Category: Prayer

Can’t Find God? Humble Yourself In Prayer Before Reading God’s Word & He’ll Find You

OK, so an effort of full disclosure, that post title might have been SLIGHTLY misleading…BUT…I still think it’s close enough to the heart of what I have to share with you today that I can “scrape by”.

Let me explain…

I’ve mentioned before how influential John Piper and the Desiring God ministry has been for me as God continues to transform my life to His likeness.  After reading the Piper classic, Desiring God, I came away with many things I’d like to implement, change and different ways of looking at the truth of the bible.  But shortly thereafter my kids got me one of the best gifts ever…his follow up book entitled When I Don’t Desire God.  From that book came one really practical suggestion that I still put into practice today.   It is a method of coming to the Word and communicating with Jesus every morning.

Simply put, I sometimes (more often than not) find when I come to the word of God, my heart, mind, spirit and soul are not aligned and positioned properly to concentrate, listen and receive what God may have for me.  In years past I would start my daily reading and prayer with a quick prayer for God to bless the time and impart His truth and wisdom to me and then just start reading.  I was lucky to get through the 10-15 second prayer without my mind wandering.  Let alone for it not to wander while I was reading and praying afterward.

Anyway, very soon I will be posting a method of reading scripture that has totally revolutionized my prayer life and daily time with God, but in the mean time, this is an awesome, quick and practical tip from the book When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper.  I hope you find it to be as powerful in your time with God as I have!

Isaiah 66:2 — But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

So if you’re having trouble finding God, humble yourself before reading God’s Word and He’s likely to find you!  I.O.U.S is one prayer that helps us to humble ourselves before reading God’s Word. You might consider printing it out and sticking it in your Bible.

Very practically what this means for the fight for joy is that every day we must not just go to the Word, but pray over the Word—indeed before we even get to the Word, lest he fail to come. I close this chapter with the way this works in my own experience.

Almost every day I pray early in the morning that God would give me desires for him and his Word, because the desires I ought to have are absent or weak. In fact, I follow the acronym myself that I have given to many people to help them fight for joy. The acronym is I O U S. It is very limited and focused. It’s not all we should pray for. But this book (and most of my life) is about the fight for joy. And that is what I O U S focuses on. Here’s the way I pray over the Word in my fight for joy.

I—(Incline!) The first thing my soul needs is an inclination toward God and his Word. Without that, nothing else will happen of any value in my life. I must want to know God and read his Word and draw near to him. Where does that “want to” come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 119:36 teaches us to pray, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” Very simply we ask God to take our hearts, which are more inclined to breakfast and the newspaper, and change that inclination. We are asking that God create desires that are not there.

O—(Open!) Next I need to have the eyes of my heart opened so that when my inclination leads me to the Word, I see what is really there, and not just my own ideas. Who opens the eyes of the heart? God does. So Psalm 119:18 teaches us to pray, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” So many times we read the Bible and see nothing wonderful. Its reading does not produce joy. So what can we do? We can cry to God: “Open the eyes of my heart, O Lord, to see what it says about you as wonderful.”

U—(Unite!) Then I am concerned that my heart is badly fragmented. Parts of it are inclined, and parts of it are not. Parts see wonder, and parts say, “That’s not so wonderful.” What I long for is a united heart where all the parts say a joyful Yes! to what God reveals in his Word. Where does that wholeness and unity come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 86:11 teaches us to pray, “Unite my heart to fear your name.” Don’t stumble over the word fear when you thought we were seeking joy. The fear of the Lord is a joyful experience when you renounce all sin. A thunderstorm can be a trembling joy when you know you can’t be destroyed by lightning. “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to . . . the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name” (Neh. 1:11). “His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD” (Isa. 11:3). Therefore pray that God would unite your heart to joyfully fear the Lord.

S—(Satisfy!) What I really want from all this engagement with the Word of God and the work of his Spirit in answer to my prayers is for my heart to be satisfied with God and not with the world. Where does that satisfaction come from? It comes from God. So The Focus of Prayer in the Fight for Joy < 151 Psalm 90:14 teaches us to pray, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

I O U S ADMITS GOD IS OUR ONLY HOPE FOR JOY

This acronym has served me well for years. This is frontline warfare for me.

How To Enjoy Reading the Bible

How To Enjoy Reading the BibleI’ve mentioned and recommended The Way of a Worshiper by Buddy Owens in other posts on this blog before.  It’s a small little book packed with great information on living for the Glory of the father and making worship a lifestyle.  It’s great and if you haven’t read it, get it.

So after I read that book, when I found this sermon by Buddy on learning how to read the bible with your ears, naturally I was in.  Since putting this method of reading the bible daily into practice, it has been transformational.  Here’s what Buddy says about the sermon:

How to Read the Bible with Your Ears

Prayer and Bible reading aren’t two separate activities, they are two parts of a conversation with God. If you feel guilty or frustrated about your devotional life, this message is for you. Pastor Buddy Owens shows you how to enter the conversation by learning to hear the Lord speak to you in his Word. With help from the simple Bible reading method Buddy describes, you can learn to recognize the voice, the heart, and the hand of God in Scripture. Come join the conversation.

Presenter:  Buddy Owens
Date:  1/3/2007

How Important Is Early-Morning Prayer?

Early-Morning PrayerWhile reading the book, “When I Don’t Desire God” by John Piper, I came across a section that I thought of vital importance that I’d like to share on early-morning prayer.  Here’s what he says:

The example of Jesus and the testimony of lovers of Christ throughout
the centuries points us to early-morning prayer as decisively important.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus]
departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark
1:35). I commend the early morning as one crucial time for a disciplined,
regular meeting with God over the Word and prayer.
First, it signals to our conscience that this is of first importance in
the day. That witness from our action to our conscience has a joyful
effect on the Christian mind. Second, early-morning prayer strikes the
first blow in the battle of the day, instead of waiting till we are besieged
from all sides. Third, what we do daily and do early shapes the spirit of
our minds and brings us into a disposition of humility and trust that will
bear better fruit than anxiety or self-reliance. Fourth, since beginning the
day with the Word of God is crucial (as we saw in Chapter Eight), therefore
prayer is equally crucial since the Word will not open its best wonders
to us without prayer: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous
things out of your law” (Ps. 119:18). Fifth, it is uncanny how Satan can
use even good things to squeeze prayer out of our schedule if we miss
the early-morning hour. I have seen it again and again. If I say to myself,
“I will give some time to prayer later,” it generally does not happen.

I couldn’t agree more.  By the way, if you haven’t, READ THIS BOOK!  Yeah it’s that good.

Share your thoughts on early-morning prayer below…do you do it, if not, when and what works for you/what doesn’t.

Helpful Prayer Model – Praying the 6 D’s (from DesiringGod.org)

PrayerI subscribe to the DesiringGod.org blog as the content they produce is always phenomenal. One of today’s posts was just something I had to share with my L2W (Live2Worship) readers. It’s from Jon Bloom on praying the 6 d’s. Check it out:

A few years back I wrote about the 5 “D’s” I pray for daily. Recently, I added a sixth: desperation. I need to feel continually my desperate need for God.

Whatever it takes, Lord, give me…

Delight in you as the greatest treasure of my heart.
Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Desire to know you, be with you, and seek your kingdom above all else.
Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Discernment that comes from a renewed mind that I might know your will.
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14)

Desperation because when I stop feeling my need for you I tend to wander.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. (Psalm 119:67)

Discipline to plan for what I discern as your will.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Diligence to do your will with all my heart.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)