The first thing we need to do in regard to the matter of prayer is establish its true meaning. The idea of prayer carries with it so much religious baggage that even the mention of praying turns many people off.
When I was in seminary we studied prayer. We tore the bible apart to determine all of the different types of prayer. We even discovered that David prayed what are called imprecatory prayers. These are prayers that call upon God to destroy others; ‘to smash their teeth”, as David would say.
Then there were the infamous Wednesday night prayer meetings. As a young Christian I can remember well those boring prayer gatherings. We spent about forty minutes taking prayer requests and then finally got to praying after we had discussed the latest juicy piece of information about others who ‘needed’ prayer.
And lets not forget the prayer Agenda. That’s when the pastor prayers his sermon mentioning all five points so that the congregation doesn’t forget what he preached about. I am sure God heard it the first time he said it. Prayer has just become a reiteration of the sermon. Just listen to the pastor’s prayer when he’s finished preaching. He’s really not talking to God; he’s talking to you and me. Or how about the prayer at the political gathering or the sporting event? You won’t convince me that within the heart of the person praying there is an unspoken desire for God to help them prevail or win.
My understanding of prayer was dramatically changed many years ago as a fairly new Christian. Some kindly saint wanted me to grow in my relationship with Jesus. She gave me a book that changed my life. It has become one of the most formative books in my spiritual journey. The book is Prayer, Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker. This is a must read if you want to really understand what prayer is about.
Prayer is engaging in conversation. It requires listening as well as speaking. When God created Adam and Eve it was not because He needed a gardener. It was because He wanted someone to talk to. The only difference between conversation with other people and conversation with God is that we call the later‘prayer’. It is conversation with the most precious, best, wonderful friend you will ever have in this life and in the next.
Jesus said, “When you pray” not “if you pray”. That is why he instructed us to go into the secret place. So we could have a conversation with Him.
He is waiting for you there right now…. (Matthew 6:6)
Have you ever just simply gotten tired of stuff?
I was preparing for a major ministry trip to Asia at the beginning of this year. Not only did I have to pack for the journey ahead, I really needed to prepare my heart and spirit so I could really hear the Lord without distractions. But taking care of all of my stuff got in the way. One day, as I squeezed time from my schedule to wait upon the Lord in the secret place, this is what He said to me.
My son you are so caught up with material things. Your stuff has become an idol. It keeps you from me. Turn from your stuff to me. Maintain your relationship with me. Make this a priority in your life. It is time, it is time, it is time. What lies before you is overwhelming without me. The world is your Parrish now. Indeed my son, the nations are and will be calling you.
The war between Spirit and stuff is raging more so than ever.
We have so much stuff. We buy stuff, sell stuff and maintain stuff and when we run out of space we rent more so we can store our stuff. One of the fastest growing businesses is storage lockers. There is a TV series called Storage Wars where people bid on the stuff that others have never gone back to claim. My question is not about the stuff people left behind, but about the people themselves. What really happened in their lives that made their stuff unimportant to them?
The Bible has a lot to Say About Stuff
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)
God really spoke to me about my stuff. I had to make a decision. I decided to simplify my life. After all, how much do I really need?
Are you a Victim of or victor over your stuff? Does it keep you from His presence?
Anything that you cannot walk away from is a prison. The rich young ruler discovered that reality. Love God and the things of God, not the world and the things of the world.Demonstrate your passion for Jesus, by spending time with Him in the secret place.
On the journey of life there are many things that can knock us off course. The same is true of journaling. Distractions, deceptions, false teaching and satanic influence all come into play. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are constant detractors that keep us from intimacy with God and can cause us to be deceived. We need to be sure that we are hearing God’s voice and not our own or the enemies. Here are some safeguards that will help you to remain pure and avoid error and deception.
1. Beware of being prideful and arrogant. God resist the proud but gives grace to the humble. Keep a humble, teachable attitude at all times. You do not have a private line to God.
2. All personal revelation should be tested and compared to the Scriptures. The Rhema must agree with the Logos. You will make mistakes, but don’t be discouraged. It is all a part of growing in Christ.
3. Regard your Journal as being what you ‘think’ God said. In all of my books, which are actually my published journals, I always state, “I am not saying, this is the way it is. Rather, I am saying; this is the way I saw it”.
4. Be a part of a local body where you can be nurtured and serve under spiritual authority and protection. If you have concerns about your journal, the leadership can provide counsel and advice.
5. I encourage you to seek God’s guidance in identifying someone who is spiritually mature, proven and tested that can mentor you and serve as a spiritual guide. This is a safe place where your journal can be submitted and confirmed.
6. God wants us to be whole in every sense of the word. Your journal is a tool that facilitates spiritual growth and wholeness. It should never become harmful or destructive. If it does, seek the counsel of others.
7. God usually speaks to us regarding matters that relate to our sphere of influence and responsibility. He enables us to be a Godly influence and act with wisdom, grace and love on His behalf in our context and environment. We are to serve Him in society. Intimacy with God is the launching pad for serving our fellow
Let me offer a few suggestions to help you as you embark on what will hopefully be your life-long practice of recording your spiritual journey.
1. Journal at Prime Time. The best time to spend with the Lord is when you are fully alert, not tired and weary from a days work.
Morning is best for most people, but you decide what time is best for you. Choose this time to enter into the secret place.
2. Use a journal or laptop that is easily held for writing and sit in a comfortable chair with adequate light. You may even want to keep a set of colored pencils at hand for illustrations.
3. Keep your journal in chronological order. Date all entries. Once you have filled a journal, number it and purchase a new one of the same kind. No doubt you will fill many volumes over your lifetime.
4. It helps to include in your journal the things that are going on in your life at the time. Significant events or unusual circumstances can reflect our emotional and spiritual state.
5. Always record dreams the morning after you have them. Be sure to note as much detail as possible. God speaks powerfully through dreams and we need to process them in our spiritual journal. Also, if you receive a prophecy from someone include it in your journal.
6. Often the information in our journal is very private. Protect your privacy by using codes or symbols to identify issues or individuals.
7. Record scriptures that the Lord is using to speak to you during your Bible study and meditation. Include any special revelation the Holy Spirit has released regarding these passages.
8. Sometimes there are concerns and questions on our hearts. The Lord knows this. It is appropriate to ask God questions and then wait for His answers. (See Psalm 27:4)
9. Write in faith believing that what you are writing is from the Lord. Don’t impede the spontaneous flow of the Holy Spirit by subjecting it to your rational judgment. You will have plenty of time later to judge what you have written.
There are four keys to communion with God in this passage. First, we must stand at the guard post. Simply stated, we need to position ourselves to be watchmen by seeking solitude. Then, we need to become still and silent in this secret place and wait for the Lord.
Second, we are to watch to see what He will say. This single key is vital to hearing God’s voice. God speaks in pictures almost all of the time. If we are waiting to hear an audible voice we may never hear it. Instead, once we have asked God to speak pictures flash into our spirit and are projected onto the screen of our mind so spontaneously and uninitiated by our human effort that we wonder where they came from. We need to recognize that we are actually seeing what God is speaking to us!
Dream and vision are the language of the prophets. Prophets are seers who see what God speaks! It is no surprise that Paul desired everyone to prophecy. He encouraged us to seek this gift. My definition of prophecy is, ‘our God given ability to hear His voice’. When a prophet says, “Thus saith the Lord…” he is recounting what he has seen!
My personal journal is filled with drawings and descriptions of pictures and visions that flash into my mind as I wait in God’s presence and He speaks to me. These revelations are sometimes so profound that they have changed my life. I quickly discovered that it was this is the voice of God. The Bible refers to this as Rhema. Rhema is God’s Spirit speaking directly to your spirit. It comes as a spontaneous thought, idea, word, feeling or vision. Thoughts from your mind are meditated. Thoughts emanating from your heart are spontaneous. Look to see what he will say to you!
Dr. Dale Fife has served the Body of Christ for over 50 years as a caring pastor, insightful teacher, gifted musician, and best-selling author. His wisdom, maturity, and genuine spiritual concern for others have caused many to regard him as a "spiritual father" in the Lord. His insightful teaching has inspired and blessed thousands around the world.