Category Archives: apostolic intercession

Discerning the Political Spirit

political protestIf you have not yet noticed, it’s time to pay attention. A political spirit is having a field day in America. It is stirring up strife and anger to levels we have not seen in many decades.

Sadly, Christians are not immune to its influence. Many in the Church are listening to the political spirit, all the while thinking it is the Holy Spirit. As a result, we see much bickering back and forth, even within Christ’s Body, as we mistakenly try to fight battles in the flesh which can only be fought adequately in the spirit.

Let’s start by identifying some signs the political spirit is affecting us:

  1. If it’s my political party’s stance, it’s right, do or die.
  2. Being a Christian and being a patriot are synonymous to me. (Patriotism is usually honorable, but since we are citizens of two kingdoms, an earthly one and a heavenly one, the time may come when we will have to choose between the two.)
  3. If my guy is in office, everything he does is right. He’s God-appointed and God-anointed, so he never takes a wrong turn.
  4. If it’s not my guy in office, he is open game. Start blasting.
  5. Key words trigger a dig-my-heels-in-the-ground stance, so that I cannot see any middle territory. I cannot hear a different viewpoint or see a perspective in between.
  6. If my favorite news outlet says it is so, it is. If I am a conservative, I cannot believe anything from a liberal source could be accurate. (If I am a liberal, I cannot receive anything from a conservative viewpoint.)
  7. I feel and exhibit anger and pride over where I stand. I argue with anyone of a different perspective until I win my point (or until they quit responding).
  8. I am afraid of any truth which conflicts with what I want to believe.
  9. I have an “us vs. them” mentality.

The political spirit can lead us into idolizing a particular government figure. It deceives us into replacing Jesus with human saviors. Once we have entered into this idolatry, anytime anyone voices a concern that the one we idolize may be wrong in a specific area, we get defensive and perhaps abusive in our rebuttal. We may twist the Bible to justify or minimize wrong — because the person we have on a pedestal must be viewed as always right in order for us to feel comfortable with our idolization of him or her.

On the other hand, the political spirit can also lead us into hating a particular government figure. We spend our time criticizing his or her every move. When anyone suggests we pray for that person instead of criticizing him, we make excuses or get defensive.

How do we become influenced by the political spirit? It gains our agreement by pandering to our soul. It manipulates our fears and selfish desires, so that life becomes all about making sure our comfort comes first.

It uses us by taking hold of principles we deeply ascribe to and twisting them for its own purposes. We bring those deeply held principles into how we pray, firmly convinced that we are on God’s side – when in actuality our understanding of the principles may be flawed. We may be misusing them for our own soulish desires or opinions.

Other spirits work in partnership with this spirit, but the Holy Spirit never does. We cannot follow the political spirit and the Holy Spirit at the same time.

The political spirit is nothing new. It was at work in Bible times with those who wanted to make Jesus a king so He would overthrow the oppressive Roman government. The Jewish religious leaders who were opposed to Jesus also exhibited it when they said to Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). It is not only at work in secular government, but also in church government. Wherever power can be wielded over people, it will try to work.

Combating the political spirit’s influence:

The most effective way to deal with this spirit is through prayer. We must always remember, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). If we don’t stay aware of the real source of the problem, we end up in futile contention with people who are merely tools of the enemy.

That does not mean we never engage in discussion or other activism. If we don’t speak up when the Lord is prompting us to, we allow evil to gain ground, but we must know the appropriate time and place. We can only know these things by the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Find out which battles the Holy Spirit is calling you to, and leave the rest alone.

Our battle must first be engaged by searching out God’s perspective through inquiring of Him in prayer. I might start by gathering information from news sources. (Keep in mind that both left- and right-leaning media distort or withhold information for their own purposes.) But then I ask, “Lord, what do You say about this?”

While we wait to hear from Him, we can begin to wage war by praying in tongues, which keeps us from praying fleshly prayers stemming from our own reasoning.

We can petition the Lord to break the political spirit’s influence off of our nation. This may involve asking Him to expose its influence over ourselves first, followed by repentance for our personal cooperation with it.

Discerning when the political spirit is at work in our own lives and in those around us is a first step in dealing with it. We can be set free, and through prayer, we can help to weaken this spirit’s hold on our nation as well.

intercessory prayer

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

intercession questions

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

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

 

 

Praying into Current Events

“Preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” It was a popular saying years ago, which eventually morphed into, “Pray with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other,” among intercessors. Pray the news is one of the methods intercessors are still frequently encouraged to use. It has its place. We should be aware of what is going on in the world around us.

However, intercessors can wear out fast, praying about every current event (or supposed current event) that they see in the news and on social media. CNN, MSNBC, CBS, Fox, etc. all thrive on the next big story, and if they can’t find one happening on its own, they manufacture something sensational out of what little material they have. The enemy of our souls uses these things to distract prayer warriors into engaging in lots of anxious prayer scattered in a bazillion directions … for things which are really nonissues from God’s perspective.

We’ve probably all heard that it’s important to choose our battles. If we fight on too many fronts, we lose. So, when there are apparent causes for concern, our first question should be, “What do You say about this, Lord?” He may tell us, even in the face of something which looks like a big deal, not to trouble ourselves about it at all — that He’s already taken care of it. If we ask Him first, and wait for His answer, it will save us a lot of useless care and wasted energy.

Part of the enemy’s spiritual warfare strategy is a smoke and mirrors deception. “Smoke and mirrors” is an idiom derived from the magic tricks illusionists pull off, where things seem to appear or disappear through the clever use of mirrors and sudden puffs of smoke intended to distract the audience. The expression has come to mean that reality is hidden, blurred, or blown out of proportion through half-truths or irrelevant information.

That’s exactly what Satan does. He uses partial, inaccurate, or overblown information, often dispersed through news and social media, to divert intercessors from the truly vital conflicts. He presents numerous false battlefronts to our eyes, attempting to convince us of their urgency. That way, he keeps us from mobilizing where our prayers are genuinely needed. He’s been pretty effective in using this tactic, too! Because we are constantly running in this, that, and the other direction, putting out fires, we are exhausted before we even get to the real deal!

God does not want us to be in a distracted tizzy all the time. It’s easy to go there, based on the mountains of natural information available all around us, but we must resist the urge to pray mainly by what our natural senses are presented with. Instead, the Lord wants us to calm down and listen for His marching orders. If we do that, we’ll be ready and available for the strategic prayer locations where we are actually needed. We’ll do the damage and gain the major victories we’re supposed to have.

Praying in the Dark

A concept I love and teach is that intercessors should endeavor to be sharpshooters in prayer. That’s why Annie Oakley graces the cover of my book, The Intercessor Manual.

The idea is that, rather than forging ahead in prayer according to our own limited thinking, we should listen to the Holy Spirit for how to pray. We pray from the details He gives us, rather than plowing ahead without His counsel and dancing all around and over a prayer topic, without a clue as to what God’s take is on the situation. Specific prayers inspired by the Spirit hit the target and get specific answers.

Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but what happens when we wait upon the Lord, and He still doesn’t seem to give us any light on the subject? You know, that happens to me a lot. A lot!

I’d like to share a few thoughts with you on how to handle praying when the light is dim or nonexistent.

Be faithful in waiting upon God and inquiring of Him. God honors our sincere attempts to hear Him. If He’s not speaking, it’s not necessarily your fault. People have sometimes chastised me for not hearing God on given subjects. The accusation is that, if you’re not hearing and other people are (or supposedly are), that means you are just not listening, or are refusing what God is surely saying. Maybe … maybe not!

We don’t all have the same realm of prayer influence. God shares one secret with a few, and still another secret with a different set of people. That is the way He works.

Don’t let anybody guilt you for not hearing from God on any given subject. It’s good to ask the Lord, “Am I resisting what You want to speak? If so, please reveal to me where my attitude is wrong.” But if you are truly seeking Him, that’s all you can or need to do. You can’t make God speak.

Keep on waiting upon the Lord with the questions you have. It takes time to hear Him. He may not be ready to speak. He may want to see how badly you want His counsel. He may simply treasure your diligent waiting upon Him.

Take tentative prayer steps and then expect Him to lead. Sometimes I have to confess to the Lord, “I don’t have the foggiest idea how to pray into this. It is too big for me! Please lead me as I go.” Then I take the first step in prayer, often in my prayer language. Many times, within moments, He takes over and leads me into prayer paths I never would have expected to go down. It doesn’t always happen that quickly. I could spend weeks or even months feeling my way along, praying in tongues a lot, and praying in English only tiny tidbits of understanding I receive.

Don’t try to sharpshoot based on your opinions. A lot of folks are doing this, and they are not praying God’s will. Don’t assume that your strong opinion must be God’s perspective too. It might not even be close. If it’s not from Him, it’s not going to hit the target, no matter how hard you try, and you will end up disappointed because the Lord didn’t come through for you.

If you desire to pray God’s counsel, He will get you there. Have confidence that, if you are doing your best to hear Him, He will adjust your understanding along the way. Stay sensitive for any uneasy checks in your spirit about how you are praying. If you do, He will steer any mistaken prayers back on course.

At times we have to pray immediately, because there is no time to wait. Just do it, calling on the name of Jesus, having faith that He will assist you and make up for any inadequacies in your understanding. God is not fussy about whether we use the right words. He sees the intent of the heart, and He has compassion on our limitations.

Don’t be surprised if the Spirit leads you down a side trail. This is common for me. I start out praying into a specific topic, and the Lord shows me side issues — still connected with the original matter — that are important to Him (but definitely not the same focus I started out praying into). It’s OK, if that happens to you. Have faith that these tangents are important to the Lord, and that’s why you end up praying about them.

Prayer in tongues will always get you through. You can have confidence that you are breaking things open and changing circumstances, even if you aren’t completely sure how to pray or what the outcome should be. The Holy Spirit knows what is needed.

Don’t use tongues, however, as your lazy man’s way out of hearing the Lord. We should still ask for understanding and expect to receive it. The same Paul who said, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all” (1 Corinthians 14:18) also said, “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also …” (1 Corinthians 14:14, 15).

There is a time for sharpshooting and a time to throw grenade-like prayers. Different situations require different kinds of prayer volleys. This type of intercession won’t be nearly as specific in details as the sharpshooting prayer. We still want to make sure we aim it in the right direction, though! Both types of prayer should involve using Scripture as the firepower. This one may utilize larger doses of that firepower.

I hope the ideas I have shared here will encourage you and help you persevere in going after the answers you seek.

 

The Intercessor Manual

Grace for America

1347223115_c27899246c_m

“The Chase” by Paul Walsh, via Flickr.com. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

As we look around our nation and the world, things are getting darker. Behavior which was once universally thought of as evil is now labeled healthy and good. Those who stand for what the Bible defines as goodness are now called narrow-minded bigots. As a result, many Christians are giving up hope for America. Instead of continuing to steadily pray, they are focusing exclusively on building up their survivalist supplies. Others have adopted an “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” mentality.

While resting in what I fondly call my prayer chair, I dozed off and had a dream. I saw on the wall in front of me five framed pictures, all colored photos of racehorses running. In the dream, I immediately knew it was a message of grace to America. I felt as if I had dreamed this dream before, at another time when I had been sleeping in my chair, but had not recorded it.

I awoke and went back to sleep, and I dreamed that I saw the pictures again, but this time, they were not on the wall. They were either in my hands or laid out in front of me. They seemed to be black and white photos this time, which I did not get a good look at, but I knew they were close-ups with details of the earlier racehorse pictures on the wall.

I then heard, “Thus saith the Lord,  ‘With grace will I restore America.'”


Here is my interpretation:

Both in this dream and in the recollection of having the same dream before, I had been in my prayer chair — my place of prayer authority. God gives intercessors authority to receive answers to prayer according to things which He reveals to us.

The sense that I had dreamed this scene twice means it is confirmed. (Joseph said Pharaoh’s dream was “doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.” — Genesis 41:32)

As I prayed about the dream, I felt that I knew the racehorses running in a race meant that this grace was coming quickly.

Five pictures — Many prophets agree that “five” usually symbolizes grace. (See Ephesians 4:7-12, where God is giving grace to the Church in connection with the five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, who equip and bring the saints to maturity for the work of ministry).

Holding the black and white pictures in my hands or laid out in front of me — In the dream, as an intercessor, I symbolized intercessors in general. It is the job laid out before intercessors, and it is in our hands, to pray in the grace of the Lord upon America.

The detailed pictures were black and white, because it is a black and white promise that if we will do our part in praying it in, God will do His part in restoring America through His grace.

The black and white pictures were close-ups, with details which I had not seen in the pictures hanging on the wall.  This indicates praying out the details, specific things God shows intercessors to pray, as we listen to the Spirit and flow with Him in prayer.


Some additional thoughts:

Some of you may think it is strange that the words I heard at the end of the dream were in King James English. I thought that was odd, too. I don’t normally hear God speak in King James — but if He wants to do it that way, He can.  🙂

You might ask, “What does that mean, that with grace He will restore America?” I don’t know exactly. We’ll have to let Him work out how He does it, and listen along the way for details He gives each of us as to how we should pray into it. I’m not going to assume that He has to do it a certain way.

I believe this dream is an invitation, not just for me, but for anyone who is willing, to participate in God’s desire to restore America. Its fulfillment may be conditioned upon our responding to it with fervent intercession. He is willing. Are we?

In closing, I’d like to remind you of one of our time-honored national songs, America the Beautiful.  It has a line in it which is sung as a prayer, “America, America, God shed His grace on thee.”

Let’s not give up hope. Let’s pray in faith for God to restore America by a work of His grace upon our land.

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Hearing God Through Your Dreams (CD set or mp3). by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Yes, You CAN Be an Intercessor! (CD Set or mp3),
by Lee Ann Rubsam

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Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 4)

NOAA Lightning Strike 2In recent weeks, some fairly well-known Christian leaders have urged the Church to pray for judgment to come to America. A few seem to feel that they are partnering with God’s righteous indignation by taking this position. Some have reasoned that only severe judgment will cause the people of our nation to repent and return to the Lord. I think such a viewpoint might end up as a “You know not what you ask for” kind of prayer philosophy.

One problem with the “pray for judgment” approach is the assumption that what worked to get people’s attention in Old Testament times will still work exactly the same today. It is argued that when catastrophes struck ancient Israel, or when their enemies invaded, it caused the Israelites to repent. Among the people of that time, not just the Israelites, the common understanding was that bad things happening meant God (or a god) was not pleased, and that to regain His favor, they had to change their ways. In our day, with humanism and intellectualism having made such inroads, people are more likely to attribute weather or geologic catastrophes to scientific explanations.

The people of ancient Israel had a biblical framework ingrained in them. They understood that there was a direct correlation between being obedient to God and being blessed, while disobedience brought a curse. The Scriptures laid this out for them quite clearly. In our secular society, a biblical framework has not been a part of many, many people’s background for several decades.

Between the  prevailing intellectual, scientific mindset and the lack of scriptural understanding, I doubt if most people in our nation, outside of devout Christians, would connect hurricanes, earthquakes, economic collapse, terrorists, or even an out-and-out enemy invasion with a need to repent and turn to God. Hence, catastrophic events are not likely to bring them to a desire to repent and embrace the Lord.

Another problem with the “pray for judgment” reasoning is that the people encouraging it are trying to apply Old Testament principles, based upon the Law, not recognizing that God’s methods of interacting with mankind have shifted since Jesus died, rose, and sent the Holy Spirit to be actively at work in the earth.

Let’s be clear that God’s nature never changes. But His methods do. He has always been completely just, but He has also always been merciful, bearing long with the wicked and holding back judgment to give people time to repent. He says in James 2:13 that “mercy rejoices against judgment” and in 2 Peter 3:9 that He is “long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

In the Psalms and other Old Testament books,  the writers sometimes prayed what are called “prayers of imprecation” — prayers which curse or call down judgment on others. However, when Jesus came, He began to shift people’s thinking to align with a new and better covenant. When James and John wished to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village which had slighted Jesus, He rebuked them, saying, “You do not realize what manner of spirit you are of, for the Son of man has not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:51-56).

Old Testament believers depended on the rigid code of the Law to guide them. The Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out upon the general population. They heard God speak to them through the Scriptures and through the prophets, but most were not able to hear Him speak clearly into their own hearts. But when Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be at work among men. In John 16:8, Jesus said of the Spirit, “When He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” We can now depend on the Holy Spirit not only to guide believers, but also to be poured out wholesale, according to Joel’s prophecy of the end times: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28).

Rather than praying for judgment to fall, I believe we should diligently intercede for the Holy Spirit to be shed abroad across our land. We can pray for Him to prick consciences, soften hearts, remove deception from people’s thinking, and bring awakening to them. All of these changes can only come about by people embracing Jesus — but they can only receive Him as the Holy Spirit enables them to do so. Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to come down in a fresh Pentecost upon America.

Do I think that some of the bad things already happening are due to rejection of the Lord? Yes. When a nation turns from honoring God, His protection and blessings begin to be pulled back. Do I think greater judgment will come? Yes, the Scriptures assure us that in the last days it will inevitably happen. But our position should not be to pray in that judgment before its time, but to pray in a huge harvest of souls before that final day.

Next time, I will share with you a dream I had, which gives me a great deal of hope for America’s future.

Previous: Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 3)

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The Intercessor Manual