Every Day with God

Is Prayer A One-Way Conversation?

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[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen we pray, do we expect God to respond? I don’t always. I certainly didn’t used to.

I grew up in a Christian family. It was pretty normal to pray before dinner, give thanks for my family when I went to bed, that kind of thing. I supposed that sort of normalised praying every day. I can still remember thinking at some point though, ‘Does God ever talk back?’

Prayer is more than just a form of meditation. In the Christian faith, prayer isn’t simply a way to express our thoughts or to gain clarity on our inner being. Christians believe that prayer actually changes things – little, everyday things as well as the big stuff.

When I think about my day-to-day life, the thing that has the most impact is prayer. What do I mean?

I mean that if I pray when I am in my car on the way into work then my day will go better than if I hadn’t. The other day I had a presentation that I had forgotten about until my manager reminded me just after I arrived in the office. I got into the meeting room a few minutes before everyone else and I prayed. I invited the presence of the Lord (God) into that meeting room.

Not only was I then able to put together the presentation slides in almost-record time, but the presentation went remarkably well. I felt inspired to deliver it in a particular way, and to say certain things in it. It turned out that just before I was about to stand up and present, my Managing Director walked in. I didn’t know he was going to be there, but he was! He was impressed by the presentation, how prepared my slides were (!) and the way I delivered it, as well as the passion with which I spoke. Off the back of that presentation my manager was so impressed she gave me more responsibilities within the team. I don’t think that would have happened if I hadn’t prayed beforehand.

I suppose there are two responses to prayer that I see in my own life. I’m gonna call these a response and an answer.

A response would be where there is a conversational response from God. This might be an audible voice or in a vision or a dream. This happens a lot to people in the Bible, but maybe not so much in our lives. Another way could be a Scripture coming into your mind at a particular moment. Jesus said that this was one way that God would communicate to us by the Holy Spirit: He would remind Jesus’ followers of the things He had said. Jesus said that His sheep would hear His voice. If we are His sheep then it makes sense to practice this.

A practical suggestion is to remember to read the Bible. It sounds obvious, but it’s so easy to not do it! In the Bible we are reminded that ‘faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ As we build our faith by reading and listening to God’s Word, we become accustomed to hearing His voice.

The other way God responds to prayer is to answer by granting our requests. Sometimes this happens in ways we don’t expect, or at times when we are not looking for it.

I have so many answered prayers in my day-to-day life (at work, at home, when I’m out and about), that it is difficult to remember them all. The main problem I have is to remind myself to give thanks after having a prayer answered.

One other time that prayer was answered in my life was when I was on holiday. Me and my friend had gone for a bike ride on a very hot day, and we had not brought enough water. We were getting towards the top of a very tall hill. I hadn’t even prayed, but my friend had. I had just very much wanted water. When I got to the top of the hill, my friend had gone ahead of me. He was sitting above some steps, and sitting next to him were two, 1.5-litre bottles of water – completely sealed!

God loves answering prayer. Why don’t you pray to Him about the challenges and struggles you are facing today? Maybe you don’t pray. Start. Ask for His help. Thank Him for what He has already done. You will find that your list of things to be thankful for just keeps on growing.

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2 thoughts on “Is Prayer A One-Way Conversation?”

  1. Hi, I read your article and experience on prayer with interest as I really struggle with prayer which for me feels so much like a one way conversation in which I am talking in my head or aloud to God but never sense or hear any response? Also, I’m struggling because major issues in my life for which I have prayed for years have never been answered. Specifically, a soul mate and life partner and secondly healing for my mum from cancer. Now I’m middle aged and feel I have missed the boat and no longer pray about this and my mum passed away after a very painful period. Both these experiences have left me feeling numb and feeling very alone left to struggle with these and other challenges in life. However, having said that, I am very grateful that I have been very blessed with my business venture which has brought me financial prosperity and given me a much less stressful lifestyle, something I worried about beforehand as I had a very stressful and time consuming job as a child protection social worker. I also have a wonderful friend as a business partner who has been very supportive and a true friend. So I thank God for this blessing even though life often feels very lonely and I have no family. So my prayer life has stopped as I kind of think to myself what’s the point of talking to someone who doesn’t talk back; seems a bit pointless? The issue of prayer confuses and perplexes me as what I read in your story and others, is very different from my experience. I don’t know what to do and what the solution is?

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for your comments. I’m really sorry about the very difficult and sad things you’ve talked about here. Thank you for sharing them with us.

      In terms of hearing from God, Jesus said that ‘my sheep hear my voice’. We all hear in different ways though. What might be true for one person’s experience might be very different from another’s. One uniting factor for Christians is that we have access to the Bible, which is called the written Word of God. This is the primary way that God speaks to us. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would remind His disciples (which includes us, if we are following Him) of all the things that Jesus taught. If we want to learn to hear God, reading the Bible is a great way to start and to learn to tune in to what He might be saying to us.

      I am saddened to read of your family situation and of your mother. This is really hard and I can’t begin to imagine how painful this must have been for you.

      There are some good books and materials that help with some responses to this kind of question. I would recommend The Prayer Course with Pete Greig. This is a free, online course which goes through prayer (including unanswered prayer) in multiple sessions, using the Lord’s Prayer as a structure.

      Also, a word of encouragement for you: singleness is hard and can be very lonely, but it can also be used by God for wonderful things. Our Lord Jesus remained single during His earthly ministry, as did the Apostle Paul. One sermon recently preached about this topic was given at Pattern Church in Swindon recently: you can find this on the Pattern Church YouTube page.

      Again, I’m really sorry about some of the very hard and sad things that you have shared with us. I have been praying for you, and I’m trusting for brighter days ahead, not only in heaven, but here on the earth too. God bless you.

      Director of Content

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