When Praying, Listen
God has not only called me to preach, He has called me to prayer. It is important to note that Jesus commanded His disciples to preach, but He taught them to pray. The ministry God gave me was birthed and bathed in prayer and I am grateful that millions have heard the Gospel proclaimed and professed their faith in Christ.
But even while blessed in my ministry, I found myself out of the will of God. I was too busy preaching to spend necessary and important time in prayer. I once foolishly and almost arrogantly responded to a sincere woman’s question, “When you travel and preach so many places so many times a day, how do you have time to pray?” I looked at her and said, “I preach – you pray!”
How sad. I had lost intimacy with God. I had unwittingly left my first love. I was burnt out, burned up and defeated. God in His grace broke my heart. I missed intimacy with Jesus. I am so grateful that Jesus made me a servant to others – to ministers, missionaries, the church and the suffering around the world.
In recent years, God has called me to meditate on His Word, research history and spend much time in prayer. When I pray, most of my time is spent primarily seeking to hear God’s heart. In my weekly commentaries and through the LIFE Today television program, I have been sharing the impressions, concerns and directions He has given me while praying. Hopefully you can hear God’s heart with supernatural enabling through what I share.
In this commentary, I will communicate the impressions and messages that come as I seek to know the mind of God. It will be up to you, along with me and other godly counselors I consult, to discern if what I hear is His heart and His word. I find what I hear consistent with scripture. If I could not, I would seriously question what I heard or thought I heard. Keep in mind, when we pray, we seek insight, instruction, wisdom and divine guidance related to every aspect of life. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice,” and I believe Him.
As I have prayed and listened, these are impressions that came to my mind:
I can be an answer and help others be an answer to Jesus’ prayers. It is important – even imperative – that we seek to become one with the Father’s heart just as Jesus was. Our Lord did not pray amiss. It is possible! As Christians we can be perfected in supernatural unity and heart harmony.
Love never fails, but is seldom fully received or freely released. Its eternal effect is not always revealed within our expected time frame. Last week the Spirit of God overwhelmed me as I sensed His joy over the possibility of believers coming together to put His arms around a suffering world.
During the past 12 months, God has made it very clear to me that our nation stumbles because the church slumbers. Our national freedom will be lost if Christians do not allow God in His power to set them free from the bondage of this present world and become light piercing the darkness and helping illuminate the way to restore freedom’s foundation. Only an act of God can give elected representatives the dedication, determination, tenacity and wisdom to hammer out the details necessary to correct national problems related to taxation, immigration, the economy, national security, social concerns, injustice and lawlessness.
Idolatry is the issue. Individually and nationally the first of the Ten Commandments is too freely cast aside. God is not first for many church goers, professing Christians or citizens of the United States, even as they carry money with “In God We Trust” written on it. All who hold to idols are fellowshiping with demons. Idolaters are jerked around like puppets on strings. Who is pulling the strings of your heart? Who is farming the field of your life?
Money is not our problem; the love of money is the problem. This leads to all manner of evil expressions and foolish trust in false gods. The fertile field of opportunity and freedom is not the problem. The farmer who does not understand that his own life is to be God’s cultivated field and His fruitful garden is the problem. We must give God the field of our lives and let Him root out any weeds that can hinder fruitfulness. God wants us to be rooted and grounded in love. He wants believers to be fruitful and multiply His blessings.
Government is not God and must never be presented as all-provident or foolishly perceived as such. Once God is not first and the primary pursuit of our heart, we will foolishly look to inappropriate sources and ineffective solutions. It is a crime to allow children to think anyone owes them a life or a living. There is not an affective charitable act on this planet apart from compassion in action – hands out, not just hand-outs.
I will close with this clear and startling image: When I witnessed the rage and riots in Greece, God spoke to my heart very clearly: “What you see is a microcosm of what will happen here in the United States if we do not see a return to God and a spiritual awakening within the church. Businesses and corporations will be attacked and ransacked. Normal activity will be disrupted. Perceived luxury items (cars and houses) subject to damage. Anything giving the appearance of success or prosperity will be damaged. Darkness will prevail spiritually and energy sources will be short-circuited. Communication lines will be severed. All this organized by evil factions who are controlled by the powers of darkness and who are the enemies of liberating truth and true freedom.” God forbid that Islamic extremists should get their hands on nuclear weapons. The former Soviet threat pales in comparison with what these radicals desire to unleash on the United States and our allies.
Misguided media and manipulators of people will place blame on and accuse those who have dared to proclaim the truth as being a major cause of the riotous acts. People who are filled with love, compassion and truth will be blamed for the despicable acts perpetrated by those who seek to bring the United States and free nations under their control.
The only possibility of preventing such actions will be the love and power of God released through the people of faith. There will be no healthy redirection of this nation apart from God’s wisdom along with the influence and the bold witness of Spirit-filled God-loving Christians. The government and martial law will not be adequate. God is the answer and His love expressed freely through His people is the only way to miss what will surely come our way apart from repentance and the return to truth and to the God of our fathers. Consider Nineveh! Repentance offers hope.
I have been sharing and will continue to share the impressions I have while praying and seeking God’s will with all my heart. When you spend much time with someone and get to know them well, it’s amazing how clearly you hear and recognize their voice. Because I do hear God’s heart, I am unable to hold back the release of the river of love, truth and concern that fills my heart to overflowing.
God has not just given me a sermon, He has given me a message. A sermon is often about something, but a message is to someone. A sermon is heard, but a message must be heeded. Sermons are preached. Messages are delivered. There is a difference. The latter demands a response and calls for immediate, appropriate action. As with hearing God, messages from Him will always be in perfect harmony with the Word of God.
The invitation of Jesus to come as little chicks to the shelter and shadow of His covering is the image I keep seeing and the clear word that I keep hearing. He offered this invitation while praying over Jerusalem and He could see clearly the coming desolation because God’s Word through the prophets had been spurned. If Christians will pray and listen and then stand boldly and fearlessly, faith and freedom will prevail. I am praying continually, “Oh Lord, let us hear and respond to Your invitation and not experience the desolation that can be avoided through your grace and our response to Your heart and Your Word.”