Dr. Stanley draws on a lifetime study of prayer to pen The Ultimate Conversation, a practical how-to guide on the often misunderstood topic of prayer. He teaches God “wants to talk with you” because He loves you, knows all about you and wants you to know Him too.
In addition to prayers for guidance, comfort and wisdom, Dr. Stanley writes, “The most important things to the Father are strengthening our bond with Him and enjoying profoundly satisfying and transformational fellowship.” That kind of intimacy God is rooted in prayer and could be compared to what happens when friendship is cultivated.
When we want to make friends, we spend time with the person, talk with and do things with them. That’s where we come to know who they are, what they like and what makes them happy or sad. That’s how friendship with God develops, except the relationship is pursued in prayer. However, Dr. Stanley cautions, “…our first motivation…should be to know Him.”
That’s why he wrote The Ultimate Conversation, to teach God wants to communicate, be known and have personal relationship with His Creation. He considers communication and relationship foundational prayer principles while the third ingredient involves active “listening,” perhaps the hardest to do—to “be still.” (Psalm 46:10) and wait on the Lord.
He believes God still speaks today, whether through the Bible, other people or at the internal prompting of the Holy Spirit and cites Nehemiah to illustrate a “…ongoing conversation with the Father” (pg. 55).
All chapters are filled with rich nuggets of wisdom, but some I thought exceptional were the chapters on how we perceive God, how to hear God’s voice and God’s use of silence.
Chapter two, “answers to questions about God’s character” concerns issues of faith, perception and trust. If we don’t believe God is real or that He cares, why would we want to “interact with Him?” Or if you do talk to god where is your focus—God or self—and perhaps the most important—the expectation of God’s answer?
In the chapter on silence and unanswered prayer Dr. Stanley outlines six methods God uses to gain attention when He “wants to teach something significant.” Such as to gain attention, prepare us to obey, reveal sin, grow trust, train us to hear His voice and sometimes teach faith and perseverance.
Chapters conclude with specific prayers Dr. Stanley prays regarding the reader. For example, that the Holy Spirit use his words to enrich the reader, power his prayer life, create hunger for God’s Word and enable readers to draw close to the Lord.
The Ultimate Conversation is vintage Stanley, a book to savor and return to again and again. The writing is biblical and scripturally rich, as well as a practical prayer guide for those who want a more vibrant prayer life and greater intimacy with the Lord.
‘The Ultimate Conversation: Talking with God through Prayer’ by Dr. Charles F. Stanley, Howard Books, Hardcover, 2012, 288 Pages, 978-1451668605, $24.99
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