We spend a lot of time praying for our own families and for our own desires and needs. This is perfectly right and good. God holds us responsible to pray for such things. But He uses our families, friends, and associates, as well as our specific needs, to teach us how to pray on a farther-reaching scale. Our personal domain is vitally important and dear to God’s heart, but it's also training ground for expanded prayer. It is the “boot camp” for engaging in larger battles.
When we are trained and competent in spiritual warfare, God will ask that we branch out to cover more ground. This is no time to ignore His voice because we think we’re overloaded with our current prayer pursuits. If we insist on pouring every drop of energy into our smaller “home ground,” we're actually being selfish—setting our families and particular needs upon a pedestal and treating them like idols. This is a fine line we must never cross. Doing so may cause God to shut His ears to our current prayer plan until we repent and incorporate His requests. Certainly, we must continue to love, teach, encourage, and pray for those who are close, but God has created us for quite a lot more.
It's time for our tunnel vision to broaden. There's a great big suffering world out there, and God wants us to pray for every bit of it. Wisely, He has divided up the workload and is passing out assignments.
...praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for ALL the saints... - Ephesians 6:18 ESV. (Emphasis mine.)
Looking to Jesus as our role model, we see that He didn’t come to Earth to minister to a small group. He dearly loved His large family, His disciples, and the many friends He made during His time on Earth. Those were a lot of people to pray for, but Jesus ministered far beyond that realm.
Jesus' destiny was God-sized. Therefore, His prayer needed to be boundless, reaching forward to us in the 21st century, and onward into eternity (see Hebrews 7:25). Jesus’ goal was higher than mere survival. He came to overcome the enemy. He came to conquer evil and set its captives free from sin and its penalty of terrible, endless pain.
Therefore it is said, when He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men – Ephesians 4:8 AMPC.
He has sent Me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives… - Isaiah 61:1 AMPC.
Our motivation for “praying large” can be a number of things. I'll mention four that should be at the top of our list:
God will be pleased. Our participation in fighting for those He loves will surely touch His heart.
We can thank God for His grace and mercy to us by extending our prayer around the world.
Blind eyes will see, deaf ears will hear, and cold hearts will thaw. Many lost souls will be saved and delivered from Hell.
We will reap what we sow. Fighting in prayer to deliver a larger, more distant group will bring deliverance back to our own domain.
Dear Lord, we thank You for training us at every turn. We know that every test and trial is designed to strengthen us for the assignments ahead. We are honored to be on the front lines of some major battles. We raise our hands and voices in praise to You, our mighty Jehovah Sabaoth—our Lord of Hosts.
Tea With Jesus
Almost every morning, right after feeding the cat, I brew a cup of tea and go to my prayer room to start the day with Jesus. What transpires between me and the Lord is different every day. I want to share some of this because I believe there are readers who will be helped by the practical details of my experience. I’m not a renowned expert on this subject—just someone who has a real relationship with God.
Your experience with the Lord will surely be different than mine. There is no set pattern or formula when it comes to meeting with God. Interaction with Him is ever-changing—never the same from day to day or from season to season. We must be willing to follow the moves of God, seeking His presence even when He seems to be hiding. This is part of our growth process.
I’ll begin with this honest statement: On some days, my mind is so distracted that I can barely manage to read and comprehend a chapter from the Word. The enemy wants me to feel bad about this, but I know that God will pour His grace upon me throughout that day and also for our future meetings. I do my best to not feel deficient, and I always hear from the Spirit in one way or another before the sun goes down. There are also mornings when I think I've done everything right, but I don't feel the presence of God, and neither do I hear from Him. I've learned to not be discouraged by this. I simply move ahead with my day, knowing that love and grace are moving right along with me. I choose to walk in faith.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” - Romans 1:17.
On "successful" mornings, I am focused and able to begin some quality time with God. I start with offering thanks for specific help and kindness from Him in recent days. Then I move on to worship, usually by singing to God and also by speaking what's on my heart towards Him. Sometimes I sing "in the Spirit." After a while, I read from the Word and receive the powerful understanding that God has reserved for me. And yes, of course, I intercede. This begins in the morning when I first turn my thoughts to the Lord, and it continues throughout the day as the Spirit brings people to mind.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name – Psalm 100:4.
On "great" days, the Spirit moves me into a place of totally spontaneous worship that brings me very close to God. This experience varies. It can be like we’re sitting together, exchanging words of love—or maybe like we’re dancing together. Sometimes I get a flash of something uniquely exciting about Jesus. (Once, He "whooshed" by, letting me feel an entirely new emotion that was present in Him.) Occasionally, God will speak into my thoughts as I worship, giving me beautiful insight that I’m compelled to write down. These are all exciting times of feeling the joyful presence of God. In contrast to these times of exhilaration, other times of worship are marked by an intense quiet and stillness. I enter a place of peace where troubles and fears are not allowed.
Other great days may include a detailed vision from the Lord. Simply put, these visions are mental images that come from God in answer to prayer—usually in response to me asking what is on His mind to tell me or show me that day. They always fall into the category of "things that would never come from my imagination."
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind – James 1:6.
And then there are the “off-the-charts awesome days” that end up being milestones. With sunrise comes the powerful light of revelation, burning with holy purpose—not the everyday sort, but that which is life-changing. The presence of God patiently waits for my attention as I’m drawn deeply into our “secret place” (Psalm 91:1). Here, the Spirit shares something of extraordinary value. The last time this happened, I had just walked through the doorway of my prayer room. God spoke into my thoughts about a project we’ve been working on together. This project was not on my mind at the time, but it certainly was on His. It’s taken me a few weeks to understand the immensity of the direction I received that morning, but in retrospect—after a couple confirmations—I’m responding with great enthusiasm.
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left – Isaiah 30:21.
Nothing is more wonderful, Lord, than the thrill of Your presence—whether it’s a time of excitement or extreme peace. Whenever You speak, we are completely in awe. Hearing Your words of love and revelation are what we increasingly thirst for. Receiving direction, straight from You, is priceless.
I sometimes think about people who were born into highly functional families. I think of how their lives appear to be stable and fruitful, right from the beginning—at least for the ones who have sincerely turned to God. These lives have surely taken a different route to glorifying the Lord than the rocky road that many Christians walk upon. But let’s never forget that God’s purpose and methods for each of us are unique. I suspect that in many lives, a slow start is actually the setup for a grand finale.
I’m not acquainted with the easy road, if there truly is one, but I have much to say about the road that’s paved with challenges. I’ve come to think of myself as an overcomer. While holding the hand of God, I’ve gotten a few skinned knees, but I've also been part of some major victories. I know that more triumph lies ahead.
For some of us, the effects of a dysfunctional childhood home may require decades to overcome. The path to a fruitful, significant destiny may be steep, being paved with stones of testing. One of the first tests we meet is that of forgiving our parents for their weakness and failures, just as Jesus forgave us. We’re not allowed to blame them for our problems. In fact, God says that if we don't forgive them, He will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15).
To move ahead with the Lord, we must consistently trust and obey. For the overcomer, learning the ropes of faith is an absolute requirement. The hurdles on our path are difficult, but each time we overcome, we grow stronger and more courageous.
Having great needs and obstacles requires the Christian to submit to God through making right choices—through trusting that His way is the path to blessing and life. Overcomers have the honor of being on the Potter’s wheel where we are shaped and refined to meet the Father’s purpose. We become intimately acquainted with the touch of His hand.
Continuing ever onward, it is faith in the Lord that guides us and delivers us from evil. We must have the surety of God’s love for us. We must know that He desires to help us hear His voice accurately—that He is able to align us with His timing. Most of all, we must believe that God is good and that He has a wonderful plan for us.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope - Jeremiah 29:11.
If you got off to a slow start instead of a speedy one, taking twenty, thirty, or forty years to overcome your past, then you may see yourself as a late bloomer. And that’s okay. There's no expiration date on the goodness of the Lord. Moses was late to bloom, and look what God accomplished in his life. This man was eighty years old when He and his older brother, Aaron, confronted Pharaoh with the demands of God. Through these octogenarians, over two million* Israelites were freed from slavery. And during the next forty years, Moses led this nation of difficult people around and around in the wilderness while God was busy testing and humbling them (Deuteronomy 8:2).
Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished – Deuteronomy 34:7.
If you’re getting on in years—having diligently pursued the face and the will of God—hearing His voice, following His direction, and believing all His promises—then you have done well. While abiding in Christ, you have put your foot squarely and forcefully on the enemy’s ugly neck, more often than you’re aware of. As you continue with great expectation for promises still to be fulfilled, you have resurrection power on your side. You are joined with the faithfulness of God, and you cannot be denied.
. . . being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ – Philippians 1:6.
The "good works" of God include building a strong, prevailing faith within us. As for me, because of the promises God has given to me, I look forward to a beautiful grand finale. I often look at failures and set-backs as maneuvers of the Lord to make the last chapters of my life all the more astonishing to those who are watching.
I look for "great and mighty things" ahead (Jeremiah 33:3), and I encourage you to do the same, whatever your age.
Dear Lord, we thank You for the good works You’ve begun in us and certainly will complete. Thank You for the distinction of being tried, tested, and beautifully transformed. We look forward with faith and joy to the magnificent table you will soon set before us, right here on Earth, in "the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13). We look for that cloud the size of a man’s hand that will rain down torrents of restoration.
* Estimates vary.
By all means, ASK!
Knowing the heart of God and His written Word helps us recognize demonic lies that try to infiltrate and subvert His truth. The Spirit of God will wave red flags that warn of falsehood. He implores us to beware. The church is always a prime target for enemy lies. For example, a few weeks ago I was in a meeting when the following familiar words came forth: “Seek God’s face and not His hand.” Verbal assent and nods of approval came forth upon this statement, but my hand was soon in the air. I could not let this pass. I respectfully spoke to the group about the error of this teaching.
First of all, “Seek God’s face and not His hand” is NOT scripture. I'll keep looking, but so far I’ve found it nowhere in the Bible.
I Googled “scripture seek God’s face not His hand.” I found many commentaries that actually support this error—one by a well-known and beloved Christian teacher. I read some of these articles to see if I was missing something important. What I found was a repeated misuse of scripture. The authors all quoted scripture such as Psalm 27:4, Psalm 27:8, 2 Chronicles 7:14, and more. These verses clearly say we should seek God’s face. But then these authors add the false teaching that we should not seek God’s hand. They don't support this with scripture because it does not exist.
This bogus teaching has been circulating in the church for at least 20 years, but the words are not from God. An oft-used phrase can sound like scripture, especially when riding piggy-back on authentic scripture. Many are convinced the words are truth because of their familiarity, and sometimes because of who has spoken them. The Christians who are being influenced by a “religious spirit” are most likely to receive these words that sound so pious.
Along with knowing God’s Word, personal experience with His heart is an excellent guide to truth. My time with God has revealed that He is amazingly generous. Jesus’ extravagant gift of His life is enough to prove that point forever. But the Lord continues on, directing us to ask expectantly for what we need. He is eagerly waiting to bless us with provision, healing, peace, power, revelation, and so much more. He has created a loving heart within us so we'll share these blessings with others in need.
And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it – John 14:13-14 NKJV. Jesus could not have made it clearer.
ASK, and it will be given to you; SEEK, and you will find; KNOCK, and it will be opened to you – Matthew 7:7 NKJV. Amen! Lord, we thank You for these invitations that link with promises!
I will close with this question: What about prayer? It is an uncontested element of the Christian faith. A major component of prayer is “seeking God’s hand.” Petition and intercession are forms of asking. When evil religious spirits tell us to seek God’s face but not His hand, their ploy is to shut down our authority and dampen our prayer. They want to stop God's will.
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them – Mark 11:24 NKJV. Yes, let’s ask in faith!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV. Oh, what a glorious promise!
God tells us that we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2), so instead of looking to the world, let's always turn to the Lord who is waiting to rain His blessing upon us. Let's confidently pray according to His will and watch His floodgates open. Most of us are in need of a miracle or two, so let's approach the throne of grace where miracles are born.
We thank You, Lord for Your unchanging truth. Thank You for giving us Your Word and revealing Your bountiful, compassionate heart. Sweet Holy Spirit, we praise Your persistent guidance. Thank You for exposing the strongholds of deception. And thank You especially for welcoming our prayers—the petition and intercession that You have inspired.
The Test of Waiting
Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings - Psalm 84:6 AMPC.
Our time in the "Valley of Baca" is a time of waiting. In this place of tears, we wait for change. We wait for restoration of what has been lost or stolen. If we submit to the hand of God during this season, then we are supernaturally transformed. Even the barren places around us are watered by His presence.
From a very early age, the enemy began stealing what was mine. Satan meant this theft to cause great harm, but my sovereign God is working toward a great exchange—to use the terrible loss for good by turning it around, completely and radically. Many will see the restoration and know that I belong to God. They will see that He blesses His beloved and includes them in His purpose (Genesis 50:20). When I am weak, then God is strong! And He is strong for you, too! He wants to restore everything you have lost.
So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame – Joel 2:25-26 NKJV.
Most of the time, I feel blessed because of my relationship with the Lord. I have great hope for His many promises to manifest in my life and for those in my domain. God has made some personal promises to me that are truly "off the charts." I look forward to their arrival: Finances will significantly increase. Broken relationships will be renewed and made better than ever. Kingdom assignments will flourish. One of these remarkable promises was given to me over nine years ago. The waiting has not been easy, as you already know if you’ve waited a long time for something that is exceptional.
Because of the vision God has given me for my future, I sometimes feel like Joseph, who waited as a slave and a prisoner for 13 years before he was elevated to the position foreshadowed in his dreams. I also identify with David, who fought many violent battles while waiting for God's time of promotion. The enemy did not want David on the throne. I feel a kinship with Abraham, who waited 25 years before God's stupendous promise of a child would come to pass. (I don't tell people exactly what God has promised me because its preposterous nature would send contempt my way, as in the cases of Joseph, David, and Abraham.) God sent these men ahead of us, in their obvious human frailty, to shine a light on the tremendous value of waiting for Him to act—on the value of believing His "great and mighty" promises (Jeremiah 33:3). God worked miracles through the patriarchs, and He will do the same through us if we persevere in faith and waiting.
If God has given you a magnificent promise, I know you have struggled for a while just to believe it. Once you've overcome your initial shock and disbelief—when you learn that it's not about you, but all about God and His plans—you begin the struggle of waiting. If your promise is too good to believe apart from a miracle, then you enter a period of revelation about who God is. A glorious promise from God is your ticket to a time of testing—not by fire but by waiting.
In my case, the enemy has taken every opportunity to weigh me down with discouragement as I wait. I’m forced to exercise my muscles of faith again and again, year after year. This causes my trust in God to increase, but in turn the enemy increases the weight—so subtly that I am unaware of it happening until I’m already in distress.
Coming to my rescue this morning, God told me to “focus more on what you presently have than on what you’re waiting for.” This was not a reprimand. Instead, it was spoken to give me understanding. God went on to say, “I’m still giving you what I promised, but until that time, you need to be purposely thankful for what you have right now. Don't be distracted from your current blessings. Look around and see how I have provided for today. Receive My gifts of love, and take pleasure in them. Some of what I’ve given you is ‘talents.’ Let these talents meet even the smallest needs you see around you. Don’t let the enemy steal these gifts and plunder your future by aligning with his spirit of ingratitude."
Thank You, Lord! Yes, I will do that. I'll pull out these weapons of warfare!
Heaviness has to go, once and for all, never to return. Because faith is pleasing to God, then I will guard and nourish my faith by focusing on what is true and good. I will turn my ears each day to God’s Word, and my heart will move to quickly obey. Because thankfulness is also pleasing to God, then I'll survey my blessings every morning and thank Him throughout the day.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people... - Isaiah 43:19-20 ESV.
While we wait for our "new thing"—the brilliance and excitement of tomorrow—we must have help from God. It is He who "makes our way" in the wilderness of waiting. Let's always be thankful for the rivers of provision that flow through our desert of today—no matter how seemingly insignificant and ordinary. We can be grateful, joyful stewards of what we are given.
Dear Lord, I thank You for “dealing wondrously” with all of us, from beginning to end. Your ways are so much higher than ours. Your "locusts" have stripped us of selfishness and pride, and now Your love is transforming us to Your own beautiful image. You are always in the midst of us, lighting and leading the way! We trust that Your way is good.
by Susan Rose
Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me – Psalm 40:11 NKJV.
In recent months, I’ve been seeing more and more of the tender heart of God. Of course He's always been kind to me. I’ve not been oblivious to it. But now it seems that a brilliant spotlight is aimed directly at His kindness. The Lord is entirely good, and I view His compassion as simply a part of that. It’s the portion that cares for our emotions—protecting, healing, and nurturing them. God’s tender mercies assure us that we’re treasured and safe. They reflect His love in a very personal way.
As an example, God recently spoke into my spirit, “Susan, you don’t have to accept these things.” He was referring to some physical ailments that people over 50 assume they have to put up with. He was nudging me in the direction of supernatural healing, and I was very willing to go that way. A few weeks later, a friend just happened to mention the name of Rodney Howard-Browne, a prominent healer in Tampa, Florida. This tiny spark lit a fire within me, and I knew I must drive to Tampa. I began checking online for details about this ministry. Within days, I had been healed of a long-standing ailment: Due to a hip-replacement surgery in 2009, my right leg was a half inch shorter than the left. After nearly eight years of expensive shoe alterations (or hobbling around unevenly), I drove home with legs the exact same length! Jesus had touched me with His mercy! I still get tickled whenever I think of this miracle! And the healing continues. Two months have passed, and the pain in my knees is 95% gone!
About a month after my healing, it was time for my yearly timeshare vacation in Southwest Florida. I always look forward to this, but now I was feeling uneasy about leaving my cat alone for a whole week. Foxy is feral, and I’m the only person he doesn’t run from. Completely against my will, this silly cat has charmed his way into my heart. (It all began with my feeding him.) During the past year, Foxy has become emotionally attached to me, and he's happiest when I'm nearby. My concern was that my lengthy absence would
make him think I had abandoned him. I prayed about the situation, and I turned Foxy’s welfare over to God. Before I departed, I put out plenty of dry food and water. The cat door was open, so Foxy could come and go as he pleased.
My vacation was cut two days short by Hurricane Irma, and I looked forward to cheering up Foxy with my return. But my little friend was nowhere around. A helpful acquaintance had startled Foxy while watering my newly planted trees. This person reported seeing him flee into the woods just the evening before. I went to bed that night, praying that Foxy would return at any time. But he didn’t. Not even for breakfast, his favorite meal.
I’ve always felt I could bear the loss of Foxy if I knew he hadn’t suffered. But the thought of him running away and being gone forever because he thought I had abandoned him—well this would be too much for me. I had grown to love this exceptionally beautiful, rambunctious creature. He was my friend, and the anguish of not knowing where he was, if he was alive, or how he died would simply be too terrible. (If you’ve ever loved an animal, then you will understand.)
My next-door neighbor’s dirt driveway winds through 17 acres of wooded land. I walked the length of it, calling Foxy’s name at least a hundred times, but I got no response. I returned home to eat lunch, then I asked God to reveal where Foxy was. Right away, He showed me a unique section of woods that lay in the same direction that I had already searched. I started out again, repeating my walk on the neighbor’s driveway, calling Foxy and talking to him. God’s directions were good, and Foxy came out from his hiding place! Once again, the compassion of the Lord had come to my aid in a glorious way. He loves me, and He knew how I felt about Foxy disappearing. I know He also cares for this special cat that He formed with His own hands. His heart intervened to get Foxy home again. Dear Lord, I will remember this kindness forever!
I could cite several more recent occasions of God's mercy and favor toward me, but then this article would be too long. Right now I just want to say, "Thank You, Father. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Holy Spirit. You are so good, and I will love You always."
This new focus on the Lord’s kindness helps me to look past the nagging troubles of today and see the certain blessings of tomorrow. With heightened awareness of the tenderness in God’s heart, I am not afraid to trust Him with my future. So much goodness lies ahead, and I await His promises with gladness.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever - Hebrews 13:8 NKJV.
Our holy, faithful God, we thank You for never changing. We love Your dependability. And we also love Your relentless works of compassion. They are priceless. Among them are the numerous times You've lifted us up with Your Word. The sweetness of Your truth never fails to be amazing. Please help us to bless YOU by drawing near with sincere praise and worship—whether we need something from You or not, and even when we’re busy with other things. We want to enjoy Your presence and be inspired by Your beautiful heart.