“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”—I John 5:14-15 (NKJV)
“No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it.”—Guy H. King
Whew! Just four days into a new year (I am 36 now) and I have already seen some major changes…in my life…in how Adonai is calling me to live it. More and more I understand (Proverbs 4:7) what 2 Peter 3:8 (NKJV) really means: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Upon Christ’s return, the Word says that we will be changed in a moment…in a twinkling of an eye (I Corinthians 15:51-53). That is but a millisecond when it comes to how we perceive time. My point? It doesn’t take “forever” for your breakthrough. From us, it only requires mustard-seed faith (Matthew 17:20, Hebrews 11:1 & 6) and total surrender. Psalm 62:8 instructs us to trust God at all times. Every second of our day, we should entrust to him because just like the five foolish bridesmaids who were not prepared when the bridegroom came (Matthew 25:1-13) and just as the Word forewarns us that Christ will return like a “thief in the night” (I Thessalonians 5:2), we don’t always know when or even how the Lord will appear to us with the answer to our prayers. We just need to be prepared to receive him when he does. WE MUST BE PREPARED TO RECEIVE HIM WHEN HE DOES:
Prepare: to put in proper condition or readiness
“Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear…”—Psalm 10:17 (NKJV)
Some of us are so consumed with “getting” what we desire (Psalm 37:4) when what we really need to focus on is getting into a state of preparation. The five foolish bridesmaids missed out ONLY because they were not ready for the bridegroom’s arrival. Things come unexpectedly…only when you don’t expect it. One thing that I read, differently, about an all too familiar passage is that when we are not anxious (uneasy, eager) about our prayer requests…when we really do come with a spirit of praise and thanksgiving, the result is that we have peace (Philippians 4:6-7). If you have made a petition to the Father and you have no peace, you may need to revisit the request. Where God is, peace is. Where peace is, God’s will is. Where God’s will is…that is where your requests should be; there is where you should leave them. Catch this:
“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”—Matthew 18:18-20 (NKJV)
Now remember, even when we are faithless, our God is faithful. He cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13). This promise in Matthew says that if two people agree (have the same views, emotions, etc.; harmonize in opinion or feeling) on something, they can ask for anything and it will be done by Abba. Now there are two things we must take note of, though. First, a lot of us do not get into agreement about our desires. Being in agreement is a pretty deep thing. You must not just have the same views…but have the same emotions towards the request. Neither can doubt (Romans 4:19-21). Neither can bring forth any negative energy. Neither can speak against the request…in or out of the presence of the person they are “touching and agreeing” with. To agree about something is to stand as a united front on an issue. Be careful who you take your prayer requests to. Be cautious before assuming they are in full and total agreement…the only kind of agreement that there really ever is.
But the other thing to take heed of is that the Word says, right before this promise, that what we bind on earth will be bound in heaven. John 8:32 tells us that the truth makes us free. What God gives us is based in biblical truth. What he honors is based in faithfulness. What he grants must be representative of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). What I have realized, especially as of late, is that some of my prayer requests have been asked in a way that has been “out of order” (preparation will teach you that—I Corinthians 14:40). Christ told us that FIRST things must be BOUND and THEN we can touch, agree and ASK. When you bind something, you “limit” something…you “confine” something…you “restrain” something. A good example of something being bound is Satan when it comes to what he can, and cannot, do to God’s children. Do you recall what the Liar (John 8:44) said to Adonai in reference to Job?
“One day the angels came to show themselves before the Lord, and Satan was with them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’
Satan answered the Lord, ‘I have been wandering around the earth, going back and forth in it.’
Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you noticed my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him. He is an honest and innocent man, honoring God and staying away from evil.’
But Satan answered the Lord, ‘Job honors God for a good reason. You have put a wall around him, his family, and everything he owns. You have blessed the things he has done. His flocks and herds are so large they almost cover the land. But reach out your hand and destroy everything he has, and he will curse you to your face.’
The Lord said to Satan, ‘All right, then. Everything Job has is in your power, but you must not touch Job himself.’ Then Satan left the Lord’s presence.”—Job 1:6-12 (NCV)
Although this is a bit off subject, the Comforter (John 14:26-AMP) wants me to say it and so I will. Do you see that Adonai was bragging on Job? He said that there was no one on earth like him. On the entire planet? Yeah, coming from God, that is pretty high praise. Whatever you are going through right now, don’t let the Enemy tempt you into “cursing God to his face”. It has been a hard lesson for me to realize that whatever the Enemy tries to do to me, it’s not about me…it’s about God. He uses us to try and get to God. We are God’s children, not the devil’s pawns. He’s gonna lose this game, anyway (check Revelation). Don’t go out with him.
Yet the bigger point is that sometimes, oftentimes, trials come because the Lord entrusts us with them (James 1:3-4). Right now, in what you are going through, your Father may just be bragging on you. He may be showing the Enemy that you are strong enough in your faith to handle a challenging health report. Or that you’re committed enough to your marriage to forgive your spouse (yet again). Or that you’re loving enough to serve your enemies. Don’t look at it as what is being done to you…but how the Lord is operating through you.
However, the original reason for referencing Job is because the Lord had Satan bound from tempting him until an appointed (and purposeful) time. We are made in the Godhead’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). What I realize, in my own walk, is that because the Enemy is the prince of the air (Ephesians 2:2), what I need to do before asking for something good is that I need to bind up all of that bad. Quite honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before. If I’ve gone to my “touch and agree partner” and said, “You know, I would like God to expand my ministry and so would you help me to bind up fear…lack…envy…darkness, first?” Remember that it’s the Enemy’s job to try and steal, kill and destroy the good in our lives (John 10:10). Petitioning the Father to bind him from our requests, that is a good thing…a purposeful thing…a biblically-directed thing to do. I wonder how many marriages would have been spared a tearing away (Malachi 2:16) or how many children would have been protected from some of the attacks they’ve experienced if there had been a prayer for “binding up” evil way before there was a prayer to receive a covenant partner or to become pregnant. Or to loose the full will of the Father so that goodness and mercy would immediately follow the manifestation of such requests.
And this is one of the lessons that I received this week from the Lord. That just as the lead Scripture for today tells us, that when we ask anything according to God’s will (and please make sure that is the case), not only does he hear us, but he will grant us what we ask. Something that is within God’s will is something that is a part of his ultimate purpose. I was just talking to a girlfriend of mine last night about how people often use and abuse Romans 8:28 (NKJV):
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
First of all, things work together for the good of those who love God. The Bible says that if you love God, you will keep his commandments (all 10 of them—John 14:21). I John 3:22 (NKJV) tells us, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” and Psalm 103:17-18 (NKJV) assures, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.” If ever the Lord was pleading, “Help me help you”, it would be with Romans 8:28. It’s the faithful who can rest in the assurance that all things will work out for the best. It’s those who surrender to his will that can trust in his purpose manifesting in their lives.
Yet it’s what comes right before Romans 8:28 that I think we should quote far more often:
“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”—Romans 8:24-27 (NKJV)
Hope that is seen is not hope. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 1:1). If you can see it, you are not operating in hope and if you don’t have hope, you don’t have faith and if you don’t have faith, you are not pleasing God. Hope is hard (oh, trust me, I know!), but the thing about hope is that it doesn’t disappoint (Romans 5:5). That’s why the Enemy tries to break our spirit and discourage us from having it. He knows it’s the “not-so-secret-ingredient” to having what we desire in this life.
However, the final lesson that I am led to share on prayer requests is what follows the words on hope. Aside from getting in true agreement, aside from binding Satan and his agendas, aside from making sure we are pleasing God by keeping his commandments, we must surrender to the fact that we don’t always, we don’t usually, know what to pray for to begin with. Once we make our request, we have to trust the Comforter to intercede on our behalf. This means he serves as our mediator. Kinda like, “Father, I know Shellie said ‘this’…but what she really meant was ‘this’.” (LOL)
And do you know what the light bulb moment for me with that was? Often my impatience with God is because I don’t even take into account that the Comforter has “ran a red marker”…that he has edited my requests on the way up. For years, I’ve been praying for a husband. I now see that the Comforter has been saying, “Lord, this child is BROK-EN. Please heal her heart and bind her wounds (Psalm 147:3) before granting her prince. She will not be a suitable helpmate to him. She won’t bring him favor (Proverbs 18:22); she will be a problem.” At the same time, “And Lord, you know that man is not ready for all that we have downloaded into Shellie. Teach her patience (I Corinthians 13:4) as we prepare him to be her provider and protector.”
Christ said in Matthew 19:11-12 (Message), “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.”
Marriage? Covenant? That is within God’s will. But there is an order in which God does things. I have come to realize that even in my praying, the flesh and spirit lust against one another (Galatians 5:16-17). The flesh says, “I want it now.” The spirit says, “I want it when it’s right.” The Father says, “Only I know when that is…but each day, I am getting you closer. Only I know when the two of you are ready. Stay in a state of readiness. Stay prepared.”
Recently, I also had to surrender to the fact that I can’t assume that what I prayed is what God heard. What God heard is what the Comforter prayed on my behalf…and that’s always what’s best for me. You must be willing to surrender to this fact as well.
And so, as we enter into another week, I encourage you to not let the Enemy discourage you from making your prayer requests known. We are encouraged by God to do so. But in going to El Shaddai, we must have faith, we must hold on to the hope (remember hope is what you can’t see) that he really is All-Sufficient. Jehovah-Jireh will provide. Jehovah-Rophe will heal. Jehovah-M’Kaddesh will sanctify. El Roi sees all. And he sees, hears and moves in the way he deems fit.
Make your requests known. And then leave them there…knowing that he knows them better than you do.
And that he answers. To our spirits. Not our flesh.
Purpose to listen…and receive. Differently.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”—Psalm 51:10 (NKJV)
Selah. Amen. So be it.
©Shellie R. Warren/2010