We met again on Monday night to talk about our experience of prayerfully emptying ourselves so that God might fill us with His spirit. We recognized the difficulty of carving out time for focused prayer. Those who did make time for prayer, reported having an extrordinary sense of God’s presence throughout the week. We came up with a few helpful suggestions for effective prayer.
We found that it is easy enough to pray during the day, while at work, driving or walking around. But this type of prayer lacks focus. It is hard to be open and honest with God in a public setting. The soul-searching type of prayer that we want to practice needs private space and time.
We recognized that when communicating with God in prayer, we may find that we are doing all the talking. Listening in prayer can be difficult for those of us who have a hard time sitting still or who are uncomfortable in quiet spaces.
It was suggested that we try praying at bedtime, when we are prepared for a quiet time and private space. Praying our way to sleep may allow us the freedom to hear God in ways that we cannot during our waking hours. God speaks into our hearts during in the time between being awake and being asleep, when our creative dreaming mind is awakening and our logical controling mind is beginning to rest. In that state we can be more open to God’s suggestions that we might otherwise easily dismiss as unlikely or impossible.
Also, it was suggested that if we go to sleep while praying, asking God to keep talking to us as we sleep, He may well choose to speak to us through our dreams. Again and again we find stories of God communicating to his people through visions and dreams in the scriptures. Some people who are more visually oriented, may find that actively seeking to hear from God through their dreams opens up a new, more personally fitting world of prayer.
We also talked about how to tell when God is speaking to us. How do we know the difference between what God is saying and what we are trying to convince ourselves that He is saying? Someone said that they know it is God, when they are reminded of bible verses or passages in prayer. Somone else said that they felt like God was nudging them. Someone else said that they feel dizy. But we all agreed, that we know, somehow, even if we cannot describe how. We know when God speaks to us, because we feel his Holy Spirit is moving us.
We are going to continue to pray this week, but this time we are focusing our prayer on the next step toward the Next Thing. As stated last week, we are following the steps that Hannah takes to bring about the desire of her heart.
Back in 1 Samuel, after Hannah poured herself out to God, she continued her persuit of her God-given yearning. The next step she took was to make a vow to God. She promised God that if He gave her a son, she would give the boy back to Him.
We marveled at the amount of faith it must have taken for Hannah to be able to promise to give her child to God. And in thinking toward the challenge of the week, we began to really see the sacrifice required to be able to make a vow to God.
In order to get God’s blessings, we often have to give up something of ourselves. Our lives are full of living out our hopes and dreams. We are often reluctant to give up what we have for the promise of what God has in store for us.
But it would not be a challenge if it were easy, right? No pain, no gain. Find hope and strength in the teachings of Jesus when he says, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his lfie for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39 NKJV) And, when Jesus promises, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11 NKJV)
Having discovered your God-given desire, we challenge you to make a vow to God on your path to receiving what you seek. We challenge you to have the faith and the courage to be willing to sacrifice that which you must to make room in your life for God’s blessing. And we ask that you pray for us as we challenge ourselves to do so, too.
May God bless your giving and your receiving. May you see His hand guiding your life.
-Amy Schwab, for those of us in search of The Next Thing