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Lesson 1: The Reason For Creation (Pastor Barbara Caesar-Stephenson)
Important Terms: sense Knowledge, spirit nature, revelation knowledge, recreated spirits, creation, the Trinity, Father, nature
Man is confronted with an unexplained creation of which he, himself, is a part. This creation and the iron hand of fixed laws that govern it, reveal to man a Master Designer. By that we mean that the Creator designed creation that it might fulfill a certain purpose, the reason for its existence.
The purpose in creation seems to be to provide a suitable environment for man, in fact, if we take man out of creation, creation with its resources and its beauty has no reason for existing. If God created the universe as a home for man, He must have had a reason for creating man. Man in every age of history has sought in vain for this reason, the reason for his own existence.
Skepticism was born because man was unable to find a reason for creation. The first tendency of science was to become atheistic and materialistic, giving only a mechanical explanation of the universe. However, today as scientists are delving more fully into the mysteries and wonders of creation, many of them have become God-conscious. They are realizing that behind creation there is an intelligent creator. However, today, as scientists are delving more fully into the mysteries and wonders of creation, many of them have become God-conscious. They are realizing that behind creation there is an intelligent creator. However, science has not been able to find Him, or His purpose in creation with just Sense Knowledge.
Sense Knowledge: Man’s ability to know God is due to the fact that God is a spirit, and that man has no contact with Him. In his own spirit nature, man is alienated from God; and every contact that he has with the universe or reality he has through his central nervous system and his five senses. Through these five sense, namely – sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell – man has not been able to contact God. He has learned a great deal about physical nature which is indifferent and many times cruel toward human life, but he has not been able to find God personally, or His reason for creating man.
By this we can see that man in himself cannot find God. God must reveal Himself to man, and God has done this very thing. He has given a revelation of Himself to man. He had to give the revelation upon man’s level so that man would be able to contact it. We call this Revelation Knowledge it is obtained through our recreated spirits from the Word of God.
The second chapter of 1 Corinthians, which tells us about this kind of revelation, gives us the following illustration: “For who among men knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of a man which is in him? Even so the things of God none knoweth, save the spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11). Man, limited to his sense knowledge is unable to know the inner thoughts of a man. There is a veil of flesh that he cannot penetrate with his sense of sight, hearing or touch. However a man by the medium of words may convey his inner thoughts to another.
So God, in His desire for man to know Him, has formulated His inner thoughts and purposes into words, which man can see, touch and read with his sense of sight, and hear – or expound upon – with his sense of hearing and ability to speak. “But we receive not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the spirit teacheth; concerning spiritual things with spiritual words. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
The Bible is God’s revelation to man, and because we have no other channel through witch we can know God or contact Him, we turn to that revelation to find out what He has told us of His reason for creating man. Our earth is so small in comparison to the vast number and sizes of the heavenly bodies, that the study of it would be utterly absurd, if it were not for the fact that it is the only planet known to be inhabited by human life.
The first chapter of Genesis reveals that the earth holds a place in the plan and purpose of God that amazes one: Genesis 1:14-19 declares that the earth is the reason for all the heavenly bodies that swing in their orbits through dark, illimitable space. Science does not deny the fact that there is not a planet, sun, moon or star in all this vast universe which does not have its influence upon our earth. Our sun is approximately ninety-three million miles away, yet it causes climatic conditions of heat, light, rain, and winds, which make this planet capable of sustaining human, animal and vegetable life. The little earth ball with its precious freight of human beings flies softly around the sun amply protected in its transparent case of atmosphere.
To refer once more to scripture: “to let them be for signs and for seasons …” (Genesis 1:14b)
We know that the tides of the oceans and seas are influenced b the heavenly bodies. We kow that heat and cold, drought and storms are the direct results of planetary influences. Storms can be predicted for certain localities on this continent by the position and influence of certain planets. We know that frosts and heat waves are predicted months ahead by the sure knowledge of planetary positions. From these deductions we see clearly that the planets are placed in the heavens o give us seasons, to be signs and to be continual companions and servants always ministering to the earth. The heavens are earth’s only perfect timepiece. No watch of clock man has ever made can give us perfect time, but he who knows the path of the stars, knows that every star, sun, or planet will pass a certain given point in the great unpath-ed space on scheduled time. The star may not have been seen for thousands of years, but it will appear at the crossroads of the Heavens not one second ahead or one second behind its schedule. Praise God! Oh the wonder of the Architect, the Great Creator and the might of the Sustainer of this great universe! How thrilling it is that this earth of ours, so small that one thousand of them could be lost in the Sun, is yet the center and reason for the universe!
If the earth is the reason for the stellar heavens, what is the reason for the earth?
Genesis I gives the account of Creation. Creation consists of a series of acts by God. These creative acts culminate in the creation of man. When man was created, God’s creative activity came to a rest. Man was the goal of the whole creative movement. Science must here agree with the Biblical account of creation in the placing of man at the summit of creation, he was the last and the highest of God’s works. The earth has no reason for existing outside of man. Unconscious nature cannot enjoy its beauty, contemplate, nor use what it has produced. Only when God placed upon this earth a man created in His image, was there a reason for the vast universe which had been created. God had endowed this man with the capacities to enjoy the beauty of His workmanship, and to utilize its resources. “For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, formed it to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) The Word declares here that God created this earth to be inhabited by man. In His creative acts He met every need that man would have in his life upon earth.
Ages on ages He wrought in storing up treasures of all kinds of wealth for his man. He filled earth’s bosom with deposits of iron, copper, silver and gold and with uncounted varieties of metals, chemicals and forces. He covered the face of the earth with mountains, valleys, ravines plateaus and prairies, rivulets, streams and rivers, and with many beautifully colored flowers that thrilled with joy the heart of God’s man. Fruits and vegetables supplied food for man. The Great Architect of Human Need and Joy knew man’s needs, while yet unborn, and in creation’s wondrous plan, these needs were met. Man is the only creature who can enjoy its beauty or its resources.
We have seen that the earth is the reason for the stellar universe and that man is the reason for the earth. Our problem is not yet solved, however. What is the reason for man? Until we know why God desired to create man, we do now know the reason for creation.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) The word God in the Hebrew is Elohim. This word is plural, revealing the Trinity at work in creation. John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:16 reveal that Christ had a major part in the great acts of creation. Psalm 104:40 and Genesis 1:2 show the Holy Spirit’s work in creation. The trinity lies hidden throughout the Old Testament. Many Jews who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior have testified that one of the factors causing them to realize that Jesus was their Messiah was that they glimpsed hidden in the Old Covenant the Trinity. Israel, however did not know who composed the Trinity, not until Jesus Christ the Living Word was manifested in flesh did man know that the Trinity consisted of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In His ministry of teaching, Jesus Christ revealed the Father-God. On several occasions in the life of Jesus Christ, the Trinity is manifested to man’s senses. One time is at the baptism of Jesus recorded in Matthew 3:13-17. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove, descending upon Christ, while the Father spoke in a voice from heaven. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
Matthew 28:19 reveals the Trinity as being the father, Son and the Holy Spirit. From this we can understand that in the beginning the Father, Son and Holy Spirit created the heavens and the earth. You see, He was in the beginning a Father-God. In eternity He had a Father-nature. We can understand a father’s love and desire for children. Our civilization is built around this fact, for the home is the basic unit of society. Ephesians 3:14-15 reveals that the human father is just a type of the Father-God, the human father’s love exists because in eternity God was essentially a Father-God. It is natural that the Father-heart of God should long for sons and daughter. This yearning passion took form and God planned to create a man who would walk with Him as His child. “According as He made choice of us in Him before the founding of the world, that we might be holy and blameless in His presence. In love marking us out beforehand unto Sonship through Jesus Christ for Himself.” (Ephesians 1:4,5) Before he created a world in His dream plan, man was marked out for Sonship. He was to hold the place of a son in the FatherGod’s love. He was to be the answer to the Father’s hunger for children.
Other scriptures that reveal that man was the reason for creation are Romans 16:25 and 1 Cor. 2:7. These scriptures reveal that man was chosen for the place of a son first then God created this universe to be a home for him. In our Bible Schools we have listed the attributes of God: His Omnipotence, His Omniscience, but we have overlooked the fact that He is first a Father-God. The reason for creation is the Father-heart of God. A few scriptures that reveal the Father’s care for His children are Matthew 7:11; 6:8; 6:25-32, John 16:27; 17:23, 1 Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6,7,19 and John 14:23.
Satan has been very subtle in blinding our minds to the Father-nature of God. The average Christian has had no real consciousness of God as being his Father. This ignorance has been due to the fact that our minds have not been renewed b the Word of God. Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 4:23 here we see the importance of the study of the Word. Sense Knowledge has taken the place of the Word of God in our lives. Jesus Christ has been manifested to man’s physical senses. That which we have handled concerning the Word of Life Jesus Christ took upon Himself a human body through which He was manifested to man. 1 John 1:1,2. Man’s mind derives its knowledge through the senses of the physical body. The Father has never been manifested to these senses as He is a Spirit being therefore man’s mind can form no mental picture of Him.
When a man has been born again, past sense knowledge of the life of Jesus Christ has taken the place that the Father should have had in his life. Because man could form a mental picture of Christ, he has developed the habit of praying to Christ, praising and worshipping Him alone. The renewing of the man’s mind by the Word of God brings a consciousness of the Father to him that revolutionizes his life. In this revelation the Father-nature of God has been revealed to us at creation. There are two other laws of His being revealed here one is that He is a Faith God, and the other that He is Love, Love caused Him to create a universe and He created it by Faith. He works by Faith in His Word. In the first chapter of Genesis there are six creative faith statements. Hebrews 11:3 reveals that God created this universe through faith in His Word. It was through His spoken Word that creation came into being.
Study Questions for Lesson One:
Give and explain the two kinds of knowledge
How has God met man’s need of a Revelation?
What Scripture reveals that the earth is the reason for the heavenly bodies?
Explain as fully as possible why man is the reason for the earth’s existence.
What is revealed in the word Elohim?
Give several Scriptures that reveal the Father-nature of God.
What is the reason for man? Explain your answer.
Why is it that many Christians do not have faith in God and His promises to them as their Heavenly Father?
Give two attributes of God’s nature that are revealed in creation.
The Process of Prayer: Week 1
by Pastor Barbara-Caesar Stephenson
This week, take the scripture for the day and pray it. Put the words of the promise into the form of a petition. Make your scripture prayer specific to your life and situation. This is how you harvest his ripe and ready promises. Thank God for watching over His word to see that it is carried out (Jeremiah 1:12)
To bring my prayers into alignment with His purposes, I had to redefine prayer completely. If prayer is not for the purpose of moving God to my point of view what is prayer: If I can’t change God, why should I pray?
A new definition of prayer began to emerge in my life and thinking as I tore down old misconceptions.
Misconception #1: Prayer is a group of words sandwiched between Dear God and Amen. It is not begging, pleading, convincing, or twisting God’s arm. Prayer is not a way to get God to do what we want Him to do when we want Him to do it. I had been telling God what to do, expressed in religious sounding words, and expecting Him to obey me. When He didn’t obey me, I was disappointed in Him. Prayer, I learned, is not expecting God to carry out my decisions. Prayer is not giving God instructions to follow.
To pray is to let Jesus Glorify His name in the midst of our needs. Prayer is simply opening our lives to God and acknowledging our total dependence on Him. Prayer is not limited to a segment of our lives or to a scheduled event in our days. It is an attitude of receptivity in which we live every moment. It is being open to Him at all times. It is living in the presence of God, and in the process of being reshaped and recreated by Him.
Finish the following thought:
Prayer is …
- The way to get things from God
- The way to bring your needs to God’s attention
- Like a phone line between me and God. God is not paying attention until He hears me say, “Dear God …”
- None of the above
You don’t need to build a theological case of why God should want to meet your need. He wants to meet your need because He’s your Daddy and you are the apple of His eye. Jesus highlights the simplicity of supplication by saying “Ask and it will be given to you … for every one who asks receives.” (Matthew 7:7-8). The Greek word translated Ask is used to ask for something to be given not done. It is the simplest, most straightforward picture of asking for something you need.
But when a person seeks to use prayer merely as a means of obtaining material things he either needs or desires, that person will never discover the overwhelming and awe-inspiring power available through prayer. It is very simple for God to supply your material needs and He does so willingly.
Misconception #2: Prayer is to convince God to implement our ideas. Some pray as if prayer will give God new information or inspire Him to new ideas. Some approach prayer as if it is the responsibility of the petitioner to decide what God needs to do and then talk Him into doing it. This kind of pray-er sees himself as constantly having to overcome God’s objections or His inertia, or His procrastination. This person feels that God always starts out against Him and must be won over. Prayer of this kind pits the pray-er against God. It feels like a battle of wills.
As with every misconception about prayer, this error causes the praying person to expend spiritual energy needlessly. The person who prays in this way tends to look for the right to say them. This person is always on a quest to find the approach to God that will finally get Him to act. This person believes the myth that it is hard to get God to answer prayer. The truth is that God longs to do His work on earth in response to prayer. Prayer is His idea. God thought up prayer, not humans.
God answers prayer, but He doesn’t follow instructions. God corrects those who attempt to instruct Him. “Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed Him as His counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge or showed Him the path of understanding?” (Is. 40:13-14). However, God loves our prayers. He rejoices in them, they bring Him pleasure they are a sweet smelling aroma to Him. (Rev. 5:8, Psalms 141:2)
Power praying happens when God, who longs to give, is met by man, who longs to receive. God is the initiator. He made promises and invited petition. The secret to power praying lies not in how to ask, but in how to receive.
Misconception #3: Prayer is to hold God to His promises. Some pray as if God forgets or tries to renege on His promises and is depending on pray-ers to remind Him of them. God does not need to be reminded of His promises. He made promises and bound Himself to us in order to stir up hope and expectation so that we would have reason to turn to Him. The purpose of His promises is to give us confidence and peace. Instead, sometimes we pray as if we are responsible for finding the scriptural promises that can be construed as guaranteeing the outcome we have prescribed, then taking that promise to God to hold Him to His word.
This kind of pray-er treats God’s word as if it were a catalogue. He decides what God should do, looks through the Bible to find a verse that will match that plan, and orders it. In doing so, as in catalog shopping, the pray-er skims over everything that holds no appeal — he picks and chooses.
Remember, scripture is not God’s words: It is God’s word. Scripture is a whole – and cannot be cut apart and pasted together to match my agenda. His word is not a catalog. It is His promise in writing.
When we approach prayer this way, as if God might try to get out of meeting our need, and we have to hold Him to His promise, we become drained of energy and suffer from prayer fatigue. What a burden it is for me to search the scripture and find exactly the right verse to bring to God’s attention. Instead, as I turn my heart and my mind toward Him, He reminds me of His promises. He reminds me of what I can count on. The promises are not for me to use in getting my way with God, but they are for God to use to inspire faith and confidence within me.
Misconception #4: Prayer helps pry riches out of God’s reluctant hands. Some pray as if prayer is the means of cajoling God into releasing His carefully hoarded riches. Someone has said, prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of God’s willingness. God offers us His resources. He invites us to take His gifts. He does not have to be convinced to let go of His blessings. His word says that He lavished on us the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7-8) … and that He lavished His love on us (I John 3:1). He is extravagant in His gifts. He pours them out. Scripture never uses language that would portray God as stingy or hesitant to give. Instead we read that He richly blesses all who call on Him (Romans 10:12). When we pray this way, we expend spiritual energy needlessly trying to convince God of something He already knows. Giving you every good thing gives Him joy. It delights Him. Jesus’ assures us with these words. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). His heart is set on you to do you good.
The truth about prayer
The truth about prayer will set you free. Prayer is the means by which you will be freed form your earthbound, timebound thinking to participate in eternity. True prayer releases His power so that His power can accomplish immeasurably more than we can ask or even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20).
- God’s power: The power released by prayer is power that has a direct and observable impact on the earth. Paul describes the power available through prayer in Ephesians 1:19-29 as “incomparable great power for us who believe.” That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.
- God’s power, which is beyond comparison, is available to us who believe. The same power that put eternal life into the dead body of Jesus, the same power that lifted Jesus above all other rule and authority. That same power, the working of His might strength is released into the material realm when we pray.
- God means for prayer always to bring His power to Earth. His intent is that every prayer find His yes. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was not yes or no, but in Him it has always been yes for no matter how many promises God has made, they are yes in Christ. (II Corinthians 1:19-20).
Prayer will work as God intends for it to work when it becomes what God intends for it to be. Prayer is not an activity, but a relationship. Prayer is not a formula, but a life. Only when we have learned how to live prayer, breathe prayer, be prayer, only then will the power available through prayer be consistently manifested on the earth. God has ordained that prayer will be the conduit through which his intervening, earth changing power flows form Heaven to earth. Prayer is what sets God’s will in motion on the earth.
- Which misconceptions do you see in your own prayer life? Do you believe that it is hard to get God to answer prayer? In praying, do you find yourself pleading with God or begging God?
- What styles of communication worked when you were trying to get something from your parent(s)? Do you find yourself trying to use those same methods on God?
Practice a new way of praying – Turn this promise into a prayer:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Practice a new way of praying – Turn this promise into a prayer:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you … and I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Peter writes that we are partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). Think about that statement. We take part in the divine nature. The divine nature becomes available to us. Do you see how rich that phrase is? God, who is Spirit, imparts Himself to us. It is through the ongoing and increasingly intimate communion with Him that our participation in the divine nature becomes solid and real. Through prayer, He is reproducing His heart in us.
Prayer is the means whereby we assimilate more and more of His mind. Prayer is the union of the believer’s thoughts with the will of God. The prayer which a believer utters on Earth is but the voicing of the Lord’s will in Heaven.
The key to powerful praying is learning how to let Him put His own desires into my heart and make them mine. In every circumstance, the Holy Spirit, who knows the mind of God, will teach us to pray as we ought, will shape our prayers, will pray through us. Little by little under His loving tutelage we will find our prayers reflecting God’s will.
- What do you think is the key to assimilating the mind and heart of God?
- What do you think are barriers in your life to assimilating the mind and heart of God?”
Practice a new way of praying-Turn this promise into a prayer:
“May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (Ruth 2:12)
While discovering the true purpose of prayer and while redefining what prayer is we must also learn to give up our tendency to see God’s will as if it could be defined within the context of one circumstance, as if God’s will in each circumstance stood alone. God is working out His will according to an eternal strategy. Each individual piece will be part of the big plan.
Suppose that I handed you one piece of a 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Imagine that I asked you to look at that piece and tell me what the whole puzzle looked like. You couldn’t possibly do it. Standing alone, the puzzle piece seems random and without purpose. Only when it’s placed in its proper context does it begin to make sense. So it is with life. Each circumstance fits into the big picture. Don’t waste your time trying to make each piece make sense by itself. We tend to try to define God’s will incident by incident, happening by happening, as if each occurrence in our lives stands alone. Instead, everything is being blended together into the whole. The Lord works out everything for His own ends. (Proverbs 16:4).
God’s work in our lives in response to prayer is an ongoing eternal design instead of many isolated plans. God’s will flows through circumstances. His work in one circumstance sets the stage for the next. Over the course of time, there will be circumstances that although you have prayed, seem not to have worked out according to God’s revealed will. But wait, watch to see what God does next. Watch to see which element of your disappointing circumstances is the catalyst for the next victory. Watch how the immediate flows into the ultimate.
Don’t focus your faith on a specific outcome, focus your faith on God. Jesus’ instruction is to have faith in God (Mark 11:22). When you place your faith in an outcome you will often be disappointed. When you put your faith in God, you will never be disappointed.
For example, suppose that you said to me “will you pray that God will give me a car so that I can get to work?” My response to you would be: I won’t pray that God will give you a car, but I will pray that God will get you to work. Perhaps God wants to provide you with a ride with someone who will open the door for the next step in His plan. If your prayer focus is a car, but God provided for your need in another way, you will think that God has said no to your prayer. It will go in your unanswered prayers category.
When you are in a situation that has an outcome that seems not to be according to God’s will, wait to see what happens next. The story is not over. That circumstance will set the stage for the next event which will lay the foundation for the next step, which will open the door for the next piece of the plan. Finally you will look back from a place in your life that is immeasurably more than all you asked for or imagined (Ephesians 3:20). And you will say I could not be here if I’d never been there. As God’s power and provision flow through your life, blending one circumstance into the next, you will find that the story is never over. Don’t put a period where God has put a comma. There is no end. What looks like a defeat is the ground from which victory will grow. What looks like the end is really the beginning. A crucifixion is only the prelude to a resurrection.
Consider Jesus’ lifeless body bound in grave clothes, laid in the tomb. It looked to His followers like the end. The Tomb: place of death, full of dark night and suffocating hopelessness BUT the end became the beginning and the womb from which eternal life emerged.
- Have you ever been disappointed in God? Have you ever felt that God let you down? Write out a memory of a time when you felt that God did not come through for you.
- Look back at that incident with the perspective that time brings. What were you expecting of God? Is the issue that He did not do what you expected Him to do? Can you now go back to that disappointment and trace God’s hand? What did God’s unexpected action the action that disappointed you open the way for? What did God do through your circumstance that He could have done no other way?
- What is a circumstance in your life about which you are concerned and praying?
- What is it that you think God should do? How do you think He should resolve it? Write out your thoughts in detail.
- Are you focusing your faith on the outcome that you have prescribed: Or is your faith in God? Can you give up your instructions to God and ask Him to do His will in His way at His time.
Practice a new way of praying – turn this promise into a prayer:
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that you prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21)
If a praying life is a life open to God, and we want to begin to live with our spiritual sense alert to the spiritual realm, it will require a fully devoted heart. Do you wonder how you will find the time for such total devotion? Does it sound as if God is calling upon you to live a cloistered life oblivious to the many practical demands of day to day living? A praying life requires no such thing. With the Holy Spirit as your guide, you will discover a deeper level of living and responding. You are always involved in thinking and feeling. You will learn to make God the focal point of your unceasing thought processes and find yourself involved in unceasing prayer. It will become your soul’s habit to turn every thought toward God.
Your mind is an amazing creation it functions efficiently on many levels at once. It is the ultimate multitasking software. At one time you may be driving a car remembering directions carrying on a conversation retaining a grocery list in your memory observing the time and on and on. There are mental processes going on that you are not even aware of. Consider this: At one of those levels prayer is always going on. This is true because the Spirit of Christ lives in you and He is always praying. Sometimes, prayer is at the most conscious and aware level of thought. Other times it is down a level or two. Once I realized that, it became easier and more natural for me to switch back and forth to bring prayer back to the higher awareness level more often. The reason is that I don’t always feel like I’m starting over. I realize that I’m in a continuous flow of prayer. I didn’t stop praying, start doing something else, and then start praying all over again. The sweet aroma of prayer is always rising from our innermost being before the throne.
Psalm 139:4 says: “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely O Lord.” Before a need or desire has reached a level of conscious understanding at which you can put it into words while it is still unformed and raw God already knows it fully. IN Romans 8 26-27 we read the spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the spirit because the spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. When a desire is nothing but an inarticulate groan, before you can form it into sentences, the Spirit of God is already speaking it with perfect clarity. By the time you begin to speak your need or desire in prayer, you are simply joining into a flow of prayer that is already in progress. Before they call I will answer, while they are still speaking I will hear (Isaiah 65:24).
- What do you think Paul means when he says pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17)?
- Have you ever felt inadequate in the face of that command? Why or why not?
- Write down how your concept of unceasing prayer has expanded what will this new understanding mean to you?
Practice a new way of praying – Turn this promise into a prayer:
“Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord: He will instruct Him in the way chosen for him.” (Ps. 25:12)
The Necessity of Prayer: Week Two
OBJECTIVE: This week as you pray, allow your mind to hold a mental image of the Living Jesus. Mentally see yourself handing burdens over to Him. Let your mind focus on His person and is presence in your life as you are involved in conversation with Him. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2
This kind of visualizing prayer will create that reality. The kind of envisioning I am suggesting is to allow your brain, which the Creator designed to be able to see images, to focus on the truth of His presence by picturing it in concrete ways. This does not create a reality, nor does it make your prayers powerful. It only allows your mind to focus on Him and respond to His leading.
Although prayer does not change God’s will, it does activate God’s will. Prayer releases the power of God to accomplish he will of God in situations and in the lives of people. Prayer is the channel through which God’s will is brought to earth. He has a veritable flood of mercies dammed up because there is no prayer to open the floodgates. Prayer is the conduit through which power from heaven is brought to earth.
God’s intense longing to bless seems in some seems to be graciously limited by His dependence on the intercession that rises from earth. He seeks to rouse the spirit of intercession that he may be able to bestow His blessing on mankind. God regards intercession as the highest readiness to receive and to yield themselves wholly to the working of His almighty power. … Andrew Murray.
It’s not that God can’t intervene to release His provisions without prayer, it’s that He won’t. You do not have, because you do not ask God (James 4:2. It is His sovereign decree that has established prayer as the bridge between the spiritual world where His Word is settled forever (Psalm 89:2)) and where all the promises of God are already Yes in Christ (II Corinthians 1:19-20 and the material world..
John Wesley makes this pointed statement “God will do noting but in answer to prayer. E.M. Bounds says “God shapes the world by prayer” I believe that as you study you will become convinced that this is what the Scripture teaches from beginning to end: God has bound Himself to His people through prayer. It is prayer that brings God’s intervening power directly to bear on situations on the earth.
If God were going to do His will without our prayer, then why did Jesus teach us to pray “Let Your will be done on earth like Your will is done in heaven? Jesus was showing us that our prayers release and activate God’s specific will. He was teaching us a kind of praying that is aggressive and powerful. When we pray, we reach into the spiritual realm (heaven) and grab hold of the will of God for that situation. Then we pull the will of God through the gap and establish it on the earth.
Look at the following scriptures, in each one draw an arrow from the cause phrase to teh effect phrase:
Example: He will call upon me ======> and I will answer Him (Psalm 91:15)
You will seek me, and find me =======> when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13.
Call to me ======> and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name =======> so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name ========> and I will do it.” John 14:13-14
You may be thinking “Does this mean that God needs us? God doesn’t need anyone – right?” Yes, God does need us, but not because He is needy.
You and I need because we are needy. God needs us because He chooses to. It is God in His sovereignty who set up the cosmos to work as He decided it should work. His sovereign decree is that His specific, intervening will in any situation will be released onto the earth by means of prayer. Prayer is the avenue that God has established for how His finished work comes from the spiritual realm and changes the eart.
The Almighty, the One and Only, the Most High has set His heart on you. He has chosen to take you into His confidence. He has decided to condition the release of His power on the prayers of His children. Because His power is all sufficient, because it needs nothing to help it out or add to it, He can demonstrate His power even through jars of clay.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us (II Corinthians 4:7).
Power that is not diluted or undercut or diminished when it operates through fallible humans — now that’s power.
The Bible describes prayer as standing in the gap (Psalm 106:23 and Ezekiel 22:30). Have you ever noticed how visual the language of Scripture is? if the Bible uses a visual phrase like stand in teh gap when He could have just said pray, you know God has something He wants you to see. He is creating a picture of a truth to make understandable. God is a wonderful graphic artist. He can turn an idea into a picture that speaks volumes to our visually oriented brains.
What is the picture that is painted with the phrase stand in the gap. First we have to answer this question: What is the gap? It seems to me that when God first created the earth there was no gap. God saw all that He had made and it was very good (Gen. 1:31). God in the beginning was pleased and satisfied with things on the earth. God’s wil was in effect on the earth just as His will was in effect in Heaven. Then sin entered the picture. Never again could God look at the earth and say “That is very good.” Sin created a gap between heaven and earth. Sin created a gap between what God wanted for the earth and what was happening on the earth. Alongside the gap, place another mental picture from God’s Word. God pictures, His people as silver. For example, see Zechariah 13:9 and Malachi 3:3. Silver is the best conductor of power of any element on earth. Two visuals: 1 – silver as a conductor and 2 a gap.
Prayer is standing n the gap, being the conductor of His power and His will into the circumstances on earth. It is so simple. Your prayers are the conduit that brings the power of heaven in the circumstances of earth.
When you are able to define prayer as simply conducting the will and the power of God through the gap and into the circumstances how does it change your perspective? Think concretely in terms of a specific need or anxiety in your life right now – fix your eyes on Jesus (write in your prayer Journal).
In Matthew 18:18, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in Heaven.” The tense of the verb is crucial here; it says that the action has been fully completed in heaven before it can be bound or loosed on earth. Prayer does not change what has been done in heaven, but releases it. Whatever heaven has bound prayer will bind on the earth. Whatever heaven has loosed, prayer will loose on the earth. Prayer causes the proclamations of heaven to be enacted on earth.
Let’s look at several examples from Scripture in which it is clear that God looks for intercessors on whose hearts He can place His desires. As Andrew Murray has written “The work of His Spirit follows the prayer of His people.”
In Daniel 9, we see Daniel, who is a captive in Babylon, reading the Word of God. He reads in the Book of Jeremiah that the desolation of Jerusalem, which is the reason Daniel is in Babylon, Daniel 1:1-4, is to be in effect for 70 years. When Daniel reads this, the desolation of Jerusalem has been in effect for 70 years in the first year of His reign, I Daniel understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet that the desolation of Jerusalem has seen in effect for 70 years in the first year of His reign, I, Daniel understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years Daniel 9:2. Putting this verse into its historical setting, the first year of the reign of Darius, son of Xerxes, was the seventieth year of Judah’s captivity. So Daniel saw God’s will and God’s plan clearly revealed in the Word. What did Daniel do? Did he sit back an wait for God to do His will? No, Daniel understood that prayer is the conduit that brings God’s will out of the spiritual realm and causes it to take effect on the earth. Daniel began to pray. “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:3. Daniel began to pray in essence. Let Your kingdom come and let Your will be done on earth the way You’ve declared it in heaven. What You have loosed in Heaven, now loose on the earth.” Indeed, the desolation of Jerusalem did end. In the year 538 BC. the first year of Darius’ reign, Judah began to return from exile. II Chronicles 36:20-23.
What was the purpose of Daniel’s prayer?
1-To bring the matter to God’s attention.
2-To convince God to end the captivity of Judah.
3-To influence God, or to shape God’s will
4-To release the power of God for the purposes of God.
When God reveals His will to us, how are we to respond?
Look at the next chapter of Daniel 10. A revelation had come to Daniel, but the meaning of the revelation was not clear. As a result of prayer “The understanding of the message came to him in a vision” Daniel 10:1 Daniel had been given a revelation, but did not understand its meaning. He began o pray and fast. He prayed and fasted for 21 days. Then the answer came to him, An angel appeared and gave Daniel the understanding he needed.
The angel’s words are telling. Looking at them closely “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself fore your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. (Daniel 10:12) What did Daniel’s prayer do?
1-It made God want something He didn’t want before.
2-It convinced God to come with an answer He hadn’t yet formulated
3-It accessed the answer God had ready for Daniel and wanted Daniel to have.
Think about it. God wanted Daniel to know the meaning of the vision. God had everything Daniel needed ready and waiting for him. But why did Daniel have what he needed? The angel said, in essence, “I have come in response to your words” as soon as Daniel began to ask “the first day you set your mind to gain understanding” the answer was being released. Because Daniel’s prayer, god’s will was activated on the earth. Daniel had to ask for what God wanted to give. God’s desire to give and Daniel’s desire to receive intertwined to form prayer.
Look at another instance in Scripture in which prayer clearly activated God’s will. To see this fully, we will line up the Old Testament and the New Testament. James 5:16-18 makes a bold statement about prayer. It tells us that prayer changes the earth. The earth is subject to the power of the Spirit.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16.
The word translated “powerful and effective” is a Greek word that means to exercise force; to create change. Prayer has power and prayer produces an effect. Then, to make his point very clear, James points to an example. He points to Elijah: “Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.” Again he prayed and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” James 5:17-18.
James expects his readers to know the story of Elijah. He expects his readers to see that this is a synopsis of the story, not two sentences that stand alone. If you were to read these two sentences without putting them in their bigger setting, it might sound as if Elijah one day decided that a drought would be a good idea and began to ask God for it. This is not the case. To get the full truth that James is teaching we will have to put the Old Testament and New Testament together. we read the story to which James refers in I Kings 17. Now remember that James says that Elijah prayed that it would not rain, and it did not rain. But whose idea is the drought?
“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, as the LORD the God of Israel lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” I Kings 17:1.
Elijah makes it clear that he’s speaking for God. He prefaces His declaration with a phrase that indicates that Elijah is coming from the presence of His King to deliver His King’s message. “As the Lord God lives, whom I serve …” his statement is bold and audacious. No dew, no rain, except at Elijah’s word. Why can Elijah make such a statement?
Look in I kings 17:24. A widow, whose son Elijah has raised from the dead makes an observation that explains why Elijah can say, “except at my word.” “Then the woman said to Elijah, Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your moth is the truth. Elijah’s words are God’s words. God has declared the drought. What has Elijah done? He has prayed the drought. God says it, Elijah prays it, God performs it. Elijah’s prayers released the will of God on earth.
Then James says Elijah’s prayers brought rain back to the earth. Whose idea was it for the drought to end? “After a long time, in the third year the word of the LORD came to Elijah: God and present yourself to Ahab and I will send rain on the land.” I Kings 18:1. Once again God says it Elijah prays it, God performs it.
Follow the story further. Elijah hears from God. Elijah knows that God is ready to end the drought. He is so certain of this that he declares it publicly. There is no question in Elijah’s mind God wants to end the drought. What does he do? He is so certain of this that he declares it publicly. “And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go eat and drink for there is the sound of a heavy rain.’ So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bend down to the ground and put his face between his knees.” (I Kings 18:41-42).
Elijah went off to pray until the word of the Lord was established in the material realm. Elijah knew that prayer was the conduit to bring the will of God causing the will of God to be done on earth as it was done in Heaven. What God had bound in Heaven Elijah’s prayer bound on the earth. What God had loosed in Heaven., Elijah’s prayer loosed on the earth. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16.
From your study to this point answer these questions: What does prayer do? can you think of any purpose prayer might have other than to release the power, will, and purposes of God? Why do you think that God has chosen to work hand in hand with His people through prayer?
In response to our prayers, spiritual forces are set in motion that bring God’s will to earth. Prayer has its first effect in the spiritual real. When the work is finished in the spiritual realm, the answer is revealed in the material realm. Prayer is spiritual work. What do I mean by that? In the material realm, the definition of work is to use energy to create change. Everything I do that uses energy to create change falls under the category for work. In the spiritual realm prayer is how energy is released to create change. Remember James 5:16 the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Prayer changes the spiritual realm and the spiritual realm changes the material realm. Because prayer has its first effect in the spiritual realm a reality that cannot be observed with the physical senses, there is a period of time when from the earth it appears that prayer isn’t changing things. This is because it is doing spiritual work. Wait until the time is fulfilled when everything is ripe. That’s when the kingdom of heaven will be revealed to your senses.
Many people mistake prayer for a passive activity. Some thing that prayer is what you do when there’s nothing left to do but pray. GET THIS IN YOUR SPIRIT: Prayer is the work. Prayer it the most aggressive, offensive, pro-active, invasive work you can ever engage in. We are not talking here about just saying prayers. This is living prayer. Let’s examine a well known much quoted passage of Scripture and what it has to say about prayer as an offensive strategy.
Read Ephesians 6:10-18
Answer these questions, basing your answers on this passage:
What is the thesis statement — the statement that everything else builds from (the first sentence).
Take this sentence apart; examine each phrase. What is it saying to you?
In the Lord
And in His might power
Paul is about to tell us how to access the power of God for our lives each situation an dhow to sidestep the devils schemes, Did you know that the devil has a scheme? The word translated scheme is a word that means a well thought out plan. The enemy is working according to an agenda. This agenda, this scheme, is being carried out by powers, principalities and authorities in the spiritual realm. What does Paul say to do?
Therefore, _________________ the ______________ of God.
The word therefore links two thoughts together in a cause and effect relationship. Explain the use of thereforein this verse. What is the cause? Whatis the effect?
From there, Paul describes the armor. Hetells you how to put on the battle gear. Onceyou have all teh armor on, once you are dressed for battle after heahs named the last piece of gear, then what does He say to do?
How do you fith the fitht? howdo you wield the sowrd? howdo you plunte into enemy occupied territory? you pray! And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all teh saints. Ephesians 6:18.
PRAYER WORKS IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM
Spirit is the cause of the material realm. Hebrews 11:3 and is the genesis of activity on the earth. Earth is the reflection or the shadow of activity occurring in the spiritual realm. For example Paul teaches us in Ephesians 6:12 that our enemies are not flesh and blood. Rather, they are powers and principalities in the heavenly realms. It would appear that flesh and blood, people are standing in the way of GOd’s purposes. But Scripture tells us that what we see on the earth is the result of what is happening in the heavenly realms. We also learn that the remedy for what is happening on earth will be accomplished in the spiritual realm Victories in the spiritual realm result in changes in teh physicla realm. Earth is subject to the powers of spirit.
God’s word, a spirit force, does God’s Spirit work. When God’s spirit work is finished it is reflected on teh earth God’s word created teh earth and God’s Word sustains the earth . Hebrews 1:3. The created is subject to and dependednt upon teh Creator. The created is physical but the Creator is Psiit. THe material realm is subject to the spiritual realm. True prayer is God’s words in my mouth. God’s words do His work andHe is sending His words out with an assignment. He is watching over His words to see that the assignment is carried out. Isaiah 55:10-11 Jeremiah 1:9, 12. When God sends out through your mouth, the spiritual realm is immediately fully engaged. Spiritual forces are dispatched. All of Heaven is poised to resopnd to the prayers ofGod’s people. THrough prayer, the enemyh’s schemes are thwarted. THrough prayer the powers, principalities, and authoriies of Satan’s realm are stopped cold. THrough prayer all of the pwoer and provision of God flows into the lives of His poeple. Prayer brings the power of God to earth to do tehwill of God. Am I saying that God’s power is absent form teh earth unless I pray? Let’s examine this thought more closely. You may be asking, “Is God’s power eer absent form the earth? Theanswer is No, His power is never absent. He fills heaven and earht. the earth and its fullness belong to Him. THe Heavens declare His glory and creation pours forth knowledge of Him. God’s power coverst teh earth. God’s specific and intervening power is released into circumstances and lives by prayer. THink of it like this. The sun’s rays cover the earth. However, when one holds a magnifying glass over a flammable object such as a dry leaf, the sun’s rays are refracted (bent toward one anotehr throught eh glass. The result is that the rays of the suna re concerntrated and directed, their power magnified. Therefracted rays create focused and intense heat. The leaf, exposed to the focused power of the sun bursts into flames. God’s power cover the earth. Prayer focuses an dmagnifies His power on a particular situation or a specific life. That life or situation, consistently exposed to his intense power, is changed by it. When the sun’s rays are captured and refracted through the magnifying glass, ahs the glass increased or in anyh way changed the sun’s pwoer? No, it has only focused it. The power belongs only to the sun. So it is that prayer focuses the power of God.
Prayers of Surrender: WEEK THREE
This week, each day write out in detail your will for a situation facing you. write out definite instructions for God about how you think He should handle it. Then write across it in red ink, “Surrendered to the Father. Do Your will in Your way in YOur time.” Then pray this way: Father, here is my will. You know that I have a will and expectation in every matter, but I choose to lay my will down and not settle for anything less than Your wonderful will. I trust Your love for me and Your wisdom in this situation. Not my will but Yours be done.
In the first place, it is not our prayers that move the lord Jesus, but the Lord Jesus who moves us to pray.
God initiates prayer. we’ve turned prayer upside down. Prayer, in the first place is not me coming to God, but God coming to me. The scripture tells us that God is awakening desires, initiating spiritual hunger, creating in His children the inclination to seek Him. To pray is really a response to God’s now speaking voice. From our pont of view, it feels like initiative, but it’s really response.
Many people ask me about Isaiah 62:6-7, which in the New American Standard says, You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rst until he establishes and makes jerusalem a praise in the earth. “the word translated “remind” here means to think or be mindful; remind to think again. He is saying, “you who keep the Lord in mind. Then look at the preceding verses and you will see that they have been placed in their positions as watchmen on the wall by God. He has initiated their crying out day and night.
When you feel the need to pray, do you recognize it as God Himself seeking to rouse the spirit of intercession? Right now, what do you feel compelled to pray about? Write down a topic or topics that concern you.
God regards intercession as the highest readiness to receive and to yield themselves wholly to the working of His almighty power.
Now, go back through each of those topics and let the Spirit of God speak to you about God’s longing to bless. Listen to Him tell you that you desire to pray because He desires to give. let the assurance build in your heart that it is the Father himself inviting you to receive His best in each situation that has caused you to desire to pray. Write out your thoughts.
The only reason that you have an inclination to pray, the only reason that you have any thought that the answer to your longings and your needs might lie with God, the only reason is because God is drawing you. When you pray, you are doing one thing, opening your life to receive His power and provision. Watchman Nee gives a wonderful illustration of this truth in his book “Let Us Pray.” He suggests that God’s will is like a locomotive and our prayers are like a railroad track. A locomotive has all the power necessary to travel from one location to another but it only travels to places where tracks have been laid.
God has the power to go anywhere He wants to go, but His power only goes where prayer tracks have been laid. Our prayers fulfill the conditions for the release of His will. Our prayers, in once sense, prepare the way for the Lord, making straight paths for him (Isaiah 40:3). His power is released by our prayers.
Why do you think God has designed the workings of the spiritual realm so that prayer is necessary?
Imagine for a moment what life might be like if God automatically did His will without the prayers of His people. How would you recognize His work?
Do you see any way that God’s design for prayer reflects His love for His children?
Prayer journal – Write out your will and surrender it to the Father.
True prayer is when God’s heart is expressed through your words. True prayer is when God’s words are in your mouth. How do God’s words get in your mouth? First, God’s desires must be in you heard. “OUt of the overflow of teh heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). A wise mand’s heart guides his mough (Proverbs 16:23). Powerful praying is not a matter of knowing the right words to say, rather it is having a heart that is at God’s disposal, open to hear His every sin and whisper and to echo it in prayer. As God molds your heart so that it matches His, your heart overflows in prayer. What God has spoken in your innermost being guides your lips in prayer.
He is your Prayer Teacher. He is transforming your life, shaping your heart. The end result of this intense training is what the Srcipture calls an instructed tongue. “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue.” Isaiah 50:4. THe content of all true prayer originates in the heart of God. Prayer in its highest form occurs when the words I articulate with my mouth or in my mind are merely the containers for God’s thoughts and desires – when – like Elijah – the Word of the Lord from my mouth is truth, then I am truly praying.
In your prayer experience, how much time have you devoted to making yourself open for God o express Himself to you?
What do you think would be necessary for letting God shape your prayers?
In your own words, what does this sentence mean –God authors prayer:
Prayer Journal: Write out your will and surrender it to the Father.
In living a praying life, God’s will is so exactly reproduced in us that it becomes our will. we find that when we pray the deepest desires of our hearts, we are stating His desires. The key to bring able to receive all that God longs to give is to have a heart that is fully His. When His desires are in our hearts, His words rise from us as prayers. Our jobis to allow the Spirit of Godthe access He needs to each of our hearts so He can cleanse them of debris. The clutter in our hearts throws off its acoustics. acoustics are defined as the qualities that determine the ability of an enclosure to reflect soundwaves in such a way as to produce distinct heartin. How are your heart’s acoustics? Does God need to do some renovation? Does He need to tear down some walls? Clear out some rubbish? Haul away some wreckage? Clean out some corners?
Read John 15:7. What is the one central key that opens your life to all that God longs to give you?
Listen to God. Ask Him if your life is as open to Him as possible. What is the Spirit of God surfacing in your thoughts? How can your life become more open to hwat God wats to give? Wrie down what you hear Him say.
Prayer Journal: Write out your will and surrender it to the Father.
the scripture teaches that God has reated you so that you can contian His Spirit. When His Spirit makes His home in you, He then speaks in you and makes known to you all truty. Le tme lay out for you the logic for believing that Almighty God can and will speak to you. God designed prayer. God put prayer into effect to function as the conduit that brings His will out of the spiritual realm and causes it to take effect on the eearth.
God wants to do hiw will.
Prayer works when it is he expression of His will. read I John 5:14-14. God did not set us up for failure. He designed prayer to work effectively. Therefore, God can make His will and His desires known to us.
The key to everything is that teh life of Jesus is flowing througgh you by means of His Spirit. It is Jesus’ prayers that are the content of your pfayers. The Spirit is reproducing the intercession of Jesus in you. Jesus is the praying life, and His life is in you. We doo this because we are partakers of His life. Christ is our life. no longer I,n but Christ liveth in me. The life in Him and in us is one and the same. His life in Heaven is an ever praying life. When it descends and takes possession of us, it does not lose its character in us. It is the ever-praying life — a life without ceasing, asks and receives from God. As we know that Jesus communicates His whole life in us, He also, out of that prayerfulness which is His alone, breahes into us our praying. If Jeus sdwells at the source of my life — if the flow of His life has replaced all of my life, then He can safely commit the praying to my will. If absolute obedience to Him is the inspiration and foce of every movement of my life, then He will pledge Himself, by a duty as deep as His own nature, that whatever is asked will be granted.
Read I Corinthians 2:16. where is the mind of Christ?
Read John 16:13-15 what does Jeuss promise that the Holy Spirit will do?
when Jeuss says that the Holy Spirit will take from whatis mine and make it known to you, do you think that includes Jesus’ intercession? Will the Holy Spirit make known Jesus’ prayers to you so that you can join Him?
Prayer Journal: Write out your will and surrender it to the Father.
God’s heart is the beginning point of prayer. Any request that does not begin with God is not true prayer. The conent of our prayers is God’s decision. Ezekiel 36:37 illustrates this truth. Here, through the prohet Ezekiel, God is foretelling the end of the days of Judah’s judgment. In prefeeding verses He had described His plan to restore Israel. The plan was not yet so on the earth, but it was firmly fixed in the heart of God. He describes it in detial. Then in verse 37 he says: This also will I let the house of Israel ask me to do for them. Do you see? Part of God’s whole plan is that Israel will ask for what God longs to give. God Himself will athor their prayers.
Prayer releases onto the earth what God has prepared in heaven. The answer is prepared before the request is made. In fact, the answer is prepared before the need occurs: :’Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24.
God wants to author our prayers in such a way that He will be glorified. Psalm 50:15 says “Call to me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.: When we call to Him, releasing His power and His will, He will be able to bring honor to Himself. He wants our lives to become billboards upon which He can advertise Himself. He wants our lives to be stages upon which He can perform. He wants our lives too be trophy cases in which He can display His might deeds. He wants us to be livin proof of Him. Through prayer we give Him permission to act in our lives in a way that will show His pwoer and authority.
Read I Corinthians 2:9 and Ephesians 3:20. How does God describe what He wants to do in our lives? Does God wabt to do the best thing you can imagine? God wnats to do more than you can imagine. do you really want to limit God to what you can think up? If we could get God to do what we think He should do wen we hink He should do it, we would miss the eternal plan that exceeds our imaginations. Consider tehs tory of Lazarus in John 11. Lazarus was very ill on his death bed, and Mary and MArtha sent an urgent message to Jesus. The one you love is sick. The implication in their message and their expectation was that Jesus should quickly make His way to Bethany and heal Lazarus hbefore he died. Jesus did not act in accordance with their expectations of Him, He did not hurry to Bethany to heal Lazarus before he died. Four days elapsed beteween teh time that Lazarus died and the time tha Jesus arrived. You can imagine what a devastating four days it was. Imagine the disillusionment and disappointment Mary and MArtha felt when Jesus failed to meet their expectations. Everything they believed about Jesus at that moment was threatened. Have you ever been in taht state? Havae you ever been in a situation like that after looking at all the empirital evidence and all tehfacts, the only conclusion you could reach was thart God had let you down? That’s where Mary and MArtha weree. They were edxperiencing a crisis of faith. Let’s look at Mary’s and Martha’s faith. Both expressed their firm believ that if Jesus had been there, Lazarus would not have died. They thought that in asking Jesus to heal Lazarus, they had asked all that it was possible to ask. They thougth that healing Lazarus was pushing the limits of His pwoer. Once Lazarus was dead, they reasoned, Jesus was too alte. they has asked all that they could think or imagine. What did Jesus plan to do>? He planned to do more than they could think or imagine. He was not interested in meeting their expectations because He intended to exceed their expectations. He did not confirm their faith, becuase He wanted to stretch their faith. He was not content ot leave Mary and MArtha with what they knew of Him so far. By raising Lazarus from teh deaed, He enlarged their understanding of Him and their view of His power. When God has access to our needs, He will always show us something new about Himself. We will learn to align ourselves with eternal realities and not have our fiath sabotaged by time bound, earth-bound vision. We will begin to live beyond our limits. Are you trying to hold God to the best thing you can think of? Right now, would you tell God that ou are aligning yourself with the best thing He can think of? That you are ope to His best even if it conflicts with your own earth-bound expectations? Write out your thoughts.
Prayer Journal: Write out your will and aurreder it to the Father.
OBJECTIVE: Week Five will explore the process of prayer. Each day’s prayer journal activity will have a Scripture reference describing some aspect of God’s nature. Look up the reference, consider His ways, and as you pray, let His nature provide a foothold for your faith.
As I continued in the school of prayer, I recognized another misconception that was limiting my prayer life. I had assumed that prayer was made up of two parts: my request and God’s answer. I thought the measure of my prayer ability was how many times I received what I asked for. I had what I now think of as a “prayer-list prayer-life/”
What do I mean by a “prayer-list prayer-life?” This is a mind set that limits its prayer to getting God to perform for you. Understand there’s nothing wrong with a prayer list. In fact, a prayer list is a wonderful tool for observing God’s power. It all depends on how you use it. The problem occurs when your prayer list is really a “To Do List for God.”
Let me illustrate this subtle error in thinking by telling you a story about my son Christopher. We were driving and it seemed that every time we pulled up to a red light it changed to green. The lights were with us. Finally, he could not contain his delight any longer. He said with great enthusiasm: “I’ve been praying for God to change the lights and He’s been obeying me!” You and I know too much about theology to use the word obey, but if we are honest, that’s really how we are seeing it. If God did what was on my list, He answered. If he didn’t do what was on my list, He didn’t answer, or he said no. And this became the measure of prayer’s effectiveness.
A “prayer-list prayer-life” begins to build a distorted understanding of prayer. According to the prayer list, sometimes god says yes and sometimes God says no. Since the praying person would have no way of knowing whether this is a time when God will say yes, or this is a time when God will say no, it becomes very hard to pray boldly and confidently.
As you are learning to live a praying life, prayer takes on a much broader definition that saying prayers. Much of what prayer is accomplishing cannot be condensed to a list. Many times the direct answers to petition are the least important aspect ow what the prayer accomplished. I believe that as you progress and mature into a praying life, your testimony of prayer’s effectiveness will be that the mercies of God unfold at every turn – you walked in answered prayer. The longer you live a life of this kind, the more answer to prayer you will experience. Answers to prayer will settle down on you at every step you take, even to your dying day.
Prayer lists are effective if they are in the context of a praying life. Use your prayer list like this: write down the concern or the need and date it. The date is the day you surrendered it to God for His purposes, His ways and His timing. Now, don’t watch to see if God answers – watch to see how God answers. You will find that He answers progressively. He puts together pieces, each one building on the other. Record things as you go along and watch with amazement as God pieces things together for an outcome that is more than you could think or imagine.
Take inventory of your thoughts and attitudes about prayer. Have you had a “prayer-list prayer-life?” Do you have a mental file of all the times God didn’t follow your instructions? Is that mental file insidiously undermining your faith in God and your boldness in prayer? Write out your thoughts.
Prayer cannot be summed up in a simple two part equation: my request+God’s answer= prayer. Prayer is a process. Webster’s dictionary defines the word process as a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result; a series of actions or operations conducing to an end. It is during the process of prayer that God does His mightiest work. If this were not so, then God would have set prayer up to work like a vending machine: put in a request, get out an answer. God has a loving and productive reason for the process of prayer.
5.1 Prayer Journal: Practice a new way of praying
“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love.” Psalm 33:18.
It is during the process of prayer that the praying person is brought to total submission to the Father. During the process of prayer, God weans our hearts from the things we (so) desire to fasten on Him.
At our first entrance into the school of waiting upon God, the heart is chiefly set upon the blessings which we wait for. God graciously uses our need and desire for help to educate us for something higher than we were thinking of. “We were seeking gifts; He, the Giver, longs to give Himself and to satisfy the soul with His goodness” –Andrew Murray-
God works through the prayer process to expand our vision to deepen our hunger, to stretch our faith, and to lift our desires higher. We start the process desiring something from Him; we end it desiring only Him. Through the prayer process, our heart’s cry becomes, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps 73:25-26)
When the Prayer Teacher has been able to reveal to you that He is all, that there is nothing to crave but more of Him, then you realize that He is willing to answer every prayer with a yes because the heart of every true prayer is “More of You. … More of You.” Your need or your desire is simply the entry point for Him to give you more of Himself. In meeting your need and fulfilling your desire, He is drawing you to deeper dependence on Him, therefore to deeper intimacy with Him.
What is your concern or need or desire right now? Where do you long to see God demonstrate His power?
Would you be willing to make this your prayer? Father, I confess that I have set my heart on an outcome rather than on You. Right now, in the power of Your indwelling life, I transfer my hope and expectation to You. The heart of my prayer is, “More of You,” I ask You to work in this matter in whatever way will bring me more of You.
5.2 Prayer Journal: Practice a new way of praying:
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth.” Psalms 145:17-18
Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the eh Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” During the process of prayer, this truth takes on its richest, deepest meaning. First, you find that when you delight yourself I the Lord, He becomes the desire of your heart. The word translated “delight” comes from a Hebrew root word that means “soft, moldable, or pliable.” When you delight yourself in the eh Lord, you become pliable and moldable in His hands. He is able to fashion a heart like His. He is able to create desires that match His will. In fact, Paul writes, “It is God who works in you to will …. His good purpose.” Philippians 2:13
Second, you realize that you cannot know the desire of your heart unless you know the heart of your desire. Usually, what we call “the desire of my heart” is really a secondary desire orbiting around the true desire. Usually, what we think we desire is really the way we have imagined the true desire will be met. Let me first give you a simple illustration of what I mean.
One summer, my family spent the entire summer in the South. At home, my son played on a football team. They often had games on Wednesday nights. Skipping the games was not an option since he had made a commitment to the team. At my home church, Wednesday night is the night geared toward youth who are lost. One Wednesday night a month they have a youth baptism. On a particular Wednesday night scheduled for youth baptism, two of my cousins boys, whom my son had prayed for and led to Christ, were to be baptized, but he had a football game. So we prayed that God would rain out the game. Now, why did we pray that? It wasn’t that we really desired rain, it was that we wanted him to see his cousins baptized. But we couldn’t think of anything else that would cancel a football game.
It didn’t rain. Did God say no to our prayer? The game started and it became dark. The field lights malfunctioned and the game had to be called. My child made it to church in plenty of time to see and to celebrate his cousins baptism. Do you see? Our prayer was that it would rain, but our desire was that he would attend the baptisms. Some day I will learn once and for all that God does not need my successions, just my prayers. But, while I’m learning, He is always saying yes to my heart’s desire.
On a much deeper level that the story, the same dynamic is happening in our prayers. We think we are asking for the desire of our hearts, but we are really asking for the desire of the moment. Often, in order to give you the desire of you heart, God will withhold the desire of the moment. He only says no as a prelude to a higher yes. Give Him time, give Him access so that He can peel back the desire of the moment and show you the desire of your heart. To the desire of your heart, there will always be a resounding yes from heaven.
I began to learn this one time when I had finished leading a conference. My voice got raspier and raspier as the conference went on. By the time I had finished, I had no voice at all. I had to leave the next morning and fly to another city to lead another conference. On the flight I prayed “ Oh God, give me back my voice.” The Lord began to ask me “Why do you want your voice?” I answered “SO I can lead this conference.”
“Why do you want to lead the conference?”
“So that people can learn how to live in Your power”
“Why do you want people ot live in My power?”
“So You can glorify Yourself”
“Then, Barbara,” He seemed to say, “ask me for that.”
And my prayer became: “Father, glorify Yourself. The tension left me. My soul rested. I did not know how God would answer my prayer, but I knew that He would answer my prayer. He helped me discover the desire of my heart and relinquish the desire of the moment.
Read II Corinthians 12:7-10 and answer the following questions:
What was Paul’s request (v. 8)?
Did God say no to that specific request?
What was the heart of Paul’s desire? (In other words, why did he want the thorn in his flesh removed?
“What was Paul’s true heart’s desire? (Philippians 3:7-11 will give you a good idea.)
Did God say yes to the desire of Paul’s heart?
Paul’s prayer was stated in words that expressed the desire of the moment to be rid of the thorn in his flesh that seemed to hinder his work. But the wonderful Father heard the cry of Paul’s heart: to know Him fully – both in the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship of His suffering – and to be conformed into His image. In order to give Paul the desire of His heart, God had to withhold the desire of the moment. What looks like a no is really a yes in disguise. If you are crying out for bread, He will not give you a stone. (Matthew 7:9). He will not give you something that just resembles your true desire. He will not give you something just to pacify you. He will give you your true heart’s desire in order to satisfy you.
God never says no to the desire of your heart. As you surrender yourself to the process of prayer, let Him have so much access to you that He is able to clear away all the secondary desires. Let Him crystallize for you and bring to the forefront the one overriding desire to have more of Him. “As for me, the nearness of God is my good” Psalm 73:28 (nasb0
5.3 Prayer Journal: Practice a new way of praying
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103-13-14.
As we look at the process of prayer over the next few weeks, you will clearly see that the process is beneficial. You will welcome the process instead of resisting it. You will learn how to let it develop perseverance in you and how to let the process “finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. “ (James 1:4).
What God is accomplishing during the process of prayer will set you free from anxiety from insecurity, from fear, from, discouragement, from everything that holds any mastery over you. He is setting you free from limited thinking. He Himself is teaching you the deep truth that sets you free. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free – if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:32-36).
What emotions do you think have mastery over you? What emotions seem able to take you captive at will? Surrender each of these emotions to the Son and ask Him to use the process of prayer to set you truly free. Ask Him to make the truth real for you.
5.4 Prayer Journal: Practice a new way of praying:
“He will not let your foot slip, He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)
“The process of prayer resembles the process of pregnancy and birth. Paul stated it like this: my dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19
Notice here two sides of the process of prayer. During the process, God is at work in us shaping us into the image of Christ. The word translated “form” here is a Greek word that means to form, fashion, originally used of artists who shaped their material into an image. The scripture is using an imagery that is consisted throughout the image of the Master Potter sculpting and shaping clay into the form He desires. The process of prayer results in change in us. During the process of prayer, He is fashioning a heart like His.
Second, Paul describes his experience in praying God’s will of the Galatians as similar to childbirth. He is in labor, he says, until the will of God is delivered from the spiritual realm to the material realm. Remember when we examined Elijah’s prayer in I Kings 18:42: “Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.” Do you know what Elijah was doing? He was taking the birthing position. The passage goes on to describe Elijah’s travail. He continued in prayer until his servant could report to him that a cloud small as a man’s hand had appeared in earth’s sky. Then Elijah knew that God’s will had been brought through the gap and released on the earth.
Why do you think God, in His Word pictures prayer as a birthing process? What is He teaching us?
Prayer Journal: Practice a new way of praying
“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 18:30
WEEK 5: Waiting on God:
OBJECTIVE: This week as you pray thank God for your waiting periods. Surrender yourself to His timing and recognize it as perfect. Let Him speak to you from His word. Each day write out what you hear Him saying to you about your specific situation. Let Him call you by name and tell you His thoughts. Journal your thoughts and insights.
The most difficult part of the process of prayer can be waiting on God. When we fail to recognize the waiting time as an indispensable ingredient in the process, it becomes a time of discouragement and frustration. It is during the waiting times that many people drop out of the school of prayer. Not receiving their answers as they expected, many conclude that prayer doesn’t work, at least not for them.
While the waiting time is the most difficult part of the process, it is also the most important. Waiting gives God the opportunity to redefine our desires and align our purpose and vision with His. What appears from the earth perspective to be a delay on God’s part is really the time when God is working in the spiritual realm, beyond our senses, “faith is being … certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1, during the waiting, we are operating by faith.
Prayer has an immediate impact. The instant a thought is turned toward God, no matter how unformed or inarticulate the thought, it creates a stir in the heavenly realms. Unless we understand what is happening in the spiritual realm, we may think that prayer is having no effect. Prayer impacts the spiritual realm and the spiritual realm impacts the earth.
Let me explain what I mean. Paul writes, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen … we live by faith, not by sight.” II Corinthians 4:18; 5:7. Paul contrasts faith and sight. They are opposites, he says. He is saying that physical sight, being able to observe something with our earth eyes, is not the ground and basis of what we know to be true. We can know things that we cannot see. Paul also contrasts physical vision and spiritual vision. Obviously we cannot fix our eyes on what is unseen unless he means our spiritual eyes. So we conclude that our spiritual eyes can see spiritual reality just like our earth eyes can see material reality.
Faith is spiritual sight, but not physical sight. Faith produces an understanding that surpasses what we can understand by observing material facts. “By faith, we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 11:3. Without faith, spiritual sight, we cannot understand the truth about light. I would observe light carefully over a period of time and we would eventually reach a conclusion based on my observation. I would conclude that light is what I can see. If I can see it, it’s light. If I can’t see it, it’s not light.
This conclusion would be so limited that it would be untrue. It would fall so far short of the truth about light that it would be case. You see, light includes in it elements and power that I cannot observe. Light rays include gamma rays, but I can’t observe them with my eyes. Light rays include x-rays, ultraviolet rays, infrared rays, radio waves – but I can’t see them. If the spectrum of light were represented in a diagram eight inches long, only one quarter of one inch would represent visible light. If I decided to define light based on what I could see, I would never know the power of light.
The spectrum of our reality includes elements and power I cannot see with my earth eyes. Reality is made up of both what I can see and what I can’t see. My reality includes the power of God, the plans and purposes of God, the present tense voice of God, and the promises of God. The spectrum of my reality includes the sovereignty of God, the lordship and authority of Jesus, the work of the Spirit, angels, Satan, and the hierarchy of Stan’s realm. The portion of reality that I can see – earth and the circumstances of earth, are only a miniscule portion of the whole continuum of reality. If I base my definition of reality on what I can observe on the earth, I will never comprehend the full reality. In the life of faith, circumstances never fully define reality. Prayer impacts the invisible, spiritual end of the spectrum. The spiritual end of the spectrum impacts the material end. We are to focus our attention on what God is doing in the spiritual end of the spectrum of reality, confident that His activity will show up on the earth at the right time in the right way.
What we can observe from earth is only the appearance; it is not the truth. Faith acts in harmony with truth and disregards appearance. The circumstances of earth are like an optical illusion. When you look at an optical illusion, your eyes tell you one thing, but the truth is something else. You can only interpret an optical illusion correctly if you understand the principles of how the background affects the foreground. You have to know something that you do not see. Otherwise you will believe a lie.
This week we will examine what the scripture tells us God is doing when it looks to us like He’s delaying. Do you believe that God has a good and productive purpose for building waiting periods into you life? Recall James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
When God brings waiting periods into your life it is for only one reason: so that you can test drive your faith. I were planning to buy a car, I could research my purchase and decide what car I wanted, what make and model, what color, what add-on features. I could know everything about the car I want except how it handles in my hands. Not until I get behind the wheel and drive it for myself will I know the feel of the car. I have to drive it myself before I can know exactly how to adjust the seat and the mirrors, or how much pressure I have to put on the brake pedal to bring it to a smooth stop, or exactly how I have to turn the steering wheel to get exactly the right angle when I turn. I won’t make my final purchase until I have handled the car myself – until I have test driven it. It is the same way with your faith. You can study faith. You can memorize verses about faith. You can learn slick, pithy definitions about faith. But until you have the opportunity to test drive your own faith, you will never know how it handles in your hands. James says that God tests our faith. Does that mean He puts it to the test so that you can see how faith operates? The word test really means to prove. God already knows everything about you and everything that’s in your heart. IN fact, He knows it better than you do. He doesn’t have to devise a test that will tell Him about your faith. He is proving your faith to you. Peter says the same thing: “These (trials) have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold which perishes, even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” I Peter 1:7
When God allows you to test drive your faith over and over again, you learn how to operate in faith with obedience. You become a mature and seasoned faith walker. Mature faith has deep roots, it’s not easily shaken. The person with mature faith is steady and tenacious. He has what James calls perseverance, the ability to go the distance.
What is it that you are waiting for? What is your proving ground right now?
Do you believe that God has the power to change your circumstances and end your wait right now?
Do you believe that God loves you and wants only your highest good and deepest happiness?
If God has the power to change your circumstance right now and if God loves you and wants your highest good; and if the circumstances are still in place; then what is your conclusion, based on truth?
6.1 Prayer Journal: Practice a new way of praying
Thank God for every day of your wait, grounding your thanksgiving in His word.
“Moses answered them, “Wait until I find out what the LORD commands concerning you.” (Numbers 9:8)
Today we will continue to look at what is happening in the spiritual realm while from the earth it appears that God is delaying. Let me repeat a thought. Get this firmly in the forefront of your thinking. Filter everything else through this truth: in response to prayer, God is always bringing His will into being.
Because God has set up the cosmos so that prayer brings His power into the circumstances of earth. It is clear that He wants to work through His people, not outside them. He wants His people engaged in what He’s doing. He wants to make His will known to His people so that they can pray it. However, he does not submit to us His detailed plan for how He is going to do His will. If we don’t understand that, sometimes during the waiting period it will look as though God has lost control of events and everything is headed in the wrong direction. Let’s dig deeper into the lessons we learn about God’s ways form the story of Joseph.
God wants you to understand His will. He wants you to have “the full riches of complete understand.” Colossians 2:2. He has given His Spirit so that “we may understand what God has freely given us I Corinthians 2:12. Jesus has come and “has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true.” I John 5:20. He wants to “fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Colossians 1:9.
Does it sound as if God is keeping His will a secret: On the contrary, He has made every provision for you to know His will. He wants you to know His will. He invites you to know His will. In fact understanding His will is the cornerstone of power praying. You cannot pray with power if you do not pray according to His will. Since He designed prayer to be the conduit that brings His power to earth, and since He designs all things perfectly, He plans for you to know His will. He plans for prayer to work.
The path His will takes, the way He brings His will into being, remains a mystery. “Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God How unsearchable his judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out” Romans 11:33. God will never hand over to us His all knowingness. Sometimes we mistake His will for His ways and become confused. When I think that I have reached an understanding of God’s will and being to pray according to it, He often begins bringing His will about in a way that looks to me like a mistake. I have now built up enough history with Him that usually I know to wait and watch not to confuse His ways with Hi s will. I’m learning not to confuse what He’s doing with how He’s doing it.
Consider the story of Joseph, which begins in the thirty seventh chapter of Genesis and continues through the first chapter of Exodus. What was God’s will for Joseph? God showed Joseph His plan in a series of dreams Joseph came to understand that he was destined to be a ruler to whom even his father and brothers would bow. The next we hear of Joseph, he is at the bottom of a well listening to his brothers plot his death and begging for his life. He is sold into slavery, taken as a slave to a foreign land, and thrown into prison after being falsely accused. It does not appear that God Is bringing about His will. It appears that God has lost control of Joseph’s life because of the choices of evil men. Actually, God is working out His plan for Joseph so that He can work out His plan for Israel so that He can work out His plan for humanity.
For God’s perspective on the situation look at Psalm 105. What is God’s will for Israel, the nation: Read verse 8-11. It is summed up like this” TO you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.” When Israel first reached Canaan, they were “but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. What did God need to do in order to bring His will about? He needed to give Israel a place to grow prosper, learn skills, and reproduce safely. He needed to put them under the protection of a larger, more advanced civilization for a time. He needed them in Egypt.
How did He do it? He sent a man before them – Joseph – sold as a slave. Psalm 105:17. It looked as if Joseph’s evil brothers had sent him to Egypt. It looked as if God’s will was being thwarted by bad decisions. But God said that it was He who sent Joseph to Egypt. Joseph explained it to his brothers like this” “But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Genesis 45:7-8. God used seemingly adverse circumstances to position Joseph for receiving the promise.
How did God get Israel out of Canaan into Egypt? “He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food – Psalm 105:16. He brought famine on the land, but first he prepared their deliverance. It was waiting for them in Egypt. What appeared to be a disaster and a tragedy drove them to God’s provision. How was God bringing about His will for Joseph and at the same time bringing His plan for His people into being? God allowed Joseph to be put in a position from which God could display His power in just the way that would give Joseph the most credibility with the pharaoh. “They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true. The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom.” Psalm 105:18-22. Did God bring about exactly what He had promised Joseph He would do? Yes, to the last detail. Did God do it as Joseph expected Him to? No, far from it.
When God had Joseph in place, when He had brought about His plan for Joseph, His Joseph-plan could merge with His Israel plan. Israel moved into Egypt under the protection of Joseph, whom God had put in place. In Egypt, the nation of Israel grew to become a large nation. “Then Israel entered Egypt … The Lord made his people very fruitful.”
Exodus chapter one tells us that the nation of Israel grew so large and so strong that it frightened the new king. “Look he said to his people, the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country. So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor.” Exodus 1:9-11/
What was the next step in God’s plan for His people? He wanted to toughen them up physically, mentally, and spiritually and get them ready to take the land he had promised form their enemies. So what did He do? “The Lord made His people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes, whose hearts he turned to hate his people, to conspire against his servants. Psalm 105:24-25. Do you see? It appeared that the Israelites became victims to the whim of the new Pharoah. The Truth is that God was moving Israel forward. He was engineering Israel’s next step toward possessing the promise. What looked like a setback was really a step forward. He had grown the nation of Israel in number. Now He wanted to grow them in character. When they were ready, He wanted them to possess the promise. He wanted to drive them out of Egypt, the land to which they had become accustomed, and propel them into the Land of the Promise.
God’s plan was that Israel would be the channel for His will into all the nations of the earth. God’s will is not short, but flows from generation to generation.
How God does His will is up to him. You cannot control God of tell Him how to accomplish His plan. He will do His will in His way.
“Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? “ Romans 11:33-34. Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making? It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it.” Isaiah 45:9,12.
“Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Isaiah 40:13-14. “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things,” Ecclesiastes 11:5.
When you treat prayer as if you have the right to tell God how to do His work, you will be disappointed. God does not take instructions. When you realize that God’s ways are not your ways, that His ways are superior to your ways, you will not be thrown off balance when circumstances seem to be leading away from God’s will rather than toward it. You can trust that God is steadily moving forward in the direction of His will.
Do you have any circumstances in your life in which it appears that God is taking the situation away from the direction of His will? Ion other words, is there anything that seems ot be getting worse instead of better? Write out your perceptions of and feelings about the situation honestly.
Do you believe that God only goes forward? Do you believe that God, in response to prayer, moves situations in the direction of His will? Can you place our situation into this sentence and make it a faith statement?
I know that God’s will in _____________’s life is beneficial, pleasing, and fitting (Romans 12:1). I know , no matter what I may observe from the earth perspective, that God is responding to my prayers and is moving ______________ forward in the direction of His will. I know that He is merging this situation into His long term plan. I know that His plan is to prosper and not to harm, to give a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11).
As you are taking hold of this faith statement and making it yours, my prayer for you is found in Ephesians 1:19 “ I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know.”
6.2 Prayer Journal: Practice a new way of praying
Thank God for every day of your wait, grounding your thanksgiving in His word. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their evil schemes. Psalm 37:3.
Today, look at another incident recorded in Scripture that will give us insight into God’s activity during our waiting periods. Consider Hannah, mother of Samuel.
The account of Samuel’s life begins with Hannah’s yearn gin for a son, documented in the first chapter of I Samuel. The true story of Samuel, however, begins earlier. Hannah’s prayer, we will discover, began in the heart of God.
Hannah is not the primary character in this story. Nor is Samuel. Pivotal to the whole story, the central cohesive element, the linchpin, is God Himself. Everything else Hannah’s barrenness, Hannah’s prayer, Samuel’s birth is the working out of God’s eternal agenda. Our first clear glimpse into what God is doing is found in I Samuel 3:1 “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” What does this sentence tell us? It tells us that God had no one through whom to speak to His people. In the Old Covenant, God’s messages to His people came through human messengers priests or prophets. God entrusted His message to an individual, and that individual passed it on to the message to an individual, and that individual passed I ton to the people. We see that God had no one whose heart was at His disposal; no one into whose heart HE could pour His words. Do you see how God has engaged Hannah and, by seeming to withhold her heart’s desire, is really making her heart the reservoir of His own desire? God wants a prophet. Hannah wants a son.
God, as always, is working according to a plan. He is not at a loss. He says in I Samuel 2:35, “I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind.” When Hannah found herself in this apparently hopeless situation, the truth was that God had a plan.
Now we have seen what God is doing, let’s put Hannah into the picture. Chapter one of I Samuel describes the situation as it looks from earth. Hannah is longing for a son. Month after month, year after year, she mourns the son she isn’t having. Hannah thinks the Lord has forgotten her, and the empirical evidence the observable facts would say that Hannah is right. The Scripture, in fact says, “The Lord had closed her womb.” I Samuel 1:5-6.
The turning point in Hannah’s story comes in I Samuel 1:11 “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give hm to the Lord fo all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” Following this prayer, Hannah conceived and bore her long awaited son, Samuel.
The vow that a razor would never touch his head referred to the practice of the Nazarite sect. They refused to cut their hair lest a man made instrument profane this God given growth. Hannah’s dedication of her son to the service of God is based on Numbers 6”1-21.
Why does this prayer seem to move God when her many prayers before seemed not to? Look at what the prayer says about the heart of Hannah.
First it tells us that during the waiting period, God had focused her faith. I have to think that in the beginning of her marriage Hannah assumed that the biological processes of her body withered. By the time that Hannah prayed this prayer, she knew that only God could give her a son. Her faith was focused.
Next it tells us that Hannah understood that if the Lord gave her a son, that son belonged ot the Lord. From the beginning, Hannah had been ready to be the mother of a son. But she had not been ready to be the mother of a prophet. God intended for Hannah more than she could ask or think and He had to prepare her heart to receive it. Hannah’s heart and God’s heart had to be a perfect match. During the prayer process, God fashioned in Hannah a heart like His. When Samuel was born Hannah had her son and God had His prophet. “The boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” I Samuel 2:21.
When Samuel was born, Hannah’s prayer was answered, but it was not the end of God’s work. It was the beginning. Samuel became a priest, prophet, and judge in the nation of Israel. He was the fulfilment of God’s vision, a faithful priest who will do what is in God’s heart an mind. Samuel became such a strong intercessor for Israel that the Scripture says, “Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines.” I Samuel 7:13.
God’s hand was against the enemies of Israel, not as long as they had a might warrior on the battlefield, but as long as they had a mighty warrior in the prayer closet.
Do you see the process of prayer? Before Hannah began to pray, Hannah was praying, God was at work preparing her for the answer He had in mind. After Hannah was through praying, God was at work through His servant Samuel, the answer to hannah’s prayer. When we are finished, God is just beginning.
Where do you see your own situation represented in Hannah’s story?
Are you forgetting that God is the central and primary character in your story as He was in Hannah’s?
What is God saying to you through Hannah’s story?
6.3 Prayer Journal: Practice a new way of praying
Thank God for every day of your wait, grounding your thanksgiving in His Word. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5
Let’s revisit the story of Lazarus in John 11. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were close friends of Jesus. He often spent time in their home. They knew Him as well as any person on earth knew Him. They had seen Him respond to needs over and over again. They knew what they could expect of Him, or so they thought.
When Lazarus became ill, Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus. Their message was simple and represented their absolute faith in Jesus to respond to their needs. Lord, the one you love is sick.”
Observe what happens next. John, as he tells the story, sets the stage with these words: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Why do you think he put that sentence in? I think it was because of what comes next. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, so when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. John wanted to make it clear that when Jesus built a delay into the process, when He stayed two days longer in the place where He was, it was in the context of how much He loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. We see the same principle at work in verses 14-15 when Jesus is talking with His disciples. “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Jesus said that the delay was profitable for His disciples. His delay, then, was loving , purposeful, profitable, and deliberate. It was necessary for accomplishing the bigger agenda He had in mind.
How did the delay benefit Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and the disciples? If Jesus had come to Bethany and healed Lazarus before he died, Mary’s and Martha’s prayer would have been answered. Their faith in Jesus would have been affirmed. They would have been more certain than ever that Jesus is Lord over illness. But they would never have known that Jesus is Lord over death. The Father is always teaching us the lordship of Jesus in deeper, more experiential ways. Jesus is Lord is the truth that anchors everything.
God wanted to do more tan they could think or imagine, and it required a waiting period. He wanted them to see the lordship of Jesus in areas that had never occurred to them before. That’s how much He loved them.
We see something else in this story. God had a bigger plan, a more far reaching plan, for how and when He wanted to heal Lazarus.
Imagine that Jesus had arrived at Bethany in time to heal Lazarus. Who would have seen His glory?
Read John 11:19. Why were Jews from the surrounding areas at Mary’s and Martha’s house? What did it take to bring them? Read John 11:45. What happened because the Jews form the area had come to mourn Lazarus’ death?
When it appears from earth that God is delaying, He is really putting pieces together that you had not thought of. He is engineering circumstances so that His power and glory will be on display. When God builds a waiting period into the course of your affairs, it means that what He is doing requires it. His apparent delays are loving, purposeful, and deliberate.
6.4 Prayer Journal: Practice a new way of praying
Thank God for every day of your wait, grounding your thanksgiving in His word.
“I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God.” Psalm 38:15
In the praying life, God schedules waiting periods. The Word of God teaches that prayer, true prayer, is a long term commitment. Jesus’ teaching about prayer was “Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7. He teaches tenacity and perseverance. He told parables that illustrated persistent, persevering prayer. In one of His parables, He described a widow who came to an unjust judge over and over again until she received what she needed. Luke introduces this parable with these words: “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Why did Jesus think it necessary to teach such a thing? Because he knew that prayer would require the kind of steadfastness and resolve that could, if misunderstood, make a person give up. He taught us that when we feel like giving up, we must not give in to it. Prayer is not for quitters.
Even though it appears sometimes that prayer isn’t working, that God is delaying, the truth is that God is acting in fulfilled time. God does not act in elapsed time, but in fulfilled time. “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand.” Mark 1:15. The word fulfilled means filled full. God says, I am filling your waiting period full. When I have filled it full, when I have done all that I have to do with it , your wait will be over and My kingdom will be revealed. Fulfilled time is measured by the readiness of the circumstances. When the time is ripe, when all the pieces have been in place, God’s answer will be revealed. His concern is not time, but timing. Everything has a ripe moment: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
God’s timing is an astounding thing. He is a micro manager. Every detail is being worked into His plan to bring about His own ends. Think about, for example, all the details that had ot fall in place with split second timing for the infant Moses to be rescued from the Nile by the daughter of Pharoah. Moses had to be rescued by the daughter of Pharaoh. God’s plan was more than to save Moses life; it was to put Moses in the very heart of Egyptian power and learning.
It had to occur to Moses’ mother to build an ark of bulrushes and set him afloat.
Moses’ mother had to set him afloat on the right day at the right time of day.
The currents of Nile had to be traveling in the right direction and at the right speed.
Pharaoh’s daughter had to be bathing in the Nile at the right time.
Pharaoh’s daughter had to be predisposed to desire an infant.
And on and on we could go. Not one second, not one incident was by chance. God is not “hoping for the best.” He is creating the best. Timing is everything and God is a God of timing. There is much to be learned while waiting on God, God’s apparent delays are not delays. God is always working. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at His work to this very day and I, too, am working.” John 5:17. He is always in the process of answering.
Jesus taught that the kingdom of God works on the growth principle. There is always a process of revelation. In this process, there will be a period of no apparent progress. The Spirit filled intercessor will recognize this as that stage of the process when the work of God is underground. Jesus tells this parable: “He also said, this is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain-first, then stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29.
The farmer plants the seed and provides the needed care. He doesn’t worry about how that little seed will turn into an ear of corn. He simply pulls up the weeds and does all the maintenance required to allow the seed to grow. Your persevering prayer is not to change God’s course, or wear Him down, but to provide the spiritual maintenance while God works through the process.
Another illustration from God’s creation might be the incubation period during which a bird’s fertilized egg reaches maturity and hatches a baby bird. Once a bird lays her eggs she sits on them to incubate them. To the uninformed observer, it would appear that nothing is happening. That observer would be amazed if he knew just how much was happening. The incubating bird has tucked her eggs underneath her stomach feathers close to a bare spot called her brood patch. The brood patch is the warmest surface on the bird’s body because of the network of blood vessels that lie close to the surface and produce heat. This heat Is readily passed from the mother bird to her eggs. Her waiting is deliberate. The delay is essential to the outcome. All the work is invisible to the physical eye. As the mother sits on her eggs, the embryo is growing to a fully formed chick. When the chick is fully formed, it will hatch. When the time is fulfilled, the chicks will be revealed. Our persevering intercession provides the incubating heat needed for our Spirit BORN DESIRES TO REACH MATURITY??
In summary, God has good, loving, and productive reasons for scheduling waiting periods into the prayer process. When He has called on you to wait, it is because what He is doing during the waiting time is necessary for the best outcome. If He didn’t need the incubation time, it would not be there.
6.5 Prayer Journal: Practice a new way of praying
Thank God for every day of your wait, grounding your thanksgiving in His Word.
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7
WEEK SIX: HEARING FROM GOD
OBJECTIVE: This week as you pray, turn these promises into prayers. Ask God for what He longs to give – first hand knowledge of Him.
Hearing God is the central work of prayer. During the prayer process, God is attuning our ears to His voice. Jesus said, My sheep listen to my voice … and they follow me. (John 10:27). As a sheep learns to recognize the voice of its Shepherd, so we learn to recognize the voice of our Shepherd. As we hear it over and over again, as we learn through experience to trust it, His voice becomes immediately familiar to us. This is a critical part of the prayer process.
Why do you think that hearing from God would be the central work of Prayer? Read the following statement from Jesus through carefully. Even if you know it by hear, read it through again, focusing on every phrase.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you John 15:15
Now, circle these words in the verse: “because,” “instead,” and “for.” Read it back through, paying particular attention to the meaning these words point you toward. What are the implied truths here? For example, when Jesus says that He no longer calls you servant because a servant does not know His Master’s business, does that not imply that you do know your Master’s business?
The difference between being His slave and being His friend, Jesus taught, is that a friend will know His mind and heart. A friend will be privy to His intimate thoughts and longings.
Read John 16:14-15 and notice these points:
Everything that belongs to Jesus – the thoughts and desires of the Father, for example, are delivered to you by the Holy Spirit. They become yours.
Reread John 16:15. What will Jesus make known to you?
The Father speaks through the Son, the Son speaks through eh Spirit. From the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. This is how God speaks to you and to me.
Scripture is filled with invitations to listen to God. Would God instruct you to do something that it was impossible for you to do? Since God tells you to listen to Him, since He promises you that He will instruct and teach you, is not the implied promise that you can hear Him?
Read the following Scriptures and rewrite them in the first person (instead of “whether you turn … write whether I turn).
Isaiah 30:21, Psalm 25:12, Psalm 32:8, John 10:27
In Hebrews 4:7 we read: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hears.” The word translated “hear” means to hear and respond in one action. This seems to teach us that responding is the key to clear hearing. If I hear His voice and do not respond, a callous begins to form over my heart. It begins to harden. The next time He speaks it’s harder for me to hear Him. His voice is less distinct. Disobedience by disobedience, my heart becomes more calloused and less able to discern His voice. However, the opposite is also true. If I hear and do respond, the callous over my heart begins to slough away. The next time He speaks it is easier for me to hear. Obedience by obedience, my heart softens and I become more astute at hearing His voice.
What have you heard the Lord say to you and you have not responded? What do you keep pushing to the background of your life, but the lord’s voice keeps bringing it back to the surface? Has that voice grown fainter since you first heard it? respond to what the Lord is telling you right now. Write it down.
7.1 Prayer Journal
Practice a new way of praying: Harvest this promise by asking God for whatHe longs to give. Turn His promise into a prayer. Who, then is the man that fears the Lord? He will instruct Him in the way chosen for him. Psalm 25:12
We must be able to hear from God because He alone is the source of true prayer. His desires pour into our hearts so that they become our desires and are expressed through our words. This is the goal of the praying life. He promises to pour out His heart and to make His thoughts known to us. Prayer is essentially the contact of our minds with the mind of God, resulting in real conversation with Him.
In order to develop confidence in our ability to hear from God, we must first accept that we can hear from God – that God has made it possible. He speaks to us from within – from His dwelling place in our spirit center. Here He has made His home. He is not speaking to us from a faraway place. He is speaking into our thoughts, into our emotions, into our wills. He is speaking so intimately that many times it feels like our own ideas. But as He has more and more access to us, H is able to think His thoughts in us. It is His indwelling Life that makes it possible for us to hear Him moment by moment.
Not from without but from within. Not in word but in power, in life and truth, the Spirit reveals Christ and all He has for us. he makes the Christ, who has been to us so much only an image, a thought, a thought – a Saviour outside and above us, to be truth within us. The Spirit brings the truth into us and then, having possessed us from within, guides us, as we can bear it, into all the truth. On the first day of Pentecost He returned, not this time to be with them externally, but now to be in them, imparting to them His own divine nature, clothing Himself with their humanity. He spoke with their lips. He worked with their hands. This was the miracle of the new birth, and this remains the very heart of the gospel.
In learning to hear God’s present voice, you don’t have to worry bout whether you are good at hearing. You can trust that He is good at speaking. it is critical as we look carefully at how God speaks to believers today, to get it clearly in our minds that GOd – God the Father, God the Son, and GOd the Spirit indwells us. Some have the impression that a watered down, shadow version of God called the Spirit indwells us and that God and Jesus live in a faraway land called Heaven. Not so. God is One. He is not fragmented. Everything God does and everything He says, He does and says as the Triune God from the Father through the Son, by the Spirit.
Read John 14:23. Who is we?
Where will the Father and the son abide?
Read I corinthians 3:16.
Whose temple (dwelling place) are you?
Read I Corinthians 6:19
Whose temple dwelling place are you?
Think about this sentence from Jesus’ high priestly prayer: I (Jesus) in them (believers) and You (the Father) in Me (Jesus) John 17:23a
Where is Jesus?
Where is God?
Triune God: The Lord our God is One
Let me try to illustrate the oneness of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in their communication to you Imagine that I have the most wonderful thoughts and that if you only knew my thoughts, your life would be changed forever. What would I have to do? I would have to translate my thoughts into words. Then my words would be the exact representation of my thoughts. My words would be my thoughts in a different form. The essence of my words and y thoughts would be exactly the same, but my thoughts would now be in the form of words.
It will take one more element for me to be able to get my thoughts across to you. It will take the breath of my mouth rushing over my vocal chords to form the voice that makes my words heard. My voice takes my words and makes them known to you. Do you see how I speak from my thoughts, through my words, by my voice. Three actions in one.
Let my thoughts represent the Father, whose thoughts toward you are wonderful and precious according to Psalm 139:17-18; whose thoughts are higher than your thoughts – according to Isaiah 55:8-9. THe Father translated Himself into Word, according to John 1:1. just as my thoughts are my words, so the Word was God. God the Father and God the Son are the same essence in different forms. The THought was now in the form of Word. John 1:1-2, 14. The Word is the exact representation of the THought (hebrews 1:3). The Word makes the Thought known (john 1:18).
Now the third element: the spirit. THe Greek word pneuma, translated Spirit, is also translated breath. The Breath of God’s mouth is a picture of the Holy Spirit throughout the Od Testament (Job 33:4, Ezekiel 37:9) . Just as my breath creates the voice that delivers my words, the Spirit takes Jesus and makes Him known to you (John 16:15. From the Father – through the Son – by the Spirit.
He is speaking from within you. Turn inward to Him and His indwelling life. Listen to the voice that now lives in you. You need not search for God. He has made you His abode. If you reach out for Him, you have reached too far.
Practice a new way of praying. Harvest this promise by asking God for what He longs to give. Turn this promise into a prayer. “We have not received the Spirit of the word but the Spirit who isform God, that we may understand what God has freely given us (I Corinthians 2:13).
Day Three: Week Seven
God has always been and will always be a speaking God. He id forever speaking His power onto the earth. God says, let there be … and it is so. God does His work by His word. when God speaks His Word is the instrument of His work.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Do you see how God talks about His Word? He says that He sends His Word out with an assignment and that His Word always accomplishes His desires and achieves His purposes. His Word accomplishes His work. His Word waters and nourishes the lives into which He sends it and makes them bud and flourish. He always does His work by His Word.
By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth … for he spoke and it came to be, He commanded and it stood firm. (Psalm 33:6,9)
Jesus once said, The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work. (John 14:10) Jesus said that the words He was speaking were doing the Father’s work. Why? because they were the Father’s Words. The Father’s Words do the Father’s work.
In the same passage, Jesus continued by saying, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. (John 14:11) Here’s what Jesus was saying, “ The Father’s Words, which I am speaking, are doing the father’s miracles. Here’s the proof that the Father is in Me: His Words coming through Me are doing His works.
God’s Words are different from your words or my words. In the material realm, words have no substance. THey do not have mass and take up space. They are puffs of air. Earth-words communicate, but they do not accomplish work. I can”t say to an object move from here to there and expect the object t move. I have to use physical force to move an earth object from one place to another. My words do not do my work.
The Father’s Words are different. in the spiritual realm, God’s Words have substance. They are not puffs of air, they are the instruments of His action. God said, let there be light and there was light (Gen. 1:3) He created the earth by His word. He is watching over His Word to see that it is carried out. He is still doing His work by His Word. He is still speaking His creating, sustaining, and ruling Word. He is speaking through the Son, by the Spirit, to you an and to me.
Clearly understanding that Jesus’ life is flowing through you and operation in you is essential for understanding everything else about prayer. His life is the underlying reality, the ground from which every prayer principle grows. Jesus taught us that His Spirit-life in us would be superior to His physical presence with us. He said to His disciples, who ha grown dependent upon His earth presence. I tell you the truth it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you. (John 16:7) Jesus said that His life indwelling us in Spirit form would be to our benefit. Why? because from within. Jesus Himself would speak directly into our understanding. We can hear Him more clearly than the disciples could hear Him when He was on earth in physical form. We can hear with understanding. We can hear His rhema, His present tense speaking, all the time. He never leaves us. This form of hearing, hearing from within, Spirit voice to Spirit ears is superior to hearing with our earth ears. Spirit hearing is more reliable than earth hearing. Jesus said it is for our benefit that He has made His Spirit life available and has removed His physical presence.
Depend on His life flowing through you right now. depend on His Spirit voice speaking ot your understanding. Any understanding about spiritual truth that you acquire comes directly from Him. He may use a tool a teacher, a writer, a preacher but that person is a tool, not a source. He is the one and only source of spiritual understanding. Trust Him. He speaks by opening your mind so that you can understand the Scripture. (Luke 24:45).
What is God’s purpose for speaking to you? What assurance does this give you that HE wants you to be able to hear Him?
We are all insecure about our ability to hear the voice of God. We are all careful to ask, “Is it God, or is it me? don’t trust your ability to hear. Trust His ability to speak. He will take all the responsibility if you and I will open our lives to His voice.
“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. (Isaiah 50:4-5).
What do you think is meant by an instructed tongue.
Read I corinthians 2:13/Luke 12:12
What does a person with an instructed tongue know?
If a word has the power to hold up the earth, whose word must it it be?
a person who is speaking with an instructed tongue is speaking whose word?
From where does an instructed tongue come?
how does God give an instructed tongue?
Who opens the ears and makes the learner able to listen like one being taught?
What is the hearer’s responsibility?
PRAYER JOURNAL: Practice a new way of praying
Harvest this promise by asking God for what He longs to give. Turn His promise into a prayer: My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ” Colossians 2:2.
Day Four Week Seven
Good makes it clear that He cannot be fully known from an outside source. During the time that the Old Covenant was in effect, God spoke to His people through outside sources. He spoke through prophets an priests. He spoke through Ten Commandments written on tablets of stone, He led His people through the desert in fire by night and cloud by day outside sources.
Now we have a New Covenant,a better covenant,which was established upon better promises Hebrews 8:6. In the New Covenant, God Himself speaks to each of His children from inside, through His indwelling presence. In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. (Hebrews 1:1-2. Everything that had been outside would now be inside.
The time is coming, declares the Lord, when i will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt. The is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord, I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother , saying, KNow the Lord because they will all know w me, from the least of them to the greatest Hebrews 8:8-11/
Do you see how the scripture contrasts the two covenants? In the he first, God’s words were outside, guiding; in the second, God’s Word is inside, transforming. In I John 2:27, we read that the Father has give you an anointing that lives in you. The anointing is the Spirit’s presence in power. Because of the indwelling life of God, you can know truth. Information from an outside source may be true, but it can’t reach the understanding without being distorted. Have you ever made a comment to someone, or passed on information to someone, and by the time it reached that person’s understanding it was different from what you had said? The person hear your words. but misunderstood your meaning. Let me illustrate how unreliable information from an outside source can be, even if its true.
My great niece was about 3-years-old when Hurricane Andrew hit Florida. Hannah lives in Houston. The weather reports warned that the hurricane might be headed for Houston. My niece said to Hannah, we have to go to the grocery sore and get some food because a hurricane’s coming.”
Hannah asked what’s a hurricane. My niece said it’s a big storm and it rains and it blows … Hannah said, and it eats?
Information, which comes from an outside source, always has to be filtered through worldview, mindset, knowledge of the subject, preconceived ideas. Information, no matter what form it started out in, never reaches the understanding undistorted. When God spoke to His people through outside sources, He spoke only truth, but it reached their understanding in a distorted form.
When God speaks to you from within, He is acting directly on your understanding. The word Scripture uses to describe the direct action of God on your mind and understanding is revelation. What does the Scripture mean by revelation?
In order to see this concept very clearly we are going o take apart an put it back together again. First, I want you to see what it means to have the spirit’s indwelling and to be filled with the Spirit. The Scripture describes man as a three in one being made in the image of the three in one God. Man is packaged ina body (Greek soma) which is made of earth substance. It is through the body that man relates to an interacts with his physical environment. Man has a soul (Greek psuche) His soul is his mind, will, and emotions. His soul is his human nature. THrough the soul, human relate to each other and to thoughts an ideas. Man is spirit (Greek pneuma) it is through his spirit that he relates to God. The write of Hebrews, for example says that the Word of GOd will divide between soul and spirit Hebrews 4:12. Paul prays, May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I Thessalonians 5:23. Although the words soul and spirit are often used interchangeably to indicate the inner man. Scripture makes clear that body, soul and spirit are three distinct aspects of man. It is your spirit center that God indwells you. That is where His Holy of Holies is.
From your spirit, God’s dwelling place, God expresses Himself through your mind. (Romans 12:2), will (Philippians 2:13) and emotions (Romans 5:5) your soul. Your soul is pictured by the HOly PLace in the temple, the place where the activities of worship were carried out. Through your body, God works in the word Your body is the physical vehicle through which your inner man spirit and soul is expressed. Your body would correspond to the outer courtyard of the temple, which was the part of the temple visible to all. To be filled with the Spirit means to have your soul and your body your thinking, feeling, willing, and acting under the authority of His indwelling Spirit.
If God, all of God the Father, Son and Spirit indwells you, then all of Truth indwells you. Truth is living in your spirit because Truth is a person. All of God is in Jesus; all of Jesus is in the Spirit; all of the Spirit is in you. “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother saying, know the Lord, because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (Hebrews 8:11)
As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit just as it has taught you, remain in him. I John 2:27.
Look at Hebrews 8:11. Under the New Covenantwhy will man no have to teach his brother or his neighbor to know the Lord? Why will all His people know Him?
Look at U John 2:27 what is the anointing?
Where is the anointing?
where did the anointing come from?
What does the anointing do?
All truth is indwelling your spirit center. Truth is abiding in you. But your mind does not have all truth. Not all truth is in your understanding. Where is your mind and your intellect? it is in your soul, not your spirit. Now go back with me to the word revelation It means unveiling or uncovering. The Scripture says that a veil lies over our minds that is only removed by Jesus Christ II corinthians 3:16. The truth in your spirit is progressively being unveiled to your mind (understanding) by Jesus Himself. He is continually lifting the veil that hides deep truth so that you seen and comprehend more and more of His Word each day. Just as He did for the disciples, Jesus is opening your mind so that you can understand the Scripture. Luke 24:45. God is giving you a spirit of wisdom an revelation sot at you will know Him better. Ephesians 3:17-19.
God has many ways in which He unveils truth to our minds. For one thing, He has appointed and gifted tools in the Body through whom He unveils truth. Those who have the gift of teaching or preaching or prophecy are often the mouth pieces He uses, but they are not the source. God is the only one who can bring understanding of spiritual truth to your mind. Truth comes from the spirit to the mind.
PRAYER JOURNAL: PRACTICE A NEW WAY OF PRAYING HARVEST THIS PROMISE by asking God for what He longs to give. Turn His promise into a prayer.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding Colossians 1:9.
Day Five: Week Seven
God speaks by revealing the truth in His Word at progressively deeper levels. Only He can do that. No matter how wonderful you may think a speaker or writer is, he or she cannot reveal truth to you understanding. If someone’s words have produced new insight in you, it is because God Himself has revealed it. Information comes from outside sources. Revelation comes from God within you.
First Corinthians 2:9-16 shows the difference between information about God an revelation from God. We see that God reveals to our understanding that which is freely available to us. We speak what we understand. We speak spiritual words- words that are taught us by the Spirit Himself.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love HIm.
Go d has thing prepared for us things that are ready and waiting for our use. We cannot now these things in the same way we know what exists on the earth. We can’t know God’s provision by seeing o r hearing or imagining, but God has revealed it to us by His spirit. Verse 10.
What we cannot know by seeing , hearing , or imagining, we can know by the Spirit’s revelation. The word revelation means uncovering or unveiling. The Spirit unveils God’s truths to our understanding. When the Spirit brings understanding, we will know what God has ready and waiting as certainly as if we’d seen them with our eyes or heard them with our ears.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
When we are depending on the Spirit to bring understanding of spiritual truth, we will have access to even the deep, mysterious, hidden things that belong to God. See Daniel 2:22.
For who among the men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within Him. v. 11.
No one knows me but me. No one knows my thoughts but my spirit within me. If you want to know what I think, I will have to reveal my thoughts to you. In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” v. 11.
Just like no one knows me but me, no one knows god but God. If you want to know His thoughts, He will have to reveal them to you.
We have not received the spirit of the word but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. v. 12.
God has revealed himself to us. He has given us His Spirit. He has given us Himself. The purpose for giving us His Spirit is so that we can understand what He has prepared for us and has made freely available to us. This is what we speak , not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. v. 13.
What do we speak? We speak what we understand. What does God’s Spirit cause us to understand? From the Spirit we understand what God has freely given us. If God Himself has revealed truth into our understanding, when we speak that understanding we are speaking spiritual words. What makes them spiritual? They are born of the Spirit. What ever is born of the Spirit is Spirit. We can now say, These words I speak, they are spirit and they are life. In prayer we speak the things that we know by the Spirit to be freely available to us these words are spirit and life. They are God’s Words, God’s Words do exactly what God has assigned them to do. They are settled forever in the heavens. God’s Words do God’s work.
When I speak God’s Words on earth, they impact the spiritual realm. The spiritual realm impacts the material realm. The life of Jesus flowing through me continually is creating my thoughts, desires, imaginings and will, and is authoring in me the Spirit Word of GOd.
God wants you to hear Him. he has put everything in place so that you an dI will be able to hear Him speaking in the present tense. He speaks from within directly into our understanding. Many times what the Lord wants to say He has already deposited in your mind and you find it pouring out through your mouth as prayer.
It is the prayer that God the Holy Spirit inspires that God the father answers.
PRAYER JOURNAL: PRACTICE A NEW WAY OF PRAYING
Harvest this promise by asking God for what He longs to give. Turn His promise into a prayer.
Thou hast given me an open ear. Psalm 40:6
He wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The sovereign Lord has opened my ears. Isaiah 50:4-5.