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Navigating Coffee and Prayer

For years I described myself as a coffee lover.  I would put it in my bio, I would talk about it when I met people, I would ask people about great local coffee shops, and I would buy lots of different coffee accessories for my at home coffee setup.

And by coffee accessories, I mean syrups and stir sticks, a milk frother and collectible coffee cups.

As time went on, I kept on consuming copious amounts of coffee, but when I would start to visit with others who also said they loved coffee…I realized they knew way more than I did.

They could identify flavors and notes.

They would go to great lengths to buy fancy beans from exotic locations.

They would pick up subtleties in the unique coffee that I just couldn’t identify.

I thought I loved coffee…but I just really liked coffee and caffeine.  I was a young dad, working full time, and in seminary.  Coffee was more about survival than enjoyment.

But most of my friends who really loved coffee had become intentional about the whole process.  The had taken time to understand the history of coffee, the origins of where certain beans come from, the different roasting processes and brewing techniques, and then they were able to pick up on subtleties I just couldn’t.

Recently I was visiting with someone from The Chapel who had gotten a subscription plan to an amazing coffee lab that was giving the exact instructions on how to enjoy those different beans from different regions with different roasts and different brewing techniques.

I mentioned to my friend I had gotten coffee from that same company for Christmas and as I told him what kind I got, he knew the very specific kind I had and could tell me how to properly brew it based on his findings and experience.

He studied and researched the coffee.

He noted the different notes and flavors.

He compared the different coffees to one another and others he had tried.

He then made some decisions about which was the best in his opinion.

This was another reminder…

I like coffee.

Other people love coffee.

At the end of the day, others have spent time knowing boutique brews while I was pounding store brand coffee with flavored creamers.

They would go to great lengths to enjoy some unbelievable midnight colored elixir and I would settle for a seasonal flavored gas station coffee.

The actual difference between me and others when it comes to coffee is they have put in time to know, time to learn, time to love coffee.

I was settling for caramel colored caffeine.

We have been on a prayer journey over the past 3 weeks.  We’ve looked at starting a conversation with God, asking God questions then waiting for God to respond, and yesterday we took a look at discerning the voice of God.

At the end of the day, the way to discern the voice of God comes from knowing God more.

To discern the messages we hear in our times of quiet and stillness, in our moments of prayer or reading scripture we should do a few things.

  • When we think we hear or sense something from God, we should write it down or lock it away somehow.  We want to be able to refer back to it.
  • We need to spend time running what we hear through filters.  I recommend the following…
    • Does it align with the scriptures?
    • Does it align with the story of our faith, the traditions of the church, and our biblical history?
    • Does it align with the encounters I’ve had with God before and the experiences of those I know and trust?
    • And with all those ways of assessing, what do I make of the message I sensed?
  • Then we should take that word from God to others who we know also go to God in prayer.  A small community of faith that helps us grow deeper in our faith and we should share with them what we feel like God has shared with us.  These need to be our friends or community who knows us well, who faithfully follows after Jesus, and who is willing to be honest.
  • Then the hardest part…like waiting for sweet bread to rise, a long slow process that seems imperceivable, but leads to something so wonderful…to be enjoyed with coffee…obviously…we have to wait and see.  Sometimes messages from God are simple and to the point, other times they take days, weeks, months or decades before we ever see them come to fruition or make sense.

That waiting may make us feel ridiculous, or look foolish to the world, but waiting on something from God is worth it.

In Tyler Staton’s book, Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools, he invites people that if they are going to have faithful prayer lives, we must be willing to be devout in our prayers like monks, and look foolish to the world because of our devotion.  In that book he notes,

“Prayer can’t be mastered. Prayer always means submission. To pray is to willingly put ourselves in the unguarded, exposed position. There is no climb. There is no control. There is no mastery. There is only humility and hope. To pray is to risk being naive, to risk believing, to risk playing the fool. To pray is to risk trusting someone who might let you down. To pray is to get our hopes up. And we’ve learned to avoid that. So we avoid prayer.”

Don’t avoid coffee because you don’t understand it.

Don’t shy away from coffee because you can’t pick up the subtleties.

Coffee can’t be mastered, it is a journey to know it.

Coffee may not be your thing, but I’m guessing you have some interest in knowing what God has for you.

Don’t avoid prayer because you don’t understand what you are doing.

Don’t shy away from moments of silence with God because you don’t feel like you can discern the messages yet.

Knowing God, going to God in prayer, communing with God is not something you receive a trophy for…you don’t cross it off the list and move on.  It is an ongoing journey.

Too many of us have not prayed or not paid attention to what we think we might have heard or we’ve believed something destructive because we just assumed prayer was for the old ladies at church who describe themselves as prayer warriors and street preachers who yell through megaphones with fanciful words.

This is incorrect.

Prayer is for you.

It is something we were made to do.

So let’s learn to listen to the subtleties.

Navigating the voice of God is a long slow process, holding it up to scripture, comparing it with the story of God, the experiences of the faith, lifting it in community, and waiting to see what God does with it.

Supposedly Jackie Chan, yes the martial arts international superstar, once said,

“Coffee is a language in itself.”

So is prayer.  A language to be learned, to be explored, and to be enjoyed to our last breath.

Join us as we continue to journey in prayer. We will finish out this series this Sunday, April 28th.

If you missed the sermons the past 3 Sundays, you can access the podcast on our website or anywhere you stream podcasts.  Just search “The Chapel at Seaside”.

If you want to follow along in our prayer journey there are a few great ways to do that.

We have great resources to help you in this journey from our friends at Practicing The Way.  Many of those resources are on our website at

Some teachings, podcast conversations, prayer guides and more.

Throughout April and May on Thursdays from noon to 1:00 The Chapel will be open for prayer.  We are partnering with 30A Prays for this guided and intentional time of prayer.  It is a very simple and quiet time of prompts for prayer and no one is required to say anything out loud.  Come and go as you can or need to.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday for worship. Following our service we’ll have a latte bar provided by Panama City Coffee Co and some brunch bites and snacks that will inevitably ruin your appetite for lunch.

Let us know if you need anything. See you soon.