“A Praying Life, Connecting to God”, Quotes from Paul Miller (Knowing Jesus, Loved, God with us)

Please enjoy the quotes on Prayer from Paul Miller whose bestselling book “A Praying Life” taught Christians how to connect with God in prayer. His website, See Jesus is a wonderful resource for podcasts, blogs, and further teaching as well.

“God takes everyone he loves through a desert. It is his cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly searching for a new Eden…
The best gift of the desert is God’s presence… The protective love of the Shepherd gives me courage to face the interior journey.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being “in the know,” cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to a creeping bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit…
A praying life is just the opposite. It engaged evil. It doesn’t take no for an answer. The psalmist was in God’s face, hoping, dreaming, asking. Prayer is feisty. Cynicism, on the other hand, merely critiques. It is passive, cocooning itself from the passions of the great cosmic battle we are engaged in. It is without hope.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Prayer is asking God to incarnate, to get dirty in your life. Yes, the eternal God scrubs floors. For sure we know he washes feet. So take Jesus at his word. Ask him. Tell him what you want. Get dirty. Write out your prayer requests; don’t mindlessly drift through life on the American narcotic of busyness. If you try to seize the day, the day will eventually break you. Seize the corner of his garment and don’t let go until he blesses you. He will reshape the day.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Cynicism creates a numbness toward life.

Cynicism begins with a wry assurance that everyone has an angle. Behind every silver lining is a cloud. The cynic is always observing, critiquing, but never engaging, loving, and hoping.

To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being “in the know,” cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit.

Cynicism begins, oddly enough, with too much of the wrong kind of faith, with naive optimism or foolish confidence. At first glance, genuine faith and naive optimism appear identical since both foster confidence and hope. But the similarity is only surface deep. Genuine faith comes from knowing my heavenly Father loves, enjoys, and cares for me. Naive optimism is groundless. It is childlike trust without the loving Father.

Optimism in the goodness of people collapses when it confronts the dark side of life.

Shattered optimism sets us up for the fall into defeated weariness and, eventually, cynicism. You’d think it would just leave us less optimistic, but we humans don’t do neutral well. We go from seeing the bright side of everything to seeing the dark side of everything. We feel betrayed by life.

The movement from naive optimism to cynicism is the new American journey. In naive optimism we don’t need to pray because everything is under control. In cynicism we can’t pray because everything out of control, little is possible.

With the Good Shepherd no longer leading us through the valley of the shadow of death, we need something to maintain our sanity. Cynicism’s ironic stance is a weak attempt to maintain a lighthearted equilibrium in a world gone mad.

Without the Good Shepherd, we are alone in a meaningless story. Weariness and fear leave us feeling overwhelmed, unable to move. Cynicism leaves us doubting, unable to dream. The combination shuts down our hearts, and we just show up for life, going through the motions.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Sometimes when we say “God is silent,” what’s really going on is that he hasn’t told the story the way we wanted it told. He will be silent when we want him to fill in the blanks of the story we are creating. But with his own stories, the ones we live in, he is seldom silent.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“God also cheers when we come to him with our wobbling, unsteady prayers. Jesus does not say, “Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest.”
― Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“Prayer is a moment of incarnation – God with us. God involved in the details of my life.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Self-will and prayer are both ways of getting things done. At the center of self-will is me, carving a world in my image, but at the center of prayer is God, carving me in his Son’s image.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“If you wait, your heavenly Father will pick you up, carry you out into the night, and make your life sparkle. He wants to dazzle you with the wonder of his love.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Everything you do is connected to who you are as a person and, in turn, creates the person you are becoming. Everything you do affects those you love. All of life is covenant.
Imbedded in the idea of prayer is a richly textured view of the world where all of life is organized around invisible bonds or covenants that knit us together. Instead of a fixed world, we live in our Father’s world, a world built for divine relationships between people where, because of the Good News, tragedies become comedies and hope is born.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NASB). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy. What does it feel like to be weary? You have trouble concentrating. The problems of the day are like claws in your brain. You feel pummeled by life. What does heavy-laden feel like? Same thing. You have so many problems you don’t even know where to start. You can’t do life on your own anymore. Jesus wants you to come to him…”
― Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“God is a person, and his universe reflects his personhood. The closer something is to the character of God, the more it reflects him and the less it can be measured. Things such as integrity, beauty, hope, and love are all in the same category as prayer. You can tell their presence and even describe them, but you can’t define them, simply because they are too close to God’s image.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“When confronted with suffering that won’t go away or with even a minor problem, we instinctively focus on what is missing,…not on the Master’s hand. Often when you think everything has gone wrong, it’s just that you’re in the middle of a story. If you watch the stories God is weaving in your life, you… will begin to see the patterns. You’ll become a poet, sensitive to your Father’s voice.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“What do I lose when I have a praying life? Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart. The living work of God in the hearts of those I love. The ability to roll back the tide of evil. Essentially, I lose my kingdom and get his. I move from being an independent player to a dependent lover. I move from being an orphan to a child of God.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

“Instead of fighting anxiety, we can use it as a springboard to bending our hearts to God. Instead of trying to suppress anxiety, manage it, or smother it with pleasure, we can turn our anxiety toward God. When we do that, we’ll discover that we’ve slipped into continuous praying.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“As we wait and pray, God weaves his story and creates a wonder. Instead of drifting between comedy (denial) and tragedy (reality), we have a relationship with the living God, who is intimately involved with the details of our worlds. We are learning to watch for the story to unfold, to wait for the wonder.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“We have an allergic reaction to dependency, but this is the state of the heart most necessary for a praying life. A need heart is a praying heart. Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“We don’t know how bad we are until we try to be good. Nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“little children never get frozen by their selfishness. Like the disciples, they come just as they are, totally self-absorbed. They seldom get it right. As parents or friends, we know all that. In fact, we are delighted (most of the time!) to find out what is on their little hearts. We don’t scold them for being self-absorbed or fearful. That is just who they are.”
― Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“Even on especially hard days, I began to notice him everywhere, setting a table before me in the presence of my enemies, pursuing me with his love. Both the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the Shepherd.”
― Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life. You’ll always be a little too tired,
a little too busy. But, if like Jesus you realize you can’t do life on your own, then no matter how busy,no matter how tired you are, you will find the time to pray.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“We know that to become a Christian we shouldn’t try to fix ourselves up, but when it comes to praying we completely forget that. We’ll sing the old gospel hymn, “Just as I Am,” but when it comes to praying, we don’t come just as we are. We try, like adults, to fix ourselves up. Private, personal prayer is one of the last great bastions of legalism. In order to pray like a child, you might need to unlearn the nonpersonal, nonreal praying that you’ve been taught.”
― Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“The quest for a contemplative life can actually be self-absorbed, focused on my quiet and me. If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy. Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life, it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer business we can develop an inner quiet. Because we are less hectic on the inside, we have a greater capacity to love… and thus to be busy, which in turn drives us even more into a life of prayer. By spending time with our Father in prayer, we integrate our lives with his, with what he is doing in us. Our lives become more coherent. They feel calmer, more ordered, even in the midst of confusion and pressure.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“The kingdom comes when Jesus becomes king of your life. But it has to be your life.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

“One of the subtlest hindrances to prayer is probably the most pervasive. In the broader culture and in our churches, we prize intellect, competency, and wealth. Because we can do life without God, praying seems nice but unnecessary. Money can do what prayer does, and it is quicker and less time-consuming. Our trust in ourselves and in our talents makes us structurally independent of God. As a result, exhortations to pray don’t stick.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

“Many Christians give in to a quiet cynicism that leaves us unknowingly paralyzed. We see the world as monolithic, frozen. To ask God for change confronts us with our doubt about whether prayer makes any difference. Is change even possible? Doesn’t God control everything? If so, what’s the point? Because it is uncomfortable to feel our unbelief, to come face-to-face with our cynicism, we dull our souls with the narcotic of activity. Many Christians haven’t stopped believing in God; we have just become functional deists, living with God at a distance. We view the world as a box with clearly defined edges. But as we learn to pray well, we’ll discover that this is my Father’s world. Because my Father controls everything, I can ask, and he will listen and act. Since I am his child, change is possible—and hope is born.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

“Nothing clears out self-righteousness better than serving someone who is critical of you.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life


 

“Whispering Winds”, a poem by L.Willows (Holy Spirit, Revival, Holy Joy, Hope)

Whispering Winds

Whispering winds dance
with treetops in clouds lace
Smiling in drifts
that go by without haste.

There in the dawn,
we witness God’s Face
Rising again,
from the night with such grace.

Windowsill’s light
and open with hope.
Therein, Hearts chatter
and sing the mornings elope.

Birds take to the air
in the new days excite.
Gathering with all –
God’s wondrous invite.

This Holy moment,
His Breath in the freeing-
The Joy that invites
all life to Love’s Being.

© 2021 Linda Willows

Romans 15:13 —May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

John 16:24 —Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Psalm 118:24 —This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

“Because He First Loved Us”, Charles Spurgeon on The Love of Jesus 1 John 4:19 (Abiding in God, Loving One Another, Redeemed)

Because He First Loved Us from Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon was a man who preached the whole counsel of God’s Word, and was careful to not excessively repeat himself in any one area. Yet, he preached five remarkable sermons on these eight words alone.

(1Jo 4:19)

The reason for our love to Jesus

“We love Him because He first loved us”. 1 John 4:19

A. —We love Him:

In this great statement, John begins by declaring the heart of every true follower of Jesus Christ. Simply and boldly put, we love Him.

i. This is a fact for every true follower of Jesus. “There is no exception to this rule; if a man loves not God, neither is he born of God. Show me a fire without heat, then show me regeneration that does not produce love to God.” (Spurgeon)

ii. It is something that every Christian should be unafraid to proclaim: “I love Him; I love Jesus.” Can you say that? Are you embarrassed to say it? Can you say, “I love Jesus”?

iii. “I cannot imagine a true man saying, ‘I love Christ, but I do not want others to know that I love him, lest they should laugh at me.’ That is a reason to be laughed at, or rather, to be wept over. Afraid of being laughed at? Oh sir, this is indeed a cowardly fear!” (Spurgeon)

iv. “Look through all the pages of history, and put to the noblest men and women, who seem to still live, this question, ‘Who loves Christ?’ and, at once, up from dark dungeons and cruel racks there rises the confessors’ cry, ‘We love him;’ and from the fiery stake, where they clapped their hands as they were being burned to death, the same answer comes, ‘We love him.’ If you could walk through the miles of catacombs at Rome, and if the holy dead, whose dust lies there, could suddenly wake up, they would all shout, ‘We love him.’ The best and the bravest of men, the noblest and purest of women, have all been in this glorious company; so, surely, you are not ashamed to come forward and say, ‘Put my name down among them.’ ” (Spurgeon)

v. “Be out-and-out for him; unfurl your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the followers of Christ, pour them out upon me…. but know this – ye shall hear it whether you like it or not, – “I love Christ.” ‘ ” (Spurgeon)

B.– He first loved us:

This verse not only declares our love for Jesus, it also tells us when He loved us. Some people imagine that Jesus loved us because He knew we would love Him and come to faith in Him. But He loved us before that, and even before the worlds were created, when our only existence was in the mind and heart of God, Jesus loved us.

i. He loved us when we were still sinners: “Every man that ever was saved had to come to God not as a lover of God, but as a sinner, and then believe in God’s love to him as a sinner.” (Spurgeon)

ii. “Jesus loved you when you lived carelessly, when you neglected his Word, when the knee was unbent in prayer. Ah! He loved some of you when you were in the dancing saloon, when you were in the playhouse, ay, even when you were in the brothel. He loved you when you were at hell’s gate, and drank damnation at every draught. He loved you when you could not have been worse or further from him than you were. Marvellous, O Christ, is thy strange love!” (Spurgeon)

C. –We love Him because He first loved us:

This verse tells us where our love for Jesus comes from. It comes from Him. Our love for God is always in response to His love for us; He initiates, and we respond. We never have to draw God to us; instead, He draws us to Himself.

i. “1. We love him because we find he has loved us. 2. We love him from a sense of obligation and gratitude. 3. We love him from the influence of his own love; from his love shed abroad in our hearts our love to him proceeds. It is the seed whence our love springs.” (Clarke)

ii. “His is the fountain love, ours but the stream: his love the inducement, the pattern, and the effective cause of ours. He that is first in love, loves freely; the other therefore loves under obligation.” (Poole)

iii. “I have sometimes noticed that, in addressing Sunday-school children, it is not uncommon to tell them that the way to be saved is to love Jesus, which is not true. The way to be saved for man, woman, or child is to trust Jesus for the pardon of sin, and then, trusting Jesus, love comes as a fruit. Love is by no means the root. Faith alone occupies that place.” (Spurgeon)

D.–We love Him because He first loved us:

This verse tells us why we love Jesus, and how we can love Him more.

i. “Love believed is the mother of love returned.” (Spurgeon)

ii. “Yet we must not try to make ourselves love our Lord, but look to Christ’s love first, for his love to us will beget in us love to him. I know that some of you are greatly distressed because you cannot love Christ as much as you would like to do, and you keep on fretting because it is so. Now, just forget your own love to him, and think of his great love to you; and then, immediately, your love will come to something more like that which you would desire it to be.” (Spurgeon)

iii. “Now remember, we never make ourselves love Christ more by flogging ourselves for not loving him more. We come to love those better whom we love by knowing them better… If you want to love Christ more, think more of him, think more of what you have received from him.” (Spurgeon)

E. —He first loved us:

This means that it is true that He loves us now. Do you believe it? “Oh, if you do really believe that he has loved you so, sit down, and turn the subject over in your mind, and say to yourself, ‘Jesus loves me; Jesus chose me; Jesus redeemed me; Jesus called me; Jesus has pardoned me; Jesus has taken me into union with himself.’ ” (Spurgeon)

The commandment to love.

(1Jo 4:20-21)

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we seen from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. If someone says, “I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him; that who loves God must love his brother also.

A. If someone says, “I love God”:

It is often easier for someone to proclaim his love for God, because that regards a private relationship with an invisible God. But John rightly insists that our claim of loving God is false if we do not also love our brother, and that this love must be seen.

i. One may be a spiritual dwarf because one lacks love. One may know the Word, may never miss a service, may pray fervently, and may demonstrate gifts of the Spirit. Yet in it all, that one may be like Cain, offering to God the fruit of his hands and not the fruit of the Spirit.

B. —If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar: By this crucial measure, Jesus said the world could measure our status as disciples by the measure of our love for one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).

i. There is a difference between the love of man, and divine love. “These verses are the equivalent of saying that a person cannot practice agape-love unless he can first practice philia-love.” (Boice)

C. –And this commandment we have from Him: We have a commandment to love. Though love springs forth from our abiding relationship with God and comes from our being born of Him, there is also an essential aspect of our will involved. We are therefore commanded to love our brother in Christ.

i. Being born of God and abiding with Him give us the ability to love; but it is a choice of our will to draw upon that resource and give it out to others. Therefore we are given a command to love, that he who loves God must love his brother also.

ii. Because of this, the excuse “I just can’t love that person” (or other such excuses) is invalid. If we are born of Him and are abiding in Him then the resources for love are there. It is up to us to respond to His command with our will and whole being.

D. –He who loves God must love his brother also: We can also learn how to love God by loving people. One might say, “I want to love God more; I want to grow in my love for Him. But how can I love a God who is invisible?” God would say to us, “Learn to love Me, Whom you cannot see, by loving My children, whom you can see.”

i. Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. God is more pleased when you get it right with your brother, than if you bring Him a sacrifice of praise or resources.

Source: Blue Letter Bible, David Guzik study on John 1 John 4 Abiding in God and His Love