Are You One of the Special Ones?

Recently, I heard a well-known prophet prophesying over a younger prophet. He told the audience, “She is one of the chosen ones.” From there, he went on to talk about just how specially chosen she was. My reaction was, “This is not right. Every believer in Jesus is one of God’s chosen ones.”

Yes, it was good that he spoke encouraging things to her about the ministry she would have. There was nothing wrong with that. But his choice of words illustrated an erroneous mindset we have in the body of Christ: thinking there are different levels of value among Christians, where some are more important to God than others. These are the “special” ones, and then there are the average, not-so-special ones.

We talk and act as if some people earn, or are born with, more favor with God. We unconsciously entertain the notion that God will answer these special people’s prayers, but He might not be so eager to answer ours.

This idea is pervasive in our church culture, and it leads us to develop mindsets such as

  • “Ida Intercessor prays three hours a day, so God will hear her. I’ll ask her to pray for my needs … because God is not as likely to answer little old me” (who doesn’t pray three hours a day).
  • “If I speak the words exactly right, X number of times, maybe then God will hear and answer me.” (That’s called an incantation, by the way.)
  • “Brother So-and-So said God showed him a precise method of prayer that is THE way to get answers. He said God won’t answer us if we don’t do it this way. Maybe I need to get his book and learn to do it right.”

All the while, we forget that Jesus encouraged us to come to the Father like little children, our hearts full of trust in His love for us. And there is the key – realizing we are beloved sons and daughters, not worker bees in God’s hive, who get ignored or pushed out if we don’t produce as much, or in the same way, as somebody else.

Once again, we’re trying to gain God’s attention based on works, rather than relationship. We tell the rest of the world that salvation is about relationship, not good deeds – but then we turn around and think once we are in the Kingdom, that from thereon in, we have to earn our way.

Maybe we need to keep saying this until it sinks in:

I cannot earn the Father’s favor. I already have it, because I am His child.

Can we mature into praying more effectively? Of course. We can learn from seasoned intercessors. It’s good to become more disciplined in our prayer life, to train ourselves to use the Bible promises in our quest for answers, to grow in following the Holy Spirit’s leading on how to pray. That’s definitely part of the picture. But we should never allow ourselves to think that the right method or being a special somebody is the key to receiving help from our Father.

If Jesus is your Savior, you are a child of God. There are no children in His family whom He loves better and favors more than others. You have uniquely valuable gifts and purposes to fulfill, lovingly planned out by your heavenly Father since before the world began. And He will answer your prayers just as eagerly as He answers “important” people’s prayers. Because you are important, too.

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A Newsletter of Sorts …

I have not written for a while, and there is a reason. My elderly mother has needed a lot of help over the last year, and especially since 2018 began.

In March, Mom had a scary health episode, which made it necessary to place her in a nursing home. Since then, I’ve been focusing most of my time and energy on getting her settled in her new home, pulling her finances together, and disposing of her house and other possessions.

Through all of this, we have seen the hand of God upon her and upon the timing of all that has taken place. Mom’s health has improved, and she is adjusting extremely well to this new chapter in her life — all of which I see as a miracle for her and us.

I hope to get back to writing in the next few weeks, but just wanted to connect with our Out of the Fire readers a little in the meantime, to let you know I am still here and to share a few thoughts and updates.

First, the updates:

For those who have elementary-aged children, our Character Building for Families manuals are on sale in the U. S. now through May 15. (Saving money is always good!) They are a simple and enjoyable way for families to grow together in Jesus. Some families use them as their homeschool Bible curriculum, some as family devotions. I hope you will take a look.

Encouragement from God's WordI have updated our book, Encouragement from God’s Word. It now has an additional chapter and a beautiful new cover. It is a topical collection of reassuring Bible verses (KJV) which I collected while going through a particularly tough time in my life. I will be forever grateful for what the Lord showed me about His faithfulness during that season, and I hope this book will bless you as well. The links are to Amazon, but it is also available at many other online bookstores.

dream interpretationWe have a new audio resource for you — Hearing God Through Your Dreams. This was a live workshop we did recently, and it’s now available as an mp3 or CD set. There is an optional study guide, too.

This teaching gives you the keys for understanding what God is speaking to you while you sleep. If you were not able to attend in person, this is the next best thing!

____________________________________

A few short thoughts:

At the beginning of 2018, the Lord spoke to me that the ability to discern is much on His mind for His children. It will become increasingly imperative for all of us to effectively exercise the discerning of spirits in the days ahead.

We often think of this gift as the ability to know when an evil spirit is behind afflictions or perplexing situations. That is true, but I believe it also encompasses recognizing the difference between flowing with the Holy Spirit and operating in one’s natural understanding — both in ourselves and other people.

I wrote on this a few months ago, in my series, Discerning Between Soul & Spirit, but it is still much on my heart, so perhaps we will explore it more in days to come. Keys to Increasing in Discernment is another series which may help you.

I have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 2 for several months now, and the Lord is (once again) speaking to me about discernment through it. He talks about “the hidden wisdom” of God, and that, while we cannot discover or discern this wisdom on our own, by His Spirit He has “freely given us all things” to understand. We have “the mind of Christ,” and we can access the deep things of God as we step over from our intellect into the realm of the Spirit. It is almost as if there are parallel worlds available to us: the world of the Spirit and our lesser, natural world. We can choose which one we live in.

Finally, recently the Lord assured me, “The righteous shall fare well in the days ahead.” I sensed that this meant that whether things are going well on the earth or not, He is personally seeing to the welfare of those who are His own. We can take courage in knowing that He is attentive to our every need, even if all we see with our natural eyes continues to shake. He has us tenderly covered with His protective hand.

That’s a good note to end on.

Wisconsin Intercessors: “Bring the Travelers Home”

map of wisconsinOn Resurrection Sunday, I had intended to take one direction in prayer, but immediately found myself in another. It was, “Bring the travelers home to Wisconsin.”

This was a time of intercession and prophetic declaration for the return of those who had fled or scattered from Wisconsin due to offense, grievances, disappointment, and weariness of heart over the hard spiritual ground of our state.

Many high hopes for revival / awakening in Wisconsin died because the prophesied promises have been long in coming to fulfillment. The expected “suddenlies” of God did not happen on our timetable. Disillusioned, some began saying that the soulishness of people had killed the plans of God for our state.

This is not true, however. “The word of our God shall stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8). What He has decreed, He will not be denied. His words do not fall to the ground, no matter how long they have been delayed. “So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

This is a new season in the spirit — a time to plow and plant again. It’s time, by prophetic decree, to call the laborers who have departed from Wisconsin to return and assist in that plowing and planting. It is also a time to call in the fulfillment of the long-standing prophecies which have been spoken over our state.

I felt that it was no coincidence that the Lord brought these things to light for me on Resurrection Day. He is about to resurrect things in Wisconsin which have long appeared dead. As with Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus, the Lord does not see them as dead, but only as sleeping. We must align our sight with His.

If you are a Wisconsin intercessor, please join me in prayer and prophetic declaration for those who have left the state, but who are still part of God’s purpose for Wisconsin, that they would return home. Pray that God would bring these laborers back into the harvest here (Luke 10:2). And begin to speak resurrection life into the prophetic promises which have been delivered to Wisconsin through the years.

Truly, the “dry bones” of the purposes God has for Wisconsin can live again. Many who have remained in our state have been faithfully working to connect the bones together and to flesh them out. But that only goes so far. In order for them to have life, we must prophesy into them the breath of the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 37).

Lord of the harvest, bring back to Wisconsin the weary travelers who, in their discouragement, shook the dust of our state off of their feet. We need them to help us plow and plant here once again. Breathe fresh life into the purposes You still hold dear for this state. Let the promises spoken long ago be fulfilled in Your resurrection power. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Knowing When to Quit

prayer, intercessionOne of the things we must learn in our prayer journey is when we’ve finished the task and when we have not. The answer might seem obvious: when we get the answer we’re done, and if we haven’t seen the answer yet, we keep praying … right?

Not necessarily. There is often a time gap between when the answers are obtained in the spiritual realm and when we tangibly see and hold them in our natural realm. This can be confusing.

There was a time when I was praying into a very serious situation, and eventually the Lord spoke to me that the prayer task was completed. Yet, because I did not see a change in the natural circumstances, I thought I wasn’t hearing God correctly — because obviously everything was as bad as, or worse than, when I commenced praying! So, I kept praying, ignoring what I thought had been the voice of the Spirit. I figured I was just hearing goofy things.

The Lord was patient, however, understanding my human weakness and immaturity. He continued to assure me that I really was done, although I couldn’t see the desired results. I finally saw the answer show up in the material world a few months later.

At other times, I have erred by ending prayer too soon, because I thought I saw the natural circumstances changing. I thought, “Aha! That obstructing mountain has crumbled!” But then, the seeming breakthrough closed up again. The situation reverted to what it had been, and I had to go back over the ground I had already covered in prayer, even having to retake some of it from the enemy.

In both cases the mistake was the same — believing what my natural senses were telling me, rather than what the Spirit of God was either revealing or being silent about.

It’s a hard lesson for us to learn. Our natural senses are working hard for us at all times. We are keenly attuned to the material world. Our spiritual senses, however, are more subtle and require us to pay better attention. We have to practice using them and thereby build our spiritual muscle, just like it says in Hebrews 5:14: “But strong meat belongs to those who are of full age [spiritually mature], even those who by reason of use have their [spiritual] senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Maybe you are new at praying by following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The good news is, you don’t have to wait until you reach some mysterious future level of spiritual maturity in order to be effective in receiving answers. Even those who have been prayer warriors for years have to keep growing and learning. Experienced intercessors still make mistakes (at least I do!).

Just begin to be aware now of the time-lapse principle between the spiritual realm and the earthly realm. First, we obtain our desired answer in the heavenlies; second, we receive it here on earth. When you feel the Holy Spirit is letting you know that you have prayed enough, don’t second-guess it. Trust that sense or voice. You probably are hearing Him correctly. And when you are not quite sure if you have gotten your full answer, keep praying until you know it is firmly settled.

 Here’s a hint of how that works:

  1. When there seems to be no impetus to pray, and you try to keep praying anyway, but it all seems flat, that is a good indicator that you have completed the mission.
  2. If you still feel a nagging uncertainty about whether all is well, even though it looks great outwardly, keep on praying.

Do you have a story of how this worked for you, or do you have questions? Please share those in a comment!

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 5) — Prayer

For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, … and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.
— Hebrews 4:12, 13

In our last post, we identified telltale signs that our prayers are soul-fueled, rather than stemming from communication with the Holy Spirit. In this post, we’ll talk about how Spirit-led prayer feels and sounds.

1.) Spirit-led prayer agrees with the nature of God in its tone — righteousness, peace, joy, mercy, compassion, love, goodness. These qualities are quite opposite to the fear, self-centeredness, criticalness, and anger which often accompany soulish prayers.

Prayer which flows with the Spirit is redemptive in its approach, which means that its goals will be salvation, freedom for those in bondage, and good to be worked in the earth and in the hearts of people. Even if we are praying for corruption or deception to be exposed, we take no delight in judgment or exposure for its own sake. It is so that the perpetrators of evil can come to repentance, and truth and righteousness can prevail in society.

The following verses give us a good idea of what praying in harmony with the Spirit looks like:

  • Galatians 5:22, 23
  • Philippians 4:8
  • Exodus 34: 6, 7
  • James 3:17

Study them, to find out what God’s heart is for our prayers.

2.) Spirit-led prayers are not products of preplanned logic. They often appear as a sudden thought or prompting which is not due to our own cleverness. Frequently they are surprising; we pray them and then think, “Now where did that come from?” It came from the Holy Spirit, Who shows us His vantage point, which is far beyond ours.

3.) Spirit-led prayers are often inspired by a Bible verse which comes to mind. Pray that verse from a position of “It is written,” and then declare it with authority for the situation. As Hebrews 4:12 tells us, the Word is living and powerful. It cuts through the fluff to go to the root of what needs to be prayed. God will sometimes give you a verse and show you how to apply it to prayer in a way your mind would never be able to come up with on its own.

4.) Spirit-led prayers frequently incorporate the gifts of the Spirit.

  • The word of knowledge — You suddenly know what the root issue is, whereas you didn’t before.
  • The word of wisdom — You receive a solution you hadn’t previously thought of.
  • Prophecy — You are certain of the outcome God wants, and you declare prophetically that it shall be.
  • Supernatural faith — You boldly command or decree a miraculous result into existence as the Spirit moves upon you, and it happens.
  • Discerning of spirits — You see, hear, or just know that a particular spirit is behind a hindrance. You then break the hindrance by commanding the spirit to let go or leave, in the name of Jesus.
  • Praying in tongues — the perfect prayers of the Holy Spirit
  • The interpretation of tongues — You hear in your spirit or coming from your mouth what you have been praying about in your prayer language. He shows you the exact way to pray into the need.

We grow in Spirit-inspired praying through cultivating intimacy with God via two primary means:

  • Two-way prayer communication with Him (meaning we not only talk, but we listen)
  • Communing with God over His Word (Bible meditation, study, reading at length, and dialoguing with Him over what we have read)

John 15:7 explains this two-pronged approach to intimacy with God and its outcome: “If you abide in Me [prayer communication lived out moment by moment], and My words abide in you [the Bible filling our innermost being with life], you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you.”

The last part of that verse is God’s promise to the person who prays by communing in his spirit with the Holy Spirit: whatever we ask for, we receive. God can promise this because the one who is abiding in the Presence of God and who is filled with His Word will be praying by the Spirit. We only ask for what is His will, and therefore our requests are granted. The potential we have to obtain powerful answers is truly exciting — if we pray by communion with the Spirit, rather than from our own natural understanding.

Will we pray by the soul or the spirit — in tune with the Holy Spirit and being led by Him, or only praying what we know in our intellect? It’s our choice.

Let’s review one last time the keys to discerning soul between soul and spirit in the words of others, in our own thoughts, and in our prayers:

  1. Feed on the Word of God, letting its truths influence our minds, rather than feeding on the opinions of men.
  2. Seek God continually for greater wisdom and discernment, so that we are not fooled.
  3. Once we have determined that someone is speaking from a soulish perspective, no longer subject ourselves to his or her influence.

If we implement these keys, our discernment will grow, and we will clearly know the origins of whatever comes our way.

Previous: Discerning Between Soul & Spirit (Part 4) — Prayer

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 4) — Prayer

spiritual discernment, prophetic prayerFor the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, … and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.  — Hebrews 4:12, 13

We can pray from our intellect (soul), or by listening to the Spirit and then praying what He prompts us to say. Many intercessors never get past their natural understanding — but we can learn, if we want to.

Most of us experience stressful times when we launch into prayer based on our own understanding — especially when we have distressing needs. As we continue to pray and cry out to the Lord earnestly from our hearts, He faithfully adjusts our prayers, causing anxieties to lessen and our faith to arise. These personal SOS signals we send heavenward are a normal part of prayer life. But they are not what I wish to address today.

Let’s talk, though, about learning to intercede from the spirit, rather than the soul, when the concerns  are not quite as pressing, whether we are solo-praying or with a group. Our goal, as I have shared in my book, The Intercessor Manual, should be to pray like sharpshooters aiming for the bullseye, rather than randomly spraying buckshot all over the county, hoping to hit something in the process. The key is shifting into prayer led by the Spirit of God.

A first step is identifying what Spirit-led prayer feels and sounds like, compared to how prayers coming merely from the intellect sound. This takes practice, but we can become more adept as we keep at it.

Let’s look at some telltale signs that we are praying from a soulish perspective:

1.) Our prayers exhibit fear. When we carry on in an anxious, “Oh, I hope You can do something about THIS, Lord” vein, we are neither discerning His power, nor His willingness to answer us. We end up majoring on a lot of what-ifs.

2.) Our prayers sound like we’re parroting news commentators and political analysts. These prayers are usually coupled with fear — because spreading fear through sensationalism is what the news media does best.

Fairly frequently, I get e-mails from prayer warriors who have worked themselves into a tizzy about reports coming in from news services and watchdog organizations. They plead with us to pray very, very hard to keep the latest evil plot from happening.

It’s easy to climb on their hand-wringing bandwagon, but if we take time to ask the Lord, He may tell us that we can rest easy on the issue everyone else is hyperventilating about. It is already a non-issue with Him, and we can invest prayer energy elsewhere. Just because a news commentator or watchdog group tells us something is serious does not mean it is. Remember, a lot of these “experts” are not Christians, and of those who are, many of them are operating from a soulish perspective.

What we put into ourselves is what will come out in our prayers, so if we make a conscious choice to severely limit the clamor of these voices, and invest our time in absorbing the Bible instead, we starve soulish praying.

3.) Our prayers are very general. These petitions sound much like one of the lines in Away in a Manger: “Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care….” Or, as Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol said, “God bless us, every one!” I don’t mind either the song or Tiny Tim, but as a way to pray, this is not effective.

General prayers are easy to speak, because they carry no risk. They also have no teeth. With such all-inclusive, vague praying, we are bound to nick a few targets, even if we miss most entirely. But there is no way to measure whether we have received any answers. You won’t ever see a news headline screaming “PRAYER ANSWERED! GOD BLESSED EVERYONE IN OUR CITY TODAY!

4.) Our prayers exude unbelief. The prayer group is asked to petition for a desperate need, and just how dire it is gets explained down to the last detail. By the time the explanation is finished, what little faith anyone might have had has flown the coop.  From there, the whole tone of prayer becomes, “God, we’re asking because it’s the right thing to do, but we’re pretty sure already that You’re not going to intervene anyway, so Thy will be done.” It’s depressing — and it comes entirely out of a natural-minded mentality.

In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus told the father of a boy with an unclean spirit, “All things are possible to him who believes.” If we don’t have faith that He will answer, like that father, we should admit our unbelief and ask Him to fix us. We need to take steps to align our spirit with the Holy Spirit and then make our request.

5.) Our prayers are against people or people groups. If our prayers carry an attitude of hatred, or are asking for harm against someone, they extend beyond being soulish to being devilish. This should be obvious, but apparently it is not, as I have heard them prayed from time to time in gatherings I have attended. There is often a tone of anger accompanying such prayer. Pastors are criticized brutally. Minorities or people of different political, moral, or religious persuasions are prayed against and referred to as “those people.” Ahem!

If there are evil people holding political power, pray for God to deal with them His way. Ask Him to soften their hearts. Often it is best to pray for the removal or restraint of the specific evil itself, rather than going after the person(s) perpetrating it. Remember, our warfare is not against people, but unseen spiritual powers (Ephesians 6:12). Whenever we forget that, our praying goes awry.

We can also ask the Lord to remove those who need removing and raise up better people in their place. But don’t curse anyone or pray harm upon them. Let God deal with the when and how. We should take a lesson from the story in Luke 9:51-56, where James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village. Jesus rebuked them, saying, “You don’t know what manner of spirit you are of, for the Son of man has not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

These are five identifiers of soulish praying. No doubt there are more. If you can think of any, would you please share them in a comment?

Next time, we will talk about how to identify and shift into prayer coming from a Spirit-led perspective.

Previous: Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 3) — Prophecy
Next: Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 5) — Prayer

The Intercessor Manual

 

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 3) — The Prophecy Connection

Soul or Spirit? For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.

— Hebrews 4:12, 13

When we continually plant the living, infallible Word of God in our hearts, it breathes life into us in ever-increasing measure. Our ability to discern between soul and spirit in people’s words grows keener because of the Word living inside of us. In addition, the more we absorb the Word, the more it changes the words coming forth from us. We begin to speak prophetically.

Prophetic speaking happens in many varieties and flavors. Some of us will prophesy over others, perhaps moving in the word of knowledge, too. Some will release a word of wisdom and be very aware of doing so. For others, the prophetic word is more subtle. Our word of wisdom may show up as counsel we offer in everyday conversation, which speaks directly into someone’s heart, without us realizing we have spoken by inspiration of the Spirit.

Not every prophetic word we release has to be as concise or emphatic as a “Thus says the Lord” word. We might share quite informally with someone a sense we have about his or her future, not even recognizing in the moment that we are speaking by revelation. Our prophetic utterances may also come forth in what we pray about and the angle from which we address a prayer issue.

Some of us will operate more obviously in the prophetic gifts than others, but all God’s people can speak prophetically at some level — and we should desire to do so, according to 1 Corinthians 14 (see vs. 1, 31, 39).

Prophetic release of the word of God can take a couple of forms:

1.) Speaking the infallible, written Word (the Bible) into a particular situation through declaration and petition

2.) Speaking the prophetic word of the Lord as we hear it by revelation.

Either of these forms can come forth as either straight-up prophecy or as prophetic prayer. Prayer and the prophetic speaking of the word of God go hand in hand.

As the Word of God lives, thrives, and grows in us, our words will increasingly take on the same qualities as the written Word, as described in Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, … a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

A genuine prophetic word:

  • Brings life to its hearers.
  • Is infused with power. It puts things in motion.
  • Has the authority of heaven in it to change lives, situations, or even regions.
  • Keenly discerns and divides between soul and spirit.
  • Reveals the intents of hearts.

Because all things are open and naked to the eyes of “Him with Whom we have to do” (v. 13), by His Spirit He can reveal concealed motives to the prophet (or prophetic intercessor) when necessary. He also reveals hidden plans of the enemy, so that we can either warn God’s people or nullify those plans through warfare prayer.

A note of caution:

When the Lord reveals people’s hidden motives to us, we must be extremely careful with how we handle that information. We want to have the same heart as the Father does. While He sees sin exactly for what it is, He sees with a redemptive heart. If we step into soulish thinking, we will process this type of revelation with criticalness, a desire for judgment against what we see, and the temptation to expose it. But God is compassionate toward the person whose attitudes or lifestyle are a mess. His goal is mercy. He wants to set people free and restore them. We must make His goals our goals.

Most of the time, that means we have been given such revelation for prayer purposes only (personal prayer, not passing it on to a prayer chain). Occasionally, the Lord may instruct us to talk privately with the person about what God has revealed, so that he or she may come to repentance. But that must be done discreetly and tactfully, and only once we are sure the Lord is calling us to do it.

Next time, we will talk about how to cross over from intercession fueled by the soul to Spirit-led intercession.

Previous: Discerning Between Soul & Spirit (Part 2)
Next: Discerning Between Soul & Spirit (Part 4) — Prayer

Personal Prophecy

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy

 

prophetic, prophecy

 

Growing in the Prophetic (CD or mp3 set),
by Lee Ann Rubsam