A running conversation with God is a prayer method where we consciously and constantly address thoughts and questions to God as we go about our daily routine. Short prayer connections are made with God on every subject, large or small, as they are encountered during the day.
How to do this prayer practice:
I learned about this prayer method talking to Virginia Gardner, who is in her 80’s. When I asked her if she had any prayer ideas to share, she told me that she constantly talks to God all day. I asked her to explain more about this and here are some of her tips:
1. Make Jesus your best friend.
Virginia shared with me vivid childhood memories of being taught about God’s love, faithfulness and nearness. She described outdoor church services at camp as a Campfire Girl and also how her favorite hymn as a girl was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Here are some of the lyrics:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilage to carry
Ev’rything to God in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus Knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
2. See prayer as a natural part of ordinary daily activity.
Virginia told me about a woman everyone called Aunt Ada who taught girls to knit and stitch tea towels. When the craft lessons were done, Aunt Ada would have all of the girls kneel in front of the seat of their chairs to pray out loud using prayer cards. The girls learned from Aunt Ada that every day activities like knitting and prayer go naturally together.
3. Talk to God when you need to know how to do something.
I asked Virginia to give me an example of a small conversation she had with God recently and she told me that she was sewing and couldn’t figure out how to make two pieces fit. She said, “God, I don’t know how to do this.” After another try or two, she figured it out. So she said, “Thank you God.”
4. Talk to God when you feel helpless.
Virginia has been through many life challenges, including a difficult marriage followed by a divorce as well as dealing with family members with addictions. On the days when she had already interceded with great fervor for her family members, she continually prayed throughout the day this simple prayer, “God you know I don’t know what to do. I have to put them in your hands. I trust that you will do something.”
5. Ask God honest questions when circumstances get you down.
Virginia says there were times when she was so overwhelmed by her life situation that she would find herself asking, “God, do you really love me?” Because Virginia was in a running conversation with God, she was able to pose it as a question rather than let it turn into a bitter thought that disconnected her from God like thinking, “God doesn’t love me.” Asking it as a question opened Virginia up to the possibility that there would eventually be an answer, just as there was when she asked God a question about a sewing problem.
6. Greet God with the morning sun.
At one point in her life Virginia was caring for her dying mother-in-law. Yet every morning she saw the sun coming through the back door and she found herself saying, “God, I’ve got a new day. What do you want me to do today?”
Virginia also enjoys using hymns as prayers throughout the day. Here’s one of her favorites:
When Morning Gilds the Skies
When morning gilds the skies, my hear awakening cries, May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair: May Jesus Christ be praised!
The night becomes as day when from the heart we say: May Jesus Christ be praised!
The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear: May Jesus Christ be praised!
7. Spend moments of wonder with God about creation.
When Virginia sits down for breakfast, she says a word of thanks like most of us, but then as she enjoys her meal she might suddenly think, “I wonder how we get oatmeal?” As her mind goes over how a farmer grew oats, they were harvested, they were sent to a factory to be processed and packaged, she silently sees God in the entire process and thanks Him for each hand that prepared her breakfast. Although she’s eating all alone, she is filled with gratitude for the unseen hands of others and the unseen hand of God in the cereal in a box on her shelf.
8. Breathe God.
Virginia has tumors in and around her lungs and these days she often prays, “Breathe your breath in me.” When she’s able to take a deep breath, she expresses thankfulness to God.
My personal experiences and tips:
I have heard people occasionally say that they keep up a running conversation all day with God and I’ve sometimes questioned whether this might lend itself to treating the Great Creator of the Universe too casually and too superficially. However after talking with Virginia, I see that her running conversation is far from casual, superficial or self absorbed. Instead it brings an awareness of a vast and awesome God into every aspect of life.
I think the key is that Virginia balances personal requests/problems/thoughts with the ability to worship God at a drop of a hat as well. She experiences genuine awe and wonder at the tiniest work of Creation, like a beautiful half moon. She expresses thanks and praise as readily as she shares her needs.
After talking to Virginia I’m ready to try to keep a running conversation going with God. Here’s a prayer we can join together, “God, make me more aware of the daily moments that I let slip away by keeping my thoughts to myself rather than inviting You into them. Amen.”
How to fit this prayer idea into your schedule:
This method will fit into any schedule as it only requires that we turn our thoughts and experiences into prayers as we go along our way.
The Biblical origins and traditional roots of this method of prayer:
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Copyright Karen Barber 2011. All rights reserved.