Practices of Discipleship: Prayer

Prayer is more about listening than talking:

Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.

Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few.
For a dream comes through much activity,
And a fool’s voice is known by his many words.

Eccles. 5:1-3

The main point of praying is putting yourself somewhere you can hear clearly.  There is both a physical and a moral/spiritual element to this placing.

Physically it should be quiet and alone (we are not talking about corporate prayer here which is a different thing).

Morally you need to be devoted, set aside or holy.  Your only desire should be to do His will otherwise you won’t hear properly:

17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

John 7:17,18

You also need to give this time and priority.  I find that first thing in the morning is best and an hour is a good length of time.

Once you are in the quiet place (Psalm 91), the aim is to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

I find that the meditative technique of “centering down” helps here.  Thoughts actually come out of the heart or centre of you (not your head – Matt. 15:18, Luke 6:45) and therefore bringing your inner man to a place of quiet is important if you are to listen to God who is in you (Col. 1:27).

God is not far away, He is in fact very close to His children (Romans 10:8, Acts 17:28).   If you are born again and abiding in Jesus, His word is in your heart and written on your mind (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 10:16).

When a thought comes to you, capture it and check it against the name or character of Jesus as He has been revealed to you through the Holy Spirit and His word.  If it requires action do it as long as it is something God would do.  If you are unsure ask another brother/sister who you trust and who loves you.

I am writing these things because I believe God has told me to and it is the kind of thing He does.  I also checked with Olive.

https://holdfasttowhatisgood.com/tag/cup-runneth-over/

Communion with God

Communion with God is intimacy with your creator.

The wonderful privilege of everyone who has been born again is the possibility of ongoing communion with the Creator of the universe.

As creatures we were made to be vessels carrying a treasure (2 Cor. 4:7).  That treasure is the Holy Spirit.  Intimacy with God is being what we were meant to be, filled with the Holy Spirit.

There is no more intimate picture than a vessel filled with a liquid.  The vessel itself knows nothing but containment of something greater than itself, something which it feels touching every inside surface.  Every so often the Owner comes and tips out the precious substance for someone else’s benefit and then tops it up again to overflowing.  Overflowing is the better state for a vessel.  Then it is not just containment and the inside surfaces that know the joy of intimacy but every part of the vessel, even those parts that are outward facing, feel the joy.

Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  You cannot love God in this way if you don’t have intimacy with Him.  You cannot love God in this way unless you are filled with the Holy Spirit.  You must be born again, yes, but you must also yield and let Him fill you on an ongoing basis.

Dedicate some time every day to intimacy with God your creator.  Hear what He is saying to you.  Do what He says. Repeat daily.

Cursing while praying

The Imprecatory Psalms

Psalm 12

What is wrong? 2010-10-12-True-for-Now

Liars on every side, no faithful men to be found, people using powerful and clever words to achieve their own ends.  Sounds like a normal day in the business world.

What is the curse?

May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue. V.3

Application

The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honoured among men.  There needs to be honesty and truth in all our dealings with each other.  If a man says he will do something, he should do it.  Bluffers and wafflers need to be shown up, not honoured.  The “cute whore” nod-nod, wink –wink, mentality that pervaded Irish life and politics and was honoured in certain political parties led to the wicked freely having their way in corruption and theft.  It doesn’t appear so much now because we all see the consequences.  It would have been better if some specific prayer similar to verse 3 was sent up to God about some of these men.  We might have been saved a lot of trouble.

Psalm 35

What is wrong?

The author is under attack.  Some are seeking to kill him or ruin him, others to repay him evil for the good he has done them.  And others are gloating over his distress.

5-Wednesday-Day-Three-Pic-1-Saul-and-David-300x204

 

What is the curse?

 

LORD, do unto them as they would do unto me.  Put them to shame and confusion.

Application

I don’t think many of us have human enemies of the sort David did at the time he wrote this psalm.  However we all have spiritual enemies who would seek to do same things as described in this psalm.  They should be cursed in the same way, i.e. by calling upon God to judge them (cf. Jude 8-10).

Psalm 58

What is wrong?

Wicked rulers.00733518.jpg

What is the curse?

LORD, destroy their power and get rid of them.

Application

We all know dictators that it would be good to curse in this way even now never mind Genghis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Phot and the list of other despots that there have been through the ages.  The amount of misery such men can inflict makes these curses wholly appropriate.

Psalm 59

What is wrong?

The author is under attack from a group of men who besiege him and are out to slander and kill him (probably Saul’s men according to the heading).

What is the curse?

LORD, punish them, show no mercy, but don’t just kill them, make them wander about and let them be caught first and then consume them in wrath and destroy them utterly.  I don’t know why David said not to just kill them, he could have saved himself many years of running around the mountains.

Application

I don’t think many of us have human enemies of the sort David did at the time he wrote this psalm but it can happen.  David had a long on-going battle with Saul and his forces – perhaps we need to be careful how we curse!!!

Psalm 69

What is wrong?

The author is in despair because as he seeks the Lord people begin to hate him without reason, scorn him and alienate him – including his own family members.  When people insult God he feels it personally (v. 9).  Scorn has broken his heart and left him helpless and there is no one to comfort him, in fact they do the opposite.

What is the curse?

May the table set before them become a snare;
may it become retribution and a trap.
23 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.
24 Pour out your wrath on them;
let your fierce anger overtake them.
25 May their place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in their tents.
26 For they persecute those you wound
and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
27 Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.
28 May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.

Application

This psalm is full of prophetic statements that the NT writers use in relation to the life and death of Jesus. In John 15:25, the Lord quoted Psalm 69:4 in reference to His mistreatment by the Jews, “They hated Me without cause.”  The Apostle Paul quotes verses 22 and 23 in Romans 11:9-10.  The first part of verse 9 is fulfilled when the Lord cast the money changers out of the Temple (John 2:17).  The last part is quoted in Romans 15:3.

When I read the curses I cannot help think that they apply to those who reject Christ and oppose the church unreasonably  and for no cause.   In particular the curse that they should be blotted out of the book of life points to this.

Channelling The Holy Spirit

“Channeling” is a term often used by spiritists and others to describe the way in which spirits from the spirit world can be brought into action in this material world through human channels.

Christians naturally (I use the word deliberately) shy away from such things.

However a Spirit filled Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit according to Scripture (I Corinthians 6:19) and therefore should actively be channeling Him into this world. Jesus was the ultimate example of this. He is the spiritual Word made flesh (John 1:14), channeling God into the world through His flesh and we also ought to be the same.

And if you want to extend the influence of the Holy Spirit beyond your own physical sphere you can pray.

Changing God’s mind

From Acts 27 it is clear that you should always listen to someone who is in communion with God. But even if you don’t God can still be merciful if that godly man (or woman) intercedes on your behalf.

http://thebiblerevival.com/ This passage is one of the few in Scripture which shows an example of a man apparently changing God’s mind on something. In Acts 27:10 Paul predicts that their lives will be lost along with the cargo and ship whereas in v.22 he predicts that there will be no loss of life, which is how it turned out. In between v. 10 and v. 22 Paul had been praying and God had heard and answered his prayers and effectively had changed His mind.

The most famous example of this is when Moses interceded on behalf of the people of Israel in Exodus 32: 9-14. What both examples (and others) show is that we are not dealing with some immovable stone image or machine that churns out decisions from on high that cannot be changed. This is the opposite of determinism and causes no end of theological conundrums for anyone approaching God without knowing Him. We reach the limits of rational thought in this kind of thing.

Recently I was sharing with an engineer at work, a clever guy. He started the conversation by asking how I could logically think that the bible could be right about God. After some useful debate (which I must put in another blog) I ended up by saying that God reaches everyone not just the logical. And He does it by summing everything up in two promises: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength and your neighbour as yourself.

Thankfully we are not limited to being rational when dealing with God. Let’s be rational, but more than that, let’s be in love.