Fervent Prayer: Your Purity

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This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are leaerning how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can find them here.

If I were your enemy, I’d tempt you toward certain sins, making you believe they are basically (even biologically) unavoidable. I’d study your tendencies and proclivities till I learned the precise conditions that make you the most likely to indulge them. And then I’d strike right there. Again and again. Wear you down. Because if I can’t separate you from God forever, I can at least set you at odds with Him for the time being.

Your Purity. Staying Strong in Your Most Suceptible Places.

The enticing temptation that tickles you curiosity, piques your interest, and placates your personal proclivities has been festering in the devil’s sick, sinister mind all morning, all week, all year maybe. Just sitting there, soaking up vileness and filth. Cruelty and conspiracy. Waiting for the right time- the moment when you are most weakened and susceptible to attack. But once he’s cleaned it up for presentation, sliding it meticulously into view, you’d think it was the shiniest, most desirable bit of unclaimed satisfaction you’ve ever seen. He sets it out there where your eyes can’t help but be drawn toward it – at least, you know, to pick it up and look at it. Feel it. Play with it.

The moral compromise. The unhealthy habit. The enticing addiction. The allure toward sexual impurity. Do you think their uncanny ability to show up when you happen to be exhausted or hungry or lonely is just a coincidence? Don’t you detect some design at work in the timing, the placement, the package?

Look at what we know from Satan’s temptation of Christ in Matthew 4. The devil came out into the wilderness where Jesus had been fasting for forty days, a time when (physically speaking) the Lord was hungry, alone, tired, and depleted. What better setup and situation to make the suggestion of, well… bread? I mean, I don’t know about you, but slide a warm roll in my direction, topped with a smear of soft butter, and I’m a goner. Even when I’m not hungry. But that’s the enemy’s way. Precision, personalization, and persistence. He’s always scouting for what Luke’s gospel describes as the “opportune time” (4:13) – the moment when a well-placed temptation is most likely to be its most irresistible.

So again I ask – the devil’s temptations, the ones he picks out and personalizes for you… coincidence? Uncalculated? Just happenstance?

Stop and see what’s happening. Stop at the place where you first recognize the scent of temptation in the air. And before you touch it, remember… remember where it’s been. Remember where it came from and who’s behind it. And if it’s one of those repeat temptations you’ve been battling against for years, remember the places it’s taken you… the places it always ends up taking you. Because as soon as you say yes to it, you’re headed there again.

The kind of prayer strategy we’re about to employ treats every temptation as the potent, life-threatening stick of dynamite that it is. Despite how inviting it seems, despite how natural it feels, despite how much simpler the rest of your day would seem to go if you just gave in and went along with it, temptations are never innocuous. The consequences are never minimal. The waves of your choice will ripple outward into your heart, mind, soul, and body, possibly even to future generations.

Sin has consequences. Always has and always will. Keep this revelation fixed squarely in your mind. Because whether we like it or not, here’s how the spiritual economy of life works for believers: Obedience to God garners intimacy and nearness, divine blessing and favor. Always. And disobedience creates a sense of distance and loss, grief and regret. Alway. Sometimes the consequences of caving to temptation are practical and tangible, changing your daily experience, drastically enough in certain cases to fundamentally effect the rest of your life. But no matter how immediately noticeable the cost, the ripple effects of sin always affect your connection to the Father. And this, this is exactly what the enemy is hoping for. It’s why he is so personalized and meticulous in his advances to tempt you.

Impurity weakens your praying – which in turn weakens your power. When our lives are not aligned with the teaching of Scripture and the transforming work of God’s Spirit – when we’re resisting His wise, loving instruction converning our lifestyle and attitudes – our prayer closets start to feel like soundproof rooms. The energy we expect our prayers to access and generate is momentarily choked off and shorted out. We’ve compromsied the system. We’re leaking oil, leaking power. We end up, in practical terms, living like the double-minded man in the New Testament book of James, who the Bible says, “should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” because he’s unstable in all his ways” (James 1:7-8).

Separation. That’s what sin creates. Which is why the enemy is dead set on crafting temptations for our lives. He knows that the “effectual fervent prayer” that James 5:16 says “availeth much” contains parameters. Prayers have a power that comes from a person in pursuit of righteous living. Righteousness matters.

That’s why you and I must deliberately strategize a prayer for the daily, ongoing protection of our purity. Prayer keeps us on guard, our spiritual radar sensitive to the enemy’s ploys and clever decoys. Without this close contact with the Father, we become convinced that our careless behavior, our decisions, our habits, our general sense of what qualifies as worthwhile entertainment is somehow OK, that it’s “not so bad”. Yet all the while the enemy’s carefully crafted options of impurity chip away at our spiritual reserves and effectiveness.

Impure living, impure thinking, impure relationships, impure affections – creates the perfect environment and breeding ground for demonic activity. It invites him in and then fosters the perfect place for his turmoil and trouble to thrive. Unrighteousness disrupts our peace. It scares away any lasting sense of rest and contentment. It spoils what could otherwise be enjoyable. It complicates experiences that were meant to be nothing but pleasures and blessings. We can’t knowingly create this kind of an environment – the kind that invites the devil to make himself at home – and then blame God for whatever sense of distance we may feel from Him. We must choose righteousness, while committing to pray fervently and consistently that we’ll recognize the ploys of the enemy the moment they come into view.

Because not only does our prayer deflect the enemy, our purity deflects the enemy. God calls you to purity because He wants your heart protected and at rest, inhospitable to the devil and his intentions. God wants you full of power and confidence and spiritual vitality. He wants you to feel free to bless and encourage others, to receive and celebrate His goodness, to become such a stick-of-dynamite prayer warrior that Satan just hates hearing your coffeepot start up in the morning.

How’d you like to start experiencing those kinds of consequences? Not the ones that leave you feeling disgusted and despondent, misreable from another failure, but totally energized instead. In Jesus.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll never do anything wrong again. We’re not built for that. But a prayer strategy can even help you here too… because the only thing worse than not prevailing in purity at any given moment is failing to respond humbly to God’s discipline after a setback. His conviction is never meant to berate you but simply to correct you and bring you back to Himself. No divide. No separation. Pure.

Purity leads us to fervent prayer, and fervent prayer leads us to purity. And when we start putting this cycle to work, building momentum like a spiritual turbine, surrendering our hearts with the nearness of God’s protection, we strip Satan of the power to rope us down to the same old cycle of sin we’ve always known. We say to him, in so many words…
can’t touch this.

God is inviting you right now to realms of glory. To wide-open spaces of genuine freedom and possibility. To scenes where victory can become, no kidding, an everyday occurance. You’ll think you’re just sitting in whatever little place you call your prayer closet, but you’ll actually be in a whole new world where He is King and where even your nastiest individual sins are utterly subject to His power. Now here’s a place you want to be.

So grab a pencil, get comfortable, and write them down. Your struggles, I mean. Name them specifically, individually. Call them out from hiding. Unmask them and make them show their faces. Because when you come to these Scriptures, you’re going to find some phrases of truth in there that, while you probably know them, perhaps you haven’t been praying them in connection with specific areas of temptation in your life- Scriptures that authorize you to throw off the chains of slavery to sin and put on the breastplate of righteousness. Find the phrases that speak to your heart most clearly in connection with the specific issues you’re struggling with, and then use them (along with all kinds of other Bible verses the Spirit will give you) as part of your customized prayer strategy.

Don’t worry now. This job of overcoming temptation and living in purity is not something you’re tasked with pulling off on your own. When God saved you, it was with the understanding that He’d be providing you “sanctification by the Spirit” all along the way (2 Thess. 2:13), from the inside out, His purity and holiness changing your heart until it comes through as purity and holiness in action. As you yield yourself to Him in prayer, inviting Him to do His work, it won’t just be the sweaty, exhausting chore of avoiding sin. It’ll be God Himself building up strength at your core, enabling you by His resurrection power to passionately pursue righteousness. Then go from your prayer closet, ready to “walk in a manner worth of the calling with which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1). Strategize your obedience as diligently as the enemy is strategizing those temptations. You’ll be blown away with the blessings of purity. So why not make them the norm rather than the exception? And here’s why they can be…

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1-2

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:24-25

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:12-14

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry the desire of the flesh.
Galatians 5:16

What fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification – and the end is eternal life! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:21-23

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. Ephesians 6:14

Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. Luke 22:31-32

My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation. 2 Peter 2:9

Let me give you one more. Psalm 91 says that God has created a shelter for you, a place where the covering shadow of His love thoroughly, shades you from the highnoon heat of temptation. Your God, it says, is a refuge. Your God is a fortress. Your God is trustworthy. And your God is a deliverer. The arrows can fly by day, pestilence can stalk in the darkness, destruction can lie in wait for you in the middle of the afternoon. “A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you… For you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.” Psalm 91:7,9
And then… you are safe.

Fervent Prayer: Your Fears

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This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are leaerning how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can find them here

If I were your enemy, I’d magnify your fears, making them appear insurmountable, intimidating you with enough worries until avoiding them becomes your driving motivation. I would use anxiety to cripple you, to paralyze you, leaving you indecisive, clinging to safety and sameness, always on the defensive because of what might happen. When you hear the word faith, all I’d want you to hear is “unnecessary risk”.

Your Fears. Confronting Your Worries, Claiming Your Calling

That fact is this: fear is one of Satan’s primary schemes for crippling God’s people. I’m not talking about legitimate concern. I’m not talking about protective warnings of wisdom and godly counsel. I’m talking about fear. Incessant worry. Up-all-night anxiety. Worst-case scenario becoming the only probabilities you can think about. Fears like these, instead of simply raising our blood pressure, out to set off some fire alarms. Why am I feeling so paralyzed like this?

We clearly know from scripture that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). So whenever you sense a “spirit of fear” invading any particular area of your life, you can know by process of elimination that it’s not coming from God… which only leaves one other spiritual place it could be orginating from… which ought to make you wonder why it’s there. Aren’t you at least a little bit curious what he’s trying to keep you from experiencing?

I’m sure you’re familiar with the story of Moses and the children of Israel, pinned up against the waters of the Red Sea while the Egyptian pharaoh and his armies were bearing down hard from behind. Israel was fast in the process of being surrounded by people whose nation had brutalized them and their ancestors for four, long horrendous centuries. No escape. And the only direction that wasn’t swarming with enemy hordes, the one path God was directing His people to go, lay straight through the sea.

So these two million Hebrews had every reason to be terrified. Mortified really. There was no swimming out of this one.

Any yet, in the face of such impossible circumstances, with the odds so heavily stacked against them, and with no indicator of the miracle that God had planned, Moses said to the people, “Do not fear!” (Exodus 14:13). His very first instruction to them was to not be afraid.

Notice that Moses wasn’t telling them not to feel fear. The prospect of looming death will just kind of do that. On its own. Fear is a natural human response to a lot of things, a Red Sea moment being one of them. So he knew they would feel fear, but he was telling them not to wallow in it. Not to choose it. Not to make friends with it. Not entertain it, engage it. Because if they did, they risked not sticking around long enough to experience the stunning miracle their God was about to perform. And even more, they risked not getting to the other side. To the Promised Land. To the land of milk and to the honey. To destiny.

Oh, so that’s what the enemy wanted fear to keep them from obtaining. And that’s what he hopes fear will keep you from obtaining too. Your destiny.

But whether you need a gentle hand today reaching out to hold yours, or you could use a little tough love right now to shake yourself awake from the stupor of all those excuses, the prescription is still the same…
Do. Not. Be. Afraid.
The issue of fear is so well-known and important to God that more than three hundred times in Scripture He tells his people – in one form or another – not to be afraid. “Fear not.” “Be ye not afraid.”  “Do not fear.” Look it up. It’s everywhere. You know those times when you’re searching high and low for just one verse to tell you what God wants you to do? Well, there’s three hundred of them. And they’re all saying the same thing, “Don’t be afraid.”

It’s the enemy telling you, “Be very afraid.” Is that the kind of junk he’s been feeding you lately? Twenty million reasons why you can’t? Can’t kick the habit? Can’t stand up and lead a Bible Study? Can’t help start that inner-city ministry? Not qualified enough for that job? Can’t do this, could never do that, be crazy to even think about doing that other thing?

Why not? Might take too much time? Not to mention the pressure? The germs? Do I really want to risk the rejection of being told no? Don’t I realize what I’d be giving up in terms of security and salary and insurance benefits? What would people think if I did something so audacious, something out of my normal routine and pattern? Wouldn’t I just be opening myself up to criticism and catty comments? What about all my food allergies, my fear of flying, all my other various intolerances?

Are those the kind of speed bumps and roadblocks he’s been laying in front of you, seemingly all your life? He’s just full of it. Full of excuses. Invesed in cramming you full of fear. Why? Because fear is the antithesis of faith. And faith is what allows you to step foot on the soil of your destiny.

Hear me out, and hear me good: I’m about to write a long, run-on sentence, but I want you hanging on every word:
If God has given you clear direction, like He gave the children of Israel – direction He’s confirmed by his written Word and by the sounding board of wise, godly counsel – and your only real reason for resisting Him is because you’re afraid of what following Him down his path might mean or cost or entail, then you’re not only on the threshold of being disobedient, you’re about to miss an opportunity to give God some fresh, new glory by doing what He’s wanting to do through you, which is the true impetus behind His invitation for you to join Him on this scary adventure in the first place.

In fervent prayer, we discover something: Our God is fearless. And because He is fearless, we can be fearless too. When His presence is with us and going before us, no Red Sea should faze us or give us pause. So despite your hesitation, say yes. Walk on. Have faith. Fear not.

God wouldn’t tell us to not be afraid – or tell it to us so often – if He didn’t fully realize that fear, worry, anxiety, queasiness, cold feet, sweaty palms, dry mouth, and racing heartbeats are our first, natural reaction to some of the challenges of following Him, especially those (like most) that don’t come with clear, step-by-step instructions on how to handle every possible hiccup or contingency.

Prayer is the difference maker. An invitation for honesty, yes, for telling Him how you feel – infused with the assurance and fearless confidence that comes from God’s promises.

Remember those worries of yours? They’re not just stray thoughts; they’re deliberate strategies. Strategies to derail you from your destiny and calling. And the way to fight them is with a deliberate prayer strategy of your own.

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. In God whose Word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

The word of the Lord came to me: I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. But I protested, “Oh no, Lord, God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.” Then the Lord said to me: Do not say, “I am only a youth,” for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever  I tell you. Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you. Jeremiah 1:4-8

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or fefute you! Luke 21:15

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. John 10:27-29

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us… let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:19-20, 23

I am praying for you today, as you read this. I am praying for any areas that you are experiencing fear or worry or anxiety – any of those feelings that are trying to hold you down and cripple you. I feel them too. There are thoughts that always try to creep in, and I have to take them captive – knowing that they are not of God. I’m praying for the areas where fear is the main thing stopping you from doing what God is clearly calling you to do. That is exactly what happened with me before I started this blog. I had a story that I felt called to share, but I was afraid to do it. I didn’t want people to know that story or the insecurities that I dealt with. It was months of feeling this calling to write before I decided to obey. I waited for all the answers – I wanted to know exactly how to do it before I took the first step. But as I started writing, it became clearer to me. I just took the first step, and then He showed me the next. I’m thankful that I decided to obey and that He is using my story to help others. What is it that He’s asking you to do? What is it that He wants to do through you that you have been to afraid to do? Take the first step of obedience, and He’ll show you the next. 

Fervent Prayer: Your Past

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This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are leaerning how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?

Ready for the fifth strategy the enemy uses? It’s your past. We all have one, and the enemy loves to let it affect our present and future. You might have heard the quote, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Unfortunately, it’s true. But there’s another one that’s good too, “Free people, free people.” We can be free from our past so that we can live the abundant life that God has intented for us to live… and while we do that we will be doing kingdom-work to help free others from their pasts so they can do the same. What a beautiful thought and vision for us! I feel like the hashtag #goals would be appropriate here, something we can all work towards… being kingdom-minded.

If I were your enemy, I’d constantly remind you of your past mistakes and poor choices. I’d want to keep you burdened by shame and guilt, in hopes that you’ll feel incapacitated by your many failings and see no point in even trying again. I’d work to convince you that you’ve had your chance and blown it – that your God may be able to forgive some people for some things, but not you… not for this.

Your Past – Ending the Reign of Guilt, Shame, and Regret

It’s awful. And it’s personal.
A personal, unwelcome, unwarranted attack.
Using your forgiven past to poke holes in your future. That’s exactly what the enemy does. He absolutely loves living in the past. In your past. In my past. Any why not? Some of his best opportunities to sabatage our potention comes from there.

He carefully archives footage from our history so he can pull from those files and remind us what our days of defeat, sin, and failure looked like. You’ve seen them, as have I, a million times. If your life is anything like mine, I’d imagine he’s turned every room in the house into a screening room at one time or another, popping one of his old favorites into the player – for his amusement, for our humiliating shame and embarrassment.

It’s a painful thing to watch. Even in reruns. Especially in reruns… because every time he cues it up again, it’s with the fresh intent of mocking us, making us feel as unforgiven and unforgiveable as possible, and then even pointing the finger at all the other people who are more to blame, more at fault, than we should even consider ourselves to be. If he can’t make us feel judged, he’ll try turning us into judgers. So it’s quite a show he puts on. And quite depressing. Mostly because, as he loves reminding us, we’re the ones who’ve given him so much material to work with.

Under more constructive circumstances we might actually be able to learn from it – see another option we could’ve taken to avoid ultimately what happened, in order to not be so rash or gullible next time. We might be able to teach from it – help steer others who might one day face the same set of choices (our children, for example) toward and alternate ending that’s likely to result in something more favorable for them. But in the hands of the enemy, it’s always a horror film – run from it, hide from it – keep living and reliving it, over and over again. With no resolution, just a persistent dread and heartache. Always at risk of having it jump up and scare us, just when we thought God had finally settled it for good.

And that’s how, instead of living with assurance, we become bombarded with shame. Instead of celebrating God’s grace, we feel undercut by continual guilt over the same old things. Instead of experiencing the ongoing, residual blessings of being regenerated by His Spirit – all things new – we’re caught in the spin cycle of ceaseless regrets.

But prayer – fervent, strategic prayer – can change things. Even unchangeable things. Even things as unchangeable as real-life scenes from your past – what you did, what you didn’t do, why you did it, why you didn’t. No, prayer doesn’t wipe them all away, doesn’t pretend they never happened. And, no, it doesn’t remove every natural, logical consequence from playing itself out. But just as God says to the ocean waves, “Thus far you shall come, but no farther” (Job 38:11), He has given us prayer to raise up above the sea level of Satan’s assaults from our past.

Cue the hallelujahs and thanks to God for this. Thank you for your grace and your mercy that you have for us, God. Thank you for helping us to rise above these things in our pasts and go to higher levels where you are taking us.

All things… new. Let’s leave the past in the past. The past doesn’t have permission to touch you anymore, if you don’t give it. Let’s go to new places of freedom and fullness.

The enemy’s accusations against us come with a statute of limitations. He can rant and threaten and how-day-you all he wants, but here’s why you can plug your ears and ignore his accusations, and sing God’s praise while you walk away with real pardon in your heart.

God doesn’t live in the past. Because – God – your God exists outside of time. To Him, the past that so haunts and hamstrings you, the past that so ruffles and frustrates you, is not in the past at all. In prayer, you are alone with God who sees you only as you are and have always been since that beautiful moment when you placed your faith in Him – holy, righteous, and blameless; past, present, and future. He forgives your guilt, removes your shame, and declares His work an established, all-the-time fact. Prayer does a complete end run around Satan’s pitiful accusations, ushering us into an eternal realm with God where “the past” doesn’t even compute.

We only live by grace anyway. All that stuff Satan tries hanging over our head – those forgiven failings of ours are no longer reasons for shame but are not monuments to the totally amazing grace of God. I mean just look at what He is able to forgive. Even this. Even that. Yes, devil, even THAT! Isn’t God incredible? That He could forgive even that?!

The glory our God receives and will eternally receive, from having saved our souls doesn’t come from all the good things we do for Him. His glory comes from creating people of purity and spiritual passion who once did things like that. Like we’ve done. Like you’ve done. Like I’ve done.

So talk it up, devil. Because as high as you choose to ratchet it up, you’re only showing off “the breadth and length and height and depth” (Eph. 3:18) of the love of Christ extending toward me!

One of the qualities that makes the gospel so real and so great is that it doesn’t eliminate our past but just so thouroughly deals with it. God forgives it. He changes it. He transforms all that mess into this huge mountain of grace that only takes us higher and closer to Him. So now, instead of being a reason for endless shame, guilt, and regret, our past is a reason for endless worship and free-flowing testimony.

And for continual, grateful, heartfelt prayer.

We’re all on a journey here. We’re not perfect. We all struggle. We can tell from the fatique we feel and the stiffness in our spiritual joints that we haven’t always taken good care of ourselves. But prayer wakes us up with new mercies from God that are “new every morning” (Lam. 3:23). Prayer is how we start to stretch and feel limber again, feel loose, ready to take on the world. And when we start applying prayer to particulat muscles groups – like our confidence in Christ and His victory over our past – our whole body and our whole being start to percolate with fresh energy, with the blood-pumping results of applied faith.

So as you being crafting a strategy for crushing Satan’s backdoor assault on your daily freedom and joy, think on this helpful guide you can use…

  • Praise: Thank Him for completely forgiving you, cleansing your, changing you.
  • Repentance: See the foolishness of anything that perpetuates old sin patterns, and by His Spirit walk away.
  • Asking: Ask for freedom, for release, for the abilitiy to deflect lies and embrace truth.
  • Yes: Because you, by His resurrection power, can now walk in a new way of life.Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

    Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil – the commander of the powers of the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that we were saved! Ephesians 2:1-5

    Thus says the Lord… Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

    Sing praise to the Lord, all His godly ones, And give thanks to His Holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
    Psalm 30:4-5

    He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:29-31

    He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power, is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

    Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

    The past, for all its attempts at confining and condemning us, possesses limits  that our enemy doesn’t want us to know about. Well, now we do. And so here we go. We’re moving on. And he can just sit back there in the dark and watch all those home movies of his, all by himself. Because our real life in Christ is just a lot more exciting.

    Here’s to freedom… yours and mine. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

    I am praying for you, as my readers, as you go through this series with me. I’d love to hear how God is using it in your life to being freedom and spiritual growth. Feel free to leave a comment or email me your story so that I can praise and champion God along with you for what He’s done.

Fervent Prayer: Your Family

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This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are going to learn how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?

Lifeway has a Blue, Leatheresque Copy of this book that will be on sale for $5 this Friday & Saturday for their post-Thanksgiving sale. It will be available on Lifeway.com or at your nearest Lifeway store.
Thanks for sharing that with us, Mrs. Holly. 😉

If I were your enemy, I’d seek to disintegrate your family and destroy every member of it. I’d want to tear away at your trust and unity and turn everyone’s love inward on themselves. I would make sure your family didn’t look anything like it’s supposed to. Because then people would look at your Christian marriage, your Christian kids, and see you’re no different, no stronger, than anyone else- that God, underneath it all, really doesn’t change anything.

Your Family. Fortifying The Lives Of Those You Love.

He wants to disintegrate your family, dividing your home, rendering it chaotic, restless, and unfruitful. Genesis 3:1-7

It is a big deal. Our families are a billboard for the eternal, unchangeable love story between God and humankind. Each of their successes or failures is of great importance, both in God’s eyes, and therefore, in our enemy’s eyes. So Satan loves to target families. He targets our role as wives, targets our husbands, and targets our children. He brings dissension, infuses tension, unravels our sense of peace with diunity. Because ultimately he wants to destroy our families – all of our families – so that the billboard message they’re designed to project to the world is a picture that is, at best, laughable.

Marriage was instituted by God to be an object lesson to the world of the relationship of a believer to Himself. Each of you who is married or will be will play a significant role in living our this lesson. A man chooses a bride, loves her, makes a covenant with her, and gives himself completely to her. The woman responds by receiving his love, surrendering to him, entering into this covenant bond with him, and becoming one flesh with him. It’s not a perfect representation, of course, because even the best marriage on earth involves a pair of fallen, broken people. But in it’s deepest level, this primary human relationship between husband and wife is meant to be a living witness to others of the love of Christ for His church. (Epehsians 5:22-33).

Marriage stands for the creation of unity among two people who were one separated in every way before love reached out and found the other – the way God reached out and found us, and covenanted with us, and loved us, and despite who we are, despite what we’re like, still loves us. This image, more than almost anything, is exactly what the enemy wants to denigrate.

Husbands are to love their wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Epehsians 5:25). Wives are to submit to their husbands “as the church submits to Christ.” (vs. 24 NLT). Again, big deal. All around. Much bigger deal than we thought.

So when you and I begin feeling pressure and tension and splintering and conflict at home, when little trifling things start bunching together to become this one big thing- when the nitpicking turns into bickering; the bickering into outbursts; the outburts into rude, below-the-belt unkindness and bitterness; the bitterness into slow, seething pullbacks of silence and isolation – is it just your husband or wife being terrible? Acting awful? Is it just you being overly sensitve, slow to relinguish a foothold of cherished, hard-fought ground? Is it just your child pulling away into isolation or overt rebellion? Is it just all of you going to your own rooms -disconnected, disjointed, fragmented?

No, it bears all the marks of an outside enemy – one who hangs around your family but isn’t part of your family. He’s the one who wants your marriage to suffer. He’s the one who wants your home to be a dueling battleground. He’s the one most likely who’s pulled the wool over your eyes, fooling you with a crafty bait and switch, leading you to focus all your indignation on your man or your kid instead. He wants you misreable and exhausted and joyless and undone. He wants that picture of the gospel – the one you call your marriage and your family – he wants it tarnished. Ripped up. Smeared in the mud of failure. Turning you against each other and tearing everybody in half. As much as the Father loves and embodies unity, your enemy loves and embodies division. Wherever dicord is present, he’s never too far away. And as much of us sadly know from far too much personal experience, no wounds cut as deep or cleave us at the core of our existence more than the wounds we receive at the hands of our family. You’d better believe he wants a piece of that action.

But maybe he wasn’t counting on this: someone who’d had enough, enough to start taking some prayer action. For their marriage, for their children, for all their family. So here we go. This is it. Bring your family issues right up to the line here, and let’s get some stuff out in the open. Let’s get specific. Let’s put a bead on the bull’s eye where the real source of your family strife and discomfort and unmet needs are originating from, and let’s show him the kind of resistance that a steady dose of prayer is able to exact against his demolition plans.

Is it your marriage? Our job is not to change our spouse, but to love and respect and then leave the rest up to the Lord. The more you pray for your spouse, the more the Spirit will shine a spotlight on the places in your own heart and actions that need a bit of work too. The only effective way to fight in marriage is to pray. The way we see the real truth behind whatever’s happening in this whole situation of yours… is to pray. Prayer is how we isolate the real problems. And prayer is how we get up behind those problems and attack them at the roots. It’s how we isolate the real enemy.
Even if things are going pretty well for you right now, even if you don’t have a lot to complain about or feel upset over, the enemy is still there, whether in full-on attack mode or lurking in wait for the next possible opportunity to infiltrate. So pray. And pray fervently.

Is it your children? The Bible says our children are “like arrows in the hand of a warrior” (Psalm 127:4). We raise them up to shoot them out into the culture, bearing the image of Christ to the world. Sounds again, then, like a place that would qualify as a major area of concern for an enemy who doesn’t want any vestige of Christian valor and virtue running loose out there where they might take bold stands of faith and influence. Worst of all, they might marry and raise up a whole other generation of little Christ followers, keeping your family buring red hot on enemy radar long beyond your lifetime, spinning up a legacy of faith that spirals forward undaunted into the future. Your enemy can’t be having any of that, now, can he? So don’t be surprised when he starts coming after your kids. And don’t think it’s all because they’re being headstrong or peed dependent or carless or lazy. Satan knows the parts of their character – both their strengths and their weaknesses – where he can worm in and try shunting their growth, their potential, and their confidence.

Is it an issue with other family members? Maybe it’s other members of your extended family who are unsaved, feeling the brunt of enemy attack on themselves, or who are participating (intentionally or unintentionally) with the enemy’s designs on you as their daughter or son, their sister or brother, their cousin, their daughter or son-in-law, whatever. The forms that these sorts of conflict can take are as numerous as the number of people involved in them. But just as much as the devil loves stirring up trouble in churches, he loves stirring up trouble in families. He know’s it’s a Christian witness-killer, an energy zapper, a time eater, a relationship destroyer. He can do more damage with less effort by attacking us here, within those relationships, than in any other context. But if we’re wise, we can put prayer into effect in places we’re close enough to touch the very people involved. Then as God’s spirit does His work in us and in these situations, the others in our family will be standing close enough to watch it all happen in real time, to see the kinds of change and impact our prayers are able to accomplish.

The family is one of the key axis points of God’s purpose on earth. And your family, at the point of your sphere of influence, is a major component of what He is doing right here where you live. In order to make sure you’re fully cooperating with Him and with the enormous opportunity embodied in your family structure and it’s people, they need you to not be on their backs, not up in their faces, but be down on your knees. Assume a new fighting position.

Now let’s spend some concentrated effort in crafting specific, strategic, personalized prayer approaches for your family. Person by person. Name by name. The stakes are simply too high not to do it. Don’t resort to the roll-call system for covering our family in prayer. Lord, bless my husband. Bless my kids. Be with my aunt and uncle. Be with my dad and his knee replacement. Be with my brother who’s looking for work. Quick. Easy. Over and done. Better than totally ignoring them perhaps, but hardly a satisfying confidence that you’re going all out, participating mightily with God in their future, their provision, or their rescue.

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” 3 John 2.
“May He give your what your heart desires and fulfill your whole purpose” Psalm 20:4. The Scripture is full of eternal truths, made even more relevant when framed against the context of your family’s life, specific needs, and dilemmas.

There are verses and counsel related to how a wife treats, blesses, thinks about, and responds to her husband. Pray them for yourself as a wife.

Love is patient. Love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Titus 2:4-5

You wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
1 Peter 3:1-2

Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be unsaved because of you? 1 Corinthians 7:16

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good. Proverbs 31:11

There are verses, particularly in Proverbs, that speak to the blessings of a man’s integrity, his quest for wisdom, the leadership of his family, and God’s desire to prosper him as he commits his many responsibilities to the Lord. Pray them for your husband.

Commit your works to the Lord. And your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7

Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you. Wisdom is surpreme – so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; if you embrace her, she will honor you. Proverbs 4:6-8

Let your eyes look directly  ahead. And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet, And all your ways will be established. Proverbs 4:25-26

Wisdom will rescue you from a forbidden woman, from a stranger with her flattering talk. Proverbs 2:16

Don’t fear sudden danger or the run of the wicked when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from a snare.
Proverbs 3:25-26

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

There are other verses that lead a mother, a parent, to keep her children before the Lord and their protection in His hands. Pray them for your chidren.

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. Proverbs 14:26

Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts. Isaiah 8:18

They were to rise and tell their children so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works, but keep His commands. Then they would not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not loyal and whose spirit was not faithful to God. Psalm 78:6-8

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
3 John 4

Then there are passages that caution us not to fight with old weapons but to keep ourselves under control and trusting God’s authority as we relate to one another:

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need for the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgement and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1 Peter 4:7-9

Pursue the things which made for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:19

Not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:9

Homes and families, marriages and children can all too easily devolve into combat zones – which was the last thing in the world you ever foresaw when you walked down the aisle, or when you brought home that bundle of joy. You may not be able to control all the discord and unwise choices that occur in the various corners of your house or among the people you share a family with. But you can make sure that the only place you engage in combat is in the heavenlies, in prayer, in secret. Take the fight into your prayer room rather than your living room. Write down what you want to be sure your enemy hears you praying. Use the biblical promises and passages from this post as a framework to get you started. Then take your vocal pleas to God instead of making your vocal presence such a common fixture around your house. Get ready to go to war for your family. And get ready to see some changes you’ve never seen happen before.

Fervent Prayer: Your Identity

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This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are going to learn how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?

Lifeway has a Blue, Leatheresque Copy of this book that will be on sale for $5 this Friday & Saturday for their post-Thanksgiving sale. It will be available on Lifeway.com or at your nearest Lifeway store.
Thanks for sharing that with us, Mrs. Holly. 😉

Be sure to subscribe to my blog by email to be entered to win a copy of this book that I will be giving away this week! You don’t want to miss any of the posts in this series.

If I were your enemy, I’d devalue your strength and magnify your insecurities until they dominate how you see yourself, disabling and disarming you from fighting back, from being free, from being who God has created you to be. I’d work hard to ensure that you never realize what God has given you so you’ll doubt the power of God within you.

Your Identity. Remembering Who You Are.

The enemy wants you to suffer from a case of mistaken identity. Makes his job a whole lot easier. And makes your defenses a lot weaker. He’s working overtime to keep your identity masked, to keep the truth from coming out- that you are indeed alive and free and empowered by God’s own Spirit to fight victoriously against him. He’d rather conspire to keep you in a constant state of mourning, grieving over who you wish you were, instead of relishing who you really are, exacerbated by insecurity and crippled by self-doubt.

That’s why he doesn’t want you praying – not fervently – because fervent prayer keeps your true identity in focus. Reminds us of who we really are and taps into the power we really have in Christ.

He doesn’t want your nose in the Word or your knees on the hardwood. Because that’s where the light comes on. That’s where you find out the good news, perhaps the surprisingly euphoric news – that you are alive, fully equipped to stand firm against him. “Formerly darkness,” the Bible says, yes. Formerly. At one time. But now “Light in the Lord”… “children of Light”… able through Christ to produce “the fruit of the Light” (Ephesians 5:8-9)

Paul reminds the Ephesians of the spiritual blessings we’ve been given in Ephesians 1, purely as the result of Christ’s love toward us, commensurate with the enormous value He’s placed on us. Soak them into your soul. Let these words embed into the floorboard of your deepest insecurities.

You are:

  • equipped through Christ with “every spiritual blessing” (vs. 3)
  • chosen in Him “before the foundation of the world” (vs. 4)
  • regarded as “holy and blameless before Him” (vs. 4)
  • adopted through the “kind intention of His will” (vs. 5)
  • redeemed and forgiven, “lavished” with grace (vs. 7-8)
  • recipients of a glorius “inheritance” in heaven (vs. 11)
  • secured forever by “the Holy Spirit of promise” (vs. 13-14)
    Then, right in the middle of Paul’s dictation, notice how his prepared monologue (around verses 15 and 16) begins blending almost seamlessly into a prayer. You think he’s just talking, and then just like that… he’s praying. Praying that our eyes would be open to really, fully see and recognize who we truly are. Praying that we would:
  • receive a “spirit of wisdom” from the Father (vs. 17)
  • be enlightened to grasp the “hope of His calling” (vs. 18)
  • recognize the “riches of the glory of His inheritance” (vs. 18)
  • know the “surpassing greatness of His power” toward us (vs. 19)
  • realize we are “seated with Him… in heavenly places” (vs. 20)
  • and that even though we were “dead”, He has given us life (2:5)

There’s strategy to this combination of the Word and prayer. From Scripture we receive written proof of what God has done for us, what He’s created us and called us and empowered us into becoming. Then, in prayer we cooperate with Him to stamp these truths repeatedly into our hearts. And then, more than that, we access them and engage them and draw their power into our everyday experience.

In prayer we watch words on a page turn a new leaf in us, both in our hearts and in our day-to-day living. In prayer we feel a bolstering that energizes us with holy confidence. In prayer we set off like trailblazers, carving fresh neural pathways within our brains, transforming the way we think of ourselves, receiving and believing our true identity – the one that was stamped on us the moment we ran to the foot of the cross. Pray long and hard enough, and not only do we realize we’re indeed alive, but we become angry – furious! – that we’ve been in mourning for so long, saddened by a tragedy whose outcome was totally misreported to us.

If we’re not strategically praying in accordance with who our Maker and Redeemer says we are, if we aren’t calling ourselves by name according to that list from Ephesians, serving the devil notice that we know who we really are, we’ll always be subject to his attemps at devaluing us. We’ll downplay our real strength. We’ll hate our bodies, highlight our weaknesses, cringe with insecurities, and constantly view ourselves as “less than” by comparison with others. He’ll diffuse our power simply by downplaying our true position. If he can get you to believe his lies, you won’t feel equipped or entitled to stand up against him.

That’s why you and I need to keep praying – to keep the truth about our real identity in constant, unbroken focus before us. The truth. The Belt of Truth as outlined in Ephesians 6, in our spiritual armor. Truth – God’s standard and viewpoint about us – must come first in our hearts and minds if we want to be effective in battle against the enemy. We need to put on our belt of truth every day. Without it, we aren’t really suited for spiritual battle. We’re not dressed for the occasion. Not ready for what’s coming.

Paul prayed so fervently that the true identiy of those first-century believers would be unveiled in their hearts. He wasn’t asking God to make sure they received these things. They already had them. He was praying that they’d realize they already had them. It wasn’t a shopping list. It was a packing list, and it’s the same for us today.

And now we’re ready to take that to battle, on our knees, in prayer. We’re fully alive and on the path to healing and wholeness. Now build a prayer strategy using these passages as a backdrop to remind yourself of this truth for the rest of your life.

God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by grace that you have been saved! For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-6

As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffered with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:15-17

Look to the rock from which you were hewn And to the quarry from which you were dug. Isaiah 51:1

The Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession. Deuteronomy 4:20

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:16

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25

Fervent Prayer – Your Focus

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This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are going to learn how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?

Be sure to subscribe to my blog by email to be entered to win a copy of this book that I will be giving away this week! You don’t want to miss any of the posts in this series.

If I were your enemy, I’d disguise myself and manipulate your perspectives so that you’d focus on the wrong culprit – your husband, your friend, your hurt, your finances, anything or anyone except me. Because when you zero in on the most convenient, obvious placesto strike back against your problems, you get the impression you’re fighting for something. Even though all you’re really doing is just… fighting. For nothing. 

Focus. Fighting the Real Enemy.

Fervent prayer relies on focus.
Focus clears way dead space and clutter. It’s what sharpens the images in your photographs, capturing the detail and highlights you want to remember, while pushing the less important things to the background or cropping them out altogether.
Focus minimizes distractions, lowering your risk of being blindsided.
It keeps you from being preoccupied, from overlooking important facts that would’ve been readily obvious if you’d only been paying better attention. Focus protects your goals and dreams from being consumed in small bites, stolen right out from under your nose in twenty-minute segments of compromise.
And focus is the antenna that prayer helps to keep raised and alert, making you keenly aware if somebody’s trying to play you for a fool.

And your enemy – for his strategy against you to work – is dead set on being able to succeed at just that. On fooling you. Faking you out. Diverting your focus, trying to convince you that the main issues in your life actually originate over there, anywhere, or with anyone except where they really do. He wants you focused on things that are physical and visible instead of where the action really is.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood (what you can see), but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (what you can’t see). Ephesians 6:12

By failing to take notice and remember, it’s not hard to then lose our cool, our temper, and most of our self-control before we ever find our way back to ultimate reality. We underestimate Satan’s power. As a result, we give him room to scheme and scare at will, while we run around firing off at anyone and everyone except him. But if all we’re doing is whacking at the most visible symptoms every time they pop up, we’re just wasting precious time and energy and trying to fight ferocious, spiritual foces using the wrong weapons. So the hits just keep on coming.

Because our focus is all off. And that’s exactly what your real enemy is counting on. The real enemy isn’t your husband. Or your teenager. Or your brother’s wife. Or your mother-in-law. Or the weather. Or the traffic. Or your sweet tooth. Or whatever powder keg of frustration really gets under your skin and sets you off before you can think straight.

The real enemy – the capital E- “Enemy” – well, you know who it is. And you simply cannot keep letting him go unchecked while you throw money and anger and logic and phychology at your problems in a vain attempt at overcoming or outsmarting them. In order to live in victory, you must call the enemy’s bluff, open up your spiritual eyes, and remain continually aware of the one’s who’s truly behind a lot of the stuff you’re always blaming on your circumstances, your upbringing, your boyfriend, or whoever. Even on yourself.

In prayer, you can do it differently. You can maintain this level of focus. Because prayer, perhaps more than anything, is meant to be an eye-opening experience. Prayer is a reminder to yourself, as well as a declaration to the enemy, that you know he’s there. That you’re on to him. When you bring your concerns and fears and irritations to the Lord in prayer, you’re aligning your weakling spirit with the full force of God’s Holy Spirit.

Instead of continuing to fail by taking the battle into your own hands – and taking the battle to the wrong people – you’re joining instead with all the power of heaven to take your fight diretly to the source of the problem. You’re following the armies of the living God right into the field tent where your enemy is cooking up his craftiest designs against you, and you’re busting up his strategy closet – making sure he knows that you know that you know what he’s up to. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might by putting on the full armor of God and become able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil… the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of gospel peace, the shild of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, better known as the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17)Let’s look a little deeper at these…

  • Truth is God’s standard – the unchanging, objective benchmark of the Bible by which we govern and align our lives
  • Righteousness means right living – the process by which we apply this truth to our lives, and by His Spirit, produce conduct honoring and pleasing to God
  • Peace is the deep, inner, eternal stability the believer possesses by virtue of relationship with Jesus, a sense of balance that’s not subject to external circumstance. It’s also the qualit that enables us to live harmoniously with others.
  • Faith is the application of what one believes – the process of putting feet to our beliefs and living in light of it… in practical terms.
  • Salvation is both our eternal security with Christ, as well as the full inheritance we’ve been given because of our relationship with Him. It includes our blessings, status, and identity – everything we’ve received that enables us to live victoriously for Him

The Word of God is His present, relevant, personal Word to us for today. The Bible may be an old Book, but God’s Spirit makes it fresh, new, and alive for us.

When we use these weapons, we can cut him off at the pass and hit him where it hurts. And again, the one weapon that ties this whole ensemble together, the one that activates and infuses our armor with the power of God himself… is prayer! “Pray at all times in the Spirit” Ephesians 6:18 This verse translated means specific, precise, and in particular events. In spiritual warfare, as we detect enemy activity and deploy the various pieces of armor, our prayers need to be fervent and specific, strategic, and personal, tied to the specific needs arising at that specific occasion. That’s the kind of prayer that energizes the armor of God for maximum effectiveness, prayed “with all perseverance and petition for all the saints”.

That’s called being focused and strategic in prayer. Physical weapons may work in physical battles. Stuff like… trying harder, getting up earlier, moving across town to a new neighborhood, making him sleep on the sofa, giving her a piece of your mind. But this aint no physical battle we’re dealing with, no matter how much you wish it to be. We are at spiritual war. So we need spiritual weapons. Now you can just walk in victory and claim what is rightfully yours. Dressed in the armor of Ephesians 6 and committed to the practice that activates our spiritual power – prayer.

Take some of these promises and scriptures and form them into your own personal prayer strategy… a prayer you can pull out, read, and pray when you feel you are focusing on the wrong enemy.

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death, not life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealved in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else – not only in this world but also in the world to come. Ephesians 1:21

God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11

I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. Psalm 30:1

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me. Micah 7:8

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. Psalm 138:7

By this I know that You delight in me: my enemy does not shout in triumph over me. Psalm 41:11

Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered. And let those who hate Him flee before Him. Psalm 68:1

Lead us not into temptation, but deliever us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Matthew 6:13

The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3

Fervent Prayer: Your Passion

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This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are going to learn how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?

Be sure to subscribe to my blog by email to be entered to win a copy of this book that I will be giving away this week! You don’t want to miss any of the posts in this series.

He seeks to dim your whole desire for prayer, dull your interest in spiritual things, and downplay the potency of your most strategic weapons. (Eph. 6:10-20)

Your Passion… Getting it Back When It’s Gone.

I think this is one that has applied to all of us at one time or another. It tried to creep in with me last week. I didn’t feel like praying anymore. I was done. But then I recognized that feeling. I picked up this book and began to pray my prayer strategy, and I overcame that one.

If I were your enemy, I’d seek to dim your passion, dull your interest in spiritual things, dampen your belief in God’s ability and His personal concern for you, and convince you that the hope you’ve lost is never coming back – and was probably just a lie to begin with.

Fervent prayer is fueled by passion.
By faith. By fire.
Passion is your cutting edge.
Passion glows red-hot.
Passion goes on driving.
Passion grows even larger, the larger the obstacles become.
It’s the fuel in the engine of your purpose.
It’s your “want-to”.
It’s what keeps you going when mundane tasks bore you or difficult ones dissuade you. Passion is what keeps you moving in the direction your best intentions want you to go.

I’d weaken your passion, your cutting edge – knowing full well that weak, impotent prayers (or better yet, prayerlessness) would follow right behind.

So take a long hard look at yourself and answer this question: Have you lost your passion?

Let’s start here. Praying for this. To recover and maintain your passion. To regain and sustain your cutting edge.

Praying – reaching outward and upward to Him – is the way His passion comes down. Even prayers that begin with the blunt edge of willpower, dragging your heart along kicking and screaming, can soon begin to shine with the cutting edge of hope, faith, and passionate confidence in Christ. You’re going to be praying deliberate prayers. Prayers that are personalized and devastating as the enemy’s attacks against you. Strategic prayers. Powerful prayers. Prayers that tell the enemy his cover has been blown, his number has come up, and his game is done. Prayers built on the promises of God that entreat Him to give you back what He was responsible for giving you in the first place. A prayer that’s seeking passion should not be about manufacturing a better feeling or jostling up a better mood. It’s simply holding your hands open – in thanksgiving first, in gratitude for God’s faithfulness and His goodness and His assured, accomplished victory over the enemy. Then asking. Asking for what He already wants to give you. Then waiting (expecting) to receive the promise of newness and freshness from His Spirit as you go along, more each day.

Take some of these promises and scriptures and form them into your own personal prayer strategy… a prayer you can pull out, read, and pray when you feel you are losing your passion and zeal.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7

Call upon Me and come a pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:12-13

The Lord your God will circumcize your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, so that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strenth. Mark 12:30

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekial 36:26