Prayer: A Conversation with God

Truthfully, I have struggled with prayer. When I was a young, both in age and in my Christian faith, I yearned to be close to God. Dumbstruck, I was in awe of friends who talked about hearing God’s voice and walking with Him. But when it came to prayer, I just felt awkward and did not know what to say.

I’m so grateful to those who encouraged me to pray and stick at it. I began to realise that prayer was awkward because God was a stranger to me: I heard about Him; I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. But. I hadn’t truly developed a relationship.

In my journey of faith, I have met many like me. Wanting to develop a relationship with God, but struggling with the aspect of prayer. An illustration I heard was to think of your early prayers as a sort of “blind date”. Naturally, you’re going to feel awkward—you don’t know God yet. Not deeply and personally.

But if you take the time to push through the initial awkwardness and continue meeting for regular “dates” (e.g. prayer time) then you’ll develop a relationship. A deep, abiding relationship that sustains you through life’s storms. One that comforts you in your darkest moments and reminds you that you always have a Friend who will never leave.

Getting to this point takes time and intentional effort. But there are things you can do to develop and even strengthen your prayer life…

Understand What Prayer Is

Th idea that prayer is a conversation sounds so simple on the surface. But when you first start praying, it can feel more like a monologue. After all, you’re talking but you’re not hearing anything. Or are you?

It’s easy to miss God’s voice because He doesn’t always respond right away or in the exact manner we’d hoped. Recently I prayed about some money worries. Nothing happened. A few days later, I received notification of a bonus payment in my pension. I had completely forgotten about my prayer!

Understanding what prayer is means starting your conversations with God by asking Him to open your eyes to the way He’s working in your life and the lives of those around you. This includes asking the Holy Spirit to remind you and make you aware of all the answered prayers that are happening.

Every Prayer Is Answered

Some Christians assume that if God did not give them what they asked for, the prayer is unanswered. Yet God always answers His children. Every single time. Every single prayer. In all of history, there has never been nor will there ever be a prayer that is unanswered.

Every prayer is answered. However, not every prayer is answered in the way we’d hoped or in the timeline that we’d hoped. This is where the difficulty of prayer happens. It’s easy at this point to let doubts distract you. You might even be tempted to ask, “If I don’t get what I want, what’s the purpose of prayer?” 

God Is Not a Vending Machine

Sadly, there are those who see praying to God as a type of vending machine. Say the right words at the right time then poof, God will grant your wish!

The problem with this approach is that prayer is about developing a relationship. A relationship with the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The one who knit every one of your cells together, who knows you more deeply than you know yourself (Psalm 139:13-14).

In a healthy relationship, you have freedom to say “yes” or “no” to someone else’s request. You can say “yes” if you want to cook dinner this evening. You can say “no” if you’d rather go out for dinner instead.

You have the beautiful gift of free choice. Yet many Christians don’t feel this same freedom should be applied to their relationship with God. They feel as if God’s every answer to their prayers should automatically be “yes”.

When you’re always expecting God to do what you want when you want and how you want, you’re not seeking a relationship with Him. You’re seeking a transaction. This is dangerous ground and creates space for disappointment and disillusionment.

God’s Will Prevails

This is a hard truth to accept, especially when you’re praying for what seems to be in line with His will. You’re not approaching the request like a vending machine. You know that God has the free choice to say “no”. You understand this truth. Yet years or even decades may pass with God continually saying, “no” to your request. There are many reasons that God denies us what we truly want. 

Sometimes, it’s to grow your faith such as He did with Joseph. At the end of over a decade of hardship, Joseph was able to confidently proclaim, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

At other times, God has already granted your request, but it is an issue of timing. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, longed for a child of her own. But it wasn’t until she was late in life that she was granted this. 

The reason had nothing to do with Elizabeth and everything to do with the timing of her request. God planned to use John the Baptist to go before the Messiah (Luke 1:17).

However, regardless of how God answers your prayer, you can rest confident in one thing. God will always do what’s best for you as evidenced in Romans 8:28.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Why Should I Bother Praying?

At this point, you might be wondering why you should bother praying. After all, God will do what He knows is best and He’ll work everything out for your good. There’s no real point in the conversation.

But there’s an interesting moment recorded between God and King Hezekiah in Isaiah 38:1-8. In it, the king has become very ill and the word of the Lord reaches him, telling him that it’s time to get his affairs in order.

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. (Isaiah 38:2-3)

Soon after this, another word from the Lord arrives. In this one, Hezekiah is told that God has heard his weeping and he will be granted another fifteen years of life as well as having his health restored.

It’s a fascinating event because it shows that God can be swayed by the prayers of His people. God may be planning a certain course of action but because of your prayers, He may choose a different one.

No one can know the mind of God. It’s simply too vast to contemplate. But again and again, Scripture shows that God can and does adjust His plan based on the requests of His beloved children (that means you!).

Conversations Start with Sharing

In many ways, we can look at conversations simply as “sharing”. If prayer is a conversation, then start with sharing. Tell God about your day. Let Him know what happened—whether good or bad. Ask Him for what you need. Maybe that’s wisdom to know how to navigate a tricky project at work or perhaps you need strength to continue caregiving for an ill family member.

At first, it may not feel as if God is listening to you. You may hear only silence and in the silence, it’s tempting to believe that God is ignoring you or has forgotten you. But consider this: when you’re truly listening to someone else, aren’t you silent? Don’t you give the other person space to speak?

You’re not ignoring the other party. You haven’t forgotten them. You’re simply respecting their right to speak.

It’s the same concept with God. What you interpret as a silent dismissal is God patiently bending close to hear your words. He delights in hearing from you and He loves to listen when you speak.

God Is Never a Passive Listener

As you develop an active prayer life, you’ll begin to see the ways that God responds to your requests. David recorded an interesting moment in Psalm 18. 

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” (Psalm 18:6)

David talks about God hearing his prayers but then he goes on to make another beautiful point in the next verse. He talks about how smoke poured from God’s nostrils, how God was furious on his behalf.

It’s tempting to believe that God is a passive listener. You may think of Him as this kindly grandfather who listens to your prayers before patting your head and sending you on your way without actually doing anything.

Yet Psalm 18 is a powerful reminder that God is never passive. He is always active. He is always working on your behalf. This means you can rest assured that when you pray, God is not ignoring you. He is listening to your words and they are spurring Him to act.

What About When I Can’t Pray?

The topic of prayer is well and good. A conversation is a wonderful thing to have with God…but what about the days when your heart is too full to pray? When life has once again knocked you down and it feels as if you’ll never rise again? What do you do on those days?

In these moments, it can be helpful to remember Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

The Holy Spirit that lives within you as a child of God is interceding on your behalf. On the days when you can’t find the words, when the pain is too deep, and the waves of anguish continue to batter your heart, know this: the Holy Spirit is praying for you.

In this very moment, the Holy Spirit is communing with the Father, sharing your deepest longings and your sharpest hurt. He is pleading for exactly what you need even when you are silent.

Some Christians find it comforting to just begin calling out the name of God in these moments. Like a child crying for their Father, repeat His name again and again. You might use a comforting term of endearment like “Daddy” or “Abba” or “Papa”. 

Cry out like the beggars on the side of the road who yelled out the name of Jesus. It’s recorded in Scripture that each time the destitute and weak called out, Jesus stopped. He paused whatever He was in the middle of to listen to those who needed Him the most. He was never too busy to hear and to heal.

Approach God Boldly

When you talk to God, pray boldly. Come to His throne in full confidence. Not as a beggar hoping for scraps of affection. Arrive instead knowing that you are a beloved child of God. You come not as a beggar but as an heir.

In Hebrews 4:16, Paul instructed the children of God to…

“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.”

Not only should your approach be bold but so should your prayers. Phillip Brooks said, “Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger. Pray not for crutches but for wings.”

Prayer is a conversation. It’s a wonderful, deep conversation that has the power to change you, change your situation, and even change the world. But more than all of that—more than any results or changes you see—it’s the beautiful beginning of a deep and abiding relationship with the One who created you. That’s worth everything.

Elim New Year Message 2024

Hi everyone, Chris Cartwright here on behalf of Elim’s National Leadership Team.

I want to bring you our greetings at the start of a new year and pray for a year of extending and stepping forward in God. We are living in a time when, all around the world, the Holy Spirit is awakening the church with fresh expectancy. It is my belief and it is also my prayer, that as we respond to that, the Holy Spirit will lead us into some adventures in reaching people for Jesus in some surprising ways. He will quicken us to follow the call of Jesus.

We are living in very challenging times, times of incredible conflicts and immense pressure, both in local senses in our communities and our own lives but also around the world. And in the midst of that, it can seem like things are not changing the way that we expect. And yet, God is a God of awakening. He’s a God who, in every season, wants to awaken his people to trust him, to serve him, to reach out with his presence, his power, and his amazing compassion and love.

And so, in this season, we are expectant for God to do something really significant in the familiar places where we are, to come with fresh power and fresh vision and fresh hope. And he wants to use us. Back in June of last year, I had the privilege of being in Amsterdam for a conference of Pentecostal and Charismatic Leaders with thousands of others from all over the world, 120 plus nations. And we were being called together under the banner of the Empowered Network to reach everyone for Christ over the next decade.

That ‘everyone’ message, that banner, caught our hearts afresh. ‘Everyone’ means everyone. It means every person, every child, every young person, every family, every culture, every community, to have the opportunity to hear for themselves the Gospel of Jesus and to know that he loves each one personally. And they were calling us to use our combined efforts and resources, our plans and visions for evangelism and outreach together for the sake of the kingdom of God, for the sake of global as well as local evangelism.

My heart was stirred there, but also in Elim churches right throughout the year when I had the privilege of being with our local Elim church communities. I’ve heard stories of fresh faith, new people coming to Christ and finding what it is to know him, to love him, and to serve him. One of the best measures of that is that we’re hearing so many stories of baptisms. Churches, perhaps that haven’t had a baptism in quite some time, have found over this past year that people are at the point of wanting to follow Jesus and they’ve opened the baptism tank and rejoiced together. We’ve got so much to be thankful for.

Others have had multiple services; some are planning some for the coming weeks and months. And I want to encourage you that as we begin to set our hearts afresh before God this year, many churches are praying with deep conviction and passion and stirring with fresh faith in prayer for God to break out more in their community. They’re praying for the town, the city, the area, the region, and the nation. Some of you will be having on your hearts nations far off and people groups that aren’t yet reached. And God is stirring that fresh spirit of prayer so that we might be committed together and full of fresh faith for evangelism, for reaching everyone everywhere in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Can I encourage you to, together as a church community and you as an individual, to begin to prepare your hearts with expectancy that he can use you where you are? God still comes. Jesus still comes to real people in real places going through real things, and he wants to lead us day by day to people who don’t yet know him.

In the midst of that, there’s also- as well as a fresh call for evangelism and a fresh expectancy that comes, that people are going to come to Christ- there is this call to equipping. In Matthew’s gospel, he said the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. That maybe you don’t see it, but the harvest is plentiful. People are ready to come to me, but I need workers. And so he says, pray for those workers. But also, he begins to encourage them to be those workers and to make, equip, train, coach, and mentor others into finding that God wants to use them too. That Jesus can use them where they are.

So, Ephesians 4:11, this equipping call is for us this year. It’s to equip God’s people for their ministry and not just to be concerned with our own. I believe that this is a year of accelerated evangelism, of fresh faith in familiar places for the people that we’re with, and for an acceleration of equipment. That every local church will be raising those workers. That as the Holy Spirit moves in our area, we’ve got people ready to love them, to care for them, to nurture them, to lead them, to encourage them, and to go out with them into the community, the neighbourhood, the town, the place with freshness of faith and hope, and with the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit changes people when they come in surrender to Jesus. So, God bless you this year. May this year be a time of yes, of stretching, but of Holy Spirit surprises, of great news stories, of new people coming to faith in Jesus, and all of us finding our place as Jesus calls us together into his harvest fields. God bless.

God bless you!

Happy New Year?

Here is a trivia fact to help you on your next quiz night or to show off: January is named after Janus. In ancient Roman religion, Janus, amongst other things, was the god of beginnings and endings, transitions, and frames. Today, January is more associated with resolutions, going to the gym, eating less, or “must visit so-and-so more often”: for all of two weeks (being generous).

In the transition from 2023 to 2024, is there newness? For some, Christmas is a blur of merriment, parties and family, with January simply returning to the ordinariness of the familiar routine. For others, there is the continuing drudgery of being alone, anxiety about making ends meet or fear of an ongoing abusive relationship.

What about you as you journey into and through 2024? More often than not, we are:


Being stuck in a rut may happen without realising the need for change. Life, after all, is what it is..

Even knowing the necessity of change, niggles creep in. Uncertainty (the how, when, what, what, and when); the fear of moving forward; changing and reverting to what we know – all reinforce the rut and inability to change


Perhaps the worst position to be in. You know change is needed and strive to improve, but there is no traction. You are out of the rut, sometimes falling back, picking yourself up, moving forward, only to fall again.


With steely determination, you are successful in applying change in your life. You have got it down to a fine art. Success?


What change is needed? New job? House alternations? Friendships?

The real change that is needed is the inner transformation of the soul. If truth be told, we know about the peace and joy so often sung or spoken about at Christmas and think they are the answer. We then change in our lives to achieve this. We may even start going to church, being good, or helping out in the local community. However, peace and joy in Jesus Christ, real peace and joy, is not a one-off “ta-da”, I’ve made it. It is an ongoing relationship with Him. Church becomes the place of encouragement. Stuck? We have got your back! Striving? We’ll help you! Success? Okay, here’s the next area where you can work on to have continuing inner peace and joy.

Enjoying a Christ-Centered Christmas

“Christmas has become too commercialised. It’s too secular now.”

“It’s all about Santa and shopping, but what about the Saviour?”

“Already? It’s only the beginning of November, and the decorations are up!”

Confession time. I complain about Christmas from October through the end of December. And, perhaps, you might agree with these sentiments. After all, Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

But how do you keep Christ in Christmas when you’re already waist deep in the hustle and bustle—decorating trees, shopping for the perfect gifts, Christmas carolling and nativity plays, hosting family and friends, cooking and baking…

Here are some suggestions to reframe your focus so that you can keep Christ as the centre of your Christmas activities and enjoy it in a deeper, more meaningful way.

Decorating The Christmas Tree

As the centrepiece of Christmas decor, the Christmas tree is a great place to showcase the true reason for the season. You can tell the Christmas story through nativity-themed ornaments. As you string the lights, remember Jesus is the light of the world. And, when you get to the top of the tree, whether you prefer a star or an angel, think about the night Jesus was born. Tell your children about the star the wise men followed or the angels that announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. Every time you look at your Christmas tree you will see Jesus and the joy He brings.

Watching Christmas Films

The Nativity Story, The Star, and The Ultimate Gift are popular Christian Christmas films. But even those about elves, reindeer, and snowmen can spark conversations about faith, hope, and God’s love at work. So, pop the popcorn, pull up your favourite streaming service, and enjoy a great family night.

Shopping & Buying Gifts

God gave us the most precious gift with the birth of Jesus. Giving is how He showed His great love for us (John 3:16). As you shop for gifts, thank God for Jesus. Be grateful for the blessings you’ve received. Reflect on the love you want to share with your family and friends through your gifts.

Santa Claus

Even Santa? Why not?! Can you not see Christ’s love at work through a man who makes toys and delivers them to children around the world? Show your children God’s love on display. Santa can perfectly illustrate how God uses people to bless others. Would the Jesus who ate with tax collectors and ministered to Samaritan women, denounce a man who makes toys and delivers them to children?

Over to You

The reality is that whether or not you enjoy a Christ-centred Christmas is up to you. Keeping Christ in Christmas is not about denouncing Santa or the commercialisation of the season. It’s more about how you live your life than what you buy. The best way to have a Christ-centred Christmas is to make Him a central part of your celebrations.

Recognise and celebrate the love and character of Christ that is present all around. Take every opportunity to remind yourself, your family, and your friends about the true meaning of Christmas.

Light in the Darkness

Early one morning, Jesus said  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12 NIV

Audacious Claim

By referring to himself as the light, Jesus made direct claim to being the Messiah. Those listening to this would recall the prophecies of earlier prophets like Isaiah 9:2. The teachers of the law and others present in the temple court would not have mistaken the meaning of his words.

Audacious Conversation

The conversation that follows and the emphasis on the word “witness” which, when in reference to light as it testifies of the sun, who Jesus himself just referred to himself as, is incredible. Light bears witness to itself. Every day when the sun rises, it tells you it is there. The only people who cannot see the light are those who are blind. From the beginning of John’s Gospel, light and darkness were used as a contrast between belief and unbelief. Jesus was described as “the true light that gives light to everyone” (1:9).

Audacious Consequence

From the start of Jesus’ ministry into the present day, there are many who were able to see the true light for the first time and decided to follow Jesus. Sadly, many remain blind, no matter how bright the light. To follow Jesus means to believe in and trust him, which – as Jesus Himself said – leads to light and life. Those who follow Jesus are like travellers who follow the light on a dark road in the night. Yet, they – you – do not walk in darkness but have the light of life. The light shows what we could not see and guides our every step: never alone as Jesus guides our way. Our part is to follow him, to submit ourselves to his guidance, and to respond to his direction. It is not enough to look at his light and to gaze upon it. We must follow it and walk in it, for it is a light to our soul, not only our eyes.

Jesus Christ -the One and Only

As Jesus was preparing to leave His disciples to ascend into Heaven to be with His Father, He offered them some comforting promises and gave them a glimpse of heaven. Thomas, one of His disciples, boldly expressed his concerns of not knowing where He was going, and how to access Him after His ascension.

At this point in the conversation, Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -John 14:6 NIV

Let this sink in:

Jesus – The Way

Jesus – The Truth

Jesus – The Life

Jesus, “the Way”

Jesus is the only path to salvation and eternal life. There is no other way to come to God except through Jesus. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. -1 Timothy 2:5-6 NIV. He is our mediator and friend; anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior can gain eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16 NIV

Jesus, “the Truth”

In a world filled with deceptions and lies, sometimes it may feel like truth cannot be found anywhere. Where it is found, your truth is as true as mine, even though it may be completely different or contradictory. The good news however is that Jesus Christ is the only truth, and everything He says is true. When we believe in Jesus, we do not just believe in a concept or an idea but in a person who is truth itself.

Jesus, “the Life”

Jesus offers us not just physical life but eternal life. When we put our faith in Jesus, we receive a new life, free from the power of sin and death. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! -2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV. We have the assurance that when we place our faith and trust in God, He will mould us in His likeness and prepare us to spend eternity with Him in heaven.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. May you be motivated and inspired with this assurance as you seek to live a life that is pleasing to God. If you are unsure about your direction, I encourage you to draw closer to Jesus and let Him fill your life with hope and peace. If you need any help, please get in touch. The Elim Oasis family is here for you.

Farewell Alan and Alice

On Sunday, 24th September, we said farewell to Alan and Alice. After a trip to see family in the US, they will be based in Estonia. Thank you both for your faithful service over the years. May God bless you and enrich you with His grace and favour.