seeking God

God’s Presence – Our Priority in Prayer

The singular truth about prayer that can most revolutionize a person’s prayer life is this – the primary purpose of prayer is be in God’s presence. When we make that our aim, first and foremost simply to enter into and experience God’s presence, our understanding of prayer takes on transformative meaning. Prayer becomes a relationship more than a responsibility, a place more than a process, a delight more than a drudgery and an end more than a means.

The prayer life of Jesus and the way in which He related to His disciples illustrates this priority in prayer. In His own personal life Jesus frequently sought a solitary place in which He could commune with His Father in prayer. On occasion He brought some of His disciples with Him and the divine encounters He had with the Heavenly Father so impressed them that they finally asked Him to teach them to pray. (Luke 11:1) His response is noteworthy. He began by encouraging them to seek out a relationship with the heavenly Father themselves instructing them to pray “Father, hallowed be Thy name. . . .”

When Jesus chose the twelve He established this same priority emphasizing that relationship precedes responsibility. We are told “He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” (Mark 3:14 NIV) One cannot help but notice that His first concern and purpose was that they simply “be with him.” That is Jesus’ desire for each of us with regard to prayer – simply to spend time with Him.

One of the best verses in the Bible that embodies God’s ultimate purpose for and intended blessings from prayer is found in Psalm 16:11. It was penned by David who is singularly described as a “man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22) “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The promise embedded in this verse is that out of God’s presence flows not only joy but also the revelation of His will, i.e. “the path of life.” The wonder of this priority in prayer is that in God’s presence, His perspective and will are revealed, thus enabling us to pray by revelation for the things that are upon His heart. That in turn releases faith because “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15 NIV)

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Pray it Before you Okay it!

“The men believed the evidence they were shown, but they did not ask the LORD about it.” Joshua 9:14 (God’s Word Translation)

Have you ever regretted not asking God’s guidance for an important decision that ended up going bad? Truth be told, most of us have had to face the stark reality that a bad decision might have been avoided if we had only taken time to first pray about it.

Those who have made prayerless decisions can totally identify with the glaring oversight Joshua and the Israelites committed in not inquiring of the Lord before they made a commitment of peace and protection for the Gibeonites. The story of the Gibeonite deception early in Israel’s campaign to conquer Canaan is a benchmark warning about the danger in making important decisions without first asking the Lord about it. (Joshua 9)

I learned a similar lesson early in my ministry as a youth pastor. I had this great idea to do a youth event with my group of about 50 students. An assistant and I planned a kite flying contest for an upcoming Saturday. We put quite a bit of work into designing various awards and into promoting the event. We advertised prizes for the highest flying kite, the biggest and smallest kites, and the grand prize was going to be for the best designed kite utilizing scripture.

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3 secrets to hearing God’s voice

I recently had a breakthrough in hearing God’s voice. With my wife leaving on a weeklong winter getaway with some family members, I decided that I would set aside that time to focus on my relationship with the Lord. There have been several big rock items in my life that I have been wrestling with for some time regarding God’s will and I determined to press into Him for some answers.

Originally I thought I would take a few days to get away by myself at a silent retreat center in the woods, but then was inspired instead to dedicate my home as my own silent retreat center. Basically I declared it a no media zone, simplified my schedule and spent my non-working hours in the morning and the evenings spending time in His presence.

For the Christian, one of the biggest challenges is developing the ability to tune into and listen to the Holy Spirit. God wants us to know His will for our lives through having full access to the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit. I established that in my last blog post entitled “Limitless, beyond the movie.”

Since God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than our own we desperately need help to access and understand them. (Isaiah 55:8-9) In the New Testament we are told that the mind of Christ is revealed by the Holy Spirit. “No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” He helps us to “understand what God has freely given us” by revealing “the mind of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-13) That is “full access’ and is meant to be the norm for every believer and follower of Christ.

Setting aside my retreat week reconfirmed this truth for me and also reinforced the fact that there are things every believer can do to increase their ability to access the mind of Christ.

Here is my list of the top three things I did to position myself to hear God’s voice. When God chooses to speak, these three things will insure that you hear Him.

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