Christianity 201

November 22, 2021

Prayer: Don’t Do All the Talking

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We are continually grateful to HarperCollins Christian Publishing for blanket permission to occasionally include short excerpts from their books here. Transcription for this one was found at today at Devotions Daily. If you’re looking for a daily book excerpt in your inbox each morning, consider subscribing there.


O.S. Hawkins is a very prolific author of more than 40 books, which have sold more than 1 million copies, including The Joshua Code, The Bible Code, The Nehemiah Code, The Believer’s Code — are you detecting a pattern? — and The Jesus Code, and preaches regularly at Bible conferences, evangelism conferences, and churches across the nation. This excerpt is from his newest, The Prayer Code. See below for a link to the publisher page for this title.

Listen to Him

While He was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” — Matthew 17:5

Many of us share a common fault in our conversations with others. So often, we fail to listen. We are so immersed in preparing to articulate our next brilliant thought that we are prone to not hear what the other person is saying. How many times have we been introduced to someone and as soon as we walk away cannot even remember the person’s name? On the mountain of transfiguration, the Father gives us some good advice. He introduces His Son, affirms His pleasure in Him, and then admonishes us to “listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5 ESV).

One of the things we often forget about prayer is that it is communication with the Lord. And communication is a two-way street. We talk… and, if we are smart, we listen even more than we speak.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked and forgotten elements of prayer is taking the time to listen to Him. He still speaks to us through His Word and by His Spirit. God is essentially saying to us here, “This is My Son; I love Him; I am pleased with Him. Stop talking so much and listen to Him.”

After the resurrection, Jesus showed up on the road to Emmaus to perfectly illustrate this need in all of us to take time in prayer to stop talking and simply “listen to Him.” For three years the disciples had walked with Christ, talked with Him, virtually lived with Him, when suddenly it all came to an abrupt and crashing conclusion: Jesus had been viciously executed and His body tossed in a cold, damp tomb. Then, all the disciples “forsook Him and fled” back to their own abodes (Matthew 26:56).

Two of these followers headed home to Emmaus, a village seven miles west of Jerusalem. As they walked in discouragement toward the sunset that afternoon, they exclaimed to one another,

We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. — Luke 24:21

But they had buried that hope when the body of Jesus was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Dejected and dismayed, they were walking proof that there is never power in the present when there is no hope in the future.

But, then — suddenly — the resurrected “Jesus Himself drew near and went with them,” but they “did not know Him” (Luke 24:15-16). After this incredible encounter “their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:31). And their response?

Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road? — Luke 24:32

Isn’t this one of our most pressing needs today? That is, burning hearts that come from listening to Him along our own Emmaus road.

LISTEN TO HIM AS HE SPEAKS TO US THROUGH HIS SPIRIT

Their hearts were set on fire when “He talked with [them] on the road.” Jesus was doing the talking, and they were doing the listening. Their hearts did not burn when they talked to Him, or when they talked to each other about Him. Their hearts began to burn with a new passion when they stopped talking to Him and to others and started listening to Him, spirit to Spirit.

There comes a time when we need to stop trying to perform, stop offering our petitions, even cease our praise for a moment, and simply be still and listen to His still small voice speaking to our spirits, and heed the admonition of our heavenly Father to “listen to Him.”

LISTEN TO HIM AS HE SPEAKS TO US THROUGH HIS SCRIPTURE

The Bible remains a sealed book until God’s Spirit opens its truth to us. We may gain a head knowledge of Him through the Bible, but we will never be able to understand a heart knowledge, a spiritual discernment, until, like the disciples, He talks to us along the road and opens the Scriptures to us (Luke 24:32). And we do the listening.

Jesus “expounded” to them in all the Scriptures the things that concerned Himself (Luke 24:27). The word expound connotes the thought of translating something out of a foreign language. The Bible is really a foreign language to those who do not believe.

Beginning at Moses… He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

From the Pentateuch to the Prophets Jesus preached Jesus.

From Moses to Malachi He revealed how the entire Jewish Bible speaks of Him. As He spoke to them, a shadow of the cross fell over the Jewish Bible. He was that ram at Abraham’s altar in Genesis. He was the Passover lamb in Exodus, whose spilled blood meant freedom from slavery and deliverance from death… and still does. He was that scarlet thread out Rahab’s window in Joshua. And the good shepherd of whom David spoke in the Psalms? Jesus was that shepherd. As the disciples listened, they understood that Jesus was the suffering servant spoken so eloquently about by Isaiah. And He was the fourth man in the midst of the fiery furnace in Daniel. No wonder their hearts began to burn within them. He was doing the talking… and they were doing the listening.

The disciples’ immediate response was noteworthy. They “rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem” to exclaim to all the others,

The Lord is risen indeed! — Luke 24:33-34

Their glowing hearts turned into going hearts. With beating, burning hearts they scurried back to Jerusalem, around the corners, down the narrow alleys, up Mount Zion, to find the others and share the good news. And they shared it not with an emaciated question mark, but with a bold exclamation mark: “He is alive!”

One of these Emmaus followers was named Cleopas. His companion is left unnamed. I like to think this is so in order for you and me to find ourselves in his or her place as we walk on our own road today. Perhaps you are reading these words with your own hopes dashed and your own dreams smashed.

Stop.

Look.

Listen to Jesus’ Spirit through His Scriptures.

He is still speaking. And if you listen, you just might walk away with your own heart burning within you.

“Listen to Him.”

CODE WORD: CELL PHONE

Today, when your phone rings and you answer and begin listening, let it remind you that prayer is a two-way conversation also. Stop doing all the talking; listen to Him!


Excerpted with permission from The Prayer Code by  O. S. Hawkins, ©2021 Dr. O. S. Hawkins.

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October 4, 2014

Practicing Silence

Discipline of Silence

Today’s post is by Donna Wood from the blog Food For the Journey. To read this at source, click the title she gave it (!) below:

Hush, little Baby…

“Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” ~ 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NSV)

During Centering Prayer this week, I was thinking — wait! Thinking while Centering. Isn’t that against the rules? —  We are told to be quiet and wait for God to transform us in the silence.  But sometimes, even when, according to the rules, we shouldn’t pay attention to words and noise, God speaks.  What..?  It’s true that Centering Prayer is designed to take us beneath the noise into the silence where God dwells within, but I have learned to listen for his voice there.  I must be a bit of a rebel. “Be still and know that I am God” is true, but sometimes He insists on talking to me.  The Bible shows that God is not as interested in all the rules, even though helpful, as he is in relationship. I want to be aware; I want to notice God and pay attention if he decides to speak into the silence.

It is the becoming still that is the biggest problem, or at least for me, when we are trying to be aware of God.  Often he speaks in a whisper or the sound of sheer silence (see scripture above.)  The fact is, we can’t still the voices in our heads.  Brains aren’t designed that way. But we can silence our minds by not following our constant thoughts down rabbit trails. This does take practice—the practice of returning to silence when we catch our mind in its ADD activities.

There is a story about one of our granddaughters who lived with us when she was small.  This granddaughter was an extroverted child who was always talking, talking. Since her grandfather and I are both strong introverts, this was a challenge.  One time grandpa said quite firmly, “Please be quiet for a while.”  She said, “OK.” Then without missing a beat, she said, “I will be quiet.  I will stop talking.  I won’t say anything more.  Not at all.  Can I talk now?”  Sometimes we are like that with God. We plan to be quiet; we think we are being still, but the noise is so loud that we couldn’t hear God if he did talk.

Amazing transformation has happened to me in the last five years since I began silent prayer.  I have changed in ways I would never have imagined possible and my life with God is more intimate.  Whether we use Centering Prayer or not, some practice of silent awareness is important to our spiritual lives and formation.  Ruth Haley Barton said, “Silence is the most needed and the least experienced spiritual discipline among Christians today.”

Help us today, Jesus, to be still.  Quiet us as we wait on you in the silence.  We want to be with you and listen if you speak.  Hush our busy thoughts, and make our hearts and minds aware of your presence. Amen.


Mission Statement: Christianity 201 is a melting-pot of devotional and Bible study content from across the widest range of Christian blogs and websites. Sometimes two posts may follow on consecutive days by authors with very different doctrinal perspectives. The Kingdom of God is so much bigger than the small portion of it we can see from our personal vantage point, and one of the purposes of C201 is to allow readers a ‘macro’ view of the many ministries and individual voices available for reading.

Scripture portions from various translations quoted at Christianity 201 are always in green to remind us that the Scriptures have LIFE!

 

 

April 2, 2012

Madame Guyon Quotations

First, the usual stop at Wikipedia (two separate links as noted):

Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon (commonly known as Madame Guyon) (13 April 1648 – 9 June 1717) was a French mystic and one of the key advocates of Quietism. Quietism was considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, and she was imprisoned from 1695 to 1703 after publishing a book on the topic, A Short and Easy Method of Prayer.

Quietism is a Christian philosophy that swept through France, Italy and Spain during the 17th century, but it had much earlier origins. The mystics known as Quietists insist, with more or less emphasis, on intellectual stillness and interior passivity as essential conditions of perfection.

Guyon believed that one should pray all the time, and that in whatever one does, one should be spending time with God. “Prayer is the key of perfection and of sovereign happiness; it is the efficacious means of getting rid of all vices and of acquiring all virtues; for the way to become perfect is to live in the presence of God. He tells us this Himself: “walk before me, and be thou perfect” Genesis 17:1. Prayer alone can bring you into His presence, and keep you there continually.”[1]

As she wrote in one of her poems: “There was a period when I chose, A time and place for prayer … But now I seek that constant prayer, In inward stillness known …”

Here are a few of her writings:


The soul seeks God by faith, not by the reasonings of the mind and labored efforts, but by the drawings of love; to which inclinations God responds, and instructs the soul, which co-operates actively. God then puts the soul in a passive state where He accomplishes all, causing great progress, first by way of enjoyment, then by privation, and finally by pure love.


There are three kinds of silence. Silence from words is good, because inordinate speaking tends to evil. Silence, or rest from desires and passions is still better, because it promotes quietness of spirit. But the best of all is silence from unnecessary and wandering thoughts, because that is essential to internal recollection, and because it lays a foundation for a proper reputation and for silence in other respects.


We must forget ourselves and all self-interest, and listen, and be attentive to God.


If knowing answers to life’s questions is absolutely necessary to you, then forget the journey. You will never make it, for this is a journey of unknowables, – of unanswered questions, enigmas, incomprehensibles, and most of all, things unfair.


Regarding your spiritual life, be open, simple and like a child. In the depths of your spirit be like a drop of water lost in an ocean, and be no longer conscious of yourself. In this enlarged condition see and enjoy everything from within God. Within yourself there is only darkness, but in God there is only light. Let God be everything to you…. God’s love is like a weight within us, causing us to sink deeper and deeper into God.


Holy Solitude

Kind solitude
Away from the world and the noise
Divine quietude,
Silence, like the night!

Happy the one that possesses you,
And tastes your sweetness,
The cure of all ills!
Unfortunate are those who do not love you!

It is blessedness,
To be heart to heart with God:
There no disquietude
Troubles the peace of this place.


Rest assured, it is the same God who causes the scarcity and the abundance, the rain and the fair weather. The high and low states, the peaceful and the state of warfare, are each good in their season. These vicissitudes form and mature the interior, as the different seasons compose the year…God loves you; let this thought equalise all states. Let him do with us as with the waves of the sea, and whether he takes us to his bosom, or casts us upon the sand, that is, leaves us to our own barrenness, all is well.


O my Divine Love, the desire I had to please You,
the tears I shed,
my great labours and the little fruit I reaped from it,
moved Your compassion.
You gave me in a moment,
through Your grace and Your goodness alone,
what I had been unable to give myself through all my efforts

I implore you not to give in to despair. It is a dangerous tempatation, because our Adversary has refined it to the point that it is quite subtle. Hopelessness constricts and withers the heart, rendering it unable to sense God’s blessings and grace. It also causes you to exaggerate the adversities of life and makes your burdens seem too heavy for you to bear. Yet God’s plans for you, and His ways of bringing about His plans, are infinitely wise.

Sources: GiGA Quotes, Quotation Park, Wikiquote, Daily Christian Quotes, Madame Guyon Blogspot, Relevant Blog Blogspot, Rachel Jane Rickert

March 7, 2011

Seeing Illness as a Blessing

Yesterday’s and today’s items here don’t have any specific scripture references.  I wrote this three years ago at an obvious low point, and thought it might be applicable to someone reading it today; maybe you are that person.  Readers may want to add a scripture verse in the comments that references one or all of the points here…

  • Illness forces us to slow down, and that forces us to do the things that really matter, and that forces us to decide what really matters
  • Illness forces us to ask God for help on behalf of ourselves, which seems selfish at times, so first we have to apologize for asking
  • Illness causes us to ask other believers to join in prayer for us, which can be rather humbling
  • Illness helps us remember others who are suffering, it helps us to identify and empathize with their situation
  • Illness – while not necessarily caused by sin -brings us to a wonderful season of self examination and determination to aim for greater holiness
  • Illness reminds us of our mortality; our material culture has forced us to cling to everything including life itself, but our lives have an expiry date
  • Illness has a mellowing, sobering effect on us – some things can become potentially more irritating, but some other things no longer matter as much
  • Illness forces us to ask bigger questions; Is God in control? Does He care about the details of my life? Will he intervene in a special way?
  • Illness brings into clarity other times we were ill, and reminds us that God brought us through that time
  • Illness helps us hear Christian songs differently; “I thank God for the mountains, and I thank him for the valleys…” Can I do that right now?

I’m sure there are other things, too. Most of the prayer requests in our churches are for issues people are dealing with in their physical bodies. Pray specifically for one another. If you are the person for whom this was for today, listen for God’s voice in the middle of all you’re going through.