Archives For prayer

Did you know you listen every day with your eyes just as much as your ears? I listen every day as I read through Twitter posts, Facebook statuses, Instagram pictures, people watching, etc. Listening is an art, but it helps to approach it like a science.

I follow a wide variety of people on social media because I’m listening through technology – a science I learned from my friend Tony Steward. Christians, non-Christians, atheists, New Agers, Jews, Muslims, tech gurus, musicians, celebrities, churches, news outlets – you name it, I follow them. I get a pulse on culture and the world via the people and companies I follow and listen to.

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while, he knows something.” – Wilson Mizner.

“The first duty of love is to listen.” – Paul Tillich

The thing about listening is it goes hand-in-hand with intentionality. I can only share this concept with you, but you have to put feet to it. I listen because I care. I listen because I want to learn. I listen because I want to grow.

I want to join God where He’s at work.

I often talk about having our spiritual antennas up. If your spiritual antenna is up, you won’t miss opportunities to be Christ to someone in need. In the book and study Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby says, “God’s activity is far greater than anything we could aspire to do for Him.”

Listening is another way of saying being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. If we truly believe God’s activity is greater, then we would have to take steps to seek His moving.

“Watch what God does and then you do it.” – Ephesians 5:1 (MSG)

As we open our eyes, ears, and hearts and truly listen with all our ability (again this takes intentionality), we have the great privilege and opportunity of getting on the same page with our Creator and joining Him in His work and mission.

As I said in a blog post for Outreach Magazine: If you want to be truly innovative and start doing new and exciting ways of ministry you must be dependent upon the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah 33:3 teaches us, “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.”

If we “call to God” and He promises to answer, this inherently requires listening on our part. God will reveal things that we would never figure out on our own, but we have to be ready, available, sensitive and actively listening.

Who are you listening to?

Hustle picture

The picture above is from a year ago. That’s how long I’ve been contemplating this post. I’m constantly watching friends like Carlos Whittaker and others, including Jon Acuff encourage others to hustle. I have no problem with that. I’m extremely driven, ambitious and have a stong work ethic.

As a matter of fact, I just purchased and began reading my friend, Brad Lomenick’s book H3 Leadership: Humble. Hungry. Hustle. I love Brad’s quote: “Leadership is more than hard work, it is habitual work.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 7.02.47 AM

However, in the hustle and bustle of 21st Century life, I often wonder if we hustle too much or too often. I wonder if we take time to be still, be quiet, think, meditate, and hear that still, small voice of the Living God. I wonder if we stop to smell the roses and take in the beauty of a sunset or sunrise. I wonder if we appreciate the little things in life and thank God for family and friends.

Do we savor the good times in life and mourn the tough seasons that will inevitably come?

My exhortation and encouragement to you my friends is to take time to Sabbath. Take time to pray. Take time to think. Take time to rest. I’ve said for years that we should work hard and play hard. If you focus only on “hustle,” you will just work hard. Take time to enjoy God and being in His Presence.

Remember the story of Mary and Martha and make sure you’re not too busy hustling that you miss out on an opportunity to worship and adore the Savior.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations,
  I will be exalted in the earth!” – Psalm 46:10

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” – Joel 2:12 (NIV)

This past Sunday at my church, the message was on worship and people were encouraged to text in questions at the end of the sermon for discussion. Here’s my question I texted in:

If worship is a lifestyle and the Bible encourages us to fast and pray, then why don’t we hear more about fasting in the American Church?

The answer I got didn’t satisfy. It was a “safe” answer and basically said that fasting was only something personal and not something that the church should talk about or do together. This disturbed me as I know some of the greatest churches in the country take fasting very seriously and have times of corporate prayer and fasting.

As a matter of fact, the last 2 churches listed as Outreach magazine’s “Fastest-growing Church in the US” (Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL and New Life in Conway, AR) both have annual times of fasting and prayer as a congregation.

I worked for a season with ARC (Association of Related Churches) and know how important prayer is to the foundation of a church planter. Prayer and fasting are drilled into the ARC church planters in their basic training and ARC (by no coincidence) has some of the fastest-growing churches in the country – including the two I listed above.

Throughout Scripture fasting plays a critical role in many God ordained events:

– Moses fasted for intimate fellowship with God (Exodus 34:28)
– David fasted for his sick child (2 Samuel 12:16)
– Ezra called a fast for humility and to ask for God’s provisions (Ezra 8:21-23)
– Daniel fasted to discern God’s will & seek God’s counsel (Daniel 10:2-3)
– Jesus fasted before beginning his public ministry (Matthew 4:2)
– Church leaders in Antioch fasted for God’s divine help (Acts 13:3)
– Paul fasted as servant of God for those he served (2 Corinthians 6:5)

If you’re interested in fasting, here are some resources I use HERE.

I believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual atomic bomb that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest around the world. —Bill Bright

So, if you invited your church to text in questions and I texted in my question you see above, how would you respond? Should the church as a whole fast and pray? Does your church participate in any kid of annual fast? Do you personally fast? Is this as one worship pastor friend of mine called a “lost art” in the Church?

Today is the National Day of Prayer. I encourage you to take some time to pray throughout your day. May you be blessed and sensitive to the Holy Spirit as you seek to hear that still, small voice.

Speaking of prayer – if you haven’t heard of Kindle, I encourage you to check it out. I’m actually on the board of Kindle and am proud to recommend it to you. Check it out and pray!

My son, Tommy (age 7) is having surgery today to get his tonsils taken out. This is our first child to have surgery so pray for mom and dad, too. Pray that Tommy isn’t in too much discomfort and heals quickly.

While you’re at it, pray for my wife – she’s having issues with her kidneys and may need surgery soon, too. Thanks!