Big Idea: You can learn to hear God’s voice.
If you miss this, you missed the whole purpose of life: “Life is all about relationships! A relationship to God and one another.”
It was a lightbulb moment that came to me after I started a church in San Diego, California. I was in a grocery store buying fajitas with a new guy that had been attending our church. On aisle 9, he was talking about how God had radically changed his life and marriage. I just walked beside him in awe of God and this guy’s brand-new life. I remember silently saying to God, “God, this is what the Christian life is all about, a relationship with You and one another!” The fajitas turned out great, and that life lesson will stick with me forever!
I hope some lightbulbs are starting to turn on in your mind throughout this journey with King Jesus. The next weapon of prayer that I want to introduce to you has everything to do with your relationship to God. In a relationship, people talk to each other. One talks and one listens and then visa versa. We were always told that God wants a relationship with us, but no one ever seemed to get around to teaching us how God speaks to us. Yes, we have heard “Pray, read your Bible, and go to church,” but that never seemed to practically answer the question.
Question #1: Does God speak directly to people today?
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28 (NASB).
The Biblical formula for a relationship with God is this: God speaks. We hear Him, and we follow Him. We must be able to hear God’s voice and follow Him. Otherwise, whose voice are we listening to and following? We constantly have four voices battling for supremacy in our life:
1. Our own voice (the flesh)
2. The world’s voice
3. The voice of our enemy (the devil)
4. God’s voice
Too often, we just listen to the voice that makes the most sense. We must be careful that we do not become like the people in the days of the Judges where, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25 (NASB). Just doing what makes sense to you may sound like a good idea at first, but if you press into that answer, you find that our heart is wicked and we oftentimes choose sin over following our Savior, Jesus. The goal of hearing from God is to be obedient sons and daughters. If I only did what makes sense to me, then I would never have made the hard decisions of sacrifice to follow Jesus.
God spoke in many different ways to all kinds of people in the Bible. In the Old Testament, the prophet Joel explained an incredible day in the future (when the Messiah comes) that God would pour out His Spirit on people. “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” Joel 2:28-29 (NASB). The moment you invited Jesus into your life, God placed His Spirit inside you.
Question #2: How does God speak to us today?
The way we are able to hear the voice of God is by the Spirit of God in us. Read what the Spirit of God does in you. 1 Corinthians 2:9-12, 16 says, “That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 16 For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
God, the Holy Spirit, knows the depths of God the Father. None of us know what God is thinking, but the Spirit of God knows the Father perfectly. We have the Spirit of God actively working in our lives, and He is the One who speaks and reveals to us the thoughts of our God. You have the mind of God the Son because you are filled with God the Holy Spirit. God speaks to you through His Spirit. You hear God speak because you have the Spirit of God in you. You obey because you have given full control of your life to God.
Question #3: How can I hear God speak to me?
Listen. That is it! That is the answer! The way we hear God is to learn the discipline of understanding the voice of God among all the other voices in our mind. Yes, it is learned (trial and error). Yes, it is a discipline (like working out). Make no mistake, every believer in Jesus can hear the voice of God. It’s not just for super Christians or clergy. You can do this!
Here’s how to hear God speak:
1. Make certain you have invited Jesus into your life.
- God speaks to you through the Holy Spirit that was placed in you at the moment of salvation.
2. Put the work in on building your relationship with Jesus.
- Spend time with Jesus as a friend (Read John 15:15).
- Suggestion: Find a comfy and special place where you spend time learning from Jesus. (Chair, front porch, table, etc.)
- Invite Jesus to literally sit with you. Place an empty chair beside you. Visualize Jesus with you. God will never leave you. (Read John 14:16).
- Think of prayer like a conversation instead of one-way communication where you do all the talking. Ask Jesus a question like, “Jesus, what changes do you want to make in my life so that I can look more like you?”
- Listen. Listen. Listen. In the above question, what if—while you were listening to Jesus—this word flashed across your mind: “HOLINESS.” Now, go and read every verse and passage in the Bible that deals with Holiness. Remember, God speaks, we listen, and we obey!
- What if God does not speak? I will then ask, “God, what am I dealing with right now that I need to trust you with so that I can hear you more clearly?” Many times, I cannot hear God because there’s something that is hindering our relationship—my sins or unforgiveness or I have not done what God already told me to do. Remember, it is about a relationship with God and one another. Restore broken relationships with God or with your fellow man, and then go back to growing your relationship with God.
3. A few warnings:
- Don’t be weird! Let me stress it again, “DON’T BE WEIRD.”
- There are plenty of weird people out there that go around telling people that God speaks to them and told them to do something that everyone is saying, “That person is absolutely crazy.” Don’t be that guy.
- The only weird Christians out there are the ones that do not know God’s voice. Again, don’t be weird, but expect God to speak.
- Don’t hurt other people by saying, “God told me this about you…”
- God speaks to you, and God can speak to them. Trust God to speak to them while you continue to pray for them. You are not God’s prophet to other people. Only a very few are called to do that, and you ain’t one of them (probably). Seriously, too many immature believers go around hurting others in the church by saying, “God told me to tell you…” Don’t be that guy!
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Be wise. Take steps of faith. Sometimes you will get it wrong. Learn from it. I thought God told me to go sit in the laundromat one day and He would send someone to me that I need to talk to. I sat there for one hour and no one came. I felt foolish. I left and got upset at God. I just heard God wrong. God was not wrong. I just missed it. No one was hurt except my pride. Don’t be afraid to fail.
4. Go for it. Start today.
- Find a place. Invite Jesus to be with you. Speak to Him. Listen for Him to speak to you. Learn to follow Him. Learn to hear His voice. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t hurt anyone. Don’t be weird. Your Bible should become your most prized possession. Again, don’t be weird. Remember, only weird Christians cannot hear the voice of God. It takes work. Put in the work. Be disciplined. Be wise. Make certain that everything aligns with Scripture. God will never tell you something that contradicts Scripture, ever!
Getting Your Battle Orders: Pray, “God, What Do You Want Me to Do?”
What if you wake up each day eager to meet with Jesus, dive into His Word, and receive His to do list for the day? Find that special secret place that you meet with your Savior (Read Psalm 91). Invite Jesus to meet with you. Open up the Bible where you stopped reading yesterday. (I encourage you to start in the Book of John.) Read it. Discuss it with Jesus. (Example: Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 NLT).
Ask Jesus, “How do I come to you more and take this bread in my life, marriage, raising my kids and grandkids.”
Now Listen. Maybe another verse of Scripture comes to mind. (Go find it and read it.) Maybe a picture flashes across your mind of you being rude to your wife (confess it to Jesus and go apologize to your spouse). Maybe an old friend comes to mind that you have not spoken to in years. (Pray for them immediately. Contact them. Say to them, “I miss you. How are you doing?” Look for opportunities to encourage them in the Lord.) Perhaps you hear or see Jesus say, “Do Not Fear.” (It reminds you of a specific fear you have dealt with for a long time, and you immediately know Jesus is saying, “Trust Me and do not continue in that fear.” So you pray again to Jesus, “Forgive me for my fear and not fully trusting You. Today, I choose faith over my fear. Jesus, walk with me and I will not fear because I know you are with me. Amen.”)
That’s how you grow in spiritual maturity. That’s how you pray. That’s how you get your orders from Jesus for the battle for each day. That’s how we change the world. That’s how you find out what God wants you to do! It’s not a science. It’s a relationship. Sometimes you will mess up. Remember, Don’t Be Weird. Love One Another. Encourage One Another. Be Wise.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Do you believe that God speaks to you? If so, what is something that God has spoken to you recently?
2. What stories in the Bible come to mind of God speaking to people?
3. What are some fears you have about God speaking to you on a regular basis?
4. What excites you about God speaking to you on a regular basis?
Big Idea: Effective Prayer is a weapon that builds up the Church and destroys the work of our enemy, the devil.
Why We Use Anointing Oil.
God commanded His people Israel to use olive oil for purification purposes. The anointing oil used by the priests throughout the Old Testament was to make the objects in the temple holy. The main purposes of anointing oil throughout the Bible was for purification and holiness. The brother of Jesus instructs us this way,
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.” James 5:13-15 (NLT)
We are instructed to anoint the sick with oil. The olive oil does not heal them like an ointment or medicine. Jesus heals the sick. Our part is to pray in faith and anoint with oil. Our staff has carried out these exact instructions so many times at church and at our offices. Our StoneWater Family comes to us asking for prayer, and we anoint them with oil and pray for them. God is the one who brings the healing. We simply obey his instructions found in the Bible on how to pray for the sick. It’s awesome. God has healed many people in our church this way from many different sicknesses and diseases. Hallelujah!
#1. Praying for Your Home.
“…choose today whom you will serve…But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT)
Your home should be a place of peace, rest, worship, and drawing closer to your family. Is it currently for you? Yes or no?
My wife and I have lived in 14 different homes over the last 25 years. The one constant in all that chaos of moving was God. He is always with us (and you). We never moved without Him. Many times throughout our marriage, our home was not a place of peace in rest. In fact, there was a season that I did not want to be home, but I would rather stay away or stay outside. Why? Because my home was the front lines of spiritual warfare, and we were losing.
I have seen it many times throughout my ministry. Weird things happening in people’s homes (TVs that were unplugged that still turned on, dishes flying across the room, water damage galore, demonic spirits hovering over the bed, kids with unrelenting night terrors, fear, fear, and more fear). I have known three families that locked whole parts of their homes because the spiritual warfare and demonic activity was so great that they stopped going in there. Imagine not having access to your own home because the devil lives upstairs. People do this because they are afraid (and rightfully so). People do this because they believe they cannot tell anyone (no one wants to appear crazy). People do this because they don’t know what to do. (Is there really a number for Ghostbusters…cue the music, “Who ya gonna call…”)
Jesus is always the answer! The Bible teaches us (Read 1 John 4:4) that greater is Jesus that lives in you (and your home) than the devil that lives in this world (or upstairs). If you need to restore peace in your home, you need to add this prayer to your arsenal of prayers.
Step 1 – Get some anointing oil. (Any oil will work. Olive oil was used in the Bible.)
Step 2 – Anoint your home. Start with all your outside doors. Put some oil on your hand and wipe a little on the door frame of your home. If there is a specific room or place in your home that “gives you the willies,” go to that room and anoint the doors. For us, we have anointed our kids’ beds many times because they were experiencing terrible dreams and spiritual warfare in their rooms. Demonic harassment is real, and we should not be surprised when our family is tormented by our enemy. Call it whatever you want, but the devil and his army is real, and they want to kill, steal and destroy you because you follow Jesus. Remember, Jesus is greater than them, so we have nothing to fear when we fight with the right weapons.
Step 3 – Our part is oil, prayer, and faith. Exercise all three! After you put the oil throughout your home, now it’s time to pray. What do you pray? There’s no magic prayer. It’s about a relationship with Jesus. Focus your attention on Him because He is the one who is going to bring peace to your home. Here’s an example of what I have prayed.
“Dear God, thank you for giving us this home. Today, we declare that this home belongs to King Jesus. Our home and our lives have been bought by the blood of Jesus. We anoint our home with oil, and we come to you, God, in faith. God, anything that is from you is welcome in this home. Anything that is not from God is no longer welcome here. In the name of Jesus, we command everything that is from the devil to leave our home and not return. In Jesus’ name, get out! God, we ask you to send your warring Angels to come and protect our home, our children, my spouse, and me. We believe, God, that you will remove this spiritual warfare from our home and make our home a place of peace. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
#2. Praying for Healing.
Jesus gave his disciples these instructions in Luke 10:8-9 (NLT), “If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. 9 Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’”
Jesus heals. Our part is faith, prayer, and oil. It takes the pressure off of us knowing that Jesus is the one healing. We should all pray for the sick. Medicine is not sinful. Going to the doctor is wise. But don’t make praying for the sick the very last option. I encourage you to pray for all kinds of healing first, for everything like headaches, fever, colds, Covid, back pain, arthritis, cancer, hearing, eye sight, hair loss. (Maybe not hair loss, but why not? Go for it.)
Prayer is simply talking to God, listening, and obeying. I have personally seen many people healed by God. The reason I see more healings than the average Christian is because I pray for healing more than the normal Christian. I have seen God heal more people this year than I did five years ago. The reason I believe I am seeing greater numbers of people healed is because I do it on a weekly basis. I have greater faith because I have seen God do it over and over again. Challenge: I encourage you to pray for 100 people and record the results. As my faith increases, my frequency of praying for people increases. Try it this week, and see what God can do. We have people all around us who are sick in small ways and big. Pray for them all.
Pro Tip: Make it personal to the person. Make it about Jesus healing them and not about you! Don’t be weird!
Step 1 – Ask the person to describe what is going on.
Step 2 – Ask them if you can pray for God to heal them.
Step 3 – Ask them if you can place your hand on their shoulder to pray.
Step 4 – Pray something like, “Jesus, you healed people in the Bible, and I know you heal people today. You know my friend Jonathan here. You created him. You love him. You will never leave him or forsake him. Jesus, you are right here with us now. Jesus, I ask you to come and touch Jonathan. Heal his cancer. To this cancer in his body, Jonathan and I agree and we say that you are not from God. We command cancer to leave his body in Jesus name. Jesus, I know you can heal Jonathan from cancer completely. I love Jonathan. God, I believe You have big things for Jonathan to do for Your Kingdom for a long time to come. Jesus, will you come right now and restore Jonathan to complete health so that he can continue the work of God unhindered by this disease? If this is a spiritual attack from our enemy, we command this assignment to be destroyed now in Jesus’ name. Jesus, come and do a mighty work of healing in Jonathan’s life. We praise You, God. We worship You for Your healing today for Jonathan. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.”
Step 5 – “Jonathan, thank you for letting me pray for you. I am going to continue to pray for you until God heals you completely. We will battle this together. You are my Brother in Christ, and I love you.”
#3. Praying for Your Marriage.
Jesus teaches us that he purposes to give us an abundant life here on earth. Conversely, the devil is here to destroy all the works of God in our lives. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (NASB)
Look at your spouse and say, “You are not my enemy!” Marriage is tough. Two selfish individuals come together in holy matrimony, and are supposed to live happily ever after. It just does not work that way. With God at the center of your relationship, your marriage can not only survive, but you can have an abundant marriage. Prayer is one of the greatest weapons in your marriage. You do so many things together; it’s time to start praying together. It may be odd to pray with one another in the beginning, but so was your honeymoon. Both take lots of practice, and both will make or break your marriage. I have heard it said many times in many ways that couples that pray together daily rarely get a divorce. Here’s how to start praying together:
Step 1 – Take the initiative. Someone has to say, “Can we pray together today?”
Step 2 – Hold hands. Put your arm around each other. Hold each other. Connect physically because you are about to connect spiritually.
Step 3 – Someone should go first without any expectation the other one is going to pray. You may have to pray for one year before your spouse comes out of their shell to pray for you out loud. Lead by example. It’s worth it.
Step 4 – Pray something like, “God, thank you for putting us together. I love Betty. You created her perfectly. You created her for me. Give me the strength to lead her and love her like Jesus loves His Bride, the Church. God, I need your help to bring out all of her gifts and talents. Forgive me for not being the husband that you called me to when we first got married. I am not that person anymore because of what Jesus has done in me. God, I speak life into my wife. I bless her now in Jesus’ name. Thank you, God for the wife she is and the mom that she is to our kids. God, help her at work this week to love her boss and coworkers. Use her at our church in all the areas she serves. Please protect her as she travels to her mom’s this weekend. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
#4. Praying for Your Kids.
Your kids are your greatest legacy. They need you. They struggle with all sorts of things. They will struggle with relationships, porn, social media, their identity, anger, insecurities, and siblings. This is a normal week. Imagine 18 years of living in your home and all the questions and problems they must navigate. They need you and they need your prayers.
Pro Tip 1: Pray for them daily and with them regularly.
Pro Tip 2: I would rather that my kids mess up at home while I can still guide them instead of going off to college where I will not be as involved in their lives. Messing up as a teenager is not the end of the world and may actually be a blessing.
Spiritual Warfare Prayers for Your Kids:
If your child is struggling with things like porn, sex, pot, suicidal thoughts, anger, gender confusion, depression, etc., you need to deal with it out of great love and grace. You also need to confront spiritual warfare that is trying to kill, steal, and destroy your son or daughter. For example:
“God, you created my daughter perfectly. I love her and our family is so much better because you have given her to us. Susan is struggling with suicidal thoughts. God, I know these thoughts are not from you. They must be from our enemy. So, God, we come to You tonight in the name of Jesus asking you to remove these harmful thoughts. Jesus, you come and speak truth into Susan. Jesus, you love her. You have an incredible plan for her life. Jesus, you have a perfect husband out there tonight that is praying for her. You want to give her kids. You want to bless her life. You desire for her to live an abundant life. Jesus, please come right now and destroy these evil thoughts of death and bring life to her. Thank you, God, for trusting me to be her dad. Please give me wisdom to lead her and love her. Her mom and I are not mad at her and we are so glad that these suicidal thoughts were brought out into the light so You, God, can put an end to them. Thank you for Susan. Thank you that you are healing her now. Walk with us through this time and make us stronger as a family. In Jesus name, Amen.
A Reminder About Angels and Demons.
It’s all real. Jesus is real. Satan is real. Angels are real. Demons are real. How do we know it? God teaches us throughout the Bible of the reality of the spiritual realm that is just as real as the physical world we live in.
Christians have been bought by the blood of Jesus, and we literally belong to Him. God has placed His Spirit in us, and no one can snatch us away from Him.
Christians cannot be possessed by a demon. However, we can be harassed and tormented by demons. Spiritual warfare is a real part of the Christian life, and it should be taken seriously, but we do not have to live in fear. The way we stop the harassment and torment is to deal with the root issues that are plaguing us and allow Jesus to come and set us free from the hurt and trauma.
God sends His angels to carry out His will upon the earth. We can pray and ask God to send His angels to our aid and help us during times of spiritual warfare. We don’t talk or develop a relationship with angels, but we do ask God to send His angels to help us.
Non-believers can be possessed by demons today just as they were in the Bible. Not all unbelievers are possessed by demons.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Why do you think you may need to anoint your home with oil?
2. What hinders you from praying for people to be healed?
3. What did you learn about praying for your family?