. He wants to be the source of our inspiration. And for those who say, “But God never responds to my prayers”. I would say they haven’t been listening. God is accessible but his answers aren’t always dramatic, the voice of God is not loud but quiet. It could be that nagging feeling in the back of your mind. The voice could sound very much like your own when you’re not quite sure if it was you or God. God’s answers could come in our other conversations in life. You just need to listen and you will hear it.
Abraham interacted freely with the Holy having an open conversation, debating, using human reasoning, trying to convince God that his plans might just be a little too rash. What courage. But he was able to do that because he did not place God upon some pedestal making God inaccessible. He had a very intimate relationship with God. He didn’t write off God because he couldn’t see God. He knew God’s presence and sought him out as he would a friend or trusted family member. His relationship with God was very organic changing with the situation, growing with him, and interacting in his life. The same applies to us.
We are told in our scriptures that we can approach God with anything. God only desires that we look to him in life. That we allow for him to be a part of our experiences. The followers of Jesus asked him to teach them how to pray and he did because they needed a starting place to open up those lines of communication. But it shouldn’t stop there. I would venture to say that you don’t need a fancy prayer, you don’t need specific language. All you need is to talk. You only need to search and he will be present. So for those who haven’t prayed in a while, or perhaps have never prayed on their own. For those who don’t know how to start or perhaps feel somehow silly because of the questions upon their hearts. I would say to set all that aside and to just start with the Lord’s Prayer and know that we are welcome to come before God with our emotions, our questions, our joys, our concerns, our fears, our anger. We are welcome to appeal to God to ask him to be a part our lives, to be a part of our humanity.
Once you start praying you will see a difference in your life, God will answer, he will guide and he will inspire our hearts. Remember what Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you”.1 Whenever we are in need, whenever we want to feel God, no matter what life brings God wants to be a part of it helping us along. So this week, enter into conversation with God and open your lives to his work and find the strength that you’ve been searching for, the guidance you need for decisions, answers to some questions and companionship in the questions with no answers. God is there reaching out. We only need to reach back. When facing anxiety or questions around prayer remember the words of Teresa of Avila, “Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God”.2 So approach God as a valued friend that never judges and is always available to hear your needs.
1 Luke 11: 9, RSV.
2 Teresa of Avila, 16th century Spanish Nun.