Why “Read Your Bible and Pray” is Inadequate

Why hearing God’s voice is as big as the universe and “read your Bible and pray” comes up short.

read the bible

Before you have a conniption fit let me say clearly:

I read the Scriptures regularly, meditate on them, and study them. I teach the Scriptures and am a person of prayer.

There are different kinds of prayer talked about in Scripture:

  • supplication
  • intercession
  • thanksgiving
  • fellowship, etc.

Prayer for a Christian is like breathing. 

But I still believe prayer and Bible-reading are lacking. Although the Scriptures are extremely important Len Sweet says, “The Bible is a roadmap and compass that escorts us to a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Some Christians have canned answers for everything. Have you ever heard, “read your Bible and pray?” I’ve said those words to my embarrassment.

For instance, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

How do I do that exactly and the typical answer is, “just read your Bible and pray.” 

What about this one? “Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice. How do I hear the Lord for myself? You got it, “just read your Bible and pray.”

“Read your Bible and pray” is not practical or specific enough. I know people who tried to follow this formula without success and as a young believer, I tried to follow this advice.

But when it came time to apply the advice I didn’t know where to start. The fact is to “read your Bible and pray” has left many believers frustrated and living in denial.

Conversational Prayer and hearing God’s voice in comparison is the difference between day and night. That’s why hearing God’s voice is as big as the universe but “read your Bible and pray” comes up short.

But despite that, I want to leave you with two practical thoughts to ponder. I don’t have all the answers but I’m learning just like you.

First Thought

The Apostle Paul solves part of this problem for us.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6, NIV)

When your mind is governed by the Spirit you experience life and peace within. The effect of hearing His voice within will often be rest, peace, joy, and encouragement.

The reverse happens, when we step out of God’s revealed will. We have a sense of death on the inside. You will feel troubled and disturbed.

But Conversational Prayer is experienced by life and peace.

Second Thought

Finally, since Christ lives in you by the Spirit, you now have a new awareness beyond just human thought. It’s not as easy as just saying“Read your Bible and pray” because there’s a learning curve to hearing God’s voice. But the benefits are worth it.

 

Conversational Prayer (because He Calls You His Friend)

He is saying to you, 

Have I really got all your heart? I know all about your weaknesses and your failures, but, really, is your heart on my side?

In this post you will learn:

1. Jesus calls you friend

2. What’s the nature of this friendship

3. What’s the proof of this friendship

4. What’s this friendship based on

he calls me friend

Do you know Jesus calls you friend?

You are my friends. . .

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love.

Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” (John 15:13-16 Message Bible).

In this post you will learn:

  • Jesus calls you friend
  • What’s the nature of this friendship
  • What’s the proof of this friendship
  • What’s this friendship based on

 

1. Jesus Calls You Friend

Conversational Prayer is about being His friend. It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it? Wherever you find a healthy relationship, you find friendship. Even in a happy marriage a husband and wife can be best friends.

What a great thing to hear a Father say, not only my son but my friend. Likewise, when Jesus said, you are my friends, He meant more than You are My disciples’ and you are My followers.

He could have said, you are my acquaintances. But when He said, you are my friends He went beyond anything else. I think that the Lord Jesus found joy in His heart when He used that phrase. Can’t you see the satisfaction of His heart in this word, friend?

What must the disciples felt when they heard, Ye are my friends? You can’t go any deeper in a relationship than to come into friendship. How rich and how precious to hear these words, you are my friend!

Think about the picture of the new Jerusalem at the end of the Bible when it says: “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones” (Revelation 21:19).

I see the foundation of that city is most precious, and I sense the most precious foundation of life is friendship. The new Jerusalem will be built upon the foundation of the friendship between the Lord Jesus and His own.

Finally, do you see the connection of the foundation of the city and  Conversational Prayer in Revelation 21:19?

2. What’s the Nature of This Friendship? 

We have it in John 15, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn’t know what his lord does, but I have called you friends: for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known unto you.”

Friendship makes it possible to open your heart fully, nothing hidden; and to have confidence you can trust the other person with all that is in your heart.

Jesus said, “All that the Father has shown Me I have shown you. I have kept nothing back from you. I have put perfect confidence in you. I have had no suspicions of you and have not been afraid to say just what was in My heart.”

How wonderful is that?!

But look at the Gospel of John and Chapter two. “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, during the feast, many believed on his name, beholding his signs which he did.

But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, for that he knew all men, and because he needed not that anyone should bear witness concerning man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).

Jesus knows all men, so He doesn’t commit Himself to them… “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus” (John 3:1), and you see that Jesus knew Nicodemus and He did not commit Himself to him. Nicodemus was not in the place of a friend yet. 

Before the burial of Jesus Nicodemus wasn’t his friend but afterword something had happened to him by that time. Jesus means in effect, Before I can commit Myself to you, Nicodemus, you must be born again.

Once you’re born again your friendship with Jesus begins. Yes, Jesus tells us that the real nature of friendship is to commit yourself to Him. Isn’t that precious?

There is all the difference between conversation and fellowship and commitment. Friendship means that you have committed yourselves to one another – you have really put yourself into the hands of the other person.

Jesus said friendship means: “All things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you.” This is Conversational Prayer at it’s finest!

Just think that the Son of God should do that – that He would be willing to commit Himself to some people.

3. What’s the Proof of This Friendship? 

First, it’s committing yourself to Jesus.

So when Jesus said this, “Greater love hath no man than this. That a man lay down his life for his friends” is the proof of friendship. How much are you prepared to sacrifice, to suffer and to put up with?

“A man lays down his life for his friends.” What does that mean? Does that mean physically dying in some way for your friends?

There are a thousand ways of laying down your life for your friends. It’s a matter of laying down our lives all the time – not just some big act of physically dying for our friends. 

Letting something of ourselves go, letting some personal interest go and just saying, That is not so important – it is for my friend. Friendship makes everything else unimportant.  

Finally, what is laying down our life? There’s many ways of laying down our life. It’s understanding that nothing is too valuable or important to be kept from our friend. It does not matter what it costs, or how painful it is – friendship makes it possible.

There’s only one man in all the Bible who was called God’s friend. “Abraham… the friend of God” (James 2:23). What a wonderful thing to be said of any man – “Abraham, my friend.”

How could God call Abraham His friend? What made Abraham a friend of God? “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love… and offer him” (Genesis 22:2).

Did Abraham say? You’ve got to be kidding me. Isaac is too precious. He is everything to me. No way, I can’t offer him!

No, Abraham did not talk like that. I don’t think Abraham started out being called God’s friend but as he journeyed with God a deep friendship developed.

How precious when it says, “And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and he clave the wood for the burnt offering” (Genesis 22:3).

I don’t know about you, I bet that if you were faced with the decision to offer your only son you wouldn’t get up early in the morning!  Why could Abraham do it?

Why not put it off and stay in bed as long as possible? But it says, “Abraham rose early in the morning.” What was he about to do? He was about to enter right into the heart of God in giving his only begotten son, and enter right into fellowship with the passion of God’s heart.

“God so loved… that He gave His only begotten Son.” It was because Abraham was God’s friend. He had entered right into the heart of God and counted nothing too precious for friendship with God.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”, and his act of offering Isaac was proof Abraham indeed laid down his life.
4. What’s the Basis of This Friendship? 

Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him in the coming days, and it was getting near to the day when they would all leave Him, and yet, knowing all that, He said, Ye are my friends.

More was happening than meets the eye. Jesus was looking beyond the Cross, and seeing the day would come when these men would stand firmly on the ground of the Cross and resurrection.

Jesus knew what was going to happen in the next few days, but He was always speaking to them about afterward. Human failure is never the last thing and was not going to be the end of everything.

Remember Peter’s failure? Poor Simon Peter, “Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat.

Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.” (Luke 22:32 Message Bible).

You are going to have a terrible fall, but that is not going to be the end. You will turn again and you will have a great ministry afterward.

But Jesus also saw something else. He knew that before long they would receive the Holy Spirit and would be governed by Him.

And when the Holy Spirit has full possession a person can be trusted. These men could not be trusted without the Holy Spirit, but when He came in, then Jesus could depend upon them.

Jesus’ disciples wouldn’t be governed by personal interests, but they would live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. And Jesus said, “Based on the fact you are My friends, and that day is as though it is now. You are My friends because I know that you are men standing on the firm foundation of the Cross and resurrection.”  

This is the basis of friendship. If we live on your own human resources then the Lord will never be able to depend upon you, but if you’re governed by the Holy Spirit, the Lord has all that’s necessary for Him to say, You are my friends. That makes me want to shout for joy.

Many times we don’t know how weak we are, but He knows. Yes, the disciples were men of many weaknesses and many failures and often they didn’t have a clue what was going on. They said the wrong thing and many times did the wrong thing, but Jesus knew that He had their hearts.

Has He captured your heart? Do you have a heart for Him? You may have made mistakes, but He knows all about that, and He knows if you have a heart for Him.

They had a heart for the Lord, and that is the basis of friendship. And He is saying to you too, Have I really got all your heart? I know all about your weaknesses and your failures, but, really, is your heart on my side?

Finally, the Holy Spirit is not somebody who came at Pentecost many years ago. He’s here today and can be in you, and if He really has the control of your life the one thing which concerns you most is, How does my life affect the Lord Jesus? Are you His friend?

 

Be Encouraged Today!

May you hear His voice for yourself more clearly than ever before.

Be Encouraged

Image may contain: text that says 'Heavenly Father, Please speak to me in a way that understand. Teach me to recognize Your voice and when You are speaking. Teach me to hear Your Holy Spirit myself and protect me from deception. Please guide me into all that You have in store. In Jesus' name I pray, rejoice and say, Amen.'
Be Encouraged

6 Reasons Why God Still Speaks To You Personally

Find out why God want to speak to you personally.

God Still Speaks!

That was news to me.

My teachers taught me that God stopped talking as soon as the last words of the Bible were penned by John and that today God speaks only through his written Word. If true we must now depend on commentaries, friends, or teachers to tell what God’s saying.

The thinking behind this understanding was that if God spoke to us, we would have to call it “divine revelation” which by definition meant that it would be right up there with the Bible. 

Human reasoning goes like this – since the Bible has been completed, you must conclude that God doesn’t any longer speak.  Is that line of reasoning based on fact? I don’t think so.

Why God Speaks to you personally

 First,

limiting God’s voice only to the written Word doesn’t end the confusion about how to live the Christian life or when to do what.

Second,

the Bible from beginning to end is a collection of stories about people who were led by the Spirit or not led. The stories were written down so we can see what a difference being led of the Spirit makes. Paul tells us that we have those stories specifically to show us what we need to know about how to live (1Corinthians 10:11).

If we can’t connect with the Spirit, how are we to make any sense of those stories? Basically, the stories often provide examples of how our best ideas of what to do apart from God hearing God’s voice only brings failure. 

But if God doesn’t show us how to see and discern, then we are left to “our own understanding” (Proverb.3:5) which is exactly what gets us into trouble in the first place!

A lot of Christians seem to think that if you are applying Biblical principles to your life then you aren’t leaning on your own understanding.  The thing is you are still depending on your human powers of reasoning. 

It takes a lot more than good teaching in order to live well. Because even when armed with good teaching we still have to rely “on our own understanding” in order to make the necessary judgment calls. On the other hand,  what if we could enter into Conversational Prayer. We now have a Mentor to ask for help? Then we would listen to God’s wisdom in regard to what to do.

Third,

Jesus was clear about the ministry of the Holy Spirit as a mentor for life (John 16). As he prepared his disciples for the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus made it plain that His mission to train them was not over, and he was passing that task of mentoring on to the Holy Spirit.

In context, there is no way to reasonably interpret those promises as a description of the Bible only. The disciples still needed personal attention. Today we are in need of a mentor as they were.

Fourth,

if the Bible is our only source of God’s word, then what about the Christians in the world who don’t have Bibles? Since that’s the case, in what way does His promise to be with his people and guide them make any sense at all?

Did Christians need the invention of the printing press (around 1436) in order to begin to grow spiritually?

This is not of little importance. When my husband I were in West Africa, out in the bush, even if they had a Bible they couldn’t read.

We associate God’s word to the printed text only, don’t we? But millions of Christians don’t have access to Bibles.

Fifth,

Jesus spoke to this issue with the religious leaders of His day. Having no other direct source at the time, they were looking to the Scriptures for every detail on how to live.

Jesus pointed out that the purpose of the Scriptures was to point to Jesus himself, and that life was something that came from engaging with him, not something that could be extracted from the printed page alone (John5:39).

Sounds like Conversational Prayer to me.

How are we to make sense of John 5:39 if his aim was to point us back to the written Word as our only source on how to live?

Sixth,

Yes, the Bible is “living and active” but it doesn’t work automatically. People read the Bible all the time and in fact are unchanged. Nearly every Christian I know started a devotional life. They go through periods where reading the Bible seemed more like doing homework. Argh!

I don’t want to fault the person involved. I’ve been there myself. We need divine help in order to quicken the Word to our heart and mind. Most of us weren’t taught how to participate with the Holy Spirit in this way.

Finally, the Christian life is not just about knowing the correct answers. It’s not about memorizing Scripture. And knowing how to make good choices is not the only reason for having His Word.

Our needs go way deeper than knowing the correct answers about what to do. We need to have a conversational relationship with God. 

 god speaks are you listening

 

 

 

 

Why Keep a Spiritual Journal (because it Ignites a Passionate Life of Prayer)

Find out 7 reasons why I think every Christ follower should keep a spiritual journal.

Ever wonder why keeping a spiritual journal is so important?

Below you will find 6 reasons for keeping a spiritual journal. 

I’ve been keeping prayer journals for over 40 years. The focus of my journal is to keep track of my journey with God. The Bible, God’s love letter to us helps us see that people kept journals. They wrote down what they heard God speak.

Over 45 times the Bible speaks about writing down what God spoke. Where would we be if the likes of Moses Nehemiah or Habakkuk hadn’t kept a journal of their encounters and words from God? 

From their example and my experience, here are six reasons why I think every Christ follower should keep a spiritual journal.

1. It keeps at your fingertips a ready reference of the things God is saying to you personally. A personal word from God in the form of a scripture, a dream or a word of prophecy is life-giving. Just like a gift from a loved one, or a picture or an important letter we keep them in a safe place, don’t we?

In the same way, a record of what God is saying to you helps you keep track of your spiritual journey.

 2. It motivates you to read the Bible and listen for God’s voice. Many struggle with reading the Bible so keeping a record of what you are reading and noting the things God speaks to you brings joy and encouragement.

3. It helps to keep you focused. Briefly logging key prayers in your journal aids in praying in the front of each journal entry, I always write: “The prayer recorded is the prayer rewarded.”

As you glance back at the last entry that you wrote it encourages you to keep your appointment with the Lord. It brings a hunger to be more aware of His presence in you and around you.

4. It provides a place of release where you can pour out your heart to the Lord and know He hears you. Have you found that sometimes in trying to pray through your trials, frustrations, or complaints you get caught in a kind of spiral that pulls you deeper rather than breaking out?

Writing and seeing and reading your transaction with God in black and white can be healing, revealing, and transforming. When you break out you now see from God’s perspective.

As you write it’s a way of loosing yourself from the sadness and raw emotion like David did in many of his Psalms.

In some supernatural way, it seals what you’ve been trying to say and brings the peace that passes understanding.

5. Reviewing your spiritual journal entries from previous months and years gives you a perspective on your spiritual growth. Of course, you will see where you’re not listening to God’s voice.

But also, you see where God’s faithfulness and His persistence to communicate His will and direction through journaling is encouraging. For example, when you review older entries you can see God had been speaking to you.

You can record scriptures, impressions, and prophecies given to you by others, helping you keep everything connected. Reading through your journals for the past years gives you perspective on your spiritual life. Instead of a birds-eye view, it’s a long-range view of where you’ve been and where you’re going.

6. It builds trust when you see how God has been working in your life and answering your prayers. Leafing back through your old entries causes you to praise and worship Him for working in your life.

Finally, if you keep a spiritual journal, what have you learned about its benefits?

 

 

 

Do You Struggle With Faith? (because Conversational Prayer is About Faith).

Find out what biblical faith means.

living faith

In this post, I will show you what biblical faith is NOT and what true faith is from the
Holy Spirit’s perspective, using Scripture.

I will cover:

  • What biblical faith is NOT
  • What’s biblical faith mean
  • A stern warning
  • Hebrews 11:1 explanation

Biblical Faith Is NOT a Leap in the Dark

leap-of-faith-300x336

Biblical Faith is not Blind

faith not blind

These two myths are man’s ideas of what faith means and are not biblical and the scriptures do not back up this teaching.

WHAT DOES BIBLICAL FAITH MEAN?

Faith is a noun. It’s information we receive from God for us to act upon. Another way of saying it is, faith is taking seriously what God reveals to you.

We receive this information in different ways: through the Scriptures; prophetic utterance; a dream; a vision; a picture in your mind; a still small voice; spontaneous thoughts; or inner knowing. Very seldom will you hear an audible voice.

Once your eyes are open to see what biblical faith is, you will NEVER go back to believing faith is a leap in the dark or that faith is blind.

 

 

Conversational Prayer (and Wisdom for the Weary).

Why it’s a good idea to speak to your heavenly Father when you walk through trials.

Trials.

Everybody has them from time to time.

But why do some sink beneath the raging waves but others experience joy?

To be honest when I was a new Christian I was taught once you become a believer you don’t experience trials anymore. That’s a stronghold of the mind (pattern of thinking) that needs to be shattered. It’s a lie we believe.

“When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm; when you will not be engulfed in raging rivers.

 If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs, keep going; you won’t be burned,” (Isaiah 43:2 VOICE Translation).

Did you notice God didn’t say “if”. . . He said, “When you face stormy seas. Everyone will face stormy seas at one time or another. But it’s possible to walk through the storm knowing He’s right there with us and we will not be completely covered by the raging rivers when they come.

Many times right in the middle of calamity, when it looks like a disaster, we hear His voice saying, “Be not afraid.” His presence is all that we need even in the deepest floods of tribulation.

Early in my Christian life, the Book of James didn’t make sense to me. “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy.”  I mean really James. . .  you can’t possibly mean this. You don’t know what I’m going through.

Years have gone by since walking through the depression, major liver surgery, and breast cancer – and I’ve found James was right.

Conversational Prayer has a place in your trials.

Before 1990 I couldn’t see nor understand how to meet trials with joy. I met people who thrived in their trials. But I wasn’t one of them. Reading chapter one of James just made me angry. 

But 1990 was a turning point in my life. During a four week stay in the hospital one night, while I sat on my bed my heavenly Father spoke to me. His voice wasn’t audible but these spontaneous words went through my mind.

“You’re my daughter that will never change. I’ll never leave you or forsake you.”

The surprising thing was I was more than 1,000 miles away from home. He KNEW where to find me. He KNEW where I was. His words comforted me like a fluffy down comforter. I felt warm, enfolded and safe in His affectionate presence.

Another thing happened that night, my perspective changed. The anger lifted. I hadn’t changed my thinking because my attention span was non-existent because of my illness.

Even so, my life took a turn for the better. It was life-changing because my perspective changed how I looked at trials.

Conversational Prayer is about having a two-way conversation

God and you talk back and forth. It’s like any other conversation you have with a close friend. You speak and they listen, then they speak and you listen.

On a side note. I highly recommend Whispers of my Abba, by David Takle.  You will learn how to listen to the Spirit of God and develop a conversational prayer life that will change forever your relationship to God and your approach to the Christian life.

In his book, David Takle summarizes and clarifies much of the best on the subject of Conversational Prayer.

Sean P has this to say about Whispers of my abba, “Because Christianity is referred to as a “Relationship” and not a “Religion”, I struggled to understand how to have this relationship when it seemed so “one-sided”. I was always doing the talking through Prayer.” 

Now back to 1990. Prior to my four-week stay in the hospital, my life was like a hamster running on its hamster wheel. Busy, busy, busy. No let up and so much to do. I was driven.

 

Busy Busy Busy

Was it because my life came to a screeching halt that now I had time to listen to my heavenly Father’s voice? I think so. I had almost totally forgotten Him. I had pushed my heavenly Father to the sidelines of my life but He was waiting for the right time to speak to me.

Jesus was no stranger to trials either.  In the Garden of Gethsemane waiting for His betrayer in the dark shadows of the cross, He’s in conversation to His heavenly Father.

“He walked a short distance away, and being overcome with grief, he threw himself face down on the ground. He prayed that if it were possible, he would not have to experience this hour of suffering

He prayed, “Abba, my Father, all things are possible for you. Please—don’t allow me to drink this cup of suffering! Yet what I want is not important, for I only desire to fulfill your plan for me.”

It’s a good idea to speak to your heavenly Father too when you walk through trials. Asking for wisdom is the natural thing to do. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

This verse is in the context of trials and tribulation. I don’t know about you but walking through trials can be confusing. What better person to go to than your heavenly Father who will give you wisdom generously.

Before finally ending up in the hospital I frantically tried everything humanly possible to get better. I never thought of crying out to Abba, my Father for wisdom. 

Nothing helped, until. . .

By this time I didn’t know what I needed. But what I needed most was hearing my Abba, Father say, “You’re my daughter and always will be.” My healing didn’t come overnight but what a journey.  Conversational Prayer is a dialogue between two persons who love each other. 

Hearing “You’re my daughter and always will be” went straight to my heart. What daughter doesn’t want to hear those words from her father. Here I was hearing these words from my heavenly Father.

Even though I still had a long road to recovery, my inner being came to complete peace and rest. The peace and rest flooded my soul in a deep and profound way.

I tell people it’s one thing to hear about Conversational Prayer but experiencing God speaking to you directly is transformational. It’s the most life-giving thing you will ever experience.

You never believe again that God stopped speaking once the Scriptures were completed. Your perspective has changed. That’s why James could say.”

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. 

And let endurance have it’s perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I gained wisdom that dark lonely night in the hospital, spiritual wisdom that is. Spiritual wisdom is smarter than human wisdom. I thought I needed one thing but God knew I needed to hear His voice and sense His presence.

Like me are you able to go back on a storm of life and see how God brought you through? I’ve learned not to deny what I see around me, but know He will open my eyes to a new and fresh perspective when I ask for wisdom.

Thank Him for bringing you through past trials, and for holding you through current suffering. Cry out to Him, to help you see the light in a trial that has seemed so far just darkness.