Title: Heart Talks with God (Eph. 6:18)
By: Bert Amsing (1991)
Listen to this story….
I was sitting in with my wife one Wednesday evening as she was teaching a five-year-old’s Bible class. It came time to have some animal crackers, and she asked one of the little boys, Joey, to lead the prayer for the crackers. Of course, it is always so precious to see children pray, and as Joey bowed his head along with the other children, he began a most thorough sweet prayer.
“Dear God, thank you for my mommy, my daddy, my brother, my sister, my great-grandfather…. And thank you for my teacher. And God thank you for the animal crackers.” Joey stopped right there in the middle of the prayer. Everyone began to squirm and get restless. It was like Joey didn’t know where to go next. He was stuck.
Finally, my wife quietly asked Joey if there was anything wrong. Joey slowly raised his head and in a very low whisper asked, “Are we going to have anything to drink?”
My wife said, “No,” and immediately he bowed his head and said “Amen.”
What a lesson in prayer this is for those adults who ritualistically roll through leading prayers, not really conscious of the need of those they are praying for. This child knows he’s talking to someone, so his prayers are true to life.
An elderly gentleman passed his granddaughter’s room one night and overheard her repeating the alphabet in an oddly reverent way. He asked her, “What on earth are you up to?”
She explained, “I’m saying my prayers, but I can’t think of exactly the right words tonight, so I’m just saying all the letters. God will put them together for me because he knows what I’m thinking.”
The child knows that it’s more than just words. It’s a matter of the heart.
Learning how to pray can be interesting and difficult at the same time. The thing to remember is that it is always a matter of the heart. The rest is easy.
The Calvinettes are learning to have heart talks with God. I was reading over some of your lessons on prayer and I was very impressed. You are learning how to pray unselfishly. You are learning that prayer is listening as well as speaking and that some prayers don’t need any words at all. Sometimes we are the answer to our own prayers and God sometimes answers our prayers with great generosity.
These are important lessons, but the most important lesson you are learning is that you really can have “heart-to-heart talks” with God. That’s what Paul means when he says in our theme verse, “pray in the spirit.”
Do you remember the movie Anne of Green Gables? That’s Anne with an “e” as she always liked to say. Remember Anne was an orphan and she had no one to love and take care of her. By mistake, she was sent all the way to PEI (Prince Edward Island on the East Coast of Canada), to a family that wanted a boy. They finally decided to keep Anne and she was very happy there.
But I always remember the one thing in life that Anne wanted the most. “What I really want,” Anne would say, “is a soul friend.” A soul-friend was someone she could talk to heart to heart. A best friend with whom she could share her deepest secrets and her wildest dreams. Anne found her soul friend and we sometimes find ours as well.
But God can become one of the best soul friends we will ever have. Learning to talk heart to heart with God is what prayer is all about.
Do you know what the problem is for everybody?
It’s hard to talk heart to heart with someone you can’t see and doesn’t respond (at least not in the normal way). Okay so sometimes you can have a great talk with someone on the phone you can’t see. But at least you can hear them. The problem with praying is that you can’t see God nor hear him. You sometimes feel like you’re talking to the wall.
It wasn’t always like that, you know.
Adam and Eve, before they sinned, could see God and hear him and in the evening, they had many good heart-to-heart talks with God. But after the fall, God couldn’t show himself to people anymore. He had to be careful because people couldn’t handle it. They would get terribly afraid and fall to the ground. Even when Angels sometimes became visible, people became very scared. That’s because people know that they were guilty of hurting God and destroying his creation.
You can’t have a good heart-to-heart talk when people are scared or feeling guilty. You have to make up first. We know that. Sometimes we say or do something to hurt our friends and then all of a sudden we’re not talking. They ignore us. We’ve hurt them and until we apologize and make it right, we can’t enjoy being good friends.
God could be our best soul friend, but we hurt him when we forget him and when we do things wrong on purpose. We need to apologize and say we’re sorry and because Jesus took our punishment when he died on the cross, we can have God as our soul friend again. We don’t have to be afraid or feel guilty anymore. God loves us and he wants to have heart-to-heart talks with us.
But we still can’t see or hear God. What do we do about that? Well, actually, we will get to see God again one day just like Adam and Eve did. But until then, God does something very special to help us have heart-to-heart talks with him. He gives us his spirit.
Imagine! Think for a moment about one of your best friends. When you sit down with her and you have something really exciting to talk about, it seems like your words don’t always come out right and you end up saying “you know you know!” And you almost wish you could just share what you feel and what you are thinking directly with them. Wouldn’t it be incredible if your best friend could read your mind? If she or he could just be inside you and share whatever experiences you have and know exactly what you’re thinking. It would be scary but interesting too.
Remember on Star Wars when Obi-Wan Kenobi gets killed by Darth Vader. As soon as Luke Skywalker is safe in the spaceship, Obi-Wan Kenobi lets Darth Vader kill him and Luke Skywalker thinks he has lost his good friend. But actually, Obi-Wan Kenobi is now in Luke’s mind, and, once in a while, he talks to him.
That’s sort of what it’s like with God. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi, you can’t see him but that doesn’t mean that he’s not there. God, with his spirit, is inside you and he can read your thoughts, and he enjoys life with you, he goes through all your great experiences with you. When something great happens, you can say to God “you know” and he does.
Although you don’t hear a voice, God does speak with you in your heart. Learning to hear him is also what prayer is all about. Your spirit speaking to God’s spirit. Your heart talking to God’s heart. That’s a lot deeper than, “Now I lay me down to sleep.”
It’s heart talk. Spirit talk. Saying words out loud is alright as long as it comes from the heart. There’s no point in lying if he can read your mind. There’s no point in hiding anything if he goes with you wherever you go.
You don’t need a church to pray. You don’t have to be on your knees. If God’s spirit is inside you, you can pray anytime and anywhere. You can talk to God about anything and ask him anything as long as it comes from your heart.
Don’t just pray for yourself but also for people that you care about. If you care, God cares. He can help.
And perhaps you can help others learn how to talk heart to heart with God as well. Don’t we all need a soul friend? I think so and God is a great soul friend. Are we?