Thursday, December 10, 2015

Of Prayer's Down Times

I want to encourage you with a personal observation. Prayer is like being in the sun: you don't know how much it has affected you until the experience is over!

Often times, I have felt little to nothing during vocal let alone silent prayer, but afterwards I either received a powerful witness in my spirit that something great or significant had just happened, or (when the answer finally came) God let me know that it was in the "nothing hour" when the breakthrough came.

Let me also encourage you with something else I have come to realize: occurences such as keeping the mind from wondering or pushing through the distraction of boredom ARE NOT AUTOMATIC PROOFS of immaturity, rejection, or lack of effectiveness.

Prayer is work; and as with any duty or project, there are moments that are less desirable, less speedy than others yet are, nevertheless, part of the whole and must be undertaken. To endure through these, even if it means exerting more and strained efforts, is necessary; and you need to know that such times are just as acceptable to God as the ones in which you find personally enjoyable.

So keep praying. Keep working through. Keep trusting. Because like drilling for an artesian well, every hit, every exertion brings you closer to the resource God has hidden and preserved for you in Christ Jesus.

Monday, December 7, 2015

You Worry Too Much

Yes, we need to bring all our worries,  all our cares to Christ; and it is true that we need to be honest and transparent about our fears and doubts. But I have found that the Lord is pretty quick at bringing us the comfort and assurance necessary to getting us on track with where He is coming from, which means we need to respond to His holy optimism with a cooperative spirit.

In short, staying in negative mode, simply because our adverse or troublesome situations are still before us, is wrong; and in this regard we need to "die to ourselves."

We need to cut off, kick out, refuse with unrepentant determination all the fears, anxieties, and mental meddling that is so comfortable and familiar to you and me. This is what is meant by dying to self, and it is requiem for effectiveness. The greater realms of prayer are entered when we bypass the ruckus of earhly brainstorming and seek for the energy-giving momentum and the guaranteed pathways of Heaven.

It's all about trust when you don't feel settled and optimism when you can't see the destination. God's Word and Jesus' hand are all we need. We can freely move forward with those!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Waiting on the Lord

Don't get me wrong! By patience, I have not in the past several posts meant to communicate non-prayer, that is, resorting to prayerlessness in the name of being accomodating to God's timetable. There is always prayer motions to be had, even in this next aspect of prayer: waiting on the Lord.

There are times when the most appropriate thing to do in prayer is literally to get quiet. For me, this has been one of the hardest disciplines, and I still don't think I am an expert. However, I have learned that the goal of this frequent (but not necessarily systematic) exercise is settling your spirit.

You have to learn how to shut down your many internal questions: the what's, the why's, the how's, and maybe most important the when's. Learn how to be at rest while His is working to answer you in His most excellent way. Remind yourself that He is in control, and savor that truth.

You might have to write down things you can't stop thinking about (like appointments you just remembered or ideas that come to your mind); but as the Lord leads you into these non-verbal, waiting seasons of prayer, do whatever it takes to open your spirit and heart because at the end Jesus bestows invaluable rewards.

Testing Your Prayers

As I wrote earlier, we need patience in prayer because God's answers often require time. However, there are situations (such as if your prayers seem long overdue) when it is a good idea to double check the integrity of what your have been seeking. Here are a few questions worth considering.

• Does my request line up with Bible principles?

• Does it line up with my assignment, with what God has told me to do?

• Is my request premature? Am I getting ahead of God's time table?

• Am I allowing God to grant my prayer in His perfect way or am I setting hard, fast, and self-determined stipulations?

• Am I ignoring the "still small voice" of the Holy Spirit? Has God already given me an answer that I haven't wanted to accept?

• Have I neglected to carry out previous instructions or contingencies from the Lord?

God is never opposed to us verifying what is true and good, prayers included.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Patience in Prayer (3)

There's one more reason you need to know about exercising patience in prayer. It's going to sound a little strange perhaps, but I know for me this is very useful and very pragmatic.

We often pray for things we don't need, things we are not ready for, or things that are not part of God's better agenda. Sometimes we pray for the right things but with backward, shallow expectations.

In these cases, God's silence is often an indirect answer, the grace that saves us from misdirection! Patience, then, is necessary for testing the integrity of what we are seeking. So the next time you are tempted to be frustrated with His timing, keep in mind there are factors

(More on testing your prayers in next post)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Patience in Prayer (2)

When it comes to prayer, it seems to me that many times there is a process of sorts God runs your request(s) through. I say this because receiving your heavenly grants regularly means (and you have to be ready for this) incremental steps and bit-by-bit revelation.

Just look at Nature and you can see this is how God operates nearly everything. So with your petitions, more often than not, the Lord won't impersonally or carelessly hand you a quicky-type answer. He may want you to know how things work, to see the bigger picture, or simply to gain an appreciation for what you are getting.

Prayer is not a food-court bite to eat; it's having and growing your own sustainable, good-for-the-soul garden. Prayer is not a text message; it's an eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart encounter. Prayer is not a job at McDonald's; it's a golden-oportunity career

You get the point.

Settle into prayer ready to discuss interactively with God's Spirit the details of what is on your heart or what Kingdom aspect God has been prodding you to seek. Have patience!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Patience in Prayer (1)

There are a couple other aspects of prayer people do not expect to encounter; and for this next one, I will need to take a few posts to address it, namely the aspect of patience.

I remember as s young man reading the verse in James about patience having its perfect work. It struck me that we needed to be patient with God. What does that means in regards to God working through prayer? God is a Spirit and what comes from Him is definite, determined, and deep. Prayer, then, is spiritual and must be approached differently than human and natural interaction.

Prayer isn't just a submitted request. Often there are elements of the answer that take time to root, to grow, and to produce final fruit. Think of prayer as a healthy harvest: you get more than what you put in to it--if you wait.

To be continued

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Better Than Feelings

Prevailing prayer is work, and I'm pretty sure most people are unaware of this reality.

The danger of this ignorance is that many end up measuring the effectiveness of their prayer life by feelings, such as those of beginner's enthusiasm, religious romanticism, or some other sensational ideal of what prayer should be.

Now, feelings are completely unreliable and may or may not reflect the real strength of a person's present faith; but when you don't know that in regards to prayer, you set yourself up for failure. You will either quit private prayer not long after you've begun (because it's no longer exciting) or you eventually respond to a sense of guilt (because it's no longer automatic) by over compensating in some way--and that is a subject too involved for this blog.

The point is, you will often have to approach prayer as an assignment that requires deliberate effort; but when you do, realize that such an outlook does not necessarily represent a lack of love our even purity. It's most likely the contrary.

God is, after all, well pleased with sacrifices as well as long-term intensions--work for His Kingdom! So push aside the feelings basis and look forward to a different, deeper kind of satisfaction. You are called to a life of prayer, a labor of love; and you are called to reap it's harvest.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Is This for You?

NOTE: If you haven't watched the Prophetic Mandate videos we put out a few months ago, it would really help if you did that now. This blog is based on that series.

After watching The Mandate, you may be saying to yourself, "OK, I'm fired up now, but where do I go from here?" Well that's the question I intend on answering. If nothing else, I want to give you practical ideas that you can shape and use for your own, but please notice the word PRACTICAL.

If all we do is say "amen" and "I agree," we will go nowhereagain! When God speaks, that is sovereign. It's a breakthrough. But after that, whatever grace and inspiration we need will come ONLY as we are busy carrying out what the Lord has spoken.

Raw and stand-alone optimism is no friend here, neither is the kindly but evasive "God bless you." Action is the great and blessed response! And action from all. Action in prayer, action in evangelism, action in being the change God provides to the world.

Take a good look at the men of the Bible. They were men of action, men who with God worked the fields of blessing, men who sweat and cried and bled for God. That's the type of person I am writing to and that's the type who Christ will flow through in our times.