Talking to God can seem intangible and ineffective. But with the right strategy and motivation, our prayers are sure to be answered. When I shifted my approach from seeking to offering, I had a whole different experience of communion with the Creator.
Many Ways to Communicate
Human relationships depend on regular and loving communication in order to be harmonious. If we only talk with someone when we need something, pretty soon he won’t have time for us or a desire for our friendship. Our relationship with God is the same. We can’t just expect Him to be there when we feel needy; yet sadly, many people wait until a disaster or illness strikes before reaching out to their Maker. This is the first and most fundamental shift that is required. Our relationship with God needs time and attention now.
There are many types of conversations we can have with God, just like the many types we have with one another. It is said that the two greatest things we can say are, “Help!” and “Thank You!” Gratitude is always the best place to start. Everyone likes to be appreciated, even God, and thanking the Creator for our life, our blessings, and even the challenges which make us stronger and wiser, is an important first step in creating a dialogue.
(More on the practice of gratitude in Give Thanks, Get Gratitude: 3 Reasons We're Thankful for This Mindfulness Practice.)
Of course, we may ask for what we need, too. But how we ask is important. Can we ask with humility to see what the lesson is in the challenge at hand? Can we ask with openness for an understanding heart, rather than a particular outcome like Solomon did in the Bible? Can we ask with a willing spirit for the obstacles to be removed in us so that we may connect authentically with the Divine Friend? Can we pray for selfish desires to be removed and all veils of ignorance and delusion to be lifted from our minds? These kinds of requests for help achieve true results.
Another beautiful way to communicate is to simply state an affirmation of our intent, like this one from Paramahansa Yogananda in his book, "Scientific Healing Affirmations":
“I relax and cast aside all mental burdens, allowing God to express through me His perfect love, peace and wisdom.”
Additionally, we might offer an intercessory plea for the healing of another, or invoke Divine blessings to protect or guide us or a loved one.
Regardless of what type of conversation we hope to have, St. Paul said to pray without ceasing. This is a literal injunction to make every thought a communication of our desire to know God. We have to prove our commitment, our level of wanting Him to reveal Himself in our hearts, minds and lives. God will not force a relationship upon any one of His children. He is quite patient that way. As Yogananda writes in "How You Can Talk With God":
“When your heart call is intense, when you accept no excuse, then He will come."
The yoga master goes on to encourage us to speak with God intently, in the language of our souls. He states that we should remove all doubt and disbelief, and trust that God will eventually respond to us, His divine children. No matter how many times we do not receive an answer, we must rest in a belief that at the right time, and in the right way, the Divine response will come.
Time to Listen
Recognizing that dialogue is a two-way street, I could see that I needed to get my busy mind out of the way long enough to hear the "still, small voice" of God. In the same way that I would give my attention to any speaker, I needed to quiet the intellect, stop thinking about what I was going to say next, focus and listen!
I turned to meditation in the tradition of classical yoga, which acknowledges that the Divine is inherent in all creation. I followed the instruction of the Yoga Sutras to focus my thought in meditation on an aspect of Oneness that inspired the most devotion in my heart. For me, this is God’s gentle motherly love. Focusing on this kind of love, helped me access the love in my own heart.
(For information on the Sutras, try The Foundation of The Yoga Sutras.)
Then I offered my love sincerely in both active prayer and the stillness of meditation. In doing this, I felt far more connected. My communication with God changed. I understood that prayer is our time to talk, and meditation is our time to listen. What is amazing is that as soon as we give God the floor, He speaks volumes through our intuition.
Divine intuitive guidance is our birthright. We can know that we are in alignment with it when we feel true peace of mind. Answers to our concerns will be consistent, not variable. Our mind and heart will feel integrated.
To this end, I have learned that if I do not receive a definitive "Yes," then the answer is "No"…at least for now. I have also learned that if I don’t understand the answer I receive, I should not discount it, but rather move into a deeper state of listening, and wait for clarification. Inner calm is my assurance of God’s presence and answer to my call.
(This includes Listening to Your Inner Voice.)
Say It With Love
By maintaining focused attention in our communication and seeking greater understanding rather than self-interest, we can expect a fruitful conversation with God. And if we remember to offer our unconditional love, then joy is certain. Love, after all, changes everything.
What is your current way of talking with God? Do you have a balanced and reciprocal dialogue going? Try on some new communication strategies and don’t forget to say, “I love you.” Everyone likes to hear that!