by Bruce Hanson

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Matthew 6:5-8

When you find yourself in the position I am in, writing a devotional, and praying that it might be impactful for someone, your point of departure must always begin with serious contemplation. My assignment for this week was to address the purpose of prayer. That’s a big task!! And it led me here.


Or Monologue?

My immediate response to the question above would be Dialogue. But far too often, I fear that not to be the case. It tends to be me delivering a soliloquy.
We all want to hear from God, but the truth is, I was not sure what that looks like. As I researched the concept, I discovered a book — not necessarily one I’m suggesting you read, but the book’s backstory piqued my interest.

Mark Virkler has written a book called Dialogue with God: Opening the Door to Two Way Prayer. It has been his life’s desire to hear the voice of God.
He memorized all the passages that reflected someone speaking audibly with God. He studied scripture endlessly. He attended and graduated from seminary.
He spent the largest part of his life trying unsuccessfully to hear God’s voice. It was always a monologue. And then this, (Mark’s words):

“The first key to hearing God’s voice, then, is learning what His voice spoken within sounds like. Rather than being an inner audible voice, I discovered that God’s voice in our hearts generally sounds like a flow of spontaneous thoughts. Yes, God graciously spoke to me in an audible voice once, but that is certainly not the norm. In fact, it is more likely an indication that I was too thick or too stubborn to get His message any other way! Like Paul on the road to Damascus, I had to be “hit upside the head” in order to hear what He had to say to me. The Lord will take drastic measures if necessary, but He would rather we learn to discern Him speaking as spontaneous thoughts from within our hearts.”

What I realized is this: When I speak with God, I need to enter the dialogue with the real expectation that I WILL hear from Him. Mostly, I don’t — is it a wrong mindset? Secondly, and more importantly, I need to give Him time to answer. This isn’t a task to be accomplished. It is a conversation with my Father. Give Him time. And if I do, I have a feeling I may just experience that spontaneous flowing of thoughts a lot more often. 

I pray the same for you!!

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