Mental Health

Finding Your Style of Speaking to God

God is Our Greatest Encourager | Libero Magazine 2
Many times, I have listened to the way others relate to God and condemned my own way, trying to change my style of expression.

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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is important to many. Our Faith column is a place to discuss how faith (of any kind) positively affects mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.

I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve sat in a prayer meeting and felt inadequate. Many times, I have listened to the way others relate to God and condemned my own way, trying to change my style of expression.

Confusingly, the people I have internally declared myself inferior to in prayer, have often expressed to me they feel the same. Sometimes, it is about the way I pray, and others on how I relate to God. How can this be? Why do we all think we are so inadequate in this area?

These are lies of the enemy, seeking to make us ashamed of who we are and stop us from talking to God.

Our dialogue with God is dangerous: it stirs us up, strengthens us, and encourages us. It is how we can get to know who we truly are and what we are called to do.

All of us are completely unique and God creates us as relational beings for a relationship with Him. We are specifically designed with the personality and quirks we have. He loves and celebrates who we are, as we are.

Communicating with God on a personal level is a fundamental part of my recovery, and one I could not continue without. I notice as soon as the river of communication between us begins to dry up, the anorexic thoughts grow louder. My decisions to continue caring for myself and walking towards healing become more wobbly.

This could easily become a cycle, but the Bible tells us “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:38-39, NLT)

Our communication with God is a big part of how we experience this love.

The above verse makes it quite clear a true divide cannot exist.

In this sense, God is not limited in the way we often imagine Him to be. His listening to us and pouring into us is not dictated by our broken expression. Whether we feel unequipped due to a physical disability, or we are afraid to speak to Him as a result of past trauma, we will always be capable of communicating with Him.

There are times when I feel too numb to connect with myself and too empty of words to express this. In those times, it’s been hard to pray. However, I am comforted knowing God hears the cries of my heart even when I cannot hear them myself.

“We do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…” (Romans 8:26, ESV)

We’re not alone in the battle to express ourselves because we’re loved by a creator who longs for connection.

We no longer have to go to a special ceremonial tent to speak to God. Nor do we need to be a great leader or someone who has it all together. The curtain has been torn.

We are free to come to Him and, wow, there is such freedom in Him. We are free to come with our imperfect words, or no words at all. He simply delights in us. No father would reject his baby or toddler on the grounds of the child not being articulate. He would simply love to be with and enjoy the company of his precious little person. God, as the perfect father, is no different.

We don’t bring anything to the table with our prayers. They are for our benefit, not for His.

He loves us because we belong to Him. When we believe it in our hearts, it leads us back to a desire to communicate with God.

There are so many ways we can communicate with God. Some ways include worship, drawing/painting, praying out loud or in our minds, writing them down, and many others. There is no ‘right’ way.

I personally process best through writing. I journal out my prayers and working through my messy thoughts in the pages of a little green notebook. It gives me clarity from a busy mind that finds it hard to pause, and I am far more eloquent when writing than talking.

However, journaling also triggers the struggles of neatness and perfectionism for me. The neatness of my handwriting, order of my page layout, and legalism about how much I write each day will get in the way if I allow them to. Sometimes it also feels distant – as if the journal is almost between God and I, stopping us from directly speaking.

In those moments, I put it down and speak, sing, or cry out in a new way to the One who knows my every fear.

There are pros and cons of every way of doing it: we need to be brave, mix it up, and try new things. If we don’t, we will never know the methods that work best for us.

Ultimately, God sees our hearts. The specific words and methods we use to express ourselves matter only insomuch as how they help us to come to Him. The issue is not how the way we talk to God affects Him, but how it affects us.

Does the way I pray help me to lift my eyes? Does it foster both respect for and intimacy with a perfect, loving Father? Does it reflect who I really am?

Today, I challenge all of us to ask ourselves these questions and answer them honestly. But more importantly, we need to put down our striving and come to God, recognizing “apart from [Him] we can do nothing” (John 15:5, NIV)

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Anna is a UK-based medical student who loves Jesus, strong tea, clear cold sunny weather, tiny humans (especially under 5s), football and singing harmonies at every opportunity. She has been recovering from anorexia, depression, anxiety and self-injury since 2011 and is passionate about the freedom that recovery can bring.

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