The Friday Diversion – Week XI

***This is being posted 50 minutes into Saturday because my birthday is this weekend and I’ve been super busy…Sorry for the delay!***

Every Thursday night, I’m on an intercession set that prays for Israel. We study the Jewish people together and this year we’re celebrating the Jewish feasts. In light of that, I thought the poems below were amusing.
(Note: “goyim” = Gentiles)

How odd
Of God
To choose
The Jews

— William Norman Ewer

But not so odd
As those who choose
A Jewish God,
But spurn the Jews

— Retort by Cecil Browne

Not odd
Of God
The goyim
Annoy ‘im

— Retort by Leo Rosten

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Série de Prière: Intercession (Part 2)

“In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills. Progressively, we are taught to see things from his point of view.” – Richard Foster

Practical Steps

In my limited experience, I have learned that listening is the most important part of this kind of prayer. We must not assume we know God’s will on a matter (unless clearly defined in Scripture) because then we can twist our prayer to suit our own motives or misconceptions. Rather, before I even begin to intercede, I ask the Holy Spirit several questions about the person/situation. I ask for certain scriptures to pray, what God thinks of them/the situation, what my position is to be, etc. Then I can intercede with authority because I know I am in alignment with God’s heart.

Beyond receiving direction from the Lord on how to pray, there’s really no formula for intercession. It can be practiced as a two-word prayer, internally as you’re going about monotonous tasks, or very focused in a prayer room. It can last two seconds or several hours. The goal is not the quantity of time or amount of words — as I said before, many words encourage distractions — but instead praying in alignment with God’s will. It is when we pray God’s will that we see our prayers answered. Please know that just because you have direction from the Lord on how to pray, it does not mean He will answer right away. In my post on Luke 11, I went into depth on the importance of persistence in prayer.

Something I learned at IHOP is how important it is to pray positive prayers. All of the apostles’ prayers in the Bible are positive, praying for what would be in the churches instead of focusing on their weaknesses. (While on the subject, apostolic prayers are great tools for intercession. A list of them can be downloaded here.) It is vital to keep our focus on God in our prayers. In Luke 11, the man that needed bread didn’t pray against the lack, he went to his friend with the bread.

A couple weeks ago, a young married couple asked me to pray for them. I didn’t know what they needed prayer for, but I spent about 3 hours asking questions and interceding for them before I went to their house. After I spent only 15 minutes praying for them, I could see fresh hope in their eyes. The Lord had spoken to me and used me to encourage them — and I was just as encouraged to know that I hear from God!

Recommended Reading

Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar

Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke is a 95 pages of wisdom on focused, effective prayers

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This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.

Série de Prière: Intercession (Part 1)

I’ve left the most complex subject for last. I’m timid about defining intercession for three reasons: a) people I respect disagree with my definition, b) hundreds of thousands of intercessors have gone before me and must know much more than I, and c) because there is so much to be said. But the rule is that I speak from my own experience, so here is my humble definition.

What is it?

The simplest definition is this: intercession is praying for others. (The dictionary definition of intercession is “the action of intervening on the behalf of another.”) I like to tag on to that definition that it is taking a position between God and man — partnering with God’s heart for anything outside of yourself and asking Him to bring His purposes to pass.

I can’t move on from “what is it?” without addressing why I think the intercessors are the most burnt-out part of the Church. We must have a foundation of who God is and who we are before Him before we begin to seriously intercede. If we do not, we begin to strive and look to man for validation of what we are doing. I wrote about my experience of finding my identity before God in prayer in my series on enjoyable prayer (which can be found here, here, and here).

“Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7

God has things He will or won’t do based upon our intercession (Jer. 5:1). We see several times in the Bible that God changes His mind as a direct result of someone praying. My favorite example is Moses:

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen [Israel] and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!”
Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.’
Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God and said, ‘Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
Why should the Egyptians speak and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath and relent from this harm to Your people.
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.”
So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.” Exodus 32:9-14

God has given us an unprecedented dignity in our prayers: even to the point of changing His mind.

In my next post, I’ll cover some practical ways to intercede, as well as some encouragement of the fruit of intercession that I have seen in my own life.

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This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.

The Friday Diversion – Week IV

We have a funny custom in prayer rooms. As soon as you walk in to one, you will notice random people pacing between or beside rows of chairs. Some people find pacers distracting, although it’s one of the things about a prayer room that you get used to pretty quickly.

The question is — why?

  • Some people pace because they’re really into the prayer meeting
  • Some people (myself included) pace to stay focused
  • Some of us just need a break from sitting since we are in the prayer room for 6-8 hours at a time
  • Sometimes it’s simply to stay awake
  • I’ve heard some people pace because they’re bored and it makes time pass
  • Every once in a while, there will be a pacer who is just pacing to look spiritual and attract attention

Contrary to popular belief, pacers are no more spiritual than those sitting in the chairs. In fact, their reasons are usually quite practical. It’s just the way of a prayer room.

Enjoyable Prayer, Part 3

I love art in almost any form. Let me read your favorite lyrics or show me your child’s Sculpey turtle and I will probably love it. Recently, I dragged my boyfriend to a local art museum and he patiently waited as I marveled at my favorite painting…for nearly an hour.

I just have to believe that a God who would create so many enjoyable, beautiful things (maybe for you it is a sunset or an instrument or a sport) would be interesting and beautiful Himself. David seemed to think so when he said:

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

I’ve found that the more I look at God and wonder at His attributes not only does He seem more beautiful to me, but prayer becomes more enjoyable. I used to be resigned that the world gets to do “all the fun stuff” and I have to be the good little Christian girl who never has any fun. Not anymore; now I wonder if the world will ever know that all the pleasures they enjoy came from a much more enjoyable God.

So, in conclusion, I guess my answer to, “How do I make prayer enjoyable?” is this: sit before God and let Him tell you who you are; meditate on who He is: His character, His attributes; ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Then you will begin to find Him so irresistible that you will want to commune with Him, pray with Him, and spend time with Him.

Enjoyable Prayer, Part 2

Recently as I was pacing in the prayer room, I noticed 3 objects lying next to the sound booth: a health magazine, a conference on evangelism, and a Christian self-help book. Tears came to my eyes as I realized that we are so bored with God.

We all want to be entertained, stimulated, stare at something fascinating. We go out and have our guilty entertainment pleasures and come to the prayer room to have our “spiritual time.” But as soon as we walk out the door, we turn up the music and move on with the interesting things of life.

So how do we go from looking forward to movie-and-ice-cream-night to looking forward to praying to an invisible God?

For me, it all started with being surrounded by a whole bunch of people who loved prayer. Three days after I arrived to do my internship at IHOP, I wrote this:

“I am beginning to see the importance of prayer as a lifestyle, not just a thing on the side. The people here are so illogical; they will get day care or whatever they have to do to just go sit in a room for hours and hours.”

I was completely blown away by a people who believed prayer was so important that they caused their entire lives to revolve around it. So I started looking for the why behind what they did. I didn’t have to look far; I began to experience a different side of God than I had ever known: a Father who wanted to tell me how much He loved me, a Son who gave all that He had to make me His bride, and a Spirit that told me my prayers were vitally important to God’s purposes.

The natural progression of feeling valued is that you begin to walk in confidence. You are able to enjoy prayer when you believe that your little voice makes a big difference before God’s throne. When you start believing that He places great value on you and on your partnership with His plans, prayer becomes a “want to” versus a “have to.”

Enjoyable Prayer, Part 1

For years I thought that prayer was the most dry, boring thing and I only capitulated when things were really bad or I was on a spiritual high (those happened about once a year). Don’t get me wrong, I did talk to God, I’ve always loved just carrying on a mental conversation with Him, but no way would you find me sitting and praying because I liked it.

Now it seems very ironic that I packed up and went to IHOP, a place where the main focus is prayer. I remember thinking, “Maybe there’s something cool about prayer, I dunno, they seem to like it a lot.” But I sure didn’t think they’d turn me into a person who’d want to sit in a room and pray for the rest of my life!

So how did I get to that point? How did I go from hating the idea of sitting and praying to the full-time occupation of sitting and praying? That’s what this little series of posts is about. If you’re interested in a prayer life that’s actually enjoyable, then keep reading.