Intense Prayer

Little boy prayingI pray a good bit without ever saying a word. I talk to the Lord all throughout my day when I face various situations and feel an angst in my soul. I believe that this type of prayer is what the apostle Paul is speaking of when he says: “Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT). The Lord hears my heart before a word is ever on my lips. I am learning to pray about EVERYTHING. If things are going well – grateful prayer. If things are not going well – desperate prayer. I heard recently of a good friend going through a deep crisis in their family – desperate prayer on their behalf.

I still remember when I was a young student pastor and gathered in a prayer circle and this guy prayed for the first time. It was refreshing to hear a grown man who “didn’t know” how to pray in public. His opening greeting was “Good evening Lord” and his simple prayer was a conversation as if he was sitting on the front porch having a conversation with the Lord. I realized that even in my public prayer, I need to be authentic and real not “showy” for others. I do think public prayer is leading others with that prayer, but it still needs to be genuine from my heart.

Jesus was about to be crucified and He had just celebrated the last supper with His disciples. He was in the garden and I can feel the angst in His heart as a human. I can tell He’s deliberate though as the Son of God to follow through on the Father’s plan. Check out His intense prayer….

36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matthew 26:36-41 NLT)

Jesus prayed for rescue – Yet, He wanted the will of the Father accomplished.

Jesus heart was crushed with grief about what was ahead.

Jesus asked for prayer from His disciples.

Jesus reminded them that prayer empowers them in the face of temptation.

I am inspired and encourage in my prayer life as I see Jesus (humanly) in anguish and suffering. I know suffering and struggle. I know anguish. I know heart break. Jesus’ prayer was not full of beautiful metaphors and meaningless words. He got right to the point and bowed before the Father in prayer. I began my morning with a prayer of gratitude. I also can’t get my friend and that whole situation off my mind. I remember hearing that sometimes “Prayer is the least and the most I can do”.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Important Appointment

Making a planI do my best to schedule my appointments into my calendar every day. I have some standing appointments that happen every week. For example, I attend church every Sunday at the same time (except when I’m out of town) and I have Sales Meeting every Tuesday at 9 AM with my Metro West REALTOR family. I think it’s important to keep appointments. I also think it’s important to be prepared for impromptu appointments.

Esther was about to have an impromptu appointment with the king, which was pretty dangerous. The king’s right-hand-man had gotten the king to sign an edict to destroy all Jews from the entire Persian kingdom. It was going to happen on December 12. Only a very few people knew that Queen Esther was a Jew. Her uncle Mordecai, (who was like her Dad) asked her to go to the king and beg for their lives. He had to make his case because it had been over a month since the king had summoned her into his presence. Mordecai made it clear that this could be the very reason that God orchestrated her becoming queen. Check this out…

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?’

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions. (Esther 4:14-17 NIV)

I can hardly imagine the pressure that Esther must have felt. She could possibly survive this terrible event, but then again she might not. What if the king no longer loved her as his queen? She was fearful for sure, but she asked for help. I think it’s interesting that she asked all the Jews to fast for 3 days and 3 nights. Nothing is mentioned here about prayer, but I’m very confident that fervent prayer accompanied the fasting. I believe that some appointments are important enough to fast and pray over them. Fasting and praying provides incredible clarity and focus upon the Lord and pursuit of His Will and His Way. I certainly think it’s an excellent idea to pray over every appointment that I have throughout the day. I want the Lord to be well represented in all my appointments.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Fast & Pray

 

Female hand refusing the fast food mealA friend of mine when on a fast for several days only drinking water and fruit juices. At the end of the fast, he had to slowly starting putting regular food into his body. I remember a conversation that we had during the fast and he spoke about clarity and how focused he was during that time. When fasting is talked about in The Word, it’s often referring to a discipline of abstaining from food for a period of time. The fast is often for a specific purpose like a big decision or a time of intense intercession.

As I was reading Ezra this morning I came across another purpose of fasting. Check this out…

21 There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.’ 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. (Ezra 8:21-23 NIV)

Ezra used fasting and prayer to humble themselves before God and pray intensely for a safe journey to Jerusalem. A great way to humble myself is to fast and pray. My body will cry out for food, but I can abstain for a short while and really humble myself before God. I’ve noticed in The Word that prayer almost always accompanies fasting. I’ve often thought that one of the big reasons for fasting from food is so that I might use that time to pray and seek the Lord. I’ve not done this a lot over the years. I’m always blessed when I take time to use this discipline in my journey with the Lord.

I believe that fasting should be private for the most part. I don’t think it should be announced to everyone.

I believe that fasting can powerful when a group chooses to fast and pray together.

I believe fasting shows my body and my appetite who is in charge.

I believe that fasting is a humbly activity that is healthy for nearly everyone.

I think it’s healthy to fast from more than just food. I can take a break from just about any regular activity and spend the time normally allotted for that activity in prayer and study.

Fasting and prayer reminds me that my life is for His honor and glory and not my own. I want to know Him more and follow Him faithfully. I want to humbly obey Him and honor Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Face To Face

 

ConversationThere are some conversations that you simply should not have via phone, text or email. There are times when the subject matter is so heavy that a face-to-face conversation is called for. It is sometimes easy to hide behind a computer keyboard or a telephone but eye-to-eye being in the presence of the other is really important. When I’m having one of those conversations, I’m trying to hear the other person via their posture, facial expressions and the tone of voice. I’m also keenly aware of all those characteristics expressed in me.

One of the coolest moments in the life of Moses comes when his sister Miriam and Aaron were complaining of Moses being the leader. I’m assuming that Miriam is doing most of the complaining because of the punishment the Lord gives her. I hear the tenderness of God’s heart even when He’s frustrated with these two. He addressed their complaint rather directly. Check this out….

5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, 6 he said, ‘Listen to my words:

‘When there is a prophet among you,

    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,

    I speak to them in dreams.

7 But this is not true of my servant Moses;

    he is faithful in all my house.

8 With him I speak face to face,

    clearly and not in riddles;

    he sees the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid

    to speak against my servant Moses?’

9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them. (Numbers 12:5-9 NIV)

I love that fact that the Lord makes it clear what He thinks of Moses. He so showed them that Moses relationship with the Lord was special and very personal. This is a window to see into the Heart of God very early in the Old Testament. After Jesus came to the earth, we see God’s incredible heart of love for His kids – us! He demonstrated His love to us by providing the Ultimate Sacrifice for sin – His own Son.

Because of Jesus, I can talk to God directly. I’ve never seen Him face to face, but I’ve sure felt His Presence so close I could almost feel the breath of His nostrils. (I know I’m assuming that He has them!) His Presence is very powerful and moving. I believe that when I seek Him – He responds to me. I believe that the Lord communicates all the time with me via The Holy Spirit. Sometimes I find myself singing this beautiful song: Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli because I want the Presence of the Lord to settle in on my heart and dwell here. That is an incredible peaceful place to live.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Healing

Pretty girl praying.I never witnessed first hand a miraculous healing of God. I’ve seen sick people get well. I’ve heard stories of cancer that was found and then it was gone. I think sometimes that my faith comes up short in this area. I believe that God can do anything He wants. I also believe that some of the real life testimonies of healing by God are true. I came across a cool story that involves Peter & John when the church was just beginning. Check this out….

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:1-10 NIV)

This story of healing is amazing to me. If a person is lame from birth and they’ve never walked, I would think they would have to learn to walk. This guy was healed immediately and then was “walking and jumping”! I can imagine what people thought when they saw this guy who had been lame from birth busting a move! This all happened because Jesus’ followers believed. I’m not inclined to believe that the cripple guy had much faith. He had probably tried everything to bring healing, but these regular men, filled with the Holy Spirit of God changed his life forever. I can imagine that after Peter & John explained how this was even possible through Jesus that this man became a believer.

I really want my faith in this area to stretch and grow. I want my eyes of faith to be open to EVERYTHING that God does and everything He can do. I want to believe in unexplainable, supernatural miracles of healing. I have no intentions to stop praying for them because the Lord understands the weakness of my faith and He can do some amazing things with what I have. I will pray today for miraculous healing for a friend and God will grow my lack of faith.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Intense Prayer

Abstract Silhouette PrayingI’ve prayed for many years and I’m still working on the discipline of prayer. So many times in my past, my prayers were mostly desperation instead of conversation. I prayed like God was Santa Claus waiting to fill my wish list. I’ve had crisis in my life and then prayer looked totally different. I had a mission that had intensity – I was desperate and hurting deeply. My prayers took on an intensity that I had not experienced before.

Jesus was about to be betrayed. He knew what was coming, but His disciples didn’t. He tried to give them a heads up but they didn’t catch it. Check this out…

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:32-38 NIV)

Jesus’ prayer had a intensity because of what was coming. I have been in some pretty desperate situations and my prayers went deeper and stronger. My relationship with the Lord has been different after intense sessions like that. I’ve learned to trust His heart even when I can’t see what He’s doing. Intense prayer has more often revealed to me the heart of God rather than directly changing my situation. God is the One Who can change any situation and do anything He pleases. My intense prayer often includes a prayer to change my circumstances or my situation and the Lord actually changes me instead. The change He makes in me helps me see my situation in a totally different light. The pain is often still there, but my new perspective is like salve on the sore. Intense prayer is integral to my relationship with my God as I reveal my heart – He reveals His heart and I end of changed.

Pressing On!
Dwayne