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A Praying Life, Chapters 31-33

Chapters 31-33 – Hearing God and Using Journaling | Week of September 23, 2018

NOTE: This last section of the book contains many practical things to try in order to build some healthy prayer habits, but it also means the chapters are short, so we will be combining 31-33 this week, and finish our journey through A Praying Life with chapter 34 the week of September 30.


“Watch and pray...” – Mark 14:38


Christians want to listen to God. We yearn for it. But sometimes it's a struggle to answer the question, "Was that God speaking?" Paul Miller addresses two errors Christians often make in their prayer lives when it comes to listening to God (FYI, there's a super helpful chart on page 252 that walks through the errors and their consequences.)

The first error Miller calls "Word Only." This error fails to recognize that the Holy Spirit resides in you to lead you to Christlikeness, with the result that we read the Bible too generally. "If we believe the Bible only applies to people in general, then we can miss how God intimately personalizes his counsel to us as individuals.... We actually undermine the impact of God's Word if we define God's speaking too narrowly." (Pages 248-249)

The second error Miller terms "Spirit Only." In contrast to the first error, this one attempts to rely only on the Holy Spirit without reflecting on the Bible, which can sometimes be drowned out by our own voice. "When people call their own thoughts or feelings 'God's voice,' it puts them in control of God and ultimately undermines God's Word by elevating human intuition to the status of divine revelation." (Pages 249-250)


One of the practical ways A Praying Life suggests we combat these two errors is to combine our Scripture reading and prayer with a journaling component. You don't have to write well — it might just be a bullet point list — but often it's helpful to keep notes of what you're learning in your Bible reading and through sermons side-by-side with the hopes, fears and challenges that drive your prayer life. As Miller observes, "Over time you will begin to see patterns of what God is doing, to pick up the threads of a story." (Page 262) Spend a few minutes thinking through how you could keep a prayer journal: perhaps in a notebook on your nightstand, or in a note-taking app on your smartphone.   


Pray for wisdom about how to make sure you are allowing God's voice to be heard clearly. Then, start a prayer journal with a list of what you prayed about today, even if it's just a couple key words to remind you. (Don't forget to keep it somewhere you can be consistent about reviewing it!)


Last week you picked a time of day to pray regularly. This week, when you pray during that time, do a quick review of your new prayer journal list before you begin. Remember, too, Pastor Sean's encouragement this past that relationship with God takes time, but that it's worth it because he's the only one who can give you the joy your heart desires.     


Talk to your kids about the idea of joy. Maybe help them think about ways that they feel most confident and fulfilled, maybe in a school subject they excel at or a sport they enjoy. Help them to connect that feeling with the idea of being who God made you to be. After all, above everything else, we were made to be in relationship with God! As Pastor Sean shared from James 1:2-4, the joy that comes from confidence in our relationship with Jesus helps us endure the hardships that shape our character. Pray as a family that you will discover the joy God intends for you in relationship with him.

Tags : prayer, devotional