Category Archives: Prayer

Prayer — Let’s Not Complicate It!

prayerIf you have been following Out of the Fire for a while, you know I like to provide practical steps to effective prayer, hearing God, and the gifts of the Spirit. That’s because it’s how I personally like to learn. “Show me how! Give me the down-to-earth scoop on this!” My goal is to share principles from the Bible which make whatever aspect of the Christian life we’re talking about as easy to grasp as possible.

However, I don’t want these how-to steps to become some kind of methodology. They are guidelines, not rules. God is not about formulas. He wants us to develop ever-deepening relationship with Him — a growing hunger for the “more” He invites us into and an increasing awe of His infinitely beautiful nature.

In my last post, I talked about the self-help mentality which has invaded the Church. Since the fall into sin in the Garden of Eden, we’ve had a tendency to insist on doing things for ourselves, rather than depending on the Lord. The realm of prayer is not exempt from this error. We want a method which will give us answered prayer every time, where, if we input the right stuff, God will automatically spit out the desired response. We like having everything neatly boxed and wrapped, don’t we?

As a result, teachings keep arising which promise us that magic prayer bullet. We saw it with the extremes some Word of Faith people got into: “Say it, and it’s yours.” “If you speak the right Bible verses over your situation enough times and with unwavering faith, you’ll have what you need.” Many people slipped from having faith in Christ and His Word into trying to have faith in their own faith. When things didn’t happen as they had hoped, they either condemned themselves, became disillusioned with God, or walked away from believing He does miracles today. (This does not mean everything brought by the Word of Faith movement should be rejected. I am only speaking of extremes that some got off into.)

A rapidly spreading fad in charismatic circles is the “courts of heaven” teaching. It depends on formula, personal experiences, and shaky application of Scripture coming from an Old Covenant law mindset. The basic premise is that you must know how to present your case in a heavenly court room. The reason you haven’t been getting answers to prayer is because you weren’t aware of the legal court system in heaven, so you didn’t present your case correctly there. Therefore, the devil has a “legal right” to hinder your petitions. Buy the books, attend the conferences, and you will learn how to “navigate the courts” to receive answers. Voila! You have your magic prayer bullet.

Various teachings on how to get breakthroughs are nothing new. Trying to find the cure to unanswered prayer has probably been a concern since the Church’s inception. Over the decades, I’ve heard lots of teaching involving lists of multiple conditions we must fulfill and step-by-step formulas for how to attract God’s favor. At its core, it’s really all about works, isn’t it? We hasten to say we are saved by grace, not by works, but then we attempt to live out the Christian life (including prayer) in a totally works-based fashion.

Here’s a simple hint: When your prayers become about you doing/saying everything exactly right, rather than about Jesus’ unlimited ability and eagerness to help, something is radically wrong. When you become fearful that you might not get your answer because you didn’t fulfill a list of qualifications, this is bondage.

So, how should we pray to get answers?

1. We listen for the Holy Spirit’s leading. That starts with a lifestyle of filling ourselves with His written Word. It is His primary way of speaking with us. Even when we listen for His voice in our hearts (the other thing we want to cultivate), much of what we hear will be drawn from the Bible. The Holy Spirit loves to bring Scripture and Scripture principles to our remembrance.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But I don’t know my Bible very well yet.” Just start reading it now. Trust the Lord to still help you, even if you are weak in this area. He will be your teacher, and He’ll make up for your inadequacies.

2. Lay aside your concerns that you might fail at praying rightly. You will make mistakes and have some false starts here and there. That’s just life on earth. Prayer is something we continually grow better at, especially as we come to know the Lord more intimately. But we will never do it all perfectly. We will always need to depend upon Him.

Your heavenly Father is compassionate toward your limited understanding, your emotions, and your fears about the outcome. Pour it out to Him. You might start out with prayers which are less than faith-filled, but as you continue to come to Him, He will get you there. Remember, this is not all about you. It’s about how big and completely able the Lord is.

3. Expect God’s course correction and move with Him. He will show you new angles on how to pray in any given situation as you persist in coming to Him. He will correct any wrong direction you start out in and get you headed on the right course, as long as you stay open to His leading and don’t stubbornly resist Him.

4. Ask Him for His input. “How do You see this? How should I pray? Please guide me.” What a wonderful opener! We don’t tell Him how it’s got to be; we ask Him how it’s supposed to be. This is part of staying yielded to Him.

5. Pray in your prayer language. The Holy Spirit knows exactly how to intercede according to the Father’s heart, so even if your inclination on how to pray isn’t exactly right-on, you will still end up praying correctly as you pray in tongues. It is direct communication between your spirit and the Holy Spirit, without the human mind getting in the way. It opens you to a greater understanding of the need and God’s desired conclusion to it, so that you become better equipped to pray correctly in your native language, too. Praying in tongues also builds faith, according to Jude 20: But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.”

While we tend to complicate prayer, God does not. It is simply coming to Him, in all our inability, and asking Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We bring Him our lack, our hope, and our trust. And we keep doing it. Psalm 62: 5, 8 says it best: My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from Him. … Trust in Him at all times, you people. Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.”

If you would like to learn more about how to pray effectively, please take a look at the Article Series tab at the top of this site. You will find a wealth of info there. You might also find my books for intercessors (listed below) helpful.

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intercessor handbook

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercessory prayer

 

 

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercession, prayer

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 7) — Other Attributes of the Church

Supreme Court buildingWe’ve talked about the Church being a family, a body, an army, a house of prayer and worship, and a healing center. Here are a few other attributes of the Church which should not be neglected.

 

The Church is a governing body upon earth.

We carry out our governing function in a couple of ways. One is by bringing the power and presence of God with us wherever we go.

We are meant to influence and bring change in our world through our words and actions. We are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), meaning that what Jesus did to demonstrate the Kingdom of God, we do also. Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38); we do likewise. He spoke light and truth; we are to do the same. Jesus said of His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”“a city set on a hill [that] cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:13, 14). Paul worded it, God “makes manifest by us the savor of His knowledge in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:15). So, we govern by bringing the Lord’s kingdom to our world in how we do life.

Each of us can do this in the process of going about our daily occupations. But in order to be as effective as possible, we should stay aware that this is why we have been placed by God in our particular spheres of influence. We must not miss our opportunities!

The second way we govern on earth is through prayer. In Matthew 18:18, 19, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by My Father Who is in heaven.”

In his book, Secrets of a Prayer Warrior, Derek Prince said this: “The Bible reveals that this world is not really ruled by presidents and governors and dictators. They only seem to rule. The people who really rule the world are those who know how to pray.” We need to grasp this idea and run with it!

Our governing function is carried out both individually and as a church body. While each of us should be an ambassador and a prayer warrior, when we join together in unity with other believers, our effectiveness is greatly multiplied. Corporate governing as a body ties in with what we already saw in Part 4 about the Church being an army. No man fights a war all by himself.

Ultimately, we will physically govern on earth with Christ when He returns (and we with Him) for His millennial reign as King. The governing we do now is a seed, a foretaste of what is to come.

discipleshipThe Church is a center for discipleship.

What did Jesus tell His disciples before He left earth? “Go, therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations… teaching them to observe all things which I have commanded you….” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Paul called this discipleship “the perfecting [equipping] of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all come, in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, into maturity, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we are no longer children, tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery and cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:12-14).

Some of our local churches are fulfilling the discipleship function well. However, based on the amount of serious doctrinal error which has become commonplace in the Church today, apparently many of our churches are not getting the job done. In Charismatic / prophetic / apostolic circles, we often focus on “equipping the saints” in how to do the supernatural works of Jesus, but we have neglected to lay the firm foundation of the core doctrines taught by the original New Testament apostles. Indeed, we have neglected teaching the Bible as a whole. On the other hand, in fundamentalist / non-Charismatic streams, there is often a great adherence to Bible teaching, while not emphasizing pursuing intimacy with Jesus Himself. As you can see, the Church needs a lot of improvement in the discipleship area!

The discipleship function can be worked out in a variety of ways. The Word of God should be preached from our pulpits (in many cases, this is not happening as it should). Home Bible studies and Bible classes within the local church can further enhance the work. One-on-one discipleship, with mature believers mentoring newer Christians, is just as vital as what we receive through sermons and structured teaching.

I personally believe we should see more teaching from the Bible on God’s nature. If we understand Who He is and how He acts, we can then apply that understanding to develop Christlike character in our own lives. Too many believers in our day have little understanding of either God’s nature or how to live like Jesus. These things can be taught systematically, however.

It is a large task, and may seem overwhelming, but each of us can do our part by being connected into a local fellowship where true discipleship is taking place, and by being willing to disciple others who are just beginning their life in Christ.

In our next post, we’ll wrap up this series with one more aspect of who the Church is and a few final thoughts.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship
Part 6 — We Are a Healing Center
Next: Part 8 (Conclusion)

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nature of God

 

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Christian character

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercession, prayer

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 5) — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship

church worshipMy pastor often said God’s desire for the local church is that we be a house of prayer, which thereby becomes a house of His presence, which results in us becoming a house of power.

Isaiah 56:7, 8 is often used to describe the house of prayer function of the local church: “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: … for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD Who gathers the outcasts of Israel says, ‘Yet will I gather others to Him [the Messiah, Jesus] besides those who are gathered to Him.'”

In context, these verses are about the temple in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ millennial reign upon the earth. They speak of God joining Jew and Gentile together in united adoration of Jesus.

Communion with God through prayer and worship, both individually and corporately, is one of the central themes throughout both the Old and New Testaments. The apostle Paul said we are to rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, [and] in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

The early church took corporate prayer quite seriously. One hundred twenty disciples gathered together in the upper room, waiting according to Jesus’ instructions for the coming of the Holy Spirit. What did they do while they waited? “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14).

In Acts 4:24-31, with the threat of persecution hanging over them, together they cried out for the Lord to give them boldness to preach the Gospel with healing, signs, and wonders following. Their prayer was answered. The Lord responded by physically shaking the place where they were gathered, filling them all afresh with the Holy Spirit, and giving them the boldness they had desired of Him.

When Peter was in prison awaiting execution, his situation looked hopeless, “but prayer was made without ceasing by the church to God for him” (Acts 12:5). In response to their prayers, Peter was supernaturally released from prison by an angel. We know that this was not only individual prayer going on, because Peter then went to one of the homes “where many were gathered together praying” (Acts 12:12).

Jesus gave us an encouraging glimpse into what can be accomplished through group prayer in Matthew 18:19, 20: “…If two of you shall agree on earth touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father Who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Worship is a vital function of any house of prayer. In John 4:23, 24, Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

True worship is not an activity we engage in just because it is part of the “order of service.” It is not a preliminary to get through so we can move on to the sermon. It is not a set of songs calculated to stir our souls because of the catchy beat or the excellent abilities of the worship team. Many churches engage in praise at that soul level, never getting to true worship, which brings heart intimacy with the Lord. But if we do focus on the Lord, worshiping Him from the heart, it draws Him to manifest His presence among us in ways wherein we know we have touched God. Indeed, those of us who have tasted of His presence find it hard to be content with anything less thereafter.

While prayer and heartfelt worship are not the only things which the Church is meant to do, if we are to be the people God intended, we must shift worship away from being an entertainment activity back to that true worship of the heart in our gatherings. And, we must turn prayer from a lukewarm, obligatory part of our services to something we look forward to with expectancy, having faith that God will answer us. I am so encouraged that this change is already beginning to take place in many church gatherings around the world. I believe the momentum will continue to build, and as a result, God will release powerful miracles through His people. House of prayer > house of presence > house of power.

Keep in mind that prayer and worship don’t have to happen only in a Sunday morning service, either. They can be accomplished by meeting at other times during the week, even in homes. A prayer movement is arising throughout the world. Some of these gatherings are connected with particular local churches, but many are not. They don’t have to be. The Church is not confined to official buildings. It is present in power wherever God’s people gather, formally or informally. Perhaps God is even calling you to lead a home prayer group. If so, my book, House of Prayer ~ House of Power, can help you get started.

Next time, we’ll talk about the local church as a healing center.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Next: Part 6 — We Are a Healing Center

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start a prayer group

 

 

House of Prayer ~ House of Power,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

What About Contemplative Prayer? (Part 4)

In our previous three posts, we talked about the elements of biblical contemplative prayer, as well as nonbiblical things to avoid. Let’s recap and add to what we’ve already discussed.

 

Things to embrace:

  1. Meditate on the Lord — His nature, as revealed in His Word.
  2. Meditate on His Word — Savor it, repeat it aloud, pray it back to Him, declare it as your statement of faith. Again, if you need a plan for how to begin, go here.
  3. Meditate on His mighty deeds — as told in the Bible, from personal experience, or from the testimonies of other believers who have seen the Lord’s intervention on their behalf. Rehearsing testimonies of His previous faithfulness in your memory (and with your mouth) strengthens you to overcome your current challenges.
  4. Recall / meditate on / pray the personal promises the Lord has spoken to you. In 1 Timothy 1:18, the apostle Paul exhorted his young protégé, “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the previous prophecies regarding you, that you by them [those personal prophecies] might war a good warfare.”
  5. Converse with the Lord. Ask Him questions and give Him space to answer. Carry on a dialogue with Him.
  6. Ask the Lord what He wants to say, and then quietly listen. Invite Him, as young Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).
  7. Write down whatever God speaks. This includes conversations you’ve had with Him and any other insights you receive from Him. Expect Him to expand on your revelation as you write down what you already have seen or heard. (See 1 Chronicles 28:11-19.)

Things to avoid:

  1. Eastern meditation practices, such as yoga, transcendental meditation, various Eastern relaxation and breathing techniques. These are purported to bring peace, through the emptying of the mind and by inducing an altered state of consciousness. Remember, peace is already available to you through the Holy Spirit, without these techniques. Peace is part of the fruit of the Spirit, not something achieved by our efforts. Ask the Lord to work peace in you. An empty mind is an open door to evil spirits. The Bible doesn’t speak of emptying our minds, or of employing special breathing disciplines. Instead, it talks about fastening our attention on the Lord and putting our trust in Him.
  2. Do not attempt to bring on a trance, vision, or altered state of mind. Trances are biblical — when God is the initiator (see Acts 10:9-16). But trying to induce a trance or vision for yourself will open you up to deception. You can ask God to give you these types of revelation, but from thereon, it is His prerogative, not yours. This goes for out-of-body, heavenly experiences, such as John experienced in Revelation and Paul received in 2 Corinthians 12:1-5. God initiated it; they did not.
  3. Do not try to reach a higher spiritual state by praying words or phrases repetitiously. Religious or mystical ritual will not bring you closer to the Lord. He is all about relationship, not ritualistic formulas for trying to reach Him. In Matthew 6:7, Jesus said, “But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Notice that He calls them vain (meaningless; empty; useless) repetitions.

Is it always wrong to repeat a prayer request or worship / praise phrase? No, not if you are sincerely engaging with the Lord. The ritual is what we want to avoid. Sometimes in our worship or intercession, we go a little deeper each time we tell the Lord we love Him, or each time we plead a point. It is when we try to use repetition to achieve a different spiritual zone, or to coerce God with much speaking, that we cross over the line.

A good measuring stick of all spiritual practices is, if it’s not in the Bible, don’t do it. Stick with what we have good evidence of in the Word.

I hope this series has helped clear up some of the fear and misconceptions surrounding contemplative prayer. I have probably missed covering some spiritual practices which should be addressed. If you have questions or suggestions, please comment!

Contemplative Prayer (Part 1) — Meditation
Contemplative Prayer (Part 2) — Listening to God
Contemplative Prayer (Part 3) — Journaling

 

names of God

 

The Names of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

What About Contemplative Prayer? (Part 3)

Thus far, we’ve talked about two components of contemplative prayer: biblical meditation and quieting ourselves so that God can speak. I also mentioned conversational prayer — asking God questions and waiting for Him to answer.

Journaling is another important facet of contemplative prayer. What is journaling? The term means different things to different people. Those who are highly critical of contemplative prayer usually have no problem with recording prayer requests, Bible verses, and what they talked to the Lord about during their prayer time. But they stumble at the idea that God would actually speak to His people through an inner voice or vision — because they think He only speaks through the Bible. This viewpoint usually goes along with cessationism — the belief that once the Bible was written, all supernatural gifts such as healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, etc. ceased.

For believers who have not bought into the idea that God no longer speaks to us personally, recording whatever He says or shows us is a normal, healthy part of journaling. We expect and look forward to hearing from Him, and we love what He says enough to write it down.

Journaling what we believe God is speaking is not putting pen to paper and mindlessly letting the pen wander and write whatever it will, as several critics of contemplative prayer assert. That would definitely be an occult practice, much like using a Ouija board. Honestly, I have never encountered Christians who do this. You will hear journaling advocates speak of “letting your writing flow” as the Spirit interacts with you. Some testify of moments when the Holy Spirit gave them revelation so rapidly via writing that their thoughts could not keep up. But our minds should not be blanked out while we journal. We are not in a trance-like state. It’s just that at times the interaction between our spirit and the Holy Spirit is so accelerated that the mind has not quite caught up yet.

Journaling what God speaks was practiced by both Old and New Testament believers.

In 1 Chronicles 28:11-19, we are told that God Himself gave David the blueprint for the temple Solomon would one day build. David received the plan by sitting with the Lord and recording what God showed him. Verse 12 explains that he got “the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit.” In verse 19, David remarks, “All this … the LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.”

In Habakkuk 2:1-3, we see an interaction between the prophet and the Lord:

I will stand upon my watch, and set myself upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say to me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. (Ahem. Contemplative prayer in action!)

And the LORD answered me and said, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie. Though it may tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come: it will not tarry.”

The apostle John was instructed by the Lord, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:19).

Journaling, including what we hear God say, is a time-honored practice among multitudes of Christians. As we have just seen, it is backed up by Scripture. Furthermore, sitting with the Lord with pen and paper in hand tells Him, “I am serious about hearing from You, Lord, and I value what You say to me so much that I will write it down. I want to cherish Your words in days to come.” When we demonstrate that attitude, He often responds by speaking.

In our final post, we will recap what is acceptable contemplative prayer procedure and what is not. I will also mention a couple more practices which I believe we should not indulge in.

Contemplative Prayer (Part 1) — Meditation
Contemplative Prayer (Part 2) — Listening to God
Next — Part 4, Conclusion

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

names of God, KJV

 

The Names of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

What About Contemplative Prayer? (Part 2)

In our last post, we saw that contemplative prayer incorporates meditation — on the Lord Himself, on His Word, and on the things He does. We discovered that meditation involves not only pondering these things, but also dialoguing with the Lord about any questions we have.

Another aspect of contemplative prayer is quieting our lips and minds so that God can speak to us. In Psalm 46:10, the Lord instructs us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We need to calm down in our thoughts, so that the Holy Spirit can speak to our spirit. He may do that through words or visions (pictures He impresses upon our spirit).

Because a few Christians have gotten off into doing unbiblical stuff, the part of contemplative prayer which involves being quiet before the Lord has caused fear, and therefore criticism, among some believers. This is really a case of “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

Eastern religious practices involve using breathing and relaxation techniques to bring the mind into emptiness or an altered state, so that one can receive “revelation.” That’s exactly what we don’t want to do. God did not create our minds to be left empty and open to whatever.

The only altered state of mind we should actively seek is mentioned in these two verses:

Romans 12:2“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You: because he trusts in You.”  (“Stayed on You” means to be focused, or fastened, on the Lord.)

We don’t need special relaxation exercises in order to become calm enough to hear God. Getting quiet before the Lord is a bit of a discipline, but only in the sense that if our minds are distracted or wandering, we keep “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Here are some biblical ways to quiet yourself so God can speak:

  1. Meditate on one of those three things we already mentionedthe Lord, His Word, or His mighty acts.
  2. Read a passage in the Bible. Then wait for Him to talk to you about it. This is God’s “breathing technique.” 2 Timothy 3:16 literally says, “All Scripture is God-breathed….” Let Him do the breathing, not you!
  3. Worship — actively. You can also play worship music in the background to help sense His presence with you, but keep it soft enough so that it won’t distract you.
  4. Invite Him to speak. “What’s on Your heart today, Lord?”
  5. Ask the Lord a question; give Him time to answer. “How do You see this?” “What do You want me to do?”
  6. Pray softly in tongues. Keep your spiritual ears tuned to hear Him while you pray.

When we quiet ourselves before the Lord, although we should want to hear Him speak, there will be times when He does not say or reveal anything. We can still enjoy just being with Him. His Presence is enough. Indeed, lovers often spend time together without needing to say anything. It is the same between us and the Lord. Our primary goal should not be to receive revelation from Him, but simply to be near Him.

Next time we will talk about journaling as a part of contemplative prayer.

Contemplative Prayer (Part 1, Biblical Meditation)

Next: Part 3, Journaling 

intercessor handbook, prophetic intercession

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

prophetic intercession

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

What About Contemplative Prayer? (Part 1)

contemplative prayerI’ve sometimes been asked whether contemplative prayer is OK to practice. A few Christian teachers have condemned it as occult, with strange claims of what they think is going on. In this series, we’ll examine what contemplative prayer is, whether it is biblical, and what isn’t all right to do.

You may be asking, “What in the world is contemplative prayer? I’ve never even heard of it!” In a nutshell, it is getting quiet before the Lord, giving Him time to speak, rather than doing all the talking about whatever is on your heart or mind. “Soaking prayer, “meditative prayer,” “practicing the presence of God,” and “basking in the Lord’s presence” are alternative terms meaning basically the same thing.

People who fear contemplative prayer usually are convinced that Eastern religious practices are being implemented. Some of their concern stems from hearing of extremes. You will always have some folks who mix what is biblical with strange, out-of-bounds practices. While we can’t prevent others from going off in weird places, neither should we let their behavior deprive us of a truly viable form of prayer.

Let’s start by talking about a buzz word for those who fear contemplative prayer: meditation. Meditation is part of both Christian and pagan practices. Whether it is legitimate depends on what you are doing.

The Bible talks about meditation. When Isaac first met Rebekah, he was spending the evening hour in a field meditating (Genesis 24:63). The Hebrew word translated “meditate” there means to muse or be thoughtful. Some translations say Isaac was thinking; some say he was praying. It was probably a mixture of the two. He was waiting expectantly for the household steward to return home from a far country with a bride for him, but there was a possibility that he would show up empty-handed! No doubt Isaac had many hopes and concerns, which he was bringing before the Lord.

I spend a lot of prayer time “thinking before the Lord.” I also ask Him questions about things I wonder about. I invite Him to give me inspiration or understanding. Conversation with the Lord is a part of contemplative, or meditative, prayer.

The Bible speaks of three things we are supposed to meditate upon:

  • The Lord Himself
  • The Word of God
  • The Lord’s mighty works.

Meditating on the Lord:

… My mouth shall praise You with joyful lips when I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches. — Psalm 63:5, 6

My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. — Psalm 104:34

The word for meditation in Psalm 63:6 means to murmur, ponder, mutter, study, and utter, while the word used in Psalm 104:34 means contemplation (hence, “contemplative” prayer).

Meditating on the Lord means to think about His nature — His character attributes, His majesty, His goodness, His beauty. A great way to do this is by finding His names in the Bible, because He uses these to reveal Himself to us. Pick a name of God and think on it. Ask God to remind you of stories in the Bible which illustrate that particular character quality — His mercy, truthfulness, or faithfulness, for example.

See my webpage, The Names of God, for a free alphabetical listing of more than six hundred names of God as found in the KJV Bible. If you would like the list with their Bible references, I have that as an inexpensive book for you as well.

Meditating on His Word:

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. You shall meditate in it day and night, so that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.Joshua 1:8

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I might meditate in Your word.Psalm 119:148

In Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:2, the word for meditate is the same one used in Psalm 63:6, meaning to murmur, ponder, mutter, study, and utter. So, this includes not only thinking on the Scriptures, but speaking them.

In Psalm 119:148, “meditate” means to ponder, converse, commune, utter, pray, and muse. Here, we are taught not only to speak and think about a verse or passage of Scripture, but to pray it, dialoguing with the Lord about it.

Meditating on God’s Word is an important part of contemplative prayer. If you’ve never practiced it, my article, How to Meditate on God’s Word will help you. I have been so blessed in doing this. It is a guaranteed way of hearing from the Lord and increasing your spiritual understanding.

Meditating on the Lord’s works:

I will meditate also of all Your work, and talk of Your doings.Psalm 77:12

I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation.Psalm 119:99

I remember the days of old: I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.Psalm 143:5

Again, in Psalm 77:12 and 143:5, the Hebrew word for meditation means to murmur, ponder, mutter, study, and utter. In Psalm 119:99, it means devoted reflection, meditation, and prayer.

Thus far, we see that meditation is a God-pleasing part of contemplative prayer. Next time, we’ll look at another biblical component — quietly waiting in God’s Presence.

Contemplative Prayer (Part 2, Listening to God)

interecessor training

 

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercessor training

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam