Auto-Pilot Prayer

Living in Christ and by His Spirit is not a 5-step list or a how-to lesson.  For some reason, though, we tend to default to lists and procedures, even in prayer, never knowing the freedom of relying on Holy Spirit to lead and guide.  (See previous post)

cockpit-1358898-640x480I assure you, this is not a how-to pray message.  It’s more like how not to pray, from observations that have changed my own prayer life.  If you remember nothing else from this post, I hope the theme will attach itself to your brain to be applied every time you pray from now on:  Turn off auto-pilot in prayer.

  • There is a difference between praying (talking with Daddy) and interceding for others.  We converse with Him, as we do with acquaintances becoming friends, to know Him better – not just to know about Him.  When we understand His direction for us in intercession, we boldly speak it aloud into the spirit realm.  Jesus spoke to illness1 in intercession, after spending early and late hours in prayer.
  • Rely on Holy Spirit to bring Bible verses to mind, rather than merely quoting what is always used in particular situations – healing, provision, relationship issues, etc.  The pinpoint accuracy of the verses He brings when we listen go straight to the root of the actual problem, which is not always obvious to the natural mind.
  • If you talk to me, does it sound like this?  “Kay, it’s so good to see you, Kay.  And, Kay, there are things happening, Kay, that I need you, Kay, to help me understand, Kay….”  Of course not.  Neither do we write personal letters that way.  Why, then, do we do this to our heavenly Father?  Prayer is not stilted and distracting like this, but is a back and forth conversation with someone we are getting to know more intimately.
  • Reminding God of His promises is wasted breath.  Yes, I said that.  If things aren’t happening the way we read in the Bible, it’s not because He has forgotten.  Ever.  While we can be helped by hearing those verses again, it’s not necessary to jog God’s memory.  Since Jesus Christ lives in us by His Spirit, when we speak His Word, we speak spiritually.  The ones we remind of God’s unbreakable promises to us are the angelic rulers and authorities of the spirit realm.2
  • Asking God to do what He’s already done, no matter how sincerely, is redundant.  For example, “Be with (or near) me.”  Or, “Bless so-and-so.”  Are we in Christ and Christ in us?3  Because of what happens when we receive Christ, He cannot be closer.  Because of what He has finished, we are already blessed.  So why keep asking?

I hope you will share in the comments your own examples of auto-pilot prayer my observations brought to light.  We need each other to shine the light of Christ in ways we’ve missed before.  Just remember to turn off that auto-pilot!

1 Matthew 8:5-13

2 Ephesians 3:10

3 John 14:18-20

4 John 1:16-17 Amplified  For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift. For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ.

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Not Strange, But Sad

It’s strange that you can’t find words to say when you’re praying, but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend.

Part of a recent Facebook post in my newsfeed, I found this statement nestled among similar ones designed to highlight Christian failings.  Instead of finding it strange, however, I found it sad.  And not in the way intended.

If the statement is reality for believers, then prayer has become something other than it was meant to be.  Something we do (or should do) because we’re Christians, rather than the means by which we become more intimately acquainted with our heavenly Father.  This is strange, but in a sad way.

Proverbs 18:24  NIV A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The friend who sticks closer than a brother is Jesus Christ, Who lives in us by His Spirit.  That’s as close as it gets.  In addition, He calls us His friend.1  If we are really friends, why is talking together so difficult?

friendship-1534626-639x479Friends talk with one another about anything and everything, listen to one another, find comfort in silence, work together to help others, interacting along the way.  The more time they spend together, the better they know one another.  The better they know one another, the more time they want to spend together.

Is this the kind of friendship I experience with Christ?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  How about you?  When the methods and mindsets from so many years of religion become my default mode, I lose the freedom in prayer for which my friend Christ Jesus has set me free.2  When the duty becomes my focus, rather than the relationship, that sense of intimate friendship is lost temporarily, leaving me unable to find words to speak.

That’s not strange, my friends.  It’s sad.

1 James 2:23

2 Galatians 5:1

With a Little Help From My Friends

Struggling to write about the shame and guilt we so easily throw toward others, I found myself headed back to the frustration that nearly ended my writing before.  How many times did I restart this one post?  How many hours had I toiled already, still unable to describe what I sensed?  Maybe that was the problem.  Maybe it wasn’t as clear as I thought when I was certain it was the topic.  It needed to come from the Father’s heart of love in Christ; yet I had only tried to fit it in, rather than it being the foundation.

Only when I gave myself a break and checked email did I find what was needed all along.  A notice for the latest blog post from Eternity in our Hearts by Renee Ratliffe, entitled Prayers for the Speakers of Life, seemed on the surface to be a potential reason to avoid writing for another few minutes.  Instead, I found the issue of shaming others addressed, indirectly, along with other failures in our speech.  But all was done through a beautiful prayer reflecting the heartbeat of our Daddy for us to be speakers of life.  There was my post – I mean, here it is.

a-song-for-love-1158871-1280x960Renee’s post and Daddy’s perfect timing in sending it my way reminded me of my need for a little help from my friends to see Christ more clearly.  In turn, I share Him with you.  May we all pray this prayer!

Click here or on any of the links above to read her post in full.

Did You Say, “Intercessory Soccer”?

Apparently, I needed more of the message I shared last.  When Daddy began to speak to my spirit, I thought I was being corrected for having forgotten what He already told me.  As He continued, though, it was obvious He was building on that foundation, even in the reminder.

Just stop!  It’s not yours to carry.  You are not meant to carry the world . . . even in prayer. You are meant to walk where I am walking with you – not everywhere I’m walking.  Certainly, you may ask Me about the peoples, the awful situations, etc.  But don’t assume I’m giving it to you to carry.  I may only have you speak one word and then move on in faith in Me and My ability to carry it out.  It’s an emotional drain the enemy loves My body to get sucked into, especially when you’re told by others it’s what you should do, and it is no more than a work of the flesh.  He (the enemy) doesn’t have any problems with those, for often they are beggar prayers, not prayed from your place seated at My right hand above.

One word spoken in My authority, when initiated by My Spirit, shuts the mouths and binds the appendages of the lion.

In that moment, I was reminded of watching my son’s soccer games when he was only five.  They were so cute, and quite entertaining, at that age, as they had no concept of the nuances of soccer strategy.  The ball was set in play after each coach forced their players to point to the end of the field they were to kick the ball, and the entire team chased it, scrum-like all over the field.  Occasionally all that kicking, by both teams, led to a ball in the goal – sometimes even in the right goal.

What did that have to do with what the Lord had just spoken?  The image of those cute kids all in the same place, infrequently completing the goal, too often resembles our prayer efforts when following the crowd instead of the Spirit.

The enemy sets a ball in play with well-timed disasters or threats.  Out of a sense of should, we chase that ball in an effort to get it out of play.  Meanwhile, he adds more balls to the same field.  Most of the scrum leaves the first for the next and the next and the next, until they are overwhelmed and worn out.  If some choose to remain with a specific ball, sides begin to form as each determines theirs to be the most important.  The enemy laughs as we weaken through division he has sown.

It doesn’t have to be this way if we stop accepting every ball the enemy throws out, using up our time in fleshly efforts.  Instead, each of us only receives the balls Holy Spirit places in our specific fields of play, only does with those balls what He directs, at His designated time – speaking one word, or waiting, or speaking many words, going, or staying put.  Then we find ourselves resting in Him as never before as we live (not do) intercession, without the heavy should.  In this, we live the victory of Jesus Christ in the earth!soccer-1577758

Steps Along the Way

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You are invited to join me on a journey in progress – one I’ve been exploring for a while without sharing.  For reasons I will probably address in coming posts, I’ve been stingy.  But I can no longer keep these things to myself, so I hope you’ll join me.  Most come from conversations I had with Daddy, so some is in dialogue form, some sudden understandings by the Spirit, others indescribable.  That’s the reality of living by the indwelling Spirit of Christ.  What an interesting journey!

As I talked with Daddy about the terrible situation in Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Israel, and so many other nations, a familiar heaviness overwhelmed me as I considered how much I needed to pray for the entire Middle East.  People’s lives hung in the balance, spiritually and physically, but I didn’t even know where to start.  Then I heard it – His still, small voice – reminding me, “But you’re not supposed to carry it.”

Of course. None of us are supposed to carry it.  Yet the emotional appeal that bombarded social media, the one fraught with unspoken guilt, told us our duty as Christians was to carry these hurting ones in prayer.  Our emotions latched on, but they misled.  Intercession is called for, not based on emotion, though emotion might be evidenced in the process.  Rather, our intercession comes from Daddy’s perspective, from the victory He accomplished through Christ.

When we intercede, whether for far-away nations or next-door neighbors, asking (sometimes begging) God to do what He’s already done is ineffective.  Instead, asking Him what He would have us declare and decree by His Spirit concerning what will and will not take place is called for.  After all, we are not only priests, but kings.  Kings don’t ask.  Kings declare and decree.  One word or many, spoken from the heart of our King Jesus, allows us to rest and stand, regardless of what we see or hear.

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. AMP

With that understanding, I was stirred to intercede for my brothers and sisters all over the world.  For all who are stuck in natural as they pray, exerting much effort with little effect, finding only frustration and even condemnation for not having prayed enough or hard enough.  What an unforgiving treadmill!  “Lord, what would You have me declare for them that they will see the reality of intercession from our seat next to Jesus and find rest there?”

Another understanding:  We have been blinded and deceived, relying on religion to teach the Bible, to teach prayer, to teach only what religion wants us to know.  But the very one who blinds and deceives and controls is the one at the root of religion!

By Your Spirit, I declare, “No more!  In Your grace, I call forth the real body of Christ, the new creation born again in Christ’s resurrection after dying with Him in His death, hungering to live and move and have their being in Christ alone, no longer by religion’s deception and control.  The body I call forth is fully alive in the righteousness of Christ in them, declaring and decreeing that same righteousness throughout the earth, in the infinite ways You speak it.”

With that, my session with Daddy ended that day, though it wasn’t the end of what He would share with me.  Stay tuned for more of this journey . . .

(This one’s for you, Donna. I long for the revelation of Christ you now have, but I thank you for spurring me on.)

It Took Only a Simple “Thank You”

Still in the midst of an ongoing problem with another believer, my bad thoughts were definitely having a negative effect on my attitude. What’s worse, I was making no effort to think differently, much less take those thoughts captive. At the same time, I was sinking fast and I knew it.

Yes, I had prayed concerning many different aspects of this dilemma, trying to remind myself the person was not the enemy. Sometimes I even interceded for them without any thought of our issues, only concerned for their needs as the Lord prompted me. I felt much better, much lighter, after praying that way. Before I realized it, though, I let my mind wander into the dark places again, and found myself trapped.

For some reason, this particular day was different. Though I was fully engaged in those negative thoughts, willfully rehearsing every real and perceived hurt, my spirit managed to speak above the din, asking the Lord for His help. And help He did.

“Thank You for forgiving them,” I heard myself say somewhat reluctantly.

When the reality of those words took hold in my brain, I repeated more emphatically, “Yes, thank You for forgiving them!”

It wasn’t a matter of my asking God to forgive them, for that was complete at the cross. Nor did I ask Him to help me forgive them, though He well knew I wasn’t doing so well with that. Actually, for just that reason – because He knew I was failing miserably at forgiving – He gave me just what was needed to find the absolute freedom of His forgiveness. I needed to see my offender the way He did – as another beloved child who needed the Savior. In that place, I was instantly thankful that He has forgiven both of us. Oh, the glorious freedom of the children of God!

Lest you think it’s all behind me now, that those thoughts no longer plague me, or that I immediately turn them away when they come to the surface, that isn’t the case. However, now I find a much easier return to freedom when I remember that simple “Thank You.”

Flawless, by Mercy Me, is so good I wanted to include it here, even though it’s not a perfect fit for the message. I hope it works its way into your heart as it has in mine.

Don’t Ask. Tell.

At most, only a minute had passed.  I just didn’t expect it to happen this fast or this way, nor did I expect this adventure in the mountains to include an eye-opening adventure with God.

At long last, my husband and I were back in Rocky Mountain National Park to drink in the gorgeous scenery and do a bit of hiking.  The weather was fairly cool, especially for us in mid-June, but the sun was rising high among beautiful deep blue skies and scattered white clouds.  Though the forecast called for thunderstorms to roll in mid-afternoon, they wouldn’t affect our plans, since we would only hike enough this time to prepare for a more strenuous hike the next day – all before bad weather would come.

After a bit of a climb that warmed our bodies despite the cool temperature, we found a shaded area just off the trail for a picnic lunch.  Initially, the shade and breeze were a welcome relief.   However, the longer we sat, the cooler the air became – and not owing to our internal thermostats.  One upward glance told us why.  Nothing but gray skies overhead.  A little farther off, over nearby mountains, we could see the rain coming down, and coming our way.  Though we turned back immediately to beat the rain down the mountain, we couldn’t move fast enough.

After the first few drops, we donned our ponchos (Is that what you call wrestling with those cheap things?) to protect ourselves and our belongings, and walked on.  I asked God to hold back the rain until we could get down the mountain.  Even in the middle of my request, I heard Him saying, “Don’t ask Me.  You do it.”  So, out of my spirit I declared, “Clouds, go around us!”

On we hiked, looking down to keep our footing on rocky, uneven, and wet ground.  Moments later, I became aware that the rain had stopped, and I glanced up through the trees to check the sky.  It was blue with white clouds, surrounded by rain clouds, the ones that had to go around us in response to Jesus.  I was speechless, except to say repeatedly, “Wow, God!”

In that moment of correction, God reawakened in me the Truth that He has already given me all authority in Christ1, wherever I set my feet2.  In those moments of awe, I was reminded this Truth is for more than weather.  This is how I am to live – in His authority, by His Spirit – day in and day out!  Not asking Him to do what He’s already done, and what He’s given me His authority to do, but doing it and saying it.  As He is, so am I in this world3!

Mark 4:37-39  NIV  37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

1 Luke 10:19, Matthew 28:18
2 Joshua 1:3
3 1 John 4:17