Meditation on Psalm 121 by Dr. Doug Resler
Learn to Pray
“To learn to pray is to learn to love. Prayer is a dialogue between two people who love each other, because prayer is the language of the heart.
Have you ever listened to yourself pray, like a third party listening in? Did you ever try to “edit” your prayers, to find out exactly what you are saying?
When you pray, do you say what your heart wants to say? Or, ignoring your heart, do you pray for the ears of people? When did you last listen to what your heart was saying?
It is a wonderfully freeing experience to get your mouth and your heart together, to say what you mean and mean what you say, and come to the point. Well, why not? It makes good sense, doesn’t it?
Listen next time you or another is asked to pray — whether for giving thanks at a meal, or whatever. Why pray just to get it over with? Why pray with “cliches” which have outworn their meaning? Who listens to this kind of praying? Why be so general and so inclusive that there is no interest at all in what is being said?
Prayer should be an outbreathing of love which God himself has put into you. Prayer should be speaking with God, for He is present and loves not only you but also your brother. Essentially, prayer should be simple, expressing straightforward gratitude or asking for what we need at that particular time. The past may need confession, while the future calls for trust.
In group prayer, the prayer which truly communicates is the prayer expressing love. When someone so prays, I am loved.. So are you. So is everyone present.
Prayer that contains the power of reaching from one to another, the power to heal and to make whole through the giving and receiving of love, is real prayer. This means more than speech. It means giving one’s self to others all day long in love, because Jesus Christ, the author of love, is already there in your inner being. Every act and throught can be prayer, projected by the choice to love.” (by Rosalind Rinker in Communicatinig Love Through Prayer (Zondervan , 1972)
Learn to Hear
How do we hear God’s voice? How can we be sure that what we think we hear is not our own subconscious? What if what God says to us is not clear?
Being close to God means communicating with Him, and this communication is a two-way street—telling Him what is on our hearts in prayer and hearing and understanding what He is saying to us. It is this second half of our conversation with God that is so important but can also be so difficult. How can you be sure God is speaking to you? The key is to focus not so much on individual actions and decisions as on building our personal relationship with our Creator. Hearing God is but one dimension of a richly interactive relationship, and obtaining guidance is but one facet of hearing God.
Dallas Willard’s “Hearing God – Developing a Conversational Relationship with God” (originally published in 1984 as In Search of Guidance) provides rich spiritual insight into how we can hear God’s voice clearly and develop an intimate partnership with Him in the work of his kingdom. We learn that divine guidance goes beyond the anxious, sometimes neurotic, quest for “what God wants me to do,” to having a critical role in my becoming a responsible co-laborer with Him, the kind of person He expects me to be. God is inviting us to reorganize our lives in a way that keeps us walking so closely with Him that it becomes easy to know His mind and hear His voice.
Christians often live in a state of tension, believing that hearing God is very important to our walk with Him but at the same time lacking a confident understanding of how it works for the individual in practice. It is the goal of the book to remove some common misunderstandings about God’s communications with us and explain the various ways in which He is with us. As we study we begin to understand the various ways in which He communicates and speaks to us— through God’s Word in the Bible, through His creation and through the process of redemption. The question arises about how we can be sure that we are hearing God. As a final chapter we see how to deal with what to do on those occasions, sure to come, when God is not speaking—or at least when we are not hearing Him.
Hearing God may be a daring idea—some would say presumptuous and even dangerous. But is it not, in fact, more presumptuous and dangerous to undertake human existence without hearing God? Dr. Willard’s hope is that Hearing God will leave you with a clear sense of how to live confidently in a personal walk that is complemented by an ongoing conversational relationship with God.
Praying with Audacity
Concerned about mundane prayers? This article is for you.
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