Beth Moore - Practical Steps to Intimacy With God - Part 1
I have this little list of prayers that I've come up with that are based on Scriptures that talk about different things that God has opened. He's opened the mind of the disciples to understand the Scriptures. He's open this of someone else to do this. You understand what I'm saying? I have this group of them. And so based on those things, I usually point to it with my fingers because, again, maybe I'm just cheesy, but these are things that work for me. I mean, we're going on a long time here that we think one another is fairly exciting. You know what I'm saying? I'm just talking about me and Jesus.
So I think he likes it, and I certainly do like it. And he doesn't just sit there and go, "I've never ever walked through so much Velveeta in my life". But here's what I do. I go, "Lord, open my mind to understand the Scriptures". That's Luke 24:45. Then I say to him, "Open my eyes to see the wonders of your Word". That's Psalm 119:18. "Open my ears to hear as one who is learned, as one who receives words for the weary". That's Isaiah 50, verse 4. Then I'll say, "Open my mouth and give me words that I may boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel".
So I'm asking him to open my mouth that day, that I'll be able to share with people. That's Ephesians 6:19. And then I pray Acts 16:14. I ask him to open my heart to pay attention to what you're doing and teaching me. It says that the Lord opened Lydia's heart to the teaching of Paul. So I pray that. And then lastly I always pray Proverbs 31:20: Open my hands to the poor. So it's very simple thing. It just takes me a minute or two, but I say it to him this way. Open my mind to understand the Scriptures. Open my eyes to see the wonders of your Word. Open my ears to hear as one who is learned, as one who receives words for the weary. Open my mouth and put words in it today, that I may proclaim the mystery of the gospel. Open my heart to pay attention to what you're teaching me and doing, and open my hands to the poor.
Very often when I see the poor, I don't have to think what I ought to do because I already prayed that morning. So even if I wonder what they're going to do with it, I prayed that morning that I would open my hands to the poor. And so if it's not for a good purpose, that's going to be between them and God. But I prayed that morning that God would open my hands to the poor. And so that's important to me. So then I'm going to start doing my reading, whatever it may be. This morning it was Job 30 and 31, but it could be any book of the Bible. And it could be one chapter and then a little bit of a book, or it could be two chapters and no book. It just depends on what God's got me doing right then. But when I read the Bible, the biggest thing, the number one thing that has brought life to me about my Bible reading is that God put upon my heart some time ago to read the Bible as dialogue.
And so I approach it like this. God is speaking to me through his Word, and I'm speaking back to him through my prayers. So the whole time I read, I would be talking back to him. And not every Word, not every Scripture, but anything that moves me to. Like we were reading about that earlier when it says in Psalm 19, verse 12, "Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults". I might stop right there and just go, "Lord, man, I want to know what those are. I'm so flawed, and I know what many of them are. But, Lord, if there's something hidden in me, if I've got something destructive in me, I want you to tell me what it is".
I might stop there and I might pray for my children 'cause I'm going to let the Word guide a whole lot of what I'm praying in my intercessory prayer because I'm going to go by that Scripture that I'm getting fresh off the page. There are other things I'm going to pray that are going to be separate from it, but I'm going to take that as a way of activating how I'm going to pray. I might pray, "Oh, Lord", His Word says, "Keep your servant from willful sins". I might pray that over my children. "Lord, keep us all from willful sins. Don't let sin have dominion over us, Lord. Show us where it's getting a stronghold over us". So it becomes dialogue; so that I'm not just reading, I'm talking with him about it. He's talking to me and I'm talking back, and it's been a game changer for me throughout these years because it just keeps us both talking.
When people say, "He just doesn't talk to me". Oh, listen. Oh yeah, he does. It's a whole Bible full right here. And if we don't know the written Word, we can't discern what we are hearing from God in other ways through people, through what he's doing around us, through circumstances. Because the only way to know, I've got to have the Word or I can't test it. If somebody says, "I really feel like God has a word for me to give to you". If I don't know the Scriptures, I don't know how to test that word. I got to know, "Does that fit with him? Does it fit with his character? Is it according to Scripture"?
So turn with me to John 15:7 and 8. "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples". Now, he is speaking to his immediate disciples. So I think there was a lot of room for that to be an absolute that we might look at that and go, "Okay, I don't know that I am prepared to say that I could just ask whatever I wanted and it would be done". What 1 John chapter 5 says is when we ask according to the will of God, we will have what we ask. So every time we ask according to the will of God, we will have what we ask. There's no doubt about it. But I can tell you this; the more I allow the Word of God to abide in me, the more it is shaping the way I pray. The more the Word of God shapes the way I pray, the more answered prayer I will see.
Is anybody stepping in that with me? That one you can take to the spiritual bank because what it's doing, more we're in it, the more it's abiding in us. And what I think of as abiding; what walks off with me when I shut my Bible and walk away, that's abiding. I may not be able to bring it back Word for Word, but I know the truth of that Scripture. It's alive in there. And the more it's in there, the more it sinks in, the more it's shaping how I'm praying. And the more I'm asking not just for my children to be successful, but for my children to bear a lot of fruit for the kingdom of God, without shame I pray that continually. "Lord, make them immense fruit bearers for your kingdom. Put that above their worldly successes, and my grandchildren's grades. I want these kids to grow up to bear much fruit for the kingdom". 'Cause that's reflective of Scripture.
And I can say, "Lord, I'm praying according to your Word". And I pray that I can count on receiving what I ask. This glorifies our Father, that we bear much fruit. Keep going back to the Word of God. Nothing has been more powerful to me in my personal walk with God in long-term, really heavy requests than praying Scripture. If someone said to me, "Beth, do you always pray Scripture"? Absolutely not. I don't always pray any way.
The book of Ephesians says in the 6th chapter, toward the end of the book, Paul talks about, and he's under the inspiration of the Spirit, praying at all times with all kinds of prayers and petitions. Just bringing them to God, all kinds of prayers for the saints. And so I'm a strong believer in all kinds of prayers. I am a strong believer in sitting quietly before the Lord and just listening to what I think that he is moving in my spirit and through his Word to say in direction to me. But if it is a long-term, heavy duty where I am prone to get weary, every time I'm going to pray Scripture.
For instance, if you have a really wigged-out kid and you've got a long, long road ahead and you've been praying for that kid for a long time; what Scripture does for me when I look for how I can get Scripture and I can turn it into prayers for the people that I'm interceding for, what it does for me in a long-term request like for my marriage, perhaps, is that it rolls the burden on to the Word instead of on to my ability to pray. Any time in a long-term prayer need, we'll run out of steam on our own because we just get to where, "Lord, I mean, I've said the same thing 500 times. You already know. You already know what I'm asking". But if I'm praying Scripture, I'm rolling the burden on to the Word. It's the power of the Word that's got to be activated here. It's not my ability to pray. It's the power of God's Word being activated in what he has put on my tongue.
So that has been an extremely important part of my walk. Anything long-term, anything really tough, I am going to find a way. I'm going to go, I'm going to ask him, "Direct me to some Scriptures where this can renew my mind and it can give me the unction and activate the energy in me that I'll be able to pray and see it through for the long haul". So that's been very important. I do have an active intercessory life. And I'm going to tell you one reason I do is because, of course, the Lord wants us to pray for one another, but it also keeps us from being narcissistic and self-absorbed. It reminds us that there are a whole lot of people out there with a whole lot of problems of their own and it's not just me and my own little huddle with my own very, very tiny, tiny world that has got all this bearing on us.
It's a really big world out there and a lot of people with a lot of problems, and I want to help bear their burdens with them and for them. So that's important to me. I've always got a space where I'm praying for friends; and I'll pray for different ones, just whoever the Lord leads me to that day, whoever I think to pray for that day. Maybe somebody's asked me to pray for them. Well, I'm going to write that down. I have a space in my journal that I use for the grieving or the sick, and that's where I'm going to write down. Right now I'm praying for three different parents, young parents of young children who have lost spouses and are raising their children on their own. And these are important, important intercessory moments that we have to believe make a difference in their lives.
I want you to write down something as I draw it to a close, and it's going to give us, I thought I'd take a minute or two if there are some questions that some of you may have that are related to this kind of thing that I could answer quickly, but let me say this to you. And I do want you to write this down. Access exceeds answers. The most important thing I could tell you in our approach to prayer, in our approach to the Word of God is that access exceeds answers. And what I mean by that is the more we engage with Jesus, the more we're going to find that even more than we are seeking an answer to our prayer we have him. The most wonderful part of a relationship with Jesus is not what Jesus can do for us, although there is nothing he cannot do. The most wonderful part of a relationship with Jesus is actually Jesus, but we don't know that early on.
We don't know that. It takes getting in there and being with him and experiencing the power of the life of his Word in us, it takes getting out there and knowing, "You know what? I am incapable of what I just did. Incapable. I was incapable of responding to that person that I have never been able to stand. I'm incapable of the love that I just felt for that person". When you begin to see that he is overtaking you with something that you know is foreign to you, foreign to you, when you look up and you realize, "I have lived through something I would have sworn and declared would have killed me".
I need to see your hand in this house if you've already lived through something that should have killed you. I mean, every one of us, every one of us. These are the kinds of things, the more you spend time with him, the more you realize this is what makes all the difference in my life. It's Jesus himself. And so I want those answers. I want him to answer my prayers or I would not be asking them. I believe that he answers prayers, but what I want more than anything is that I want him. But I don't know that until I get in there with him and realize, "You know what? You are life to me. You are life to me. You are life to me".
You know, I'll tell you, one of the things that is crucial to the process I've described is I'm continually asking him, and anything I know, I've learned the hard way. I have lived in so much defeat in the course of my life that I just was not going to be able to make it in the gray. So I need you to understand that. Anything I have to offer you that has been the least bit successful in my walk has come a very, very difficult way, very difficult way, but he has been so faithful to it.
And one of the things that I'm continually asking him is to cause me to love it, to cause me to love his Word, to cause me to love him more than anything I could see with my eyes or touch with the tips of my fingers; that he would make it a miraculous thing for me, that he would just cause me to love it, that he would cause me to think that it's exciting and that it's exhilarating and that it's illuminating, that he would enlighten the eyes of my heart and give me the spirit of wisdom and of revelation.
So pray for it because here's the thing. When you pray according to his will, you've got it. Do you understand what I'm saying? I mean, count on it. You've got it. You've got it because there's nothing he wants more than for you to love his son with everything in you and for you to love his Word and love to be with him. I anticipate this question. I mean, do you just like feel butterflies about him every single day? No. Of course not. Some mornings I am getting up and I am doing it because this is what I'm devoted to. I'm devoted to this. I'm devoted to him. I want to be with him. I want to hear from him through his Word. I'm always blessed, but I'm always pumped? Well, no, no. Am I often? Yeah. Yeah.
There are certain disciplines of the faith that go with maturity, and I just wrote down the ones that I find to be so crucial in case you want to jot these down; the primary spiritual disciplines. And the reason why I bring these up is because there's no new way to do this, y'all. There are new methods, but we can't improve upon what the early church did in order to build themselves up in the most holy faith. There's nothing new to go, it's still the same thing. We want to be in the Word, Bible study. We want Bible study. We want prayer. Fasting is important. It can be one meal on some regular basis. Or maybe not on a regular basis, just when he calls you to fasting. And then there is serving and there is rest. I would also add giving to that, but serving and rest. Listen, rest is a spiritual discipline. It is a spiritual discipline.
A couple of days ago, I was out in the front yard and I was throwing balls to the dogs. And they were both... I have a large front yard, so I have a long way. I live out in the woods and in the country. And I can throw it a long way, and the dogs will run, run and grab the ball, and run it back to me. And I was expecting the Jones. That's my daughter Amanda and her family. And I knew they would be driving up soon, and they did. Up comes her car. Almost before it stopped, my namesake, Anna Beth, who is 10, door goes wide open, and she jumps out of it. And she's built a lot like me. And these long legs are just kind of flying across the yard, just flying. And I'm just grinning because, you know, she's 10 now. She's not 4 anymore, she's 10 and still she just hauling across that yard like the most exciting place to be in the whole wide world is right at her grandmother's.
And she comes in and she throws her arms around me, and my heart's just bursting into 10.000 pieces. Her little sister just running behind her just as fast as she can, her tiny little sister. And their really cool brother who's going to play, you know, he's going to walk a lot slower and bring it in. So I pull her little head back 'cause she's like this. She's just gaining on me every minute. I pulled her little head back and all her thick little hair and I said to her, I said, "Anna Beth, when you're in college, are you still going to run to me like this"? I said, "Like, for instance, when baby comes and sees you at college and you see me across the campus, are you just going to haul off and run to me as hard as you can"? And I lift her up after that. And she looks at me and she goes, "I don't know, baby". I said, "Yes. You have to. I've to always know that you would run to me all the way across".
And so I just love to tease her like that, and she was all wound up in it. She was picturing her friends and what they were going to think when she's hauling across the college campus. But, you know, it's something like that because she just running across the yard to be with her grandmother. She doesn't think that I have a gift waiting for her in the front yard. I often have something for them, but she just want to run to her grandmother. And I thought about how we're the namesakes of Christ. We carry his name. I don't know.
I think maybe he says to us, "You're going to run like that to me when you're in college"? Yes. "You're going to run to me like that when you're a sensible grown-up"? Yes. "You're going to run to me like that, Beth, when you're middle-aged"? Yes. "Beth, would you run to me like that when you're old"? Yes. Yes. "Will you run to me like that when you're dying"? Absolutely. Absolutely. Because there is no place, no place I would rather run than to Jesus. I don't know about anybody else, but I have a very compulsive mind. Anybody else where you think, rethink, rethink, rethink, rethink? Anybody stay in this, just stay in this? That's how my mind does.
And so I just decide what I'm going to do this on. And so for me what has been my freedom is that what I want in that loop, if I'm going to get in a loop, let it be Scripture, let it be Scripture. So I do memorize, very actively, I memorize Scripture. But I want you to hear something because I want this to be a common denominator that you're hearing all through the evening. I am praying for the supernatural unction to be able to do it. I pray all the time, "Give me the supernatural capacity to memorize Scripture". And I believe that he's done that because there's really no excuse for what he's caused me to be able to accrue through the years except that he has performed a miracle over my mind. I needed it. I just still need it. I just still need it, and I love it. I don't just need it, I absolutely love it, and it means a lot to me.
So, again, I engage with him. I want you to hear this. So I'll take my spiral with me, or whatever I'm using, and I'm on my walk in the country and I'm doing my memory work. And so I'll get stumped where I can't think what comes next and I'm not wanting to look at it. And so I'll say to him because it says in the Gospel of John that the Holy Spirit will remind you of what Jesus has taught to you. So I say, "Holy Ghost, remind me. You know what comes next. I need the next phrase".
Anybody? Anybody? Because why? Because I don't just want to say, I'm not just trying to recite Scripture; I want to be with Jesus. I want to engage with Jesus, and it's a way that helps me to do that. To whom much is given, much is required. So I have a lot of responsibility and so I can't play. And so my devotional time, I'm probably sitting there for about an hour. And then usually by the time then, I go on a walk and work on some of my memory work. And we're pretty engaged throughout most of the day, but that intense time is an hour. But I'm also 62. My family is raised.
And you know what I used to do back in the day when I was raising my kids is that it would... I still did it. I still got up really, really early and I still had my prayer time, but it probably would have been closer to 20 to 30 minutes. And then if I was doing any in-depth study, then I would usually work it in at a time that was not early in the morning when I was getting the kids up. But I just don't... I tell you, y'all. I hear people say, "Well, you know, we're free from all that". I do what keeps me free. This is freedom to me. It's joy. This is joy to me. It's what I love, and it's what keeps me walking between the ditches. So it's not a burden to me.
I want you to remember something 'cause we get this all messed up in our mind and we're thinking God's all mad at us. Let me tell you something. Your time with God does not change God one iota. The reason why he's calling you to be with him is for you, is for me. He's going, "Listen, I'm doing fine". God's doing fine. He's not going to have a terrible day if we're not with him. But you know what? We might. We'll have a very different day if we're not with him. So remember when you're thinking like, "Oh, he's all mad at me". He's going like, "No, I'm not mad at you". But don't tell him who you're going to be mad at today. Is that fair? Is that fair? It's for us. It's for us to avail ourselves to him.