Listening Prayer

EarOne of the keys to effective prayer is listening to God. If we pray according to His will not just what we think, then we will see marvellous answers to prayer.

People find it hard to listen to God. It does take practice and discipline, but Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice” so we should expect to be hearing the voice of the Lord often.

For listening prayer, we first ditch the prayer list. This is about communion with God, not shopping.

I find it helpful to have a journal so I can write things down. I also find it helpful to have a piece of paper to write down all the things that my brain comes up with in the silence- that way I can train myself to accept that those things that worry me will be dealt with.

I start by saying something like ,”Lord here I am ready to listen and to enjoy your presence.” Then I stop and sit still, allowing my mind to be quiet.

Sometimes I will bring some concerns to the Lord. I will write down my prayer, and what I hear as God’s response.

Other times I will come with no agenda at all. I have learned that the things I think about (other than the trivial things that I need to do something about) are often the things that the Holy Spirit is prompting me to pray about. This morning, for example, I found myself thinking about the Prime Minister so I spent some time praying for him and the Government. This is not something I do regularly but I believe God was wanting me to do that today.

The key to all this is to approach prayer as a conversation not a list of demands.

 

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Reflection on 1 Peter 1:17-25

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Scripture

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last for ever because it comes from the eternal living word of God.

Observation

Our heavenly Father will judge us by our deeds because He paid a precious ransom to save us from our empty life. The ransom was not mere silver or gold but the precious blood of Christ. We have come to trust in Christ through faith because of the resurrection.

We were cleansed from our sins and must now show love for one another. We have been born again to eternal life.

Application

God’s salvation is awesome in its scope, but we find it so easy to take for granted.

Peter reminds us that we were born again for eternity. Death no longer has a hold over us. We will live for ever.

Our salvation was bought at a tremendous price. The blood of the spotless Lamb of God was poured out to set us free from sin.

If we are to honour God’s grace in saving us, we will want to live out a different life- a life marked by holiness and love.

Prayer

Lord Jesus you are the spotless Lamb of God and you purchased my salvation. Thank you for setting me free from the works of sin. Let me honour you with every word and deed. Amen.

Reflection on Acts 2:36-41

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Scripture

Peter replied, “Each of you must repent and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Observation

While preaching to the crowd, Peter tells them that Jesus whom they crucified is in fact the Messiah. People are cut to the quick and ask Peter what they should do. Peter tells them they need to repent and turn to God.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is for everyone, even the Gentiles.

Peter continues to urge them to receive the gift of salvation. After all this, 3000 people repent and are baptised.

Application

Our sins- MY sins- crucified Jesus. I am responsible for Christ’s death on the cross.

His promise is still available to all who turn to Jesus- salvation the the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

My sins are my responsibility before God. So is my salvation! Everyone must ask Jesus to forgive them.

Nobody is too far from God’s grace to be saved. Nobody is too hard, too sinful or too evil to be accepted by God.

Prayer

Thank you Father for your great salvation and for your love poured out for me. Amen.

Perks of the Office

winner

Judging by most standards, being a pastor is a rotten job- long hours, little pay, lots of criticism by armchair experts.

Of course most pastors are not doing a job, but living out a God-given passion. That makes all the difference and greatly outweighs the negatives.

One of the huge privileges is the way people invite you into the deepest, most intimate parts of their lives, the hidden secret places.

Sometimes people share their struggles and shame, desperately hoping to find acceptance and forgiveness. What an honour it is to listen to the cry of their heart and to express the reality of God’s love to them.

Other times people come and share their great joys, just wanting to have someone celebrate with them. They might be in a place where the news cannot be made public yet- an award, a promotion, family news. What a joy it is to share their happiness and to be entrusted with their confidence.

There are many parts of my life that I love, and some that I find challenging. The real excitement comes in sharing those special moments with special people.

Listening

Ear

Most mornings I get up early and spend an hour or so in prayer. Sometimes I am just too physically tired, but 90% of the time I do this.

This morning I deliberately chose to put my prayer list aside, and spend time just listening to the “still small voice.” I realised that it’s been a while since I’ve done this, despite regularly encouraging my congregation to do it. It is just too easy to get into a prayer rut where we fill up the silence with the things we want God to address- it’s certainly easier than listening to God’s list that He wants us to correct!

During this time this thought came to me: “The reason so few hear God is that we do not listen to Him.”

It takes time, physically doing nothing but listen. We are perennially busy occupied with how best to fill our hours. Sitting and waiting for God to speak seems so wasteful.

And what if God doesn’t actually say anything?

More frightening, what if God does say something? Who can stand before the voice of the Lord?

This morning, God just told me that He loves me and enjoys what I do for Him and with Him.

That certainly lifted my spirits! It put a spring in my step and a joy in my heart.

 

Reflection on 1 Peter 1:1-9

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Scripture

The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Observation
God knew us and chose us from long ago, and His Spirit makes us holy. For this reason we have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
It is by the mercy of God that we have been born again. Now we have an inheritance kept for us in heaven where nothing can spoil it. Meanwhile God is protecting us until that last day when all will see the mystery of salvation.
We must rejoice, despite any trials that we go through. Trials strengthen our faith. If we keep trusting in Jesus we truly will be saved.

Application
It is an awesome thought that God chose us before we were born. He is the one who brings us to the place of salvation.
Because my salvation is in His hands, it does not depend on me or even on my faith. God will protect me and give me the faith to overcome, if I trust Him for that,
The key is to always look to Jesus in good times and in trials. If we do that, He will bring us safely through.

Prayer
Thank you Lord Jesus for your salvation. Thank you for the assurance that nothing can separate me from your love. Amen.