The Flow of Prayer into Praise

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In order to understand Positional Christianity, you must understand that there is a flow to it. Prayer flows into praise, praise flows into hope, hope flows into healing, and healing flows into purpose. God did not think the world into existence. He spoke the world (I am using the term “the world” to speak of the universe and all that is within it) into existence. And from His words flowed forth creation (Gen 1).

So, if there is a flow to God’s words, there must also be a flow to our words. Though, before God spoke the world into existence, He had to think what He wanted. There was no world before He created one, so He had to know what He wanted, think it, and then speak it. His words were an expression of His desires and thoughts.

Intimate Communion with God

In the same way our praise is the outpouring of our intimate communion with God. That is the words we speak aloud in praise, and the good works we do, which He created for us to do (Eph 2:10), must be an outward expression of our intimate communion with God. If our words of love and honor to God, as well as our acts of service to God, do not flow forth from our intimate communion with God through prayer, then our alleged praise to God has little meaning.

Now, imagine if God told the angel Gabriel he could create a world and creatures to serve him (In other words, imagine Mormonism was true, with the Angel Gabriel in place of the demon Moroni). Imagine that we were that creation and we read a Bible given to us by Gabriel. Imagine this Bible said Gabriel created the world; though, the God who created the Angel Gabriel spoke forth and tried to create a world, but He did not have the power. What would you think of that God? You would probably think such a God who cannot see His words fulfilled through the creation of what He spoke is powerless.

Praise through Words and Works

Now, understand this is why James said, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:17).” If God had thought that He wanted to create a world and even tried to speak the world into existence, but that world never came into existence, we would think the faith of such a God dead. So, our praise, which is both our verbal expression of our love and honor of God and our action to glorify Him by serving Him and others, must flow forth from our prayers. The creation of the world was an expression of God’s desires and thoughts, and so also words of praise and acts of service must be an expression of the desires of our hearts that we gain through intimate communion with God. If we pray and our intimate communion with God does not flow forth into our praise through adoration and honor of God, as well as acts of service to God directly and indirectly by serving others, then our faith is dead.

If a man gave a woman whom He did not know, know anything about, or ever spent time with flowers, and then claimed that he loved her, his action and his words would have little meaning. She would think, ‘He cannot love me because He does not know me, my desires, or my needs.’ His expression of love and his act of giving her flowers would have little meaning. They would be self-serving, and could not be an expression of love or honor to her, because he would not have spent any time getting to know her, her needs, or how he could serve her.

So also our words of love and acts of service to God must flow from our times of intimate communion with God. If we do not spend time in intimate communion with God through prayer, then our attempts to adore Him and give Him honor are little more than out of “selfish ambition or vain conceit (Phil 2:3).” This is why the Apostle Paul said, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal (I Cor 13:1).”

Praise without Prayer

Now, the question is do you go to church on Sunday and sing worship songs, and do you feed the homeless or give to the poor? That is great. But do spend time in intimate communion with God? Do you pray? I am not talking about 15 minutes a morning, of which 10 of those minutes is reading a daily devotional and scriptures to go along with it. Do you enter into His presence daily?

So, from what position do you praise God? Do you praise Him from the same position as that of the Samaritan woman at the well, who was more concerned with show (John 4:19)? Or do you praise Him from the position of wanting to know Him, which flows forth from your time of intimate communion with Him (John 4:24)?

Once a person begins to praise God in spirit and truth, their praise will begin to flow into hope. Praise that does not flow out of spending time becoming intimately acquainted with God through prayer cannot flow into hope. It can exist, but it will not flow into hope. Though, that person may praise God outwardly through verbal expressions of love and honor to God, and serving God and others, they will not gain hope and will remain stale like the waters of the Dead Sea until they enter into intimate communion with God.

 

Tell me, how is your prayer life? Do you notice that the more you pray, the more your times of intimate communion with God flows into wanting to praise God? Do you think you can praise God in Spirit and in truth without a strong prayer life? Share any thoughts you have with me.

It’s God’s Turn to Speak – Listening through Prayer

God’s Speaking to You God, Santa Claus

Guess what! God still speaks! And He is speaking to you. You just have to learn to listen to Him. Though, in order to hear Him, you need to be faithful to listen to Him.

Prayer isn’t about sitting on God’s knee and just telling Him want we want. We want to make our requests known to God (Phil. 4:6), but that is only one aspect of prayer.

He wants to have a conversation with you. He wants to have an intimate relationship with you. He is speaking to you.

Listening to God through Prayer

So, how do we learn to listen to God? Here are some tips.

  • Choose a specific time and place to meet with God
  • Make sure it’s a quiet place and quiet time
  • Play quiet worship music like Jesus CultureKari Jobe, and Bethel Music
  • Play worship music throughout the day
  • Read scripture and meditate on it
  • Study and memorize scripture
  • Don’t limit God’s voice to just your prayer time
  • Go to church (God speaks through faithful leaders)
  • Read authors like C.S. Lewis, Gordon McDonald, Jurgen Matthessius, and John and Lisa Bevere
  • Listen to podcasts of Christian leaders like Francis Chan, Jefferson Bethke, and John Piper.

Learning to listen to God isn’t just about a quiet time with God. It’s about creating an atmosphere of worship, where God is welcome and we are available all of the time.

When I first realized I could listen to God, I thought hearing from God meant sitting in a quiet place in silence for long periods of time until I heard this big, booming voice. I would pray, and then I would sit and wait for God to speak. Sometimes, I would hear God within a few minutes, and sometimes I wouldn’t hear him for almost an hour.

Though, I realized it wasn’t God who wasn’t speaking to me, it was me who wasn’t listening to God. Let me explain. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to listen to God. It’s that there were too many distractions. I was too preoccupied.

Intimacy with God through Prayer

As I matured in my walk with God, I realized hearing from God was about cutting out those things that distracted me. That meant everything from choosing an hour that I could spend with God to constantly listening to praise and worship music to getting rid of my television and any other distractions.

Developing an intimate relationship with God means entering the solitude of the presence of God, abiding in His presence, and allowing His presence to become our reality.

What are your tips to listening to God? Share them in the comments.

Becoming a Battle Ready Christian – Living a Life of Prayer

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Last week, while writing the first version of this blog, I received a phone call. The caller said I might not remember him. He said his name and told me he was a freshman in the church youth group where I volunteered at that time. I hadn’t seen him in more than three years, but I couldn’t forget him.

Every week, I drove more than 20 minutes from my house to his house and then another 20 minutes to church. After church, with one or two more kids in tow, I drove them home and then brought him home. If you think of a Y, I lived at the top of one end of the Y, I went to a church at the top of the other end of the Y, and he lived at the bottom of the Y. With the extra kids to drop off after the youth group, the round trip took close to two hours of driving.

At the youth group, the larger group split off into smaller groups. I sat with a small group of young men, they told me about their weeks, we did a Bible study, and we spent time in prayer. After a while, that young man stopped coming to the youth group.

Many years before I knew that young man, I went through an internship in another church. One of the requirements was that I and the one other intern arrive to the church by 7 AM and pray in the sanctuary for an hour. Every morning, we walked into the sanctuary, put on a worship CD, sat in silence on opposite sides of the sanctuary, and prayed.

The pastor took us through the book The Hour that Changes the World. It taught us to pray for an hour by devoting five minutes to various aspects of prayer. For instance, it taught to spend the first five minutes giving thanks to God, then five minutes in praise, then five minutes in intercession, and so on and so forth.

For several years after that internship, my prayer life went through ebbs and flows. Much of that time I had no prayer life other than praying over meals, at church, or in Bible studies. Sometimes, I went through seasons when I prayed more fervently. During those seasons, I prayed by using the principles of prayer I learned. Many times, school, work, something else caused me to get out of the habit of prayer.

Now, I practice the habit of prayer every morning. But, now, as I practice the habit of prayer, I am learning to develop a life of prayer. I believe when Paul told Timothy to “Pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17),” he was telling him to develop a life of prayer by practicing the habit of prayer every morning. I believe there is a three-step method for developing a life of prayer, but that method takes a lifetime to perfect.

Developing a Life of Prayer

  1. Learn and develop a method of prayer
  2. Practice that method of prayer until it becomes a habit of prayer
  3. Practice that habit of prayer until it becomes a life of prayer

After I told the young man that I remembered him, he said he was not in a good place spiritually when I knew him. He said he got his life right with God, graduated valedictorian from his high school, and enlisted in the Marines. He told me he tried to pray and read the Bible everyday, but he admitted it wasn’t always easy.

I encouraged him to choose his principles, make God the center of those principles, pray and read his Bible every day, and allow those God-centered principles to guide his life and determine the person he would become. After we said goodbye, I read over the first version of this blog. I hadn’t thought of it during our conversation, but I realized the last line I wrote was,

“The principles you live by are the principles you teach the next generation.”

Before any other principle, a “Battle Ready Christian” practices the principle of prayer until they live a life of prayer. Jesus taught his disciples a method of prayer in Matt 6: 9-13, but He didn’t expect them to sit and recite ’The Lord’s Prayer’ every morning for the rest of their lives. He taught it to them so they would develop a life of prayer.

I do not believe it is when a person chooses to become intimately acquainted with God that they will develop a life of prayer. I believe that is when their faithful habit of prayer will begin to become a life of prayer. This is the place where I am. I believe it is when a person realizes God wants to become intimately acquainted with them that they will move further into living a life of prayer. But I believe it is not until a person fully realizes the weight of the truth that God wants so much to be intimately acquainted with them that He sent His only begotten Son to die for them (John 3:16) that they will fully live a life of prayer.

May we all, like the Apostle Paul, cry out, “I want to know you and the power of your resurrection (Phil. 3:10),” until we are so intimately acquainted with God that we understand the full weight of the words, “For God so loved the world . . . .”

Amen!