Prayer in Private

A. W. Tozer wrote an interesting piece on prayer that has to do with our personal prayer times at home. This basically comes down to integrity, the man we desire to be when no one is looking. Look at Daniel as our example.

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.—Daniel 6:10

Thomas a’ Kempis wrote that the man of God ought to be more at home in his prayer chamber than before the public….

No man should stand before an audience who has not first stood before God. Many hours of communion should precede one hour in the pulpit. The prayer chamber should be more familiar than the public platform. Prayer should be continuous, preaching but intermittent.

It is significant that the schools teach everything about preaching except the important part, praying. For this weakness the schools are not to be blamed, for the reason that prayer cannot be taught; it can only be done. The best any school or any book (or any article) can do is to recommend prayer and exhort to its practice. Praying itself must be the work of the individual. That it is the one religious work which gets done with the least enthusiasm cannot but be one of the tragedies of our times.

[print_link] [email_link] [God Tells the Man Who Cares, 70-71.]

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More Information = Less Clarity

When it comes to teaching, is it not true that we bombard our people with lots of information? The research we have done may well be from the Bible and trusted theological commentators, but so often we present way too many truth units! We often lose sight of the main thing we want our people to “take away” from the lesson.

The Big Idea: Focus on the Message-Multiply the Impact… 1

BUSINESSES: The result is a church with more information and less clarity than perhaps ever before, but the church is not alone in its predicament. Businesses also get distracted with lots of little ideas and forget the Big Idea. Many marketplace leaders are relearning the importance of the Big Idea in regard to advertising. It was a multimillion-dollar sock-puppet ad during Super Bowl XXXIV that epitomized the absurdity of the advertising during the dot-com bubble. This same era brought us commercials with cowboys herding cats, singing chimps, and a talking duck — all great entertainment, but they didn’t convey a thing about the brands they represented. Brand consultants Bill Schley and Carl Nichols Jr., in their book, Why Johnny Can’t Brand: Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea, tell us this type of advertising is not effective branding. Schley and Nichols teach companies to redefine their products in terms of a single, mesmerizing “Dominant Selling Idea.” They go on to explain that somewhere along the way, “Johnny” forgot the basics of revealing the Big Idea in an easy, everyday way that cements a brand as top dog in the hearts and minds of consumers without resorting to puffery and shallow glitz. What are businesses learning? That “more” results in less clarity. (And less money!)

THE CHURCH: We have bombarded our people with too many competing little ideas, and the result is a church with more information and less clarity than perhaps ever before.
Don’t misunderstand — this is not a rant against entertainment or churches that are entertaining. I actually think churches should be more entertaining. But that’s a rant for another book. This is a rant against churches that don’t discipline themselves to create experiences that convey and challenge people with one Big Idea at a time. Why? Because the lack of clarity that we give our people impedes the church’s ability to accomplish the mission of Jesus. “More” results in less clarity.

THE POINT: Let’s see about refining our message so that people can grasp it. If one can’t explain it to someone else, they really have not “gotten it.” Let’s not circle the room looking for a place to land, but enter the classroom with the Big Idea we want our students to hold on to. Everything we do should support the main idea for the day.

1 Ferguson, D., Ferguson, J., & Bramlett, E. (2009). The big idea: focus the message—multiply the impact. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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Communication and Connection

John Maxwell has written something that makes total sense. Often we assume that we are communicating information, but the reality is that we will not communicate until we connect with people on some level.

Something I know but do not feel, my communication is dispassionate.
Something I know but do not do, my communication is theoretical.
Something I feel but do not know, my communication is unfounded.
Something I feel but do not do, my communication is hypocritical.
Something I do but do not know, my communication is presumptuous.
Something I do but do not feel, my communication is mechanical.

When components are missing, the result for me as a communicator is exhaustion. However, when I include all three components- thought, emotion, and action, my communication has conviction, passion, and credibility. The result is connection. I believe you can achieve the same result when you include all three.

[print_link] [email_link] [ Read more in detail here ]

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Levels of Communication

While we may pride ourselves in being open and honest with others, the truth is we all have to put on suits of armor to protect our thoughts and feelings. From the moment Adam and Eve recognized their sin, they sought to cover themselves and hide. They no longer wanted to be open and honest with God. Each of us, in our own way, does the same. We develop a fake outer layer that hide inner needs.

The following levels of communication are stages of personal development that will bring you out of hiding in order to communicate honestly with God, to face truth and to be vulnerable with others.

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves … and they hid from the LORD God.” (Genesis 3:7–8)

Level #1 Common (superficial): General remarks or inquiries that are appropriate between strangers represent the most superficial level of communication. While this kind of communication is often only a polite exchange to acknowledge someone, it can also open the door to deeper levels of communicating.

  • Examples: “Nice to meet you.” “Where are the elevators?”
  • Biblical Example: John 4:7–9.

Level #2 Casual: Statements and information are shared, but no real personal interaction occurs. This level of communication centers on other people, events or places.

  • Examples: “Did you know Mary Jones when you grew up?” “Have you ever been to the ocean?”
  • Biblical Example: Read John 4:10–11

Level #3 Comfortable: Thoughts and ideas are communicated in this first step toward risk taking. Objections, judgments, and decisions are easily expressed. True interaction is still guarded while one’s emotional antenna looks for any signs of disapproval or rejection.

  • Examples: “I really think the government has too much control over our children’s education.” “It would be hard to live in a climate that has extremely cold winters.”
  • Biblical Example: Read John 4:12–14

Level #4 Caring: Feelings and emotions are shared by moving beyond “head talk” into revealing “who I am.” Ideas are still communicated, but now the facts are accompanied by how I really feel about these ideas. I am expressing a sincere desire that you know and understand me. I am willing to risk sharing my own perspective so that I can then understand yours. And I will do so with courtesy.

  • Examples: “God has given you many talents … and sometimes I feel inferior.” “I think you are very smart … and it makes me proud to be your friend.”
  • Biblical Example: Read John 4:16–26

Level #5 Committed: Freedom from all fear of judgment or rejection may allow for complete emotional connection with another person. Reserved for communion with God, with a marriage partner or with the closest of friends, this highest level of communication requires complete openness and deep honesty. In these encounters deeply held beliefs and feelings are totally shared. Two lives are joined, two spirits are united and feelings are reciprocated. There is mutual understanding and empathy. This level of communication takes hard work. It is much more difficult to communicate heartfelt emotions than it is to communicate factual information. It also takes time: understanding does not come in casual conversation, but rather in extended interaction. This level of communication succeeds only with positive regard for one another.

  • Examples: “Perhaps I’m too sensitive, but it hurt me when you shared the details of my illness with your friend.” “I don’t know why it bothers me when you laugh at my mistakes, but it does.”
  • Biblical Example: Read John 11:32–35

Dishonesty has a way of creeping into all our relationships, but the ultimate price of any deception results in the disintegration of honest communication. Anyone who enters into a relationship thinking that it is good to keep the peace by disguising true feelings has developed patterns that destroy the bridge to deep and fulfilling communication.

“A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit.” (Proverbs 26:24)

[print_link] [email_link] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Communication: The Heart of the Matter. Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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The Top 10 in Communication

The Bible gives many directives for the words we use in communicating with others. The following are Ten Commandments that reflect fundamental principles of godly communication.

  1. Your words are to be truthful: “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22)
  2. Your words are to be pleasing to God: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight” (Psalm 19:14)
  3. Your words are to be life-giving: “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21)
  4. Your words are to be encouraging: “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  5. Your words are to be gracious: “Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips” (Ecclesiastes 10:12)
  6. Your words are to be wise: “Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment” (Proverbs 10:13)
  7. Your words are to be few: “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19)
  8. Your words are to be timely: “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23)
  9. Your words are to be an investment: “From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him” (Proverbs 12:14)
  10. Your words are to be loving: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1)

[print_link] [email_link] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Communication: The Heart of the Matter. Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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