Research shows 95 percent of people have an interior dialogue with themselves and 25 percent talk to themselves out loud. I confess. I’m one of the 95 percent … and, I hesitate to say this, I’m one of the 25 percent.
While I was wandering through the supermarket the other day, I had this conversation, with myself:
“Look at these prices! How can anyone afford groceries nowadays?”
I just hope no one heard me, and if they didn’t, it was probably because they were talking to themselves.
This practice is known as “self-talk.” What you may not know is that self-talk is a common practice that’s good for your mental health. People talk to themselves when they’re debating a decision, trying to solve a problem, need a morale boost, or are managing negative emotions, not to mention loneliness. Self-talk reduces anxiety, increases confidence and improves your cognitive performance.
But there’s someone I talk to more than I talk to myself. It’s God. And I’m not alone.
Occasionally, I’ll hear my wife talking in another room, and I’ll ask, “What did you say? I can’t hear you.”
“I’m not talking to you,” she’ll respond.
“Well, who are you talking to?” Someone on the phone? An invisible friend? The dog? (We both talk to the dog, which is probably why she has a vocabulary of about 300 words.)
“If you need to know,” she says. “I’m talking to Jesus.”
It’s a good habit to have. Even though I know Jesus knows my thoughts, I get enormous satisfaction when I talk to him out loud.
Sometimes if I’m watching a movie on TV and the actors take God’s name in vain, I’ll groan in disappointment and say, “Please, Jesus, forgive us …”
Or if I see someone on the street who’s homeless and destitute, I’ll say, “Lord, please help them.”
I also talk to the Blessed Mother because I know she always listens and responds.
All of us have friends in heaven and should talk to them as much as possible. Thank them, ask them for help, share your pain, praise them, ask them what you can do for the Kingdom.
St. Teresa of Avila, a mystic and Doctor of the Church, said prayer was a conversation with God: “Prayer is nothing else but being on terms of friendship with God, frequently conversing in secret with him.”
The late evangelist Billy Graham described it this way: “Prayer is simply talking to God— and the most important thing I can say about this is that God wants you to talk to him. He loves us, and he has promised to hear us when we pray.”
The more we converse with God, the better. Tell him everything — when you’re hurt, when you’re disappointed or when you disappoint someone. He sees our hearts, and he understands our motives and actions more than even we understand them.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus and author of the Spiritual Exercises, used the Spanish word “conversar,” or “to converse,” to explain prayer. Although the practice doesn’t necessarily require vocal words, I often find it helpful to get out what I have to say, whether it’s gratitude for something wonderful that’s happened, pleading for help during suffering, asking for forgiveness, or just to say “I love you and thanks for being there.”
God’s a great listener, so don’t worry, you won’t bore him. And one thing that’s taken me a lifetime to learn is that he doesn’t even mind when I’m angry, which is a true sign of friendship.
Servant of God Fulton Sheen once said, “Prayer begins by talking to God, but it ends by listening to him.”
So while you’re doing all this talking, you should also take time to listen because you’ll get answers. Sometimes they’ll appear right before you’re eyes, and you’ll think that can’t be possible. However, assume it’s a coincidence. Instead, it’s what is called “a God incidence.”
Take the time to write them down and keep a list because you’ll be amazed at how frequently God has responded to you. Many of us tend to think of God as a distant figure, remotely concerned about what’s going on in our lives, but nothing is further from the truth. He’s always listening and waiting for you to strike up a conversation.
I’m convinced the younger generation has gone astray in our aggressively secular culture because they never developed a personal friendship with Jesus so they could talk to him and ask, “What should I do?” when they’re confused.
Children often have imaginary friends, but parents should teach them from a young age to talk to a real friend — Jesus. If they develop the ability to talk to him throughout the day, the practice will serve them well in their adult lives. Even if they should later fall away from the practice of their faith, talking to Jesus will ensure they have a relationship with him and will eventually find their way back.
No matter where you are in your spiritual journey, take time to talk to God during your day and teach your children to do it too. The results will astound you.
“To be friends with God means to pray with simplicity like children talking to their parents,” Pope Francis once said.
By Joe Pisani