Mechanics of talking with God
By this title, I don't mean the modern concept of prayer. That's more often talking at rather than with. Talking with God is a two-way conversation - backwards and forwards as when talking with a friend. That can be an unsettling idea, but read the Bible and see God talking with people. from the start. Eventually, the Jews (and later Christians) found this uncomfortable, so people acted as intermediaries. When God spoke through prophets they generally spoke to people no longer listening to God (and sometimes were rewarded with stoning for their efforts).
When I came across the idea I was sceptical. Trying it convinced me otherwise. If you're interested in trying it for yourself, first you need to get rid of preconceptions.
If we think God says something and it's not consistent with the Bible it's not from God. However, I have found my understanding of the Bible is poor. This is not simply a matter of not understanding Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek languages but also culture. Learned people who know these languages regularly disagree with other learned people who do. It's that so much has been confused by our modern minds. Using our minds to understand God is at best very limiting.
That's not to say we shouldn't use our minds - far from it. Eastern religions have a form of meditation which encourages us to empty our minds - quite different from Christian meditation which encourages us to fill our minds with positives. "Modern" concepts such as mindfulness often have roots in Eastern practices as well as meditation. So when we think God says something to us, whether it's in line with our understanding of Scripture or not, how can we be sure?
Asking others can help - but what God says to us is just that - it's for us. There's really only one logical solution: ask God - and keep on asking. Of course, this sounds like a circular argument - but God doesn't mind. He loves it when we are desperate enough to keep pushing. It may be that we'll find the answer was erroneous - or that it was right - or that we hadn't heard fully and needed clarification.
Remember God is not (usually) a loud God. He whispers to us. In fact less than whispers. He puts ideas in our mind, as do our enemies. It's quite chaotic in there, so working out where ideas are from is key.
All of this is irrelevant if we haven't had a conversation with God in the first place. Just as a child moves from baby talk to junior talk to pre-adult talk to adult talk (at various levels), so we start with very basic stuff and grow from there. These few tips are aimed at newbies. They are not lifetime "rules". They simply helped me (and others) to get started.
There are two parts to this. The first is to ask God for his protection and guidance. The enemy does not like us talking directly with God - so this is only sensible - the less disturbance the better.
The second is to calm your mind from the busyness that is part of modern life. Ask God to take issues from you while you slow down to hear His voice. It is very important to calm your mind from distractions (as much as possible).
Write (or type) a question - in your own words and style. This is not a theological question (unless that really is important to you). it's a life question - from your own life.
Do not wait for the answer to come. Start typing "God's answer". You might start with something like "In this situation I suggest ....." and do NOT stop - just keep on writing - in your own words and style. Don't let your thoughts and feelings get in the way.
I put "God's answer" in quotes because obviously, this might not be from God. Don't worry about that until you have finished recording the thought.
Writing it down is important - at least while learning. Apart from later giving you a record so you can review what God's been saying to you, once you have it written down, you can (and should) raise questions about it without wondering if that was actually what you heard. Of course, you can mishear or misunderstand any part of any conversation. Why else do so many arguments occur where both parties are not arguing the same point.
Both "That doesn't sound like God" - and "That sounds just like God" are two common thoughts. If I have the latter thought, I'm more on guard, but either can be right or wrong. What we tend to think God would say and what He actually says are often two very different things.
God does not mind you asking the same thing over and over in different ways. There are no rules in conversation - although good conversation involves both parties giving of themselves. And etiquette requires active listening.
You may defer questions until later, responding instead to the answer with further thoughts. This can let the conversation flow more easily. It may be that initial questions are covered by later discussion - but whatever happens, you should review the conversation, and ask more questions until you are satisfied you have indeed been talking with God.
Reading this probably sounds very simple - and easy to fool yourself into thinking you've heard from God. All I can say is once you've tried it (with a genuinely open mind) you'll know you've talked with God.
One last point on this is not to be limited. While this is a wonderful way to grow your relationship with God, it should not be the only way to enjoy Him. I won't go through a big list of other options - God is infinitely creative. You don't have to always write (or type) everything down. But it's good to keep this tool practised up so when you have major issues (as well as daily issues), you don't have to start from scratch.
It seems that getting used to regular talking with God transforms the mind so more of what you think is in line with the way God thinks. That is not to say we should ever anticipate God - there are enough examples in the Bible of people who did that - with not great outcomes.