Monday, March 31, 2014

Intercessory Prayer: Works or Grace?

Intercessory prayer is so simple and yet we can make it so complex.

It can often happen one of two ways. One way is empowered by works and the other way is empowered by grace.

Study the book of Galatians if you want to understand the nature of works and the nature of grace. One way brings about the curse of the law and the other ways brings about spiritual freedom.

What we believe .... will empower how we pray.

One, is a works based faith that can empower our intercessory prayer. Works is like a mouse ... running on a wheel - to no end. Here, our prayers can be filled with selfish ambitions and striving for the one we are praying for.

Our prayers can be filled with our feelings or perceptions about people, circumstances and our desired outcome for them. We believe we need to work more harder in our self effort for God to answer.

We end up praying from a place of self - wanting our will to be done in the lives of the one we are praying for. In this place, we tend to speak to God about how we are feeling about a situation rather than to seek God's Will through His Word.

When we pray like this and become works oriented in our intercession - we move back under the spirit of the law and we move back under the curse of the law because this is the consequence of works (Galatians 3:3).

These sorts of prayers are not life-giving for ourselves or others.

Or two, intercessory prayer can come from a place of rest and from our relationship with God. The birthing place for grace filled intercession is the finished work of the cross.

At the core of this sort of prayer is listening and a desire to seek God's will before we pray for someone. This is where we come to God as our Father in heaven.

We come to Him with a willing heart to lay down our perceptions, our will, our desires, our ambitions, our striving, our pain and we seek to hear and align with God's heart for the one we are called by God to pray for. God's heart is revealed in His Word.

This sort of prayer is restful and it seeks to do God's will and to pray according to His will. With grace filled intercession - we come into that place with the Father - as Jesus did - where He only wanted to see and know what was on the heart of the Father (John 12:49-50) - where He lived to do the will of the One who sent Him.

In this sort of prayer - we are not striving on what I call the intercession mouse wheel of works.

Instead we step off of the mouse wheel and we sit with God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We open God's Word and we listen.

Here - we open the Word, we open our hearts and we listen to hear and see what God is wanting to show us about any given situation. We seek revelation, understanding and then the wisdom to know how to pray for others in accordance to His will.

"Not my will but yours be done". Prayer becomes restful. Prayer becomes powerful. Why?

Because we are praying in alignment with God's will. The gates of hell can't stop God's people when they are moving in God's will.

As I have trained hundreds of intercessors in the past - the key is teaching them how to discern their selfish ambitions and striving in their prayers.

It is so important to know as individuals how we are tempted to move into works based intercession, or how we can pray according to our own desires.

Why? Because we truly don't want to pray from the curse of the law. We don't want to become works oriented in our prayers.

We want to pray from the place of grace and all that Jesus has done for us (and the ones we are praying for). Spiritual freedom lies in the Truth of the finished work of the cross.

The key is knowing how to lay down our fleshly desires to seek and to do the will of God in our intercession.

It is key to know how to hear and discern the will of God before we pray.

Will we always do it right? No. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to listen more to God in our intercession and to test what we are hearing with other intercessions . We must seek accountability so we are no deceived in what we are praying.

As intercessors - we have creative power for good and for evil. Words have power whether they are said or if they are prayed. Read Proverbs 18:21 and James 3. Words have power to move mountains or to destroy people.

God wants us to pray. A lot! He wants us to pray on all occasions and by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6). But, we need to discern what spirit is trying to empower us in our prayers - God, the flesh or the enemy.

Do we know the difference? I mean, really?

He wants us to ask Him for things - but what He wants most is for us to want His will to be done. He wants us to die to self for the sake of others.

Do we know how to die well? Even in our prayers for people?

We must come to know what is on the heart of the Father in a given situation and we must learn to listen more intently to Him.

Listening to His voice (through the Word of God), testing what we hear and being accountable to others with our intercession is key to having a thriving intercessory prayer ministry in our organizations and even in our families and as we pray for our friends.

In this place of grace filled intercession - we walk forward intimately in prayer with God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and with others in our praying communities to do His will. It is restful. It is at peace. It is overflowing with love and God's perceptions of people.

In grace filled intercessory prayer - we join God in His work rather than forcing God into our work.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fear is a Liar!

Fear is such a prohibitor to freedom. Fear will always try to keep you from God's best. Always. 

It seeks to paralyze you and to lie to you about God. It wants to keep you from those who can bring more of the life of God to you.

Fear... is deceptive and dark. There is nothing good about fear. Nothing. Nada. Nothing.

Fear is simply the language of hell; while faith and trust in God is the language of heaven.

Fear runs contrary to everything good that God has for us - and all that good is on the other side of fear.

We can either stand and walk through the veil of fear ... confidently knowing that no matter what we have to face ... God is and always will be with us.

Or we can stay on this side of the oppression and live a life submitted to fear.

The only thing to help us get walk to the other side - is knowing who our God is and knowing He walks with us into anything we are about to face. Perfect love is truly the only thing that can cast out fear.

God's answers are on the other side of that veil of fear. Whatever you are afraid of - trust God, hold His hand and step into that place BY Faith.

What He is about to show you and do for you - might not be as scary as you think it is.

Monday, March 3, 2014

One Team; One Body!

Big week. My son's basketball team has made it to the regional basketball playoff final rounds for the varsity team. 

But, what we just found out - is they are officially in the state playoffs! 

Yahoo! Please be praying for the team and coaches this week.

It bring me to tears to think about it. Like real tears. You all probably think I am a mush ball. Not really, I just at times can feel God's heart on certain issues.

And the tears are not because they are winning. It is much deeper than that. It is about team work and how God feels about it.

I am proud of both of my sons always - whether they succeed or fail. My love is not based on their performance. My love wants them thriving in their gifts and passions. The things that make them smile in the deep places of their being.

And if they have a hiccup or bump that sets them back - I want to be intentional in helping them find their way back to knowing how important they are to God and to us.

What really moves me is how hard the team has worked. Their commitment to the game and to one another truly inspires me.

It is one of those stories - for anyone who is passionate about leadership and team development to see.

It reminds me that unity is not about uniformity. It is not about making everyone into robots and being the same sort of player on the team.

It is about everyone learning, accepting and flowing with the role God has given them on the team based upon their unique gifting and contribution.

Some are called to be teachers, prophets, pastors, apostles, evangelists ... some have the gift of discernment, faith, healing, etc... Unique gifts, roles and even unique ways that these are expressed in the body life. Everyone has a gift and everyone is a part of one body.

Every part is needed. And when one part doesn't show up (for whatever reason) - it hurts the whole body.

God is really shouting this message to me today. That the body of Christ is truly hurting when even just one person is cut off from the body for whatever reason.

That sheep or shepherd who has gone astray (asked to go astray or did so on their own accord) ... We, as God's people need to run after that one sheep ... and restore them to their place in the body.

Biblical love reaches into someone's hurting world and covers them. It doesn't isolate them. It runs in when everyone else wants to run out.

We need to run into chaos and bring God's presence there. One of the greatest gifts we can give people - is presence. Not the word that we say or the gifts that we bring - but by showing up and saying - I am not leaving - no matter how messy you get.

Good news is - we have a God who is like that for us. He comes into our lives and he is here to stay. Like the prodigal father - his arms are just wide open saying - it is time to come home and start again!