How to Pray – Part 4

by Jessica Bowman (reprinted with permission)

Read  Part 1 and Part 2 and part 3.

“I know I need to pray more.”  ”I don’t pray like I should.”

These are things I’ve heard countless times and things I’ve probably said myself at some point. And, we’re right – we probably should pray more, and we probably don’t pray like we should.  But at the foundation of these statements is a misconception, I think.

It assumes that we should be saying more things to God.

Which is a slight misunderstanding of what “prayer” is.  Prayer is communicating with God. Which implies a two-way interaction.  Me speaking to someone, and someone speaking to me.  Someone listening to me, and me listening to someone.  It can’t only be one way.

We don’t necessarily need to be saying more things to God.

“Do not be quick with your mouth,  do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” -Ecclesiastes 5:2

We do, however, need to be communing with God more.


-to converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy, etc ; interchange thoughts or feelings.

I know you’ve probably heard this analogy related to our relationship with God – If you had a wife, or husband, or friend and you never spent time with them, and then the few times you did pay them attention you did all the talking, asked them a bunch of favors, and then left before listening to what was on their heart, would you call that relationship healthy?  Of course not.  More pointedly, would you even call that a relationship.

We need to take the time every day (multiple times a day?) to be alone with God.  To go somewhere and close the door and block out the world.  Even if that’s just the bathroom stall at work.  Seriously.

And then we need to listen.

We need to repent of all the crud in our life up to that point in our day and then we need to make room for the Holy Spirit to fill us so that God can guide us.  So that we can hear him.

Listening to God is a subtle science, and our ears have to be trained to hear His voice.  He is often times that still, small voice and sometimes He sounds just like us thinking.  That is why it is so important to find the time to commune with him, to have that profound intimacy that leaves us supple to His words and His will.

And for those wondering – yes, I do believe that God “speaks” to us through the Bible.  But we do a disservice when we imply that is the only way that God can speak to us.  If such was the case then most followers of God from the beginning of time wouldn’t have been able to “hear” from Him, including Adam, Abraham, Jesus, and Paul.  And, in my experience, the written word of God only comes alive to a person who is filled with His Spirit and/or already seeking Him.  God’s Spirit is alive and wishes to communicate with us, we just have to train our ears to hear.

“Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” “– Mark 4:9

Do you listen to God in prayer?  Or do you do all the talking?