Série de Prière: Waiting

There’s something very special about waiting prayer. When practiced with the right motives, it can become the core of your prayer life — and a very important part at that.

What is it?

Waiting prayer is taking time to be still before the Lord. This concept is repeated over and over again in Scripture (Ps. 25:5, 25:21, 27:14, 37:7, 37:9, 39:7, 62:5, 130:5; Isa. 40:31; Lam. 3:25-26; Hos. 12:6 — to name a few). When you quiet your soul and focus on the Lord, you are expectant. You let Him love you as you worship Him and you expect that He will reveal Himself to you. If you’re not used to internal prayer, waiting prayer is a great place to start.

“Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation.” Ps. 62:1

The more you wait on the Lord, the more sensitive you become to the Holy Spirit. You may feel nothing — in fact, for a while, I can almost guarantee you that you will feel nothing — but the simple act of quieting your soul before God will inevitably cause you to sense Him more.

The Bible commands us to wait on the Lord (Ps. 27:14, Hosea 12:6). It is the beginning of trust: you admit your own human weakness and look to the Lord for strength. And David tells us that, “those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” (Ps. 37:9)

Practical Steps

Waiting prayer can be practiced in a prayer room or in your bedroom. Just be somewhere that you’re not likely to be interrupted.

  1. Start with worshiping God — out loud or internally — and read the Word.
  2. Close your eyes and begin to clear your mind of distracting thoughts. Focus, in expectancy, on the Lord. (If you want, ask God to give you a mental picture to help you focus.)
  3. Then just wait. Don’t ask questions, try not to get distracted — just wait. Honestly, even though I’ve been doing this for 2 years, it often takes a half hour for my soul to quiet down so I can hear the Holy Spirit’s voice clearly. We get so busy during the day that it takes us a while to slow down.

Start with a few minutes at a time. If you fall asleep, just pick up where you left off; there’s no shame in that. You will soon find that you want to wait on the Lord longer and longer because His presence is so addicting.

Recommended Reading

Jaeson Ma, a campus revivalist, has posted his “Waiting Prayer” chapter from his book on his blog — it is an excellent description and includes his own personal testimony.

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This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.

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Série de Prière: Meditation

What is it?

While Eastern meditation attempts to empty the mind, this kind of meditation is an attempt to consume it with God. Biblical meditation is setting yourself before the Lord to receive revelation from His Word. The purpose is to receive more of the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5 says how to get the knowledge of God and this is the first step: receiving God’s words and treasuring His commands.

There is nothing quite like taking an hour to meditate on a short phrase (like “Our Father in Heaven”), asking the Holy Spirit to teach you about it, and receiving your own revelation on it (and then feeling silly that you didn’t see that before!)

Practical Steps

Everyone who practices meditation does it a little differently. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Pick a verse you want to meditate on (or a portion of Scripture you want to take a few weeks to go through).
  2. Worship for a bit.
  3. Begin to meditate on the first phrase of the first verse (e.g. if the phrase is “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” try just meditating on “In the beginning”).
  4. Repeat the phrase over and over.
  5. Thank the Holy Spirit for the truth of the verse (e.g. “Thank you that You were in the beginning”).
  6. Ask questions – lots of questions. Write down any answers you get.
  7. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal more to you

Meditate for 20 minutes before you move on to the next part of the verse. Once you get the hang of it, try going for 2 hours on one phrase. It may seem impossible at first, but it’s amazing how long you can stay on one phrase when the Holy Spirit is speaking!

I’ve made my meditation page available for download here.

Recommended Reading

Revelation through Meditation by Kirk Bennett is a great method for meditation (listen to the teaching too)

Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Madame Guyon is a book written in simple language to make meditation approachable for everyone

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This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.

Persistent Prayer

I want to continue the thought I started in my God of Secrets post about Luke 11. I don’t know how most people interpret the parable of the friend at midnight, but for me, it is one of the most significant passages in the Bible about prayer.

“And [Jesus] said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.” Luke 11:5-8

Now we have to backtrack a little. In verse 1, the disciples had asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Then we see the part we all know so well, the Lord’s prayer. But Jesus doesn’t take a breath between verses 4 and 5…He is still answering their question. (Please understand that the following is my interpretation/revelation on the chapter and is completely original.)

First of all you (the green guy) have a friend (the orange guy) who traveled from afar to visit you. You want to be hospitable and pour into him (i.e. give him food). So you think, “Hey! I have another friend who OWNS the bakery! He can give me bread for this friend!”

See, the friend didn’t ask anything of you (they represent whatever/whomever you are praying for), but you wanted to give what you knew you did not have (true humility – I am nothing outside of Christ). But, you know a guy (Jesus) who has what you need – and more.

So you go to your friend and knock on his door, even though it’s midnight. “Hey man, I’ve got this friend who needs food, can you give me some? ‘Cause I don’t have any.” And then your friend answers, “Don’t bother me, man! I can’t give you anything right now.”

When you pray, God always answers (“he will answer”). But what if His answer surprises you? See, you knew to go to Him, you knew He had what you needed, but even though you are His friend (you have some relationship with Him), He’s asking for something more from you:

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture…I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”   John 10:9,14

Jesus is asking you to come to a new level: yes, you are His friend, but when you don’t understand why He won’t give to you, will you take that as an invitation to ask again? It’s not favoritism for those who persist more: it’s the nature of God’s kingdom. It’s the same reason why Jesus spoke in parables – so that only the hungry would seek out what they meant. Jesus is the door and He wants you to persist, to keep knocking to find what you are looking for. See, once you’re in the door, you have access to fellowship with Him, to the knowledge of God.

It is because of your persistence that Jesus will give to you: and that’s always more than you asked Him for initially. Now, knowing the context, the following verse should make a lot of sense:

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you: seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”   Luke 11:9

Note: I hope you don’t feel demeaned by my childish illustrations. I wanted to make this rather confusing parable as clear as possible. And feel free to give me kudos for my amazing drawing skills too – especially my camel. (Yeah, I’m joking.)

The Friday Diversion – Week I

I want to start posting little humorous/weird things periodically that I think will entertain you, my audience. Thus I thought up “the Friday Diversion.” I’m planning on keeping them prayer room-related; we’ll see how it goes.

So for this first week, I have a question for everyone (humor me, my silent readers, and comment!).

How do you chose what to highlight in your Bible?

See, I thought most people were like me: I highlight whenever something jumps out at me. That means that pretty much every verse in my Bible that I find profound, worthy of being called “favorite,” or simply touches me — is highlighted. This means that there’s a lot of color in my Bible, but I love it because I can find things so easily. Personally, I prefer colored pencils and I have a key in the back for which colors mean what.

I’m posting this because I asked Josiah the other day why he highlights and he said he only highlights verses he has revelation on. And…he’s the only person I’ve ever asked until now.

Somebody’s in Love with Me

When I first went to IHOP, I thought prayer was boring. When I did pray, I would draw out my little prayer list so that it took a half hour and then go on with my day. I can’t pinpoint the exact time, but when I began to hear the people around me talk about God everything changed; they began to tell me that God’s plan didn’t start at the cross.

As I looked at the Word closer, I had to ask myself the question, “Why did Jesus go to the cross for me?” It seemed a simple question with a cookie-cutter answer, but was it? Why would God come down from heaven, leave all of His glory and take on a little Jewish man’s body forever? (And Isaiah said Jesus wasn’t even good looking!) What was it in the heart of the Godhead that took such drastic measures to save a few creatures He formed from dirt?

In the American church, we tend to throw around the term, “we are the Bride of Christ;” I had heard that term a thousand times but I never stopped to think about it before. I think that somewhere back before Genesis, the Godhead wanted companionship: not because He lacked something, but simply because He wanted to share His pleasure, joy, love – with someone else. I can almost see Jesus going to His Father and saying, “Father, We have so much to give, is it good for God to be alone? Father, I desire a companion, someone whom I can love and who will love me voluntarily in return.”

I can’t prove this exact scenario, but once I begin thinking of myself as the Bride of Christ, I saw something amazing woven throughout Scripture: Jesus came and gave me the dignity to be His partner; He didn’t need me, He only wanted me! And He says that He will actually change His mind if I pray! (Examples: Ex. 32:7-14, Zeph. 2:3, Jer. 29:12) Without going really into depth regarding Jewish traditions, I believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the traditional bride price: He said we were worth the blood of the Son of God.

I’ve only scraped the surface of this whole “viewing myself as a bride” thing, but the reason why I connect it to prayer is this: prayer isn’t boring to me when I see that God created me because He wanted to, because He enjoys me and that He loves me so much that my prayers actually change His plans.

The Illusion of Fervency and the Reputation of Zeal

I’ve unashamedly stolen my title from Dave, one of my former teachers. When I read those words in a recent post of his, I was struck by their truth. I, too, am familiar with the illusion of fervency and the reputation of zeal.

No matter where I am, I seem to quickly learn how to blend in to the culture around me. In a church, that looks like raising my hands during worship and taking notes during the message. In a prayer room, that looks like pacing or sitting with my Bible open. But how quickly do those legitimate things turn in to just an illusion to keep those around me from finding out that I’m daydreaming?

Pacing is actually a good example of the illusion of fervency. Visitors to a prayer room often think that those pacing are the “super spiritual,” that they are really “engaged” with the team on stage. In reality, most of us pace for two reasons: to stay awake and to stay focused. I guess it’s just another example of, “Man looks at outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

Just like this commercial illustrates, things are often not what they seem. I guess I’m just trying to say that instead of wanting to look righteous, these days I’m more interested in actually living it out on the inside. Yes, I still have fear of man, but I want to be sincere in everything I do, even if it goes against the culture I’m placed in.

The Danger of Remaining Blind – Part 3

If you’ve been following the series, you may relate to me and know that we need to take some of this before the Lord. Maybe not, but if that’s you, you are who I’m talking to.

My opinion is that we’re content. We’re so content with what we know about God that we don’t bother to get to know Him.

If I am married to someone, I want them to be able to make an executive decision involving me without having to ask because they know me so well. In the same way, God’s given us stewardship – sovereignty – over His creation and I want to preside over it the way that He would.

I want to know what God is thinking, what He feels about things I’m passionate about – abortion, homosexuality, the prayer movement – what He would do in a situation without having to ask. That’s only possible through daily encounter with Him. I’m not even talking about sitting in a prayer room for hours. I’m just talking about the whispers throughout the day that invite Him into little things in our lives.

If I want to be able to describe a beautiful Being not because I’ve heard about Him or read about Him but because I’ve encountered Him, Jesus told us we just have to ask.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20

The Danger of Remaining Blind – Part 2

In the previous post, I drew the analogy of a blind person being able to describe in vivid detail things that they have never experienced and correlated it to many Christians. I lived a proverbial blind Christianity before the Lord opened my eyes. When I was that girl in the coffee shop – living out the epitome of what I thought a Christian was supposed to be – I had no idea how much of God I was missing.

I was overwhelmed when the Lord began to give me a new perspective: I was so small and knew so little of Him and the more time I spent with Him, the larger and more mysterious He became.

When Jesus spoke to the church of the Laodiceans, He chastened them not because they were doing something terribly wrong, but because they didn’t know the state of their own hearts:

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” Rev. 3:17a

There are a couple questions I ask myself when I feel that I may be putting spiritual sunglasses on:

  1. Am I content with the knowledge I have about God, or am I living on the fuel of daily revelation?
  2. Am I changing daily, despising my weak areas and asking the Lord to transform me into His image?

The first question I ask myself because I don’t want to make God distant. I want to always remember that He is intricately involved in every detail of my life. The second I ask because I find that I get into trouble in my life when I feel like I am doing pretty well (when I don’t see any areas I really need to work on). I used to keep a quote on my wall which said, “As soon as you think you have conquered sin, you are about to fall.” I find that my heart is healthiest when I grieve my weakness and lean on Him to conquer it.

The Danger of Remaining Blind – Part 1

I recently heard two college-aged Christian girls catch up with each other’s lives. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. They discussed a number of Christian principles, religious theologies, and mission trips as they sipped lattes from little ceramic cups.

There was nothing wrong with these two girls. Two years ago, I was one of them: sitting at a coffee shop catching up with a friend and discussing the great ideas I had about God. What I didn’t know was just that: how much I didn’t know.

Someone who is born blind only knows the colorless world they have experienced. They don’t know what they’re missing – a sunset or a beautiful painting – because they’ve never experienced it before. They don’t know what they’re missing because they have no grid for what it is like to see. However, they may be able to describe a beautiful picture for you – even though they’ve never seen it themselves.

No, I’m not talking Christian-ese “we’re not about a religion we’re about a relationship,” what I’m saying is that even the Christians are missing it. I can colorfully describe many aspects of God that I haven’t experienced. Many Christians live their entire lives this way. They talk about Jesus as if they know Him because they know about Him: they know His friends, they know His biography, but they don’t know Him.

Worship

“…Any system of thought or pattern of worship that does not produce Christian character should be re-examined lest it be deficient in its basic affirmation. A religion that fails to make man better in his daily living is useless, no matter how orthodox its form or zealous its activity.”                                                           – Fred M. Wood

I’ve been studying the book of Jeremiah and today I found an interesting passage:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.”” Jer. 7:3-4

Israel had gotten into the habit of religious repetition and mistook it for true worship. Though she was still externally obeying the Lord, her heart wasn’t in it at all. It reminds me of when Samuel the prophet said the Lord desires obedience rather than sacrifice. The Lord could have cared less about Israel’s outward rituals: He wanted her heart.

The parallel that I am drawing is how ritualistic we can be in corporate settings in our own church/prayer room circles. I heard someone say recently that they thought it was funny that whenever a worship leader plays Rend the Heavens, the entire room stands to their feet. I think we go on auto-pilot with a song that’s familiar or has a foot-tapping beat.

Though I still catch myself singing a worship song while thinking about hamburgers, I try to remember to ask myself, “Can I really sing this song? Do I really mean these words?” I want to remember what the Lord told Israel through Samuel: He doesn’t look at the outward appearance – that which man sees – but rather the attitude of our hearts.