Summary: Part 4 in series Relating to God: What We Can Learn About God Through Our Closest Relationships On Earth. This message looks at Communication which, when directed to God, is called prayer.
Part 4 in series
Relating to God: What We Can Learn About God Through Our Closest Relationships On Earth
Wildwind Community Church
February 28, 2009
We’re in part 4 of our series called Relating to God: What We Can Learn About God Through Our Closest Relationships On Earth. So far we have looked at Trust, Commitment, and Faithfulness. I want to talk to you tonight about communication. I’m excited about what I have to share with you tonight because there may not be any area of the spiritual life that promises more of a thrill, and often delivers more frustration, than the area of communication with God. We get so excited to think that maybe God might speak to us. Then we wonder who we are to think he would bother. Then we wonder how we’d know if he actually did, and why he doesn’t seem to be speaking even though we are listening. Then we wonder if he’s listening when we’re speaking. We say things like, “God told me to do this or that,” and “I’m seeking God’s guidance” on such and such issue. BTW, this is true whether you are a committed believer or not. I was watching a TV show a few weeks ago where the lead character was in a hospital chapel praying for her sick brother. Someone else came in and sat next to her and this lead character said, “I have no clout with God.” In other words, when I speak to God, God doesn’t listen. Committed believers are interested in almost nothing more than knowing and doing the will of God, and how do you know what God’s will is unless God communicates with you and reveals it to you? So in the living of our daily lives, most people are extremely interested in whether God is communicating with them, and whether it’s possible for them to communicate back.
So I want to talk to you today about communication and what we can learn about communication with God from our everyday efforts to communicate with people. I have to start by saying that communication determines the environment of every relationship. You show me a relationship where communication is bad, or lacking, and I’ll show you a chilly environment in that relationship. I’ll also show you a high level of frustration and maybe even anger and resentment. Show me a relationship where the partners are skilled communicators, and I’ll show you a relationship with there is warmth and peace and connection and understanding and companionship. If you believe that right now you are in a bad relationship, I am willing to bet that, whatever else may be the problem, you are not communicating well with your spouse. When I do premarital counseling I start with an assessment that measures couple compatibility across 12 dimensions critical for success in marriage. One of these dimensions is communication. If a couple scores low in several areas, that’s usually not a big deal. But if one of those areas is communication, we have a potential problem on our hands. How are we going to resolve the issues in the other areas if we don’t communicate well? So communication determines the environment of every relationship.
Since communication determines the environment of every relationship, and since a relationship with God, whatever else it may be, is still a relationship, then we can say that communication determines the environment of our relationship with God. When we talk about communicating with God, we are talking, really, about prayer. Many Christians can’t understand why they do not feel connected to God, but when you ask about their prayer life, you realize they don’t really have one. Or it completely lacks consistency. Or they don’t even really understand prayer at all. Many non-believers – like the one on the TV show I watched – pray, but they pray outside of the context of a relationship with God. And then when God doesn’t come through they say, “I have no clout with God.” My friends, I could write a letter to Barack Obama today and ask him to do something huge for the Flint area. Let’s say he received my letter and actually read it. Apart from an actual relationship with me, my letter is just words on a page. It is abstract. It lacks context. (Interestingly, that’s how the Bible often reads for people without a relationship with God – words on a page.) But if Michelle Obama writes a letter to Barack and says, “Here are some things I hope you’ll consider doing in the Flint area,” you better believe Barack will listen. Why? Because he has a relationship with Michelle. He knows her and loves her. He trusts her heart and her intuition.
For both Christians and non-believers, the area of communication with God shows a lot of naivety we have about spiritual things. Everyone in this room immediately understands the difference between a letter I might write to Barack Obama and a letter Michelle Obama might write to him. Not only do we understand it, but we realize that this difference is not because Obama is cruel or uncaring. It’s simply a fact that you listen to those you know on a totally different level than those you don’t. God says that’s the way it is with him too!