Prayer is talking with God. This avenue of communication with God is a privilege given to all who put their faith in Jesus Christ and are thus children of God (John 1:12). In fact, not only is talking to God in prayer something Christians are permitted to do, we are commanded to pray (1 Timothy 2:1–4; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6–7).
God has personality, feelings, desires, and intelligence. He desires to have a relationship with each person and has communicated directly to us through creation, through His Word (the Bible), by His Son Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit. Responding to Him is natural and good—and sane. Talking to God in prayer, and hearing from God in prayer, is a normal part of developing a relationship with God.
God begins the conversation. It was He who created humanity (Genesis 1—2) in the first place. Adam and Eve seem to have even walked with God in the garden of Eden, enjoying unhindered fellowship with Him prior to their sin (Genesis 2—3). Since then humanity has been separated from God. But He has made a way of restoration, a means to enjoy fellowship with Him once again—Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8–10). It was God who initiated this plan and who reaches out to provide a way of salvation so that we might have a relationship with Him (John 3:16–18). God promises to answer when we call on Him (Jeremiah 29:12; 33:3; Psalm 50:15; Matthew 7:7–8; Hebrews 4:14–16).
We see examples of many sane, intelligent people talking with God. Biblically we think of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David, Samuel, Jesus, and the apostles. Jesus' prayer in John 17 is particularly noteworthy. He also taught His disciples how to pray (Luke 11:2–4; Matthew 6:9–13). The New Testament is replete with instructions for Christians to pray as well as examples of Christians praying (for example, see Acts 2:42; Colossians 1:3, 9; 4:2–4; James 5:13 – 18; 1 Peter 4:7; 3 John 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18).
We also have examples like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, George Washington Carver, and Galileo, among multitudes of others. The poor, the rich, the educated and uneducated, people of all races—people in every category that can be devised, talk with God. We cannot say these people are all insane or delusional.
On occasion, people claim to hear God audibly. It seems God did speak audibly to people in the Bible. But today, since we have His completed Word, He usually speaks to people's hearts. It is not unusual for those who are committed to God or who are genuinely seeking Him to "hear" from Him (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). Believers in Jesus have the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13–14) and He guides us.
Now, to be sure, when God speaks, leads, or communicates, His message always lines up with what He has revealed in the Bible. Paul tells us one way to know if a message is from God in 1 Corinthians 12:3: "Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says 'Jesus is accursed!' and no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except in the Holy Spirit." John warns, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Not everyone who claims to talk to God actually does. And not all that we think we hear from God is actually from Him. So be sure to confirm every "conversation" with God with the truth of His revealed Word. When a person says God has spoken with them and the message they convey is contrary to the Bible, that person may be dangerous, disingenuous, or delusional.
The Holy Spirit helps believers talk with God (Romans 8:26). Jesus told His disciples in John 14:26: "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." Talking to God is sane. In fact, talking to God in prayer is one of the primary ways we grow in faith. Though the world might think that faith in God is crazy, it is the only way to true life (John 10:10; 1 Corinthians 1:20–31).
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