Journey to the Cross - Day 11 - Hearing Aids - Pray Without Ceasing
Pocket Full of Easter
Journey to The Cross 2006
Day 11: Hearing Aids – Pray Without Ceasing
The second “hearing aid” we will discuss is to pray without ceasing. How can we pray without ceasing with cell phones ringing, watch alarms going off, and rap music blasting from the next car? What good would it do to pray without ceasing when our calendar is full?
One of Daddy’s excuses for taking off his hearing aid is that random sounds coming from everywhere blend and confuse him. It’s much like that with hearing the voice of God. Hearing aid technology does not allow Daddy to tune in the frequency he wants and tune out everything else. In our spiritual walk, with practice, we can develop that ability.
Read John 10:27-30.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. NASU
• Sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd. Like a sheep, listen for your shepherd.
• No one can snatch you out of your shepherd’s strong gentle hands. Let them cradle you.
• The Father gave you to Jesus. Enjoy being His gift.
• Ask God to teach you how to pray without ceasing.
• If you have trouble hearing His voice, ask that He speak more distinctly.
• Ask for the courage to follow the sound of His voice.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Morning Bible Study
Have you ever read a book twice? When you know the ending, you can better see how the seemingly random events fit together. My husband loves the television drama, “Twenty-four.” I watch it because I want to spend time with him but for me, the events are too startling and upsetting. If someone watches it first and gives me a synopsis, I’m not as traumatized by this 1 hour of breath-taking terror. I take comfort in knowing the ending, no matter how bad it is.
I’m also comforted in knowing that my Father is the director of our lives and knows the ending. I refuse to let myself be distracted by the theological debate that tries to figure out how God can know the ending and still offer free will. I just want to hear the voice of my Director and follow His cues. When I can’t distinguish His directions from the screaming of the other actors in my drama, I don’t have a clue what to do next. When I’m confused, I see my life as singular events and start living in breath-taking terror. When I hear the Director’s voice, I rejoice in all things, knowing that all things work together for good. The only way I can distinguish my Director’s voice is to be constantly in dialogue with Him.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. NASU
• How often are we to pray?
• What is the direction before the words “pray without ceasing?”
• What is God’s will for us?
Jeremiah was a prophet of God who lived in a spirit of prayer. People depended on him to hear a word for God and repeat it to them. Read Jeremiah 42:4.
Then Jeremiah the prophet said to them, "I have heard you. Behold, I am going to pray to the LORD your God in accordance with your words; and I will tell you the whole message which the LORD will answer you. I will not keep back a word from you." NASU
• How could Jeremiah have such confidence that he could hear God?
• How do you think his confidence affected the people around him?
• Are you that confident about hearing God’s voice?
Nehemiah was another prophet. Read his prayer in Nehemiah 1:5-6.
I said, "I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and loving kindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, NASU
• How often was Nehemiah praying on behalf of Israel?
• How did Nehemiah see God?
• How do you think he developed this opinion of God?
Read Nehemiah’s confident words in 2:11-12.
So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do. NASU
He didn’t doubt that the “plans in his mind” were from God. Is it possible for us to be that sure?
Now read Ephesians 6:18.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, NASU
• How often are we to pray?
• Why do you think the scripture uses the word “perseverance”?
• What do you think it means to pray “in the spirit?”
Recognizing the voice of our creator isn’t difficult when we see Him everywhere. Read Psalms 150.
Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! NASU
• What are some prayer reminders in this scripture?
• How are we supposed to praise Him?
• Who is supposed to praise Him?
Jesus prayed continually as He took His own journey to the cross. He prayed on mountains, in gardens, before crowds, and in the wilderness. Read Luke 5:16.
But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. NASU
• What did Jesus often do?
• Why do you think He needed to “slip away?”
Now and again, we can live in a spirit of prayer in the midst of the noise and chaos we call life. More often, like my daddy and his confusing hearing aid, the sounds blend, forming a series of indistinguishable noises. We may even be tempted to remove the hearing aid. That’s when we need to briefly “slip away” and fine-tune our hearing aids.
Since 1979, I’ve maintained the habit of talking and listening to God every morning. The time alone with God is precious and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If I have an 8:00 AM flight, I’ll get up at 4:30 AM to spend time with God. In those quiet moments, God is as real as anything or anyone I can see, hear, or touch.
If you’re impressed, don’t be. Lest you think me too spiritual or disciplined, I must confess that it has only been in the last few years that I have even begun to have a tiny understanding of what it meant to “pray without ceasing.” I certainly had no idea how much clearer God’s voice could get with even feeble attempts at this exercise.
In 2002, God called me out of corporate America and into a life that I viewed to be fulltime service to Him. This calling was to travel the streets of America, listening to people and talking to them about God. I wasn’t sure if this was a permanent call but I was and still am sure of the directions for that moment of my life. I now realize that in anything I’m called to do, it’s full time service to Him.
In corporate America, my days were heavily scheduled. It worked for me to get up every morning and ask God for knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out. When I left my morning quiet time, I’m embarrassed to admit that I almost had the feeling I was saying goodbye to God until the next morning. But alas, God was faithful and answered my morning prayer as I experienced walking through my corporate days feeling like God was directing my steps.
When I left the rigors of a packed calendar to enter a life where I didn’t know what to do next, I had to develop an entirely new perspective on what it meant to hear the voice of God. On the road, I had to follow minute-by-minute instructions, without the benefit of a calendar, secretary, to-do list, outside family pressures, or an earthly authority. Not wanting to miss a single adventure, I knew I needed to improve my listening skills.
I began simply. When I stopped my car, I noticed the nature around me, and praised God for His beauty. The world became a church where worship was the only choice. With heavenly eyes, each place was more beautiful than the next. The rocks literally cried out in their call to worship.
I noticed God’s children and asked whom I was supposed to talk with. Amazingly, God answered directly by putting people in my path and preparing their heart for conversation. Often, they would walk up and begin a conversation while I was still praying. Occasionally, people would talk about their spiritual needs without prompting. One woman simply said, “Do you know how to pray?” As I began to pray without ceasing, I grew to expect direct answers.
Then I got the bright idea to ask God, while I was still driving, where I should stop. What a delight that was. When the Still Small Voice whispered, “Stop now,” the pleasure, adventure, or miracle in store was indescribable. I grew to expect a mighty work at every stop.
Suddenly, I realized what a powerful resource my Christian CDs were. Being a musician, I should have figured this out earlier but another confession is in order. Up until then, my driving time was for conversation – via a passenger or cell phone, listening to talk radio, or daydreaming. I began worshipping with music as I drove and as the trees and bushes rushed past, the music lifted my soul.
As my dialogue with God improved, I began to wonder what my corporate life would have been like if I’d prayed continually. Would I have been willing to follow God’s voice with a 9:00 AM appointment written in black ink on my schedule? Could I have praised Him in His sanctuary when that sanctuary consisted of gray walls, work cubicles, and people in suits? What would have been the results? I don’t know if God will ever call me back into corporate America but I’m intrigued by the question.
For today, pray about everything.
• Praise Him in His sanctuary and view everywhere as that sanctuary.
• Praise Him for His blessings and view everything as a blessing.
• Ask for His will and the power to carry that out, assuming He will say yes.
• When the sounds get indistinguishable, slip away to pray.
• Ask God what to do, trust your instincts, and continually obey in faith.