Communication is essential to any relationship. No, let me say it even stronger: Without communication there is no relationship. I had not really thought about how crucial communication is to relationship before reading Helen Keller’s autobiography.
As an infant, Helen Keller lost all ability to hear or see due to an illness. It wasn’t until Anne Sullivan, a teacher for the blind and deaf, came into her life that Helen gained the ability to communicate. In her autobiography, Helen describes communication as “the door through which she should pass from darkness into light, from isolation to friendship, companionship, knowledge, and love.”
But without means of communication Helen experienced “neither sorrow nor regret, neither strong sentiment nor tenderness [love].” Yet, when she captured one simple word that opened the door for communication she exclaimed, “That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!”
When we first come to Christ and place our faith in Him, the Scriptures explain, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Our faith in Christ is only possible due to communication. “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
We heard God’s Word about Jesus—His love and offer of forgiveness. Someone communicated God’s message to us, and we responded, repenting of our sin and asking the Lord to save us. In this way, we came into relationship with God. This relationship cannot take place without communication.
But for many Christians, communication with God—speaking with Him and hearing from Him—becomes mysterious. Having forgotten how they came to believe in Christ, some no longer believe it’s possible to personally hear from God. Others grant the possibility, but don’t know how to hear from Him.
But if we accept the premise that without communication there can be no relationship, we recognize how crucial communication with God is to our relationship with Him. That being the case, and knowing that God Himself seeks relationship with us, we must conclude and believe that He wants to and does communicate with us personally.
When we think of communicating with God, two primary modes probably come to mind: God’s Word (the Bible) and prayer. I must confess that for many years, although I read God’s Word daily, I approached it more like an impersonal manual than a love letter. And I assumed that prayer was one-way communication and not very engaging. I don’t think I’m alone in treating God’s Word and prayer in this sterile way.
Today, I always try to go to God’s Word with the intent to meet with Him. I ask Him to speak with me personally through His Word and He does. With prayer, I’ve realized that prayer is meant to be two-way communication, but I was so busy talking that I never used to listen. Now, I spend a lot more time in prayer simply listening.
If that sounds weird or mystical, I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 2. In that chapter, Paul explains the role of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit “searches all things, even the deep things of God,” and reveals them to us. He gives us the “mind of Christ” that we may know how to speak and act in all situations. This is all communication and it’s highly personal.
Because the Holy Spirit inspired His Word, the Bible, we know that He will never contradict what He has already said. Knowing God’s Word, being steeped in it and letting it permeate every fiber of our being puts us in tune with God. Many Christians don’t hear from God simply because they never listen to Him—i.e., open His Word.
Another key way the Lord speaks to us personally is through other people. This is a primary reason it’s so important that we belong to a fellowship of Christ-followers. Paul explained to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
In that passage, God’s Word provides the substance for the human actions of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training others in righteousness. God uses us as His mouthpiece in communicating with each other. This is both a great privilege and responsibility.
If you’d like to read more about hearing from God, I encourage you to read my book Enthralled with God—Cultivating a Joy-filled Relationship with Him. I’m running a free eBook promotion on Enthralled with God from May 5-9. Click here to get your free eBook!
Also, Jack Deere’s book Surprised by the Voice of God is a great book on this topic.