Knowing God from the Inside Out

by Roger Barrier


Ephesians 1:15-19; 3:14-19; Colossians 1:9-12


Imagine before we had the Bible, how would we know what God is like. Imagine you lived on the Yucatan Peninsula. Is God good? Loving? Kind? Capricious? It would be hard to tell from circumstances or certainly from nature.


Plant crops and great harvest; gentle rain and sunshine and great harvest. Would say that God is very good.


Hurricane hits, destruction and death; God is not so good.


Loved one sick and you pray and he lives, God is so good.


Loved one sick and dies – God’s not so good.


If we’re always trying to know what God is like by the circumstances around us, then we’ll never know what God is really like.


But we have a Bible. The Bible reveals to us what God is like, and He stays like that no matter what the circumstances.


Purpose of prater is to know God. Good to pray through Scriptures because we’ll get to know the character of God.


Man’s basic definition of prayer is to have our needs met. God’s basic definition of prayer is that we may know Him.


Too often we allow our view of God to be altered by the circumstances around us.


God always desires our greatest good. In tragic circumstances we often miss God’s hand in things and see only the painful moments instead of His overall holiness, love, and perfect plan.


Kathryn Kuhlman told of a young couple who found Christ through tragedy.


A few days before Christmas as Joe and Dora made preparation for the holidays. One morning Joe left for work as a TV repairman. Dora let Steve and Mike, their two boys, out to play on the front driveway. Boys soon return to warm cookies she was baking. Twenty minutes passed and terrified neighbor pounded frantically on the door. “Two boys fell into the pond – I think that they’re yours.”


Joe and Dora soon found themselves standing sadly in a funeral home, the boys lying in twin caskets. Following a solemn service, burial was held in freezing wind and rain.


Imagine asking God, “Why?”


Follow Dora home as she tries to forget. Enters kitchen and notices two little gifts Mike and Steve made at school the day they died. She silently reads, “To the best mom and dad in the world.” Dora now serves dinner, but two empty chairs rest beside the dining room table – two constant reminders. Goes to boys’ room and find a rumpled pile of little boys’ clothes. Pulls out drawers of nearby chest and notices all the things that little boys collect – bottle caps, empty shotgun shells, children’s books.


Consider Joe’s anxiety. Can’t sleep, eat, work begins to fail, eyes constantly bloodshot, body soon covered with huge boils. Reminds us of Job. Imagine his thoughts as a school bus full of children pass. Remembers times Mike and Steve snuggled close to him. Tears flow freely now.


“How can this possibly be the Father’s will?”


I have seen moms and dads and others change their whole view of God over less than this.


Yet, God is still the same, love, all-knowing, all-powerful God He was before the boys fell into the water!


Dad watches boy killed in train wreck. Anguished father grieves. “Where was God when my son was killed?” “I suppose where He was when his own Son died.”


They hold art of prayer… of spiritual maturity… is learning to transfer from the temporal to the eternal.


There is a reason behind all that God allows.


Juanita Bennett struggling when Nicholson baby rode tricycle into pool and drowned. Why? Where’s guardian angel? Why didn’t God have some adult walk out? Why? Asked Al Johnson. He replied, “What is God’s ultimate plan for believers?” “To be with Him.” “Where is that little boy?” “Now he’s with Jesus.” Ultimate plan already accomplished. That’s transition from temporal to eternal.


Recently Steve and I flew to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to interview a prospective Associate Pastor. Had some bad times in some churches but was so highly recommended that he was worth a look. Jack Harris. Recently resigned from second church because of trouble with some church leaders. Carpenter work! Praising God, many churches talking with him… more work than he could handle. Praising God for answering prayer and for His goodness.


He called me this week. “How are things?” “Not so good. $200 in bank, and $1000 in bills. No work! No churches…” “How’s your wife?” “She cries a lot. God won’t answer her prayers.”


How tragic.


Such a typical response. Soon the anger and the bitterness sets in against God.


How many bitter people do you and I know who hate God or who have rejected Christianity because God hasn’t made everything just right from their perspective?


Yet, God is just right whether we like our circumstances or not.


Show you difference between our humanity and God’s sovereign deity. Turn to 2 Corinthians 4.


My humanity says, “God heal my body… God fix these circumstances… God turn around this tragedy…” But God says, READ 1 CORINTHIANS 4:16-18.


There is a basic Biblical presupposition with which you and I must come to grips. God is all powerful. God is sovereign. Nothing occurs that He does not allow in our best eternal interest and for our best eternal good.


Most of us have trouble comprehending and complying when the Bible says, “Give thanks for all things” or “Rejoice in all things.”


*1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Give thanks in all circumstances…”


*Ephesians 5:20 – “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.”


When tragedy occurs we are to praise and thank God for it. It’s hard. But when we finally praise and thank God for it we overcome a tremendous psychological and spiritual hurdle.


When we praise and thank Him for it we acknowledge His control and that He’s working it out for the best.


To fail to give praise or thanksgiving is to subconsciously or consciously say that here is an area which is out of God’s control… and it will not be long until the bitterness and anger begin to set in.


Effective praying… and effective living deals with the eternal aspects of life. Then comes our temporal needs.




We will never sustain our eternal prayer life unless we determine to develop an eternal perspective. We must never allow temporal discomforts to destroy our view of God.


The art of prayer is learning to transition from the temporal to the eternal.


That’s what Psalm 27 is all about!


READ PSALM 27:1-8, 13-14.


Transitioning from the temporal to the eternal is accomplished by learning to pray from the inside out.




Notice order of priority – spirit, soul, body.


Spirit – inner man; “pneuma”; God-consciousness; area where I am able to see and experience God. Holy Spirit deals with me and contacts me at the point of my spirit – eternal.


Soul – “psyche” or “nous” – mind, emotions, will, conscience, thinking interface between my spirit and soul at the point of my conscience.


Body – “some”, “sarx” – give senses, natural biological desires. Temporal.


God is much more concerned that we’re praying for our spirit which is eternal than for our body which is decaying and which will soon perish.


Read Prayer for Inner Man. Ephesians 1:15-19; 3:14-19; Colossians 1:9-12.


God allows and creates circumstances so that we may know Him better. He wants to sensitize our God-consciousness.


Satan wants to get our minds on ours bodies and circumstances in order to desensitize our God-consciousness.


When we pray in the area of our spirit, God answers a thousand out of a thousand times. “God make me like Christ… make me a man of God… give me your wisdom and discernment, etc.”


When we pray in the area of our soul, God is often hindered from answering our prayer. Problem here is my will. “God help me not to lust after women.” You know God wants that… but our will is involved and we see a pretty girl and think wrong thoughts. Harder to have answer here. God is hindered in giving what I ask for because my will is so involved. When my will is in line with His will, God can easily answer my prayer.


The body is the place where God has the most difficulty in answering my prayer. Reason is because my body is so temporal. We pray, “God, heal my body… make me well… change these circumstances…” We’re totally obsessed with removing pain and tragedies and problems; and God is totally obsessed with making us God-sensitized in our spirit because this is eternal. It is a great day in our growth to maturity when we understand that God often allows sickness and calamity and tragedy in our body and circumstances in order to make us God-sensitized. The body is decaying and temporal and created. God will even destroy the body in order to save the eternal. READ 1 CORINTHIANS 5:1-5 – “…allow flesh to be destroyed and his spirit saved.”


Here is an eternal Christian presumption: God is more interested in the eternal than the temporal. He reveals that all through His Word. He will sacrifice the temporal (body, situation, etc.) every time in order to develop and mature and save the eternal.


So we pray from the inside out. We pray for the development of that which is deep within us and interpret and pray for our bodies and circumstances in the light of how it affects our inner man.


Praying ineffectively for the temporal, be it body or circumstances will greatly damage our view of God.


Viewing physical illness and circumstances with man’s interests in mind will hinder our understanding of God’s purpose.


And it’s so easy for us to do that. After a great confession, Peter is commended by Jesus. Then Christ says, “I must suffer and die,” and Peter is horrified. “No, you won’t die!” was to Peter’s best interest, he thought, for Christ not to die. “Get behind me, Satan!” Peter was trying to put Christ’s eyes on man’s interests, not on God’s.


Praying from the inside out allows us to see things from God’s perspective.


Illustrated with praying for person with cancer. Pray and pray and pray for healing. Can be healed of cancer seven times, and they’ll eventually die. It is not eternally effective. Life is a terminal disease.


People get all hyped up over some healing. We’re all in a tizzy. But angels rejoice when bodies are healed? No. When soul is saved! That is the eternal thing.


We are to seek God and His desires first and then ask for whatever our heart desires. Our desires will be His desires.


Yet most people ask and beg and want things and situations changed and bodies healed and don’t have the slightest idea what God wants to do.


When my will is in line with His will God can easily answer. When my will is not in line with His will there is conflict. Guess who usually wins!


But not always. If you pray without being enlightened, without knowing His will, God will sometimes give you what you want with devastating results.


READ PSALM 106:14-15. Wanted quail. Tired of manna. God sent quail; got sick and died.


Story of woman with sick baby. Pray for my baby to be healed… lived to watch son mount stairs of village gallows to be hanged for murdering family of six next door.


Deal for just a moment with praying for the sick.


Three basic broad purposes for sickness.


*Unto death – John 11:4 – Some sicknesses are for the purpose of death.


*Unto chastisement – punishment for sin.


Jesus heals man at pool (John 5) and says, “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”


1 Corinthians 11 – Eating Lord’s Supper in unworthy manner. “Don’t you know that’s why many are sick and some have died?


Relates to sin – common cold relates to sin n Garden, reminds us of our sins before God. Puts our need for a Savior in proper perspective.


*Unto glory of God.


John 4:11 – Lazarus’ sickness for glory of God.

John 9:3 – Man born blind, for glory of God.

Luke 18 – Man at pool sick for glory of God.


Seek God’s face – Is this a sickness unto death?


Is it for chastisement?


If so, confess sin and God promises to heal. Confess with Psalm 139:23-24; Psalm 51; 1 John 1:9 – Instructions given in James 5:13-16. Deals with context of sickness caused by sin. Confess, elders, ask God to heal, pray in faith. God will heal. If no healing, sins not confessed and repented of, or maybe it’s for the glory of God.


Is it for God’s glory?




Paul’s thorn.


Stop asking for healing and seek God’s power and glory through the sickness.


Proper responses to adversity.


*Give thanks for all things. Praise God for all things. Remember that God uses all things to develop our inner man, the eternal. What could be better than that? Remember that praise transforms.


*Don’t immediately attempt to remove the adversity. Allow it to reveal our true weakness. READ 2 CORINTHIANS 12:7-10, and see Paul and his thorn.


*Realize that we are dealing with unseen spiritual powers. We need to avoid focusing our attention on the outward physical circumstances and look at the spiritual issues involved. Ephesians 6:12.


*Seek God and have His heart and mind; then we have the power source to determine what’s going on from God’s eternal perspective – James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom” (about trials).


*Realize that Jesus Christ must live in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 2:20 – “I am crucified with Christ.”


*Find out what God’s doing and pray for Him to accomplish it. Does God intend to heal here? Does He want to straighten out this tragedy now? Later? Perhaps never? Why?


The holy art of prayer, or of Christian living, is to transition from the temporal to the eternal.


It’s accomplished by praying from the inside out. Let’s do that.


Pray theol

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