Category Archives: Prayer warriors

Are You Among the Least?

Do you ever feel like you are one of the least of Jesus’ disciples? Maybe your “least” means least of the intercessors, or the prophetic people, or the singers in the choir, or the teachers, or the soul-winners in your acquaintance. It doesn’t really matter what your least is: this post is for you.

I deal with feeling like the least a lot, especially when it comes to intercession or prophecy, my particular functions in the Body. I’ve gotten to know some of the people who read my blog regularly, and I tend to admire them for how succinctly they hear the Lord and how they are able to turn what they hear into such powerful prayer. And then, there is their great faith for answers. Or their ability to move boldly in the word of knowledge or personal prophecy. It’s easy for me to wonder, “What do I have to offer these folks in my writing? Aren’t they already miles ahead of me?”

That’s the way I was feeling some weeks back, and I realized I needed to get free of such a mindset. After all, doesn’t 2 Corinthians 10:12 warn us, “… But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise”? Whether we’re comparing ourselves to others and thinking we’re a notch above the rest, or whether we go the other direction and think we’re on the bottom rung of the ladder, it isn’t in line with God’s view at all.

So, as I was asking the Lord to help me break free from my little inferiority stewpot, He brought to mind John 15 — that familiar chapter where Jesus talks about being the Vine, while we are the branches — “For without Me, You can do nothing” (v. 5).

I started to see myself as one of the branches, attached to the Vine, with an abundance of other branches surrounding me, also attached to the Vine. Each of us who is connected into Jesus as a healthy branch has the same sap flowing to us — the life of His Spirit within us. And because of that continual flow to us, we each produce fruit for Him in just the right amounts. Some branches may have a few more grapes clustered on them than others, but that doesn’t really matter a whole lot, because all are doing what they are supposed to do — bearing fruit. It is only when the sap supply is cut off that the branch becomes withered and dried, so that it doesn’t produce fruit like it should.

If grapevine branches could think, would they obsess about whether they were producing as many grapes as the branches around them? I suppose we can’t really know for sure, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t. They are just enjoying being connected to their vine, the source of all which they produce.

In the same way, whatever we do completely depends upon Jesus. We can’t strain harder to produce fruit and voila! our straining suddenly brings miraculous results. It is Jesus the Vine Who makes it all happen. Sure, we have to cooperate with Him by listening to the Spirit’s promptings and acting upon them, but as long as we are doing that as best we know how in our present stage of maturity, we produce the intended fruit. It may not look exactly like someone else’s fruit, and it may not ripen as quickly, but it is still fruit, and it is good in the Lord’s eyes.

Living in performance mode has become so much the norm in today’s church scene, that most of the time we don’t even recognize what is happening to us — or how wrong it is. Here in America, our independent, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps work ethic influences our perception of self-worth: If I just try harder, I can do more for Jesus. If I can’t prophesy with all the pizzazz of Sister Susie, I’m not as valuable as she is. If I’m not a superstar with an audience of 5,000, I am insignificant.”

1 Corinthians 4:7 puts our function in the body of believers into better perspective: “For Who makes you different from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now, if you received it [as a free gift from God], why do you glory, as if you had not received it [but had somehow come up with it on your own]?”

The Lord also reminds us that each of us has been given unique purpose and custom-designed functions within His overall plan: “… Every man [or woman] has his proper gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that” (1 Corinthians 7:7).

So let’s find joy in Jesus, our Vine. And let’s rejoice that we get to be one of His branches, whether large or small, enjoying His sap, bearing fruit as He designed us to do. We can be thankful that we are part of a bigger picture, working together with all the other branches. It’s all about Jesus, not us, anyway.

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam

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Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 3) — Mindsets and Strongholds

Last time, we talked about the spiritual warfare which is waged against us in the arena of our thoughts. Some thoughts come directly from our own soulish nature, but they can also come from outside of ourselves — from evil spirits.

If we let these thoughts flow unchecked, not recognizing their source, we begin to come into agreement with them. Our thinking develops certain patterns, or mindsets — things we believe to be true, although they are not. When that happens, the enemy of our souls is on the way to establishing a “stronghold” — a fortress within our head, from which he can disseminate even more lies. The goal is to paralyze us, so that we cannot fulfill the plans God has for us.

Mindsets are limitations in our thinking which keep us from the full revelation of what God wants us to understand about Himself and about how He does business in His kingdom. They affect how we view our own destiny and the destinies of others around us:

  • “I am a failure / bad mom / inept klutz.”
  • “God loves others, but He doesn’t love me … at least not as much.”
  • “I am not worthy.”
  • “God doesn’t care about my needs / will not answer my prayers.”
  • “Brother Bob is not valuable in the kingdom of God.”
  • “Sister Alicia will never get over her issues.”
  • “My education / ancestry / race makes me superior (or inferior) to others.”

We all have mindsets which oppose the truth of what God says in His Word. While any pattern of thinking which is not in agreement with truth ultimately originates with Satan, the father of lies, not all mindsets come directly from him to us. Most of them begin through things we have repeatedly heard from parents, teachers, or other influencers, especially when we were children. Even more so, painful events throughout our lives cause mindsets to develop without us being aware of them:

  • “It is not safe to trust anyone. If I stay aloof, I won’t get hurt.”
  • “Men are bad, or to be feared.” (“Women are bad, or to be feared.”)
  • “If their family does things differently than my family, they are wrong.”
  • “People from other cultures or traditions cannot be trusted.”
  • “The church is full of hypocrites. I can be a better Christian if I steer clear.”
  • “If I show anyone the real me, they won’t like me.” (So I put on a false front.)

Mindsets also come through things we have viewed, heard, or read in various media. Our TV and computer screens constantly bombard us with ways of looking at life which are not in sync with the Lord. The more we allow these things in, the harder it is to resist them. They reek of me-ism:

  • “I deserve ….”
  • “I am entitled to be anything I want to be.”
  • “If you hurt me, I dump you.”
  • “If it feels good, do it.”
  • “I can do whatever I want, as long as I don’t hurt anybody.” (But you will always hurt somebody with that attitude.)

Even Christian teaching can establish limitations on our perception of God or our interpretation of what the Bible says. For instance, many believers have been taught that the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 ended with the death of the original twelve apostles. Some have been taught that God no longer heals or does miracles. These beliefs are ingrained teaching in some circles, supported by twisted interpretations of isolated verses, although the Bible, read with an open heart, says otherwise.

I often ask the Lord to uncover theological ideas I have absorbed through the years which are widely accepted and yet not true. He faithfully answers that prayer by illuminating Scripture as I read it. I have been surprised at some of the things I have swallowed through repetitive “Bible” teaching — which are not really in the Book at all!

Deceptive mindsets taint us all. It is our lifetime warfare task to discover and remove them by examining them through the filter of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit helps us with this. He brings false mindsets to our attention, one by one. Jesus said of Him, “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13). Our part is to invite Him to reveal these inner mindsets to us and then listen to Him when He does.

Second Corinthians 10:4 tells us, “The weapons of our warfare are … mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” Once the false ideas we were agreeing with have been exposed and repented of, the devil’s hold on us is weakened in that area. We can, with the Lord’s help, tear down the strongholds the enemy had erected within our minds by renouncing his influence and commanding him to vacate. This will most likely be a process, not a single event.

We should not leave those territories of former evil influence unoccupied, however. The Holy Spirit wants to help us replace our old mindsets with His. We can ask Him to build up strongholds of the Lord in place of the enemy’s strongholds which were there before. The erecting of God’s strongholds comes through absorbing, confessing, and actively believing the Word of God.

Next time, I will share in greater detail how to discern between soulish thoughts and thoughts coming directly from evil spirits.

Previous: Part 2 — Where Did that Thought Come From?
Next: Part 4 — Discerning the Source of Thoughts

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 2) — Where Did That Thought Come From?

Winning our personal spiritual battles starts with knowing that every thought which enters our mind is not necessarily our own. Nor is every emotion we feel.

Some thoughts do come from our depraved nature, and those must be continually put to death. Eventually, as we gain ground through absorbing the Scriptures and spending time with the Lord, we develop more and more of a “renewed mind,” as mentioned in Romans 12:2.

But there is another source of wrong thoughts: evil spirits. They study our lives, including our words, and thereby figure out what our vulnerable areas are. They then inject thoughts into our minds accordingly. These thoughts are cleverly styled to sound like our own, but they are actually coming from outside ourselves.

This means that when we have an evil thought, instead of being shocked by how bad we are for coming up with such a thing, we must recognize that it perhaps did not originate with us, and we don’t have to buy into it. We immediately reject it, rebuking the evil spirit which planted it. It only becomes “ours” when we accept it and begin to flow with it. A thought caught and rejected in the first couple of seconds has no power over us. It is not sin until we agree and then run with it.

The apostle Paul gives us some ideas about how warfare over our thoughts works:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [soulish; according to the natural man], but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds). We are casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. — 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

Paul indicates that we cannot succeed in winning the war for our thoughts in our own strength (“warring according to the flesh”). This is why simply pushing away a wrong thought usually doesn’t work: it will keep on coming back, along with a flood of other evil thoughts to reinforce it. Instead, we must use the authority we have in Christ Jesus through His name, depending on the Lord to back us up.

When we recognize a thought which is not compatible with how the Lord thinks, our job is to immediately reject it, and then command the enemy to be silent and flee from us, in the name of Jesus. James 4:7 instructs us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The condition is that we stay yielded to the Lord. We put to death our own selfish inclinations. Then, when the enemy tries to manipulate our thoughts, we can speak confidently, “I resist that thought and the spirit behind it. I command the enemy to be gone from me, in Jesus’ name.”

When we are yielded to the Holy Spirit, depending upon Him for His power to be at work within us, our warfare is truly “mighty through God” (2 Corinthians 10:4). However, although we depend upon the Spirit to aid us in spiritual warfare, we cannot passively expect Him to do it all. If that were the case, there would be no warfare about it for us. Instead, He has given us supernatural ability so that we can cast down the wrong imaginations, and we can take every thought captive to make it line up with obedience to Christ (v. 5).

The problem for most of us, though, is that our natural tendency is to carry out life according to the flesh. This means we go by how we feel and what we perceive by our natural mind. We are not vigilant over our thoughts. We don’t pay attention to the steady flow of what we’re thinking, so sometimes we don’t recognize that the mental trail we are taking is off the Lord’s path. This is especially the case once we have developed a pattern of agreeing with wrong thoughts. Those patterns, or mindsets, can deepen into mental strongholds, which we will cover in the next post.

Previous: Part 1 — Intro
Next: Part 3 — Mindsets and Strongholds

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Personal Spiritual Warfare — Intro

We who are intercessors often tend to think of spiritual warfare as an external thing, where we achieve prayer victories for others. We war on behalf of individuals, cities, states, people groups, our nation, and even international situations. But what we often fail to understand or deal with is personal spiritual warfare.

The enemy initiates frequent (even daily) assaults against us in his attempt to render us incapable of carrying out our James 5:16 mandate, “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Most of these attacks do not announce themselves with drumroll and trumpet fanfare. They are subtle, meant to distract us or steal our peace and joy. And if we aren’t paying attention, we can easily miss what is really going on.

The greatest spiritual warfare any of us will ever encounter is what rages within our own minds and emotions. We must learn to overcome in this personal arena, for, if we neglect to fight our battles there, we will eventually be rendered ineffective in intercessory prayer as well. The good news is, once we are conscious of the war within and are actively committed to engaging in it, we are already on the road toward winning it.

Perhaps a good place to start is by making sure we’re ready to go to battle. Soldiers go through extensive training and preparation before entering the battlefield. Doing a spiritual health checklist can be part of our preparation. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I invest time in simply being with Jesus, or does all my prayer life revolve around intercession?
  • Do I absorb and meditate on portions of the Bible daily?
  • How is my thought life? How much does it look like Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true … honest … just … pure … lovely … of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things”?
  • Am I holding offense and bitterness in my heart toward anyone?
  • How do my thoughts and words line up with 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (the “love chapter”) on a regular basis?
  • Do I carefully monitor what I allow into my inner being through my eye- and ear-gates?

In the coming series, we will examine our personal spiritual warfare task in detail, using Scripture as our anchor. I will also share some practical tips I have discovered through the years for how to gain the victory. As we learn to effectively deal with our own inner battles, we become stronger and more able to take ground for the kingdom of God.

Next: Part 2 — Where Did That Thought Come From? 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

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.

When Distractions Ruin Prayer

Sometimes prayer flows like a river. We float along on its current and let the Lord lead us where He wills. However, that’s not always the way it is. In fact, it might not even be how things go the majority of the time. Often, our prayer life is more like a battleground. I’m not even talking about actively going against the gates of hell and prevailing against them, as Matthew 16:18 puts it. I’m talking about just the battle to keep praying!

A few months ago, I went through an extended season where my prayer life seemed like a disaster. It was hard to focus, hard to keep a heavenly perspective, hard to get past a swirl of thoughts. Hard, hard, hard! I even struggled to continue praying in tongues at length, which is not at all normal for me. At times, I asked myself, “What did I just do for the last hour or two? My intent has been to pray, but I feel like I have accomplished little.”

In the midst of being concerned about this, the Lord spoke encouragingly to me: “Persevere, My child. Just persevere.” It is in the persevering that we take ground, even when we don’t think we are getting anywhere.

Prayer is not always as perfect as we could wish. The enemy distracts us in various ways. Our own soul distracts us. Sometimes, even good and noble thoughts or causes distract us.

We know what we’re supposed to do: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). But it gets exhausting when we have to do it a couple of dozen (or more) times in any given prayer session, just so we can carry on a coherent, consistent communication with the Lord!

When we run into a battle such as this, we don’t need to get down on ourselves for being weak in prayer. God encourages us to keep pressing on in spite of the struggle. Even when our prayer efforts are imperfect, puny, and even downright messy, all He asks is that we get up and do it again … and again … and again, until we get through the season of distraction. As we do that, we really do continue to make progress, even though we can’t always see it.

The process of persevering through embattlement against our thoughts is something God allows, so that we become stronger. Psalm 18:34 says it this way: “He teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms.” Perseverance through the warfare of distractions is a tool God uses to make seasoned warriors of us.

If you are struggling to stay at prayer in a focused way, I encourage you to keep at it. You are not a prayer dud. It’s just another form of spiritual warfare. In persevering, you will be doing what the Lord said in Ephesians 6:13“Having done all, stand.”

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered