by Andrew Steck -- 9/5/2002
(reprinted with permission)
I would like to say that I never enjoyed prayer before I took "Communion with God" but its not true. In fact, Im a prayer junky. I have spent hours each day in prayer over the last two years of my life. I have even been known to disappear and spend half of a day in prayer. I dont like talking about how much I pray to others and the only reason I mention it now is to explain that I didnt go into "Communion with God" without ever attempting to commune with God. In fact, I would have to say that my favorite hobby is prayer. Most twenty-one year old men look forward to watching football or a night out on the town, but I look forward to the next prayer meeting. In fact, as an intercessor I probably hang out with more elderly women than the Golden Girls did.
I have read many books on prayer, so when I took "Communion with God," I thought it would just be some more information that would help me a little. To my amazement, I didnt just learn techniques to hear from God but actually found an intimacy I have always longed for but never knew was really possible. CWG changed my life!
Looking over the material I realized this was more about hearing God and not just one-way prayer. This excited me right away. I had heard the Lord speak to me before, but not as often as I would like. The Lord had even used me to give prophetic words over people before, but I wanted to actually dialogue with Him.
Becoming still is the revelation that has changed my life like nothing else has. This is because stillness brought me to a place where I could hear from Him every time. That was so foreign. I remember quoting Hebrews 11:6 in the past as I cried out to hear God. I would say, "Lord, You said that You reward those who earnestly seek You and I am seeking You with all of my heart." I used to pray in tongues until my throat hurt because I had such a longing to be near to God.
Then I read the chapter in the book about becoming still. What a revelation! I realized I didnt have to work my way to God but can simply quiet myself and I will hear His still small voice. I soon realized that much of my prayer time was me striving for God instead of letting Him move through me. I was spending so much time in prayer and it was mostly dead works. If it were not for the gentle voice of God I would have gotten down on myself for wasting so much time working my way to Him when all I ever needed to do was quiet myself and I could have a close connection. Something that surprised me so much was that the voice of God was so gentle. I was so amazed that the Lord was always encouraging me and telling me to rest and just trust Him.
There are a few ways that I learned to bring myself to stillness. First I found that being comfortable was important. Before "Communion with God," my normal prayer position was walking around a room or kneeling or even lying prostrate before the Lord. I found that this did not work if I wanted to relax and be comfortable. I found that if I sit on a comfortable chair or in front of my computer I can stay relaxed for longer periods of time. I also found that music is a good tool to bring me to stillness. I was glad to see that this was biblical and that both David and Elisha used music. I found that some of my favorite music didnt work well, though. Music that made me hyped up and excited about God didnt bring me to stillness. I also found that loud praise music wasnt as helpful for me. I believe in the value of both of these types of music, however, it hasnt worked as well in bringing me to stillness. I found some softer music that was more contemplative in nature and this has worked the most for me. I have also found that though music was a good tool for bringing me into a state of quiet, there are times where it is easier to draw near to Him and come to stillness without it.
Another tool that I found very effective is using vision. Although vision was not a new concept to me, using it to come to stillness was very new. In the past I had the Lord show me things in intercession through vision. This was always something that just seemed to happen and I never actually looked for vision. Seeing that Habakkuk looked for vision was liberating.
I am not a visual person by nature. In fact my friends like to tease me about this. When I tried to set a scene to "prime the pump" it never seemed to work. I tried to put myself in a Bible story and I just couldnt do it. I would try to put myself at the scene with the woman at the well. I couldnt make myself visualize anything. I put myself in other Bible stories but still it didnt work. I thought perhaps I was cutting off my visual capacities in order to avoid the sin of lust, as the text had mentioned. I went through the steps to restore it and still nothing happened.
In church one day I had a breakthrough. I had a vision that I was a sheep and I was trying really heard to please the shepherd (which I saw as Jesus). The whole time Jesus was looking at me and just loving me. I was trying so hard to please Him. Finally He just said, "Rest," and picked me up in His arms and held me. This was my problem. I was looking for vision so hard that I wasnt relaxing and letting the Holy Spirit fill me with His vision. I learned to just rest and look to Jesus. The next time I used vision I saw Jesus playing with little children. He was just laughing and having so much fun. I was a child in the vision and Jesus sat down and called me to sit on His lap. It was so healing to just sit there and let Him love me. He told me many things. I was so amazed at His love for me. It was healing to see His love for not just others but me specifically. I didnt want to leave.
Journaling has brought many changes in my understanding of the Lord and His plans for me. I found out that God isnt nearly as interested in what I do as much as just being near Him. He wants my love and time with Him, not just the things that I do for Him. During the months of taking this class I went through a time of doing ministry stuff that I was maybe not called to do. I was striving so hard to please Him. He showed me that He was already pleased with me and I dont have to try to do stuff to please Him. There is a place for serving God, but I was doing it because I just wanted to please Him so badly. I was leading a boys Bible study for the youth group at our church and since I probably dont have a pastoral gifting, I hated every second of it. I realized out of journaling that God hasnt called us to be workhorses for Him. He has called me to serve Him, I know, but doing pastoral stuff isnt my gift so I wasnt flowing out of love. It was so liberating to know that I dont have to hate the stuff He has called me to do.
He also gave me an understanding of the importance of looking to Him and not to ministry. He is my exceedingly great reward, not the stuff that I do for Him. This has changed the way I look at things forever.
My attitude has also been changed through this course. God showed me that loving people is so very important to Him. In my mind, pouring time into friends and family is a waste because I could be doing something "useful." God is showing me (with the help of a spiritual mentor) that putting time into people has great value in His eyes. Two years ago when I was busy with many things, I stopped putting time into the relationships in my life. God is showing me that just as in my journal time He likes to just sit with me and be, so I am to just sit with friends and family and be. My attitude of having to always do something is being transformed to abiding in Him and being with people. I see that being a task-orientated person is not who God wants me to be. He wants me to be love-orientated. This involves tasks, but my focus is to be on love.
God is still working on my attitude towards myself. As I journal, He tells me that He loves me and delights in me. He says that He loves me more than I could ever know. This is slowly beginning to go into my spirit and not just my head. I dont understand why, but it seems that I have a hard time accepting His love in my heart. As I would journal, I found out that this was the thing that God wanted me to know more than anything. Journaling has been like God taking a magnifying glass and putting it over my heart to show me what was really going on. I have been healed of many hurts that I didnt know were there.
Being healed has changed my behavior. I dont strive to please God like I used to because I know that He already is pleased with me. I am learning what it means to live under grace and not under the law. I used to put God in a box. I would say that its bad to watch too much T.V., and if you have watched any movie with swearing in it in the last week it means youre a backslider. God showed me that what I was trying to do is work my way to Him instead of leaning on His grace to justify me. I was oblivious to all of this until I started journaling.
In the middle of reading the chapter in Communion with God, called The Pharisees Struggle with the Holy Spirit, I saw a clear vision with the eyes of my heart. I saw a hammer destroying a grid with boxes on it. The Lord was destroying how I put things in boxes of truth and flow out of that instead of His Spirit.
God also changed the way I interact with Him in intercession. I have always loved prayer so much but at the end of my prayer time I would be so tired, worn out, and drained. Even though I was being used and enjoying prayer, a lot of what I was doing was trying hard when I didnt need to. I have always felt Gods presence in prayer. But now I can quiet myself and be in His presence right away instead of having to press in really hard. One day as I was quieting myself, something very strange started to happen. My stomach started moving and I started to groan. I thought that this was really weird but I knew it was the Holy Spirit so I just let Him do whatever He wanted to do through me. A few weeks before this, I had a dream and the only thing I remembered when I woke up was the line, "Birthing hurts sometimes." God was bringing me into travail or birthing prayer. It was really weird to me because I had never heard anyone else do this and it sort of sounded like a woman in labor. It was hard for me to accept this because I am a twenty-one year old guy and I wanted to pray a macho manly prayer of power not some weird birthing prayer. I talked to my spiritual counselors about this and they agreed that it was the Lord.
A few days after this started, I was at a prophetic conference and Cindy Jacobs was speaking. She had a lot of people come to the front of the stage. As soon as the Spirit started moving I quieted myself to receive from the Lord (by this time I knew how to quiet myself very well). As I did this, I started this travailing intercession. I am a quiet person and dont like to draw attention to myself so I tried to do this quietly. Later, Cindy Jacobs had a word over me that I wanted souls and if I did my part God would do His and that through me many people would come to Him. I believe this was referring to intercession and it is exactly what I was learning in "Communion with God." I dont have to work something up. All I have to do is quiet myself (my part) and the Spirit of God (His part) will flow through me and lead me how to pray! How liberating! "Communion with God" taught me how to not only dialogue with God, but also how to let His Spirit flow through me. This has been such a change. I can pray now and not be tired out. What a difference!
Not only is God teaching me how to let Him flow through me in prayer, but also have His spontaneous flow in every situation I am in. He said that this is abiding in Him. I am going to take Naturally Supernatural (along with three other classes) next, because I know He has more to teach me about this.
God has put three spiritual counselors in my life. One of them is my dad, who also happens to be my pastor. He has also put another leader at our church as well as a good friend of mine as covering. I have submitted stuff to them as I was getting started and now as I have questions or about important decisions. One time the Lord told me in my journaling to give a large sum of money to a missionary. I didnt particularly want to do this and was hoping that the counselor I submitted the journal to would see that obviously it couldnt be God. He prayed about it and felt it was the Lord. This was one of those situations that I am glad that I had someone else who can hear God over me and helped me follow him.
It took me twice as long to finish the course as was suggested. During this six-month period, the material really set into my spirit. I didnt rush through any of it. A side project I was doing was reading some books that werent listed as collateral reading but went well with the course. I read a few books on contemplative prayer and I looked a little at some of the mystics. I think that Jim Golls Wasted on Jesus, and Madame Guyons Experiencing God Through Prayer, were among the best.
This course has brought me much closer to the Lord. I am learning His ways as He leads and guides me. The more I dialogue with God the more I want to read His Word. The more I meditate on His Word the more I want to dialogue with Him. Above all, journaling has made me want to be used by Him for the right reasons. Not out of fear, because I am striving to please Him, but since I know His perfect love that casts out all fear, I want to be used to bring glory to the One I love. I want to be used because it pleases the One Who calls me beloved.
"Communion with God" has changed my life! Thank you so much, Dr. Virkler, for this course. It has been such a blessing in my life. I will never be the same again. I am telling all my friends how much going through the "Communion with God" material has changed my life. I must sound to them like a walking infomercial. God has done so much in the last six months. Im about to take twelve more credits now from CLU and I cant wait.
You can experience exactly what Andrew has experienced, and live out of the voice of God every day. The following books will teach you step-by-step how to have communion with God: How to Hear God's Voice and Dialogue with God.
These books, as well as the accompanying CDs and Seminar Workbook, are also part of the foundational distance learning college course from Christian leadership University: REN103 Communion With God. Committing to this level of discipleship will allow you to fully integrate these principles at the level Andrew described.