The Power of Conversational Prayer: Meeting God Face to Face
When I look at the Gospels I’m intrigued by the conversations Christ had with His disciples. Some of them, in fact, are outright comical. They were often initiated by their questions, fears, frustrations, and childish curiosities. In contrast, the conversations Christ initiated with them were extraordinarily intimate. He shared deep things with them about His heart, His desires, His Father, and His kingdom, bringing to light obscure spiritual truths they were often unable to fully comprehend. I believe conversational prayer, above all others, is the most essential type of prayer we can practice on a daily basis. Christ modeled this beautifully, as did Abraham, Moses, and King David the Psalmist. It’s the one from which our relationship with Christ stems and grows, bringing deep inner transformation. Intimate fellowship with Christ Jesus is at the heart of conversational prayer. It’s where we experience His presence and His power.
I have always been a conversationalist. It is my nature, and it comes easily for me. From the time I was old enough to squeak out a syllable, I was talking to complete strangers. I’m an old soul. From the time I was little I loved to congregate with the adults and chime in on weighty mature conversations. My mother and grandmother said I didn’t know a stranger. To this day that remains true. As gregarious as I may be, I’m not talking about chatter-boxing. I’m talking about deep, intimate, intelligent conversations of depth and breadth, full of sustenance and potential for growth. My closest relationships reflect this trait, and it’s no different in my relationship with Jesus Christ.
Intimacy comes with communication. Its depth is directly dependent upon what we choose to reveal and to whom. I’ve learned that some people just can’t do ‘deep’. So I don’t go there. But what I love about Jesus is that everything about Him is deep. He’s deeper than deep. And there’s no limit to how deep or how much I can have of Him or experience with Him, so long as He allows. The more we voluntarily share, the deeper our relationships will become. Our most intimate relationships are those with whom we share the deepest recesses of our heart and mind. We choose what to reveal, disclose, and unveil, which is determined by the trust of the recipient.
I have found the trust of Jesus Christ to be absolutely True and Faithful
tenaciously so (see Revelation 19:11).
Vulnerability, Transparency, and Humility
Christ is very tender-hearted, gentle and affectionate. He handles the intimacies of our hearts with great loving care. As One who holds all power and authority in heaven and earth, He understands the delicacy of our nature. He understands our human weakness and frailty from a personal perspective, having lived a human life Himself. He is not remote or removed. He is not distant and obscure. For those who would dare encounter Him, they will find Him to be as intimate and vulnerable as we are – yet with a power that transcends our greatest comprehension.
The One who created your heart longs to commune with you inside it.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom, (Psalm 51: 6, KJV).
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise, (Psalm 51:16, 17, KJV).
The secrets are this: First, we cannot truly unveil ourselves. Second, we must come to terms with the fact that we are all broken vessels. We merely present ourselves as offerings to God. People can only offer what they have, and the kind of transparent unveiling that needs to occur for the depth of intimacy Christ desires is something only He can rightly perform. The Lord gladly receives the broken and contrite heart. As we offer ourselves in vulnerability, He comes in, tenderly stripping away layers upon layers that have shrouded our hearts in darkness, making us whole and setting us free.
Being Led by the Spirit
There are many types of prayer, and I would never venture to say one is better or more effective than another, as they all have their purpose and place. I’ve experienced many types of prayer: petition, supplication, intercession, travail, authoritative (warfare) prayer, and praying in the Spirit. All of these are effective. To a large degree, the Spirit of God is the one who leads us into these types of prayer for a specific purpose. I call it doing business with God. But there is one type of prayer that I believe needs to be developed in our personal relationship with Christ more than any other, and that is conversational prayer. These other types of prayer effect change, bringing heaven to earth for the sake of other people. But conversational prayer has at its center intimacy with Christ, which is intensely personal in nature. This is not to say other things cannot be accomplished. Quite the contrary. However, this type of prayer is where we are intimately transformed by Him. We can initiate this out of sincere desire for intimate communion with Him, for no other reason than fellowship in His presence. When we come to Him just for Him, His heart is delighted.
We were created for intimate fellowship with God.
God is moved by our hearts. Again, He desires truth in the inmost being. The Psalmist, David, prayed in this manner by candidly pouring out his heart to God in utter vulnerability and transparency. David worshiped God in total abandon, even to his embarrassment. This ‘abandon’ was the hallmark of His prayer life. He was completely yielded to God. Nothing was hidden. For this reason, conversational prayer is reflected in the Psalms beautifully. We find David echoing back to God prophetic revelatory truths while reflecting upon His own joys and pain, which we all relate to so well. The comfort found in the Psalms is the clarity of David’s humanity contrasted with God’s divinity and the relationship formed between them. We can all relate.
Jesus Christ prayed in this manner as well, talking to His Father for hours (often before sunrise). He called Him ‘Abba’ which means ‘Daddy’. This affectionate term no doubt reveals the kind of intimate relationship Christ had with His Heavenly Father. It was one of unbroken fellowship achieved by walking in the fullness of His Holy Spirit. He demonstrated that relationship daily with His disciples and followers, addressing His Father openly and without shame, even in public. He spoke to Him freely from His heart – not by religious rote. For this reason the Pharisees despised Him, accusing Him of blasphemy in calling God His Father (see John 8:13-59 and 10:22-42).
In Christ’s high priestly prayer found in John 17, we see Him asking the Father to bring about that same unity and love among His brethren, revealing the love of the Father to us. Christ desperately wants you to understand the love with which you are loved. God is your Father, and He loves you with the same love He has for Christ, His Son. He desires the same intimacy; the same unity; and the same transparency of heart and spirit that Christ demonstrated and enjoyed with Him.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me, (John 17:20-23, KJV).
Rote formulated prayers will not achieve intimacy with God. Does God hear them? Yes, of course. But do they solicit a response from Him? Often not. Here’s why:
This people drawth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me, (Matthew 15:8, KJV).
Transparency: The Unveiling of the Heart
Regardless of your spiritual condition, you can choose to offer yourself to God. This is the key. This is at the very core of conversational prayer. Just get it out. Say what needs to be said. Stop skirting subjects and mincing words. Stop splitting religious hairs with God. The Lord already knows what’s in you, and He longs to enter into that place. What we hide will master us. But when we choose to become transparent, all is brought into the Light, and Christ sets us free. To the degree that we share and become vulnerable with Him, to that very degree He is able to minister to us. The greater the vulnerability and transparency, the greater the liberty and oneness we experience.
Intimacy with Christ is a place of surrender
where He becomes Lord of all that binds us, setting us free.
We must choose this intimacy. The Lord will not transgress our free will. He will woo us. He will gently nudge us. He may even poke and prod us. But He will never enter into a place where He is not welcome. Salvation starts in our heart with confession, and it doesn’t stop there. Our entire relationship with God is centered upon our choice to surrender our hearts to Him. That decision is one that continues day by day as we practice conversational prayer.
Scrap the Formula
Formulas are great for mathematical equations, kitchen recipes, and chemistry labs, but they do relationships a horrible disservice. They simply don’t work. Every day is different, being full of different emotions, experiences, people and circumstances. And therefore, every day requires a different approach, and we must learn to be moved by the Holy Spirit.
It’s never the same. And timing is of the essence. God can disrupt my schedule, and when He does, I’ve found it’s always for good reason. I’ve learned not to ignore these calls, but to be as prompt as possible in responding to Him. As for me, I love to put on a pot of coffee, grab my bible, and sit down with the Lord and talk. But that doesn’t always happen. He leads me into places with Him that sometimes surprise me. He’s cornered me in the bathtub more than once, and He’s had me pull over on the side of a highway on several occasions. I never know what He’s going to do. But one thing I’ve learned: I let go. I surrender. I get it all out – in whatever form that takes. And it’s not always easy. It takes some time to switch gears and change my M.O. Sometimes I have nothing to say. Not because I’m empty, but because words are useless. I simply cannot convey what it within me. It’s too complex, too complicated, and too deep. What is within is beyond my human reach. It requires the divine. Yet when I become vulnerable in His presence, He is able to access that area easily. In moments such as these, I find myself moved to tears, being slowly and gently unwrapped as He untangles knots, dismantles complexities, and unravels webs. He sees and understands everything. He shines light in my darkness. He brings truth where there is deception. He brings comfort and encouragement where there is fear and discouragement. He brings love and affection. He brings wisdom, knowledge, insight and revelation. These intimate times together often take a direction I never anticipated, and I find myself pleasantly surprised by what He chooses to reveal, and what He desires to address. Often the issues I see at hand are rooted deeply in other matters that are not evident.
Case and Point:
There is no formula with God. We must learn to be moved by His Spirit.
I’ve practiced conversational prayer with God since the age of nineteen when I was born again. It was the first thing I did, and I had no idea what I was even doing at the time. I have faithfully practiced it ever since. I encountered the Lord on a level of intimacy I did not even know was possible.
As a result, conversational prayer has radically transformed my life.
I often incorporated a journal alongside to record my thoughts and the Lord’s replies, which I do to this day. I have found that journaling this conversational prayer time with God is strategic and powerful. Laying the spiritual word to the tangible page makes it ‘concrete’. I make it a practice to write everything He says so that I don’t lose it or forget it – because I have found that I inevitably will. And when moments come that I need a refresher, my journal is there to quicken and encourage me.
Among all types of prayer, this is my favorite. I’ve found this type to be the most profound because it can easily take any direction God chooses. It provides a solid foundation for our relationship with God unlike any other. Those who practice it are some of the most Christ-like men and women of God among us who demonstrate Christ’s character and emanate His tangible presence, which are the marks of genuine Christian fruit. The anointing of the Lord rests upon them in a great stewardship of power and authority because of the trust that has been established through their personal relationship with Him. It doesn’t happen any other way.
When you can get real with God, I promise He’ll meet you there. He’ll show up. And you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by His presence, His love, and His light. He can’t meet you in a place where you are not. So stop pretending you’re ‘here’ when really you’re ‘over there’. All the fluff has to go. The shine you put on all your mess has to come off. All the sugar-coating you applied to your problems has to be removed. He sees right through it. We cannot dazzle God with our appearances, fancy words, or religious practices. He has no interest in ‘whitewash’, religious piety, or prayers by rote. But when you are ready to unveil yourself before Him, baring your most intimate soul, He’ll cover you. He’ll be all over you. You will find yourself smothered and immersed in Him.
The most beautiful thing about these intimate times is the vulnerability Christ offers us in Himself. He reciprocates with us by unveiling His heart. We commune with Him on a level of intimacy that is reserved only for those to whom He would grant it. We encounter His depths: His emotions, His passions, and His purposes. Such stewardship is not given lightly, nor is it to be taken lightly.
The Holy of Holies is the most sacred place in the Temple. This is where the Ark of the Covenant was placed, and the blood sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat. It’s where the LORD’s manifest presence dwelt continually. This sacred place could only be entered into once a year by the High Priest. When Christ died the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom. This curtain, being woven of thick ornate tapestry, was said to be approximately four inches thick according to Josephus (the width of a man’s hand), weighing several hundred pounds and requiring the manipulation of more than 300 men to hang it. It was humanly impossible to rend. When Christ yielded up His Spirit, that very curtain was torn, opening the way for us into the most sacred holy place where God dwells. This act alone struck immense fear into the hearts of the Levitical priests at that time. A great uprising followed among the Jews. The events surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection were obviously supernatural, causing every heart who witnessed them to quake with awe and perplexity.
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many, (Matthew 27:50-53, KJV).
This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water, (Hebrews 10:16-22, KJV).
You are now the temple of God wherein Christ dwells by His Spirit.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16, KJV).
God has chosen the human heart to be His Holy of Holies. He no longer dwells in places made by human hands. He dwells within the hearts of men and women by His Spirit.
This divine invitation into His most holy place comes with a price. When you can pour out your heart to God in vulnerability, transparency and humility, you will find Him ushering you into the shadow of His wing where you are enveloped in His presence. This is where His mercy dwells and His blood cleanses you. You will find yourself restored, redeemed, forgiven, and set free.
Practicing conversational prayer can take you there. Do what Jesus did; what Abraham did; what Moses and David did. This is not business as usual. It’s time to get real. You’ll never be the same.
Cheers & Shalom,