Craig Groeschel - Speak to Me
Hey, I'm curious today at all of our Life.Churches, how many of you would say that you would love for God to build your faith and strengthen your prayer life? Show of hands today. Man, I am thankful for that. We are in a message series talking about prayers. The problem for so many of us, I would argue, is that we're praying way too safe. Growing up, quite honestly, my prayer life was almost non-existent. I think about the only time I prayed as a kid, maybe three examples. One is if I stepped into a test that I was unprepared for in class. Number two, if I was in big trouble and needed help. Or number three, if I was at a friend's house where they prayed over the meal at their house 'cause we didn't do it at my house. And those prayers over the meals, I don't think God was impressed or moved by our faith.
God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for this food. Good food, good meat, good God, let's eat. One step above, dear eight pound six ounce baby Jesus, thank you for your bountiful harvest at Domino's, KFC and the ever-delicious Taco Bell. Did that just happen in church? You'd never know. God may strike down your pastor. My prayers honestly were lame. They were almost always self-centered. They were bland. They were incredibly safe. God, be with us. He said He'd never leave us, but nevertheless, be with us. Keep us safe. God, would you bless this foot-long chili cheese dog with tater tots and cherry limeade to the nourishment of my body? In Jesus' name. Incredibly safe prayers.
And that's why I wrote a book that recently released. This is your cue to cheer. It's called "Dangerous Prayers". Because following Jesus was never meant to be safe. I believe one of the greatest things you can do for your prayer life is to pray dangerous prayers with great faith. In the book, we talk about three different prayers. We talk about the prayer search me, God. See if there's any offensive way in me. Show me my sins, lead me in the way of everlasting. We prayed for God to break us. Break me, oh God. Incredibly dangerous prayer. We asked God to send us. We're available wherever You wanna use us, however God, we're on call, send us. And this message here is we're talking about entire different dangerous prayers.
Last week, we prayed make me bold. How many of you prayed last week the bold prayer? Make me bold. Today, we're gonna look at another very dangerous prayer and this is the prayer that a little boy prayed in the Old Testament. It's found in the book of 1 Samuel 3. Let me give you the context. Samuel was the little boy who prayed this prayer. He was maybe 11 or 12 years of age, so if you could imagine a fourth or a fifth grade boy praying this dangerous prayer. Little Samuel worked for the priest in the temple called Eli. The problem is, Eli had not been honoring God. His family was out of control, Eli was sinning, he hadn't pruned his heart back to God, he hadn't disciplined his family, he hadn't led well, he was sinning against God.
And so one day, this little fifth grader or so went to bed and the Lord spoke to this little boy and said, Samuel, Samuel! And Samuel woke up, heard his name and thought, who is that? He wasn't expecting to hear from God. So he dashed into the priest's room and said, did you call me? Did you say my name? And the priest is like confused, like, no, go back to bed. And so the little boy did. A second time the voice of the Lord said, Samuel, Samuel! He woke up startled, ran again into the priest's room. Did you call me, did you call me? And the priest said, nope, I didn't call you again! Go back to bed. A third time the voice of the Lord said, Samuel, Samuel! He dashed into the priest's room and the priest realized, oh my goodness. The Lord may be speaking to you. If you hear your name again, what I want you to do, Samuel, is I want you to stop and tell God you want to hear from Him. Tell Him you're His servant and that you're listening.
We see the story in 1 Samuel 3:10. "And the Lord came and called as before, Samuel, Samuel. And Samuel replied" and this little boy prayed an incredibly dangerous prayer when he said to God, "Speak, your servant is listening". Speak to me, God. I really want to hear Your voice. What's incredibly cool is that God spoke to Samuel in that moment. But what God said to him was not an easy message. It wasn't something pleasant to hear. Now, before I tell you what it is that God spoke to little Samuel, I'm wondering today at all of our Life.Church locations who would like to play a little bit of Bible Trivia? For 500 points and an extra room on your mansion in heaven... You can answer this question.
How many times, here's your question, how many times in the Bible did God speak and give an assignment and the assignment was easy to fulfill? I'll ask you again. Think about it. Think of every story in scripture. When God would speak to someone and say, here's what I want you to do and they said, oh, that's easy, God, no problem at all. Think about all the different examples and you won't find a single time when God gave someone an assignment that was easy to do. There was Noah. Hey Noah, build an ark. And he was like, what's an ark? It's a really big boat about the size of a football field and a half. Build it. Go round up a male and a female of every living creature. I'm gonna flood the world and then you're gonna single-handedly repopulate the earth. Oh, easy, God, I'll do that right after lunch.
Jonah, I want you to go and preach to the most wicked, perverse, violent people alive and tell them repent or die. Easy, God. New Testament. And an angel of the Lord appears to Mary, a teenage girl. Mary, you're going to give birth to a son even though you're an unmarried virgin. And oh, by the way, he's gonna be the Son of God. Oh, that's so cool, God, that's so cool. Think about how this is gonna help my brand! I'm gonna blow up on social media. #SonOfGod #Blessed, okay? #HumbledToRaiseTheSonOfGod or whatever, you know? Every time God would speak and give someone an assignment, it would challenge their faith. It would stretch them. It was never easy to hear.
If you have the faith, the courage to pray, speak to me Lord. When God does, what I hope you'll know is that it may convict you, His voice may challenge you, what He asks you to do may seem completely impossible, but what I can promise you is His voice will stretch you and teach you to depend on Him and live with even greater faith. The little boy says, speak, God, I'm listening. And unfortunately what God didn't say to little Samuel was, okay, now that I've got your attention, I just wanted to announce to you I'm gonna pour out all my blessings on all people. God didn't say that. God didn't say, young Samuel, you know that cute girl in your youth group? Thou art gonna marry her and you're gonna have two children, a dog and you're gonna make six figures a year as a YouTube influencer. That is how much I loveth thou.
He didn't say that. What God said to him, to a little boy, He said, Eli has been sinning against me. What he's doing is not right. He hasn't turned his heart or the people's heart back toward Me. Therefore, I'm going to judge his household. I'm going to judge this nation. I'm trusting you, a little boy, to help carry this message, God says, so I can make things right. That's a burden to carry. It's a weight that God trusts to a little boy. It's a very dangerous prayer. "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening". In other words, I want to encourage you, do not pray this prayer, speak, Lord, don't pray for God to speak unless you want to hear what He has to say. Speak, Lord, I wanna hear your voice.
What I wanna do is I wanna take a step back for just a moment and talk about prayer just from a bigger perspective. And what I hope you'll understand, prayer in its essence is communicating with our God, our Father, going before His throne of grace. And any form of real meaningful communication is not just one-way communication. In other words, praying to God isn't us just talking to Him, but praying is actually listening to God. In fact, I would argue that God has done way more when I listen to Him than when I talk to Him. When He speaks to me. Prayer is not just talking, but prayer is pausing to listen to what God has to say. I wonder for some of you if God ever wants to say, enough already! You've told Me how you want Me to do things.
Now would you just pause and give Me a chance to respond back to you? I love you so much! I want to speak to you, I want to guide you, I want to respond to you. In other words, God is always speaking. The question is, are you ever listening? God is a speaking God. So you may say, okay, I'm in. You know, I know it's dangerous, but I wanna pray, I wanna hear the voice of God. How do I hear the voice of God? And what I wanna do is I wanna try to put this on the bottom shelf, make it as simple as I can and give you three spiritual thoughts that may help you to be postured to hear the voice of God.
The first thing I wanna encourage you to do is against all of the trajectory of everything in culture, fight to be still before God, to pause and to rest in His presence. In fact, Psalm 46 tells us how to experience the presence of God. And let me tell you what it doesn't say. It doesn't say, be frantic and you will know that I am God. Be busy and you will know that I am God. Seek me on the go and you will experience Me. But it says in the scripture, "be still and know that I am God". Pause, stop. Be still. And know that I am the Lord God. Be still.
Question for you. When is the last time you've binged watched Netflix for an hour? Or Hulu or Amazon Prime or Disney. When's the last time you've done that? When's the last time you've just scrolled and scrolled and scrolled on social media for maybe an hour or so? Or played games? Or worked out? Or done something else that you enjoy, read a book or whatever? Just devoted an hour of your day to something. When is the last time you've just paused, shut everything down and spent an hour or so enjoying the presence of God, listening to hear His voice? To really hear God's voice, we will want to slow the pace and silence all the noise of the shouting of this world. And just pause. And listen. "Be still and know that I am the Lord God".
In fact, Jesus said this about prayer. Jesus said, when you pray, do not be like the Pharisees who go out on the street corners, who pray long and loud impressive prayers for everyone else to say, hey, look how spiritual I am! But he said instead, go to the privacy of your own prayer closet. Lock the door. Put everything out of your mind in that moment and just enjoy My presence all alone. "Be still and know that I am God". It's a dangerous prayer! Speak, Lord. So, you're gonna say, okay, so Craig, am I gonna hear the audible voice of the Lord? You might! You know. Morgan Freeman speaking to you in King James language. Here. Thou shall breaketh off with himeth, for I have for unto thou someone better looking with a job and a 401k. Or whatever. You know, you may hear from God like that. I haven't. But I promise you that I do hear from God in all sorts of different ways.
How might you hear from God? There are so many different ways. First of all, the most important and most reliable is to recognize that God speaks through His word. His word is living, it's active, it will speak to you, it will convict you of wrongdoing and sinfulness. It will correct you, it will guide you, it will comfort you, it will encourage you, it will build your faith. It's God's living word. We are people of the word. If you tell me you haven't heard from God, I would tell you you're probably not spending any time in His word because His word speaks to you. God speaks through His word. God also speaks through people. God might speak to you through a message. God might speak to you through a song that someone wrote. God might speak to you through a close friend.
I can't tell you how many times, and it does annoy me, but God speaks to me through my wife Amy all the time and it's so annoying! It happened this week. I was having a wig-out moment, a freak out moment worried about something. Anybody else ever have a wig-out moment? God bless you, I see that hand. Thank you for not letting me sit alone. I mean I'm, I'm wigging out. And so she says to me very calmly, just remember the word of God says don't worry about anything but pray about everything. Like, and where'd you get that at this moment? 'Cause she's looking at her phone. She said, I saw it on social media. I said, who posted that? And she said, well you did earlier in the day. True story? True story.
I hate when God speaks to me through my wife quoting something I said. But God, He will. He'll speak to you through people. He'll also speak to you through circumstances. It's really cool. Like you think there's no way you could ever do what you like to do and suddenly this door opens and that had to be God. Or you really, really want something and you really want it but then the door closes and you wonder, how did that happen? Maybe God closed the door. Some of you, you oughta thank God for a closed door. You were dating that door and you wanted it. Now 10 years later, you see what that door looks like? You oughta thank God someone else walked through that door. Thank You, God, You closed that door for me. God opens doors, He closes doors. He uses circumstances.
This happened to me just recently. Amy and I were going to one of our kid's soccer games and I was hungry and we were late. And I knew that hangry Craig is not godly Craig and an hour and a half game would not be good, but we were too late. So I passed by a restaurant called Cadova That we drive by almost every day and every day the parking lot's full. Well, lo and behold, there wasn't a car there. I mean, it's dinner time. Not a car there! And it was as if God spoke to me and said, drive into Cadova. Look what I provided! And so I zipped around, went in, only person there, made my order, was about to leave when this sweet girl who was the cashier said, can you wait for just a moment? And I thought, well, there's nobody here, I've got all the time in the world.
And so I said, sure, what's going on? And she got very emotional and she said, you're not gonna believe this, but when I was a little girl growing up, you were my pastor and I came to church all the time, but when my mom and dad divorced, they stopped taking me to church. And she said, now that I'm old enough to drive, I just thought today, this morning, I should probably go back to Life Church and here you are in my restaurant. It was at that moment I got emotional. I said, it's amazing. Like, I felt like God cleared the whole parking lot just for me to get a chicken bowl! But I had no idea God cleared the whole parking lot just for you, for you to help see how much He loves you and wants to bless you through His church.
God is speaking. Are you listening? God will also speak to you through His spirit, His spirit. For those of you that are followers of Christ, you are spiritually new. In other words, your spirit can communicate with God's spirit and that's why when you just kinda ask, God, guide me, God, direct me, God, speak to me, you have the most unusual senses or promptings. And you won't necessarily be able to explain it, but you'll say things like, I don't know why, but I just feel prompted to do something. I can't completely explain it, but I'm feeling led to do something.
And you might wonder, now how do I know if this is God? What I know is whenever you're being prompted to be a blessing or to be generous, that's never the devil telling you to bless somebody. I'm just feeling prompted to give something. That's the Lord. I'm feeling prompted to be an encouragement. That's the Lord. I'm feeling prompted to reach out to express my care for you. I don't know why, but I feel like I'm supposed to call you. I don't know why, but I thought I was supposed to pray for you. I can't quite discern the reason behind it, but I thought I was supposed to give to you. Be still and know that You're God. Be still.
Here's a little exercise that I've learned to do in my own prayer time. What I'll do is this, I'll say, God, who do you want me to pray for? And then I'll just listen. And what I do is I say God, give me a name on the inhale and I'll say that name before You on the exhale. When I breathe in, I'm waiting to hear who to pray for. When I breathe out, I'm just gonna take that name before God. That simple. Nothing more, just I'm lifting this person up before God. And it's amazing. 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes. There will never be an inhale without a name being dropped into my mind. God, I pray for Aaron. Exhale, Aaron, I lift up before you. God, who do You want me to pray for? I pray for Amy. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale, Stephen. Inhale. Exhale, Mike. Inhale. Exhale, Diana. Here's the bottom line. The more you listen for God's voice, the better you are able to discern it. The more you listen, the more you recognize it. Be still before the Lord. "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening".
The first thing is, number one, be still. The second thing is be willing. Be willing to do whatever it is that God leads you to do. Be willing. I don't know about you, but so often my prayers are kinda like babbling. God, do this. It's like my wish list. If I were You, God, this is how I'd do it! God, if You knew what You were doing, it'd be done like this by now. Right? What if instead of going before God with our list of demands, what if instead we came before Him with a blank sheet of paper? God, what do You wanna say to me? What do You wanna show me? And then be willing to apply it.
For example, I feel like recently I've hitting kind of a spiritual ceiling. My faith has been struggling, I've been battling some internal emotions and so I just went before God and said, God, just show me any sin in my life that I'm not aware of. God, point out any motives that are impure. Oh, that's a tough prayer to pray 'cause God started speaking to me, giving me lots of things. I'm like, that's enough, God, that's enough. Just give me the top 10, not the whole list. I'm not ready for the, let's just work on the big things. And what happened is in talking to God, He started to purify my heart, empowered me to confess some sin that was holding me back and allowed me to start breaking through some of those spiritual barriers. I don't know what you might pray for or ask God, but maybe your marriage is tough right now and so you just ask God, how can I better love a spouse that's not really loving and honoring you right now?
And then just listen. God, I don't wanna just come to church. I wanna be Your church. God, show me where to use my gifts to honor You in Your bride, the church. God, what do I have that would bless someone else? Where do You want me to be generous? God, who is it today that needs encouragement from You? Show me, God. "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening". Now, this is very important, whatever you do, make sure you obeyed what God showed you last before you wanna hear Him say something to you next. Why is it so often that we feel like we haven't heard from God? I'm thinking maybe 'cause God is saying, remember what I told you to do last month? When you do that, I'll give you something else to do. Be willing to do what God has put on your heart.
How do we posture ourselves to hear from God? Well, we're gonna be still, we're gonna be willing, and then number three, we're going to be ready. We're gonna be ready. Incredibly important, be ready. Because when God speaks, make sure you're ready to do what He says and what He shows you. Think about little Samuel. A little boy. He's working for Eli. Certainly, he wants to honor this priest, the man of God. And God says to him, this priest is not honoring Me. I'm trusting you, a little boy, to have the integrity to carry this message before him to tell him My judgment is coming. You really should turn your heart back to God. When you pray, it's a dangerous prayer. Speak, Lord, I'm listening.
You have to remember, God never gave an assignment to anyone in scripture that was easy for them to fulfill. God may speak to you and He may reveal something to you about yourself that you didn't really want to acknowledge. Here's my sinfulness, here's where I'm wrong. God, I'm sorry. God may spur you to do something that you really don't feel qualified to do. God is leading you to lead a LifeGroup and you've never prayed out loud before and you're scared to death. God may spark you to go back to school or change careers or move to a different state or reach out to your boss that scares you to death and invite your boss to come to church with you or to go public with your faith on social media or to be bold somewhere or to forgive someone who wronged you even though they didn't ask for forgiveness and they certainly don't deserve it. It's a dangerous prayer. "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening".
Last week, I invited you to just join me for seven days. Praying to make us bold. This week, I would love it if you would have the courage, the faith, just to stop, before you start the day, and say, God, speak to me today. You have permission to interrupt me. God, show me someone who's hurting. Give me the faith to follow your voice. God may speak to you. When He does, you're gonna be like, I need more details. Listen to me, you probably can't handle the details. You just do by faith what God calls you to do. In a moment, I'm gonna invite our team to play a song that our church wrote. The song is called "I Won't Move". I won't move, God, until I hear You speak. I won't move. That's your assignment is just not move. No pressure. You don't have to sing. All I want you to do is be still, be willing and be ready to hear from God.
If you have a question, you may ask Him and just listen. It's a dangerous prayer. Don't ask Him to speak if you don't wanna hear what He has to say. It is a dangerous prayer. "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening". But the only thing more dangerous than praying this prayer is not praying this prayer. Because if you do pray this prayer, God will stretch you, you will feel unsettled, you will feel uncomfortable and it will stretch your faith. But if you don't pray this prayer, you will miss out on what a God who loves you and created you for His glory wants to say to you, to do in you and to do through you. It's a dangerous prayer, but it's one you wanna pray. "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening".
God, we are here, Your servants. We are listening. Would You speak to us in this moment? I know many of us in this room would say that we are followers of Christ, we have a relationship with God, but if we're being honest, we've been distracted by the world. We've gone through the motions, we haven't been intentional to set aside time simply to hear the voice of God. We've been trying to do it on our own or just presenting our requests and moving on and being hurried and being busy and you're recognizing in this moment that it's time to reprioritize. It's time to make a change. It's time to commit like Pastor Craig just talked about over the last seven days and beyond, but starting with the next seven days. Every single day setting aside time to say, God, here I am, Your servant, I'm listening. Would You speak to me?
And so if that's you in this room and you're saying, yes, God, I follow You, I have a relationship with You, but I haven't done the best job of being intentional and purposeful in my time with You, but over the next seven days, I wanna commit to saying yes, God. I'm gonna set aside that time. I'm gonna ask You to speak to me and I'm gonna be still enough and quiet enough to listen for Your voice. If that's you and you wanna join together as a church family over the next seven days and make that commitment, would you raise your hand right now? I'd love to pray for you and with you. So many of you, thank you so much. Let me pray right now.
God, we are here, we are listening. We are still. We are available, we are ready. And God, we pray that You would speak, speak to our hearts through Your word, through people, through circumstances, through Your Holy Spirit. God, would You speak to us? And we believe and trust over the next week as we commit to being more purposeful in our time with You, to do more listening than talking, God, we believe that You will move in a mighty way in our lives. Showing us things, giving us direction, answering questions we may have. God, we believe that this will take us to another level of intimacy with You, our Father. And we thank You in advance for the way that You will reveal Yourself to us over the next week as we commit to listen for Your voice.
So praying today, others of you may say, the truth is, I've never heard the voice of God. I've never had God speak to me. And that could be simply because you don't have a relationship with Him. You've never committed your life to Him. You don't know Him in that way. But today you're feeling maybe just a drawing, a stirring into a relationship with God, to grow closer to Him. And maybe you can't even put your finger on it, like what is this? That's His Holy Spirit. That's His Holy Spirit compelling you into a relationship with God. This is God speaking to you saying, hey, it's time for you to make the decision not to control your own life, but to trust Me with your life. And for the first time, you may be recognizing that you have a need for Jesus in your life.
And who is Jesus? Jesus is God's son who was sent here for you and for me to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf so that we could have a relationship with God, to bridge that gap on our behalf. Jesus came very simply to set you free. Through his death, through his resurrection, he set you and me free from our brokenness, free from addiction, free from our past, free from sin and shame and insecurity and fear. Jesus set us free once and for all and today, some of you are recognizing for the first time that you have a need for Jesus in your life. That you don't any longer wanna walk in that sin and that shame and just that burden on your shoulders, but you want to be set free. You're hearing the voice of God and you're ready to respond for the first time in your life.
And if that's you today and you're saying, yes God, I hear Your voice, I hear Your calling. I wanna turn away from my old self, away from my old life and turn into new life through Christ. I want a relationship with You. If you're ready to respond to the voice of God today, will you lift your hand boldly right now and say, yes, God, I hear Your voice, I'm responding right here. We're praising God for you. Right here in the front, cheering you on. Up here in the back. Both of you right there.
Come on, church, let's celebrate as people are responding to the voice of God. Right here, welcome into the family of God. God is calling, you're responding, you're saying, yes, God, I trust you with my life. I'm responding to your voice. Church, that is a miracle happening right in front of us. Would you stand in honor of those who are making this decision today? We wanna pray with those of you who are stepping into that relationship today. We're gonna support you in prayer and then we're gonna cheer like crazy as God is doing what only He can do. You can repeat after me, church, as we pray together.
God, thank You for loving me. I'm a sinner. I need a Savior. Save me, forgive me, make me new. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Jesus, I believe you died for me so I can live for you. Help me to follow you the rest of my life. We pray in Jesus' name. And everyone said, amen!