Praying Effectively

Part 3

Theme: God still speaks to believers

Text: Hebrews 4:16

  It's an honor to be able to speak to God. Anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances, we can approach the throne of God with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.

Most of the time we think of prayer as talking to God, rarely stopping to think that God may want to talk to us. The Scripture is full of accounts of God speaking to His children directly and personally.

Old Testament Examples:

  1. Genesis 3:8 God walked in the garden of Eden and talked with Adam and Eve.
  2. God frequently  spoke to Abraham calling him from one place to another.
  3. God talked to Moses through the burning bush and on Mt. Sinai.
  4. God gave Joshua military advice.
  5. God talked to David about governing the people.

All through the Old Testament God spoke and His people listened or chose to ignore His voice.

New Testament Examples:

  1. God spoke to Saul through a blinding light on the road to Damascus.
  2. God guided the Apostle Paul as he traveled across the Roman Empire preaching the Gospel.
  3. God spoke to the Apostle Peter through a vision telling him to share the Gospel with the Gentiles.
  4. God spoke to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos showing him God's purpose in human history.
  5. Through the Holy Spirit He guided all the members of the early church as they selected leaders, provided for each other's needs and carried the Gospel

It makes no sense to believe that God lost His voice at the end of the first century.

If the essence of Christianity is a personal relationship between Almighty God and individual human beings, it stands to reason that God still speaks to believers today.

Learning To Listen
Requirements For Hearing God

People who are really interested in hearing from God must pay a price.

Requirement #1 - Be "still" before God.
This is not easy, but it is essential. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God."

Jesus developed the discipline of stillness before God in spite of a busy schedule. Crowds followed Him wherever He went. Daily He preached and taught and healed. It was difficult for Him to find time alone to pray and He had to get up long before dawn to do it. (See Mark 1:35).

Times of stillness and solitude were important to Jesus. He not only talked to the Father, He listened. As a result there was purpose to His steps and power in His life. (See Mark 1:22).

God's power is available to us when we come to Him in solitude, when we learn to focus and center our hearts and be quiet before Him.

Requirement #2 - Invite God to speak to you.
This is where a growing relationship with God in prayer comes from. Not prayers on the run, not at conferences, but being still before God.

Decisions that change your life come out of the Holy of Holies, your times of stillness before God.

Ask God to speak to you in specific areas.

Examples:
1.  God, what is the next step in developing my character?
2.  What's the next step in my family - with my wife and children?
3.  What's the next step in my ministry?

What you ask depends on your situation. Whenever you ask the Lord, you will be amazed at how He leads. Our attitude should be: "Speak Lord for your servant is listening..."(1 Samuel 3:9). The message God speaks to you will be suited to your individual need.

Requirement #3 - Obey His leadings.
One reason we may not hear God's voice is that we do not plan to do anything about it. If we don't follow up on God speaking to us, He may see no reason to continue speaking. If God tells you to do something, do it! When God tells us to do something, as long as it's within the limits set by Scripture, we don't have to understand it. All we need to do is obey and trust God to use our obedience to accomplish His will.

How To Be Sure It Is God You Are Hearing

The first question that comes to mind when you talk about God speaking is; "How can I be sure that what I am hearing is truly from God?

This is a valid question. 1 John 4:1 says, "Beloved believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out in the world."

 I want to give you three criteria by which to test what you hear:
1. All leadings that come from God are consistent with His Word, the Bible.
 
If it goes against Scripture, dismiss it.

2.  God's leadings are usually consistent with the person He made you to be.
If you sense a leading that seems to be contradictory to who God made you - test it.

3.  God's leadings usually involve servant-hood.
Check your motives.

The purpose of prayer is not simply to offer up one's requests and praises and present them to God. The purpose of prayer goes deeper than that. Prayer is a way to maintain constant communion with God. It is a means of growing in you relationship with Him. Too many Christians know "about" God but rarely, or never, have an awareness of a growing relationship with Him.

God wants you to enjoy Him. He wants to answer your prayers, guide your life, give you insights from His Word. He has wonderful things in store for you!

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:16-17).

 

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