Sometimes I talk out loud when I’m sitting in the chair by my book table in the morning or when I’m driving alone in my car. If someone happens into the room, I feel a bit sheepish about these outward aspects of prayer. But I find that talking to God audibly helps me concentrate. It’s becoming a habit of friendship.
As it goes with any conversation between friends, the topics between Jesus and me meander from practical tasks to specific hopes and deeper questions. “Will you remind me to swing by the post office?” “I’m so grateful for Rhodes’s fourth-grade teacher this year.” “I feel alone today. Would you help me to know and believe that you are with me?”
I wonder if David spoke out loud when he first wrote his psalms? I’ve heard that the psalms were sung for many generations before they were ever recorded in written form. I’m thankful for written prayers and for hymns that give me words to speak my heart and teach me to pray. But the art of spontaneous, audible conversation with God feels like a distant practice. Is it far-fetched to consider God a friend who walks with us in this ordinary way?
I believe there’s a humbling glimpse of God’s desire for friendship with us in his generous invitation in Deuteronomy 6:6–7: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Hymn writer Austin Miles cast this invitation for us in a slightly different way: “I come to the garden alone / While the dew is still on the roses. . . . And he walks with me, and he talks with ...1