How to talk to God

The short answer is: Just talk to Him as you would to a friend.

The long answer is below. 😉

~Eowyn

Why Women Hear God More Than Men Do

Dr. Tanya Luhrmann | Christianity Today | May 7, 2012

Women pray more than men do. The 2008 Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that two-thirds of all women surveyed pray daily, while less than half of all men surveyed do. The Pew survey was unusually large, accounting for over 35,000 Americans, but gender differences in prayer frequency have been found before (notably by Paloma and Gallup in 1991). In fact, the observation is so common that among evangelicals, we hear it repeated as a cliché.

Why do women pray more? Some argue it’s because women are more conservative, that they stick more to tradition, while others believe it’s because women feel more responsible for their families’ health and well being than men do.

As an anthropologist studying religious behavior, I have a different explanation: Women pray more because women are more comfortable with their imaginations, and in order to pray, you need to use your imagination.

Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that God is a product of the imagination. I am instead noting that to know God intimately, you need to use your imagination, because the imagination is the means humans must use to know the immaterial. […] people who felt comfortable with a back-and-forth conversation with God had learned to have that conversation by using their imaginations. At the beginning, they often said that they were confused by what it meant to listen for God. As one congregant remarked to me, “In the beginning, people would say to me, ‘Do you hear God?’ And I’m like, heck, I don’t know.”

But then these Christians did what their pastor suggested: they set out a (real) mug of hot coffee for God in the morning, and sat down with their own mug, and imagined that they were talking to God. They picked up a sandwich, walked over to the park, sat down on a bench, and imagined that God’s arm was around their shoulders, that they were talking to God as their best of friend. They stood in front of their closet and asked God what shirt they should wear that day. Most of them knew that this was artifice, at least in part, and particularly at the beginning, they were cautious about how seriously to take it. Still, they saw these practices as a technique to listen for God in their minds—to turn their attention away from the outer world and to wait patiently for thoughts that they felt might really be from God. “I try to listen to God in the little things,” one woman told me, “so that I learn to listen to him about the big ones.” After a few months, people would say that they recognized God’s voice in their minds the way they recognized a voice on the phone. “You know it’s your mom when she calls, right?” someone explained. “Well, that’s the way it is with God.”

Our culture raises men to take less joy in the imagination. Men read fewer novels. They play with children less than women do. It is important to understand this difference in socialization because sometimes men who cannot hear God feel like bad Christians. They can feel that God does not love them as much as he loves their wives, even if they know that sounds silly. My work suggests that this has more to do with they way our culture teaches them to use their minds than it does with their inherent worth. It suggests that Christians should nurture men’s imaginations, and that this nurturance will help them to pray more readily, and to know God more intimately as God the Father desires.

Tanya Marie Luhrmann is a professor of anthropology at Stanford University. Her most recent book is When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God.

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13 responses to “How to talk to God

  1. Reblogged this on Diary of a College Undergraduate and commented:
    Sunday special.. Really Inspiring.. ^_^

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  2. Scripture tells us who God is and tells us how to worship Him. When we use our imagination and disregard scriptures revelation who God is and what He expects of us, we get into trouble. Pray and consider Gods promises and his reply, as for our own good.

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  3. Thank you. So many times I feel that I just don’t get it when it comes to prayer. Now is this the definitive answer? Of course not, but it is very insightful and another step in obedience (Phil. 2:12) as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

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  4. I read the above post. It was good. And I would like to share something about how sometimes God will comfort people. Tracy’s brother died while in the Air Force and here is part of one dream she had. — Then I had a cell phone in my left hand and it had rang. I answered it and said, “Hello?” It was Brian and he said, “Can you hear me, Tracy?” I said, “Brian?! Yes! I can hear you!” He said, “I need you to do something for me… I need you to relax and calm down and go back into your room and just lie down on your bed. I saw what you did in your dream. If Daddy got to see you do that he would be so proud of you. You were brave.” I asked him, “You saw my dream?!” He replied, “Yes I saw what happened.” As I was walking to my room I heard him say, “Man… you’ve been really wanting to talk to me, haven’t you!” I told him, “Of course I have. I miss you so much.” In my dream I had just layed down in my bed and I then woke up from my dream. As I was awaken my the shock of talking to Brian I had stayed still and left my eyes closed hoping that I could stay in the right state of mind to continue to talk to him. I told him how much I miss him and how much I love him and even though I was awake I heard him say, “I love you too. Go ahead and tell Mom, Dad and Michelle that I’m ok. But don’t tell too many people about me talking to you like this but let them know I love them and I’m ok.” I was still sleeping but I was feeling tears run down the sides of my face because I was laying on my back. I continued to tell him how much I love him and I told him, “I miss you so much I just want to be with you.” He said,”I know but you need to stay there and be strong.” I felt like he was leaving me and I said, “Brian, please don’t leave me… please stay with me just a little longer.” He said, “I’m not leaving you, Tracy. I’m right here with you.” As I was laying in the same position I suddenly felt him lay down next to me. I just felt like there was electricity that was hovering right next to me. Then I felt him move and put his arm across my chest as if he was holding me while I was falling back asleep. I felt him holding me the whole time until I fell asleep. Such an amazing feeling

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  5. I had a very similar experience though a lot less dramatic right after a dear friend died suddenly from a heart attack. Tommy was known to call at odd times to say he was dropping in,etc. I dreamt that he called and when I answered he said,” I just called to let you know I love you!”. My husband and I were unable to attend his funeral and we were feeling quite guilty. The phone call was so real and his voice so clear, I knew it was a gift from our Lord letting us know Tom was okay and that our friendship was intact. To this day whenever I think of him, I remember answering the phone in the dead of night and hearing his voice affirming our years of friendship.

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  6. My mother-in-law, a beautiful lady, complained of some stomache pain, found out she had pancreatic cancer and just two weeks later was dead. Dear friends of my in-laws held a reception at their house for our family. The brother of one of them (also a close friend of my wife’s mom) approached me, visibly shaken. He said he saw her (my dead MIL) come down the stairs and stop at the bottom. She turned to him and smiled and walked back up the stairs. The man, a no nonsense retired AF Master Sergeant, was literally shaking. I didn’t know what to say but under the circumstances I certainly was not going to question what he saw or why he may have seen it. That was April. He died the following January of …. pancreatic cancer.

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  7. IMO, women also have strong intuition as well.

    Love the post Doc! Thank You! Tomorrow I will be fixing 2 cups of hot tea…not just one. What a great idea! 😀

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    • Excellent point, Steve! A true conversation is a give and take. Talking to God must also involve LISTENING to God! And in order that we can hear God, we need to still our minds.

      I am so busy in my waking hours — searching and reading news; writing posts; reading and reacting to comments on FOTM — that my mind is almost never silent. The only times when my mind is still is when I’m doing my chores, especially my gardening chores. A special time when my mind is not just still but I explicitly and directly implore God to speak to me and tell me what He wants me to hear and do, is in the few minutes right after I’ve received the Holy Eucharist — His Body and Blood.

      I can truthfully, sincerely, and without any guile say this:

      In those moments, I have heard Him — not as a booming voice from above (LOL) but as a thought that enters my head. The thought is usually phrased in such a manner that it’s not something I would think or say. That is why the Eucharist is also called Holy COMMUNION.

      When He speaks to me (the thought that enters my stilled mind), it is never verbose, but short and succinct, while ALWAYS allowing for my free will. There was one time when, instead of an instruction or direction, I was overcome with a wave of Love that I’d never experienced before — powerful, pure, and loving. Indeed, His Love is unimaginable and indescribable in its oceanic vastness, depth, and purity.

      I can’t tell you how many times, while in Holy Communion with my beloved Christ, that my vision is blurred as my eyes overflow with tears….

      This is also why my heart is sad for lapsed Catholics and those Protestants who (literally) demonize the Eucharist.

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  8. edward oleander

    Eowyn, I think you’re right on about men not being trained or encouraged to use their imaginations. My mother raised me on fables and myths and stories, and had me reading early on, and I think that made a world of difference. Even nearing 50, I play role-playing games that require one to create entire imaginary worlds.

    I think that DOES relate to prayer. I pray to your God fairly often, and while it isn’t the arm-around-my-shoulder kind of comfortable, it IS in a very natural conversational style. No “thee” and “thy” and “thou,” or humble beseeching. Just one guy talking to another about something that needs done. It requires a LOT of imagination, especially when you’re coming from a POV of unbelief.

    Disclaimer: I don’t pray for myself, as that would be massively hypocritical, and no deity worth following pays heed to Pascal’s Wager done for selfish reasons. I pray only on behalf of Christian friends, in their times of need, and see no problem using Pascal there. I do the same for Muslim, Hindu, and Pagan friends with their deities…

    A question to Sage, if you’re reading this: If God exists, I know he hears all prayers, but do you think the prayers of an unbeliever can have any real impact or influence, when sent on behalf of a believer? Thanks, ~ed~

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