Posts Tagged ‘intercession’

I rose early to catch the sunrise over the San Francisco Bay.  I had scouted out our route for the West Coast trip with a specific goal of catching sunrises and sunsets as often as possible.  Mornings are particularly meaningful to me as I like to rise early and spend the first of my day communing with our Father.

While I had identified Mount Tamalpais as an appropriate viewing location, I incorrectly assumed I could drive to the top on the service road.  I finally found a place to park and began my trek up the mountain with the pre-dawn light much further advanced than I had hoped.  Fortunately I broke into an open area where I could see the bay moments before the sun crested the horizon.  Since I had not made it to the top of the mountain, I was not able to capture the actual sunrise, but the view of the bay, the city, and the fog alternately edging in and then out of the Golden Gate narrows was beautiful to behold.


As I prayed and snapped pictures, a series of images rolled through my spirit prompting progressive waves of prayer for the people in the Bay area.  The first was the fact that where I stood, and for that matter much of the California coast, sits on or adjacent to one of the most active fault lines on the planet.  The opposing forces of the two tectonic plates generates tremendous stress which is periodically relieved in earthquakes both small and great.  Usually these plates move 1 – 2 inches per year in opposite directions.  In the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 the pent up energy was released in a massive jolt that resulted in 20 feet of movement over a one minute time span.   It was interesting because the prayer that flowed forth was that the people would be prepared for the sudden disaster that was coming.

San Francisco just after sunrise viewed from the side of Mt Tamalpais

San Francisco just after sunrise viewed from the side of Mt Tamalpais

The fog rolling in from the Pacific into the Golden Gate Strait

The fog rolling in from the Pacific into the Golden Gate Strait

In short order the picture changed and I saw multitudes choosing any and every way to express themselves – to accommodate their passions, lusts, and appetite except in seeking intimacy with God the Father.  This broke my heart and I grieved for a time, praying in the Spirit for God to move to open eyes and hearts and minds to the reality of Who He is.

It was not long before this vision began to merge with the first of the devastation that a massive earthquake would bring.  I pondered this, again asking the Lord to pray through me.  I began to think about God’s justice, an aspect of His nature that when viewed apart from His love may seem harsh and demanding.  At different times throughout history God’s justice has resulted in judgement falling upon people, nations, and tribes.  Some versions of the bible refer to this as the wrath of God.  I must admit, at this point the vision was uncomfortable and the prayer was labored and not fun.  I have learned that not everything God calls me to do will be fun.  But if, in obedient submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit, I do what I sense the Lord wants me to do, it will turn out good.  It always has.  I believe it always will.

As this heavy prayer burden began to lift, I continued to periodically snap the shutter on my camera.  Suddenly I heard the familiar noise of hummingbird hums all around me.  Immediately in front of me a hummingbird landed and sat there as if to say, “take my picture”.  I hesitated momentarily since I almost never catch a hummingbird perched for more than a few seconds.  After 5 seconds I realized, he wasn’t flying off.  It took me several more seconds to get properly positioned while the little fella patiently waited for me to get set.  Finally I was set and I snapped about a dozen pictures before he decided he was famous enough.  As soon as I finished the shots the Lord brought to my mind Jesus’ words to his disciples about the Father’s care in feeding the birds.  In Matthew 6:26 and Luke 12:24 Jesus tells us the Father’s compassion goes so far as to provide food for the little birds.  In Luke 12:24b Jesus climactic words are: “And how much more valuable you are than birds!” 

Hummingbird Posing for Pics

Hummingbird Posing for Pics


Mr Hummingbird thinks his profile shows off his beautiful beak better.

H moves behind me thinking the lighting is a little more flattering.

He moves behind me thinking the lighting is a little more flattering.

At that moment I got just a glimpse of the marriage in God’s character of His absolute justice and His overwhelming love.  I can’t say I truly understand it, but He demonstrated it to me that morning on Mount Tamalpais in a way that I can say I know it is real.  Sin will be judged and punished completely.  All sin.  Love will conquer.  It will triumph completely and eternally.

At this my prayer turned into praise for the great love He has for us.  God’s love reaches to the people in the San Francisco Bay area.  He wants people to turn to Him, to reach for Him, to turn away from their sin and receive His gracious love in the form of His mercy.  Jesus truly paid the price in our place.

My final thought from the mountain was that God still loves the sinner who chooses not to turn to Him.  Judgement comes, but not because God didn’t extend mercy, but rather because the one never turned to God and let go of their life.

I have come to know God as intensely personal and relational in the most wonderful of ways.  He comforts me in my sorrow.  He joins me in my celebration.  He whispers guidance when I am confused and uncertain.  He envelopes me with His peace at just the right time.  I believe that His heart is grieved by each one who fades from this life without accepting the finished work wrought by Jesus’ death on the cross.

Those final moments on the mountain were bittersweet.  I know God’s love is real and it still extends to the people living under the shadow of death.  He is calling out.  He burdens His children who do know Him to intercede, to love, and to reach out to those who don’t know Him.  Some will experience His love in direct response to our obedience and participation with God in His redeeming love.  Others will not turn, will not accept, will not receive the love the Lord extends.

Love and Justice.  Our God is a consuming fire in the purest and fullest sense.  The fire of His love drove Him to send Jesus to take our place in judgement.  And for those who fail to heed, fail to turn, fail to receive, there is a consuming fire of His absolute justice to be faced.

An interesting footnote in history.  Most of the people killed in the 1906 earthquake were killed by the fires spawned by the earthquake rather than the earthquake itself.

Be blessed my friend and let the Holy Spirit intercede and move through you today.

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The sales person pitching their wares will often tout their product with the line “An opportunity so huge you won’t want to miss it.”  If we listen just a little we are drawn in and before we realize it we are purchasing this must-have item that 30 minutes before had never seriously crossed our minds.  Such is the power of salesmanship.  There are amazing opportunities in life, but the majority of them arrive without the fanfare of a huckster working the crowd to drum up business.  In fact the greatest opportunities are often disguised as challenges, a difficulties, or a crisis.  Today the world faces a number of major challenges.  That means we are on the cusp of some amazing opportunities.  In times of trouble it is imperative that we fix our eyes on the Lord and follow His leading for the crisis to be transformed into the blessing that He can bring.  Let’s look at one of the opportunities today.

The rise of ISIS (and Iran) in the Middle East is a major crisis.    I have been perplexed by the lack of outcry from more moderate Muslims over the violent actions by ISIS.  We don’t know all the motivations, but I assume fear of being targeted by the extremists is part of it.  However my recent study of the subject reveals that the true nature of Islam is revealed in the rhetoric and actions of ISIS.  If we peal away the politically correct rhetoric and misrepresentations of the “religion of peace” and get to the heart of the teachings of Islam, we find a movement that is commanded to achieve world domination through whatever means necessary.  Lying and violence to achieve the spread of Islam is not just condoned, it is encouraged.  This is a sobering realization and one that is vitally important that we grasp.  What Hitler wanted to do in the name of the Aryan race, ISIS wants to do in the name of Allah.

Up to this point my prayer has been, “Lord please stop ISIS.”  “Lord, please protect our soldiers.”  “Lord, please give our leaders wisdom in dealing with ISIS.”  But yesterday I realized I was missing the opportunity that lies before us, an opportunity that I believe the Father wants us to participate in through our intercession.  That is the evangelization of the Muslim world.  You see, the Muslim faith exerts very strong restraining pressure to keep people from leaving the faith.  From the total loss of family and friends to loss of life, the negative societal implications for a Muslim to convert to another faith is practically overwhelming.  Yet today the stark, brutal nature of the religion and its moral bankruptcy when compared to the teachings of Jesus have never been more clear.  This presents an opportunity to reach moderate Muslims with the true Gospel of peace.

We support a dear family that has been ministering in Muslim lands in central Asia for 11 years.  They recently relocated to a country very close to Iraq.  Obviously I have been praying for their safety.  They answered God’s call to missions as a newlywed couple and now, four children later, they minister as a family of six dedicated souls.  The Lord has laid it upon their hearts to find people of peace.  These are Muslims who God has put the notion in their heart that there is something more, something greater, and they are willing to ask questions that Islam forbids.  In their last place of service the Lord brought a young Muslim family into their life because one member had a vivid dream of Jesus coming and speaking to them.

Our opportunity is to join with the Lord in praying these divine encounters into being.  There are many Muslims right now who are scared and searching.  While ISIS is making a big show of their brutality to westerners, they are that much and more brutal off-camera toward moderate Muslims.  This is a time when the door of opportunity to reach a very hard people group with the gospel exists.  Jesus specifically commanded His followers to pray for this in Matthew 9:38 and Luke 10:2.  From Luke, Jesus told them, “The harvest in plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.

Here are a few specifics that the Lord has put on my heart to pray for as well as suggestions our missionary friends have offered as prayer points.

1) Pray for the Lord to stir the hearts of Muslim people to seek Him.  This will include supernatural visitations of God’s power.

2) Pray for the Missionaries to make contacts with “people of peace” in other faiths who are open to talking about the gospel and truth.

3) Pray for protection, including invisibility from the enemy during the crucial formative stages of this movement.

4) Pray a hedge of protection for the missionaries, their families, and the new converts that God will bring into the body.

5) Pray for courage for Muslims to take their next steps and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

6) Pray for Muslim families to convert so that home churches can begin in their homes.

7) Pray for provision for this work to go forward.  Provision is first God’s hand directing and leading all these efforts.  Second it is the prayer covering that we are talking about right now.  Third, it is the meeting of the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of those engaged in this work.

May the Lord bless you today with His mercy in abundance as you go forth to love and serve the Lord.

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The unbridled pursuit of power has resulted in destruction and carnage throughout history.  Actions resulting from the struggle for power and domination headline the news today.  Whether it is Iran pursuing nuclear capability, ISIS striving to extend its realm of influence, or political leaders in the US seeking to push their agenda, the wielding of power comes at a great price.  Following these three conflicts too closely has a power of its own.  It is easy to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the real and potential consequences of these conflicts.  All three of these headline-dominating topics fall short of the most powerful force in the universe though.  And that makes all the difference.  That of course is the power of God available to and through His children through intercessory prayer.  From Ephesians 1:19b and following.  “That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”

The point today is not to spend a lot of time discussing God’s power.  From creating the universe, raising Jesus from the dead, and guiding the fledgling Church from 12 frightened disciples to the worldwide instrument of good that it is today – His credentials are solid.  Ultimate power resides in the Lord God Almighty.  I have been stirred lately that the Lord has a message for the Church today that we have a role to play in releasing His power in our day.  And that comes when we enter into intercessory prayer.

Prayer is simply communication with God.  It is meant to be a dialogue.  It is not meant to be a rote recitation of sacred words.  It is not meant to be an obligation we dutifully fulfill.  It is a conversation between two parties who love and respect each other.  God condescends to meet us where we are.  And through our time together He lifts us bit by bit to a higher place.  The more time spent with God in intimate fellowship, the less the cares and worries of this world hold and control us.  This intimacy is flooded with the Word of God.  Repeatedly the scriptures come to mind as I fellowship with the Father.  This is a primary way the Lord will speak to us.  He makes His Word come alive in our hearts.  The end result is that more and more we transformed and the mind of Christ takes shape within us.

As we spend time together with the Father, His desires become our desires.  This is where intercessory prayer begins.  It is as simple as longing for and expressing God’s desires into being through our lives and with our mouth.  We ask for those things that God desires to see happen in the world.

Jesus modeled this in His ministry.  He would begin the day in time alone with the Father.  He would then come down with purpose and launch into the day’s activity.  His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is instructive.  He knew what God’s plan was long before he entered that final private time with the Father.  He had foreshadowed to the disciples what was going to happen on numerous occasions.  Yet when the time actually arrived His disciples didn’t recognize it.  Jesus himself agonized over what was to take place offering up one more petition for a Plan B.  He even asked, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  He communed with His Father consistently. He understood what the Father’s plan was.  He acted upon it and He spoke it into being.  In John chapter 17 Jesus begins with a brief petition for Himself and then intercedes for His disciples and then all who would become believers.  Through His obedience the world was forever changed and lives continue to be transformed to this day … salvation, deliverance, healing, restoration, death to life all through Jesus’ life, death, and faithful obedience to the Father.

When Jesus ascended into heaven He promised to send the Holy Spirit to the Church.  The Holy Spirit is God living and abiding in the believer.  He is our counselor who always points the way to Jesus and the Father.  Jesus speaks to who the Holy Spirit is and what He will do in John chapters 14 – 16.  In John 14:12 Jesus tells His disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  Jesus is passing on His mantle to whoever believes in me.  That is us!  And that is amazing!!

One of the less visible, but vitally crucial roles God has given the church is that of intercessory prayer.  Missionaries are absolutely dependent upon the financial support from home to continue their work.  I would argue that it is an even greater need for the prayer support from home to remain unceasing.  The same God who was able to put a coin into the mouth of a fish for Peter and Jesus’ taxes is the same God who will meet the needs of a missionary in the field if the intercessory prayer is taking place.

Rees Howell was the President of the Bible College of Wales during WWII.  His greatest calling though was that of an intercessor.  During the war there were numerous times when the Holy Spirit would lay the burden of intercession heavy upon Mr. Howell.  One instance the burden was so great that He was moved to cancel classes and call for the entire school to enter into intercessory prayer.  As the hours marched on, hundreds of students and faculty were on their face before God, interceding for God’s hand of protection upon those in great peril.  At times the mood in the chapel would shift as the Lord’s Spirit impressed the urgency of the situation upon the group gathered together.  Late at night the Holy Spirit let Rees know the work was completed.  A few days later news came from Italy of a miraculous intervention as the Allies moved across the Island of Sicily.  The Allies were surrounded and facing certain annihilation. Reinforcements were not going to arrive in time and the German and Italian bombardment was taking a tremendous toll.  It was simply a matter of time before the outgunned Allied soldiers were decimated.  The commanders had considered surrender, but decided to hold until they could hold no longer which wouldn’t be long.  Suddenly and inexplicably the bombardment stopped.  The bombing ceased in the night at exactly the time that the word was given to the intercessors that their immediate work was through.

Now this begs the question – does God take sides in a conflict?  The answer is simple.  God is Holy and He is His own.  We need to seek His face, grow in our intimacy with Him and then we join His side.  In the present conflict with ISIS, just like in World War II there is a very clear evil at work on one side of the conflict.  While it is surprising that a clear plan of action has not come forward to deal with ISIS this simply means we still have time to intercede.  You and I are called to pray the desires of God into existence.  He wants us to partner with Him in the redemption of the world and intercession is one of the ways we do that.

Go back to Ephesians where we started.  Pick it up at Ephesian 1:18 – 19a.  “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.”  Friends I encourage you to ask God to put a burden on your heart to join Him in intercession.  Consider a healthy dis-satisfaction with evil as a starting place and ask God to give you the words and perseverance to pray through.  When He does launch into it with all you are.  When we do we are tying into God’s incomparable great power for us who believe.

Be blessed and be a blessing to those the Father puts in your path and on your heart today.


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