Posts tagged ‘prayer’

The Effective Fervant Prayer

On January 15th, seventy-two world leaders met in Paris with the intent of taking Israeli land and giving it to the Palestinians.  When word of this came, Christians all around the world hit their knees to pray for God’s chosen nation, and I learned a valuable lesson about prayer.  When we come to God in fervent prayer, the Holy Spirit really does intercede for us.  I know this is kind of a “duh” for some of you.  And of course, we have Scripture that tells us just that.

Romans 8:26-27 (NKJV) says:  Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

I’ve always imagined that the Spirit communicates to God at those times in this guttural, mystical, rumbling and groaning that is like an alien language only God, Yeshua, and the Holy Spirit can understand.  Truthfully I don’t really know how to understand those verses, but I have learned another way the Spirit helps us in prayer.  He speaks to our hearts ways to pray.  A number of years ago, while praying for a particular situation, the Spirit laid an Old Testament Bible story on my heart.  I began to pray for this situation using how God worked in the story to ask Him to work in my situation.  At that time, I did not recognize that it was the Sprit who gave me that direction.  I didn’t even recognize it as direction from Him.  But after what happened on the 15th, I see it, and am amazed by it.

Let me step back to last week and the situation with the UN and Israel.  An urgent call for prayer went out on Facebook on Saturday, January 14th.  Christians were being asked to pray for Israel asking that God would step in to halt what the UN was planning on doing.  I felt a burning urgency to pray for them, and I did time and again.  Then I heard the Spirit speak two names to me, Balaam and Balak.  You have to go back to the book of Numbers and the Israelite’s time wandering in the dessert to find these two fellows.

Balak was the king of Moab.  He was frightened by the reputation of the Israelites whose God defeated other nations and now appeared to be headed his way.  Balak sent for the pagan prophet Balaam.  His desire was to hire Balaam to curse Israel.  God, however, was not going to allow that.  He told Balaam that he was only to speak the words that God gave him. Balaam and Balak tried to curse Israel four times.  Each time, God put words of blessing in Balaam’s mouth.  Take the time to read this story found in Numbers 22-24.  In case it is unfamiliar to you, allow me the fun of a little spoiler…this is where an animal speaks.

Joshua 24:9-10 sums it up:  “Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose to make war against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you.  But I would not listen to Balaam; therefore he continued to bless you.  So I delivered you out of his hand.”

I began to pray that, just as God caused Balaam’s curses to be turned to blessings, so would the words of the leaders at the UN.  I fervently prayed for blessings instead of curses. 

Sunday evening I saw word that the intended resolution had failed.  One nation stood against the resolution, and I praised God for answered prayer.  It wasn’t until Monday, however, that I learned how much of an answer to prayer it really was.  I learned that there was so much discussion and debate among the 72 nations, that by the time the resolution came to a vote, it had been watered down to the point that it was essentially worthless…and harmless to Israel.

God had stepped in and made the curses ineffective.  The words they intended to speak against Israel became nothing.  As soon as I heard this report, I understood that thinking to pray for this situation to resolve the way it had in the time of Balaam and Balak was more than just a Bible story that popped into my head.  It was the Holy Spirit guiding my prayers, so that they would be the most effective they could be.  I wonder how many other people were praying the same thing?  And what different direction He gave to other Christians so that all areas were covered-  talk about a community organizer!

Secondary to this lesson came a better understanding of James 5:16b-18 (NKJV) – “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”

Elijah is the example James gives to explain the first statement.  Elijah prayed earnestly and pointedly (effectively and fervently).  One Bible version uses the word urgent.  Elijah’s prayer was urgent and specific.  God answered his prayer, exactly as it was requested.

When we pray, we are to pray specifically. 

Matthew 6:7 says the following:  “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do.  For they think that hey will be heard for their many words.”  Be direct, and to the point.  But then there is this verse in 1 John (5:14-15) – “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

The question I have always had is, how do I know what God’s will is?  How can I pray specifically and to the point when I don’t know the will of God? 

Yet Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to “come boldly to the throne of grace.”  Here is the understanding the Spirit has given me on this:  We are to pray with boldness, as ones who are confident that we are praying the will of God.  We are to pray with urgency and in earnest, and we are to be specific with our requests.  The Holy Spirit is in us, giving us direction in our prayers, and interceding for us before the Father.  We are to trust God to answer according to His will.

There will be times when we have not prayed what is His will no matter how boldly we come to Him.  There will still be times when we pray outside of the guidance of the Spirit.  But I believe that if we follow the guidance given to us in the Scriptures and pray as we have never prayed before, we will see the mighty hand of God at work in ways we have not seen before in our lives, in our nation, and in the world.

I want to go back a minute to James 5:16.  Notice that he says the prayers of a righteous man will avail much.  I don’t know about you, but I very rarely feel righteous.  I’m too familiar with my own sin.  But God reminded me that as a Christian, I wear the righteousness of Yeshua.  In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  And James points out that Elijah had a nature like ours.  Yet because we are covered in the righteousness of Messiah, our prayers can be just as powerful as Elijah’s.  Having the righteousness of Messiah does not negate the need to seek forgiveness in order for our prayers to be heard, however.  Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”  We must come boldly before the throne of grace…grace…would not the presence and grace of God cause us to bow humbly and confess our sins before Him before presenting our petitions?

One final verse on prayer.  Yeshua said (John 14:13), “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”  This verse is the reason I pray in Yeshua’s name, rather than Jesus’ name.  Yeshua was Jewish.  He spoke Hebrew, as did his parents.  The name the angel Gabriel told Joseph and Mary to give to the Son of God was Yeshua, not the Greek translation, Jesus.  If we are to pray everything in the name of the Son, then I chose to pray it in His real name.  Either way, it is a key direction given by our Savior, and one we should not slack away from.

May our prayers be effective, fervent, and bold.  May God answer in mighty ways for His glory and praise.

*All verses are taken from the New King James Version

WHAT TO DO WHEN GOD’S CALLING SEEMS TO FALL APART

Have you ever been hit upside the head by God?  Have you had that moment of absolute clarity when you know, without a doubt, that God has called you to do something?  In obedience, you step out in faith and begin this new journey He has mapped out for you.  Then suddenly you hit a brick wall…or perhaps the brick wall hits you.  Trouble has come from somewhere, in some way, shape or form.

You begin to doubt.  Oh, the questions that fill your mind.  Have I sinned and fallen out of favor with God?  Is He no longer able to use me?  Was I wrong?  Did I misunderstand?  Maybe He didn’t call me to this at all.  Maybe it was all just my imagination.  Maybe I’m going about it all wrong.  Maybe….  Your heart sinks.  There is a sickness in the pit of your stomach.  You probably even think of how foolish you must have looked to all those family and friends you excitedly told about what God was doing in your life and what He had called you to.  How embarrassing!  You sheepishly hide this new “revelation” that you were wrong, and hope no one ever asks you about it.  What are the chances they will forget it and you will never have to speak of it again?

Moses must have felt the same way, don’t you think?  In Exodus 3 God met Moses alone in the wilderness, and spoke to him through a burning bush, of all things!  The two of them shared this amazing, personal moment in which God revealed to Moses, of all people, His real name (YHVH, pronounced in English Yehova or Yahweh).  Moses-  the Hebrew rejected by his people because he was raised in the house of the Egyptian pharaoh.  The man raised in the Pharaoh’s home, yet rejected by the Egyptians because he was, in fact, Hebrew.  The man who, in his zeal to be associated with his people, and with impulsive anger, killed an Egyptian man for beating a Hebrew.  The man who escaped to the wilderness to become a lonely shepherd.  To this same man, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob intimately revealed His true name, and called Moses to be savior and leader of the Hebrew people.

Moses couldn’t believe it either.  He was a humble man and doubted God could use him for anything worthwhile.  Even if he did as God said, what made Him think that the people would listen to him?  They knew him, and he was not a respectable source of information from anyone, let alone God.  God gave Moses three miraculous signs to do the convincing for him.  Moses still questioned God’s choice of messengers.  “Then Moses said to the LORD, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent.’” (Ex. 3:10).  And God put His foot down.  “Who has made man’s mouth?”  He asked.

In the end, of course, we know that Moses went.  He spoke the words God gave him to his brother Aaron, and Aaron spoke them to the Hebrew people and eventually to the Pharaoh.  The people were convinced that God had sent him and agreed to follow.

Pharaoh, on the other hand, would have none of it.  Rather than giving in to the demands of this Hebrew God, YHVH, of whom he had never heard, and who had no territorial rights in Egypt, he refused.  Not only did the Pharaoh refuse to let the Hebrews go on this 3-day pilgrimage to worship YHVH, he decided that their work was too easy.  He would no longer allow straw for the making of bricks to be provided to the Israelites.  They were required to spread out and gather what stubble they could find, and then use that to make the same number of bricks they had done before.  When they were unable to keep up with this quota, they were beaten.

Naturally, the people blamed Moses!  And BAM!  Moses was hit by the brick wall of doubt.  What had he done wrong?  Had he misunderstood?  He must have acted impulsively, and now look at the trouble he got this entire nation of people into!

 

But Moses did the right thing in the face of doubt.  He prayed.  Humbly before God, he said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people?  Why is it You have sent me?  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.”  (Ex. 5:22-23).

Even though God had warned Moses that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened, and he would refuse to let His people go, Moses expected immediate results.  He didn’t understand that God had so much more to do there first.  The Israelites and the Egyptians needed to be shown the power of YHVH.  In those ancient times, gods were believed to be territorial.  God needed to show His power over the Egyptian gods so that Egypt would let His people go, and so that the Israelites would let the Egyptian gods go and willingly follow and serve Him alone.

God’s reply to Moses assured him of his calling, and that God was indeed in control of this situation.  “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.  For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.’”  (Ex. 6:1).

Suppose Moses had given in to his doubts…or perhaps I should say Satan’s doubts.  Who do you suppose put those doubts in his mind?  Who do you suppose puts the doubts in your mind?  Who has the most to gain when we question what God has called us to do, and quit?  You better believe it!!!  When you hit those bumps in the road of your calling, stomp them down flat again.

Remind yourself of the certainty you felt when you first received that calling, and above all, pray!  Pray for protection from Satan’s deceptions, and attacks.  Pray for the faith to continue.  Pray for the wisdom to see and understand what God is doing.  Remember it was God who allowed the bumps in Moses’ path.  He did it for a reason, and the bumps in your path likely have some reason, too.  There is so much more going on behind the scenes that you are not aware of.  Work in your heart; work in the hearts of others.  God is in control.  Rest assured that when He calls you to something, He is faithful and just, and will complete it.

*Bible verses are taken from the New King James Version.

If you have been blessed by this article, please take a moment to thank God for what He is speaking to you.

There is Power in the Name…YESHUA

There’s Power in the Name…YESHUA

Recently I have been reading a book by Derek Frank called “Escaping the Great Deception.”  In it Frank chronicles the intentional changing of names and words in the Bible in order to remove the Jewishness of it and make it more Gentile.  Historical documents, which I won’t go into here, show that this stemmed from the anti-semitic attitudes of the 3rd and 4th century church who blamed the Jews for the crucifixion of Christ and believed that the church had replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people.  I encourage you to read the book, or visit the website for the accompanying documentary, “Let the Lion Roar” at www.letthelionroar.com to explore this for yourself.

After reading a particular statement in Frank’s book, I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit regarding the name of my savior.  I have been fleshing that conviction out since then.

The point of Frank’s statement was that Jesus’ true name is not really Jesus.  The name God told Mary and Joseph to call Him was Yeshua, which means “Yahweh saves.”  Matthew 1:21 – She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘ADONAI saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins. (CJB)

According to the glossary in the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), Yeshua is usually transliterated as “Jeshua” or “Jeshuah” in the Hebrew Old Testament.  The name Jesus comes from the Greek transliteration Iesous (pronounced yee-soos), meaning God saves which is the language of the New Testament.  But, of course, that wasn’t the original language of the New Testament either.  Hebrew was.  Jesus and his disciples did not speak, or write, Greek.  Their native tongue was Hebrew.  So the Bible we have today is a translation of a translation at best.  The books of the New Testament were translated from their original Hebrew into Greek, and from Greek to English or whatever other language.  That is a topic for another day.  However, it does make the point that Jesus’ real name is not Jesus.  His real name is Yeshua.  That is the name God gave Him.  That is the name Mary and Joseph called when they went searching form Him in Jerusalem and found Him in the temple.  It is the name His disciples knew Him by.  It is the name that was on the sign above the cross He hung on, “This is YESHUA the King of the Jews” – Matthew 27:37.  Yeshua is the name the angel used when comforting Mary at the tomb:  Matthew 28:5-6 – “Don’t be afraid.  I know you are looking for Yeshua, who was executed on the stake.  He is not here, because he has been raised–just as he said!”

Look at Philippians 2:9-11:  Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow–in heaven, on earth and under the earth–and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is ADONAI–to the glory of God the Father.

Other examples of the power in Yeshua’s name follow…it is a short selection from a much longer list.  (Capitalization added by me.)

Acts 4:11-12 – “This Yeshua is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the cornerstone.  There is salvation in no one else!  For there is not other NAME under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved!”

John 14:13-14 – “In fact, whatever you ask for in MY NAME, I will do; so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me for something in MY NAME, I will do it.”

Acts 4:29-30 – “So now, Lord, take note of their threats; and enable your slaves to speak your message with boldness!  Stretch out your hand to heal and to do signs and miracles THROUGH THE NAME of your holy servant YESHUA!”

Mark 16:17-18 – “And these signs will accompany those who do trust:  IN MY NAME they will drive out demons, speak with new tongues, not be injured if they handle snakes or drink poison, and heal the sick by laying hands on them.”

If there is such power in the name of Yeshua, the name given to the Messiah by God Himself, what extent of that power are we denying ourselves by praying in the name of another language?  A transliteration of Yeshua I get.  We still have basically the same name, and certainly the same meaning.  But Jesus is not a transliteration.  It is a translation.  This is a big difference.  Think of the names of people of other languages whom you have met.  Maria or Juan from Central America.  My grandma’s name was Ida…German.  Is it just me, or do we seem to keep the names that are easy to pronounce, but change the ones that aren’t?  I have met people of Asian decent who change their names to something a foreign tongue can pronounce.  Yeshua is not that difficult.  Ye-shoo-a.  Not hard.

The names of mythical gods like Zues and Hermes haven’t changed.  Why Yeshua?  Goodness gracious, do we not still call Socrates Socrates and Plato Plato?  Yet Yeshua, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, we call by another name, Jesus.

“Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.  There’s just something about that name.  Master.  Savior.  Jesus.  Let all heaven and earth proclaim.  Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there is something about that name.”  Except that is the wrong name!  The name of Jesus WILL pass away.  The name of Yeshua will be forever.  Revelations 1:17-18 – He placed his right hand upon me and said, “Don’t be afraid!  I am the First and the Last, the Living One.  I was dead, but look! — I am alive forever and ever!  And I hold the keys to Death and Sh’ol.”

The only reason to change the name of Yeshua is to reduce or eliminate the power in the name.  Who would benefit the most from this?  Only Satan, the great deceiver.  He has managed to deceive most of the world for nearly 2,000 years into not praying in the name of Yeshua; into not calling on the name of Yeshua for salvation, healing, casting out demons; and into not praising the name that deserves the praise – Yeshua.

There are 2 questions then.  If salvation is in the name of Yeshua, is anyone saved that has prayed in the name of Jesus?  And why does God seem to recognize prayers made in the name of Jesus?  I believe we who believe are still saved.  We called out to God.  We asked for forgiveness.  We repented.  We believe that He sent His Son to die for us and then to be raised to life again.  All the tenants are there.  And I have prayed all my life to God in Jesus’ name.  I have felt His presence in mighty ways.  I know He has acknowledged my prayers.  I feel His presence now as I write these words.  So why retrain our hearts, minds and mouths to say Yeshua then?  Because of the power in the ONE NAME that God gave under heaven.  If we have seen the power in using the translation of the name, imagine the power we will see in using THE name…YESHUA.  Let us make Satan flee in the name of YESHUA our Lord!!!!!  Amen.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

If you are like me, you make sure you add the words, “in Jesus’ name, amen” at the end of every prayer.  We know we are supposed to pray that way.  That is how we have been taught.  But I think somehow we have held some secret, perhaps not even fully thought out, idea that as long as we say our prayer is in Jesus’ name, then God will hear us and answer.  Like just saying the name of Jesus is a magic key to opening the doors of Heaven.

Earlier this week I was reading from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  He suggested that praying in Jesus’ name is not simply invoking His name, but to pray in the character of Jesus.  The immediate thought in my mind did not accept that, but the Spirit confirmed the truth of what Chambers said in short order and set me straight.  So let’s look at some Scripture passages to figure this out.

Let’s begin with John 16:23-24 (NKJV) – “And in that day you will ask Me nothing.  Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.  Until now you have asked nothing in My name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

John 14:13-14 – “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

Ok.  So if we keep praying in Jesus’ name, amen, and Jesus said that whatever we pray in His name He will do, why are so many of our prayers not answered the way we want them to be?  Is Jesus’ name not the magic word after all?  Or is there something more to it?

One of the keys to studying God’s word that I have learned over the past few years is that God never contradicts Himself.  If He says something in Scripture that doesn’t seem to jive with something else in Scripture, or in real life, dig deeper, because there is further meaning there.  If you seek that meaning and understanding, God will give it to you.

John 15:5-8 – “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

There it is.  If we abide in Jesus, and His words abide in us, then what we ask for will be done for us.  Why?  Because then we will be asking for what is already the will of God.

What is an ambassador?  A person so trusted by the leadership of a government that they are trusted to speak for that leadership.  The ambassador knows the will of the leader, and speaks it.  He is not the leader, but he is a representative that is so in tuned to the will and desires of the leader that he can speak with the authority of the leader.

This is what Jesus is talking about.  Just as Jesus, as the Son of God, was the ambassador, so to speak, of God the Father, here on earth, we are ambassadors for Jesus (2 Cor. 5:20).  Jesus came in the name of the Father (John 5:43; 10:25).  What Jesus spoke to us, we know to be the words, and will of the Father.  John 5:19 – Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”

In the same way, as ambassadors for Jesus, filled with His Holy Spirit, we are to know His will.  He trusts us to speak for Him, not only to every person that we speak to on this planet, but when we speak in prayer to our Heavenly Father.  When we pray, we are to approach God with the assurance that, because of the Holy Spirit within us, and the Word of God, which we have been able to read and study, we do know His will, which is also the will of Jesus.  Our spirits are to be at one with the Holy Spirit.  When that is the case, then our prayers are truly said in the name of Jesus, as His trusted representatives, speaking His will, His desires.  Wow.  What an awesome thought!  It is no wonder Jesus said he would be present when 2 or 3 were gathered in His will!  I see it!  He says, “I see 2 or 3 saints gathered together.  They are all in sync with My will, one with My Spirit.  That is where I am going to be right now.”

So why is it that so often we find ourselves unsure of what Jesus’ will is?  The very simple answer is that we have not taken the time to build our relationship with Him.  How can we know what Jesus’ will is, if we don’t know who He is or anything about Him?  How can our prayers be in sync with what He desires, if we don’t know what He likes and dislikes?  There is more to knowing Jesus than believing that He is the Son of God and good.  Study the words He has written.  And take time to talk them over with Him over a cup of coffee, or tea.  Seek His understanding and His wisdom.  When you are in a time of crises, or at a crossroads and need to know His will, there is not enough time to develop this kind of relationship with Him.  You can’t know His will then.  Start building now.  Then when the hard times, or the questions come, you will know His will, and will only need to seek to understand it.

Why Pray Scripture?

I have stated in previous posts that God is teaching me how to pray. One of the things I am learning to do is to use Scripture in my prayers. The first time I heard someone talk about praying Scripture, I smiled, and nodded my head, not wanting to look like I was clueless. But I was clueless. Over time, and with much study of God’s Word, I have begun to recognize when I hear Scripture being prayed. It is simply the act of taking a Bible verse or passage, and changing the words just enough so that they are coming from you, directed to God. Some verses, of course, are prayers, and so it is easy to simply pray them. Others are not prayers, but can be converted. For those of you who aren’t certain what I mean, let me give you an example.

A prayer for rain and a good harvest:
Psalm 65:9-13 (NCV) – You take care of the land and water it; you make it fertile. The rivers of God are full of water. Grain grows because you make it grow. You send rain to the plowed fields; you fill the rows with water. You soften the ground with rain, and then you bless it with crops. You give the year a good harvest, and you load the wagons with many crops. The desert is covered with grass and the hills with happiness. The pastures are full of flocks, and the valleys are covered with grain. Everything shouts and sings for joy.
Prayer: God, You take care of the land and water it; You make it fertile. Lord, Your rivers are full of water. Grain grows because You make grow. Father, please send rain, fill the rows with water. Soften the ground with rain, and bless it with crops. I ask that you cover this dry land with grass, and the hills with happiness. Please fill the pastures with flocks and livestock, and cover the valleys with grain. May everything shout for joy and sing your praises!

We are in a drought where I live, and so even though there are many who complain about the rain, I won’t apologize for praying for it. 🙂

I pray 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, and 1 John 5:14-15 for the salvation of specific people. I just plug in their names. The verses from Peter and Timothy talk about how it is not God’s will that anyone perish, but that they come to the truth, and repentence. Therefore, I know that it is His will that all people, including those whose names I plug in, become saved. The verses in 1 John reminds me that when we pray within God’s will, he will give us our petitions. I pray that to as I thank Him for His faithfulness.

The more a person reads the Bible, the more verses are found that can be used as prayers. I pray prayers of praise, worship, petition, repentance and seeking forgiveness. These are by no means the extent of my prayers, but I do use them, often. For me, I find that if I whisper, or speak them outloud, they somehow become more personalized. I own them more. Which is strange because normally when I pray, I need to pray internally, or I feel disconnected from my words. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I’m just weird:-) My point here is that you may need to pray Scriptures at different times and in different ways so that you find the way that helps you to make the words your own as you take them before the Father. If it feels hollow to you praying one way, try another. The only thing I would caution is that you not make them your only prayer time. You still need those words that come straight from your own heart, that connect your spirit to God’s spirit.

Now, I still haven’t answered the question of why. Why should we use Scripture to pray? I grappled with this before I began praying Scripture. I even grappled with it after I had been praying them for quite a while and had noticed a change in my prayer life. So I prayed about the why. I asked God to show me, and He did.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NCV) says “All Scripture is given by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right. Using Scriptures, the person who serves God will be capable, having all that is needed to do every good work.”

The answer is in the first 6 words. All Scripture is given by God. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. The words are His. If they came from God, does it not make sense to use the words that He pleased to have in His book to
communicate with Him? What better way to pray within His will than to pray
His words? Praying Scripture is one element to enhancing, deepening your prayer time with your Lord, and thus strengthening your relationship with Him.

Word Treasure

One of the things I love most about reading through the whole Bible is when a verse in a seldom-read book pops out at you.  A moment when God reminds you that He has something for you in all 66 books of the Bible.  Like when I was reading in Ecclesiastes this morning.  What a great book for the person who has a lot of questions about the futility and/or purpose of life, by the way!  I think I will be recommending this one to Number 2 Son (Proverbs to Number 1 Son:-).  

Here is the next verse on my hide-His-Word-in-my-heart list.  Ecclesiastes 5:2 – “Think before you speak, and be careful about what you say to God.  God is in heaven, and you are on earth, so say only a few words to God.”  This really puts a whole new punch into, “Be still and know that I am God.”  

Recently God revealed to me that I need to learn to pray as a prophet prays.  I revealed on this blog on a couple of occasions that God has given me the spiritual gift of prophecy.  I won’t go so far as to say I am a prophet…for some reason that just feels like I am stepping on hallowed ground that belongs to Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Elijah and Isaiah, and many, many others.  But, that being said, God has shown me that there is something different about the prayer of the prophet, and should be about the prayers of a person with that gift.  I’m not sure what it is yet, but I have asked Him to teach me.  “Ask and it will be given to you.  Seek and you will find.  Knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).  Ecclesiastes 5:2 is one of these early lessons from God.  I had to share it with you…I love that punch!!

Fasting: Intimacy with God

Recently my Sunday School class has begun a study on fasting.  It is based on a book, and led by the author on a dvd.  We listen and discuss.  I missed the first 2 sessions, and was finally able to attend the 3rd one last week.  I have to say that I left feeling really uncomfortable with what the man said.  Some of it really rang true of the Doctrine of Prosperity.  If you are unfamiliar with that term, it is the teaching that God wants you to be healthy, wealthy, and happy and as soon as you give your life to Him, and give your money to His ministry, you will be healthy, wealthy, and happy.  It is a false doctrine that is not true to what the Bible teaches.  Jesus himself warned that those who followed Him would face trials and persecution.  He also warned that it is very difficult for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God…because with wealth, the temptation is so great to rely on self, rather than God, which is not the way to salvation (Jesus alone is the way, the truth and the life).  The apostle Paul stressed that when we are weakest, God’s strength shines through.  How then does it seem right to say that God wants us to be wealthy (and take the risk of being pulled away from Him), and healthy all the time (allowing us to live by our own strength, and not the strength of God).  And happy?  There is a difference between being happy (superficially, based on current circumstances) and filled with the joy of the Lord (the hope that we have in His presence at all times).

Back to fasting.  The author of the series said some things that sounded right.  But he also said some things that made me cringe.  He encouraged fasting as a way to breakthroughs in your prayers.  To sum up, when we fast, God takes extra notice and bam!  Miracles and answered prayers!  The breakthrough in your financing that you have been praying for.  The healing, the deliverance from drugs, or homosexuality, or other sins.  I believe that God stirred His Spirit within me for a reason.  Do you pray that God will give you wisdom and understanding before you enter a place where His Word will be taught?  It is so important to seek His leading, even while we are being led by others.  False teaching abounds, even when that is not the intention, and we must be on guard at all times.  Seek the guidance of the Spirit, our Counselor, so that we won’t be led astray.  1 John 4:1 tells us we are to test the spirits to see if they are from God.

I left Sunday School last week determined to do just that.  I went to the back of my Bible and wrote down every verse that mentioned fast, fasting, fasted, and I began to read those verses and the ones surrounding it.  I spent time praying and studying what the Bible says about fasting.  The following is what I learned.  At the end of this post, I will include the Bible references that I learned from so that you can test the spirits also.

What fasting is:

Fasting is a sacrifice on our part with the intention of drawing near to God.  It comes from a repentant heart that seeks to be in the presence of God with an intimacy that removes all other distractions.  It is an offering of oneself in a way that is pure and complete.  During this time of fasting, we are held up in our weakness by the power of God.  We experience His strength in a way that we can’t when our focus is divided.  In the act of fasting, we bring honor and glory to God.  Fasting is purely relational.  Because it is just between us and God, it is intimate in its very nature.  It is a longing to be near Him, to adore Him, to be completely fulfilled and satisfied by Him.  It is the opportunity to give Him our undivided attention, to pour out our souls to Him.  When we are so closely connected to our Father, then we are so much more able to hear Him speak to us, and see His hand at work around us.  We benefit in this time of nearness by knowing Him more deeply.

Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights after being baptized and before being tempted by Satan.  He didn’t fast for a miraculous breakthrough.  He fasted to draw near to His Father and glean strength from Him.

Prayer in times of fasting are linked in Isaiah 58 and Acts 10 to the obedience of the person praying…obedience specifically related to helping the poor, the needy, the destitute, the oppressed.  God says that He hears and answers the prayers of those who give to those in need.  Then they will experience light in the darkness, healing, God’s guidance and protection, satisfaction of the soul, strengthening of your bones, and God’s provision.

The one time fasting is specifically linked with a miracle/answered prayer is when Jesus said that a particular demon responds only to prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:14-21).  This would be a very specific situation that I believe the Holy Spirit would direct and inspire to the result that the demon would be exorcised and God would be glorified.

Fasting is not to be a method of manipulation, an attempt to get God to answer your prayers in the way that you want Him to.  Before you shoot me down, consider what the Israelites were doing in Isaiah 58.  They fasted and prayed every 5th and 7th month during their 70 years of captivity.  But God did not listen to them.  Why?  They were fasting for themselves.  Mourning what they had lost.  Praying for what they wanted back.  But what they didn’t get was that fasting was about God…repenting, drawing near to Him, seeking His will, and living in obedience to Him by meeting the needs of the poor, and observing the Sabbath…to worship God.  How does our fasting tend to look?  Is it our heart’s desire to be nearer to God and seek His will?  Or do we say, “Hey!  Look at me!  See what I am doing here?  I am fasting!  I am making the supreme sacrifice so that You will hear me.  Now please answer my prayer!  I need a financial breakthrough…I need my relative to give up alcohol…I need my child to turn from immorality or homosexuality…I need so and so to be healed….”  I am not saying we cannot, or should not pray for healing while fasting.  But we must be aware of our motives, the attitude of our heart.  Is it pure?  What is our intention?  Are we praying and fasting for our will?  Or the will of God and for His glory?

Prayer, with faith the size of a mustard seed, can move mountains, can bring healing, when it is the will of God.  Fasting, with the right attitude of the heart, and obedience in giving, will glorify God first and foremost, will deepen and strengthen our relationship with Him, and will seek His will above all.  Fasting is not about getting our way, it is about worship – profound, intimate worship.

Scripture references:  Joel 1:1-15 (vs 14), Zechariah 7:1-14 (vs5), Nehemiah 1:1-11 (vs 4), Daniel 9:1-19 (vs 3-4), Psalm 35:11-14, Psalm 109:1-31 (vs 24), Isaiah 58:1-14, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 4:1-2, Matthew 17:14-21, Luke 2:37, Luke 18:9-14, Acts 10:24-33 (vs 30).

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