Category Archives: Prayer

How to Meditate on God’s Word

Bible meditationMaking a regular practice of meditating on God’s Word was not always a part of my devotional life.  For many years, I consistently read the Bible, and I learned a great deal that way. Sometimes, when I was intrigued by a particular verse, I did a little study — looking it up in other translations, perhaps checking out the meanings of a few words in Strong’s Concordance, maybe seeing what commentaries had to say about it. But meditate on it? Not so much.

Why? Because I didn’t know how. It was one of those things nobody ever taught me. Then, a couple of books came my way, which helped me to see that I was missing a very important component of how God wants to interact with us through the Bible.

The Art of Praying the Scriptures, by John Paul Jackson
The Healing Journey
, by Thom Gardner

I like to make things as simple as possible, both for myself and others, so what I share today won’t be as detailed as their methods, but if you would like to go deeper, I highly recommend both books.

So, how do I personally meditate on God’s Word?

I ask God to give me a verse or passage. 

  • Once I’ve asked, I may hear from the Lord right away, or I might need to keep asking Him for a day or two.
  • He then brings a verse or phrase from Scripture to mind. If I don’t know where it is in the Bible, I locate it in a concordance or by searching for it in Google.
  • Or, in my regular course of reading, a verse just comes alive to me. Either way, I know that this is the verse or passage God wants me to meditate on.

My process:

  1. I write out the verse in a notebook I keep just for Bible meditation purposes.
  2. I read it aloud several times, and think about it.
  3. As I do that, a particular phrase from that verse may seem to be particularly meaningful, so I focus on that part.
  4. I ask God if He would like to bring a picture (which is a mini-vision) to mind which goes along with the verse or phrase, and then I wait for His response. If I receive a picture, I either try to draw it or describe it in my notebook.
  5. If God is not already flooding me with thoughts about the verse (usually He is), I ask God to speak to me about the verse. I write down whatever He says, or whatever insights He gives.
  6. At this point, I frequently start to remember other Bible verses which go along with my meditation verse. I write those down, too, and I explain in my notebook how they fit with the verse I started with.
  7. I ask God to show me how to apply the verse to my life, when applicable.
  8. I thank Him for what He is revealing to me.
  9. I may pray the verse back to Him, if that seems to fit.
  10. I try to remember the verse throughout the day. As I do that, God may give me additional insight. If He does, I return to my notebook and write it down.
  11. I go back to the verse the next day and think about it again, to see if the Lord has additional revelation for me in it.
  12. I sometimes repackage what I have learned by restating it in a FaceBook and/or Twitter post. That solidifies it for me, but it also inspires and blesses other people.

Twelve steps might seem like a lot, but they are only general guidelines. You don’t have to check them off point by point. I do this very informally, and all the  steps may not happen each time. The important thing is to commune with God over short pieces of Scripture so that you are thinking about Him more and growing in knowing Him better.

The amount of time I spend on a particular verse or passage varies. It may be one day, or a week. I sense in my spirit when the mission has been fully accomplished. Sometimes I come back to it again many months later.

I do not meditate on a single verse in place of reading the Bible in larger chunks. Consuming bigger portions of the Word daily is also important. I usually incorporate Scripture meditation into my morning prayer time, while reading at length in the evening works well for me. Everyone is different, so use whatever method is best for you.

Do you have additional suggestions you would like to share? Please comment!

 

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

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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

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