Knowing about God is easy. I grew up surrounded by Bible stories of creation, Noah’s ark, Elijah and Elisha, and of course, Jesus and His birth, life and miracles. Some of my earliest memories are of Sunday School and later, of Good News Club and Vacation Bible School, where over and over I heard about God. I heard I needed to give my heart to Jesus and responded with a “Yes.” Knowing God, however, is a bit harder.
I remember the first time I felt that quiver of acquaintance with the God of the Universe. I was sixteen, sitting on my bed in the house of the people I was boarding with during my junior year of high school. (I went to a Christian school two-hundred miles from home and stayed with a family since the school did not have dorms.) I was feeling lonely and picked up my Bible. I read Psalm 125:2: “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even forever.” Suddenly it was as if God Himself was saying these words just to me and I felt loved and comforted. I remember asking God if He was actually telling me He was all around me, watching over me. I felt a calm assurance that He was. That was the beginning of my personal journey to have an actual relationship with God.
That first incident of hearing God speak specifically to me drove my longing to hear Him speak to my heart. Knowing I personally was the object of His attention cause a hunger to communicate with Him. Prayer ceased being a ritual I followed before meals and at bedtime and turned into a time where I could pour out my thoughts, dreams, and concerns to Him, knowing He was there listening. As I poured out my heart, I spent time listening. Sometimes I heard His voice in Scriptures that seemed to jump off the page into my heart. Sometimes the lyrics of a hymn captured my heart. (Remember this was the 60’s and Christian music as we know it today still did not exist.) Once, while with friends, doing things I knew we probably shouldn’t be doing, I heard a loud voice say, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). That really got my attention, especially when I looked around and realized that no one else had heard the voice but me. It changed the focus of my life.
I heard that that Bible is God’s love letter to us, so I decided to test that idea. I took passages of Scripture and rewrote them as if they were personally addressed to me. Hebrews 12:1-2 says: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” In my notebook I wrote, “Julia, heaven is full of people cheering you on and you also have a long chain of relatives and friends watching you, praying for you, so please listen to Me. Please, Julia, lay aside every burden that holds you back from doing what pleases Me or any sin that tangles itself around your feet to trip you up and causes you to fall. Please run patiently and carefully the race down the path I have laid out before you. Julia, keep looking at Me, focusing on Me and keeping Me at the front of your thoughts and plans. After all, I gave you your faith in Me as a gift, starting with dying on the cross for you, enduring it all to remove your sins and give you life. Now I am sitting on the throne of heaven praying for you, watching you, loving you.”
As I came to see God’s Word as a love letter to me, I began to write love letters back to God—prayers of praise and thanksgiving. God became a friend to whom I could pour out my heart, and as I did, He began to reveal Himself to me by helping me gain understanding of what His Word was telling me and insight into how He wanted me to live and what He wanted to do in, through, and around me.
Just as communication is the key to personal relationships, so it is with the God of the Universe. Over and oven He pleads with us to talk to Him. Three times Jesus said, “When you pray,” (Matthew 6:5, 6:6, Luke 11:2) stating that He expected we would be talking to Him. Scriptures tell us we should always pray,(1 Thessalonians 5:17), how to pray (Matthew 6:9, Philippians 4:6, 1 Timothy 2:8) and what happens when we ask (Matthew 7:7-8. Luke 11:9-10, John 15:16).
Julia Ewert (June 17, 2020)
If you missed meeting with us via ZOOM on Wednesday morning, and before going to the Practical Application Assignments, we ask that you watch the YouTube Video “Knowing God & Prayer” from our Wednesday morning session at the following link: https://youtu.be/QpQtRhCVZ5M
Study Guide for YouTube Video
Welcome / Vision (expectations)
Sacred Gathering. Our Hudson Valley School of Prayer is a sacred gathering to which you can bring your heart’s concerns and find others to lift them up in prayer.
Prayer, as the Language of a Love Relationship (Dave & Julia’s testimony). Over seven decades, our life has become a life of prayer out of a love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Out of our walk with Him, we want to encourage you and provide training in helpful tools so that believing prayer is more fully integrated into your life, and you become a living witness to the all-sufficient grace and supreme sovereignty of Jesus Christ in every area of life.
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Matthew 6:9 (ESV)
- How does knowing God help strengthen a life of prayer?
- How does prayer help us know God better?
- Prayer is a mirror of one’s relationship to God.
- If we love and trust Him, we will draw near.
What story would you tell to illustrate today’s teaching?
Q&A / Prayer
What further questions do you have concerning today’s teaching?
What insights did you have from today’s presentation?
How would you answer the key question(s) raised at the beginning?
Response to Lesson
Please complete the following Practical Application Assignments and email a brief summary of your responses to the Ewerts at the above email address.
Practical Application Activities
Our key questions for this session are: (1) How does knowing God help strengthen my life of prayer? (2) How does prayer help me to know God better?
After every lesson we will give you Practical Application Assignments and ask you to send a message summarizing your efforts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are the ones for this lesson:
- Think through the teaching you have received in this lesson and through your own personal prayer life. What changes will you make because of the teaching?
- Here is a list of Scriptures that speak to our topic today. Pick two or more of these passages and meditate on what God is telling you about His desire for a relationship with you and how He will respond to you as you seek Him. Write out what you discover. Rewrite the verses in your own words. Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Psalm 42:1-2; 63:8; 66:16-20; 103:13-14; 130:5-6; 145: 18-19; Proverbs 3:5-6; 8:17; Lamentations 3:25; Isaiah 26:9; 33:2; 63:16; 64:8-9; Jeremiah 29:12-13; Matthew 6:6, 9-13; 7:7-11; 26:39, 42; Mark 12:28-34; 14:36; Luke 11:2-4, 9-13; 18:9-14; John 17:1-26; Romans 8:15; Ephesians 3:12; Galatians 4:6; Hebrews 7:15-19; 10:19-22; 11:1-6
- The components of prayer we talked about are noted by the acrostic P-R-A-Y (Praise, Receive [Repent/Report], Ask, Yield/Yes (Amen!). How do each of these components help you to know God better and strengthen your prayer life?
- Here is an article by A.W. Tozer. Please read it and note any thoughts it brings to your mind.
A.W. Tozer, Pursuit of God, “Following Hard After God”
“God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves,
desires and suffers as any other person may. In making Himself known to us He stays by the familiar pattern of personality. He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.
“This intercourse between God and the soul is known to us in conscious personal awareness. It is personal: that is, it does not come through the body of believers, as such, but is known to the individual, and to the body through the individuals which compose it. And it is conscious: that is, it does not stay below the threshold of consciousness and work there unknown to the soul…but comes within the field of awareness where the man can “know” it as he knows any other fact of experience.
“You and I are in little (our sins excepted) what God is in large. Being made in His image we have within us the capacity to know Him. In our sins we lack only the power. The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition. That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the Kingdom of God. It is, however, not an end but an inception, for now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart’s happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead. That is where we begin, I say, but where we stop no man has yet discovered, for there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end.
Shoreless Ocean, who can sound Thee? Thine own eternity is round Thee, Majesty divine!
To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the
too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.”