I have listed the names of a few of those that practiced talking with God, the dates in which they lived and how they described their conversing with God in His own words. Some of these ancient ones were foreign and wrote in such archaic, abstruse and obsolete terminology that you might not be able to grasp what they are trying to say. Therefore, the writer has translated their words into modern, every-day English as is spoken today. The meaning, however, is carefully preserved to be the same as the original.
Tertullian (A.D. 160-220)
“Remembering what God has said, builds a highway to heaven for what you want to tell Him in prayer. It even gives you the very words you are to pray.
Athanasius (A.D. 296-372)
“Prayerfully present your problem to God, in the very words of the Psalms.”
Jerome (A.D. 340-420)
“The best way to study the Divine Word of God is to mix it with your prayers. Pray the Scriptures to God!
Augustine (A.D. 354-430)
“Reading the Holy Scriptures kindled prayer in me. It put words in my mouth that were groping for expression inside me! Oh how I prayed when I read the Psalms!”
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
“I read quietly to myself some words of Christ or of Paul or some psalms, just as a child might do… Then I repeat one part, such as, `Hallowed be Thy Name’ and pray: `Yes, Lord God, dear Father, hallowed be Thy Name, both in me and all over the whole world!’ If you would only practice, you can read and pray different portions of the Holy Scriptures every day and use them as flint to spark and ignite a flame in your heart… Daily pray those same prayers David prayed in the psalms… Combine prayer with the study of the Word of God. Thus you may prayerfully knock on every verse in the Bible, as one knocks on every little fruit-bearing twig, whether there would be some delicious berries that you could harvest.”
Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560)
“Often I have found Martin Luther spending a part of almost every day reading the Psalms, with which he mixed his own supplications amid tears and groans… True prayer is made only by those who hear the Word… Just about daily my wife repeated these words of the psalm, `Forsake me not in my old age.’ (Psalm 71:9). And thus I also continually pray.”
John Calvin (1509-1564)
“Paul tells us that no prayer is genuine which springs not from faith, and that faith comes by the Word of God, (Romans 10:14). The Word of God is the only sure foundation of prayer.”
William Perkins (1558-1602)
“Every petition must be grounded upon the Word of God, and not framed according to the carnal conceit and fancy of man’s brain.”
Thomas Manton (1620-1677)
“Plead the promise of God in prayer, show Him His Word; God is tender to His Word.”
John Bunyan (1628-1688)
“Pray, according to the Word of God… Prayer it is, when it is within the compass of God’s Word. It is blasphemy, or at best vain babbling, when the petition is beside the Word of God. David therefore still, in his prayer, kept his eye on the Word of God: `My soul,’ said he, `cleaveth to the dust; quicken me according to Thy Word.’ And again; `My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen me according to Thy Word.’ And, `Remember Thy Word unto Thy servant, on which Thou hast caused me to hope.’ (Psalm 119:25, 28, 49)… Being under many fears, I went to seek the Lord; and as I prayed I cried, and my soul cried to Him with strong cries in these words from the Holy Scriptures: `O Lord, I beseech Thee, show me that Thou hast loved me with everlasting love.’ (Jeremiah 31:3). I had no sooner said it, but with sweetness this returned to me, as an echo, `I have loved thee with an everlasting love.’ Then I went to bed in quiet; also when I waked the next morning, it was fresh upon my soul, and I believed it.”
Jeanne Marie de la Motte-Guyon (1648 – 1717)
During the reign of Louis XIV, Madame Jeanne Guyon, of France, was imprisoned in the Bastille for her faith. One of the subjects she wrote about was entitled: “A brief and most easy way to pray; which everybody can learn with great ease, and quickly attain great perfection.”
Some of her books have recently been translated from French into contemporary English and published by Christian Books Publishing House, P.O.Box 3368, Auburn, Maine 04210.
A few of her statements, read as follows,
“So you have just become a Christian and want to know Christ? Start your daily Scripture reading with something basic, like the gospel of John. Then turn to God in humility. Slowly and reverently read the passage to God. To God? Yes, He loves it when you read it to Him! Understand what you are reading. Chew every word. Ingest it. Metabolize it. Let it become your daily living, your very own personal experience.
Let me say it again, read slowly. Do not continue until you have realized what God’s desire is in the words you have just read. What does it say to you? When you perceive that, make a simple, short, to-the-point prayer about it. Don’t spend time looking for fancy words to pray. Use the very words God has spoken to you, almost verbatim. Pray calmly yet earnestly. You will discover how to read God’s Word prayerfully.
Do all this unhurriedly, in God’s Presence. You will sense when to proceed to the next verse. You will not read a lot of pages, perhaps not even one page! But you will certainly go far, far deeper into God Himself.
The important thing is not how many chapters you have read, but to get to talk with God Himself about what He is saying to you. Remember that since He is the Author, He understands His own Word better than anybody else, so it is simpler and easier to ask Him what He is trying to tell you in His Word. Then He will tell you.
Don’t merely go for a general understanding of what you read. Go deeply into what God Himself is seeking to tell you. You will find you are having a dialogue with God. You will enjoy Him greatly. He is wonderful.
There is a place for scholastic study of God’s Word, of course, but what you need now is to relish in God’s Presence. He hides in His Word and you will have great joy in finding Him in every page. You will thus grow in faith and in love with Him. Venture deeply into Him as you prayerfully read His Word. He will reveal Himself to you again and again.
Most know not how to pray as they should, but if you practice reading God’s Word prayerfully, you will find it increasingly easy and spontaneous to pray earnestly. In God’s words you will find words that will become your own words to pray to Him. Prayer will thus increasingly begin to flow like rivers of living waters from your innermost being.”
August Hermann Francke (1663-1727)
“Let the reading of the Holy Scripture be done with all prayer… for this is the simple way, that at all times one would have his good edification… For example, when reading Genesis 1:1. `In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,’ you could pray `Oh, You eternal God, I thank You, that You teach me through Your Word from where the heavens and the earth have their origin.’ Or you could pray: `Ah, dear Father in heaven, when I lift my eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth, convey to my heart to muse this Your Divine Word, that I should honor and worship You as the Creator of the heavens and the earth.’ Or you could also pray: `God, You surely are the Father over all that are called children in the heavens and the earth, who has created the heavens and the earth. Ah, teach me always to properly consider what a great Master-builder and Creator this piece of earth, my mortal body has’ Again, you could pray: `A, dear Father in Heaven, how can I be anxious any longer concerning the keeping of my body, as I call on You as my Father, who has created the heavens and the earth.
So one may pray based on every little verse in the Bible, and as Luther says regarding this subject, “Knock on every little twig, whether there would be some berries that would fall off.” Should at the beginning one think it somewhat difficult and should the prayer not flow at once, one may go on, to try the same on another twig, on another verse. If the soul is only hungry, the Spirit of God will not leave it undernourished. Yea, it will finally be found, that the man will see so many living fruit in one small verse, that he will linger there, as under a tree richly laden with fruit. However, whosoever in the beginning is frightened by it, and considers it to be too difficult for him and he could not read the Scripture in this manner, it is his own fault, that during his entire life he never gains true joy and pleasure in the Scripture…
The best way to practically apply the Holy Scriptures to our personal life is in short prayers based on the particular verse we might be reading at that time. This method may appear simple and childish; but many have approved its excellency by their personal experience in this matter, and thus learned its value by the rich fruits which it has produced… Blend your reading of the Holy Scriptures with prayer based on what you are reading in God’s Word… If you join ardent prayers and a holy desire of knowing Christ, to your reading of Scripture, it is better. You will be led by God Himself into the most pleasant and sweet understanding of His eternal truth and He will. Little by little He will show you the inexhausted profundities and treasures of wisdom and knowledge, that are hid in Christ Jesus.” (Colossians 2:3).
William Law (1686-1761)
“It is just as essential for the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of Scripture to the reader today as it was necessary for Him to inspire the writers thereof in their day… Therefore the Scriptures should only be read in an attitude of prayer, trusting in the inward working of the Holy Spirit to make their truths a living reality within us…
When you meet with a passage of Scripture that more than ordinarily speaks to your mind and seems as it were to give your heart a new motion towards God. Turn it into a petition. Give it a place in your prayers.
John Wesley (1703-1791)
“I encourage the daily reading of Old and New Testaments, but all such reading should be joined with prayer… alternatively reading a little and praying a little about what you read… for Scripture can only be understood through the same Spirit whereby it was given.”
George Whitefield (1714-1770)
“I began to read the Holy Scriptures upon my knees, laying aside all other books, and praying over, if possible, every line and word. This proved meat indeed, and drink indeed, to my soul. I daily received fresh life, light, and power from above. I got more true knowledge from reading the Book of God in one month, than I could ever have acquired from all the writings of men… I followed my usual practice of reading and praying over the Word of God upon my knees… and I have been directed, by watching and reading the Scripture in this manner, even in the minutest circumstances… I prayed over that Psalm… I prayed over 1 Timothy, and more particularly over that precept, `Let no one despise thy youth…’ (1 Timothy 4:12). Every reading of the Bible I endeavored to turn into prayer… Reading and praying over the Scriptures… Go home then, turn the words of Jeremiah 23:6c (`…He shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness’) into a prayer. Entreat the Lord to be your righteousness.”
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
“The first instance, that I remember, of that sort of inward, sweet delight in God and divine things, that I have lived much in since, was on reading those words, 1 Timothy 1:17, `Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.’ As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from anything I ever experienced before. Never any words of Scripture seemed to me as these words did. I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be swooped up to Him in Heaven, and be as it were swallowed up in Him for ever! I kept saying, and as it were singing, over these words of Scripture to myself; and went to pray to God that I might enjoy Him. Prayed in a manner quite different from what I used to do; with a new sort of affection.
Reader: “Who, me?”
Writer: “Yes, you, the very one that right now is reading these lines! You can have wonderful fellowship with God prayerfully reading God’s Word. God will greatly bless anyone who dares to believe His Word and reads it prayerfully. Your daily life will become a living testimony! Try it! Check it out! Be like the Bereans, of whom God’s Word declares that,
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore, many of them believed…” (Acts 17:11,12a).
From Communing With God – Chapter 8
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Updates from Cuba
Starting in the 1990’s Fred was significantly involved with Cuba. The Lord has continued to move strongly in Cuba through many brothers and sisters in Christ including some key workers who Fred helped to disciple. Since 2009, a project to evangelize the whole country has reached over 2 million Cubans with hundreds of thousands of new believers added to the kingdom of God. The work is ongoing with plans to evangelize the entire island country. See below for recent news from the work in Cuba.
Updates from Cuba