Chapter OneEnhancing My Conversation with God
The fundamental building block in any relationship is conversation-two-way communication. I share my ideas and you listen. You share your ideas and I listen. The results? We understand each other a little better. Continue conversation over a period of time and we get to know each other. The same is true with God. The only way we get to know God is to spend time conversing with Him.
Many Christians have viewed Bible reading and prayer as formal religious exercises. In reality, Bible reading should be equated with listening to God, and prayer is the process of talking and listening to God, Many Christians have also tended to see Bible reading and prayer as two distinct experiences. We read the Bible, close it, and then start praying about things totally unrelated to what we have read. It is as though we say to God, "What You have said is relatively unimportant. Now You listen to what I have to say." All of us have encountered persons who respond to our comments in a similar manner. That is, when we finish speaking, they change the subject and begin telling us something unrelated. Most of us don't care to be around such persons. The greatest insult we can give another person is not to listen when he or she speaks. It is not any different with God.
If you are going to learn effective communication with God, you must join Bible reading and prayer. One way to do that is to mark your Bible as you read and then go back and talk with God about what you marked. Begin your Bible reading with this prayer: "Lord, I will read this chapter from Your Word. I want to hear what You have to say to me. Keep my mind alert and speak to me as I read." Then, with pencil or pen in hand, read the chapter and mark anything that impresses you. Various ways to mark a passage are suggested in the box on this page.
Having read the chapter, go back to those statements that you marked and respond to God.
You may respond by asking God a question. "Lord, is this verse really saying what I think it is saying?" or "Lord, I don't understand. How is this verse related to the verse I read last week on this subject?"
You may respond to God by thanking Him for some truth that you have marked. "Lord, thank You that You do love me with an unending love. That really makes me feel secure. Thank You, Lord."
You may respond to God with praise. "Father, I want to praise You that You are indeed, as this verse says, `the creator of the ends of the earth.' I praise You as Creator and Sustainer of all life, including me."
You may want to respond to God with a request. "Oh, Lord, I really do want to love others. Pour Your love in my heart today and show me how to express love to my spouse."
Your responses to God will be as varied as your responses to others. You should express your honest feelings, thoughts, and ideas to God. That is the purpose of communication. God shares His ideas with you and you respond to what He has said.
Having talked with God about the things He has brought to your attention, you are now free to change the subject. You may then talk with God about something unrelated to what you have read. You share with God your concerns, feelings, and desires. Pray for your family, your job, your church, and other concerns.
This two-way process of talking and listening to God should be a daily experience for the Christian. Few things are more important in developing a relationship with God than your personal time with Him each day. Thus, our goal this week is to begin establishing a brief time each day to have an open conversation with God. This will be a regular part of A Couple's Guide to a Growing Marriage. Remember from the introduction that this is one aspect of your daily growth exercise. With your Bible and pen, find a quiet place and begin today. We suggest that you read through one book of the Bible before beginning another. If you have not already chosen a book, you may want to begin with Philippians. List the chapter you read each day below.
Monday_______________________ Tuesday______________________ Wednesday____________________ Thursday_____________________ Friday_______________________ Saturday_____________________ Sunday______________________
1. Read John 17:3: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." Write Jesus' definition of eternal life according to this passage._______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________
2. Briefly describe how you get to know someone._______________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________
3. All relationships have a beginning point. When did your relationship with God begin?_________________________________________________________________________
4. Read Psalm 119:105: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." All relationships are enhanced by communication. According to Psalm 119:105, what is God's primary means of communication? His______________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________
5. Read Psalm 119:9-11: "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Check some of the results of hearing and obeying God's Word.
Live according to God's Word Seek God with all my heart Never have problems Not sin against God Not stray from God's commands Be happy
6. Read Jeremiah 15:16: "When your words came, late them; they were my joy and my hearts delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty." According to this passage, what effect did the Word of God have on Jeremiah?_____________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________
What does it mean to "eat" God's Word?_________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________
7. Read Psalm 119:12-16: "Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." List several ways found in these verses in which the psalmist responded to God's Word.__________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________
8. David said, "I will not neglect your word" (Psalm 119:16). What are some of the activities that will help us remember the Word of God?
Writing it down Meditating on it Applying it Memorizing it Saying it aloud Discussing it with others
9. Did you list memorizing as one method of remembering? In A Couple's Guide to a Growing Marriage we will memorize key verses that give us life principles, truths that will shape our relationships in marriage. One such verse is, "Be kind and compassionate to one another" (Ephesians 4:32).
We will concentrate on learning this portion of this verse this week. At least once a day repeat the reference, the verse, and the reference again. The reference is twice as difficult to remember as the verse. Repeat this sequence now.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another. Ephesians 4:32
10. Write one way in which you could express kindness to your spouse this week. _______________________________________________________________________________
(If you cannot think of one, ask your spouse and write the answer above.)
Check here when you have expressed the kindness you noted above.
Note one way in which you were not kind to your spouse during the past few days. _______________________________________________________________________________
(If you cannot think of one, ask your spouse and write the answer above.)
11. Not only does God talk to us through Scripture, but God wants us to talk to Him about His Word. Read Psalm 119:33-40. Match the Scripture passage with the requests David made of God. Write the correct letter on the line beside the reference.
____v. 33 a. Turn my eyes away from worthless things. ____v. 34 b. Direct me in the path of your commands. ____v. 35 c. Preserve my life in your righteousness. ____v. 36 d. Fulfill your promise to your servant. ____v. 37 e. Give me understanding. ____v. 38 f. Turn my heart toward your statutes. ____v. 39 g. Teach me ... to follow your decrees. ____v. 40 h. Take away the disgrace I dread.
Check your answers below.
12. Read this passage again as a prayer to God emphasizing the words me, my, and mine. Make it a personal prayer.
(answers to Bible study item 11: g, e, b, f, a, d, h, c)
As you begin A Couple's Guide to a Growing Marriage, list three things you would like to see happen in your relationship with God and with your spouse in the next few weeks.
My Relationship with God
Three things I would like to see happen in my relationship with God: (1)____________________________________________________________________________ (2)____________________________________________________________________________ (3)____________________________________________________________________________
My Relationship with My Spouse
"Three things I would like to see happen in my relationship with my spouse: (1)____________________________________________________________________________ (2)____________________________________________________________________________ (3)____________________________________________________________________________
Include these desires in your personal prayers this week, as you have your daily time of listening to and talking with God.