Hello and welcome to Coffee and the Word with Sherry!

I hope you have your word handy. I hope you have a cup of coffee or tea. I know I do!  And, let's get going! You know Coffee and the Word is a devotional that I post a couple of times a week. And, what we're after is an opportunity to help you to apply Biblical principles with practical application.  In other words, to walk it out in your life.  And, so today I want to talk about hearing god. So, we'll have two sessions.  In this first session I want to give you an overview of what the concerns are that people tell me about hearing God and just how we can set ourselves up to hear him.

So, let's talk about that, and, the phrase i want you to hang on to this session and next is this  - “listen longer and hear more”. We need to listen longer to God so that we can hear more.  Let's start with Jeremiah 33 verse 3 and it says this:

“Ask me and i will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come” - Jeremiah 33:3

I absolutely love that verse - remarkable secrets! I know i want those - especially, maybe if i'm needing some advice or some encouragement or some direction from the Lord. it's so easy for us to talk to God about what we want from him isn't it?  We can ask him and petition him. And, that's okay. We're supposed to.  He tells us to do that. But, what about listening to what he has to say? So, a lot of times we'll ask in prayer and quiet time, but we don't stop long enough to listen and really hear him.  So, are we hearing what god has to say to us?

So, a question for you today is to just kind of think back about your prayer time - your quiet time. How much of your time with god is actually spent listening to, and for his voice? So, do we rush through that part?  Do we say “Okay i'll listen later. I know he'll speak to me all day long”?  And, let me just say - interject here - yes, of course God can speak anytime. I'm talking about having some dedicated time in your prayer time that you already are doing. And, most of you I know, are really working on that - to listen - to just stop and listen. So, he is always speaking, but are we always listening?

Now it doesn't mean that you have to sit for hours every day to hear him. But, we do need to practice this. We need to practice hearing his voice by giving the time to him that he deserves.  He deserves the time and we deserve the time to hear from him. So take time to praise him, and worship him, and to seek his face, and seek his advice, his encouragement, his direction. But we have to listen.  So, we can ask a lot, but if we don't listen, what good is it going to do, right? So, there can be no intimate relationship with God without a two-way conversation. Without us listening to him, and really beginning to recognize his voice, the average Christ follower has a hard time hearing his voice because of distractions.

So, we'll talk about how to get those distractions out of the way. And, we need to learn to clearly distinguish his voice above all others.  And, instead of going through life blindly, we can have this definite conversation with him - this definite encouragement from him - teaching, advice and guidance - protection by hearing his voice and learning to recognize his voice. So there's not a single person listening or watching this that couldn't benefit from this more. So, I want to go back to Jeremiah 33: 3 and I want to read it again.

“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets. You do not know about things to come” - Jeremiah 33:3

Here's what I know.  These are remarkable secrets because only God can give us the advice, the guidance, the encouragement and sometimes the relief of a burden - whatever it might be. Only he can do that for us. You know we can try to put that off on other people. It's not going to work. No one can do these things for you except for the Lord.  So, we have to be able to hear him.  But again, I love that  - remarkable secrets!  I always think, “what are those remarkable secrets you have for me God?

I know some days I need to hear them more than others.

Jesus made some radical statements about hearing his voice in John chapter 10, verses three through five.  So, we're going to read that. He was speaking about himself as the shepherd of the sheep and the sheep as his followers.  So, let's just read that the gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And, I just want to interject here that he calls his own sheep by name. I love that he leads them out. So he calls us by name and he leads us.

After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them and they follow him. Because they know his voice. They won't follow a stranger.  They will run from him because they don't know his voice.

So, here's what Jesus was saying here. When we know his voice we can recognize and discern those voices that are not his and we can set those aside. We cannot follow those. We can know for sure. For instance, a lot of times people say to me, “well, how do i know it's God and not me talking?  How do I know it's God and not the enemy or just my thoughts, whatever? And, so we're gonna we'll dig into that.  But that's the whole point of recognizing the voice, right? When we recognize Jesus's voice, we'll know it's him. We'll know to follow.

So it says again - it says his sheep recognizes his voice.  It didn't say his sheep “can hear” or “should hear”.  It says that they do. And so, we know that we really will know God's voice when we hear it.

A lot of times we don't have the confidence that we can.  So, we'll talk about that.  And, I want to, in this session and the next, give you some practical steps. 

So, the first thing we have to do is fix our receiver, right? We have to be able to receive. And again, a lot of times our lifestyles are so busy;  there are so many things,  so many interruptions, so many distractions, that it's very difficult for us to settle down and really have a conducive life -  conducive to hearing his voice.  

So, a lot of times people will say,  “How are you?” And, many people probably answer like “Oh, I'm busier than I can possibly be. I'm way too busy. I'm so busy. The thing is, we may be busier than ever, but that's one of the biggest reasons we need to stop and listen to his voice, right? If our schedules are crazy, and you know I understand that, we all have things going on we have a private life, we have a work life,  and there's just lots of obligations - lots of things pulling on us.  And, even through these last few months in this pandemic, you know there's been a lot of stressors and different things for us to learn.  These are things that can be distractions.  And that we can think we're too busy to actually sit and listen. But, we're not, and we really shouldn't be.

Have you ever been driving down the street, or you're cooking dinner, or you're at work doing a task, and then all of a sudden a thought comes to you out of nowhere. You think “Why did I think that”,  or “Why did i think about that person”?  It could be a solution to a problem.  It could be a great idea. It could be someone you haven't thought about for a while.  But often when that happens “out of nowhere”,  that's holy spirit.  And, we can practice what I call purposeful listening. And, that's what I want to teach you about.  We can purposely hear from God.

Psalm 46:10 says:

Be still and know that i am god. I will be honored by every nation. I'll be honored throughout the world.  

It's in the stillness - Be still and know that i'm God - not busyness. And, the stillness is when we can tune in our spiritual ears, right? And, the lord is always speaking in that still small voice. We have to listen.

So let me just give you a few practical tips in this session and then we'll talk more in the next one about that, and we'll kind of flesh that out.

Isaiah says in Isaiah 30:21 “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “this is the way you should go, whether to the right or to the left.”

Don't we all want that kind of instruction from God? Well, we have to be able to hear that. So, the first thing we have to do is remove the inner noise, you know, that's that chatter in your mind. Often thoughts of chores and tasks will create a distraction for us when we sit down to listen. So, keep a pad of paper handy - and I'm not talking about a journal, right now, but just actually a little sticky note or something. When those things come to your mind, write those down just to get them out of your head and onto the paper so that you can go back to really listening to god. So, for instance, some of us are so busy we have errands to run all the time.  We have things that we have to do to sit down and listen to god.  It’s like that's a challenge, right? - this distraction. I learned this years ago. So, if something comes into your mind like, “oh my goodness, I gotta go”.  Add that to the grocery list, then just write it down on a sticky note and set it aside.  Again, that's not your journal, that's just to get it from your head to the paper and out of the way, right? So, some people find that playing worship music softly in the background will help with the inner noise or the inside chatter that we need to calm.

The second one is to remove the outer noise and pick a quiet remote area of the house where there's less noise distraction or no noise distraction.  And, like i said in previous teachings, I know that sometimes that's a challenge. So, maybe choose a time of day when no one else is home, or before they get up, or after they go to bed - whatever works best for you. But, we want to remove the outer noise.

So, first remove the inner noise the chatter in our head as best we can and then remove the outer noise by finding a quiet place. And then,  we do need to be physically comfortable and calm.  

Listen, this is something, because remember, I used the word practice. We really have to practice at this.  So, you're probably going to try out different places in the house or a different chair, sitting on a pillow, laying on the floor, or whatever might work for you. But, get comfortable because it can be a distraction to be uncomfortable. So, we have inner noise, outer noise and something comfortable to sit on, or in and then pray. Pray and confess and repent. Praise the lord first, and then be still and listen. Keep your journal handy and a pen. Make sure that you have your phone. If you need to do it that way.  Just record real quick what God is saying, or what you're sensing now.

Before we get into the details of the next session, Ii want to say this - sometimes when we're listening to him, we kind of expect it to be in a conversation style that we would expect. But, often when we're listening to God in our prayer time and we're quiet, just a scripture might come to mind or a phrase, or the answer to a problem - something like.  That could be what you need that journal for.  Write down that scripture, even if you're not feeling like you should stop and look it up.  Just go ahead and write that down. Record whatever you're sensing - whatever you're feeling. 

We're going to talk a little bit more and flush each of these sections out in the next session. But, I want you to just get started on that.  So, my challenge to you right now is when you go to your prayer time this week, add in a little bit longer time of listening.  Get quiet before him. Practice getting rid of that inner chatter. Practice getting rid of the outer noise and the distractions. Make sure you're comfortable -  all of those things.  All right, well that's the end of this session!

Hello and welcome to Coffee and the Word with Sherry.

This session we're going to continue talking about how to study the bible with purpose.  I want to give you some actual techniques - some ideas and suggested ways to actually study the bible with a purpose and a plan. Some of us are real planners and some of us aren't. But, what i have found with Bible Study is that we have to have some kind of a plan or some kind of a structure.  It will help most of us to get in the Word,  to stay in the Word and to get the most out of it.

So, we're going to be talking about that.  Now the last time we were together, I talked a little bit about why we study the bible. Of course, that's very important, so if you haven't watched that Coffee and the Word episode on How to Study the Bible with Purpose (Part 1), be sure to go back and watch that. 

But, let's just talk a little bit about some techniques.  So if you have your coffee or tea and your Bible join me.  This is going to be a really good study and I think this will be very helpful to you.

So,  a lot of times what I do is take the word and actually pick out a book of the Bible to study. Now, it may be one I've studied many times or it may be one that I've even taught on.  It doesn't make any difference because we can always get something more from the word.

Now if you've never done this before, maybe a good place to start would be in the book of James. It's a great, great book in the Bible with lots of practical application of the word.  And, it's only five chapters long so it's probably a good one to start with.  We will plan to spend some time - several days or maybe even longer reading through the entire book at one time. So again, if it's only five chapters it's not going to take you as long to do this more than once.  Do this as much as you can. Just read through chapter 1  through 5 of James for an example.  You can choose any book but that's what our example will be.

Today as you read, look for themes that can be woven throughout the chapters or into the chapters. So, sometimes you'll get a general message from the book.  Sometimes you'll get very specific things. 

But for example in the book of James, an obvious theme is persevering through trials.  That's how it starts out and that's what James is talking to us about. So, that would be like a general theme.  

So, as you're reading the book from chapter 1 through 5, you look for those major themes.  And again, we always pray before we start because the Holy Spirit is going to pick out what we need to see and highlight for us. So, you can take notes as you're doing this on ideas that jump out at you.  You'll want to underline or highlight - whatever works. Look for life application principles so, as you're reading you're getting a general theme and then also life application principles  - things that will help you in your daily life. 

An example of a life application principle in the book of James, of course, would be making sure my faith is more important than just my words.  In other words, “walk in the talk”.  It should result in action. So, it's a good practice when you're reading through the book in this method to study the bible, to try and pull out the themes.  Pull out the practical application, the things that can apply to your life.  As you meditate on the word and read through it over and over, and even before you use any other study tools,  I really recommend doing this.  There's lots of things out there to help us as we understand, and read to understand the word. But, this gives us an opportunity for God's word to speak to us personally - personally because we're reading through. We're not using any concordance or commentaries at that moment.  We're just reading through the book.

Now, after you do that, you'll slow down and read the book, verse by verse. And, of course, you may not be able to do this all in one setting. Read each verse and meditate on it. Take as long as it takes to do it.  Take as much time as you need. But, read the book verse by verse and break down the text, looking for deeper understanding.

In Hebrews 4:12 it says:

“For the word of god is living and active”

We talked about this in our last session.  The word is alive. This is how we can change our life. This is how we can learn to draw closer to Christ.  

So, I hope you're getting excited about studying the bible in depth and with purpose. That verse that we just read is a powerful statement. “For the word of god is living and active”

Because God's word is alive, you can study the same passage several times - many, many times.  And then, one day you pick it up to read it, and you'll continue learning from it. In other words, you'll discover something new or a revelation that you didn't get before - an application to your current situation, whatever it might be. 

So, there are many tools and many techniques available for you to learn how to study the bible, or have a guideline. You can go online and find all kinds of different ones, but the one that I wanted to talk about today, besides studying the whole book at once, is something called S.O.A.P.  So, once you start to go through the book that you've chosen, verse by verse,  S.O.A.P. is a great way to journal or to write down or to take notes. Now soap is an acronym and it reads Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer.

So, the S is for scripture.  Take time to read and allow God to speak to you.  So, remember, I said to go verse by verse.  Read that first verse, even if it's just a greeting, and read that over and over.  Allow God to speak to you through that. Highlight, underline, place a mark in the margin, make a note, whatever you need to do.  Write in your journal.  The S is for scripture.  Whatever scripture stands out to you, you want to highlight. When you're done you re-read any of the verses that you've marked or highlighted and look for one theme that particularly spoke to you that day.  Then write that one down.  

However you want to do it, this is just a guideline. But, S.O.A.P.  is a great way to start. So “S” is for Scripture.

“O” is for observation. What you do is think about God's meaning to you, in the scripture.  In these verses what is he saying? What does the Holy Spirit want you to know? What are you sensing that he's talking to you or speaking to you about?  So, ask the Holy Spirit again to teach you;  to reveal Jesus to you; to highlight anything. Paraphrase that and write it down in your own words in your journal. So, you're going to have a scripture, and you write out the scripture in your journal. Then, observe. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what he wants you to see. Then, paraphrase that scripture, just for your own benefit, in your journal.

“A” is for application. Of course, this is very important because we want to apply the word. That's what we've been talking about. That's what Coffee and the word with Sherry is all about.  So, personalize what you've read by asking yourself, “How does this apply to my life right now, today?”  Perhaps it is an instruction, or it could be an encouragement for you.  It could be a revelation of a new promise God has for you.

It could be guidance. It can even be, correction in a particular area of your life. You know God can encourage us and teach us. And, he also can correct us through his Word. So, write out how this scripture can apply to you today, in your journal. So, you’ve written the verse. You've picked up the scripture. You've paraphrased it;  observed what that it says to you. And then, “A” is for Application. We apply it to our lives.

“P” is for prayer. Now, this can be as simple as asking God to help you to use this scripture, this verse or this group of verses, whatever it might be.  Or, it might be praying about a greater insight and asking for greater insight on what he might be revealing to you.

Sometimes we get just a word or something in our spirit. We might want to pray about it and then ask God to flesh that out for us.  So, remember that prayer is a two-way conversation. We always must stop and listen to what God has to say and then write it in our journal.

So, S.O.A.P. is just one method of reading the book through.  I think it's really amazing. If you read a book all the way through, and do what we talked about earlier, and then take the S.O.A.P. method as you go through each verse, this really could be very helpful to you. It's been helpful to me in the past. Now, I want to just quickly touch on some resources out there. You know, there's everything on the internet today, right? So you can find a Bible dictionary. You can find a concordance. You know there's www.biblegateway.com and many others. There are also commentaries out there. I always like to give people a heads up. This is one person's opinion or one group's opinion on a scripture. So, when you're looking at commentary, just know that. It's great to read them. I think it's great as you study, to get more in depth. But, that is someone's interpretation or opinion. 

Now, there are other Bible translations. Maybe you like the NLT -  the New Living Translation. But, you want to look at others.  That's fine. And, all of this can be done online. However, if you have a desk, and you like books, you can also buy all of these things and have them right on your desk to look through.

In our Bibles today, most of us have a concordance in the back. If it's a study bible, it's going to have notes.  All of those things are wonderful, and of great use, but, before you look at any of those things. I recommend asking the Holy Spirit to show you what he wants you to see.  We don't just study God's Word for the sake of reading it. We're going to study it for revelation, for life application, and for things to improve in our life, right? All right. So, that is something that i just wanted to mention to you. I really hope that you will give this a try.

So, my challenge for you is this next week - these next few days, whenever you have time to sit down and study, is to pick out a book of the Bible and read it all the way through. Like I suggested, as many times as you can, as many times as works for you, and then begin to study scripture by scripture. Try the S.O.A.P. plan and see if that works for you.  All right! That's it for today. I will talk to you next time.

The Bible is no ordinary book. The words within its pages are like medicine to your soul. It has the power to change your life because there is life in the Word!

Welcome to Coffee and the Word with Sherry! We're going to continue talking about our study of living a life of prayer. Now in our last session, we talked a little bit about why we pray and how we can go from having a compartmentalized prayer life, a sectioned off time of prayer to living an actual life of prayer.  Now living a life of prayer, as I mentioned in our last session, is really a continual conversation with God. It's a flow.  And, a life of prayer with that continual conversation with God is wonderful and that's our goal. But we do need to boost it daily with dedicated times of prayer. Now, a practical example might be that I cook healthy food, hopefully every day, for my husband and I.  But, we do boost our nutrition and our nutrients with vitamins and supplements so we eat healthy, but we give it a boost.  Well, the same thing goes with prayer.  We live a life of prayer but we boost our prayer life by living a life and turning it into a living life with prayer by dedicated times. So, in other words we have those times that we block off and we sit down, we listen and we talk to God.  

Now there's a difference between saying prayers (You know, the words between “Dear God” and “Amen”)  and the awareness of being in the flow of his power and provision. So, structured or dedicated prayer times can turn into that continual flow between us and the Lord. But, sometimes it does take us a little bit of time. And, we have a part to play and we need to make some effort in this area. So, I want to start by saying that our definition of prayer should be more. It's a continual interaction between the natural and the spiritual realm. It's a constant flow of communication between us and Him. In other words, living a life of prayer means we no longer again attempt to get God to do what we want, when we want and how we think he should do it.  But actually, that we're trusting him that a continual life of prayer is a continual communication with him.  

Now a lot of times... I've taught a lot of women over the years, and they have an anxiety or a fear of praying to get it right - to pray the right way;  to say the right words;  to say it in the right order, so that god will do what we think he should do and when we think he should do it. But, there really is no wrong way to pray if you're talking to God.  I am going to give you some practical tips about that dedicated prayer time and how to make it as fruitful as possible; as meaningful as possible.  But let's go back just a little bit. Again, remember what is prayer?  It's simply talking to God.  It's talking to your creator, the one who knows you more than anyone else, and then listening to what he has to say to us.  So, communication is a two-way street, right?  We talk, but we also must listen. And, sometimes that's the challenge. And, we'll be talking later in this series on how to hear God's voice.  But, right now, I just want to talk about the fact that communication is a two-way street.  Let's just keep that in mind. And, it's with our Heavenly Father, so it is a simple and uncomplicated conversation. 

I've heard again from so many women who say they feel inadequate praying. They don't know how to do it right. They don't know what to say to God. And, the thing about that is it's a conversation with your heavenly father. And so, just have a conversation with him. He is God and we are not.  We revere him.  We praise him.  And, we'll talk about that. But it's a conversation. So, dedicated prayer time is like talking to your best friend - to the one who loves you unconditionally. He  knows everything about you because he created you. So, the very first thing I like to do, and I think is very important, is to ask him to forgive me of my sins. So, ask him.  Number one, ask him to forgive you of your sins. If we read in Acts 3:19 “now repent of your sins and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped away, then thank him for sending his son to die on the cross.”

This is so important! It's not that we forget that Jesus died on the cross for us, but i think we don't acknowledge it sometimes as much as we should. So, thank him for sending his son. 

Read John 3:16 - a verse that's very familiar to everyone, but really think about what this says. 

“For God loved the world so much, that he gave his one and only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  

So, we definitely go to him, and ask him to forgive us our sins. Then we thank him for sending his son. And then, we can tell him our needs. He wants that. He wants us to turn to him for all of our needs, to be completely dependent on him for everything. He wants us to ask.

1 Peter 5:7 says:  “give all your worries and cares to god for he cares about you and then when we pray we must pray with faith and belief.”

Matthew 21:22 says: “you can pray for anything if you have faith and you will receive it.”

Now pray knowing that the answer will come. Pray knowing in your heart and in your spirit that the answer will come. And, pray with confidence. Know that that answer may not look like what you think it should look like or even be close sometimes.  But, trust him because he will answer. So, when we pray, we pray with that faith that we know an answer is coming. We want to pray with reverence. And that's what i was saying earlier about “He's God, and we're not.

We want to revere him. “Because of the lord our God, bow low before his feet, for he is holy.” - Psalm 99:5.  And, then we want to pray with worship. We want to worship him, so we revere him and we worship him.

So yes, Lord! I believe the man said, and he worshipped Jesus. That's from John 9:38. And,I love that! Yes, Lord! I believe. And then, he worshipped jesus. So, we must worship him. And, it's okay if all you say is “I worship you, Lord”, if that's coming from your heart. You don't have to sing a worship song, unless you want to. You don't have to recite scripture. Just,  “I worship you Lord. I trust you. I have faith in you.  And, I worship you, and I read you all right.

Another thing is we need to pray for each other. So, sometimes, when I go to my dedicated time of prayer, I might bring with me a list of prayer requests, or people that I want to remember in my prayer time. In jesus’ prayer in John 17, Jesus prays for himself, for his disciples, for all believers, and every generation to come. So, we need to pray for each other. 

Now, it is important that we follow this example and pray for each other the way Jesus did. Don't be afraid to say you'll pray for someone. It needn't be complicated. It doesn't need to be a long prayer. It doesn't need to sound a certain way. You don't need to use certain words or phrases to make it valid. it needn't be loud. It needn't be soft. Just pray from your heart for that other person. And, the cool thing about praying for someone is, no one can stop you from doing that. It's between you and God.  I mean, I know over the years, I've had people say, “oh don't pray for me. You know, “I don't need it”, or “I'm not the person to pray for”. That doesn't stop me because it's between me and God.

All right. So, let's talk briefly about praying in front of others, and then we'll be done for today. Sometimes I have lots of women in different Bible studies and different events and conferences say to me,  “I am embarrassed or intimidated, timid or shy. Whatever it might be. From praying in a group prayer, because they feel inadequate. So, maybe you've been in a prayer circle or a group of people praying, holding hands, and praying.  Whatever it might be, a home group setting, whatever it might be, and if you're uncomfortable praying aloud

just know this - don't compare yourself to others. And, when the Holy Spirit prompts you to

pray out loud, do it.  But, don't feel pressured.  Yes of course, you know why you pray aloud is so that your voice is going forth with your prayer. The words are going out there, and other people think it blesses the people around you. But, I know that there have been a lot of people telling me that, you know, they've been intimidated in that situation. Rest assured that God is with you. Just pray.

On the other hand, if you're not ready to pray around the group again, don't force it. 

Prayer is not a performance, and you don't get a grade from God on it. And, don't let other people pressure you into that. But there is such a benefit of praying aloud with others when the Holy Spirit prompts you, and when you feel confident. 

So let's go back real quick. A life of prayer is continual conversation with god, boosted daily by times of prayer. So, that's what i have for today. We will continue in this Living Out series. We're going to be talking about several different things - how to study the word, and then also, we'll be talking doing a session on how to hear God's voice and some of the things I've learned over the years. So, God bless you! And, i will talk with you next time!

Hey! Good morning! Welcome to Coffee and the Word with Sherry!

I'm very excited! We're going to be talking about a series of different things over the next few days. And, one of them is living a life of prayer.  I call this the “Live it Out Series''.  We are all about practical application. We can read the Word. We can read the scriptures. We can hear sermons. We can listen to podcasts and watch videos, but if we're not applying practical application of the word to our everyday life, we're not as effective and we're not going to have the victory that we can have in Christ. The Word never returns void, but we also need to read the word, study the word and then learn how to apply it to our lives.  So, that's what we're doing. 

I'm going to start out today by talking about living a life of prayer. A lot of times we talk about our prayer life. We might have our job life, our work life, our family life, and our prayer life. But, it really should not be categorized in a separate contained area. We should be living a life of prayer rather than having a prayer life. I think it's something that we haven't thought about very much. So, i want to talk about that.

So, in this “Living it Out” series, we're going to explore growing closer and going deeper with the Lord - not as requirements or rules or regulations, but as steps to freedom to knowing Christ in a more intimate way.  And, I want us to learn the practical steps that we can incorporate into our daily lives to bring us closer to him. That's the ultimate goal. That's actually the only goal.  It's not to look religious or spiritual to anyone else.  It is a personal issue where we want to grow closer to him.  So, I want us to learn some practical steps that we can incorporate into our daily lives.  That's something that we will be focusing on.  So, it doesn't matter if you've been following Christ for a few days or weeks or many years.  I think we can all benefit from these teachings.  So grab your cup of coffee or tea.  Get the Word and a journal and maybe a place to take notes, and settle in. We're going to be talking in this session about prayer and having a life of prayer - living a life of prayer rather than a prayer life.  

So, the number one thing I always like to start with is, “why do we pray?”  Let's get really practical and really basic here.  Number one, God's word calls us to pray.  He's asking us to pray. He's telling us to pray, so prayer is an act of obedience.  God calls us to pray and we must respond.  So, one key reason to pray is because God has commanded it.  What else do we need to know, right?

If we are to be obedient to his will then prayer must be a part of our life in him.  Philippians 4:6 says: “Don't worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then in Colossians 4:2, I just love this! - devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.  Now, “alert mind” means being aware of what you're praying about - what you happen to be reading in the Word.  Whatever it is. But, keep alert. But, in our hearts, be thankful. Be thankful that we can come to him in prayer. Be thankful for the Word. Be thankful for everything he's done in our lives. So, the number one reason why we pray is because god asked us to, told us to.

The second thing is, Jesus prayed regularly, and we know this from the Word, right? So, why did he pray? Well, one reason - it was so he could be an example - so that we could learn from him.  After he had dismissed them he went up on the mountainside by himself to pray. That's in Matthew 14:23. I love that! And then, Matthew 26:36 says “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called gethsemane and he said to them “sit here” while I go over there and pray. And then again, Mark 1:35 says “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed. So, Jesus is setting an example for us. He prayed regularly to communicate with the Father, and he prayed to set an example.

The third thing is it's communication with God. That's what prayer is. It allows us to worship him and praise him, confess our sin, repent, submit our request - all of those things.  So, in Hebrews 4:15 through 16 it says this,  “The high priest of ours understands our weaknesses for he faced all the same testings, yet he did not sin. So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  This prayer is not just about asking for God's blessings or submitting our requests and what we “need”.  It's fine to do that, and we are welcome to do so. But, it's also about communication with the living God. Without communication, you know, relationships would fall apart, right? What kind of marriage are you going to have if you don't communicate? What kind of child/parent relationship are you going to have if you don't communicate? 

So, our relationship with God suffers when we do not communicate with him. So, it's really good to remember that this is communication. So, we need to communicate with him. We need to talk as well as listen.

The fourth thing is that prayer gives us power over evil. I don't know that we always remember this or think about this. But, prayer gives us power over evil forces. So, remember Ephesians 6:12. “For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world; against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in heavenly places. But, but in prayer even the physically weak can become strong in the spiritual realm.  So, we can call upon God and he will grant us the power over evil.  We do not fight flesh and blood. As human beings going through the things that we go through, and what the world is like right now in our culture, it would be easy to think that we need to fight a person. Not true! We fight spiritual powers in the dark world.

Prayer also keeps us humble before God.  Listen, we need to remember that he's God and we're not. In Matthew 18:4 it says, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. So, we're not in control.  We are not God, but god is. So, it keeps us from being in pride. If we can just remain humble and realize that when we come to prayer, and when we are studying the word, he is God and we are not.

Answered prayer is also a potential witness. I think this is another thing that sometimes we might not realize. If our prayer is answered, it can actually serve as a witness for those who might doubt prayer.  We could say, “This is what happened to me”. “This was my situation. I prayed and this is what God did.” So, it can be a testimony, an actual witness to others. And I also want to say that prayer strengthens the bonds between believers. So, we're still talking about why we pray.

Prayer not only strengthens our relationship with God, but with other believers and connects us. Prayer can strengthen the bond between your fellow Christians and your fellow Christ followers.  As we pray together, and we see the answers, and we see the answer manifested right in front of us, we can actually grow closer to our fellow Christ followers. It's nothing that we often think about, but it can actually strengthen their thoughts.  I could go on and on about that, but I'll move on.

It's not a prayer life, but the goal is to live a life of prayer. We've often heard that term, “prayer life” and, maybe we've even been asked the question, “How's your prayer life”, or maybe we've even asked someone else, “How's your prayer life going?” I made the statement, “I really need to improve deep in my prayer life.” Most of us categorize our life in segments - home life, work life, and job life. 

A number of years ago, through a variety of circumstances. I realized that my prayer life was not the issue, but that my life should be a life of prayer. So, I'll stop here for today.  We are going to continue this in our next session.  Again, living a life of prayer in our prayer life. 

So, what i would like to leave you with today is just a little bit of a challenge.  And, that's go to the Lord in prayer, and ask him, “Lord am I living a life of prayer, or am I separating out my prayer life, separate from the rest of my life?”  Ask him to show you. He will bring up things for you to understand. He will bring things up to you our consciousness that we can actually understand just how we're living and how we might need to change.  God bless you!  I will talk with you next time!

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