Define Prayer and Talking to God – Part 2
Talking to God and Prayer – Part 2.2
In “The Real Meaning of Prayer” we discovered that the word “prayer” has a different meaning than what we commonly accept the word to mean. We believed that prayer was communicating with God. Now that we know more, we need to assess that commonly held definition of prayer, “talking to God.”
As I was reading on the subject of prayer, which I often do, something stuck out to me like a sore thumb. What’s that you might ask? Moses talked to God and Moses prayed. Listen to what I’m saying, the truth about Moses is that at times he spoke with God and at other times he prayed. It’s interesting that these two actions Moses practiced were different. This is where the concept of talking to God versus praying came about. One can talk to God without praying, but one cannot pray without talking to God.
Here are a couple of my findings that might help us think through this. The word “prayed” appears roughly 68-88 times in the Bible, depending on which translation one uses. The phrase “God said” appears about 54 times. But it’s this next phrase that drew my attention. The phrase “The Lord said” appears over 300 times and “Jesus said” appears more than 100 times. Based on these findings alone, talking to God out numbers the times someone prayed. While that sounds interesting, these numbers are not intended to provide evidence, but to get you to think at a different level. The numbers here are irrelevant to the point which is one can pray, but one can also speak with God and they are not the same.
There must be more to this…
Could it be that we have confused “prayer” with talking to God?
Is it possible that some pray and never talk to God?
Or is it possible that people talk to God and rarely pray?
Based on these conclusions, we need to examine these three distinctions: 1) confusing prayer with talking to God, 2) the ways we can interact in conversation with God and 3) what is the result of talking to God in a conversation.
Confusing Prayer With Talking to God
Prayer is confused with talking to God. I will give more specifics here in a minute to the various ways we talk to God and why prayer can be confused with talking to God. But before I do, I like the way The Message Bible paraphrases what Jesus had to say about talking to God. Take a look.
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant.
They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God.
Don’t fall for that nonsense.
This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need.
With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. [by speaking to Him] Like this:
Our Father in heaven…” 
In this we find a couple of key phrases I’d like to highlight for exposure.
- There are “so-called prayer warriors”. There are people out there trying to make the claim that they know all about prayer. These are the same people who are guilty of confusing prayer and talking to God.
- One can be “prayer ignorant.” I never would have thought prior to this that one could be “prayer ignorant” which implies we might need a book called “Prayer for Dummies.” I simply call it next-level prayer. Next level prayer is learning more about prayer so that we’re not prayer ignorant, nor a so-called prayer warrior.” Wow!
- Because God loves us, we can “pray very simply” or in other words as Jesus illustrated, we can talk to God like He is a father, our father.
There is a difference between prayer and talking to God.
Three Types of Interactions With God
Since we defined the words that represent “prayer,” I thought it might be revealing to define what it means to talk to God. This, however, led me to discover that talking can occur in three types of interactions.
- You talk.
When we talk or pray, most likely we engage in a one-sided conversation. That’s what a prayer is. We give to or request something from God without Him responding. That’s you talking.
- He talks.
There are times, more often than not, that God will direct-message you. He will speak. God can speak directly to you, you know? There are occasions where God speaks and gives instructions directly without a person’s need to respond. In fact, this is what you want to listen for. It’s more important to hear from Him than it is for you to be doing all the talking. For He can answer your requests before you ever even ask.
- We talk.
This is a conversation. God and a person having a dialogue and communicating. Moses did this and Jesus teaches us that we can do this too. Talking to God in a conversation means you need to show up for the conversation and engage Him. I noticed that Moses had to approach the place where God was in order to hear his voice and to speak back. You will need to engage God, but don’t ever think that He won’t engage you. The point is, it’s time for you to have a two-way conversation.
The Result of Talking to God
If you study this and read every encounter a person has with God, you will find a pattern. When you speak with God in a two-way conversation, it will end in you having an action step to take. Talking to God is getting from Him what you should do next.
I could give you numerous examples, but I’ll just give one for the length of this message and time. I’ll need to use scripture here to demonstrate the conversation a guy named Ananias had with the invisible Lord, Jesus. Now this is really God. I will insert a few brackets to highlight notable interactions.
“Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias.
The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” [The Lord Jesus spoke to Ananias.]
“Yes, Lord!” he replied. [Ananias responded to the Lord’s greeting.]
The Lord said,
[Now here are the action items The Lord Jesus gave Ananias.]
“Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas.
When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying [praying, not having a conversation like Ananias is having] to me right now.
I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”
“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias,
[Ananias gives The Lord Jesus his concerns with what He’s asking in this conversation.]
“I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
But the Lord said,
[The Lord Jesus reassured Ananias.]
“Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 
I use this conversation between the invisible Lord Jesus and Ananias to show you the difference between talking to God and praying. You see, Paul was praying as this story reveals, but Ananias had a conversation with God. What I want most for you is to help you take prayer to the next-level. It’s time for you to become like Ananias. It’s time you had a little talk with Jesus. Don’t make this complicated because it is not. Jesus taught us to “pray very simply.” Get rid of your “prayer voice” and begin having a real simple conversation with God.
Question: have you ever had a simple conversation with God?
Reference #1: Matthew 6:7-13-7-13 MSG, Bible.com, accessed November 3, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/97/MAT.6.7-13.MSG
Reference #2: Acts of the Apostles 9:10-15 NLT, Bible.com, accessed November 3, 2021, https://bible.com/bible/116/act.9.11-15.NLT
All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.