"Pausing to Pray," Pastor Doug Kamstra, Mark 1:35, January 26, 2020, AM

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Pausing to Pray (Discovering God’s Will Together; #8) (Mark 1:35)

“We tend to think of prayer as something we do in order to produce the results we believe are needed or, rather, to get God to produce the results. Go to any Christian bookstore and note the number of books devoted to techniques of prayer. We are interested in knowing what works and developing skills that will ensure that our prayers are effective. As a result our prayers tend to be a shopping list of things to be accomplished, an attempt to manipulate the symptoms of our lives without really entering into a deep, vital, transforming relationship with God.” (Robert Mulholland)

A. Most believers have a genuine desire to pray...

B. That’s why most of us became a Christian - to spend eternity with God

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER

A. Prayer is typically defined as talking to God, contemplative prayer is

best defined as being with God

“Our chief end is to glorify and enjoy God forever” (Westminster Catechism)

B. Why is contemplative prayer important?

1. First, we are expected to pray

2. Second, it’s about the relationship; it’s about just being together

THE FOUNDATION

A. In the very heart of God is a deep desire to be in fellowship with us...

1. God longs to hear from us; God longs to speak to us; God longs to be with us

2. In the heart of a believer is the deep desire to fellowship with God

B. God Speaks

“You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:19)

1. Jesus’ constantly withdrew to spend time with His Father (Mark 1:35)

2. Good news: God hasn’t stopped speaking

C. We need to listen

1. Listening takes time; God is never in a hurry

“Because I am a Christian” (Dietrich Bonheoffer)

2. Consciously being in God’s presence will transform us into better disciples

STAYING FOCUSED

A. We are not trained to just “be” with God B. So what should we do?

1. Don’t be too hard on yourselves

“The first thing to remember is not to get impatient with yourself. Do not cramp yourself in despair at the wandering of your thoughts. Just sit down each day and wait patently. If your thoughts keep running away, do not attempt to restrict them. It is no bother to let them run on to their destination; then, however, take up the place or the person to whom they have strayed into your prayers. In this way you will find yourself back at the text, and the minutes of such digressions will not be wasted and will not trouble you.” (Dietrich Bonheoffer)

2. Try to identify the source of the distractions

3. Prepare for your prayer time by first slowing down

4. Use your imagination

5. Keep paper/pencil nearby; Journal

C. How does one distinguish God’s voice from other voices?

“Certain factors distinguish the voice of God just as any human voice can be distinguished from another.” (Dallas Willard)

1. First, the quality of God’s voice

“The quality of God’s voice is more a matter of weight or impact an impression makes on our circumstances. A certain steady and calm force on which communications from God impacts our soul, our innermost being, incline us toward assent and even toward compliance.” (Dallas Willard)

“The inner voice of God does not argue or try to convince you. It just speaks and it is self-authenticating.” (E. Stanley Jones)

2. Second, the spirit of God’s voice

“God’s voice is a spirit of peacefulness and confidence, or joy, of sweet reasonableness and of Good will. It is, in short, the spirit of Jesus” (Dallas Willard)

“The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality.” (James 3:17)

3. Third, the content of God’s voice

“A word that is truly from God will always conform to and be consistent with the truths about God’s nature and kingdom that are made clear in the Bible.” (Dallas Willard)

D. A word of challenge and encouragement:

1. Make time. God desires it. You require it

2. Slow Down. Don’t run into his presence. Don’t hurry out of his presence

3. Slip consciously onto God’s lap every day

4. God loves it too!

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