Welcome back to our study of Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby, we’ve just finished week six in the workbook. Our small groups have ongoing active discussions and we’ve been blessed to discuss how God speaks during these past two weeks. Some of your testimonies have been amazing at Bible Cafe™ University.

This week we learned how God speaks as we pray, what to do when God is silent, and how to increase our spiritual concentration. Sometimes I wonder why we don’t pray as much as we should, knowing how valuable prayer is to the life of a Christian. Through prayer, we are actively involved in our relationship with God. Through prayer He is present and we have His attention. During prayer, we often encounter a Holy Spirit’s direction for our lives or a specific situation.

We spend more time on social media or watching television, instead of spending time with Our Father. Scripture warns us about idols and false gods in our lives… because they tempt us away from relationship and time with God. Even a relationship with another person can distract us from prayer.

I was convicted this week to create a prayer space in my home, where I can actively sit and converse with God. To me, this needs to be comfortable and private, free from distraction. Do you have a quiet place to meet the Lord in your home each day?

We also learned about spiritual markers this week and recording your journey with the Lord.  Spend some time looking back at your life and recording those treasures. If you’re not sure what they are or have not experienced any, then pray for eyes wide open and a heart to see where God is working in your life. Look for specific scripture verses that define your life and include them as references for His work in you.

In Mark 2, “The four men asked Jesus to physically heal the man, but Jesus forgave the man’s sins. They asked for one thing, and Jesus gave another!” Have you ever prayed for one thing and received another?

This is a good reminder to look at spiritual markers. When I revisit life events, I see where most prayers included “I trust you, God.” My asking always includes a reference to “Your will be done.” Sure, God knows my heart and my will. However, praying for His outcome helps me reinforce the belief that God is good, always.

Recently, the Lord pressed upon my heart the concept of “dueling prayers.” When I was praying for one specific outcome, He showed me that someone else was praying for the opposite. A great reminder of God’s will to be done.

According to Blackaby, “God will let you know what He is doing in your life, when and if you need to know.” The last two years have been a time of patience. Waiting for God to resolve the pandemic around the world. Waiting. I still feel confident that GOD is in control and His timing is for the best. I am grateful God does not show me every chapter of my life. My preference is to write with Him, the Author of my faith. My book is unfinished as one chapter is finished, and another begins. The habit of reading Scripture daily, 66 books in the Bible, sets the expectation… God is always working.

When God is silent, Blackaby suggests praying through a sin checklist. Do you have such a checklist? In my seasons of silence, I seek to eliminate distractions and “word” noise (social media, television, books) by fasting. I pull myself into my garden, silently working with weeds, and practice listening to prayer. I would recommend Galatians 5:19-21 for anyone who needs a formal list.

Thinking about the concept of a prayer closet, it is helpful to have an indoor space without distractions. We don’t need to “plaster” our sins like badges we earned. Rather, we pray as the Spirit of God leads us.

As we learned this week, God was not silent with Job because of sin. We can also see David in the OT, where he sinned and God still spoke. Or Moses. Or Abraham (saying his wife was his sister). Blackaby’s lesson here needs a deeper investigation. Always go back to the Word of God.

Sometimes people will use a sin checklist against other people, and not examine their hearts. We live in a society where everyone seems to be looking for an identity or a cause. So this is an IMPORTANT question to ponder in your heart.

Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind. Psalm 26:2 NIV.

This verse does not say “test him/her.” It’s a reminder to test my own heart. Does my heart align with His? If not, then I need to make adjustments.

We are still in an active pandemic. So we cannot SEE or KNOW God’s perspective. Not until we are on the other side of this. If you are not seeing with God’s heart (as Jesus did) then what “heart” is your filter?

At Christian Writing Conferences, experienced authors encourage us to “write from the other side of your healing.” Because, if we try to communicate or process pain during the event, emotions are strong, outside opinions are rampant, and confusion occurs.

There are planned and unplanned seasons when my prayer life expands. This is the time when I reflect on God’s will and purpose. The most memorable is when a 2-year-old girl was diagnosed with terminal leukemia. We prayed as a school community. We stood by the family with our support. We saw her miracle healing, and today she is attending college. My personal prayer life was revived.

Prayer is unselfish.

As my pastor preached this weekend, if we are not looking for God’s power and perspective then we are giving too much credit to Satan. Some people are always looking at satan’s perspective. We need to stop looking down and look UP for understanding.

Blackaby uses strong language when he says, “If you say no to God, He is not your Lord.” That was a hard statement from the workbook this week. When I read it, I did not like the feeling of condemnation. Yet, Blackaby did not water down his message and was making a point. Who or what…is your “god.”