The Friday Diversion – Week XII

Derek Loux sings the Acronym Song to the IHOP-KC staff. (Please note that this is all in good fun — IHOP is famous for their acronyms).

UPDATE Dec. 2009:

Derek Loux was killed in an auto accident this month. He was the father of 10 children, several of which are adopted. If you would like to assist the family, they are asking for donations to their adoption ministry, The Josiah Fund.

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My First Blues Concert

I will never be asked to play music for the mayor of Roseville. It just wouldn’t happen. I’m sure he wouldn’t like spontaneous prophetic music even if he did want a concert of local musicians playing for him.

But let’s create a hypothetical scenario: I’ve been asked to play awesome blues on my cello for the mayor of Roseville (Lord willing I will be able to play awesome blues someday. For now I will be content with my hypothetical scenario.). You bet your hiney that I would practice night and day for that concert.

Without drawing out my imaginary blues concert for the mayor of Roseville, I’ll get to my point: when do we musicians who play 4-5 times a week for God practice to become excellent? How do we challenge ourselves so we can become the best? I mean, isn’t that what we should be, since we play for the most important person/audience/God?

And yet, in our carnal man-pleasing spirit, we see more value in being excellent for man rather than God. The writer of Hebrews said that Jesus is our great High Priest. I want to be one who plays with excellence, always improving, so that I can be worthy of that great High Priest. It’s not about a performance mentality, it’s about getting a new theology of grace. Do I come before God’s throne because of grace? Absolutely. Does an understanding of grace mean that God doesn’t want me to grow? No. He accepts me as I am — immature and selfish — but I don’t want to stay there.

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.

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.

Série de Prière (Series on Prayer): Distraction

I want to get a huge factor out of the way before I continue this series on prayer: distraction.

Humans are weak — I live in a community of people who pray for a living and this issue comes up over and over again. We live such fast-paced lives (internally and externally) that when we try to sit and focus on an invisible God, we understandably get distracted by the smallest thing.

But there is hope! I’ve been in a prayer room for a minimum of 25 hours a week for the past 2 1/2 years and I have definitely progressed in the distraction area (though I’m far from conquering it).

“Our minds are so flighty. However, remember that our God-given wills govern all of our strength. We must recall our minds to God. Otherwise, our spirits may wander, dragging us down to the things of this earth. It isn’t necessary to be too verbose in prayer, because lengthy prayers encourage wandering thoughts. Simply present yourself to God…and fix your attention on His presence. If your mind wanders at times, don’t be upset, because being upset will only distract you more. Allow your will to recall your attention gently to God. Such perseverance will please Him.”

-Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
(emphasis mine)

There are many ways to stay focused in prayer — I won’t go into them now, but be encouraged that distraction is perfectly normal and nothing to be frustrated about.

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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.

The Friday Diversion – Week IV

We have a funny custom in prayer rooms. As soon as you walk in to one, you will notice random people pacing between or beside rows of chairs. Some people find pacers distracting, although it’s one of the things about a prayer room that you get used to pretty quickly.

The question is — why?

  • Some people pace because they’re really into the prayer meeting
  • Some people (myself included) pace to stay focused
  • Some of us just need a break from sitting since we are in the prayer room for 6-8 hours at a time
  • Sometimes it’s simply to stay awake
  • I’ve heard some people pace because they’re bored and it makes time pass
  • Every once in a while, there will be a pacer who is just pacing to look spiritual and attract attention

Contrary to popular belief, pacers are no more spiritual than those sitting in the chairs. In fact, their reasons are usually quite practical. It’s just the way of a prayer room.

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.

Enjoyable Prayer, Part 3

I love art in almost any form. Let me read your favorite lyrics or show me your child’s Sculpey turtle and I will probably love it. Recently, I dragged my boyfriend to a local art museum and he patiently waited as I marveled at my favorite painting…for nearly an hour.

I just have to believe that a God who would create so many enjoyable, beautiful things (maybe for you it is a sunset or an instrument or a sport) would be interesting and beautiful Himself. David seemed to think so when he said:

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

I’ve found that the more I look at God and wonder at His attributes not only does He seem more beautiful to me, but prayer becomes more enjoyable. I used to be resigned that the world gets to do “all the fun stuff” and I have to be the good little Christian girl who never has any fun. Not anymore; now I wonder if the world will ever know that all the pleasures they enjoy came from a much more enjoyable God.

So, in conclusion, I guess my answer to, “How do I make prayer enjoyable?” is this: sit before God and let Him tell you who you are; meditate on who He is: His character, His attributes; ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Then you will begin to find Him so irresistible that you will want to commune with Him, pray with Him, and spend time with Him.

Enjoyable Prayer, Part 2

Recently as I was pacing in the prayer room, I noticed 3 objects lying next to the sound booth: a health magazine, a conference on evangelism, and a Christian self-help book. Tears came to my eyes as I realized that we are so bored with God.

We all want to be entertained, stimulated, stare at something fascinating. We go out and have our guilty entertainment pleasures and come to the prayer room to have our “spiritual time.” But as soon as we walk out the door, we turn up the music and move on with the interesting things of life.

So how do we go from looking forward to movie-and-ice-cream-night to looking forward to praying to an invisible God?

For me, it all started with being surrounded by a whole bunch of people who loved prayer. Three days after I arrived to do my internship at IHOP, I wrote this:

“I am beginning to see the importance of prayer as a lifestyle, not just a thing on the side. The people here are so illogical; they will get day care or whatever they have to do to just go sit in a room for hours and hours.”

I was completely blown away by a people who believed prayer was so important that they caused their entire lives to revolve around it. So I started looking for the why behind what they did. I didn’t have to look far; I began to experience a different side of God than I had ever known: a Father who wanted to tell me how much He loved me, a Son who gave all that He had to make me His bride, and a Spirit that told me my prayers were vitally important to God’s purposes.

The natural progression of feeling valued is that you begin to walk in confidence. You are able to enjoy prayer when you believe that your little voice makes a big difference before God’s throne. When you start believing that He places great value on you and on your partnership with His plans, prayer becomes a “want to” versus a “have to.”

Enjoyable Prayer, Part 1

For years I thought that prayer was the most dry, boring thing and I only capitulated when things were really bad or I was on a spiritual high (those happened about once a year). Don’t get me wrong, I did talk to God, I’ve always loved just carrying on a mental conversation with Him, but no way would you find me sitting and praying because I liked it.

Now it seems very ironic that I packed up and went to IHOP, a place where the main focus is prayer. I remember thinking, “Maybe there’s something cool about prayer, I dunno, they seem to like it a lot.” But I sure didn’t think they’d turn me into a person who’d want to sit in a room and pray for the rest of my life!

So how did I get to that point? How did I go from hating the idea of sitting and praying to the full-time occupation of sitting and praying? That’s what this little series of posts is about. If you’re interested in a prayer life that’s actually enjoyable, then keep reading.