Is Prayer Just Talking To God?

Share These Prayers With Others:

Prayer is about speaking to the Almighty Creator of the universe so can you really just talk to God like you would a friend? You will speak words to God and listen for Him to respond in some way, so that’s a conversation.

Is prayer just talking to God?

Yes, it is. Whether you pray spontaneously, or use written prayers, talking to God and praying are synonymous. There is a difference between talking to God and praying in public, however. Public prayer involves praying on behalf of other people. Both are still talking to God, just in different ways.

Sometimes we can think that prayer is some different form of conversation because we happen to be talking to God. It’s as if it doesn’t count as prayer if you don’t start off with “Dear God,” and end with “Amen.”

As you read, you’ll discover that talking to God and praying are really the same thing. You’ll see that talking to God is also about listening too. And, you’ll find out that public prayer is a bit different than private prayer.

If you have questions or wish to give feedback on this article, please do so in the comments section at the bottom. We enjoy hearing from our readers!

Is There a Difference Between Prayer and Talking to God?

No, there is not a difference, just a matter of word choice.  If you’re praying to God, you are talking to God, just like when you’re talking to a human being. You might say, “Dear God” in prayer, and “Hi, Susan” in a conversation, but you’re still sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Prayer and talking to God are synonymous because prayer is simply have a conversation with God. Prayer is communing with God, sharing what’s on your heart, listening for Him to respond to you. Let’s delve into that a little more.

Prayer Is Talking to God

You’re not just talking to air when you pray, even though you can’t visibly see God. Since the Creation story in Genesis, the Bible has shown people talking to God, praying to God. Even if you can’t see God, He is real: 

“What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1.19-20, NIV).

In the midst of the story of God calling upon Abraham to be the father of many nations, there is a part where Abraham speaks back to God directly, “And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!'” (Genesis 17.18, NIV). They were having a conversation.

It was mostly Abraham listening to God, which we’ll talk about in the next section, but don’t miss the reality that Abraham was talking to God–that’s prayer!

As another example, there’s the conversation between Moses and God in Exodus 3. Here, God is calling Moses to lead His people and Moses asks questions about this assignment.

In both instances, humans are responding back to God, usually with questions. Isn’t that what you and I do, often, in prayer? You ask God “Why is this happening in my life?” Or, “What am I supposed to do about this?” Also, “Which direction am I supposed to go in?” As well as many other questions and comments that arise in your prayers.

Prayer is talking to God. Prayer is telling God what is on your mind, what concerns you have. Prayer is telling God what you think of Him. The vocabulary may be different, but that’s what you do when you talk to another person. So, talking to God is prayer, and prayer is talking to God, having a conversation with God.

Because prayer is a conversation with God, it is not just talking to God, but also listening for God.

Prayer Is Listening to God

Prayer is a conversation, not just a one-sided word dump that you verbally throw out there and then go on. Prayer is also about listening for what God is saying. It would be great if God would audibly speak to you like He did with Abraham, Noah, Moses, the prophets, and others in the Bible.

But remember, in each of those instances, God is asking some mighty and world-changing things to happen, so He had to be very direct and clear. While I haven’t had an experience of God speaking out loud to me, I have experienced unmistakable communication that was as clear as an audible voice (even though it was in my thoughts).

For many months I had been praying to God, pleading with Him about what graduate school to attend. It was a very important decision in my mind. Long story short, the evening before I was to leave on a road trip to go visit one particular school, I heard a voice in my mind, clear as crystal, that said, “You are not going there.”

Was it audible? No. Was it the voice of God speaking to me? Yes, I believe that beyond any shadow of a doubt. Do I demand that God speak to me that way a lot? No.

I understand in hindsight, how important this decision was for me. It was in the specific graduate school I attended that I met my wife and received by calling.  Could that have happened at the other school? No, I don’t think it would have been the same.  I was to go to that place and meet these specific people.  It was truly life-altering.

That said, mostly how God speaks to you and I is through His Word and through other people or circumstances. This is only my opinion, but I think that is because it is through those methods that God speaking to us is more palatable for our finite human brains.

We can only handle so much!

How To Best Listen For God

As you pray to God, also let yourself be open to hearing from God, actively listening for God. Read scripture along with praying. Be aware and pay attention to circumstances that are happening in your life. Actively seek the wisdom and counsel of other people you trust.

Listening for God by marrying Scripture and prayer together makes sense. You allow yourself to have a much richer conversation with God. And, you’re less likely to mishear God if you keep scripture as part of the conversation. It’s important to know that God will never go against what He says consistently in scripture.

As an extreme example, God wouldn’t communicate to you through the above methods and have you think it was okay to steal from your neighbor to pay your light bill.

Also be aware of using just one Bible verse to prove your point, to show that “This is what I’ve been listening to God for, this is what God is saying to me.” I can prove almost anything by using just a verse picked out of context.  It’s called proof-texting. Please try not to use that as a means to “hear from God.”

Listening for God through scripture is good, as is listening for God through circumstances and other people. Countless times I have heard from God in this way. I would pray and pray, and read scripture, searching for an answer to my prayer. More often than not, God was talking back to me through what was happening around me.

I prayed for guidance and direction on an issue in my life. For the next couple of weeks, it seemed like everywhere I turned, there was some indication of a direction, usually very small. The more I prayed, the more I paid attention and suddenly all these little “clues” started falling in to place. I could see where God had been guiding me all along.

There was no big sign or something earth-shattering, just little nudges pointing me in the way I should go. God was patiently talking back to me as part of the prayer relationship. I just needed to be listening with all of my listening senses!

Or, I would mention my prayer request to others and they would say something and it was like God was right there. He conversed back with me through the wisdom of the other person sharing with me.

“For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2.6, NIV).

I find it a good thing to not limit how God can talk back to me, or how I can listen for Him. He is the Almighty God, after all! In tandem with talking to God and listening for God, as you pray it’s also valuable to be vulnerable with God.

Prayer Is Being Vulnerable With God

Just as you would in a conversation with a loved one or close friend, you want be honest and transparent with God. If Adam and Eve couldn’t hide from God, how much more should you seek to be open and vulnerable with the One who made you.

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.

5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—

12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.  ( Psalm 139.1-12, NLT).

Vulnerability is hard, isn’t it? For you to be vulnerable requires a great deal of humility and trust. No one wants to come across as weak, but in prayer with God, that’s exactly what we are saying. Praying to God means turning to the One who is more powerful and can do something about what you’re facing.

Although you may be challenged to be vulnerable with those around you, being transparent with God is vital when you face challenges that are more personal than you might be comfortable sharing with others. Remember, there is nothing too big or too small to bring to God in prayer!

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” ( Hebrews 4.16, NIV).

Public Prayer Is Different Than Private Prayer

Talking to God in a conversation makes sense for private prayer, but in public prayer, it’s a different kind of context. You are praying on behalf of everyone gathered there, in a public setting. Public prayer may be more formal, but you don’t need to use fancy language or big words.

Think of it like this: private prayer is having one-to-one conversation with God, and public praying is like talking to God with an audience right there with you. You’ll pray differently in private than you will in public, but the praying is still talking to God.

Public Prayer Involves Being Prepared

When you pray in public you’re not praying your opinion, but a prayer for everyone in that setting, so please don’t try and wing it. Public prayer involves being prepared before you get up to pray, whatever the place, be it a church or community event.

You may want to have the prayer written out, which is perfectly acceptable, and encouraged! Written prayers are heard by God, just like a spontaneous private prayer. As many times as I have prayed in a public setting, I can count on one hand the times I didn’t prepare the prayer in some way beforehand. Those few times stand out because the prayers I prayed in those moments were stumbling and confusing.

For example, can you pray the Lord’s Prayer on your own, without other people’s words prompting you on the next phrase? You might be surprised that in a lot of pulpits, the words to the Lord’s Prayer are written on paper somewhere so it can be seen. Praying in public in front of people is different than on your own. Be prepared!

Being prepared for a public prayer also involves going over the prayer ahead of time. You might think, “If I read the prayer out loud beforehand, it isn’t really a prayer I’m praying, but a speech.” No, it really isn’t. It’s a public prayer that you have invested time and effort to prepare so that the people gathered are encouraged, inspired and connected to God through what you pray.

Public prayer may also include using a little different phrasing than you do in private prayer.

Public Prayer Uses More General Wording

In a public prayer situation, you have to represent everyone there, so you need to pray in a way that each person can identify with the prayer.

It can be as simple as changing the pronouns you use. In a private prayer, you’d pray, “Lord I pray to You about. . .”  In a public prayer, you’d pray,We come to you Lord. . .”

You’ll want to use more than one example in your prayer of a need being prayed for, for instance. So, “Lord, we pray for those facing financial challenges today.” Whereas in a private prayer, you might have prayed, “Lord, help Tommy with paying his rent this month.”  See the difference?

As another example, the prophet Ezra was praying for an entire nation of people. Moses prayed to God on behalf of all of the Hebrew people at that time.

In public prayer, you’re still praying for needs and concerns, talking to God on behalf of people, but you’re doing it so that more of the crowd feels like they are a part of the prayer with you. You are praying to a larger context than just yourself, so the phrases and words you use should reflect this larger context.

Consider This

In whatever setting you are praying, public or private, you are still conversing with God. You may be talking to God with sighs and moans and a few words between tears, or standing before an audience delivering a closing prayer. But both are praying to God. Both are talking to God

The only difference is the context and some of the phrasing. But in each, praying is talking to God.

“Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” ( 1 Thessalonians 5.17-18, KJV).

Know this: however you pray, God hears you. God wants to talk with you and have a relationship with you. The easiest way to do is for you to talk to Him. Praying to God is why this site exists and why we want to help you grow closer to God. Keep talking to God each day and keep listening for Him to respond in your life.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share to...