Welcome here! This blog is an “extra blog” being posted daily between January 13 and February 3 to come alongside the 21 Days of Prayer.
Part 1: A little guidance about prayer
Part 2: Journal Entry — “Wait Until You See This!”
THE PARTNERSHIP OF THE BIBLE AND PRAYER
Our goal as a community is to not just be a church with prayer, but to be a church of prayer. Praying and GOD’s Word go hand in hand! The more we talk to our Father the more we hunger to know Him and what He is about and how He works, and this drives us to our Bibles! The more we are in the Bible, the more we want to talk to GOD about what He is showing us there, about Himself, ourselves and the world. This drives us to prayer! The two go together.
KNOW JESUS REALLY, REALLY WELL
During these 21 days we are inviting you to walk through the book of John to look at the life of Jesus closely so the conversation you end up having with Him — prayer — flows out of knowing and loving Him so much more! There are a ton of things you could look at in John, but for these 21 days, make a point of just staring at Jesus: what is He like, what does He do, what does He sound like, who does He hang around with, what is important to Him, what do you hear and see?
Reading the Bible and praying isn’t what one would call a “natural” experience; it would be more accurate to call it a “supernatural” experience as His Spirit interacts with ours. Still, the Bible constantly calls us to decide to SEEK God. What does that imply? It implies that GOD wants His kids to put effort in. For most people, it takes a while to understand how Scripture is ALIVE and how prayer is A LIFE-GIVING, TWO-WAY, CONVERSATION! We need to persist in practicing these things before they take on a life of their own! To encourage you in this journey, this blog post will outline some steps you can take and then provide a sample of a journal entry on today’s reading of John 1 (download a guide here).
HOW DO YOU BEGIN TO PRAY? TRY “HELLO” AND…”HELP!”
As we come to our Father we both greet Him and we invite Him to do something in us and for us.
We greet Him and recognize that He is very different from us: He is holy and perfect and…GOD!! This realization moves us to worship Him!
The more we see who He is, the more we know He loves us and is here to help us! So we do what He has told us to do: ask Him for help. Help with what?
To hear Him
To understand His Word
To see what He wants us to know about His heart and will
Our personal struggles and temptations, questions and needs
To have the courage and conviction to obey Him…and so much more!
When Jesus left to be with His Father (after dying on the cross and being raised to life again) He said He was going to send someone to help us. That “someone” is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity that Scripture describes as the one who guides us, convicts us of sin, counsels us etc. It is a good practice in your “help” part of prayer to recognize that GOD’s Spirit has been given to you, is in you if you have invited Jesus to lead your life, so thank Him for this and be aware that He is with you. Talk to Him as you read and pray, He is like your tutor all the way along!
Need an idea of what this looks like (don’t get hung up finding the exact words, but here is a sample)
PRAYER ASSISTANT: “Father, good morning! You are always with me, that amazes me! You are perfect and powerful and loving and good! These are just some of the things I know about You! I want to sit with You and hear from You. You have given me Your Spirit for this reason and so I invite You, Holy Spirit to speak to me, help me to hear You! I do need Your help GOD. As I read Your Word, help me not to get frustrated or distracted and especially help me to lean in. Show me what You want me to see today!….”
You might just want to be quiet for a bit and see if GOD wants to say something back to you even now…it helps to write it down so you can think on what you heard and discern if that was GOD. We will talk more about that on our first Wednesday Prayer Experience and I will write about it as well.
FOCUS ON GOD THROUGH HIS WORD (GET YOUR BIBLE, JOURNAL AND PEN)
You might not always read your Bible when you have a conversation with your Heavenly Father, but certainly at some point in the day, for as many days as you can, it is THE THING that will deepen your relationship with GOD and powerfully guide your life, your growth spiritually, and your conversations with Him. So, for the purposes of this blog, I am going to assume that your “next thing” will be opening up His Word.
As you read passages from the reading guide (today John 1) really focus in on Jesus. There’s lots happening in every chapter — but just hunt for everything you see, feel and learn about Jesus. Write in your Bible, use your pen, use a highlighter, create your own symbols (for example, I put a green leaf in my Bible wherever I find a verse that really fills me with hope about the future!)
What do you notice about Jesus in this chapter? (you don't have to write about everything, just something that stands out).
What does this tell you about Him?
How does this draw you to Him personally?
How does this affect your relationship with Him?
Using your journal (journalling is a MUST, please just trust us on this), spend some time thinking about what you have read and what it means for you. You can follow this basic guide to help you…
S - write down the verse that grabbed you
O - write down what the verse is about, what your understanding of it is
A - now, do the very important work of asking the Spirit how this applies to you, listen and write. This is the heart work!!
P - pray about what has been shown to you and continue in prayer over what the Lord is prompting you about, and for your prayer requests and struggles.
Your journal may be very simple, very list-like, it may take only a page some days. Other days, especially as you become familiar with this, you might go on and on!! Focus on being honest, focus on really seeking the Lord! It is not about your writing skills, it is about a relationship you are building with Jesus!
SAMPLE JOURNAL ENTRY (NOTICE THAT THIS WHOLE JOURNAL ENTRY IS WRITTEN AS A PRAYER — you don’t have to do this, but it is a great way to remind you that you are having a conversation with GOD)
January 14, 2019
“Wait Until You See This”
Good morning Jesus. Today I am reading about You in John 1. I pray You would sit with me and introduce Yourself to me and give me what You want for me today. You were sent by the Father so that I could KNOW GOD as much as possible in this life and I am convinced if I know You well, some things will just become obvious!
I have friendships where I know people well: I know who they are, what they are capable of, what they like to do. If I know people like this, can I expect the same in our relationship? You say, “Yes!” and I hear You calling me to lean in closer to know you. So, that is my goal for the next 21 days: to look very closely at You. I already know what will happen, Your love will come alive in me!
First of all, I just want to start by saying thanks. Thank you that You are not the one who hides. I hide. You are not the one who holds back. I hold back. You have only ever offered Yourself to me. Jesus, it is only I who creates distance. Thank you that You are the GOD who pursues and does not give up.
It is easy to look at John 1 and say, “There is so much here!” so please sit with me and tell me about Yourself, show me the one thing You want me to notice this morning. As I sit and read and I am mindful of your Spirit in me – this is not like reading just any book. Your Word is alive! This chapter will speak to me one way today and another way a year from now. I am listening and there is no need to be overwhelmed. As much as I want to understand, You want to speak to me!
It is interesting, the verse that stood out to me today. I was assuming what I would end up writing about but then verse 50 had an undeniable pull:
Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.”
What does this say about GOD? This actually makes me smile. I am thinking of some simple things I throw together when I cook that impress Mike. Some sandwich that took me 5 minutes to make and he is enthralled. In my mind I think, “Did that impress you? Well, check this out…” and I take an hour to put together something gourmet that is ten times better.
What is it about You Jesus, that You LOVE doing miraculous things?
Nathanael is impressed You were able to do something unusual. I can see You in this Scripture Jesus. I see You standing there with him and I am positive You kind of laugh to Yourself and have so much going through Your mind in that moment of what You know that we don’t. You look Nathanael in the eye then,
“You are impressed with that…?”
And then You say words to Nathanael that I am sure he could not even process, “I tell you the truth…” I have to stop. This line lands somewhere soft in me today. Jesus, You know my heart is searching for true words, true assurances. I am desperate for Words that speak into my situation. Yes, tell me the Truth louder than everything! Be louder than the lies that poke at me…
You say to Nathanael, “…you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
And I am sure Nathanael had no idea what You meant. He understood the figs, but this was beyond understanding and is what is “gourmet.” You could have stopped at the figs, but You gave more because YOU ARE MORE. You told him more about Yourself and about life ahead because this is what You do for us – little us. You are GOD and You are not limited by the present and so neither are we, because we are with You. You see all the way through and this is what I must lock into my knowledge bank about You.
****** This is what You are saying to me today: “If You really knew me, You would know I see where You are, I am fully aware. I also see way ahead of You, I see the whole journey, so come alive with the confidence you gain by relying on My Power to know and see all! Let me show you marvellous things You do not understand. Open your eyes and ears. ”
Thank you for speaking to me about this, Jesus. For wanting me to know this about You. I am planting Your Words in my heart. When I come and talk with You, I know You will show me where I am and where we are going.
P.S. Dear Reader: “In the beginning was the Word…” -- Sometimes we can get tripped up on things that leave us asking, “Well what does THAT mean? Why is the Bible so complicated?” Let’s be reminded that GOD’s Word is here to be read in the simplest way and in the deepest way, for both the child and the scholar. Some words come quickly to us, and some require us to dig in and spend time with and to consider the bigger picture of the story to understand. The way John 1 begins in verse 1 with this idea of the “Word” requires a look into the whole of Scripture to understand the truth and power of what John is writing. Here is an article to get you started by John Piper. When you bump into a “harder thing” there are amazing resources to help guide you along when you have the time to study it with a little more effort.