September 23: Listening with the Israelites

We’re on day 5 of learning to listen to the Lord.

And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

Exodus 15:26

Often we assume something mysterious or highly spiritual about hearing God’s voice and taking time to listen. But God speaks to us thru His Word. We can open it each day. But sometimes we don’t diligently hearken – we kinda gloss over it.

To diligently hearken means to examine our lives against God’s will for our lives. During the listening part of prayer, examine Scripture that you’ve read and see – has God prompted you in ways that you could respond?

Let’s give ear to His commandments!

[12] Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.

Psalm 119:12

September 22: Listening with Adam

We’ve seen some of the ways to listen to God already, but today we’ll highlight a way not to listen to God.

[10] And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Genesis 3:10

Adam responded to God’s voice with fear – but the wrong kind of fear.

Adam was afraid, while we’re told to have the ‘fear of the Lord’

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether

Psalm 19:9

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Proverbs 19:10

Adam was afraid, in Hebrew: waira. This is where we’re told fear not. Don’t be frightened, scared, paralyzed, forced to hide.

Fear of the Lord, fear, in Hebrew: yirat. This is the idea of reverence.

A way to visualize reverence is to ‘bow the knee.’ Here’s a song from our friend Ron Hamilton (Patch the Pirate) on how to reverence our God!

Bow the Knee, by Ron Hamilton

September 21: Listening with Sarah

We’re on day 3 of Listening to God in prayer. One of the problems we have is that after we’ve identified God’s voice, we respond too quickly.

[9] And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.
[10] And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.
[11] Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
[12] Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
[13] And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
[14] Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
[15] Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

Genesis 18

What is God saying to you that you’re quick to dismiss or laugh off? Is He asking you to pray for a loved one’s salvation? To share the gospel with a friend? Is He calling you into the ministry?

We may still be trying to figure out if it’s God that is speaking to us – but let’s be careful not to dismiss what He’s saying simply because it doesn’t fit our preconceived limitations for our life. Remember:

  • Noah was a drunk
  • Abraham was too old
  • Isaac was a daydreamer
  • Jacob was a liar
  • Leah was ugly
  • Joseph was abused
  • Moses had a stuttering problem
  • Gideon was afraid
  • Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
  • Rahab was a prostitute
  • Jeremiah was too young
  • David was an adulterer (not to mention a murderer)
  • Elijah was suicidal
  • Isaiah preached naked
  • Jonah ran from God
  • Naomi was a widow
  • Job went bankrupt
  • John the Baptist ate bugs
  • Andrew lived in the shadow of his big brother
  • Peter denied Christ
  • All the disciples fell asleep while praying (and ran away when Jesus really needed them.)
  • Martha worried about everything
  • The Samaritan woman was divorced (more than once)
  • Mary Magdalene was demon-possessed
  • Zaccheus was too small
  • Timothy had an ulcer
  • Paul was a Christian-killer
  • Oh…and Lazarus was dead

September 20: Listening with Elijah

We’re looking at the subject of listening in prayer, and we’re looking at making sure we’re listening to the right voice! Samuel heard a voice that he didn’t know was God’s. We’ll see today how Elijah heard many voices and had to find out which one was God’s.

[11] And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks 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:
[12] And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
[13] And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

1 Kings 19:11-13

Sometimes we’ll see signs that indicate we should do something. It used to be that people attributed these signs to God, now people attribute them to the universe:

Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to tell you something, but you just don’t understand the message? Do you find yourself seeking answers to questions in your life and never quite finding a solution?

You might feel this way because you aren’t fully aware of the “language” of the universe. The answers are likely right in front of you. The “language barrier” with the universe is a major hindrance for many; once you’re able to learn the lingo, your experience of life will only grow.

If you are looking to the universe for signs, you may end up confessing your sins to the plants and trees like an American seminary did recently!

There will be many voices that speak – and sadly despite popular opinion, we’re not all God’s children.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do…

John 8:44

Pray to God that he will help you discern which voice is God’s voice!

September 19: Listening with Samuel

We’re on our 11th segment of the hour of prayer!

How can we listen to God? If we look back at time we spend in church, in Bible reading, and in prayer, He doesn’t usually speak to us audibly.

First – we must learn to recognize His voice. Vic Eliason, the long time director of VCY America, told me how when he had the opportunity to speak to a college full of preacher boys, he spoke on the child Samuel. The Lord called to Samuel and he didn’t recognize God’s voice (1 Samuel 3:4). God called to Samuel again and he still didn’t recognize God’s voice (1 Samuel 3:6). God called to Samuel a third time and he still didn’t recognize God’s voice (1 Samuel 3:8). Eli finally guessed that this was God talking to Samuel, and told Samuel how to recognize who was speaking (1 Samuel 3:9).

As Vic shared with me, too many people are called into the ministry by their mothers, and not by their Heavenly Father.

But many people have the opposite problem – their Heavenly Father is calling them, but their earthly father says “the ministry doesn’t pay much, but if you get a good job you can support a lot of missionaries.”

God doesn’t want what we can do for Him (in case you’ve forgotten, He’s omnipotent {all-powerful}, and we are impotent {no power}), He wants us.

Like Samuel, take time to lay quietly (1 Samuel 3:15), and learn to discern what voices are talking to you. (Our friend Carl Kerby even has a talk on this topic!)

September 3: Meditate – with Psalm 119!

On our last day of focusing on praying by meditating, we’re returning to Psalm 119. Of the 20 times in the Bible the word “meditate” or a variant is used, 7 are in Psalm 119.

  • [15] I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
  • [23] Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
  • [48] My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
  • [78] Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
  • [97] O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
  • [99] I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
  • [148] Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Notice the often used phrase “I will” – a dedication to the practice of meditation. It’s not something that happens unintentionally, it requires an intentional, volitional act.

V. 148 is interesting. This verse is actually used as the context for Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

PREVENT‘, verb transitive [Latin proevenio, supra.]

1. To go before; to precede.

I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried. Psalms 119:148.

Let’s get up early and meditate on God’s Word!

September 2: Meditate with Timothy

We’re on day 4 of our look at prayer by meditation, and today we’ll look at how we can meditate with Timothy!

[12] Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
[13] Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
[14] Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
[15] Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
[16] Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

1 Timothy 4

Paul is instructing young Timothy to be an example (v.12), be diligent (v.13), be focused (v. 14), and be meditating! (v.15).

Meditate on what? v.13 shows that we need to meditate on the reading, exhortation, and doctrine – of the Word of God! Just like the Psalmist and Isaac, we can mediate, ruminate, and chew upon the Word of God. But how do we know our thoughts are going the right direction? Is not the heart deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9)?

James 1:5 reminds us to ask of God for wisdom! Proverbs 2:6 reminds us that God gives us wisdom. By seeking wisdom from God we can find it (Proverbs 8:17). Take time to pray and seek wisdom from God to guide your meditation on His Word!

September 1: Meditate with Isaac!

We’re on day 3 of the focus on meditation. No we’re not doing yoga with the gurus – we’re chewing on Scripture!

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.

Genesis 24:63

Isaac is the forgotten patriarch – we admire Abraham, we’re skeptical of Jacob, we are amazed by Joseph, but Isaac gets forgotten, even though he’s in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11:20).

  • Genesis 22:9, Isaac was the willing sacrifice
  • Genesis 25:21 he’s the prayerful supplicant
  • Genesis 26:12 he’s abundantly blessed
  • Genesis 26:25 he’s the obedient worshipper
  • Genesis 24:63 he’s meditating on things of God.

Ellicott notes: (63) To meditate.–Many Jewish commentators translate to pray, and derive one of the three Jewish forms of prayer from this act of Isaac. But though the verb is rare, the substantive is used in Psalm 104:34 of religious meditation; and this sense well agrees with the whole character of the calm, peaceful Isaac, already marked out as the type of the Lamb dumb before His slayers (Genesis 22:7).

Like Isaac – we too are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Let’s take time and meditate like Isaac on what it means to be sacrificed to God, to have a purpose in His Kingdom, to be used by Him, to reflect on His Word, to seek His Will, to be led in His Way.

August 31: Meditate with the Psalmist

As we continue on our journey thru the hour of prayer, we’re looking at how to meditate. We saw God told Joshua to meditate on it day and night. Today the Psalmist begins the book with this call to meditation:

[1] Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
[2] But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
[3] And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
[4] The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
[5] Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
[6] For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Psalm 1

The blessing goes to the man who “does not” and who “does.” He does not take in ungodly counsel, the sinner’s way, or fellowship with scorners. He does not meditate on those things.

What does he meditate on? He delights in the Law, and meditates day and night!

Meditating is a choice – what to NOT meditate on, as well as what TO meditate on.

Interesting that in Joshua, he is promised success, while in Psalms he is promised prosperity.

There’s an organization, Americans for Prosperity, that advocates policies that they say will lead to economic success for Americans. But if we want to be truly successful and prosperous (btw – not just economically but spiritually) – we need to meditate on Scripture.

Psalm 1, Patch the Pirate

August 30: Meditate – with Joshua

We’re on the 10th segment of the hour of prayer – and let’s look at Meditation.

Did you know? There’s only one verse in the entire Bible that uses the word ‘success’ – and it gives the secret for success!

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Joshua 1:8

How do we meditate on Scripture? Even harder – how do we meditate day and night?

Living in the “Information Age” we can quickly parse the words back into Hebrew with a free online interlinear Bible such as BibleHub:

BibleHub interlinear of Joshua 1:8

When we click on the Hebrew word transliterated We-ha-gi-ta, it takes us to the Englishman’s Concordance that shows us where this is used elsewhere in the Bible:

We see this form of the word is used once, but Strong’s has the root “hagah” used throughout the Old Testament. Click the “25 Occurrences” to see where this concept is used:

The same Hebrew root word is translated “utter,” “imagine,” “speak,” “meditate,” “study,” “mutter,” “mourn,” and “roar.”

Can we study, meditate, imagine, and mourn over the Bible? Do we utter, speak, mutter, and roar over it?

David Guzik notes that the Word is in his lips, mind, and hand (Joshua 1:8).

Matthew Poole notes: Meditate therein, i.e. diligently study, and frequently and upon all occasions consider what is God’s will and thy duty. The greatness of thy place and employments shall not hinder thee from this work, because this is the only rule of all thy private actions and public administrations. 

Whedon notes: Shall meditate — The Hebrew word הגה, sometimes means to mutter, speak aloud, but “we are not to think of this meditation as a learned study, nor as a ‘reading aloud,’ as Bunsen explains it, but rather as a mature reflection upon the law, by which Joshua should penetrate more deeply into its meaning.” — Fay. Happy is the nation of Bible readers ruled by one who receives the law at the mouth of God!

Keil & Delitzch: “. . . [Meditation] does not mean theoretical speculation about the law, such as the Pharisees indulged in, but a practical study of the law, for the purpose of observing it in thought and action, or carrying it out with the heart, the mouth, and the hand. Such a mode of employing it would be sure to be followed by blessings.”

Let’s pray and ask God to help us ponder, study, observe, mutter, reflect, penetrate, consider His Word!