• Abigail Youmans • June 9, 2020
Talking to yourself is considered weird, but let’s be real: everyone does it. I’m notorious for it and have been my whole life. For the most part I’ve blamed it on my imagination, when in reality, I’m just a little weird. But I’m okay with that.
Once, years ago, I was walking downtown Nashville on my way to work at the local tea shop, caught up in an imaginary conversation. And let me tell you, it was not pretty. It was filled with drama, intrigue, and tension. Who was the recipient of this imaginary dialogue, I don’t know. Entirely wrapped up in the drama of it all, my face was a dead giveaway for what was happening in my mind (my fatal flaw) and I failed to realize that it wasn’t all just in my head until it was pointed out to me.
A call from a stranger snapped me out of it. “Wow, they’re getting quite the talking to!”
I looked up and saw an older man watching me, amused. Instantly turning bright red, I moved a bit more quickly to my destination. So embarrassing. What did he see me do? Grimace? Have an attitude about something totally fake? What did my face show him about my heart and mind?
Several months ago I read a headline that said not all people have an inner monologue, which was mind boggling to me. How can people not have a running conversation with themselves? Wild. Every single part of my day is narrated, from menial tasks to deeper thoughts, and of course the way conversations should have happened. The narrator’s voice is my own, but usually in a British accent. Whether I’m just going about my day, internally narrating tasks, or solving problems, my mind is always filled with someone’s voice. The day this drastically changed was when my thoughts turned to prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” When I’d heard this verse as a young believer, I thought, “That’s impossible!” My very limited mind was unsure how this could even be done, since you have to do things and have conversations throughout your day. Surely people would think that you’re a weirdo if you’re just walking around praying and talking to yourself. Plus—how do you even do that?
It took a few years, but I finally started to get it. Praying without ceasing first begins when we realize that no matter where we are or what we do, we are not alone. The Lord is omnipresent, meaning that his presence, the Holy Spirit, is with us at all times. He is not limited. This endlessness is so hard for our limited, human minds to understand, but the second we start to grasp it there comes an unbelievable comfort in the fact that he is with us.
Another characteristic of the Lord that allows us to communicate with him is his omnipotence—his knowledge and understanding of all things. I think of a rebellious teen saying to their parent, “You just don’t get it!” and running upstairs to their bedroom, slamming the door. Our Father reaches his hand in the door frame, before it’s closed and says, “Actually, I do.” He understands everything. David’s prayer in Psalm 139 perfectly expresses the childlike way we can rest in our Father’s arms, because he made us. “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. … Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” (Ps. 139:4, 6).
Prayer is not something that needs to happen exclusively around a dinner table, or on your knees at your bedside before you go to sleep. It’s not supposed to be the same phrases, over and over again, but the raw thoughts and feelings that we experience throughout every moment of the day. He already knows them, but His heart’s desire is for us to trust him with them.
This trust develops when we spend time with Him, communicating with Him the way we would a friend. Have you ever met someone, started to get to know them, and found that you could never tire of being with them? We can have this same kind of relationship, deeper even, with the Father when we talk to and spend time with Him. Whether it’s talking to Him on the little things, like “Jesus give me the words for this phone call,” or “Father, please hear my cry for my family,” He’s there for all of it—He wants to be. It’s a beautiful thing to know and be known by Him. Outlooks and outcomes are transformed when we recognize that we are not alone and that every corner of our mind is seen by the One who created it. My outlook changed when I said, “Lord, I know you’re with me today, so I’m just gonna talk to you.”
Not only does having an ongoing conversation with the Lord change the way we see the world, but it changes the way the world sees us. I think of when Moses went up the mountain and encountered the presence and glory of God, and when he came down, everyone saw how his face shown. His closeness with the Lord was physically evident on his face. What if the man on the sidewalk caught me in a prayer and not an argument? How would my face and demeanor have reflected the fact that I spend time talking to my Father? It wouldn’t have been drama-filled, I’m sure. It would have been a portrait of peace, a radiating of the Holy Spirit that makes people want to know who I’m talking to, so that they may join in the conversation.
Let’s talk to the Lord, constantly, about everything—big, small, heartbreaking, or joy bringing. The maker of our hearts knows every facet of our lives and cares about it all.