Tuesday, April 8, 2014

on Leave a Comment

Prayer Warriors

          A few months ago, I became a part of the prayer chain at our Church. This morning I began reading one of the prayer requests and her accompanying prayer that she had written for each of us to pray and join in agreement.  She and her husband have been the main building blocks in the creation and maintenance of what has become a very robust and vibrant prayer ministry.  They have taken part as prayer warriors, not just for months, but for years.  As I read her prayer, I could only thank God for the inspiration that both hers and her husband’s prayers have been to me.

As I began writing this morning, my intention was to write a brief paragraph expressing my thanks for the encouragement I have often received just in the reading of the prayers of others.  However, before I knew it, the ‘paragraph’ had blossomed and grown into far more. Being a part of our prayer chain, even though it has been but a short blip in time for me, has served to awaken my heart to the importance of our commitment in this arm of service unto our Lord.  I have not had the pleasure of even meeting many of the persons involved, but meeting each of them through our prayer ministry has been a blessing that has been used as a love letter from The Lord to instill within my heart the truth of His word when He promised, “where two or three gather in my name, He there I am with them.”(Matt. 18:20)  We may not be 'together' face to face, but more importantly and far more powerfully, we are 'together' in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

     Some time ago, our pastor came to visit me while I was in the hospital.  The conversation brought up a mention of the increased problems being faced by the person who was the main core and supporter for the prayer chain.  As her own family needs had presently become more intensive and demanding, she was finding it harder to devote as much time as was needed.  I got the impression that she might be concerned for the continuation of a robust and vibrant intercessory prayer ministry within our church which, as I have learned, is not limited to the confines of our own church, but is often opened to requests from those in the world at large.  She and others had been praying that the Lord would move others to take up the slack and relieve her of having to carry so much of the load.  At the time, you would not believe the load she was already carrying as caregiver of several members of her family.  Before our pastor left, we joined in prayer.  After returning home from the hospital, I was further encouraged through my sister, and the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit to, slowly but surely, begin to take part in the prayer chain ministry.      

      Whether The Lord returns tomorrow or many years from now, the urgency of The Lord's call upon His people to awake from our slumber and the disease of apathy is shouting out like the ringing of an alarm.   Each of us needs to hear and respond with action so that we can be His true body that is meant to be the salt of the earth, being doers of the word and not just hearers.  Too often we are lulled into thinking that prayer is something that is best left in the more capable hands of others, as if it required some kind of deeper understanding or preparation.  God never told us that we had to go to school for further training in the art of praying before we were to indulge and take part in the action and practice of it.  He has simply instructed us to pray and pray ‘without ceasing.’  He has even told us when we don’t know how or what to pray the Holy Spirit does, and He will help us. (Rom. 8: 26)  What more could we ask?  There is no more value in a prayer that has a bunch of big words and platitudes in it than there is in a simple cry of our hearts unto the Lord saying, “Jesus, help me!”  It’s not our words that matter, but the action of calling upon the name of the Lord to seek his face in all that we do. (Jer. 33: 3)

     When I first started taking part in this ministry, I quickly became aware of the challenges that it can bring into one's life. One of the first characteristics that I became acquainted with was how overwhelming it can be at times to be given the knowledge of the many needs of others.  I can see how the devil can try to discourage you and me from getting involved in the prayer ministry.  He will whisper his deceiving words and lies to try to stop us before we have hardly even begun: "This is too depressing. Forget about this! Haven't you got enough problems of your own to handle?  After all, you're only one person and what can you do to fix things, or really help any one of them?  Besides that, it just takes too much time and energy."  If we let him, he has a whole litany of lies prepared to throw at us to try to hinder our service, not only to one another, but even more to restrict our service to the Lord.  At one point, upon receiving words of thanks for my participation and expressions of appreciation for the ‘beauty’ of my prayers, I didn’t know how to receive or respond to these complimentary words.  I really ‘felt’ and ‘heard’ the accuser, we know who he is, say, “Uh huh, see there, you’re doing this to draw attention to yourself.”  I began to feel ashamed and even questioned my motives. I was reluctant to give my name as the writer, as I was afraid of giving an “appearance of evil.”  I took my concerns to my sister who is always a great encourager.  Thank God for the continual help and support of my own family members throughout the years of my life.  The Lord used her to straighten out my ‘stinking thinking.’  She showed me how this fear was being used by the devil to try to silence my prayers and service to the Lord.  She pointed out to me that we are each given gifts, and the Lord expects us to use them for His glory.  To hide, and not use them, is to be like the servant that buried that which his master had given him; therefore, upon his master’s return, the servant had only to give back that which originally belonged to his master and no more. (Matt 25: 14- 30)  True, we are not to be boastful of the gifts that God has given us, as if they were of our own making.  But not using them in the service of the Lord is equivalent to quenching the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit which is meant to be manifested to the glory of God in our lives. We have to remember that “Satan is as a roaring lion, roaming too and fro, seeking whom he may devour.”(I Peter 5:8)  If he can stop and silence any one of us, he has succeeded in robbing from the body of Christ; thus, we have enabled him to do so by listening to his lies instead of listening to and following the voice of the Lord.

          Isn’t it ironic that we won’t take our cares to the Lord sometimes because we may think we shouldn’t bother God with our “petty little problems?”  Large or small, God loves us and wants to be involved in every part of our lives.  Would we hide something from our spouse?  Of course not; therefore, there is all the more reason to open our hearts in full disclosure to our Lord who has loved us first.  In addition, some people are timid about praying because they feel they don’t know how to pray as ‘eloquently’ as someone else.  You know that is just another ploy of the devil.  Comparing our abilities to someone else’s is not what God has intended.  Think of all the singers in the world and how their numbers and diversities of talents would be reduced if they all held back in sharing their talent with us just because someone else might sing better.  I can think of some who sing with great technical abilities, but it never touched my soul because their music was without feeling and heart.  There was a lady in our church years ago, that did not have what may be called ‘a great voice.’  But every time she sang, the Spirit of the Lord moved to change the hearts of many who listened.

          Satan may try to tell you that this job is just too depressing or too wearisome; however, if we remember that we are to do all things as unto the Lord,(Coll. 3: 17, 23) the joy of the Lord will rise up within your spirit, overcoming the would be depression and lies of the devil, replacing them with “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”(Isaiah 61: 3)  One's heart is stirred to want to rise up and take flight, being clothed with the righteousness of the Lord, and equipped for the battle at hand with the full armor of the Lord.  We may view ourselves as only one voice, inept and unprepared for the job.  But wait, should we not remind ourselves that God has promised that in our weakness He is made strong?  When it came to defeating Goliath, did He choose the biggest and the strongest to go into battle against him?  No, He sent  little David, armed with nothing but a sling shot and five little pebbles, or at least that is what it would have looked like to Goliath, who was laughing incredulously I’m sure as he saw this puny looking young kid coming out to do battle with him.  But David knew he had something far greater than size, armor, numbers, weapons, strength or dependence upon any of those visible things.  He knew, without a doubt, that he was fully prepared as he went forth armed in and protected by the name of the One True God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; through whom he had the victory by faith before it was ever manifested to the vision of the witnesses at hand. (I Sam. Ch 17) When our hearts are moved with compassion for what others are going through, let us remember that we may appear to the adversary as though we too are only ‘puny little Davids,’ but God has said, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”(I John 4: 4) Often, no matter what our own personal problems and frailties may be, they seem to fade from sight when we are willing to take our eyes off of ourselves, and place our focus on Jesus and His desires of what He wants to do in and through us.  We need to remember that we are His vessels, His instruments.  Let us not be intimidated, manipulated, or conformed by the powers this world; let us be transformed into the image of God, having the mind of Christ, “by the washing of the water of the word.”(Romans 12: 1, 2)  He has designed each of us for a purpose, “to do that which is pleasing in His sight,”(Philip. 2:13) submitting our will, to do the will of the Lord.  All He requires of us is a repentant heart that is willing to say, “Here am I Lord, use me.”(Psalm 51:17)

          Sometimes, when reading some of our prayer requests, I remember thinking, how in the world is this person, family, etc. getting through any of this?  In the frailty of my own humanity, I find myself feeling like ‘this is impossible.  All I can do is pray.’  We often think of prayer in terms of being ‘only prayer,’ as if it were a last resort thing to do after we have done all else.  In fact, we have been taught by the word that we should seek the face of the Lord first bringing all our cares to Him in prayer. (Philip. 4:6)  Somehow, somewhere along the way, we have been deceived into thinking that prayer is a miniscule thing of little significance in the battle against the powers and principalities of the darkness of this world.  We have forgotten that the first purpose of prayer is to give praise, glory and honor to the Lord.  We have forgotten how Jesus went out away from the crowds and spent much time in prayer, not only to take His cares unto His Father, but to listen to the voice of His Father that He might always be about doing the work of His Father in Heaven.  We have forgotten that when the Israelites went out to war, the praise and prayer warriors were sent out ahead, giving God the glory, proclaiming victory in the power of the One True God, knowing that the battle and the victory were in the hands of the Lord.  “Not by might, not by power, but by MY SPIRIT, says the Lord.”(Zech. 4:6)  Yes, the battle is the Lord’s, but aren’t we meant to be active members in the army of the Lord?  We have but to look at the ever increasing lawlessness and godlessness of the world around us to know that Satan is not dormant.  Knowing that he is out and active in full force, shouldn’t we be all the more diligent to “pray without ceasing,”(I Thess. 5: 16-18) following Jesus as He is “seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,” ever interceding for you and I?(Rom. 8: 34)


          When I begin to feel downhearted, out of compassion for what others are going through, my first reaction may be, “O Lord, how are they ever going to make it through this?”  And then the Lord reminds me yet once again in the power of His word- "By the grace of God; His grace IS sufficient."(II Cor. 12: 9)  “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”(II Cor. 10: 4)  In unity of the power of the Holy Spirit who continues to do that good work in us till we meet our Lord face to face in Gloryland,(I Philip. 1: 6) let us rise up in His strength to be active members, with fellow believers, in the army of the Lord.  Let us encourage one another and ever proclaim the wondrous saving power found only in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  “Let God arise and His enemies be scattered!”(Psalm 68: 1)  Blessings and the Peace of the Lord be with you and in you in Jesus name, Amen!!


Post a Comment