Prayer is more than just us talking to God. Prayer is communication and communication is two-sided in any healthy relationship. Prayer entails not only speaking but also listening to what God has to say. Only in an abusive relationship is communication one-sided.
July 25, 2022
Prayer is more than just us talking to God. Prayer is communication and communication is two-sided in any healthy relationship. Prayer entails not only speaking but also listening to what God has to say. Only in an abusive relationship is communication one-sided. And we sometimes abuse God by simply making Him hear our wants and desires without taking a moment to listen to what He has to say.
John 10: 27 (ESV) – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
If you are a sheep, you can hear your Shepherd’s voice. Many of us doubt, ‘I don’t hear God’s voice.’ You may not hear God’s audible voice because that is not His usual mode of communication. When we look at Jesus’ baptism, we see that he is baptized by John the Baptist. Immediately, the heavens open, and the Father declares, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am pleased.’ But how many times do you hear such audible voices throughout the Gospel?
Luke 4: 1 (ESV) – And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness
God does not always speak in an audible tone. However, as soon as Jesus is baptized in the Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord leads Him to the wilderness to be tempted. God communicates with us in a different language, which is guided by the Holy Spirit. So, while praying, you may not hear God’s voice, but He speaks through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8: 14 (ESV) – For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
When you received the gospel, you received the Holy Spirit, henceforth, the Holy Spirit leads you. It’s similar to a child being lead and directed by the Father. This is also communication.
If I had to ask you what is faster: (a) words that one speaks, you hear and then your mind processes to understand, or (b) where you directly understand what one has to say?
When you hear God audibly, there are chances where you may misunderstand Him. But if you train your senses to be led by the Spirit, you will never misunderstand Him. That is God’s usual mode of communication. So, it’s okay if you don’t hear God’s audible voice, but you have the option today to say yes to the leading of the Spirit.
When you pray, you train your spiritual senses to be led by the Spirit. God is always speaking to you. God’s Spirit is always active in and within you. And through prayer, you become more sensitive to the direction He is leading you.
Romans 8: 5-8 (ESV) – For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The dimensions that are activated in you are:
1. The flesh dimension
2. The Spirit dimension
You are born in the flesh dimension. However, when you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit dimension got activated. Being led by the Spirit is a daily decision. God placed you in Christ, and there is nothing you can do to change that. However, you can choose to be led by the Spirit or by your flesh. You can make this decision willfully.
What is flesh?
Flesh is not your physical body, blood and bones. Flesh is an attitude that Adam had which made him fall in order to become like God without being dependent to God. Flesh is an attitude of independence, disconnection, ego, of being I, myself, and not needing God. Flesh is pride.
According to the Bible, the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, whereas the mind of the flesh is death. Death is not non-existence; it is separation. When it says that the mind of the flesh is death, it does not mean hell. It means that in the moment, if you choose to live by your flesh, you are disconnecting yourself from the source of life, who is God. That is why, even though the Holy Spirit bestows on you an abundance of life, you can still die. Because it’s a daily choice that you make.
God has given us the Holy Spirit, but it is up to us to choose whether to be led by the Spirit or the flesh. Living by the flesh is simply an attitude that says you can handle life on your own and don’t need God.
Illustration of a power switch:
When you turn off a light bulb’s switch, the bulb goes out. However, this does not imply that the power is turned off. It is up to the bulb to disconnect from the power source. Similarly, every time we disconnect from the source, we die. When we disconnect from the source of life in our hearts, we experience death in our hearts- depression, mental instability. When we disconnect from the source of life in the financial realm, we experience poverty and debt.
You must be connected to the life source in any aspect of your life where you wish to experience life. God is the source of our life. Water is a fish’s source of life. It’s the air for a bird. If you take the fish out of the water, it will die. Alternatively, putting the bird in water will cause it to drown. Why? Because they were cut off from their source of life.
Genesis Chapter 1
When God created the fish, He spoke into the water. He looks at the air and commands the creation of birds. Whatever God sees and speaks, the atmosphere in which they were created becomes their source of life. We must understand that man was not created from dust. God created man’s body out of dust. You are not a body. You have a body. In other words, you have a heart, but you are not the heart. It was the Spirit of God that was breathed into man that he came to life.
Genesis 1: 26 (ESV) – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Every atmosphere into which God spoke became the source of life. The fish got their life from the water, and the bird got their life from the air. And God spoke into Himself, and you and I were created. As the source of life, we require God as the atmosphere. We begin to die the moment we disconnect from Him in our minds.
Christ is in you, and there is nothing that can change this reality. But, if you don’t make a willful choice to set your mind on this reality, even though you are in Christ, you can still experience death. You can still feel death.
John 15: 16 (ESV) – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Romans 8: 38-39 (ESV) – For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is absolutely nothing that can separate us from God because it is God who is embracing us. Just imagine you are with Jesus, and God is embracing you. But the moment you close your eyes, you may feel separation. Even though the sun is shining at all times, because the earth has turned its face away from the sun, it experiences darkness. That’s why it’s important that you set your mind on the things above. You must keep your eyes focused on the truth.
The absolute truth about God is that He loves us. However, we do not live in God’s absolute truth. We exist in our own subjective reality. It means that everything we see and feel as life is our own creation, not God’s. If we are feeling upset, it’s our choice. But today, we can make a choice to align our reality with God’s truth. Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and life. Believe in Him if you want to experience His reality. God gives you that option out of love. Because He desires that you have the ability to choose. Because He wants you to make a free will to choose Him back.
The Lord’s Spirit is leading you. He will guide you to life if you become sensitive to His nudge. This journey with the Holy Spirit that you have chosen is one of life and peace. There is no need for peace after death. You need peace in the circumstances that you are going through today.
What does not please God?
Those who are led by the flesh cannot please God. Because the flesh refuses to submit to God. The Holy Spirit that has been deposited in you has the capacity to overflow within you. This water you drink becomes streams of living water welling up to eternal life within you, and you will never thirst again. Eternal life does not start when you die. You can unlock it today. Eternal life is locked up within you, and it has the ability to overflow from you. So when you pray, you unlock the potential energy within you.
Illustration of potential energy being converted to kinetic energy:
For example, if a car is standing still, it still has the potential to move at a certain speed but only when ignition starts, the car begins to combust to where the potential turns into kinetic energy, and it starts moving.
The Holy Spirit, who is your potential energy, is unlocked within you. What you need is the Spirit to move within and through you. And only prayer can help you do that. So as you pray, you are stirring up the Spirit of God deposited in you that has the capacity to overwhelm your atmosphere. The control is in your hands. If you don’t switch it on, you do have the potential, but you may die without experiencing the combustion within you.
When you pray, you are igniting yourself. Your heart gets charged, your mind gets flooded, your body gets overwhelmed by the life of God, and the potential that the Holy Spirit has starts to move into a different level of energy. You start to experience life. Now you don’t talk about the abundant life theologically, but you express it through your life. Prayer stirs up what’s in your spirit and brings it out.
Illustration of coffee:
When you get your coffee, you add sugar and stir it. While stirring, what is deposited below rises to the surface. Likewise, when you pray, you cause what is stored within you to flow out.
Illustration of a water tank:
Consider a water tank in your home. To allow water to flow out of the taps, you need to connect the pipe through a hole. This water tank has an infinite supply of water, and the speed at which you want it to flow in your house is determined by the size of the pipe hole. Your heart is represented by the pipe. And it is up to you how much you want the Spirit of Life to flow in and through your heart.
When we worship, we open our hearts to God. But when we open our eyes, we are offended by someone, which causes our hearts to close. The Holy Spirit begins to move whenever you open your heart. However, when you are offended, the Spirit of God ceases to move.
To all husbands and wives, your most important ministry is in your home. Your faith will be put to the test by your compassion for others. You can love people without loving God, but you can’t love God without loving people.
Your faith is reflected in your love for people. So, whenever you open your heart, the Spirit is stirred. At the same time, your heart is more open to being offended. That is when you must make the decision to open your heart more because you trust God. The simplest way to be blessed is to bless others.
God asked Job to pray for his friends, and as he prayed, he was restored. So, when you open your heart to the people, they may hurt and offend you, but it will be a blessing to you. One of the best places to get offended is the church. When you journey with people, you will get offended. But that should not stop you from opening your heart even more. Rather, the offense should become an indication of an open heart where the Spirit of God is moving. Every time you are offended, thank God for increasing the capacity of your heart so that the Spirit can move more intensely.
When people would ask you, ‘How do you do it?’. You don’t just preach the gospel, but you become the gospel. You are not just speaking about the blessed life; you are the blessed life. Pray so that what is inside of you can overwhelm and overcome.
Hebrews 11: 6 (ESV) – And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
What pleases God?
We already know that those who walk in the flesh cannot please God. God can only be pleased through faith. Prayer in the Spirit is the same as prayer in faith. You cannot pray in the spirit unless you also pray in faith. It is impossible to please God if one does not have faith. Most of the time, we blindly trust God when we say ‘no matter what happens, we trust Him’. That’s not faith. Faith is not passive belief. Faith is actively participating in God’s goodness.
James tells his disciples that both they and the demons believe in God. So, how is our faith different? Demons do not believe that God rewards those who seek Him. So, whenever you pray in faith, you are trusting that He is a good rewarder. Every minute you believe that God is a good rewarder, you are speaking and praying in faith.
1. Faith begins with knowing God’s will.
Faith begins with knowing God’s will. And faith can only be stretched as far as your knowledge will allow. For instance, if you do not believe that it is God’s will to heal, you will lack the faith to pray for healing. You can only believe in things that you are certain are in God’s Will. The knowledge of God’s Will gives you the eyes to walk in faith.
Story of Elijah
1 Kings 18: 1 (ESV) – After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.”
God confirmed to Elijah that rain is on its way. Later, however, you see Elijah ascending the mountain to pray. Will something not happen if God says so? So, why was Elijah praying? Elijah knew a secret. He was well aware that anything God wishes to accomplish on Earth necessitates the participation of a man (or woman). God is the King of Kings, but He has delegated authority over the earth to man.
Illustration of a rented house:
If you have rented your house to someone, just because the house is yours does not mean you can barge into it whenever you want. You must respect the fact that the authority of the house is shared by them for the time being.
God is a true gentleman. What He does on earth requires a man’s willing participation. That is why the Word became flesh. The Old Testament attests that anything God desired to establish on earth was done with the partnership of man. Jesus taught His disciples to pray in the following manner:
‘May Your will be done,
On earth, as it is in heaven.’
God’s will is not always done. We must pray for His will to be done. We must partner with Him for His will to be done. God is looking for people who will partner with Him for His will to get done.
Do you know God wants to heal you? Or to bless you so that you can become a channel of blessing for others? If you don’t know that, you will not pray for it. And if you won’t pray for it, you won’t be able to participate in what God has for you. So even though Elijah heard the word of the Lord, he was partnering with the Lord through prayer. He changed his posture, puts his head between his knees, and prayed seven times. The seventh time the servant saw a cloud which confirmed the word of the Lord.
Even though you know God’s will for your life, you have to pray to partner with Him for His will to be established in your life.
1 John 5: 14-15 (ESV) – And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Every time you pray according to His, He will answer. But you have to keep praying till it happens. You are partnering with God. Jesus being the son of God, prayed whole night. Why? Because anything that has to happen on earth needs a participation of a man or a woman. God had given you the promise land, but you need to possess it.
2. Faith brings understanding.
Hebrews 11: 3 (ESV) – By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
We try to understand things by reasoning, but reasoning is the opposite of faith. In the spiritual, we understand by faith. Faith is not closing you eyes. Faith is to open your spiritual eyes. The natural mind cannot understand spiritual things, and only faith brings understanding of spiritual things. Faith brings this understanding that the physical reality is made out of the spiritual reality.
Story of Jacob:
When we look at the story of Jacob, Issac is dying and Esau is out hunting for his father to be blessed. Rebecca tells Jacob to steal Esau’s blessing. So Jacob takes the meal cooked by his mother and goes to Issac to receive the blessing. How did Issac bless Jacob? He just said some words. When Jacob was leaving the house, he had nothing on him, he had no gold, no property papers, no money, but he had the spiritual inheritance of his father given to him by his grandfather. When Esau comes, he is frustrated and asks Isaac if he has anything for him, but he had none. Those were just words, but they all understood that spiritual inheritance is much more bigger than the earthly inheritance.
And as Issac was releasing the blessing it was as real as any property paper. And he no longer could take it back because it does not belong to him anymore. How did he release it? Through words. By faith you understand that whatever you need in the physical comes out of the spiritual. So Jacob, even though he had nothing, understood that his spiritual inheritance had the power to completly inexhaustibly supply all his needs.
When your bank balance goes down, when you are in debt, when you face an issue in your relationship or work, you need to look into the spiritual to the inexhaustible supply to overcome.
Ephesians 1: 3 (ESV) – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
God has already blessed you with every spiritual blessing. Your physical blessings may get exhausted one day, but your spiritual inheritance will never be exhausted and it has to power to supply into your physical resources. You need love, you have more love. You need patience, you have more patience. You need hope, you have more hope. But it takes faith to understand that whatever you need is in the spiritual inheritance.
When you pray, you might begin with knowing God’s will. But in that prayer, the Spirit of God gives you an understanding of what God wants to do. Your heart is secured that even though you might not see anything in the physical, you are assured that your spiritual inheritance has the power to fulfill everything that you need.
3. Faith is completed by obedience.
James 2: 17 (ESV) – So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Faith is not just mental agreement. We might agree but we don’t believe. If we believed whatever the Bible says, our life will be different. So, faith is completed by your obedience. Obedience is for sons and not slaves. Slaves are obligated to obey. But its a privledge for the sons to obey.
Romans 1: 5 (ESV) – through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations
Illustration of a medicine:
You take a paracetamol when you have a headache. You believe that the paracetamol has the power to cure your headache. But unless you take the medicine your belief is not fruitful.
Faith begins knowing God’s will. Faith brings understanding. But faith is completed by obedience. So when you pray, you should not ask what God can do for you, rather, your prayer should turn to asking Him what you can do for Him. You must ask God to change your heart so you can be empowered and strengthened to do what His Will is. Your prayer is not over till you obey.
Faith is not good works. You are created in the image of God so you do good works. But faith is to completely surrender to what God is telling you in the moment and doing the crazy.
1. One thing that can really help you in your prayer is to check your posture while you are praying. You can pray lying in your bed, but if that’s the only way you pray, that speaks a lot about you. The posture of your body communicates the posture of your heart.
2. Put in your heart when you are praying. Put in the best time, energy and effort that you can. God will multiply your best and give it back to you.