Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 23, 2012

To Live, Believing

To Live, Believing

After all these years I’ve finally discovered that I’ve been praying wrong! Before you think I’ve totally lost it, let me explain.

First of all, prayer has always been important to me. When my life’s a mess and when my world seems to be turned upside down, I pray. When I’m confused or mixed up, I pray. When I’m burdened over something or for someone else, I pray. Likewise, when I’m overcome with the goodness and blessings of my Lord, I pray. In other words, whether I’m happy, sad, sick, or troubled – whatever, whoever, wherever, however, prayer has been and continues to be my lifeline. So what am I doing wrong?

It occurred to me just recently as I struggled over a door that had closed for me in my writing. I blogged about this situation previously (“When It’s Time To Leave”). In this previous blog I shared that in His time and in His way, I knew that God would lead me to my next step. I recognized that I just needed to stay close to Him so I would hear when He called. In the meanwhile I’ve continued to write and I’ve continued to pray.

I realized that as I continued to pray about my situation, I consistently asked God to show me my next step. I would constantly pray for His direction, leading, and guidance that I might know His will for me. Sometimes I found myself growing discouraged as I wondered why God wouldn’t show me what He wanted me to do. Wouldn’t He want me to know? Oh, how at times I wished I could be like Moses or one of the early prophets to whom God spoke directly. Then I would know! It was at one of these times that I felt God speaking to my heart. “Kathy, I want to show you. I want you to know. I’m not trying to hide anything from you. But you’ve got to listen!” Just as Paul told the Colossians: “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 2:9-10). When I’m filled with the knowledge of His will and have spiritual understanding, I can walk worthy of the Lord, please Him, and be fruitful. So, surely God wants me to know.  It was then I realized what I was doing wrong. I was right to ask God for His direction and leading, but the next step was mine. If I asked God in faith, believing that He would reveal my next step, then I should live, believing. I should live with my spiritual ears open listening and eagerly anticipating what He would show me. Now my prayer should be one for discernment and the ability to understand whatever God revealed to me.  If I live, believing that God really wants me to know the mystery of His will, then how do I hear Him? Consider these ways.

  • God speaks to me through His Word –

“For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). When I read and study God’s Word prayerfully, He will get my attention. Not only does God see and know my heart, but through His Word He will help me better understand myself as well. God’s Word can help me discern my true thoughts and intentions so that I cannot hide behind my excuses and efforts at self-justification. Through His Word God can also reveal His heart. I’m reminded of the two disciples who unknowingly encountered and talked with Jesus as they traveled from Jerusalem after the resurrection. After their eyes were opened and they realized they had been with Jesus, Luke tells us: “And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:32). Does my heart ever burn within me when I read God’s Word and suddenly realize that the words I am reading have a special message for me?

  • God speaks to me through His Spirit –

“For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:10b-12). “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Spirit teaches me. Through His work in my life, God reveals to me things He wants me to know, but am I listening? I’ve discovered three obstacles to hearing God through the Spirit.

(1) Sometimes instead of listening for what God has to say, I listen for what I want to hear. No matter how much I may want something in my life and no matter how earnestly I may seek it, God may have an entirely different plan. I need to listen for what God has to say, not for what I want to hear.

(2) Sin can also interfere with God’s communication. If I have unconfessed sin in my life, I am blocking the work of the Spirit. As Paul advised the Galatians: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:16-17).

(3)  And then there are those times when God seems to be totally silent. I don’t feel His Spirit guiding me and directing me. Paul warned the Thessalonians: “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). If I have failed to listen and obey something God has shown me, I have essentially quenched the Spirit in my life. Why will He reveal more when I’m resisting what He has already shown me? In order to allow God’s Spirit to work in my life and lead me spiritually, I must seek to hear Him, confess my sin, and be obedient to whatever He reveals.

  • God speaks to us through pastors, teachers, and other godly individuals –

 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). We are all in this together. We need one another and we can learn from one another. It amazes me how often God uses His Word, His Spirit, and perhaps a message or comment from another individual to confirm something He is trying to reveal to me.

I realize that I wasn’t really praying wrong, for God knew and saw the intent of my heart. But now I see more clearly that my next step with God is not what He wants me to do sometime in the future. My next step with God is what I do when I get up off my knees after I pray. Do I read my Bible, yield to the Spirit’s gentle nudging, and listen to others God sends my way to help and encourage me? In other words, how do I respond to what I know to do today? Thankfully, God leads us one step at a time, preparing us for everything He calls us to do. When we live, believing, we do not have to know about next year, next month, next week, or even tomorrow. It is enough to rejoice in the knowledge of His will that we have today, knowing that “it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose” (Philippians 2:13, “The New Testament in Modern English,” J.B. Phillips).

 

 

 

 

 

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