OTHER VALUES OF CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER
A. He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; (1 Cor 14:4). What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. (1 Cor 14:15) Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Eph 5:18). I am convinced God has ordained singing the Word to Him, Singing in tounges to Him, and praying in toungues privately, as ‘ways into’ being filled with the Spirit and edified by the Spirit. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than all of you all (1 Cor 14:18). Many who write of deep encounter in the Spirit, speak of this discipline. The Ihop prayer “harp and bowl” model features these elements. He has created the human frame in such a way that singing to Him is a way into opening our hearts and receiving like nothing else can. Our creative God loves singing.
WALKING IN THE SPIRIT
16 I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust (sinful desires) of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts (wars) against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh… (Gal. 5:16–17).
A. The “flesh” in Paul’s theology includes sinful physical pleasures (sensuality, gluttony, alcoholism, etc.) as well as sinful emotions (pride, bitterness, anger, defensiveness, etc).
B. We will walk in the Spirit to the degree that we “fellowship with Him.” One of the great benefits of the New Covenant is that at our new birth, the Holy Spirit begins to live inside us to empower our hearts (Jn. 3:3-5). We experience His power most in our heart as we fellowship with Him.
14 …The love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14, NAS)
C. Principle: we walk in the Spirit by talking with the Spirit. The fundamental and introductory way to walk in the Spirit is by maintaining an active dialogue with the indwelling Spirit. This is key to our transformation and renewal. It is so simple that it causes many to miss it. Words quench or release (activate) the Spirit in us more than anything else. (Quench not the Spirit. 1 thes 5:19)
D. If we just talk to Him, He will talk back. He will speak to us once He gets us in the conversation. He speaks to us by giving us subtle impressions that release power on our mind and heart if we respond to them. He will talk us out of sinning and quitting.
E. We will not walk in the Spirit more than we talk to the Spirit. He will help us to the degree that we talk to Him. We will not obey Him more than we talk to Him. The moments that we dialogue with Him are the moments in which we are most aware of His power in our inner man.
F. We talk to the Holy Spirit as the way to experience the release of His power in our inner man. He releases small measures of power on our mind and heart, but the power is real.
G. To be “led” by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18; Rom. 8:14) is to follow His leadership by being watchful of the Spirit’s promptings, especially in our spiritual life (thoughts, words and deeds). We honor (instead of ignore) the Spirit’s leadership in the small decisions of our spiritual life. We walk out the Spirit’s values in our daily life choices (v. 19-22). We cultivate an awareness of the Spirit’s leadership in what we say (speech), what we look at (eyes), how much time we give to feed our spirit (schedule) and how we spend our finances (money). We must refuse the lie that the Holy Spirit is not Lord, and thus, viewing His promptings as optional.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Cor. 3:17)
H. To “live” in or by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25) is to be empowered with the Spirit’s life as we are fed by the Spirit’s food which is the Word of God. One with an under-nourished spirit will walk in lust. -Our words quench or release the Spirit in us more than anything else. When speaking to the Holy Spirit speak slowly, tenderly (I usually do not articulate my words out loud) and sparsely. Remember that “less is more” when speaking to the Holy Spirit.
I. Our dialogue with the Spirit is greatly enriched by pray-reading the Word. We will fill our heart with God’s Word because the “voice of the Spirit and the Word” is much stronger than the “voice of sinful lust.” Bible study must create an active dialogue in our heart with God.
TRANSFORMED BY ENCOUNTERING THE AFFECTIONS OF GOD
A. To know the love of Christ means to know by experience His affections. God wants us to feel His affection for us. It has significant implications in the way it impacts our hearts.
That you…may be able to comprehend…what is the width and length and depth and height– 19 to know (experience) the love (affections) of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:18-19)
1. Feeling God’s affection brings pleasure and exhilaration to our hearts. This is a part of our inheritance.
2. Feeling God’s affection equips us for our full destiny by anchoring our soul in God. The breakthrough of the anointing of power and divine favor brings with it added the pressures of temptation, pride and criticism. When we are anchored in the experience of God’s love, then we are equipped to resist compromise in times of temptation, to walk in humility in times of exaltation and to not yield to the fear of man when criticized.
3. It is the foundation that empowers us to run to God instead of from God as we so often encounter our sin and weakness during our journey in this life.
B. Paul said that God’s love passes knowledge. In other words, we cannot comprehend it without the help of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be comprehended with only our natural ability.
C. There is a paradox today in the Church. Many talk about the love of God while being content to not press into it to actually experience its power. In a spiritual culture of compromise and permissiveness, some are falsely comforted by references to God’s love without understanding the glorious reality of it.
D. The genuine experience of God’s affection makes us ravenously hungry for more. In other words, for holiness. We go hard after God’s heart to experience more of His affection. Holy diligence is not an attempt to earn us God’s love but positions us to experience more of it.
E. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin (1Jn 1:7). The church cannot have true fellowship without walking in the light. Many ‘community-focused’ churches do not have the unity that can only come from communion with the Spirit (1Jn1:3).
BEHOLDING AND BECOMING
A. Principle: whatever we encounter about God’s heart (His passion) for us becomesawakened in our heart back to God. Encounter (meditation unto revelation) results in transformation. What we understand about God’s heart is essential to transforming our emotions. God is love. God is emotional and His emotions relate to firey love ‘personified’.
B. When God wants to empower us to love Him, He reveals Himself as a lover to us.
We love Him because (we understand that) He first loved us. (1 Jn. 4:19). Many say I need to love Jesus more. I want to. The only real way into that is to become a student of His love for you. The number one thing I call people to do is ‘feed your heart on His affections for you.’ (Jn15:9 is key). It will awaken love for Him deeper in your heart and make you firey and passionate in a way nothing else will. The Sos 1:2 Kisses of the Word are the way Eph 5:27,29 says He brings us to blamelessness and spotlessness, by the nourishing and cherishing of God. But we must feed ourselves, the Spirit will do the rest.
C. We love Him because we understand that He first loved us. We enjoy or pursue Jesus because we understand that He first enjoyed or pursued us. God wants our identity and sense of value to be rooted and grounded in the knowledge of His affections for us (Eph. 3:17-18). This is where our hearts come alive! Many of us do not value ourselves or get our value from man. When we see the value that God’s sees in us, it changes everything to our core. We are the apple of His eye, He gave His son to bring us near, each of us can say we are His favorite one!
D. Eph 3 has Paul praying that we would be rooted and grounded in the love of the Father. This is an agriculteral and architectural metaphor, that the American church has neglected. We have been seeking to reach the nations without first seeking to get a fire burning in our hearts through prayer.
D. The church has sought to love others without fully getting God’s burning heart for them. So they do not love themselves well. Many are in struggling with rejection, seeking praise of man so they feel loved. And yet Jesus declared we will love others the way we love ourselves. And so we witness without the love of Christ burning in us.
E. The great commandment is to love God with all our heart. This is God’s first priority in our life.
The Spirit will restore the first commandment to first place in the generation Jesus returns. So many ‘sign up’ for a task in the harvest. He wants us to sign up for firey love and to walk in the fruit that that produces.
37 Jesus said to him, “You shall seek to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38 This is the first and greatest priority. (Mt. 22:37-38 paraphrase)
The Song of Songs is valuable for intimacy and contemplative prayer
A. We must engage in long and loving meditation on the Song with a hungry and honest heart before God. A contemplative pray-reading application is key to receiving the song’s anointing. One of the Spirit’s purposes in the Song is to fill us with the Father’s love for Jesus.
26 I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved me may be in them, and I in them. (Jn. 17:26)
These four distinctives are found in many places in Scripture. The uniqueness of the Song of Solomon is not the fact that it contains these truths. Rather, it is in the focused concentration of them.
1. First, is the revelation of Jesus’ passionate affections and enjoyment of His people.
2. Second, is the revelation of the beauty of Jesus, especially as a Bridegroom King.
3. Third, is the revelation of the beauty of the individual believer to Jesus, even in our weakness. If you want to know what you look like to God then study the Song.
4. Fourth, are the principles needed to grow in love and mature partnership with Jesus.
C. If we are to receive the full benefit of the Song, we must turn it into an on-going affectionate prayerful dialogue with Jesus. It is not enough to only study the Song without going to the next step of turning it into a prayer dialogue. The language of the Song must get into our prayer life and thought life before it will transform our emotions.
We tend to approach the Song as more than an academic exercise as seen in Bible research. Informing our intellect is significant but it is only a starting point. No one would go to a famous restaurant to merely study the menu. The menu is there to help them obtain a good meal. It is not enough to be a connoisseur of the Song of Solomon, we must allow this book to fill our heart.
D. I have about 10 phrases that have become deeply personal to me. I write them on notecards to use when I drive or take a walk. I slowly whisper them to Jesus. For example, “Father, let Him kiss me with His Word” or “Spirit, sustain me, refresh me” (Song 1:2; 2:5).
- It’s such a wonderful thing to see people around us get ahold of this, where they are saying ‘I feel so loved and delighted in by God. He enjoys me even in my weakness and I must have more!” The Holy agape love of the Bridegroom is addicting.
- In Song of Solomon 4:9, we behold Jesus’ heart is ravished for His people. He says, “You have ravished My heart, My sister My bride. You have ravished My heart even with one look of your eyes.” This verse summarizes Song of Solomon, as it is the high point of the Song. You have ravished My heart—this is God speaking to His people individually. Many believers who are very sincere, they have no grid with the idea that God is filled with desire for them. With just one glance, one ‘yes’ to Him, He is moved.
F. This will be a significant foundation for the end-time church, because the Rev 22:17 endtime church who cries, “Come, Lord Jesus,” cries in worship and intercession for His return.” But, John saw that we cry in our bridal identity. We cry out as people who understand that we are a cherished Bride before a passionate Bridegroom. When we are raptured we won’t suddenly understand we are a bride and then go to the wedding supper, the wine of this revelation has been ultimately saved for the last generation, and the church starting to be established in it now. The working definition of the word “ravished” from the Webster’s dictionary: to be filled with emotions of joy, or to be filled with emotions of delight because of one who is unusually attractive.
G. God is filled with emotions of joy and delight because He sees unusual beauty in His people. He sees beauty in His people like He sees in no other place in creation. Now, we do not see it because we do not have the mind of the Spirit. The more that we see through God’s eyes—the more that we see that beauty in our lives, and in the lives of others, even while they are maturing in the things of the Spirit. The ravished heart of God, this revelation equips us for one hundredfold obedience.
A person who feels rejected and filled with shame does not press in with the kind of resolve; fearlessness, courage and confidence that is required to go deep in God in one hundred fold obedience. So many believers are just so afraid that they are going to miss out on pleasure and joy, if they say “no” to the spirit of the world. The person, the man or the woman that is confident in their spirit about the love of God and His feeling for them, something is so different is so different in their spirit. They feel a satisfaction; they feel a delight, a pleasure that gives them the courage to move on, even in their brokenness and their shame. They feel excitement and courage to go deeper in God, to run towards Him with an open spirit instead of drawing back from Him in fear of rejection from God or fear of missing out from something in this world.
Examples: MEDITATING ON THE WORD
1. Our Inheritance: God’s Power on Our Heart and Mind
16 “This is the covenant (promise) that I will make with them… “I will put My laws (Word) into their hearts (emotions) and in their minds (understanding) I will write them…” (Heb. 10:16)
A. Mind: God promises to release the spirit of revelation to our mind until we progressively gain living understanding of His Word. We are promised enough insight to succeed in the assignment that God has given us in this life. Heart: God promises to empower our emotions until we feel the power of His Word with new holy desires. God promises to write His Word on our heart and mind (2 Cor 3:3) as He wrote the ten commandments on tablets of stone (Ex. 31:18).
32 Did not our heart burn (with desire) within us…while He opened the Scriptures to us?…45 He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. (Lk. 24:32, 45)
B. God writes His Word on our heart as we live by it. We are to live by or be spiritually healthy in our heart by feeding on God’s Word which is the holy transcript of His heart. Our heart lives and becomes strong and healthy by feeding on God’s Word in spirit and truth. The opposite is also true. Our heart dies and becomes weak and sick without feeding on God’s Word. The most substantial way in which we feed our spirit and bolster our spiritual strength is by feeding on God’s Word in spirit and truth (each applies this differently). Many are spiritually in the ICU with a sick heart and a diminished spiritual appetite. The “voice of the Spirit and the Word” is stronger than the “voice of sinful lust.”
4 He (Jesus) said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Mt. 4:4)
C. Prayer, fasting, meditation on the Word, and obedience positions our heart before God to freely receive. These activities do not earn us God’s favor. Analogy: we put our cold heart before the bonfire of God’s presence by seeking Him in the Word in spirit and truth. God opens His Word to us progressively (little portions) and in accordance to the time we feed our spirit on His Word.
Encountering God: Pray-Reading the Word (Communing with the Word)
39 You search the Scriptures (Bible study), for in them you think you have…life; these are they which testify of Me. 40 You are not willing to come to Me (dialogue) that you may have life. (Jn. 5:39-40)
39 Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard (encountered) His word. (Lk. 10:39)
D. It is not enough to study the Word, we must give our heart to God and receive from Him as we read it. Bible study must create an active dialogue in our heart with God. Scripture gives us the “conversational material” in our prayer life. It creates the language of our heart with God. Using the Word in our prayer language with God makes prayer easy and enjoyable. We must actually speak the Word back to God and against Satan’s attack on our lives. Many do not speak the Word back to God or against Satan (they only speak it to others). The power of God’s love touches us as we declare back it to God. We thank Him for the love that He declares over us.
E. Two broad categories of truth related to pray-reading the Word (meditating on Scripture):
1. Scriptures that focus on promises “to believe” in God’s Word. For example, use Scriptures that declare that God loves, forgives, leads, protects, or provides for us, etc.
2. Scriptures that focus on exhorting us “to obey” God’s Word. For example, use Scriptures that command us to bridle our tongue, serve others and give time and money to God, etc.
F. We actively dialogue with God by praying promises that we are “to believe” from His Word. Spiritual warfare: we speak these truths against Satan’s attack on our lives.
1. First, we thank God for a particular truth. We turn these truths into simple declarations of thanksgiving or trust. For example, declare, “Thank you that You love me or have forgiven me. I trust that You will lead, provide and protect me.”
8 God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Lk. 6:38)
2. Second, we ask God to reveal (release) particular truths to us. Ask God to release a spirit of revelation (Eph. 1:17). For example, pray, “Father, reveal to me the certainty of Your provision, or how much You love me, forgive me, or how I have ravished Your heart.” Or, “Father, release Your promised guidance, provision, and protection, etc.”
G. We actively dialogue with God by praying truths back to Him that exhort us “to obey” His Word. Spiritual warfare: we speak these truths against Satan’s attack on our lives.
1. First, we commit ourselves to obey God in the specific way set forth in a biblical person or passage. Make simple declarations of your resolve to obey the Word or imitate the faith of the godly.
37 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart… (Mt. 22:37)
2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. (Jas 3:2)
3. For example declare:
a. “I set my heart to love You and obey You with my speech, time and money, etc.”
b. “I set my heart to love you like David or to endure hardship like Paul.”
c. “I set my heart to pray like Daniel or do miracles like Paul in the Book of Acts.”
4. Second, we ask God to empower us to obey a particular truth or to imitate godly examples of people in Scripture. Ask God for help to give you wisdom, motivation and power to obey in specific areas.
5. For example pray:
a. “Father help me to love You, to bridle my speech, or use my time and money in full obedience.”
b. “Father, I resolve to love You more, give me power to love you like David
c. “Father, lead me away from temptation” (Mt. 6:13), or “deliver me from the works of the evil one” (Jn. 17:15).
H. Two ways to focus our mind in seeking God: God on His Throne (Rev. 4) and God in our spirit
14 …The love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14, NAS)
38 Out of his heart (belly, KJV) will flow rivers of living water… (Jn. 7:38)
I. Linger in God’s presence: in dialoging with God in the Word. Take time to linger as you speak slowly to God (include declaring your love and praise, praying with your spirit and being quiet).
J. Journaling: take time to record thoughts and prayers as you “pray-read” through Scripture. This helps us capture the truths that the Spirit gives us and to grow in our prayer dialogue with God. The anointing of the Spirit in you is your best teacher. When you pray the Word in spirit and truth, you and the Spirit work together to provide you with a tailor made teaching in the Word.
27 The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things… (1 Jn. 2:27)
A. There is no neutral ground in the Spirit, we are either gaining ground or losing ground each day. We are getting more oil in our ‘lamps’ or we are burning it, we are getting closer to God or farther away.
“For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” Mark 4:25
This Spiritual law is yet another reason we must be resolute in scheduling time each day to grow our hearts in love for God. There is so much temptation with media and such to spend our time so many other ways, but the reward of choosing to build our relationship with God, and experience more of the Holy Spirit is so worth it. I have found that the deeper experiences of the Spirit have happened after a period of regular focused seeking.
Galations 6:8 talks about sowing to the Spirit. Sometimes we don’t feel anything in prayer, but eventually we reap the “life of the Spirit.’ Justin Rizzo has that song ‘I’m either sowing to the flesh or sowing to the Spirit, I’m doing one or the other all the time.’ We are climbing a mountain and what we say do even think can cause us to lose footing.
It’s like doing 50 pushups everyday, you may not notice the impact the first day, but three months later and there’s a marked difference. And the higher we get up the mountain the more often we feel the glory and presence of God, the life of the Spirit where we are hearing His voice clearer and seeing His leadership and experiencing waves of power.