This blog was influenced by a conversation I shared with a woman last Sunday while on a flight to attend a conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. We had a brief discussion regarding performance appraisals which guided me to this post. Funny thing is, I was off my schedule for several reasons, but I believe I was waiting on God to drop this topic in my spirit. This one isn’t about pain, but I believe it will be a word of encouragement for somebody. God is so amazing and I’m so grateful for His Sweet Whispers!
In early July, my pastor, Pastor John K. Jenkins Sr. of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden gave a sermon titled “Principles of Powerful Prayer”. During that sermon, he emphasized how prayer is the weapon against the enemy. The enemy is an opposer of God - anyone or anything (negative thoughts, feelings about yourself, etc) that is in the way of God’s destiny for your life. Pastor Jenkins also said, “If you talk to God, He will talk back to you”. Meaning, if we pray and petition our needs to God and/or ask Him for direction, He will speak back to us, with answers. Isn’t that wonderful news! How often do we take our cares, concerns, and burdens to our friends and family and fail to consult God first? Operating in that order could be a set up to receive non-biblical guidance or advice based on personal experiences. I don’t know about you, but I want God’s perfect counsel. Just like Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells us: “Trust in the Lord with your whole heart and lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path”. God wants us to trust on Him and allow Him to lead us.
God speaks to us in various ways. I’ve been in several small groups where people ask questions like: “How do you hear God”, “what does it sound like”, “How do you know it’s from God”? Great questions. I believe God can speak to us in several ways such as through other believers, through His word and through revelation by way of our natural daily occurrences. But the method I rely on the most is the Holy Spirit who lives in every believer. The Holy Spirit convicts us when we’re out of alignment with God’s will and always directs us towards what’s right.
Question - How many times do we pray, wait on God, but miss His answered prayers? Well, this happened to me back in June.
I was on my way to work on a Tuesday morning and the sun shining so beautiful and bright, I felt the presence of God! I started praying and asking God for revelation. To reveal those things in which I didn’t have the scope to see on my own. God is omniscient - He sees and knows all things. I prayed and asked Him to reveal the people in alignment with His will and purpose for my life and to remove those who weren’t. I was also led to speak life over myself on the subject of failure, reminding myself that people base failure off the standards of the world. But most importantly, how God can and will use that very failure as part of my process. That’s that faithful Romans 8:28 promise that with God, “ALL THINGS” work together for the good
That same day, my supervisor decided to conduct my annual appraisal review. Ironically, earlier that day I somehow saw a co-worker’s rating/bonus and then another co-worker also informed me of his rating/bonus. Upon entering my supervisor’s office and before she could hand me my appraisal, she proceeded by saying “this is the hardest one I had to give today” and I just knew it wasn’t going to be what I expected. The rating wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t nearly as positive and fruitful as the others I was privy to. The worst part was I felt like my supervisor wasn’t completely honest and straight forward with her feedback. She made it appear as though she wasn’t in agreement with my final rating which led me to believe her leadership impacted and/or changed her decision. But after I expressed regulatory concern, she made it clear that she had given me the rating. I felt confused, less than, unappreciated, and slighted and those emotions lingered for a couple of days.
I was later reminded of my prayers and talk with God on that very Tuesday morning. God answered, but I was too consumed and in by my feelings to notice. I suddenly snapped out of it, accepted the appraisal and let go of those negative emotions. I was reassured of God’s love for me, my strong work ethic and my worth. Upon reflecting, God revealed several things to me through that appraisal review and I’m extremely grateful.
Earlier in the blog, I asked: How many times do we pray, wait on God, but miss His answered prayers? Here are a few reasons why I believe we can miss the answered prayers – some of which, I’m guilty of myself:
We aren’t Still: We all live very busy lives which can sometimes make it quite difficult to take in moments of stillness. I mean, how still can one be if you’re busy all the time lol. But stillness doesn’t have to be a specific length of time or place. It just requires a peaceful setting and a clear mind. No thinking about the bills, the boo, the next day let alone the next 5 mins. Just focused on God. I find that in my time of stillness, I hear God’s whispers the most. Prime example: My hotel room in New Orleans had a beautiful view of the water. Although I was on the go every day of the conference, I found time to sit still while gazing out of the window.
We’ve taken control/Impatient: You know, that thing we do when something or someone is taking too long to come through - we just do it ourselves. That too can occur when we’re waiting on God, especially when it feels like He forgot about you or is on vacation. So, we just make moves on our own accord. But, when that happens, we can miss out on what God set forth for us because we’re focused on what WE decided and not on GOD’S best.
Our Flesh is in the way: We’re all human and tempted by things, things that are out of alignment with God’s will for our lives. Listen, the enemy stays busy! Our fleshly desires are just another mechanism the enemy uses as an attempt to knock us off course. If we aren’t filled with belief in God’s love for us and equipped with knowledge of God’s word, we can easily fall victim to the temptations. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Faced with Anxiety: God wants us to live a divine life with Him as our center. But too many of us are in a constant state of anxiety and worry, that we miss the goodness that’s happening all around us. Every day is a blessing! God tells us to cast our anxiety on Him, because He cares for us. Worry is a natural instinct, but we must condition ourselves to lean on God, especially when life throws us a curveball. God didn’t create us to worry, He wants us to believe and have total trust and faith in Him.
Here are a few ways in which I pray and communicate with God:
Quiet time: My quiet time is where I rest in the presence of the Lord with minimal distractions – it’s just me and Him. I pray and talk to God while posturing myself to also hear from Him.
Fasting: I abstain from food and/or an activity for a select amount of time for the purpose of focusing on and surrendering to God. Fasting normally leads to clarity in certain areas of my life. Fasting isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.
Journaling: I put my pen to the paper to capture my thoughts, letters to God, prayers, a recap of my day and more. Journaling is very therapeutic for me!
Prayer Box/Jar: I have a prayer box that I use to maintain prayer requests for myself, family, and friends. I keep a pen and paper nearby and I add prayer requests to the box when encouraged to pray for someone or something.
Prayer Partner: I have prayer partners that pray for and with me. They also hold me accountable, keep me encouraged, help me to recognize how truly blessed I am and when my prayers have been answered.
We need to recognize God’s revelations and answered prayers when they happen. We can get overwhelmed by life, business, and busy-ness that those hidden treasures can easily pass us by. But God is way too gracious and good to us for us not to recognize His great works!
I pray this blog post blessed you and may it guide and encourage you in hearing God’s sweet whispers. Be Blessed!