Tag Archives: communication

Active listening – How to Control the Mental Racket when I Pray

Active listening – How to Control the Mental Racket when I Pray

A lesson on active listening

active listening

The other day I read a post about being an active listener and how important it can be. I have a head that never stops thinking except when I am asleep. And I’m not sure about that either as I do have dreams.

How can I stop this mental racket and use active listening? (tweet this)

When I’m listening to someone I do try to keep eye contact and be fully engaged. The problem is that I can get so engaged with what been said that it brings to mind other ideas. And then I feel like I’m going to burst because I want to interact. I know I need to wait for the person to stop talking or at least a break in the conversation. But as you see this leads to not actively listening. If I wait until they are finished I will lose those thoughts. That shouldn’t bother me – but it does.

I want to work on this part of me. I want to find a way of actively listening without interrupting. In church I take sermon notes. This helps me to relax, assured that if I have a question I can jot it down to ask the minister later.

This whole thing made me think about my relationship with God and how I talk to Him. My prayers consist mostly of my talking. Period. That’s it.

But what if my prayers consisted of active listening too? (tweet this)

Could I sit still and really clear my mind of my thoughts and questions and wait for God to speak?

The first time I tried this, years ago, I couldn’t sit still for longer than 5 minutes. After that time I became restless and uncomfortable.

I have, over the years, become better at this. But lately I know I have once again reverted back to talk, talk and talk some more.

That is until yesterday when I read this verse in the Bible from Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you.

Oh my – yes that’s what’s been missing I thought.

I need to STOP what I’m doing and go to God to hear Him. (tweet this)

He says He will instruct, teach and counsel me.

So for the first time in a long time I sat quietly before God. It took me a few uncomfortable, head-filled restless minutes, but eventually I relaxed and opened my heart and head to His Presence.

I felt Him. I felt the peace of Jesus. I even had a few pictures in my mind too. But mostly I heard – You’ve come back.

In my SIMPLE Method of Bible study the outline using these letters gives a time to pray and listen to God. If you want to know more about this method, Join my newsletter and get a free PDF.

May I pray for you and me?

Father, we know we have very active minds that sometimes don’t want to shut down. Help us to learn how to clear our hearts and minds of the mental clatter to be able to hear from You. Give us time to be present with You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Until next time, while you study a verse or passage take time to pray and listen to God’s voice. You will be inspired.

You can listen to this devotional on my podcast for Hope Stream Radio.

active listening

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Five Ways For Stronger Prayers

Five Ways For Stronger Prayers

by Janis Cox


Read: James 1:6

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

and Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

The emphasis in each passage is mine. Here are my five ways to have stronger prayers:

1. Make a Conviction to believe

That takes determination and will power.  Reread the Scriptures. Say them over and over.

2. Keep to the Straight Path.

Do not look to the right or left but keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. (tweetable)

Say this Scripture over:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).

3. Keep on the narrow road.

Don’t try to widen the road. Keep true to the Word of God and Jesus.

Our lives should be an absolute hymn of praise resulting from perfect, irrepressible, triumphant belief (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 13).

4. Live

Live steady as she goes. Don’t rush ahead of God. Be prepared to wait, hold and even change direction.

Our faith must be built on strong determined confidence in Him (Oswald Chambers).

5. Hold fast to your beliefs

So much worldly stuff gets intertwined with what we believe. Clear it out and stick with the Truth. (tweetable)

We must continually focus and firmly place our faith in Jesus Christ (Oswald Chambers).


Thank You, Lord for the privilege of talking to You. I pray today with the conviction and belief that you hear our prayers and answer them. Right now I will lay down all my concerns and know that You have it under control. I rest assured that You love me and will always do the best for me, even when it doesn’t look or feel like it. I trust You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. AMEN.

One of my favourite songs – Shout to the Lord – My Jesus, My Saviour sung here by Hillsong.


My comfort, my shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength;
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You.

Nothing compares to the promise I have
In you.

Janis Cox

Janis Cox - Author and Illustrator

Janis, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. A writer since 2003, Janis co-ordinates a group blog called Under the Cover of Prayer. She is also a contributor to a group blog called Family and Faith Matters.

Janis is the author of the award winning children’s book, Tadeo Turtle, published by Word Alive Press. She is the author and watercolour illustrator. For more information visit Janis on her website He Cares for You. She is a member of The Word Guild andInscribe Writers Fellowship.

Is the Channel Open?

Is the Channel Open?

by Janis Cox

Channel Open to God

Is the Channel Open?

I watched the new Star Trek movie on the plane ride from Toronto to Phoenix. At one time the ship lost power and therefore lost connection to those outside the ship. It became crucial to restore that link.

Psalm 139 says:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).

When I pray I want to be sure the channel to God is open. (tweet this).

How do I do this?

God tells us that He desires us to have clean hearts and be open before Him. We need to search ourselves to see if we are hiding anything from Him.

God knows everything about us anyway. However, He wants us to confess the uncleanness we see in ourselves. That way we are acknowledging it.

As I confess any uncleanness before God
the channel to Him opens.
(tweet this)

I have been using Psalm 51:10 and Psalm 139:5-6 as my prayer this week. And I always pray in the name of my Intercessor, Jesus.


Lord, hem me in both behind and before and create in me a cleanness and wholeness of heart that I may be your servant to stand in the gap. In the name of Jesus. AMEM.

Janis Cox

Janis Cox - Author and Illustrator

Janis, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. A writer since 2003, Janis co-ordinates a group blog called Under the Cover of Prayer. She is also a contributor to a group blog called Family and Faith Matters.

Janis is the author of the award winning children’s book, Tadeo Turtle, published by Word Alive Press. She is the author and watercolour illustrator. For more information visit Janis on her website He Cares for You. She is a member of The Word Guild and Inscribe Writers Fellowship.



What Not Pray?

We have a guest post today from Diane at An Extraordinary Day. Thanks for allowing us to print an excerpt. I am hoping all my readers continue on to Diane’s site to read the rest of this wonderful post.

What Not Pray?

by Diane

Have you ever thought that you shouldn’t pray? (click to tweet)

Today I was reading my Streams in the Desert devotional and I came across this statement:

“It is better not to pray until your entire being responds to,
and understands, the power of prayer.”   ~ P. C. M.

What? Not Pray?

What?  Not pray? 

Aren’t we supposed to communicate with God? (click to tweet)

And isn’t the vehicle of communication prayer?

Thinking on this a bit more, I came to the realization that communication goes two ways.  Have you ever stopped to chat with someone and had them talk without seeming to breathe, so that you couldn’t respond in any way.  And when you tried to physically move on, the chatterer kept talking and followed you?  Ugh.  That is so frustrating.  I wonder if that is the way it is with us and God.  Do we just chatter on and on?

Pray?  Talk with God?

Read the rest of this remarkable post at An Extraordinary Day – What Not Pray?


When Do We Need Prayer?

(reprinted with permission from UTCOP)

When Do We Need Prayer

When Do We Need Prayer?

I believe we need to be in prayer all the time. If we are in constant communication with the Father – then our lives can be joyful even in hard times.

How do we do that?

This week we have been travelling – and even though I thought I had made a post for Friday before we left – I can’t find it. So I have to assume that I didn’t do it.

Did I panic? No – I prayed instead for inspiration. God says well – what should you do? I said: “talk to you, right”.

This week I saw a miracle too. My father-in-law was very sick on Friday night (the day before our big family Christmas get-together). Both my husband and I did not sleep that night. I prayed most of the time. Around 4am – ( I found this out later) my father-in-law’s condition changed. A miracle. Then we had our family time and my husband and son drove 3 hours today to see my husband’s Dad. We never panicked; we did not fear. We knew God would work things out. He did – somehow. And we didn’t seem tired. The Lord can give us strength if we lean on Him.

Constant Communication

It’s like a cell phone; Facebook; Twitter but more immediate. God can sense our needs before we need them. Then He watches to see if we connect with Him.

Heading toward Christmas – sorry for the late posting.

May all of my readers be blessed with His Presence this Christmas. May you be filled with JOY in knowing that He really is here.


Father I pray that many more will know you this Christmas. I pray that as You reach down, we reach up and grasp hold of the One who created us and also saved us. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



Pray your Lives

by Jan Cox

Mom and Baby by Jan Cox 2012

Last week I talked about staying in love – based on a sermon by Andy Stanley. He talked about love being a verb – an action word.

This morning I thought of prayer this way. Prayer is an action word. But more than that it is something we can live by 24/7. Our lives can be prayed lives. Constantly keeping in touch with God is a life of prayer.

This can be seen in our actions, our words and our thoughts.

Do you keep up this close connection to God?

In times of trouble people say they feel the closest to our Lord. Think about it – isn’t that because they are continually talking to Him about their troubles? That bond becomes tighter when we talk to God and therefore we can sense His presence.

In times of delight do we still stay that close? Can our whole lives be the pulsating fullness of being with our Saviour?

The Apostle John talks about living in the Light – being with Jesus all the time.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin”. (1 John 1:7 NIV)

I think we can stay in the light – but it takes work, which is a verb; an action; a discipline; practice; effort. Prayer – which is talking to God – will be a part of you when you work at it.

Start small, with little breath prayers whenever you think of it. Let the Holy Spirit guide your thoughts, your eyes, your speech and your actions.

Oswald Chambers talks about seeing the vision of a life full of God.

“The test is the sixty seconds of every minute, and the sixty minutes of every hour, not our times of prayer and devotional meetings (Sunday March 11, 2012).

Find someone who believes in this type of communication – a prayer partner or accountability partner. Challenge each other. A challenge or dare to see if she could count to 1000 blessings started Ann Voskamp on a life of thankfulness and a creation of a best selling book, One Thousand Gifts. Jump start your prayer life by challenging one another to be committed to prayer.

To sum up:

  1. prayer is communication with God
  2. prayer is a verb
  3. pray your lives
  4. work at prayer
  5. get a partner and challenge one another

As I finished writing this an email from The High Calling, Daily Reflections, by Mark D. Roberts, arrived. It is entitled Living in God’s Presence.

‘The sense of this verse (Psalm 116:9) is that the psalmist is living with a sense of God’s presence throughout his life on earth.”

Also I wrote about this in May 2011 called If Prayer were Common Sense.


Lord, we want to be in touch with You. We want to be close to You. Teach us to find this moment by moment living with You. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

My Gratitude List for this week.

  • 4 days overdue for this grandbaby – waiting
  • getting more excited to see this baby
  • peace of God in quiet time
  • meeting new people on jancoxabetterway
  • new ideas and inspirations
  • sushi for dinner made by my daughter
  • weather report of 12 degrees Celsius tomorrow
  • giving my daughter a foot massage and pedicure
  • a piece of dark chocolate 99%
  • joy – overflowing joy – grandson born March 12
  • being part of this wonderful experience of God’s miracle
  • prayer warriors under-girding the whole birth process
  • son-in-law – a patient calm coach
  • daughter – her strength, endurance, calmness to deliver naturally at 10 pound 7 ounce baby
  • God’s goodness and protection
  • midwives – fabulous – caring, calm, sweet
  • hubby who stayed in Arizona but stayed up late to hear the news
  • nurses in hospital
  • lactation consultant
  • a sweet sweet boy
  • grandson wrapped like a burrito (baby swaddled)

Jan and new grandson wrapped like a burrito.

Jan Cox

Jan, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. She has published two devotionals and a number of articles for magazines and a Bible study. She is owner of Under the Cover of Prayer and moderates the site. She also writes at A Better Way. Jan is working on a couple children’s books in which she is also the watercolour illustrator.


The Shepherd’s Prompt

by Mary Haskett

Phone now! That was the inner prompting I received as I scurried around my children’s bedrooms, tidying their beds and gathering up clothes for the wash. I was a very new and eager Christian. The summer season lay ahead and a close friend had told me about the Christian camp an hour out of our city. My hope was to register the children and myself for family camp, but my friend advised me the chances were slim, since people booked a year in advance for the most part; however there were sometimes cancellations and this is what we pinned our hopes on. With prayer and supplication we made our request to God.  With joyous anticipation I thought about a whole week of services, teachings and fellowship with other believers.

My friend had advised me to call the camp grounds at nine in the morning , that was the time the secretary would be in the office to take bookings.

It was around eight when the prompt came.  Startled, heart racing I spoke out loud, “Could that be you Lord?” There it was again. Phone now! Beside myself with excitement I dialed the number. The secretary answered on the first ring, yes, a family had cancelled their booking  and a cottage had become available.

Jesus had heard our prayers and had directed me to call an hour earlier. He knew, Mrs. Shields, the secretary was in the office at that time, and He also knew about the cancellation.

In the book of John chapter 10, we read how Jesus explains the virtues of a good shepherd. Verses three and four read as follows:- “The watchmen opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (NIV)

Jesus  is telling us that He is our good Shepherd and we are His sheep and as long as we stay close to Him in thought and prayer we will hear His promptings and follow His direction.


Dear Lord Jesus, whatever  the future may bring, I pray I will remember that you are always there to help and guide me in all aspects of my life. Help me not to crowd you out but to be consistent in communing with you for direction and guidance. May I truly be a sheep who listens to the voice of You, my Shepherd. Amen.


Musings on Worship and Intercessory Prayer

by Peter Black

Keynote: God moves us to prayer so that He can move through our prayers.

Sometimes it’s a difficulty, some challenging circumstance that our Heavenly Father uses to motivate us to engage or re-engage in a deeper level of prayer.

Take Isaiah, for example, in Isaiah chapter 6. During a very difficult time in his nation’s history the prophet, while in the Temple, was granted an astounding visionary experience of the Lord God.

What was Isaiah doing there? His concern for his people was heightened on account of the death of King Uzziah, so likely, offering up worship and intercessory prayer were main reasons for his being there at that time. If so, then Isaiah’s revelation of God in His resplendent glory came while under the cover of prayer.

In this experience he was given a view into the heavenly realm – a pattern of which was expressed in the design, furnishings, and functions of the Temple. Although his physical being was in the material temple building, his spirit was open to heaven and given a revelation of the Lord in His awesome holiness, enthroned in heavenly glory. Isaiah was alarmed and felt great dread, was deeply convicted of his own sinfulness, and confessed his and his nation’s guilt before God.

Prayer is two-way. It is communion. It is communication.

Our cry to God and His call to us.

Isaiah’s anguished cry was tantamount to prayer (v 5 NIV), “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

The prophet was subsequently assured of cleansing (vv 6-7) as one of the attending seraphs touched his lips with a live coal taken from the altar, declaring, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Next came the call from the Lord Himself (v-8), “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

Isaiah’s response was immediate, “Here am I. Send me!”

This resulted in his commissioning (perhaps more correctly, recommissioning) to divine service in God’s behalf to His people (vv 9-10ff).

When God moves His faithful ones to pray, His Spirit empowers them for this work (Rom. 8:26-27). He brings others under the cover of their prayers in His redemptive plan.


Thankful, Grateful Hearts

Last June I met Ann Voscamp at Write!Canada, a conference for Canadian writers and editors who are Christian. God had placed on my heart during those few days my need to write a prayer blog. Ann placed on my heart that there was no need for comments on this blog – it was a time for the God and for the reader.

This week Ann has launched her new book called, One Thousand Gifts, published by Zondervan. The success of her blog and this book she gives entirely to God – More about this book can be found at One Thousand Gifts.

Ann blogs at A Holy Experience.

You can get your copy of this book at DaySpring, Christianbook.com or Amazon or your local bookstore. Start reading the first chapter online and you will be hooked. She has such a way with words – it is like floating along, feeling her every nuance. There is even a book club at Bloom (In) Courage.

Many of her posts have been specifically on prayer and I try to repost when I can. But, since living with God is living daily in prayer each of her posts brings the reader closer to God.

If you haven’t visited her blog I encourage you to do so.


We thank you Lord, for all your blessings. We thank you particularly for inspiring Ann to write One Thousand Gifts. As we talk to you, and yes, listen to You, please inspire us to follow Your plan. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


Prayers of a Child

By  T. L Wiens

I’ve always loved fishing. My first catch was a twenty pound jackfish. I was only eight years old and the fish nearly pulled me into the water and caught me instead of the other way around. From that day on, I went fishing as often as my parents would take me to the lake. Every time I went, I would pray that God would grant me a catch. In the area where we lived, that was a pretty big request.

But God answered every time. I don’t remember ever going home without at least one fish that I’d caught. And those answered prayers sealed my faith.

Now I don’t pray for a fish every time I go fishing. My prayers tend to be about things that involve heavier issues but the answers come in the same manner that my childish requests for a fish were fulfilled. God is faithful in providing what is best for His children.

As the Bible says in Luke 11:9-13:

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (King James Version).”