“Under Attack?”

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I read this article. I wondered if it could be true. I would love it if you read it, too.

Your Pastor Is Under ATTACK! What Will You Do?.

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Five Steps to Biblically Audacious Prayer

The key to audacious praying is to make sure our prayers are grounded in scripture.  Our requests must be biblically based.  If they are not, our prayer is more wishful thinking than faith-based praying.

In The Message, Romans 10:17 reads:  “The point is, before you trust, you have to listen.  But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.”

So, audacious prayer must be formed from scripture.  Acknowledging the influence of Don Miller and Steven Furtick, allow me to give you five steps toward developing biblical, audacious prayers.

  • First, identify your need.  Just as in Mark 10:36, Jesus asked a man a simple question:  “What do you want me to do for you?”  We must take time to specifically identify exactly what we need God’s help with.
  • Second, find a promise in God’s word that fits  your specific need.  Audacious praying means transferring the promise of God into your problem.  The Bible is filled with promises.  Search the Bible. Dig for it. God will reveal himself to you.  I cannot tell you exactly how it will happen, but God will make a verse come alive to you.  Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you will know.
  • Third, wait on God to give you his promise.  You may discover the promise quickly.  Or, it may take time.  Do not give up.  It is laziness to give up.  Isaiah 30:18 says, “Blessed are all who wait for him.”
  • Fourth, speak the promise.  Joshua 1:8 and Mark 11:23 remind us that God’s word is meant to be spoken.  It is easier by far to keep your audacious prayer to yourself.  There is little risk if no one knows what you are praying.  If nothing happens, you have not put yourself out there.  It takes faith to speak God’s word…to say, “This is the promise God has given me.”  It may scare you to admit what you are asking of God.  You may feel embarrassed or naive.  But speaking — being vocal — is necessary for faith and part of the process.  Find a least one person to whom you can speak your faith, God’s promise, and your request.
  • Fifth, act like you believe the answer is on its way.  Mark 11:24 says, “…believe that you have [already] received it.”  Change your way of thinking.  Let your actions show your faith.  Find a tangible way to express your confidence in God.  Martin Luther wrote, “Mark this, that you must always speak the Amen firmly.  Never doubt that God in his mercy will surely hear you and say ‘yes’ to your prayers.”

Need to Pray

I woke up this morning before 5:00.  Not unusual.  As I slowly became aware, I felt anxious.  And I knew why.

The last couple of days, I have let my prayer time get squeezed.  I have prayed but not as long or as much as I need.  I have discovered that I begin to come apart if I do not spend enough time praying.

I do not usually know before beginning how much time that means.  Only after I have been praying can I feel God release me.  The last couple of days, I have not waited for that.  I have just run through my lists and moved on.  Not healthy.

So…today…as I woke up… I felt God drawing me back.  Thank you, Father, for pulling on me and not letting me go.  I write this as I begin my day and my prayer time.  I look forward to this time.  I need this time.

And, thank you, HBC family for giving me the time I need.  Thank you for allowing us to hire a Director of Operations to remove much of the administrative load.  (Todd is meeting with the fire inspector while I am in my study!) Now, I have greater freedom to spend more time like this.  A difference-maker…

I will spend time today with the audacious prayer cards you brought to the altar last Sunday.  I will pray because of the increased movement of the enemy in conflict with our praying.  The Holy Spirit is stirring, and I will spend time trying to listen to the Spirit speak to me.

Pray Ephesians 1:17 for me: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better (NIV).” This verse stuck in that special way recently.  My great desire is to know him better.

The Power of Personal Vision

You will be able to pray with audacity when you have a personal, God-given vision.

Steven Furtick in Sun Stand Still defines personal vision as knowing what God wants to accomplish through your life.  He says, “It’s just about the most powerful spiritual asset you can discover.”

Audacity flows from vision.  When you know what God wants to do in your life, you will begin to glimpse how you should pray.

How can I discover a personal vision for my life?

  • Ask God.  God does not want this to remain a mystery to you.  God wants to reveal his will to you.  Take that as a given.
  • Do the hard work of listening.  Yes, listening is work.  It requires effort.  Too often, we ask God a question.  But we do not do what it takes to listen to God.  We do not change our pace of life.  We do not stop…or even slow down.  We do not build time for contemplation into our schedule.  We do not crack open the Bible.  God says we will find him when we seek him with all our heart (Deuteronomy. 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13).  Listening can be hard work.
  • Ask other people.  Okay, maybe not just anyone.  But there are people in your life who can be trusted spiritual advisors.  People who know you and love you.  People who have seen you at work.  They know what revs your engines and what dampens your spirits.
  • Look for intersections of passion and productivity.  That is your sweet spot.  How has God wired you?  What are your passions, likes, dislikes?  Where are you successful?  Philippians 2:13 says that “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  God gifts you to be successful in certain activities.  And God crafts your heart…your desires.  Forget the nutty idea that doing God’s will makes you miserable.  Just the opposite.  When you find your sweet spot, you will love it.  Look for places in your life where there are intersections between what you love and what you can do well.
Feel free to comment on your personal vision.  Have you found it?  Do you think it is necessary?  Can you pray audaciously without it?  Other suggestions on how to discover your vision?

Dark Night

The phrase “Dark Night of the Soul” has come to be associated with spiritual crisis.  In Gethsemane, hours before his arrest, Jesus experienced a “Dark Night.”  He modeled for us a way to work through our crisis moments in prayer.

Look at Mark 14:36.  “Dark Night” prayers should be marked by:

  • Intimacy.  Jesus addresses God as “Abba”…  an intensely personal term.  Some have compared it to saying “Daddy” in our language.  I am a daddy.  I love being called “Daddy.”  When my kids were little, one of my favorite memories is coming home from work and walking in the door.  My children would come running, yelling “Daddy” all the way to the front door.  Loved it.  Today my children are grown.  My son doesn’t call me daddy anymore (I think he addresses me most often as “Old Man.”).  But my daughters still call me daddy.  When I see their name on my caller ID, I know when I answer I am going to here a “Daddy.”  It still melts me.  I love it.  The thing to remember about intimacy is that it cannot be faked.  It must be developed…over time.  You should pray now so that when you need to pray during a crisis…you will not be talking to a stranger.
  • Honesty.  Jesus was honest.  He told the Father what he really wanted.  And he wanted God to find a Plan B.  Plan A…the cross…wasn’t looking so good.  It took a lot of courage for Jesus to pray that.  Did he risk the Father’s disapproval?  Because they had a plan?  Honesty!  Our prayers often fail at this point.  We pray what we think we should pray.  Or, we pray without thinking. I am amazed at how often we engage our mouths before we engage our mind.  We actually talk to God with our mind wandering.  Have you ever really thought about some of the silly things you hear people say in prayer?  Take our prayers before meals.  You hear a lot of cliche’s and mindless prattle.  I have a philosophy when it comes to meal time prayers.  I do not want the food to get cold while I am praying.  I talk to God a lot so when it comes time to eat, I thank God for the food and say “Amen!”  Ten seconds tops.  It freaks people out the first time they hear me do that.  They barely get their eyes closed before we are done.  I have a theory.  People who pray long prayers before they eat are not praying any other time.  “Blessings” are time to play catch up.  And think about what we hear.  “Bless this food to the nourishment of our body.”  Do we need to pray that?  God has already engineered our bodies so that if we put the right food in, our bodies will do their jobs.  Why don’t we pray, “God, may my lungs do a good job with this oxygen they are breathing.”  Tim Hawkins has a great take on those who pray for others a “hedge of protection.”    Next time we pray, let’s take a moment to focus before we start to speak.
  • Surrender.  Crisis prayers must be marked by surrender.  Jesus’s was.  He said, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”  He asked God for a Plan B.  But he never said he wouldn’t do Plan A.  Jesus was less than 24 hours from his death…from finishing the task set before him.  But if he had quit in the garden that night, nothing else he did would have mattered.  He had to finish what he started.  And he did.  He was a finisher…a closer.  He left the garden that night, marched right up to those coming to arrest him, and forced the issue.  He did not hide.  He did not run.  I do not know where I first heard this…but someone has said that 90% of what God asks us to do is easy.  We do not have a problem with most of what is asked of us.  It is that last 10% where we struggle.  It is that last little bit that costs us.  But if we do not finish, does the rest of what we do really matter?  We need to be closers…finishers.  I am friends with our local high school coach.  My children either played football or were cheerleaders.  We did the Friday Night Lights thing for years.  We were going to stop when our children were no longer involved.  Then I met the new coach. I love the guy.  We still go to all the games — in and out of town.  He has this great thing with the team and the fourth quarter of football games.  They start in off-season workouts getting ready for the fourth quarter.  Their goal is to be the best conditioned team.  And I have seen it.  At the end of games, the Hippos are wearing out the other team.  They are closers…finishers.  Just like we need to be.  Just like Jesus was.