SHARE Prayer

Charles Kiser —  March 15, 2011 — 9 Comments

…There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that the biblical modes of God’s communication with humans have been superseded or abolished by either the presence of the church or the close of the scriptural canon. This is simply a fact, just as it is simply a fact that God’s children have continued up to the present age to find themselves addressed by God in most of the ways he commonly addressed biblical characters. The testimony of these individuals…should not be discarded in favor of a blank, dogmatic denial.

— Dallas Willard, Hearing God, 103

We cannot do true discernment when fear and anger are present.

Elaine Heath

I grew up believing that God’s communication outside of Scripture had in fact ceased. But as I look at Scripture — particularly Jesus’ words about the role of the Holy Spirit in John 14-16, and Paul’s words about the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 2 — I no longer believe that to be a tenable conclusion.

If God’s Spirit lives in those who believe and follow Jesus, and if the indwelling Spirit’s work is to illuminate truth to Christ-followers (as Scripture says it is), then it follows that the communication lines between God and humanity are still wide open and active.

I’ve found this to be true in my own prayer life over the past several years. God still speaks, especially through the still, small voice in our spirit.

If it’s easy to believe that the evil one can plant thoughts in our minds, how much more of a step is it to think that God does the same?

This line of thought unleashes excitement in me to know that I can be in an actual, conversational relationship with God.

My purpose in this post is not to get into the philosophical conversation about whether or not we can hear from God — though it’s a very important conversation. I’d encourage you to pick up Dallas Willard’s book on the subject: Hearing God. The parts of it that I’ve read are outstanding, especially the chapter on the still, small voice.

I only want to share a form of listening / relational prayer that has been a blessing to me for the past six months or so. It emerged as a hybrid of The Papa Prayer (by Larry Crabb), Church of Two prayer (particularly the work of Mark Virkler) and the traditional ACTS framework for prayer. In many ways, it’s a form of prayer that developed from the many questions that emerged for me out of listening prayer through Church of Two experiences – which you can find here.

I call it SHARE prayer. It has provided a framework for my conversations with God since the fall of 2010, and I’ve found it incredibly life-giving. It leaves me feeling like I’m connected to God, which I think is the point of prayer. It also lays a foundation for constant prayer and and listening throughout the day.

  • Share your heart with God
  • Humbly wait for God to present himself to you
  • Attend to your thoughts and write them down
  • Rejoice in and weigh what you hear
  • Entreat God to be at work in the world

A few observations about this framework:

  1. Sharing your heart with God comes from the CO2 framework about the “state of your heart” and PAPA Prayer’s “red dot – you are here.” I’ve found that it’s difficult to pray and listen if I’m not able immediately to deal with my anxiety before God. Otherwise I’m distracted by it throughout my prayers. In this framework it deals with it right away; and it’s quite relational and conversational to tell someone how you’re feeling.
  2. Humbly wait is the moment in this framework for silence and contemplation. We hear something only on God’s terms. We cannot manipulate God into telling us anything. Sometimes I don’t hear anything. My role is simply to make myself available to God by listening.
  3. Attend to your thoughts and write them down is from Virkler. My most random and spontaneous thoughts are sometimes the very thoughts God tries to use to get my attention. So I write them down and examine them. Sometimes God confronts me about ungodly behavior (like he did this morning), which leads to confession and repentance, and even the directive to make it right with the person I harmed.
  4. I’ve found that my listening is heightened when I’ve digested a bit of Scripture before praying. I really don’t think it matters what I read; just that I read. For instance, I hit the gym in the mornings before going into the office and read Scripture via IPad (whoot!) while I work out. When I get to the office and pray, I’ve already got some fodder for listening through my Scripture reading. In this way, SHARE prayer becomes a form of Lectio Divina (“divine reading”).
  5. When God responds, I feel like celebrating. I give thanks. I praise him. I worship him. The ‘R’ is a natural place for adoration and thanksgiving – from the old ACTS framework for prayer (Adoration; Confession; Thanksgiving; Supplication).
  6. It’s also important to weigh what we hear, because not everything comes from God – probably a lot of it doesn’t. The WEIGH acronym helps me here. Is what I’m hearing consistent with…
    • Wisdom
    • Entrusted counsel of friends and mentors
    • Introspection (how I feel; what I’m passionate about)
    • God’s character
    • Holy Scripture?
  7. The Entreat move comes from the desire to incorporate petitionary prayer into times of listening and contemplation. It is an important and substantial part of prayer and should not be neglected. But I love that it comes last, after I’ve related to God first – so that it’s clear to both my heart and God that I’m not praying solely for the sake of getting something from God. God is not a vending machine whose buttons I’m trying to push in prayer to get a goody.

What do you think? Try it on and let me know if it helps you relate to God – or even hear something from him!

Charles Kiser

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Dallas, TX. Church Planter with Storyline Christian Community. Equipper and Coach with Mission Alive.

9 responses to SHARE Prayer

  1. 

    Kiser, have you read John Eldredge’s “Walking with God.” What did you think? Feel free to e-mail me about that if this isn’t really the venue. I’ve read it through twice and I’m definitely interested in what I perceive as a significant difference in how God appears to have spoken to followers throughout history and the marked silence I perceive in my own walk.

    • 

      I haven’t read it, no. What’s it about and how does it connect?

      What do you make of the marked silence in your relationship with God?

      I’d encourage you to pick up the book by Willard. It’s a great – and thick – read. It might offer some insight and response to your questions and hesitations.

      • 

        I think I will do that. Eldredge’s premise is that we should seek to hear from God — verbally. A lot of his argument for that is along the same lines as your Willard quote. He advocates practicing hearing from God and treating it like any other learned skill. The bulk of the book reflects his own experiences in that practice during a year’s time.

        I still don’t know what to make of it in my own life. I start my thinking from the following premises: 1) The Bible records a significant number of instances in which God speaks directly to individuals. 2) There are a significant number of instances in which followers are not recorded to have heard direct words from God. 3) In the instances in which direct verbal contact is recorded, there appears to be no doubt in the mind of the person as to whether or not they have had such contact. 4) So far as I know, I have never heard verbally directly from God. 5) #4 Frustrates me.

        I can’t draw any direct conclusions from all of this, but I can summarize the options, as I see them: 1) My desire/expectation to hear from God directly is unfounded/not based in scripture. 2) My desire is founded/based in scripture, but something is hindering it from occurring. 3) My desire is founded/based in scripture, but God is not ready to talk to me in that way.

      • 

        I have never heard from God verbally – if by that you mean an audible voice. I would suspect that most people don’t, though I would never rule out that God does such a thing.

        Willard’s contention is that the primary subjective way God speaks to his people is through the still small voice – that is, through one’s spontaneous thoughts. The primary objective way is through another person (e.g., a preacher, heaven forbid!).

        He also makes another great point – the more spectacular the form of communication (e.g., dream, vision, audible voice, etc.) the less mature the believer. The only reason God would need to use a vision, dream or audible voice is because he cannot otherwise get our attention! I think this is an insightful perspective. I had often assumed quite the opposite.

        Read Willard’s book! I’d love to hear your feedback after reading it. Hope it helps you as you seek to draw conclusions on the silence you’re experiencing right now.

      • 

        I’ll do that, Kiser, and let you know what I think. Sounds like this book would be a worthwhile read.

        My first reaction to those two methods (still, small voice and the words of others) is the following:

        Regarding the still, small voice, I have a hard time reconciling the description in 1 Kings 19 with Elijah’s own spontaneous thoughts. Namely “… when Elijah heard it” strikes me as an audible phenomenon.

        Regarding the words of others, I agree that those words can remind us of Godly principles, or be grounded in inspired words God has spoken in the past. Also it’s not outside the realm of possibility that God puts us in certain situations to hear those types of things. On the other hand, to attribute such a thing to God’s direct intervention remains speculative. When God wanted to express his displeasure to David re: the Bathsheba incident, He sent Nathan with a specific message. Conversely, when Moses accepted Jethro’s advice to share the burden of judging Israel, there was no indication that this advice came directly from God, even though it was good.

        When I look at Matt. 7 and Luke 11 lately, all I think about is an audience with God. I don’t doubt He’s listening to me, but I want very much to hear from Him. I cannot fully correlate the desire for intimacy/communication with a lack of maturity. I look at Paul’s response from God about the thorn in his flesh in 2 Cor. 12, and I don’t see a lack of maturity there. It is conceivable that God shares Himself that way in tandem with great trial, and in that case, perhaps I don’t want to invite more trial on myself.

        In the end, the one thing I find clear is that my expectations are not meshing with my experience — I’d like to square that away. I don’t want to live without that kind of intimacy if it’s an option. I also don’t want to desire it so strongly that I invent methods of hearing from God as a substitute for reality.

      • 

        Good thoughts, Lloyd.

        That’s probably true about Elijah. The phrase “still small voice” is what Willard uses to describe the inner voice.

        Check out 1 Cor 2 about the inner voice, and the Spirit communicating with our spirits.

        It seems like, no matter how much you’d like for God to communicate with you, you’re still having a hard time believing that he actually might. This is understandable, as it hasn’t squared with your experience. Still, seems to be a fundamental issue for you.

        To clarify the comment about maturity – it’s not the desire for communication that’s immature; just the form of communication that correlates with maturity. The more spectacular, the harder the hearing. The less spectacular, the more tuned the ears.

        Prayers are with you friend as you journey forward.

        Are you in Dallas? If so, you need to come hang out with us some weekend. We’ve got a gathering this Saturday night in Oaklawn if you want to come around. Let me know.

  2. 

    I love this, Charles. Thanks for sharing. It is freeing to think about first sharing with God exactly where I am–He knows anyway!

  3. 

    Thanks, Charles, for this excellent reflection. It will help focus my spiritual discernment. I appreciate you.

    Gailyn

  4. 

    Well put, Charles. Sounds like a book I expect to read in the future. I believe your point #6 is important for post-ascension Christians. God still speaks to us always (if we listen); however, everything is to be tested in light of Scripture (there’s a verse in their somewhere).

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