Tag Archives: Prayer

The “still, small voice” was a real voice

The “still small voice” Bible passage is often misinterpreted.   It pertains to the Prophet Elijah after his amazing victory over the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel.  He has run away to avoid the wrath of Jezebel and is hiding in a cave. The portion in bold is used to rationalize mystical practices or “nudges” that God allegedly communicates to us, often in the area of decision making.

But read the passage carefully and you’ll see something that should be obvious: The “low whisper” or the “still small voice” (King James version) wasn’t an illustration of a mystical communication.  It was an audible statement.  Note the extended conversation and message that follows.

1 Kings 19:9–18 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

This article provides some good background and commentary (sorry, link no longer exists):

Elijah’s Mt. Horeb experience, when he heard “a sound of sheer silence”(1 Kings 19:12, NRSV), stimulated in the church a tradition of desert spirituality which pursues solitude in order to experience the divine. Practitioners of lectio divina (i.e., reading sacred things) also desire such encounters. They say: “When we read the Scriptures we should try to imitate the prophet Elijah. We should allow ourselves to become women and men who are able to listen for the still, small voice of God (I Kings 19:12); the ‘faint murmuring sound’ which is God’s word for us, God’s voice touching our hearts. This gentle listening is an ‘atunement’ to the presence of God . . . .”[1] About Elijah’s experience of hearing God’s “still small voice”(KJV, NKJV) questions arise. Does 1 Kings 19:12 endorse contemplative spirituality? Was the prophet’s encounter with God in the cave on Mt. Horeb/Sinai a mystical “atunement”?

. . .

Ironic isn’t it, that the question the Lord repeatedly posed to Elijah contradicts the sense in which contemplative spiritualists mean to understand the “voice.” They use the prophet’s cave experience as a pretext for their retreating into the solitude of their “higher consciousness” to find mystical communion with the divine, but all the while God is asking, “What are you doing here?”

Do not take that passage out of context to rationalize what may not be from God.  Just read what his word really says and use wisdom to guide your decision making.


Here’s much more on the Bible, decision making and hearing from God.

The Bible, Decision Making and Hearing from God from Eternity Matters on Vimeo

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Jump start your prayers

prayer2.jpgIf you struggle with how to pray then I encourage you to find a devotional or something to get you started.  I get a daily prayer in my email each day that I really enjoy (click the link to subscribe).  I love how he prays scripture back to God.  It is a great way to get my mind in the right place.

Here’s a sample:

Daily Prayer Day 144

I DRAW NEAR TO YOU, GOD

As I approach Your throne of grace today, I am grateful that You care about the things that concern me and that You want me to offer them up to You.

May I be strong and courageous, being careful to obey Your word; may I not turn from it to the right or to the left, that I may act wisely wherever I go.  (Joshua 1:7)

Take a moment to share your personal needs with God, including your physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual concerns.

THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE

I know that You alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.  (Psalm 83:18)

God placed all things under Christ’s feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  (Ephesians 1:22-23)

I LISTEN TO YOUR WORDS OF TRUTH

We have known and have believed the love God has for us.  God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.  In this way, love has been perfected among us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears has not been perfected in love.  (1 John 4:16-18)

MY RESPONSE TO YOU, LORD

I will be strong and courageous, being careful to obey Your word; I will not turn from it to the right or to the left, that I may act wisely wherever I go.  (Joshua 1:7)

I want to be above reproach, blameless as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not fond of dishonest gain, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sensible, just, holy, and self-controlled.  (Titus 1:6-8)


Lord, I thank You that You are the Most High over all the earth and that You placed all things under Christ’ feet.  I ask fir the grace to abide in Your love, to obey Your word, and to be above reproach.

An exhaustive list of the verses telling us to listen for messages from God (when praying or otherwise)

[Beginning of list]

  •  

[End of list]

Yep, there aren’t any.  Be cautious of leaders who claim otherwise.  Ask for verses, in context.  That doesn’t mean that God couldn’t speak to you that way, just that it isn’t normative or biblical and that the burden of proof is on the one claiming they did hear from God.  If they quote what He allegedly said to them then they are putting their words on par with the inspired Bible.  It is possible, but that’s quite a claim.

And it means you shouldn’t teach others that they must be doing something wrong if they aren’t “hearing” from God in personalized ways.  Don’t harm the faith of others with non-biblical teachings.  It isn’t loving.

If you want to hear from God, read the Bible.  If you want to hear from him audibly, then read the Bible out loud.  I suggest a deep study of the 31,173 verses He definitely gave us before insisting on a personal bonus revelation.

P.S. Please note that I am not discounting the Holy Spirit in any way.  I love him as I love the Father and the Son and He has unique roles outlined in scripture.  But again, please offer specific verses, in context, if your claim is that the Bible says it is normative to get specific communications from him when praying.

Contemplative prayer: Not contemplative and not biblical prayer

Contemplative prayer is a mystical practice that is making inroads in all sorts of churches. Don’t be taken in by it.  If you really contemplate on scripture and then pray to God, that’s great.  But that isn’t what is meant by contemplative prayer.  It involves repetition of phrases, in opposition to what Jesus taught (Matthew 6:7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”).  It implies that there is formula you can use to “experience” God.

Prayer is the primary way you talk to God, not the primary way He talks to you.  If you want to hear from God, read the Bible.  If you want to audibly hear from God, then read the Bible out loud.  If God communicates to you other ways then that is his prerogative, not his obligation.

Anyone heard of Renovare’?

I was surprised to see a study group on something called Renovare’ being offered at a local church. I scanned the book they are using (The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows) and it looks pretty creepy. Lots of stuff implying that God will reveal special, individualized messages to you in prayer. He could do that, of course, but I’ve read a bit of the Bible and can’t think of a single passage that hints at that being normative or something we can get on demand. The “still, small voice” was audible — and was given to an Old Testament prophet who had just slaughtered a few hundred prophets of Baal after a dramatic showdown. So if you fit that job description, you too can expect audible messages from God!

One exercise from the book has you read a passage then note any word that “God seems to be emphasizing.” Then you “allow God to reveal to you the significance of this word.” This is bad on many levels. Aside from being un-biblical, it will lead people to think they aren’t really Christian or aren’t as spiritual as others because they don’t get personalized messages from God. Or people will make up some meaning that isn’t there and just fashion a god in their own image. Or they will feel peer pressure to make up something (hey, lying is always good for spiritual growth, right?).

There was lots on lectio divina in the book as well.

Maybe if we just read the 31,173 verses in context and really sought to understand them via normal Bible study techniques we’d be better off. God seemed to be keen on getting what He wanted into the Bible, so perhaps those drawn to lectio divina and Renovare’-type practices should make sure they have all those verses well understood before expecting God to give them something new and personalized.

Roundup

Praying the scriptures is a great idea.  If you aren’t sure what to pray you have 31,173 verses pre-approved by God.  Check out Alysa’s post about praying 1 Peter 5.

Question: Is the intent of the DNC to replace black voters with Hispanic ones, as low-information pets of the party? Interesting analysis by Hillbuzz.

In 2008, Donna Brazile famously declared, during the presidential primaries, that the DNC no longer needed blue collar workers,  rural voters, senior citizens, or gay and Jewish voters, because the coalition they were building of blacks, college-aged first time voters, Hispanics, and women were enough to win national elections.  No one else need apply.

We wonder if Brazile’s candor didn’t leave out part of what’s going on — and that’s actually the DNC’s abandonment of blacks completely, replacing them as pets and dependents with newly imported Mexicans.

. . .

We’ve long believed that Liberal-controlled public schools in cities like Chicago are deliberately kept so terrible that black students never learn the social, academic, or life skills to succeed in life — and are instead kept dependent on the government for their welfare.

New DNA Damage Repair Mechanism Must Have Arisen Early — the workings of DNA are endlessly fascinating, and typically make a mockery of neo-Darwinian evolution.

This conclusion that complexity comes early is often forced on evolutionists, in spite of the evolutionary expectations to the contrary.

Here’s something not to get excited about — the alleged discovery of Noah’s ark.

If it is the Ark, may it wake up the biblical sceptics . . . And if this is just another hoax, it’s no big deal. My salvation isn’t dependent on (or in need of) scientific confirmation of incidents in the Bible, but on my relationship with God. His reality confirms His Word.

Bonus graph:

Learn all about Planned Parenthood from a former clinic director

I encourage you to watch this interview with Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood Director.  She not only makes many excellent points, she does so in a truly winsome and attractive way.

Some highlights:

  • Planned Parenthood isn’t pro-choice, it is pro-abortion.  They counsel against adoptions and use high pressure tactics to get women to have abortions ASAP.
  • They avoid ultrasounds of abortions, even though they are safer.  (What happened to safe, legal and rare?)  Johnson left PP after she saw an abortion on an ultrasound.
  • When Johnson was a counselor, her supervisor got mad when people chose life.
  • Sidewalk counselors save lives!  There are countless stories of people alive today because those counselors made a difference.
  • The church needs to talk about abortion more.  It needs to be a safe place for people who have had abortions.
  • PP plans to do late-term abortions in Houston, but they are not telling people that . . . yet.
  • Protesters make a difference with clinic workers as well.  It is a reminder that what they are doing is wrong.