Sunday Gathering – Prayer – When God Seems Silent – Graham Reed
This week we continue our series on prayer, Graham is speaking on "Prayer - When God Seems Silent "
The sermon titled 'Prayer - When God Seems Silent' by Graham Reed on November 12th, 2023, explores the dynamics of prayer and the interaction between the soul and the spirit. Graham uses three chairs as a visual representation of the body, soul, and spirit. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the distinction between the soul (emotions, mind, and will) and the spirit.
Graham draws from the biblical story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13, highlighting the various elements like wind, earthquake, fire, and a gentle whisper representing God's presence. The central theme of the sermon revolves around the challenge of praying when God appears silent.
Key points include:
1. **Body, Soul, and Spirit:** Graham explains that the body is the outer shell, the soul comprises emotions, mind, and will, and the spirit is the innermost part, born again when one comes to Christ.
2. **Distinguishing Soul and Spirit:** The soul is not born again but saved, while the spirit is entirely new and perfect after accepting Christ. Graham mentions the potential influence of demonic forces on the soul, even in Christians.
3. **Communion with God:** Praying from the soul is described as addressing an external being (God), while praying from the spirit involves communing with God on an intimate, internal level. Graham quotes John 14, emphasizing the concept of being in Christ and Christ being in us.
4. **Continuous Prayer:** Graham encourages the idea of continuous communion with God, likening it to being in a coffee shop with Him. He stresses that God's love is constantly flowing into our lives, even if we perceive silence.
5. **Medicines from the Spirit:** Graham discusses three powerful "medicines" or rivers from the spirit into the soul - the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, and the dynamis (power) of God.
6. **Worship and Revelation:** The sermon concludes with a focus on worship as a way to transition from the soul seat to the spirit seat, experiencing the revelation and praise that come from the spirit.
In summary, the sermon delves into the intricacies of prayer, the soul-spirit dynamic, and the continuous communion with God, providing practical insights for a deeper spiritual experience.
I'm just going to do some furniture removal, you don't mind, do you?
And you've all been wondering about these three here, haven't you?
I did just there so you can wonder about them.
Let me just say something about them.
They've been in our loft for eight years, those three stalls.
And they're not everybody's cup of tea.
But Stefan, I don't want to go home with them this morning.
So if anybody wants three bar stalls, in vibrant green, then please,
I'd love you to come and just see me at the end.
It'll be kind of like first come first, so we're not selling them there.
Free, they're free.
So they're very 1970s, you're quite right there.
So there we are.
Yeah, it's just lovely to see all high there in 146.
I can't see you, but I hope you can see me today.
I just wanted to check in the corner.
Is that video or song available at the end?
Yes, that's great.
And whilst I'm standing here, yeah, just following on from what Andy was saying,
Stefan, I just are so grateful to be part of the family here at MCF.
And I know we sort of come and go.
But the church has done so much to support the work at Satch.
I just hope we can organise this Sunday when we can all go and just be there.
And you can see some of the things that you're supporting even now.
So I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you all before I start speaking
Then I also want to say we've got this series on prayer at the moment,
which is really good.
I found Andy Stewart really, really helpful last week and challenging,
especially about the discipline of prayer.
And so we're continuing with that subject this morning.
But I want to look at it from a slightly different angle,
which is why I've brought my three chairs with me.
So I hope you're going to help me.
And hip hip.
And hip hip.
And hip hip.
And hip hip.
And hip hip.
Three chairs, anyway.
Can only get better.
Can only get better.
There they are.
I also just wanted to say before I kind of launch out,
but it's wonderful always to be reading a book of some sort.
And books in Sparrow and they speak into the journey that God's taking us on.
If ever there was a book that illustrates the truth that you can't judge a book by its cover,
it's this one.
Because that's got to be about the most boring cover I've ever seen in the world.
But it's called Free Indeed and it's written by Tom Marshall.
He was a pastor from New Zealand.
The book was written in the 1970s.
But I have been reading this book slowly.
It's taken me three months to read this because it has been so helpful for me to understand the whole thing about body, soul and spirit,
which is what I want to talk about a bit this morning.
So I really, really recommend this book to you.
It's not Bill Johnson.
Bill Johnson is like, wow, stories all the time.
But it's a really helpful book.
Have a look at it at the end if you want to.
Then I want to read this morning from one Kings chapter 19 verses 11 to 13.
But you can just listen.
This is a story of Elijah.
You remember how Elijah defeated the prophets of Bale and called down fire on the altar of God.
That was pretty cool.
But then he was swamped with depression and he ran away because he was frightened of Jezebel.
And the Lord took him into that cave.
And he wanted to teach Elijah a lesson.
So we read this reading.
The Lord said, go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord.
For the Lord is about to pass by.
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord.
But the Lord was not in the wind.
And after the wind there was an earthquake.
But the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire.
But the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Came a gentle whisper.
And I love the next verse.
It says, when Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face.
And he went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
There's something precious about what happened in that verse.
Suddenly Elijah recognized the presence of God.
That's why he did that.
And he went and stood in the Lord's presence.
The subject that we're going to be thinking about this morning is this whole subject of how can we pray when God seems silent?
Have you ever prayed and thought, you know what?
I think my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling.
Or have you prayed for something for so long that you think it'll never happen?
Abraham did that.
So that's something we're going to think about this morning.
And we could talk about perseverance and some of the other things that we need in order to press through when God seems silent.
But I want to look at it from a slightly different perspective.
So with my three chairs here now, they're going to have individual names.
You can help me with this as well.
Because they've already proved that you're marvellous people.
This chair is called body.
This chair is called soul.
So what is this chair called?
Spirit. That's right.
And I want to talk about this because this has been, I found this idea so exciting.
And really it's kind of come as revelation to me, although we kind of know it.
Let me tell you the truth.
Understanding what our body is is fairly straightforward, probably for you as well.
It's the crusty bit on the outside.
And in scripture it says we have this treasure in jars of clay.
So this is the jar of clay.
And I don't want to talk too much about our bodies today.
Some of us like our bodies and some of us don't.
But that's fine.
I particularly want to think about these two today.
Our soul and our spirit and how it affects the way that we communicate with God.
How it affects us hearing God speaking into our lives.
So what is our soul?
Well, I'm going to try and keep this simple.
I work a lot with children so it helps me to keep things simple.
And you might go away thinking there's more to it than that.
And I'm sure that's true.
But for this morning our soul is our emotions, our mind and our will.
We could go further.
But for the sake of this morning's talk it's our emotions, our mind and our will.
It's also, if I might say so, the kind of default position that most of us live in.
But actually God wants us to live here.
So how on earth can we begin to describe our spirit?
Well, the Scripture tells us that our spirit is dead in its relationship with God before we come to Jesus.
And this verse tells us something important.
This is one John chapter 3 verse 14.
Yet we can be assured that we have been transported from spiritual death into spiritual life.
And you know those of you who read John chapter 3 that there the Bible talks about us being born again when we come to Christ.
And you remember when Jesus said that to Nicodemus, Nicodemus was confused because he thought it was this bit that was going to be born again.
Have I got to get smaller and smaller and smaller said Nicodemus until I can get back into my mother's womb?
That would have made me hood.
But Jesus was gentle with him. No, he said.
It's your spirit that's born again.
And it's difficult to describe the spirit in John chapter 3.
It says this, the wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear it sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the spirit.
So whilst it's easy to give a little label to our soul, it's more difficult to talk about what our spirit is.
In fact, many people who are not born again because their spirit is dead.
So there is no spiritual dimension to life.
I have friends who would say that to me.
This whole spiritual thing is just a load of nonsense.
But we know when we're born again that something is that free, that we have a spirit.
You know what happens when we come together and meet like this and it's happened today is that the spirit of God begins to seep into our meeting
and his presence becomes bigger and bigger until it overwhelms our hearts and our mind.
Is that what happens sometimes?
I felt it happening this morning because when I'll talk a bit about worship in a minute,
but when our worship leaders open the door for us to walk into the presence of God, we move from here
and we begin to set here and God in His grace and mercy releases Himself into our lives.
And we begin to experience God in a different way.
So we know that this spiritual dimension is true.
There are other ways that we can see the truth of the spiritual side of our lives.
Let me talk about intuition.
Now some of us are more intuitive than others.
Sometimes if I have a little fallout with somebody in my family,
it wouldn't be my wife because I never fall out with my wife.
But just supposing I did, I can be sitting in front of my TV in the lounge if I've done something upsetting.
And I can be watching the TV and my wife can walk in and I will feel.
Or is it just me?
I will feel something is in the room.
Some sort of discomfort is happening.
It's not just with our spouses, it can happen with our friends or it can happen with our family.
You know what's happening? Our spirit is communicating with their spirit.
No words are being said. No eye contact has been made, but there's a spiritual connection.
The scripture talks about deep, crying out to deep.
And it's talking about this spiritual communication that goes on.
And that is also the way that we communicate with God.
From our spirits.
So I want to think about that a little bit. I can give some more examples.
I find the whole idea of beauty, a very interesting one,
because beauty is not in emotion.
But you and I know what beauty is, don't we?
We can't even describe it. Why? Because it's a spiritual thing.
We appreciate beauty from our spirit. It does something to us.
It's a spiritual thing.
There's an old hymn somewhere which talks about the grass being greener when we come to Christ and the sky's bluer.
It's that idea that we see more beauty because we have become spiritually aware.
And it's the same with Jesus. There's a beauty about it. Isn't there a beauty about Jesus?
And we haven't seen him with these eyes, but we've seen him with the eyes of our spirit.
And there's something inside us that helps us to understand his beauty.
Now I want to talk about knowing. This is another interesting thing.
I found this fascinating in the book that I've been reading which I showed you.
One of the things that happens in our spirit is that we can know people or we can know things.
Now there are two ways of knowing things.
Number one is that we go and sit in a classroom and see all the facts written on the board.
And our mind accumulates knowledge and we know something.
So that's the kind of knowing that happens here.
But there's another kind of knowing.
And this knowing happens here.
It's the knowing of somebody else. When I say I know Steph,
I don't mean, you know, I saw a lecture about her.
And they wrote up lots of things on the board.
So I've learnt that off my heart. So I know her.
Some people think you can know God like that.
Well, you can start to know God like that, but there's a different kind of knowing.
When I say I know Steph, I'm talking about a spiritual connection that I have with her.
And that's released out of our spirit.
That's the kind of way that God wants us to know Him.
Here we can learn all the facts about God.
We can go to university and do a degree in theology and not know God.
You know all about Him, but you don't know God.
And this knowing is really important because it helps us in our prayers.
I love this when Jesus is talking in John chapter 10 verse 4.
He's talking about the good shepherd and he says he goes on ahead of them
and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
And they follow him.
Knowing a voice is an interesting thing.
An interesting thing happens recently in our family.
My dad died 23 years ago.
So I haven't seen or heard him for 23 years.
But looking through some old boxes, my brother found a diktophone.
And it's a diary, a voice diary that my dad made of a world trip that they did.
One long ago, 25 years ago.
And when he switched it on, there was my dad's voice.
It's my goodness.
And you and I know voices don't we?
When you pick up the phone and it's somebody you know,
immediately you recognize their voice.
You can't describe that. You can't.
But that's a knowing that comes out of your spirit.
And actually, you know, when we're praying and learning to pray,
we're learning to recognize a voice that we can't hear with our natural ears.
But it's projected out of our spirit, like the person walking into the room.
And tell you that when your papa or Jesus walks into the room,
you know you're loved because of the power of that communication that comes to us.
So I want to talk a little bit about soul and spirit.
But now I don't want to give this impression that the soul is bad and the spirit is good.
Because they're both good.
And so is your body. God made it.
He made the whole package.
And then it says in Scripture that we are made in God's image.
So if we're made in God's image, we're not really talking about our body
because God doesn't have a human body.
But we are talking about our soul and our spirit.
There is something of God's image built into our soul and into our spirit.
Are you with me so far church? Good.
So I want to make this comparison for a good reason,
but I don't want you to think the soul is a bad place.
This is what I want to say and this is why I'm learning myself.
Is that either my soul or my spirit is going to rule my life.
It's going to be the command center in my life.
Now I'm one of those very emotional people.
So if you say, well, you know, who is the boss?
Then the boss in my life, the default position is my emotions.
So, you know, push.
And let me tell you something about emotions shout very loudly.
Or is it just me? Maybe they whisper to you but they shout at me.
And some people are ruled by their minds.
They're more cognitive.
They're minds work everything out and direct their lives.
And everything's done in a methodical and thoughtful way.
I'm not saying this is bad. I'm just saying that that can rule your life.
And actually God doesn't want either of those to rule our lives.
He wants this part of our lives to be in charge to rule.
And so that's the difference that I want to talk about.
And one of the things that maybe this is the most significant thing for me that I want to say today
is that when we pray from here, it can often feel as if God is silent.
Because the voice of our emotions in our mind is very loud here.
And when we pray, it's kind of like our feelings when something goes wrong
or something goes right or somebody does this or something just happens,
our emotions speak to us and they're loud and they keep us awake
and we don't know what to do with ourselves and it affects our mental health.
Or maybe it's our mind, you know, we're trying to sort out some problem that's a good at work
in our lives or our mortgage or in our family and the thoughts go round and round in our heads
and they take over and we can't sleep night.
It's so difficult to hear God when that's happening.
And those voices drown out the voice of God because we are so wrapped up in sitting
in our soul seat and not in our spirit seat.
And then there's another voice that shouts loudly to us here.
Now, this might sound controversial but I don't think it is.
When you come to Jesus, your soul is not born again.
Okay, I know, let me explain.
And the elders could come and talk to me about this afterwards.
But actually, read John chapter 3, it's our spirit that's born again.
It's our spirit that was dead before we came to Christ.
And when we, on that day that we come to Christ,
our old spirit is completely dead and swept away
and we get a completely new spirit.
And that spirit is perfect and it's wrapped up in the righteousness of God,
which is perfection.
So we have a new and perfect spirit.
Our soul, although it is not born again, is saved.
Oh gosh, am I confusing everybody?
When we come to Jesus, our whole self is rescued.
Our whole self is rescued.
Once a heaven will get a new body,
but there is medicine from here that can flow into my body
that can even heal me now.
We'll talk about that in a minute.
But I still have the same emotions I have before I was born again.
My soul is saved because I am completely rescued by God.
I'm going to spend eternity with Him.
And because of this new spirit I have,
there is going to be a life flowing through me that affects my soul.
But this is where the damage is in my life.
God may free me from addictions and all sorts of things at the moment I'm born again
because God is full of grace and love.
But not everything gets cleaned up at that first moment.
I still bring some of the damage of the past.
And the damage of the past is where the enemies' minions can land
and try to affect our lives.
I know that might be controversial too.
But I've come to believe that demonic influences can affect our souls
even as Christians.
They cannot endure us because they can't live here.
This is perfect and there's some good things to say about that.
But they can affect this part of our lives.
And they shall loudly at us, these minions, I love to call them minions,
because that's what they are.
And they're totally insignificant compared with who we are here.
But what they do is they sow lives into our lives.
It's not enough that our emotions and our mind are shouting at us.
These minions want to tell us how worthless we are.
They want to drag us back to the past.
They want to sow lives into our minds and into our emotions
so that we don't want us to do this journey.
So we have these voices over here.
So my question to myself is this.
Graham, why on earth do you spend so much time living here?
Because this is my default position.
And I'm learning how to live over here.
And I would love to talk about seven ways of getting from here to here,
which is another tool.
And I'll just say this at this point here.
If anybody wants to explore that idea,
then I'd be happy to put an evening together to do it.
But if I talk about it now, it's a missy lunch.
So if you're interested in that seriously, come see me.
If there's half a dozen people, then we'll find a room and a date.
I know the church is busy.
And we'll look at that idea because it's really important.
It's easy to listen to preachers and understand the concept
and still go away thinking, but how can I do that?
So that's for another time.
But I want to say this about prayer.
This is exciting to me.
When you pray from here,
you are addressing an outside being.
Does that make sense?
You are crying out to God
and hoping that He'll hear you.
Even trusting that He'll hear you
because you know that He's good and He loves you.
And even with all these voices shouting loudly at you,
it's God where are you?
You know the Psalms are full of it.
Because David didn't live in the New Testament.
So he lived his life from here.
When we pray from our soul,
we are crying out to an outside being.
When we pray from our spirit,
we're communing with somebody who's inside us.
Do you see the difference?
It's absolutely huge.
Here we are praying to God.
Here we are communing with God.
Let me just talk about the word communion,
which you know is such a beautiful thing
that Jesus said I want you to do this
in remembrance of me.
The word communion has its roots
in the same word as communication.
Because when we are in communion
with each other or with God,
something opens up,
something changes in us.
I just want to read this verse from John chapter 14.
It says on that day,
this is a day, any day,
you will realize that this is Jesus speaking.
I am in the Father.
And you are in Me.
And I am in You.
That's Jesus describing
what it's like to live from here.
This is absolutely mind-blowing.
That when we are in this new spirit
that God has given us when we're born again,
then we find that we are completely infused in Jesus.
He is in us and we are in Him.
And He is in the Father.
So the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
as it happens to,
we could go find the verses for that,
are completely melded together
in this position here.
It's like taking three different kinds of oil
or four different kinds of oil.
It's our spirit.
It's the Holy Spirit.
It's Jesus spirit.
It's the Father spirit.
We let down the olive oil
and stir them together
to the point where you can't even see the difference anymore.
That's what happens to us here.
So when we talk about communion,
we're talking about that being melded together.
The word communion then has its roots
in the word communication
pray to God. We don't need words here. In fact Paul talks about groaning in the spirit.
There are all sorts of things you can use to pray. He can use tongues which is that special
language God gives us. You can use tears. They're a really good prayer. You can just allow
your emotions to be your prayer. Even your thoughts you can allow them to become your prayer.
Because here prayer stops being communicating with your voice and it just becomes being together
with God. So the word communion has its roots in the same word as community but also in communication
but also in community and that describes that being melded together. I often think that
prayer is a little bit like being in a family you know. It is when we're living out of our spirit.
It's like we're together all the time. So when Paul talks about praying continuously,
he doesn't mean us being like a monk on our knees and trying to find words to you know constantly
be verbalizing something to God. He means that we're just in communion together. We're praying
ceaselessly. If I'm in my house with my family I don't have particular times when I talk to them
and particular times when I don't. However it's true that sometimes we say let's go and have a
coffee at the coffee shop. Now that's for two reasons. One is because we're all like coffee
and the other is because actually that's time when you sit opposite each other and you concentrate
on having a discussion. That's important isn't it? Otherwise you never get deep with anything.
And so that was the encouragement, one of the encouragement from Andy was saying about this whole
thing about discipline is that we need to choose to go to the coffee shop with God sometimes.
The scripture says go into your closet. In other words it's you know imagine the closet is a
coffee shop. I always thought it was a cupboard under the stairs before and it was kind of like dark
and dusty in there and we had to discipline ourselves to be in there sit there with God and talk
to him and then we could come up. No imagine it's coffee shop. That's much better isn't it?
But it's that time when we make time because we choose to in order to speak to God like this.
But we don't then say to okay God I'm sorry I'm not I'm not that's it we finished conversing thank
you for the chat because he comes home with us and we're still in communion. So we don't stop
praying and the truth is that sometimes God feels silence because we're sitting on the wrong chair
from here constantly God keeps telling us I love you I love you did I tell you I love you
oh I'm not sure if you know this but Father says he loves you too or at least Spirit loves you
it never stops coming the love of God flowing into our lives gosh I've gone on too long already
I want to say this but I'm not going to develop it from our Spirit there are three powerful
rivers that are released into our soul and it's almost as if there's a valve between our Spirit
and our soul so that stuff can go one way but thanks to the grace of God our Spirit cannot be
overwhelmed by the our emotions or the the loud voices in our mind praise God for that
that's why God said be still and
it's good here there are three powerful medicines that are released rivers or medicines that are
released from our Spirit into our soul number one the name of Jesus gosh where we're releasing
that name this morning you know we sat down together to have a little chat because we no idea
what each other are doing and we discovered that there's so much in the songs even in Andy
anyway I'll come to that moment but the name of Jesus number one number two is the blood of Jesus
we could talk about what the name of Jesus and what the blood of Jesus does to our soul
but I haven't got time for that today number three is the dynamis of God the power of God
is released into our lives and that's exactly what Andy was that verse that Andy was reading the
incomparable power of God can flow out of here into our soul that's why David in Psalm 23 he said
he restores my and he does it when we're sitting here because when we're sitting here the voices
are too loud so the big question we're left with this morning is how do we move and we can look at
that another time but I want to I just want to finish there really and say this here there is
understanding big in our minds and here there is revelation here there is praise because the
scripture says let everything that has breath praise the Lord but only here there is worship
you know when we begin to choose to worship even if we're sitting in our soul
we find we're sitting in our spirit seat you know you slide across from one seat to the next
happened to us this morning so I want to finish by playing a song which you know I just find
worship music is such a help to me to move me into the right seat and so I just want you to sit
I want you to imagine ask yourself which seat are you sitting in this morning
perhaps when you came you're sitting in your soul seat you might still be sitting in your soul seat
but let it go just for five minutes and listen not just to the words but the spirit of this song
just sit in your spirit seat and be loved for a little while