Tell Me How To Pray

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.  Luke 11:1

I went to a prayer meeting last night, and I came away feeling some despair.  This post may sound very critical or mean spirited.  Heaven forbid.  I want only to speak from my 60+ years of going to “prayer meetings,” and the fact that for decades, it seems to me that prayer meetings are generally prayerless.  I hasten to explain.

When I was a child, I remember kneeling in sawdust in an outdoor camp meeting and listening to a man of God pray.  Obviously he had spent hours in prayer, because the very air was electric with supernatural anointing.  He brought it with him.  It was all over him.  I focused my eyes on him though it was wicked to have your eyes open while praying.  Others prayed aloud too, but the prayer leader wasn’t distracted.  And as he prayed, the pray-ers who were gathered would affirm his petition and intercede for churches, for the lost, for healing, for city officials and school teachers who were called by name, for missionaries, for governments.  It was not unusual for these crowds of a few hundred to pray an hour.  A few times, they lasted well into the night, and I remember the deep, deep peace I felt as I fell asleep on the wooden bench to the sound of prayers.

When I was in college, I attended a prayer group for about two years.  There were about 25 people in the group.  We had a large chalk board in the room where we met, and we came at the scheduled hour and began to pray and agree together, and intercede.  The only “rule” was the only spoken words were to God in prayer.  If someone wanted to add a request, they went to the front and wrote it on the chalk board.  There were moments of silence in the group.  But mostly we lifted our voices together in intercession.  I witnessed many miracles in that prayer meeting, though I never spoke directly to some of the ones who attended.  I experienced the overwhelming presence and glory of God every time we were together.

I have read hundreds of books about prayer, and though Christians generally agree that prayer is the source of power and purity in all of life, corporate prayer as I have understood and experienced it has completely disappeared from Christendom.

Part of the problem may be my lack of appreciation for music.  The prayer meeting I attended last night consisted of extremely loud repetitious phrases sung by performers, most of which I could not understand.  When did music become chord progressions with only five notes?  Must one now play a steel guitar to pray?  Though I went to the meeting hoping to join others who are burdened to pray for our city and our nation, I found individual stations that were self-centered in the extreme.  Confess MY sin, stretch ME, find MYSELF, help ME get closer to God.  Good grief.  If you are going to come to a prayer meeting to intercede could you please take your spiritual shower at home and arrive clean and ready to intercede for someone besides yourself?  There is so much work to be done.  Is the church so polluted that God cannot find an intercessor?

And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.  Isaiah 59:16

And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.  Ezekiel 22:30

These prophets lived in days of great spiritual darkness.  And there was no one to pray.  I woke up this morning longing to sit with the disciples as they approached Jesus in Luke 11:1:  Lord, teach us to pray.  I want to listen to men pray, whose anointed prayers make them seem bigger than life.  I want to sit in His Presence, and speak to Him as a friend of God, not as one lost in the darkness.  Silence the beating, vain repetitious music that accosts my soul.  I want to pray.

Lord, today, I have one request.  Teach me again how to pray.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Need Something New?

Oh sing unto the Lord a new song, For He has done wonderful things.  His right hand and His holy arm have gained victory for Him.  Psalm 98:1

Beware my dear readers of a life that is stale and directed by the ruts which we have dug by careless apathy.  Today is the day to sing a NEW song.  When life has become an empty routine of work and eat and be entertained, sleep too little and do it again the next day, God begins to call to me.  Warning bells go off all around me.  Crisis, illness, sudden change, prayers for the nation, and the world—these are the hammers that break the emptiness that consumes Americans.  Why has God allowed such crisis on a personal level, on a family level, on a national level? David asked the Lord such questions in Psalm 60:

Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh.  Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.

Yes, it seems like the whole world is trembling, and God is showing His people many hard things.  On a personal level, I have seen some hard stuff recently. I have experienced some embarrassing business failure this summer.  Bad decisions.  Stupid decisions that cost a lot of money.  Then an uninsured deer failed to yield the right of way and nearly totaled my daughter’s car.  Tuition doubled and taxes on a property leaped upward unexplainably. There is no pressure like sudden financial pressure. The comforts of life are being shaken in my household and well beyond.  I have spent much time in prayer for my beloved country that teeters on the brink of economic and moral collapse.  There is a black hole in all this if I choose to fall in it.

I have chosen instead to sing a brand NEW song.  I am full of hope.  I am looking forward to a new day.  NEW is the key word here.  Newness is a gift that God gives to the weary when we ask.  “He put a NEW song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  (Psalm 40:3)  I hear the new song He gives that makes the scripture alive and comforting to my soul.  I begin to praise Him for newness everywhere. Weeping only endures for a night.  Joy is promised just ahead.   I am a NEW creature in Christ.  Old things are passed away.  Behold! All things are become NEW!  I have fixed my eyes beyond myself to the Kingdom of God which cannot be shaken.  (Hebrews 12:27)  I am thankful for the shaking in my life that cleans out the clutter and awakens me to sing the new song.  God is calling the whole earth to sing—Sing to the Lord a NEW song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth! (Psalm 96:1)

His wonders will soon overshadow the trembling and brokenness in this world.  We put our trust in the living God whose right hand and holy arm have gained victory!  Ask Him to put the NEW song in your mouth.  It is a world changing song.  He promises, “Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.”  Sing loud and NEW and you will see Him too!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feeding on the Wind

But wilt thou know, Oh vain man, that faith without works is dead?  James 2:20

I have written very little here in the past few months, which has frustrated me, and drawn comments from a few of my faithful readers.  I’m not sure all of the reasons why, but I will try to explain what is stirring in my heart these days, which has resulted in many early mornings of the blank page.  I have been gripped recently by the first verse of Hosea 12:

Ephraim feeds on the wind     

And pursues the east wind all day long;

They multiply falsehood and violence;     

They make a covenant with Assyria,     

And oil is carried to Egypt.

I have asked the Lord to show me where I have been feeding on the emptiness of the wind.    And to my great surprise, He is speaking to my heart about the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.  I love to study the scriptures.  I love to read books, and am usually reading two or three simultaneously at all times.  I love to think about truth, and how to solve the intractable problems of our world of evil and greed and deception and violence and poverty and fatherlessness.

I gain great satisfaction from new thoughts, new knowledge, and new understanding.  I have great ideas, and since I’m an empty nester, I use you to have an audience while I “feed on the emptiness of the wind, and pursue the parching east wind all day long” (Amp.).

Beware lest you think I am alone in my feeding on the wind.  Facebook has shown me I am in a great company of wind chasers.  American Facebook posts describe food and family and parties and vacations and politics.  My African friends write about Prayer Mountain, preaching to the poor in Burundi, widows who ate a meal, children who received my gift of shoes for the first time, new church plants…always working and full of the joy of the Lord.  Don’t misunderstand—I love the pictures of my grandchildren and the keeping in touch that happens on Facebook.  But it’s like public school.  God is profoundly absent.  I do not write in condemnation—for me or for you.  We are like fish swimming in meaningless water.  Our water is wind.

So I have written little, and asked God to give me new vision.  And when I get stuck like this, it is usually because I am asking the wrong question.  I don’t need more vision, more knowledge, more understanding, more books, or more time.  I found three extra hours a week to devote to prayer by abandoning news/talk radio driving to and from work.  So I pray in those hours, God give me only the amount of wisdom and understanding that I have the ability to act on.  No more.  I will clean out the gangrenous dead pockets of highbrow thoughts that bring only self-satisfaction, and I will seek a pure faith that produces works.  What if I get legalistic?  What if the vast understanding I have of theology becomes tainted with reckless zealousness?  Not much danger of that.

Hosea is writing, not only to us as individuals, but also to a nation that feeds the wind.  His warning has great significance for our nation today.  I thank God for Christians who are stepping forward in government roles, for Christian judges who understand God’s laws cannot be broken, and for media reporters and leaders who are regularly ridiculed.  These are the persecuted in America, who gladly give up their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for the nation while most of us retreat to our churches to develop our theology and celebrate our knowledge.  Hosea calls to America.  Our nation is multiplying falsehood and violence, and making covenants economically and politically out of greed and depravity.  Who will work in the vineyard God planted and watered and blessed for two centuries?  When our founders declared that America is an endowment of the Creator, they weren’t kidding.  Forgotten history screams His providence.  It is time to restore God’s law and make it honorable again (Isaiah 42:22). It is time for us to ask David’s timeless question, If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)

Also, I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, Here am I.  Send me.  (Isaiah 6:8)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let’s Take the Highway

And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.  Isaiah 11:16

There is always a magnificent highway strewn with the mercy and kindness of our God which is wide open to those who have cast themselves on Him alone.  Isaiah does not write naively.  He understands his time, and our time.  The people are walking in grave darkness.  Wars and famine threaten the existence of the world as they have known it.  Within a generation, the people of God will no longer be a people.  And the strangest part of that is they begin to look around to make alliances with anyone who will listen, no matter their wickedness, their oppression of the people, or their idolatry.  They are foolishly struggling for survival, when God always has abundance for the remnant of His people.

Christians in survival mode.  I talk to them everywhere.  We are defeated by socialism.  We are defeated by the lying and putrid media.  We are defeated by oppressive taxes.  We are defeated by a corrupt court.  No justice.  Our wealth is stripped away.  Darkness.   Great darkness.

Isaiah lived there too, but he was never depressed or defeated.  He was never swallowed up in darkness.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.  Isaiah 9:2

So while the people of God scrambled to find safety in their own cleverness, Isaiah chilled out with his wife, and enjoyed his children.  He sought personal holiness.  He submitted to the fiery coal from the altar to take away his iniquity and purge his sin.  He waited on the Lord and proclaimed His great signs and wonders, and the coming of the Greatest Miracle of all.  These were the words of Almighty God.  He could not find truth from his surroundings.  The Lord Himself came to Isaiah and said, “Behold!”  A virgin shall conceive, and I, Immanuel, will be with you forever.  Isaiah’s heart was surely bursting as he gazed on the goodness of God and the beauty of His holiness.  His instruction is wisdom for us today who look around at the darkness.

For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.  Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.  Isiah 8:11-13

Isaiah’s life is both a warning and a source of great joy.  If we go with our surroundings, we will be swallowed up in the great darkness.  The fire and flood of wickedness will overtake us.  But to the faithful remnant, there is a great light to lead us.  There is a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Everlasting Father who will say to us, This is the way, walk ye in it.  And we will open our eyes in the brightness of His light to see the highway.  He has parted the sea of oppression.  He has parted the sea of impossibility.  He has parted the sea of great darkness.  Let us gather our little ones and move forward.  The glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.  Great shall be the peace of my children.  The Lord of Hosts has declared it so.  Nothing shall be impossible with God.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Father’s Day

Another Father’s Day is behind me.  A personal earthly father has never been a strong concept in my life.  As a matter of fact, not much fatherhood for several generations.  The concept of earthly father speaks to me to appreciate leadership, provision, and protection.  America’s fathers gave their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.  They were true American Fathers.  So it is not so abstract to think of fatherhood generationally.

I have Christian fathers too.  The apostles, Augustine, Luther, Wesley; but not just the world renowned fathers.  Tens of thousands of Christian fathers have lived and died for the faith, and I am who I am because of their great contribution to the world.  God knows them by name.  The young upcoming generation is in grave danger because they have lost a generational perspective of father.  I daresay that most Father’s Day sermons across America yesterday went something like this:  “Would you pleeeze stop working so much and play ball with your kid?  All 1.7 of them, if you fit the national average.

Every childhood Father’s Day for as long as I can remember, we sang the same song on Sunday morning.  The second verse might as well be a foreign language in our day, but I still remember the words.

 

“Our fathers chained in prisons dark;

Were still in heart and conscience free;

How sweet would be their children’s fate;

If they like them, could die for Thee;

Faith of our fathers’ holy faith;

We will be true to thee till death.

 

My fathers of generations past believed that.  They were the father’s whom an anonymous writer immortalized in Hebrews 11:

“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.  Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:  And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:  God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

So here I am, a fatherless child who raised fatherless children.  But I have no lack, because my fathers with whom I will spend eternity believed the song.  The world was not worthy of them, and somewhere in the world, there are fathers today who are perfecting the Good News with their blood.

I do not know the fate of America, but if there are still fathers here, not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble, but called by God in the depths of their souls (I Corinthians 1:26), then all is well.  God will use them to provide some better thing for us than the empty darkness of materialism and idolatry that have swallowed the minds of those who think a real father is one who works a little less and plays ball a little more.

I am rich indeed this Father’s Day.  I thank God for my fathers.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unbelievers Need Proof

My head is full of phrases from Matthew 12 these days.  What does it mean to honor the Sabbath?  Jesus healed a withered hand.  A house divided against itself cannot stand.  The church leaders were snakes (Jesus said it, I didn’t!).  Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven.  Jesus is the fulfillment of yet another prophesy of Isaiah—a beloved servant, a bruised reed will not be broken, He will be anointed with the Spirit of God, He will be victorious in justice.

It is a panoramic view of the Divine Son of God in all of His glory, while all those around Him actively deny the obvious and seek to discredit and destroy Him.  Suddenly this scene from so long ago sounds like the morning news.  Christians are hated and marked for destruction around the world.  How do we live day to day?  We will live as Jesus lived in Matthew 12.

He was Lord of the Sabbath

He healed the sick

He lived as the chosen, beloved of God, filled with the Spirit of God.

He valued life, those who were like lost sheep, bruised reeds, and smoking flax.

He was undivided, one with His Father, single minded.

He declared that the fruit must match the tree—faith and works are always together.

He warned of idle words and the judgment to come.

People became His family by doing His will.

And there you have it.  Authority, humility, obedience, mercy and justice, power and victory.  Never abstract words—always visible in daily life.  And looking at a day in the life of Jesus makes it easier to think about the day ahead today.  If we live one day with the gospel message as visible as Jesus made it that day, the wicked will be rebuked, the sick will be healed, and the broken will be whole; and best of all, those who muddle through life as if the work of the Kingdom is not theirs will awaken to a way of life that changes the world.  I’m all in on this one.  I just spent the morning watching Jesus.  May every day of my life be a Matthew 12 day.  Come on family.  Let’s witness the coming of His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  This life is the visible proof to the hostile unbeliever.  Jesus is Lord of the whole earth.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Delivers Nations

And when he [Moses] was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.  And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.  And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?  Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?  Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons….

This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.  He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.  Acts 7:23-29, 35-36

I have been praying for America this morning.  I have prayed for the president, the supreme Court, and members of congress who call on the name of the Lord.  I prayed for Kentucky’s governor, his advisors, and for my representatives.  The Kentucky assembly has many who are under the authority of the laws of nature and of nature’s God.  We live in a state that has been highly favored by God.

Then I went to Acts 7, the final sermon of Stephen.  The scripture declares that people could not resist the spirit and wisdom by which he spoke (Acts 6:10).  Really?  His sermon is a (yawn) history narrative.  I know all the details of Abraham, Joseph and Moses.  But today, the words were alive and powerful, and cut my heart as deeply as those who stood before Stephen and rejected the word of the Lord.

Moses’ heart was moved when he was 40 years old to see the world as it really was.  He had been in the “ivory tower” of education and ease in the palace of Pharaoh, a place quite sheltered from slavery and injustice.  I was 46 when I finished my college education, having spent 14 years collecting an array of learning and degrees.  Then God led me to First Principles and confronted me with my total ignorance of history and the world around me, a world He loves, where injustice, slavery, and suffering abound.  It is very complicated when God calls and says “I have seen the suffering.  Now YOU go.”

Moses responded with anger and revenge, then he ran away for 40 years.  I’d say that’s a pretty typical Christian response to injustice.  Anger is good when it does not lead to sin.  Put away your reckless anger, and ask God to give you righteous passion to overcome injustice.  The God of the universe who turns the hearts of kings will answer your prayer.  Stephen was irresistible in wisdom and the power of the Spirit.  All of Moses’ years of education left him stupid.  I won’t elaborate on the application to my life.

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.  Revelation 2:26

EVERY Christian is called to overcome, to do God’s will, and to act in wisdom and power, and God will give nations to those who are faithful, courageous, and persevere to the end.  Joseph did it, and became the Prince of Egypt.  Stephen did it, and became a martyr.  Both experienced power over nations.

So one would think Moses was a total wash.  He ran away to Midian and started living the “normal” life.  He got married and had two sons, and kept livestock and enjoyed the fruit of his labor, pretending that’s all there is to life.  For 40 years, he lived like his calling didn’t matter.  His education didn’t matter.  The world’s injustice was not his problem.  He was in a very comfortable place.  He even got along with his in-laws!

When Moses was 80 years old, God came to him in a burning bush.  It’s interesting that God didn’t have to explain much to Moses what He wanted.  Moses knew 40 years ago that he was Israel’s deliverer.  He couldn’t do it in his own strength, so he didn’t do it at all.

This blog will reach hundreds of Christians who have run to their own Midian.  America is in crisis.  God wants to heal the nations.  He has seen the suffering, He has made the call, and every man, woman and child who names Jesus as Lord must respond to restoring the vineyard that is overgrown with thorns and weeds.  Return to the front lines of battle.  This is our time.

Few of you 80 year olds have cared for your body, which is not your own.  Abandon a lifetime of gluttony and get off the grains and sugar and processed foods.  We have work to do.  Put away your anger, your fear, and your despair.  God reigns.  Move in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.  Every moment.  “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” I Thessalonians 5:6  “So prepare your minds for action, be completely sober [in spirit—steadfast, self-disciplined, spiritually and morally alert], fix your hope completely on the grace [of God] that is coming to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  I Peter 1:13 AMP)

God in His mercy is reminding me of my calling before I’m 80.  I get to have a head start!  What a great time in history to be a Daughter of the King!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment