Here is a suggestion as to how a group of Christians can practice together reading God’s Word prayerfully:
- If the group is small, seat them in a circle. If the group is large, seat them in two or more concentric circles. As an alternative, it might be good to divide them all into smaller groups with as much separation between each group to another as possible, to avoid distractions.
- Each one bring a Bible, preferably all using the same version. I recommend the Authorized King James Version.
- Someone in the group can read the instructions which follow or something similar: “Today we are going to try reading God’s Word prayerfully together. Everyone is encouraged to participate. A chapter, a portion or a verse or two will be selected and announced. All of us will read it aloud in unison. Then, anyone can read whatever two or three words that have touched you and make a very brief prayer, based solely on what you have read. Do not pray for anything other than what you just read. Don’t pray for Aunt Mary’s ailing knee cap or for evangelizing the nation of Burkina Faso. Reserve those things for a general prayer time. Please keep the Scriptural sequence, trying not to jump ahead. To give you an idea how this can be done, let us read Ephesians 1:13,14. After the Scripture is read I will read to you a demonstration. Then we will read these verses again and you can all participate. Has everyone located Ephesians 1:13? Yes? Then, let us read,
Scripture Reading: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13, 14).
“And because of what Christ did, all you others too, who heard the Good News about how to be saved, and trusted Christ, were marked as belonging to Christ by the Holy Spirit, who long ago had been promised to all of us Christians. His presence within us is God’s guarantee that he really will give us all that he promised; and the Spirit’s seal upon us means that God has already purchased us and that he guarantees to bring us to himself. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God” (Ephesians 1:13,14 TLB).
Pam: (thankfully) “`And because of what Christ did,’ Thank You, Father, all our blessings have come to us because of what Christ did!”
Jed: (gladly) “`All you others too…’ Because of what Christ did, I and all you others too have been greatly blessed!”
Ann: (gratefully) “`All… who heard the Good News about how to be saved…’ Oh, yes! We did hear the Good News about how to be saved!”
Don: (trustfully) “`And trusted Christ…’ Yes, I have trusted Christ; all of us here have trusted Christ!”
Amy: (happily) “We `were marked as belonging to Christ by the Holy Spirit…’ I was marked, all of us here were marked as belonging to Christ! I am not my own! I belong to Christ! Lord Jesus, I belong to You!”
Ted: (admiringly) “We `were marked as belonging to Christ by the Holy Spirit…’ Lord, thank You that the Holy Spirit Himself marked me as belonging to Christ!”
Lyn: (factually) “`The Holy Spirit, who long ago had been promised to all of us Christians.’ Thank You Father for sending the Holy Spirit to all of us Christians! I have received Him!”
Tim: (in wonder) “`His presence within us…’ Father God, thank You that the Holy Spirit came into me to live inside me. How wonderful to have His living presence within us! Wow! God living in me! So intimate! My God, I love You!”
Liz: (with awe and joy) “`His presence within us is God’s guarantee that He really will give us all that He promised…’ God, Your Presence inside of me is your very own special guarantee that You really will give me all that You promised! Lord, You have given me so many promises! You have given me a Bible full of promises! And You never lie! Father, You always give what You promised! Oh, thank You, Dearest Father!”
Mel: (gratefully) “`The Spirit’s seal upon us…’ Thank You Father, that the Holy Spirit Himself is Your seal of guarantee upon us, not merely over us, but also inside of us. The document has been signed, sealed and notarized! It is valid! It is official! And You, Yourself, Holy Spirit, are the living seal!”
Abe: (with assurance) “`The Spirit’s seal upon us means that God has already purchased us…’ God, You are assuring me that I belong to You! You bought me! I am Yours to keep forever! It is already done! Thank You!”
Dee: (enthusiastically) “`He guarantees to bring us to Himself.’ God, the Holy Spirit’s seal upon me means that You have already purchased me and that You guarantee to bring me to Yourself!”
Sam: (emphatically) “`This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God.’ So I am not letting this opportunity go by, I praise You, my Glorious God!”
All: (spontaneously) “Yes, we praise You, our glorious God!”
Recommendations: Remind everybody to make their prayers exceedingly short and right to the point.
Encourage quick, lively participation.
Try not to ramble to other subjects. Touch just one point and then let someone else continue.
Learn to pick up from where the previous prayer left off.
If someone derails into a side eddy, you might consider gently interrupting them and coaching them back to the place in the Word of God that is being read prayerfully. If it is not advisable to do so at that moment, coach them personally later.
Encouragement: If the above demonstration seems unrealistic and utopian to you, it is only because you have not experienced this yourself. I have. In many congregations and in many countries I have helped and experienced far more wonderful times of personal as well as corporate prayer such as my demonstration describes. So be encouraged. There is a spiritual feast waiting for you!
God will give us all that He has promised. The purpose of this chapter is not to teach a new technique, one more way of reading the Word of God or one more way to pray. If taught as a technique, it will fail. All techniques do. The intent of this chapter is to help believers to dialogue with God, to talk with God, thus livingly fulfilling God’s commandment to “take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying always, with all prayer and supplication, in the Spirit…” Ephesians 6:17,18. It is good to practice this alone with God as well as together with others in a group.
Commentary: The two verses used in the demonstration harmonize beautifully with the theme of this book. The Holy Spirit has been promised to us Christians. His presence within us is God’s guarantee that He really will give us all that He promised. The Holy Spirit’s seal upon us means that God has already purchased us and that He guarantees to bring us to Himself. This is just one of many reasons for us to talk with God about the Holy Spirit, to gratefully thank Him for His indwelling us, and to wholeheartedly praise our glorious God!
Prayer: “Father God, You are wonderful! Deliver me from reducing You to a mere religious technique. Help me to always read Your Word reverently, yet gladly; not merely studiously, but also devotionally, loving You, praising You, thanking You, in a living conversation with You. Thank You for Your presence within me. Your being inside of me is the divine guarantee that You will really give me all that You have promised. The seal of Your Holy Spirit upon me and within me means that You have already purchased me. I am Yours! It means that You guarantee to bring me to Yourself! So I have begun to realize more reasons why I should praise You, my glorious God!”
From Dialogues With God – Chapter 15
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 many Cubans with many new believers added to the house of God. The work is ongoing to evangelize the entire island country.