Our Study on Prayer as a Spiritual Discipline
This past Sunday we moved onto Prayer. If you click HEREyou can watch that message in case you missed it.
We have over 200 people receiving text messages every morning at 7:00 a.m. as a reminder to tend to our spiritual disciplines. If you are getting those, I hope that those morning scripture verses have proved to be a beneficial reminder to pray, study and spend a few minutes at the beginning of your day focusing on God. It’s not too late to join us. Follow this LINK for instructions on how to get started.
We learn prayer by observing the prayers of others.
Sunday morning we talked about Nehemiah’s prayer. His prayer was filled with right thinking about God, a remembering of all that God promised to his people, and a heartfelt plea for the city that Nehemiah loved so much. Nehemiah’s prayer serves as a great example of the kind of prayers we need to lift up to God when we feel that our lives, or the lives of our loved ones, are being tested.
There is another example of prayer we will look at tonight at our prayer meeting. This evening as we gather for study and prayer we will consider Job’s prayer to God.
Job’s prayer has more to do with Listening to God than it does with Speaking to God.
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.
‘My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:2-6 NIV
There are some ingredients to this prayer that make it powerful and effective.
1. Prayer that listens to God knows God.
Job was praying to a God he knew personally. For the previous 4 chapters in the book of Job, God has been speaking thunderously to him. God made himself known to Job in a way that very few others in the Old Testament experienced. At the very end of Job’s story, God commands Job’s friends to bring a sacrifice to Job and have him pray for them since only Job truly new God and how great He is.
2. Prayer that listens to God Believes God.
Job says, “I know that you can do all things…”
Job’s understanding of God allowed him to be able to trust God. We can easily fall into the trap of filling our prayer times with words, so much so that our prayers become a monologue directed at God. We come to him with a list of what we want him to do and how we want him to do it.
Job’s prayer acknowledges enough trust in God to able to listen for what God wants to do and how God wants to do it.
3. Prayer that listens to God requires us to humble ourselves.
Job quickly remembered his position before God when God first started speaking to him back in chapter 38. I love how the King James version renders the translation:
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
Job 38:1-3 KJV
As Job responds to God, he does so in humility. When we humble ourselves before God, we place ourselves in a position to hear from him.
4. Prayer that hears from God takes place when we stop talking.
Why dominate the conversation with God when God has infinitely better things to tell us than we have to tell him? Jesus uses the prayer practices of the pagans to drive home this point.
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
NIV Matthew 6:7
Our ‘many words’ just crowd out God from being able to get a word to us. After experiencing God, Job’s response was to use less of his mouth in praying, and more of his ears.
5. When we hear from God we start to see clearly what God is doing around us.
Job said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” God prepares us to experience Him through revealing Himself to us. If our prayer times are dominated by our many words, we will miss out of seeing the many works God is doing amongst us.
Job came away from his encounter with a fresh and renewed perspective about how God was working in his life and in the life of those around him.
Think of how different our lives would be if we stayed in our prayer closets long enough to have heard from God and then enter the day excited about seeing God work in the through us!