Never stop praying. Praying without ceasing comes naturally when we bring God into the everyday events of our lives and talk to Him about them along the way. Praying without ceasing means that we are to consciously turn all our thoughts into prayer, especially when those thoughts turn to worry, fear, discouragement, and anger.
To purchase the book and study along with is click this LINK or the links in and after the notes.
To hear the audio of the group's session click on the YouTube image at the end of the notes.
We started by saying that prayer is interaction between you and God, and it starts with the relationship that we have with God. It’s a dynamic conversation between two individuals who love, care for, and enjoy one another.
First, it is clear that humans have an identity that is rooted in God.
Second, humans are special because they were created for a unique purpose. No two humans are the same.
Third, humans are designed to have a one-on-one relationship with God through Jesus.
Then we said that we need to take the risk of being real with God.
Our friendship with God deepens when we risk being open and honest as we talk with Him.
No more faking feeling fine.
When we become convinced that God is really our friend, we can talk to Him about anything.
Then we talked about Upgrading Your View of God.
We discovered that we have two set of beliefs “head” beliefs and “heart” belief. Head beliefs are what we say we believe, and heart beliefs are the perceptions that actually shape our feelings and reactions to circumstances and our relationship with God.
We need to make our head and heart beliefs the same.
A couple of weeks ago we talked about the fact that God is talkative and wants to engage us in two-way communication.
The question then becomes how does God speak directly and personally to you?
We talked about some of the ways God talks.
- Audible Voice -
- Dreams and Visions -
- Angels -
- The creation itself -
- Holy Spirit led men to speak or prophecy -
- The Bible -
1. Prayer. In order for God to speak to us, we need to be in his presence listening for his voice. As we spend time in prayer, we may sense God's leading in our lives.
2. His word. God speaks to us through his written word as we study and meditate upon his holy scripture.
3. Circumstances. Many times God will cause doors to open, or others to close. If we are walking in obedience to him, we have to assume that events in our life are ordered by God. They don't just happen by chance.
4. Our heart. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will minister to our spirit and reveal God's plan for us. We will have an assurance deep in our heart. We will feel God's voice guiding us.
Then last week we said that if we’re to relate with God in two-way relationship, we need to learn to discern His voice.
Learning to recognize God’s voice is a skill that takes time, practice, and intentionality. Don’t be discouraged if sometimes you think you’re hearing anything or you might be hearing wrong’ That’s normal for most of us when we’re getting started.
Discerning God’s voice from all of the other voices in and around us (our own thoughts, the philosophy of the world, the desires of our flesh, the temptations of the Evil One) is a skill that God is eager ot develop in us. He wants to talk to you. He wants you to hear His voice and receive His love, affirmation, guidance, instruction, perspectives, and companionship. He is invested in the process of helping you to know His voice.
Here are three things to keep in mind:
- God wants you to hear His voice. He will protect you from hearing the wrong thing. Remember;
John 10:27 (NLT) My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 16:13 (NLT) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
Make it a practice to let Him know you want to hear Him only. If you ask Him to protect you from hearing other input, including your own logic and understanding.
- Scripture is always the measure for what we hear. Hod may tell us things not specifically discussed in Scripture, but He will not contradict Scripture. God’s voice is always consistent whether through the written pages of Scripture or His Spirit speaking in our hearts. He will always confirm what He says.
- God will speak to us in a way that is consistent with His character. He is never condemning or harsh. He invites, leads, and woos. He doesn’t force, drive, or push. Conversations with God should leave you feeling hopeful rather than defeated, accepted rather than judged.
It is important to be aware of the necessity to practice our listening skills, but it won't happen automatically for most of us. Until we learn to discern His voice, we often miss what He’s saying. Remember, be intentional ask God questions, then stop be still, listen, then pay attention to what’s happening in your heart and mind. Remember the difference between you head and heart beliefs.
Craig Denison is the author of First15, a daily devotional guiding tens of thousands of believers into a fresh experience with God’s presence every day.
Talking with God
“ Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12¬–13
One of the greatest privileges afforded to us by the filling of the Holy Spirit at salvation is the ability to converse with God. I mean how amazing is that?! We can talk with God.
The majority of Christians I’ve come across believe that God hears their prayers. We believe God is big enough and good enough to at least listen in on the words we speak to him. But too few Christians I’ve met believe that they can hear God.
For a long time I thought that God didn’t really like to talk, or at least not to me. I thought there were a chosen few that heard from him often, and that he might speak to me about things that really mattered, but that was about it. Then in a moment of desperation I reached out to God and really tried to listen, and he spoke. Then he spoke again the next day. And pretty soon I realized that God actually wants to converse with me. I learned that God cares deeply about the little things. He wants to abide in us and we in him, even in that which feels mundane. He cares about the daily goings-on of our work, school, and family. He cares about our mental musings. He is a good, present Father that loves having conversations with his children.
When I hear the word prayer I often get a mental picture of God up high and me down below. I think a more accurate picture is God and me sitting across from each other like friends or family. Why would I believe God is distant? After all, he sent his Son to die on the cross, tore the veil that we could know that his presence is available, and filled me with his Spirit that I would never be apart from him again. He did a whole lot to ensure there would be no distance between us. But still I act as if I’m “lifting up” prayers when God himself dwells inside me.
Maybe the reason Scripture says that God’s voice is still and small is to remind us that he really is that close. He doesn’t have to shout. He’s right there. A whisper is enough.
Let’s take time today to talk with God, not at God. Let’s open up an ongoing conversation like we would with a good Father or friend. Let’s make space to listen, trusting that he is good enough and real enough to speak. And let’s experience how life-giving it is to have a conversation with a God who knows us, dwells within us, and loves us unconditionally.
God speaks in all sorts of ways. Sometimes you’ll get a phrase or sentence. Sometimes you’ll get an intuition or sense. Sometimes you’ll get a picture or image. The wonderful thing about the Holy Spirit dwelling with your spirit is that there is a whole range of ways God can and will speak to you. He’s not limited to the way we have conversations. He can speak straight to your heart in all sorts of ways. As you go about your day make the decision to talk with God about what’s going on. Ask him for his thoughts on questions or problems you face. Let him speak into insecurities or fears you have. Ask him to reveal his love when you feel empty or tired. Choose to converse with God and discover the goodness of having a continual conversation with your heavenly Father.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT) Never stop praying.
Praying without ceasing comes naturally when we bring God into the everyday events of our lives and talk to Him about them along the way.
If you had to describe to someone what that command means without using the word pray what would you say?
Praying continually is quite an order if it meant that God expects us to engage in nonstop intercession or supplication (making a request). That would wear most people out. But what if what that really means is just keeping company with Him? What if He wants us to include Him in every part of our lives, and every part of our day? Maybe it means to “practice the presence of God”. Praying without ceasing comes naturally when we bring God into the everyday events of our lives and talk to Him about them during the day.
In a sermon and earlier Bible studies I’ve said that praying without ceasing means that we are to consciously turn all our thoughts into prayer, especially when those thoughts turn to worry, fear, discouragement, and anger.
When we go through our day in unceasing prayer we are showing our dependence on God. If we don’t have this attitude throughout the day we may start to depend on ourselves instead of depending on God's grace. When we live our lives and go through our day in constant communion with our friend, God, then our minds are constantly on the things above.
Colossians 3:2-4 (NLT)2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
What phrases in these verses call for us to live communion with God.
- Trust in the Lord
- Seek His will
John 15:4-17 (NLT)4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.17 This is my command: Love each other.
Which phrases in this passage points to moment-by-moment life with Him.
- Remain in me, and I will remain in you. (vs4)
- Those who remain in me, and I in them, apart from me you can do nothing (vs5)
- Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away (vs6)
- But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted(vs7)
- Remain in my love. (vs 9)
- When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. (vs 10)
- so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! (vs 11)
From these two passages, the Proverbs scripture and the one from John, what is our part in this moment-by-moment relationship with God?
- Trusting - Proverbs scripture
- Seeking - Proverbs scripture
- Remaining - John scripture
- Obedience - John scripture
Psalms 139:1-18 NLT O Lord , you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord . You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
How do you think God would say is His part in part in relating moment-by-moment with you?
My friend, I already know you thoroughly, I am familiar with all your ways. I know when you get up in the morning. I know when you go to bed at night. I see where you go and what you do during your day. I even know what is going to happen to you during the day at work, at lunch, at dinner. You can’t hide from me or my presence. I know you inside and out.
Not only does God command us to remain with Him and commit all of our ways to Him, but He also remains with us.
John 15:4 (NLT) Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
Psalm 37:5 (NLT) Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.
Here are some ways we can pray without ceasing;
Of course, this requires training your mind to move quickly from problem mode to prayer mode. It is crucial to have your arsenal of prayers ready to use.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your preparations, helping you form prayers that will flow readily out of your heart. Then practice saying them to until you’re intimately familiar with them. When you encounter trouble of any kind, reach into your arsenal of prayers and speak one or more of them boldly.
Here are some from scripture:
Psalm 27:11 (NLT) Teach me how to live, O LORD. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.
James 1:2 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
James 4:7-8 (NLT)7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
Psalm 143:8 (NLT) Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Ephesians 2:6 (NLT) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
In our study we have looked at five key ideas that are foundational to making prayer a dynamic conversation with our friend God.
- Prayer thrives when it is in an atmosphere of an authentic, dynamic relationship with God.
- Our relationship with God deepens when we risk being open and honest with what we say to Him in prayer.
- We need to have an accurate view of God. Our head and heart beliefs need to match so that we are comfortable in opening up to God in prayer. We need to be sure that or head and heart beliefs match when we consider;
- Delights in and takes pleasure in me. -
- Cares about even the smallest details of my life -
- Pities (has compassion on) me when I’m hurting -
- Is patient with and understanding of my weaknesses and failures -
- Wants to help me out of the messes I get myself into -
- Enjoys sharing His heart with me -
- Likes to hear what I think and feel -
- He loved us before we loved Him
- He Is always happy to see me, even when I’ve sinned against Him -
John 21:15-17 (NLT)15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
- Always has time for me -
- Wants to rescue me when I’m in trouble -
2 Peter 2:9 NLT So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.
4. God is talkative and wants to engage with us in two-way conversation:
Romans 8:16 (NLT) For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
5. Learning to discern God’s voice is essential in two-way-relationship. He speaks;
- Audible Voice -
- Dreams and Visions -
- Angels -
- The creation itself -
- Holy Spirit led men to speak or prophecy -
- The Bible -
We also need to be aware of the hindrances in hearing God speak.
- Not taking time to listen
- Doubting that He will really speak
- Unconfessed sin
- Self-reliance, independence
- Fear of what He might say
- Being afraid of hearing the wrong voice
If we haven’t accomplished anything else in this study I pray that;
- Knowing God wants a reciprocating friendship with me encourages me to take all kinds of things to Him and to depend on Him for support. Support in even the small things like what to say to someone that you know is going through a difficult time and asking God how you should approach it. For example I was struggling with how to move forward on something in my responsibilities for the church. He answered me immediately and I’ve started working on it and I expect that it will result in something positive as we move forward.
- Because God want to engage in two-way dialogue I hope that we are learning to pay attention to the thoughts that cross our minds so that we don’t miss conversations and what He is saying to us.
By talking to the Lord in open dialogue, we develop a relationship with Him. He becomes not just our Savior, but our friend, and as the intimacy grows, so will our passion to be with Him. Prayer will become a delight, not a duty.