Category Archives: Prayer

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

Adapting to God in Prayer

Many years ago, I was taught an expected form of how my personal prayer time was supposed to unfold:

A — Adoration
C — Contrition
T — Thanksgiving
S — Supplication

In other words, we had to worship first, then repent of every sin we could remember committing since the last prayer time, then spend some time thanking, and finally, ask God for all the things we wanted. We were encouraged to spend an allotted amount of time on each — fifteen minutes apiece, for example, to achieve an hour of prayer. We were supposed to worship (adoration) first, so that God would be willing to listen when we asked for His forgiveness.

But then, a different prayer expert came along and said, “No, no! You must repent first, so that God will receive your worship!” — which left us with

C
A
T
S

— not ACTS.

It all sounds so silly now, yet this was how many people were taught thirty-plus years ago. No wonder prayer was a drudge which few people stayed with!

Fortunately, some of us quietly rebelled, and learned to connect with God through the heart, rather than in a dry form. We worshiped often, because Jesus made our hearts continually glad, repented as the Lord revealed our issues, gave thanks throughout the day, and presented our petitions somewhere in between all the rest. AND, we communed with the Lord for Who He is.

Even when we have not conformed ourselves to somebody else’s plan for how prayer ought to be done, many of us still unconsciously settle into our own little rut. We get comfortable with an idea of how prayer must go, and if we don’t live up to it, we tend to feel guilty, as if we have not really prayed. However, from time to time, the Holy Spirit Himself may wish to lead us into a different mode of prayer. We need to listen to Him, and let Him lead. It is all right if we don’t keep doing it the way we have always done.

For instance, maybe you have a habit of starting prayer with a time of worship. From there, you might meditate on a portion of Scripture, then listen a little for the Lord’s leading, then intercede for the needs on your mind. But what if the Spirit were to put a desire in you to spend your whole prayer time in worship? Or conversation with the Lord? Or tongues? Or thinking about one Bible verse? Or (gasp!) just sitting with Him — while He doesn’t even say anything! Would you feel guilty for not interceding that day? Would you think you were not doing your job as a prayer warrior?

Frankly, I have struggled (sometimes still struggle) with these things. I like to accomplish receiving many answers through intercession. I like to feel I have “done” something, because I see the needs around me, and they are great. However, I am learning that if the Holy Spirit wants to disrupt my routine and focus exclusively on a certain aspect of prayer for a while, it’s OK. If He wants to make my entire prayer time into a conversational session, or a listening time, He’ll take care of the intercession part somehow — perhaps through one- or two-sentence petitions while I’m doing other tasks during the day. Maybe He will have someone else intercede for those concerns. It’s not all up to me anyway.

I’ve tried persevering through and doing prayer the way I’ve always done (because I don’t always “get it” immediately, or because I can be a little mule-headed), and I can tell you, if what I am trying to achieve in prayer is not Spirit-powered, it does not work.

So, if the way you have done prayer for quite some time just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, or if you don’t feel the anointing of the Holy Spirit on it like you once did, step back and ask Him how He would like to change it for a while. “Father, how would You like to do prayer today? Do You have a favorite song You would like me to sing to You? What’s on Your heart?” You might be surprised at where He will take you. And it will be good.

 

The Intercessor Manual

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

Intercession: Path to Freedom from Anger

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article by Francis Frangipane called, What Are You Becoming? I have been pondering the thoughts he presented in it ever since. He commented at length on the anger which is consuming not only the world, but the Church as well. He pointed out that even anger over injustice, if not handled correctly, can lead us into bondage. One thought in particular I cannot get away from:

We must turn indignation into intercession.”

What happens as we bring anger — even justifiable, “righteous” anger — before the Lord in intercession?

Intercession sometimes starts out raw, where we share with the Lord our own opinions and emotions on a given subject. Ideally, we should wait upon the Lord until we can pray by the leading of His Spirit. However, we are not always ideal people, are we. All of us have moments when we charge into prayer from the perspective of our own rampaging souls.

However, as we continue to pour out our thoughts and emotions before the Lord, the Holy Spirit gradually and subtly shifts our prayers — and us. He softens us, quiets us, and changes how we perceive whatever we are praying into. And He takes our intercession in hand and adjusts it into right paths. This is especially true if we intermingle praying in our prayer language with praying from our understanding.

Jesus understood the power of intercession in breaking bondage off the ones who are praying. This is one reason He exhorted His disciples, Bless those who curse you, … and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). When we decide, in obedience, to pray for those who hurt us and make us angry, although we may not start out well, the Holy Spirit will be faithful to take over and “lead us in [prayer] paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

When I was young in the Lord, we were repeatedly taught at our church thatBe transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2) was specifically talking about reading the Bible. So much was this interpretation instilled in us, that, until very recent years, I actually thought the verse mentioned Bible reading — even though I had read it dozens of times. But it doesn’t. Although absorbing the living Word of God is vital to having our minds renewed, God has other means as well. One of them is engaging in prayer, including intercession. Whether it is by the Word or prayer, the Lord transforms and renews us through interaction between our spirit and His Spirit.

So, let the Lord renew your mind on any given topic by taking it to Him in intercession and letting Him adjust how you pray. He can give you immediate revelation of how to tackle the issue differently, but usually it’s a process which takes time.

As we “turn indignation into intercession” several things happen:

1.) God convicts us of where we are at fault — spiritual blindness, hypocrisy, offense, bitterness, pride, and other bad attitudes — so that we can repent.

2.) He gives us unique revelation which we could not have thought of on our own about how to pray and what actions to adopt to bring solutions to problems.

3.) He gives us a prophetic voice (as opposed to an opinion) to speak into the situations which we have been interceding about. We are able to bring “salt” and “light” into the conversations we engage in.

4.) He conforms us into the image of Jesus. We become unoffendable pillars of righteousness. We are set free from self and the anger which self generates.

I’ve addressed how intercession can be a pathway to freedom from anger. What other bondages can it set us free from? What is God speaking to you? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

God and the Small Prayer Group

Praying Together -- PixabayAre you part of a small prayer group? Does it discourage you that your group is small?

Our human thinking tells us that bigger is  better — especially when it comes to accomplishing goals. We tend to equate larger numbers with more success, more effectiveness. But when it comes to the kingdom of God this is not always the case. The amount of power or answers to prayer does not automatically increase proportionally with the number of people who attend your prayer group.

Perhaps Jesus wanted to encourage us away from the big-is-better idea when He said  in Matthew 18:19, 20, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father Who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them.”

The prayer group we lead is small, with current average attendance being about six of us. We’ve had as many as twelve at one time, but we’ve also gone as low as three some weeks. The most glorious times in God’s Presence, with the greatest sense of having accomplished much in intercession, have actually taken place when there were only a very few of us.

If how many attend isn’t the most important factor in receiving answers, then what is?

Unity — Sometimes it is easier to have common vision and agreement in smaller groups. Unity with the Spirit and with each other is a vital part of receiving the answers we seek.

When Jesus said, “If two of you shall agree on earth,” He was not referring to a half-hearted assent or tolerance of what each other are praying. He was talking about entire oneness of purpose, hearts joining together in faith for what we know is the will of the Father.

Part of achieving unity with each other is coming to a place where we are bonded with each other in love. That tends to happen more easily in smaller groups. Unity is the most important component of effective group prayer.

Attitude — Coming together with an expectancy that we will indeed hear the Lord and receive His answers to our petitions is also vital. A small group of prayer warriors who are committed to doing big business with God when they gather will be effective in changing the circumstances they pray into.

Prophetic Connection — Praying by revelation of the Holy Spirit is also a key factor. However, as much as I value praying according to what we hear from the Lord, that doesn’t mean that only those who are acutely prophetic can receive answers.

God is not impressed with how highly gifted we are in tapping into spiritual revelation. After all, He is the one who distributes revelatory gifts in the first place, so we can’t use what we are gifted in as a merit badge. He does not listen more intently to the highly prophetic person than He does to the brother or sister who less able to hear and see clearly in the spirit realm.

Sometimes people get prideful about how good they are at praying by revelation. They look down their noses at those who are less spiritually perceptive. We can’t do that. Maintaining a humble, fervent heart is more important than getting every last iota of what we pray correct. God sees our earnestness of heart, and He makes up for any deficiencies in our ability to pray correctly.

So, don’t be discouraged if your prayer group is small. God will unite your prayers with those of thousands of other small groups of intercessors across the nation and the world. You please Him by your faithfulness, and He will send you mighty answers as you stick with it.


House of Prayer ~ House of Power, by Lee Ann Rubsam

  House of Prayer ~ House of Power

Let the Word of God Speak for You

Bible Verse -- FreeImages.com/y0s1a

“Bible Verse,” courtesy of FreeImages.com/y0s1a

Several months ago, the Lord said to me, “Let the Word of God speak for you.” At the time, it wasn’t clear to me exactly how to apply it, but He has continued to remind me of that word and to give me understanding of it.

Here are some ways He is showing me to live it out:

1.)  I let the word of God speak for me in prayer. Reading the Bible consistently and becoming familiar with it is a good thing! But we can get to a place where we know the principles in it so well that we pray from our knowledge of what it says without actually praying specific verses to press our point. We paraphrase the Word in our prayers — sometimes quite loosely.

The Lord has been prompting me to slow down in prayer, take the time to look up the actual verses which pertain to what I am asking for, and pray the words of Scripture as my petition. I read the verse to the Lord and then pray it for my particular need. From there, He often brings to mind another verse which expands on the thought, so I look up that verse, and continue on in prayer with it. I expand on what I am praying by interjecting my own thoughts too, but I start with Scripture and keep close to it.

This isn’t the only way I pray, but it is something I am trying to do more of. It is more work to deliberately open the Bible and pray directly from it than it is to just loosely pray the concepts in it. But, I am noticing that when I do pray Scripture directly, I often feel the presence of the Lord intensely all around me. He loves to hear us pray His own words! And I know my prayers are in alignment with His will. There is great, great power in praying the Word.

2.)  I let the word of God speak for me in what I say in everyday speech. We all say things at times about ourselves and others which line up with how we feel in the given moment, but which are at cross-purposes with what God desires for us or the people He has put in our lives: “I do such stupid things all the time.” “So-and-so is not qualified for _______.” “Just give me the gold medal for being the world’s biggest klutz.”

I used to frequently joke about being spiritually obtuse or being a “spiritual pygmy,” because I was afraid I did not possess the prophetic abilities of many other intercessors in my acquaintance. Joking about it was a defense mechanism of sorts against my feelings of inadequacy.

But the day came when the Holy Spirit firmly spoke, “I want you to stop saying that.” I suddenly realized that I had been hindering my own ability to hear and see prophetically by my wrong declaration and twisted perception of myself. I was opposing the truth of John 8:47, “He who is of God hears God’s words.”

Now, I try to be more careful to say what God has spoken over my life — not what I might feel, or even the negative things some people have said. This goes for both personal words I have received from Him and Scripture promises.

The Lord wants us to quite simply let Scripture be our defense against whatever may assail us in our

  • health
  • relationships
  • finances
  • emotions
  • talents
  • business abilities
  • ministry (etc.)

Declaring what the Bible says in our everyday speech, and refraining from speaking contrary to it, takes effort. Circumstances don’t always change overnight. Negative perceptions about ourselves (or others) don’t usually go away immediately. They are strongholds of the mind which must be torn down brick by brick. The Word of God is the spiritual weapon we use for the dismantling process.

This is an area where I have a lot of growing to do yet, but at least I am becoming more aware of how I need to do things differently. I am learning to editorialize less on how the circumstances look and to speak God’s will as communicated in Scripture instead.  The Word of God is powerful to bring changes to us and our circumstances, if we will purposefully declare it over ourselves and over whatever might be happening to us.

Let the Word of God speak for you.

__________________________

The Intercessor's Companion
Do you need help finding Bible verses which apply to your petitions? Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor’s Companion, is a good place to start. It is a compilation of verses arranged by topics. Available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats.