PRAYER IN THE SPIRIT (Part 9)

Three years ago I began to mentor a 43 year old man in my home town whom my younger brother had led to the Lord. He also received the baptism with the Holy Spirit at that time. This man began praying in other tongues extensively from the very beginning of his conversion.

Here’s the latest: This brother has continued to pray in tongues quite regularly and now a new phenomenon is happening. He is uttering names in prayer that he doesn’t even know. This is the only way you could pray for all saints because you don’t know all the saints. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…” (Eph 6:18). This is real prayer in the Spirit.

One day when I was a young student in Bible school a praying man named Phil Halverson was called up to the platform to pray. When he prayed it seemed like heaven opened and a spirit of prayer consumed everybody. I had never heard anyone pray with such unction and inspiration before. He would speak out names of people and places in prayer that he didn’t even know. One time when he was just learning to pray this way it was reported that he was frequently uttering the words “Cookie” and “Candy”. Brother Halverson, wanting some assurance that he was on safe and scriptural grounds, spoke to the late Kenneth Hagin, a man of great spiritual stature, about this new phenomenon that was occuring in his prayer life. Hagin laughed because it turns out that those were the nicknames of his two granddaughters. Again, this is real prayer in the Spirit.

I remember also hearing a testimony of one of the pioneers of the Pentecostal movement in the early 1900’s before there was any organization among them. The only way they could communicate was in the Spirit. One day the Holy Spirit told this pioneer pastor to go over to another state and raise up a young pastor who was dying. That sounds alot like Ananias being instructed by the Lord in the Spirit to go and minister to Saul. Specific details were given concerning Saul’s exact location and condition, and calling (Acts 9:10-18). I’m afraid sometimes we can be so organized that we organize the Holy Spirit right out of our affairs and prayers. If you carefully examine the book of Acts you will find continual communication in the Spirit.

As we’ve discussed in this blog series, prayer is communion in the Spirit. We know to pray for certain things the Bible instructs to pray for, but it would be impossible to pray for things we don’t know about except it be in the Spirit. For instance, I know what to pray for concerning me and my life and family, but I don’t always know about others. I think one of the greatest values of being baptized with the Spirit is the value of receiving our prayer language of tongues so that we are able to then pray for things we do not know about.

The apostle Paul speaks of two kinds of praying in 1 Cor 14:14-15; praying with our spirits and praying with our understanding. Praying with our own understanding would be praying with our own minds and mental faculties. This is very limited praying because it is based on your own limited knowledge. But praying with our spirits is praying with God’s understanding which is unlimited knowledge. You see, all praying is not necessarily spiritual. Some of it is purely in the mental realm. For the most part, the Church has failed because it has endeavored to carry out the work of God only with mental praying.

“For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom 8:26)

P.C. Nelson, a prominent Greek scholar, said that the end of v 26 reads this way in the Greek: “groanings which cannot be uttered in articulate speech (which is our regular kind of speech)”. This would include praying in tongues. Have you ever prayed and inspiration just wells up within you that you cannot express in mere words of your own understanding? That is the Holy Spirit helping you.

We don’t know how to pray as we should sometimes. For example, we can pray for all those in authority as the Word instructs us (1 Tim 2:1-2), but we don’t know all that’s facing them and what is happening behind the scenes many times. The Holy Spirit does, however, and He wants to help us pray into those areas. A prayer where you say, “God bless all those in authority” or “God bless so and so” is a bit shallow and inadequate. When you only pray mentally with your own understanding you often come to a wall where you know that your prayers are insufficient to bring forth the desired result.

At times you don’t feel too much inspiration in prayer, but other times you feel like bursting. Usually it is somewhere inbetween. We need to understand, though, that even when there’s no inspiration, we can start out in faith and move into the Spirit by praying in other tongues. Thank God we don’t have to wait around for a spirit of ecstacy to fill us before we can pray this way. It is difficult to explain the real value derived from praying in the Spirit or in other tongues to someone who has never experienced it.

The spiritual realm is not real to many Christians because we live so much of the time in the physical and mental realms. We make so much noise with our minds. Making a practice of praying in tongues and meditating on the Word will help our minds get quiet. It will take time, but you can get to the place where you learn the Spirit’s touch, and you hear Him speaking to you by revelation or alerting you to something in prayer. The knowledge of certain things will just come into your spirit.

Oh, I’m so hungry to know Him in a deeper way, and pray into places I’ve never prayed before, aren’t you?

To be continued…

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PRAYER: ABIDING IN HIM (Part 8)

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

Jesus enjoyed unbroken fellowship with the heavenly Father. He left us with the Holy Spirit so we can enjoy the same quality of fellowship. Our lives will be marked with a deepening conformity to His image when we learn to enjoy daily communion with Him.

When an angel appeared to Cornelius in Acts 10 he told him that his prayers and giving had come up as a memorial before God. In other words, the memorial in Cornelius’ life was the character of his heart. The memorial in your life is what you are doing inwardly toward God. What is the focus of your heart? The quality of your prayer life is determined by the focus and condition of your heart.

Most Christians find it very difficult to think of God outside of church services, church functions, and doctrines, or a few minutes in their prayer closet and devotional life. To say it another way, most believers do not have a God-focus in the totality of their lives. As I mentioned before, they have a compartmentalized mentality when it comes to their relationship with the Lord.

Often we are unable to think of God except in terms of assemblies, creeds, denominations, programs, campaigns, drives, preachers, and buildings etc. These things, although useful, can often rob us of the true mind of the Lord and hinder you from cultivating the blessed life of unbroken communion with Him. It is so easy to become taken up with a thousand different things, even Christianity itself, while your personal fellowship with Him is forgotten.

On the other hand, it is possible for someone to pray 8 hours a day and still not experience much of God outside of their prayer closet. I know some people who pray less, but experience the Lord more in the totality of their daily life. Why is that? What makes the difference? It is simply because the entire motivation of their lives is loving Him whether they are doing “spiritual” work, or menial and mundane every day work, whether they are in their prayer closet, or work place. When you realize that your entire life is a contribution to the glory of God, you will start learning what it means to pray without ceasing. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thes 5:17-18)

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col 3:17)

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)

Learning to abide in the Lord, becoming aware of Him every moment, and seeing Him in every part of our lives is the real key to an enhanced and enriched prayer life. It is a walk with God where you experience Him in every kind of environment, good and not so good. With most of us, when things are going well, we experience more of God, but when there are adverse circumstances and obstacles in our lives we don’t experience as much of Him, or none of Him at all.

For example, you’re driving to a very important meeting, and on the way you get a flat tire. It’s real cold outside and you forgot your gloves so you have a hard time changing that tire. You’re frustrated because you’re going to miss the meeting. You count your whole day ruined. You fight your emotions. You fight the devil. You’re upset. This is where most of us live, isn’t it? What’s the problem? How do we get past that and still experience God in adverse circumstances?

Here’s what it is for the guy with the flat tire. His focus is wrong. His focus was not God; it was getting to the meeting. If we’re not careful, we step into an agenda or a list of things we’ve got to do, and that becomes our focus instead of Him.

Your environment changes when you focus on anything but Jesus. And it’s not even so much that the environment itself changes, but you change in that environment. You walk into a store to purchase a few things, and someone you know sees you there and wants to talk to you. They want to share a testimony with you, or worse yet, spill all their troubles to you, or just chit-chat with you about life. But you have things you got to get done, and this is the only day in the week you can do it so you start getting frustrated, grieved, and by the time the conversation ends you are upset because you wasted so much time. The reason you are this way is because you are not able to see God in that moment.

A mind-set with an agenda as its’ focus usually winds up missing God in many aspects of their life. We’ve got to learn to live moment by moment with one desire – not the desire of my agenda, not the desire of what I want, but one sole desire: to enjoy the Lord moment by moment and cultivate that. So if you get a flat tire, or some person or circumstance interrupts your day’s agenda you say: “God, you’re with me, I’ve got everything, and I have no wants.” And then often you find that God works everything out where your supposed delays become opportunities instead of disappointments.

Abiding in the Lord is best illustrated by the relationship between a caboose and a locomotive. The caboose is the end of the train and it cannot go anywhere without being attached to the locomotive. The focus of that caboose is just staying connected to the locomotive. The caboose is not trying to get anywhere. Its’ entire purpose is only to stay attached. It has removed itself from it’s own efforts to get somewhere. It should be the same with us. We are not trying to get anywhere. We’re enjoying Him in the now.

Until next time…

PRAYER: SEEING GOD (Part 7)

Much of the content in this blog came from a conversation with a pastor friend of mine, for my upcoming father-son book. Some of these paragraphs were direct quotes from him. He chose to remain anonymous.

But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:40-42)

Inspect your life and soul and find out what things pull you out of the Spirit and from a place of rest. Watch for things that take you out of a love walk and bring offense or anxiety.

It is as men live that they pray. How you live affects the way you pray, and vice versa; how you pray affects the way you live. Some Christians want their prayers answered, but they’re not that interested in having a real relationship with the Lord. Frankly, at this stage of my life and spiritual growth that is a hard one to wrap my mind around. Why wouldn’t any born again believer want to deepen their relationship with the Lord? It can only be because they have not yet seen Him in all His love, beauty, and grace.

When some Christians do not receive what they ask of the Lord they become despondent very quickly. To them prayer is getting their needs met or receiving their desires, and when they don’t receive they develop an attitude. On the other hand, when they do receive their answer or their need and desire met, they don’t always continue to fellowship with God. Any normal relationship becomes strained if all one person wants is material benefits. It is like a young boy who receives a much desired gift or toy from his father, but then he just spends all his time with the toy and never spends time with his father. That may be normal for a baby Christian or a young convert, but it is an infantile state of Christianity. We must move on from there and grow in our relationship with God. He wants us to enjoy His gifts and be thankful for them, no question about it, but we’ve got to graduate to a higher place of enjoying Him.

Fellowship is the reason God created man. Work on your fellowship and friendship with Jesus. Your faith will automatically work better then. Faith and love are twins. When you learn to love the Lord and fellowship with Him your faith works better. Faith works by love (Gal 5:6). Don’t trade your fellowship for a formula, or for anything else in life for that matter.

Lack of focus on the Lord will turn your fellowship into a formula – a mechanical something. Most people’s lifestyles rule them to such an extent that they have no focus toward God. They live so much in the flesh and in the natural realm that they become a very soulish person who may even quote the Word, but they never learn to abide in the Lord. Sanctify the Lord in your heart (1 Pet 3:15).

SEE GOD

What does that mean? It means that you’ve got to cultivate an ability to see God in everything. Most Christians only see God in the good things, but not the bad. This greatly affects their fellowship. It’s a compartment mentality. In other words, believers recognize that God wants them to have a full, abundant, and prosperous life (John 10:10). When good things are happening in their lives God is there, but in difficult moments, they can’t see Him. It has to be the devil.

The problem with that mentality is that it stops you from being able to see God in every circumstance. Most believers’ ability to see God has to do with their environment and their circumstances, so their faith is very limited. We as believers have to grow past that.

Like most believers do, I’ve always rejoiced in the Lord when everything was calm and good. And I’d often rejoice in the Lord when things were not so good, but I used to do it from a heady knowledge because I knew I should. But it did not include an ability to see God at that moment. I saw the kingdom of darkness and I saw the kingdom of light. It was almost as if God appears one day and then all hell breaks loose, and in my mind He wasn’t there. It’s me and the devil having a fist fight. The devil got in and I had to get him out. And in my thinking I had to break through that hell to find God again.

Then I started thinking differently in that God is always present, and He doesn’t change. Yes, life and circumstances change, but God is still omnipresent. God is still immutable. When your faith becomes developed to such an extent that you’re able to recognize that God is here, He’s always here, then you’re going to start looking for Him even in difficult moments. When I say looking for Him in difficult moments, I’m not talking about looking for Him to get you out of difficult moments. Of course you don’t expect difficult moments, but the Lord makes it very clear that we’re going to have trials, and we’re going to have hardships.

I don’t expect difficult moments, but I’m not going to set myself up for false expectations to believe that the day is going to be absent from potential trials. I already have an understanding that I’m going to experience those things perhaps today, tomorrow, or a week, or a year from now. Those things are going to come my way, but the great news is that God is with me. Again, it’s developing a moment by moment consciousness and awareness of God, and learning to abide in Him even in rough times.

Most believers are always looking for God to resolve their problems. And of course we want God to resolve our problems, but we’ve got to learn to love God even in the midst of our problems. I want to learn to enjoy God in the midst of my difficult circumstances. When I enjoy God in difficult circumstances, the circumstances become different. They have a whole different flavor to them. They don’t represent defeat any more. They don’t represent fear any more.

This fresh perspective can help a lot of believers learn to abide in the Lord. Most Christians rightly believe that God is good and the devil is bad. So they fight the bad and believe for the good. But we never have any rest in the bad, do we? And the reason we don’t have rest in the bad is because we really don’t have the kind of faith that we need in the bad.

The faith that we really need to enjoy life is to see Him. That’s the real faith, when we see Him. It’s not so much what He does for us; that’s good, that’s great. Thank God He’s forever taking care of us, but it goes beyond that. When I can see Him, when my faith is developed to see Him in all circumstances, then it brings me to a great place of rest.

And that resting place is the abiding place in God.

I’ll share a few more secrets about walking with God in our next blog. This is gold, and it will absolutely revolutionize your life. Stay tuned…

PRAYER: THE LANGUAGE OF THE SPIRIT (Part 6)

I’ve stated repeatedly that prayer is communication with God. It’s not one way – not a monologue, but a dialogue. It takes His voice, His presence, and intimacy with the Lord to really experience Him. This is the reason prayer is boring to most Christians – it’s void of the reality of His presence and voice. Christians must experience God to enjoy Him.

If I met you on the street and just said, “hello, how are you?”, and went my way, would you say that I experienced you? But if instead, I sat down with you and told you how much I loved and appreciated you, and how precious and valuable you were to me, and you reciprocated the same way back to me, could you then better say that we experienced one another? You see, prayer is not just what you say, but what you hear. What are you hearing in prayer? “You dirty backslider, why are you always sinning? Why don’t you get your life cleaned up and start obeying Me?”, or some version of that, is what some people only hear. This is one of the biggest reasons many Christians do not experience or enjoy God. They don’t see Him as He is. They don’t know His character. They are guilt-ridden and always accusing themselves.

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:18-22).

Loving in action, and not in word only, produces assurance in the face of our Father. Now, if you are not living right before God, then your own heart will condemn you. You certainly cannot enjoy God living a life that you know is displeasing to Him. You will have no confidence in prayer. But God is greater than our hearts and is always working on our behalf to bring us back into fellowship with Him. He is for us, and not against us. He will never keep us from His presence by pointing out our sins and shortcomings.

If you had an employer who was always reprimanding you and pointing out your mistakes only, would you want to work for him? I think not. God our Father does correct us, as all good earthly fathers do, but that is not all He does? Do you see God as only an employer that you go to work for? If so, that is as far as your fellowship will go. At the same time, if you only see Him as a pie in the sky sort of God – a Santa Claus, a vending machine who beckons at your every whim and whine, then you are still very limited in your image of Him.

Knowing God is a lifelong process. We are all at different stages of growth, and God treats us according to our level of maturity. Again, a good earthly father has that much sense. You don’t treat your 3 year old son like you do your 16 year old. Our heavenly Father is the same way.

I want to help you develop in your hearing so that your communion with God will not be a monologue only. What do you hear in prayer? How do you hear? How do you see God? How do you see yourself in relation to Him? It takes a real knowledge of the Word to understand God’s true manifold character and beauty, and how He sees humanity especially His own children.

For example, one day I read a verse, Mark 16:9, and was arrested. I was intrigued by the fact that Jesus’ first post-resurrection appearance was to a woman who used to have 7 devils. The Holy Spirit highlighted this verse to me and I stopped to meditate on it. The words spoke to me deeply about the otherworldliness and beauty of our God, and it made me want to love Him and know Him more. In the greatest moment ever in human history Jesus did not seek out the king, or governor, or some magistrate or important figure to tell the news of His resurrection to. He went to a former lowly woman of ill repute who probably once lived the gutter life on the streets. Most mere men would never go that route and visit such a one after a marked moment in history of the most glorious resurrection ever. This is just one example of a multitude of others demonstrating just one facet of God’s character.

The magnificent attributes of God should encourage love, faith, prayer, and praise in us. Most sincere Christians love God, but they are not too crazy about themselves. Again, the Word will help us here in seeing ourselves in Christ, no longer as sinners, but as new creations, and His beloved sons and daughters. The problem with many of us is in the area of unforgiveness; not only forgiving others, but forgiving ourselves. Many of us remember our sins of yesterday which we repented of that God has long forgotten. Too many Christians beat themselves over the head for sins of the past. Forgetting the past is one of the great secrets of living free and being able to draw close to God.

When a true believer sins there are two voices that will immediately speak to him. One is the voice of accusation which breeds condemnation. The other is the voice of correction which fosters conviction. Knowing the difference will allow you to jump a major hurdle that keeps many believers out of close fellowship with God. When Satan accuses the believer it crushes your motivation to try again. But when the Holy Spirit convicts the believer it is gentle, peaceable, and easy to be received and motivates you to keep moving forward with God.

Obedience is what will give your heart assurance before God. So once you’ve received God’s mercy and forgiveness, go on and receive His grace that empowers you to obey God.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16).

Mercy is for our sins and failures. Grace is to help us and empower us in our weaknesses. You see, God is always working for us so we can come boldly and confidently before Him and enjoy His presence.

PRAYER: THE LANGUAGE OF THE SPIRIT (Part 5)

“And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Gen 5:24)

Enoch got so close to God He took him to heaven. That verse in the Amplified Bible reads this way:

“And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him].”

I love the expression, “Enoch walked in habitual fellowship with God”. And then, “God took him home with Him.” Wow!

Prayer is walking with God. It is habitual fellowship with God. You can walk so close to God that you feel like you’re in heaven. It is cultivating a receptivity and sensitivity to His presence that will move you toward this richness of communion with him.

One day a man asked the Lord this question: “What is it you desire, Lord? What is on your heart?

The Lord responded: “I enjoy it when my people just like being with me, not asking anything of me, just enjoying me, for it is then that we enter into true communion and fellowship. This is my great desire; fellowship — to be with my people, that my people would enjoy me for just being me. This is true worship.”

I weep when I read that for it touches me deeply.

Many people only pray when there is a crisis. “Help!” they cry out. And the Lord does help them.

Others pray like they are taking an order at a restaurant. “I’ll have a hamburger and a small order of fries.” And the Lord will deliver.

Others pray as if they are on a business trip. “There’s a job to be done.” Yes, there is, but it’s in Him that it will get done.

Yet others will use praise and worship as a means of manipulating an answer from the Lord. “Like if I just praise Him enough He will send the answer.” And in spite of us, He often will.

When you think about it, though, how many really have learned to walk with the Lord as a close friend? This is the kind of walk that is really valued by the Lord.

Loneliness and sorrow fill the heart of the Lord for those of His children who treat what He’s done for them with so little respect and are caught up in this world’s pleasures.

Think for a moment about creation. God called everything He created good, especially man.

“Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you…” (Jer 1:5)

I love Psalm 139 for it contains God’s perfect knowledge of man.

“I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (v 14)

The psalmist seems to pour through the knowledge God has of him in these verses, and then from a heart enlightened to God’s beauty, he exults forth toward the end of his reflection with this phrase:

“How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”

Have you ever thought of your own uniqueness and how God fashioned you? He took time and effort in the design of every human being, and he loves them equally well. Your likes and dislikes are a product of his imagination. He thought you up.

My wife Carolyn loves roller coasters. I’m afraid of them! The higher they go, the faster they roll, the more Carolyn loves them. She will scream with silliness. God put that “like” in her. I made the mistake one time of going on one with her and I about died. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I was holding on to her leg all the way down (LOL). Some people think I’m bold and brave, but I’m a real chicken when it comes to that stuff. I don’t like heights. God put that “dislike” in me. You can’t change me (LOL) so don’t try. And yet I like to fly on airplanes because God knew I’d be a traveling preacher.

Before God even made the earth he thought of how he would shape our personalities, our circumstances, our time of birth and purpose in this life etc. for all human beings who have ever lived.

What about those born into difficult circumstances? God put enough ability and strength in them to overcome every difficulty as they seek him.

What about babies and innocent children who die or are killed? They’re with Jesus! And he will display the exceeding riches of his grace and his kindness to them in the ages to come (Eph 2:7).

God is fair and just and none of us will be able to find fault with him on judgment day.

Your prayer life and fellowship with God will change when you get your perception of him right. Your prayer life and fellowship with God will change when you get his perception of you right. How do you see Him? And how do you see yourself in relation to him?

You are his beloved. He’s waiting for you. He enjoys you. You are your Father’s child. You are your Savior’s prized and purchased possession. He longs for your friendship. Grace to learn to walk with him habitually abounds to you now. Selah.

 

­PRAYER: THE LANGUAGE OF THE SPIRIT (Part 4)

I was raised in the Roman Catholic church. When I was in the Roman Catholic Church I did not enjoy communion with God. Being raised according to the traditions of men and not according to true Biblical knowledge, everything was dead, including the poor priest himself, whom we called father. Spiritual life had not yet come into me. Then one day when I called on the name of Jesus in faith, and was gloriously converted and received that life, I was immediately reconciled to God. My first promptings were to call God Father. I was no longer an orphan. Thus began my relationship and true fellowship with God.

One of the earliest words I remember hearing in my spirit from the Father as a very young believer were these: “Like the apostle John and his brother James I use to be a son of thunder until the Lord my God tucked me under His wing, nursed me, cared for me, and patched up my wounds. Then He sent me from the nest into all the world and I became a lovebird, sharing that great love with others wherewith the Lord my God loved me first.” — I wrote it down and dated it: 12/8/82

Some people might say that this wasn’t a prophecy, but they are mistaken. All prophecy is not from heaven to earth, and doesn’t need to have “thus saith the Lord” attached to it. You can readily see that in the Psalms when David and others were speaking to God. Inspired utterances can be from earth to heaven, and often are, when you are speaking to God under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Actually, under the unction of the Spirit prayer can be both ways, from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven.

That personal word I received might not mean much to anyone else, but it meant something to me and has come to pass in my life, and still is. There is word of wisdom in that word. When a person is born again he is awakened on the inside to the Spirit of truth. Then when he gets baptized into that Spirit, begins praying in tongues, and learns the Word, his spirit becomes more fine-tuned to hear the Lord. The Spirit of truth will speak whatever He hears and will show you things to come (John 16:13). What a promise!

There are many different ways God will speak to us and lead us, but the most common is by the inward witness – that velvety-like feeling on the inside, that peace, that know-so in your spirit. In the busy-ness of life with all its’ distractions and many voices, that witness is not always clear. Praying in other tongues and meditating on the Word will help sensitize that part of your being that communes with God and that inward witness will be stronger.

When Spirit-filled Christians come to me with a decision-making situation in their lives when they don’t know what to do, I’ll sometimes tell them to go pray for two hours in tongues, and when they’re through, they’ll usually know what to do. It really works if you’ll stay out of your natural mind.

The spirit of prophecy in prayer is what makes prayer enjoyable for me – when you are praying with the help and unction of the Spirit. This is real dialogue with God when you are speaking to Him and He is speaking to you either through prophecy, revelation, or interpretation of tongues. Many cannot tell the difference yet because they are still operating strictly out of their souls (minds) and not their spirits. With exercise and use in praying in other tongues and meditating in the Word that operation can change.

I think one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in prayer was in 2002 during an extended season of prayer and fasting, when through the excessive use of praying in tongues, I located the channel of my inner ear and heard God speak beautiful things to me. When that season of extensive prayer was over I had 30 documents worth of notes of God’s wisdom and counsel to me. In 2009 I put it in a book called, The Journal Of A Journey To His Holiness. Recently one woman minister read it and told me that it was the most powerful heartfelt message she’d ever read in 28 years of ministry. I was humbled and greatly encouraged by her testimony.

Why did this dear sister speak so highly of this book? Because she was edified by its’ words. The words were born in God’s heart and came forth under an unction of the Spirit through His interpretive processes. When you pray in tongues especially with interpretation there should be edification. If you are not being edified and built up in prayer, then something is wrong.

Most of my prayer life is not asking God for my personal needs. I’ve rolled the care of those needs upon Him. Now from time to time I may ask for prayer and agreement from close friends concerning a pressing situation or a need in my life or ministry, but for the most part, my prayer life consists of ministering to the Lord in worship, praise, and thanksgiving and praying in other tongues. From that place then there is often revelation, guidance, and direction, and the inward witness of the Spirit is stronger with more assurance.

Saints, you can learn to pray this way! Yes, you can; yes, you can! Start praying in other tongues more. Your spirit has a voice. Your spirit has a language. It’s not English, or Spanish, or French, or German, or any other language known to man. Your spirit’s language is a heavenly language. It’s the linguistics of the kingdom of God. And what a joy it is when your pent-up, stuffy spirit has the privilege of praying in this language and speaking msyteries to God. Glory!!!

PRAYER: THE LANGUAGE OF THE SPIRIT (Part 3)

“Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.  What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” (1 Cor 14:13-15)

There’s nothing that satisfies the heart like having a personal, intimate, and growing relationship with the heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Enhancing our communion with God should be the ultimate quest of every born again believer.

Just beyond your eyesight – just beyond what you feel and know with your physical senses – just beyond the thinness of this veil of humanity is a spiritual world that is more real than the natural world. It is a realm where God works, and in which His angels minister provision, protection, and strength to us. Are you seriously aware of this invisible world?

I wonder what would happen if you started looking within your inward man. Turn off the world and everything around you, and turn to the sacred Scriptures and reflect on who God is to you. Then start turning to prayer and worshipping God, and getting quiet in your daily life and listening for a word, a phrase, and impression from Him. It may come in the way of direction or counsel from heaven to earth, or it may come in a psalm or a spiritual song of love and praise from earth to heaven. Over the years I’ve compiled some of these inspired psalms and songs that the Spirit of God has given me. Here’s a beautiful one:

PURE PLEASURE

Not all pleasure is pure, for seasons of sin,
Thought to be pleasure, turn to misery again.
But oh, of all pleasures in this earth defined
None are so pure as My Savior divine
Ecstacy fills me when to near Him I draw
Joy and delight in the heart when He calls
His voice bellows clear and I know it is Him
The conscience is quiet, cleansed of all sin
Oh purest of pleasures, to my taste ‘tis too sweet
To be in Thy presence and to sit at Thy feet

These types of utterances edify you. They don’t come from a song book and are not rehearsed. Rather they are Spirit-inspired and they build you up, fill you up, teach and admonish you (Eph 5:18-19) (Col 3:16). These utterances can be spoken or sung and they should be a part of every believer’s prayer life. They greatly enrich your communion with the Lord. You can find more of them on the home page our website.

One of my spiritual fathers, the late Kenneth E. Hagin, whom I referred to in Part 1 of this blog series, taught me these things. He told his students that he made this a regular practice of speaking in psalms in his prayer life, and a few times he had even spoken in psalms all night to God. What a prayer life!

Start opening the lines of communication in a different manner with God. Start believing deep down in your heart that you are a person of value and that God the Father cares about you so very much. Talk to Him as if He was present, right there where you are. Your expectation and intensity will rise when you pray and believe into the now. When you commune with God in a concentrated and focused way like this you are creating a space in the spiritual realm where God can work and move. Too many people’s prayers are not faith-filled so they are void of this reality. Being aware that God is always ever present with you is one of the great secrets of cultivating rich communion with Him.

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 20-21)

God calls you beloved. Let that soak in. See yourself in that high precious state of saintliness. You need a personal revelation of how dear you are to God your Father. This is where many believers falter. They labor under condemnation and being so familiar with their own weaknesses and shortcomings, but God doesn’t see that. He sees your new spirit, your burning heart for Him, your yearning desire to know Him and please Him, and your eagerness to learn to commune with Him. God delights in His saints (Ps 16:3).

Our heavenly Father tells you to be built up on your most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, thus keeping yourself in the love of God. Here once again we see the significance of praying in the Spirit or in other tongues. It stimulates our faith and keeps us in His love. This happens through our communion with Him.

Remember that your spirit uses your tongue to speak in the same way your mind does. The difference is that when your spirit speaks in tongues you are speaking to God. You’re talking to Him, but without the limitations of your mind by which you are often unable to know what to say to God. Your spirit is the only part of you that is unlimited.

Reach out to God this year further than you ever have before. Let your spirit rise to the realm where God and His angels live. Believe right now that you are capable of knowing God in a new dimension.

PRAYER: THE LANGUAGE OF THE SPIRIT (Part 2)

“Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.  14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” (1 Cor 14:13-15)

Many churches take advantage of the beginning of each New Year and make a call for renewed consecration and prayer. In this light, we want to encourage every saint to press into God in prayer and seek Him with all their heart as we start 2014.

Prayer is fellowship and communion with God. If it is done right, prayer can be the most delightful and exhilarating aspect of your life. If you do not enjoy prayer then something is wrong. If you are in right standing with God and have received your spiritual prayer language of new tongues you should be enjoying daily communion with God, the Father of your spirit.

One reason many saints do not enjoy prayer is because they do not know the Word of God. Knowledge of the Word is necessary to have an effective life in prayer. Many things people pray about are either unscriptural or the Word of God already gives you the answer. For example, one Christian man was praying about whether he should marry an unbelieving woman. Well, the Word already forbids it (2 Cor 6:14-16) so there is no need to pray about that. Another woman, after praying and fasting to find out what God wanted her to do for Him, supposedly heard Him tell her to pass out tracts and witness. Again, the Word already tells us to do that (Mk 16:15).

Actually, if you think about it, feeding on the Word is a spiritual type of communion with God. You’re being fed by Him as the Spirit of God unveils precious truths to your spirit. A lack in feeding yourself on the Word will result in a low grade of fellowship with God. Your faith will lose its aggressiveness and the flesh will gain the ascendancy in your life. When you neglect feeding your spirit on the Word of God the reality of divine things will grow dim and your physical senses will rule you. This downward cycle will cause you to lose initiative in prayer and only lead to a gradual decline in true communion with God.

Another reason many professing Christians don’t enjoy prayer is due to a lack of spiritual appetite. I have known some young believers who were very young in the Word, but who had a ravenous appetite to know God. This alone will lead someone to seek God even if all they know how to do is pray in tongues and pour out their hearts to Him. Hunger for God is a wonderful thing and will access places in the Spirit that otherwise could not be accessed.

You can really increase your prayer life by simply using your will and desire to get in tune with God in your spirit. You can do this willingly and deliberately by meditating on the Lord and His Word, and praying in the Spirit, even while you’re busy and doing other things, as well as when you’re alone and quiet. If you are hungry for God, you can have Him moving inside you so naturally, so completely, that He fills your thoughts and your very being. Communing with God “in the Spirit” can become second-nature to you and as natural and easy as breathing. God is a speaking Spirit and you are a speaking spirit so you and God should be speaking to one another constantly.

One of the ways to speak to God is “in the Spirit” or in tongues. One of the ways God speaks to you is to pray in tongues and ask Him to enable you to interpret back to your understanding His response (1 Cor 14:13-15). When you are experiencing the Lord this way you immediately shift to a higher level of prayer. Your ears become keen to His words, revelation, and inspired utterances. This is one of the great divine mediums of communication with God. May you always remember to speak with reverence about this prayer language called new tongues (Mk 16:17b). The devil has made a mockery of it through unlearned and ignorant human beings, but it is one of the greatest methods of communication with God.

I have enjoyed a number of heightened seasons of prayer in my life when my hearing became acutely sensitive to the Lord. Like many of you, it has not been nearly as consistent as I would have it be, due wholly to my own negligence and carelessness. But when you are in that place and being enriched by the communion of the Holy Spirit it is like an awakening. The reality and nearness of the Lord lingers with you all day long sometimes. And even the memory of it will whet your appetite for more.

My experience has been that the more I pray in tongues, the more internal revelation, interpretation, and inspired utterances move in me. You can find some marvelous recorded examples of this on the home page of our website (www.holy-fire.org). The way I learned to pray this way was to spend extensive amounts of time praying in tongues. The more I did that the more I fine-tuned my spirit to hear.

Often I’d hear one or two words, or a phrase, and then under that unction I’d speak that out in praise or in prophecy as more words would come. When I’d sense more of an internal revelation and the counsel of the Lord moving in me I’d reach for a pen and a pad or a recorder so I wouldn’t miss what He was saying. My wife Carolyn flows in the latter even more prolifically than I do.

This is the language of the Spirit. This is true communication with God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit. This is the glory of every New Testament saint.

Stay tuned for part 3 as we keep blogging on the theme of prayer this month.

PRAYER: THE LANGUAGE OF THE SPIRIT

“Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.  14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (1 Cor 14:13-15)

Dearly beloved, every New Year I set out to do one thing – deepen my communion with God our Father. Like many of you, I fall so short of where I feel I should be in my prayer life. To stir myself, I love to read books on prayer and biographies on men of deep prayer. Once my hunger is stirred my prayer life increases.

In the final days of 2013 I went into my archives and listened to an audio teaching from 25 years ago on conversational prayer by the late Kenneth E. Hagin. Every time I listen to this teaching, my desire to know God immediately swells up within me. Dad Hagin, as so many affectionately called him, is one of two spiritual fathers I’ve ever had. He is the greatest man of prayer I’ve ever known. In the audio he not only teaches, but demonstrates how to pray in dialogue with God.

Recently we made this teaching available to those on our Prayer Jotter email list, but it is always with caution lest people get carried away and attempt to pray this way in the flesh. Often even sincere people who are genuinely hungry to know God can become insensible and even weird through misunderstanding such teachings. In this audio teaching Hagin takes a few minutes to expound on how he cultivated conversational prayer with God in his own life, clearly stating that it did not happen overnight.

While warning people not to misunderstand conversational prayer and attempt to manufacture praying this way in the flesh, Hagin also inspires the people not to communicate with God religiously, but as a Father and a friend. As was his custom, Dad also injects humor on how a Pentecostal pastor overheard him praying this way in his room one time, and told others how “Hagin prays the funniest prayers I’ve ever heard” and how he talks to himself. Such a statement from a Pentecostal pastor reveals the ignorance of what even some ministers understand of real prayer.

Last year was a year of growth and development in both my wife and I in praying this way. It seemed to me like we received more revelation in one year than all the years of our Christian lives put together. We filled an entire journal full of notes of the enlightment and understanding we received in prayer from the Spirit of truth. Our prayer times were marked by these heavenly communications and inspired utterances that produced joy and faith in our hearts even in the midst of challenges. Repeatedly I found myself reaching for pen and paper, and often a recorder when I couldn’t scribe fast enough.

The first step toward praying conversationally with the Father is to be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. It is amazing to me how many religious wars have been fought over the subject of tongues. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me since it is a mighty weapon that the devil would love to dissolve entirely from the Church. Churches and Christians who have swallowed the lie that tongues are not for today, or not for them, have been dealt a severe blow from the enemy.

Isn’t it interesting that the first question the apostle Paul asked the disciples at Ephesus was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:1). Paul ministered to them through the laying on of hands and the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (v 6). This is God’s will for all saints.

Listen to the words of John G. Lake, that mighty apostle to South Africa in the early 1900’s, describe what praying in tongues meant to him:

“I want to talk with the utmost frankness and say to you that tongues have been to me the making of my ministry. It is that peculiar communication with God when God reveals to my soul the truth I utter to you day by day in my ministry. But that time of communication with me is mostly in the night. Many a time I climb out of bed, take my pencil and pad, and jot down the beautiful things of God, the wonderful things of God that He talks out in my spirit, reveals to my heart.”

My friends, you can experience that kind of life in God if you will seek after Him. It all begins with receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and praying in tongues extensively. I will share how I came into the experience of that same peculiar communication with God where He talks to my spirit through the interpretation of tongues.

Stay tuned for more in our next blog. Start your year off right by stirring your faith to seek God and to hear from Him.

OVERCOMING DISCOURAGEMENT

Happy New Year everybody! During the last few weeks of 2013 I blogged a series on being ready for the coming of the Lord. I believe those blogs were timely and very  important as I believe we are so near to His return. To begin the New Year, however, I feel it is appropriate to minister encouragement to our readers. It is with hope we launch into new beginnings.

Exactly two years ago I went away on an annual prayer retreat. I was at a low point in my life. I wanted to quit the ministry. I felt like there was not much of a place for the service of the small traveling missionary evangelist. My dilemma was sort of paradoxical. On one hand I was so full of vision and passion with the word of the Lord burning in my heart for the Church and the nations, but on the other hand, not being able to keep up with the growing expenses of life and ministry. Frankly, I felt as if I was fighting more devils in the traveling ministry than I did when I lived on the mission field.

As I went away to the retreat I decided to write down a list of complaints and pour them out before the Lord as Hannah of old did (1 Sam 1:15-16). The list contained everything from financial debt, and lack of proper provision, to unfulfilled dreams and promises, along with the diminishing confidence in my own calling. To add to this trial, I was at this time caring for aging parents as my Dad had just been discharged from open heart surgery after a 25 day stay in the hospital, and I was also thinking about how we were going to afford college for our son Daniel.

When a person is in this place of discouragement the smallest things can set his negative emotions off into hurt, disappointment, or even anger. For me, when a supporter would drop their monthly pledge without notice, it would sting. When a church would cancel our meetings during a tough financial time or renig on a promise to schedule us, it would bring hurt and disappointment. When other ministers were able to afford all the fringe benefits of their salaried positions, and yet we struggled to pay our property taxes and heat our home for the winter, we were tempted to feel sorry for ourselves. During this time of deep discouragement, the words of wise old Solomon seemed so appropriate: “Money answers all things.”

Whenever I thought continually on my dilemma, everywhere I looked there seemed to be a dead end. So what did I do?

First, I went through a series of mental gymnastics of what else I could do to provide for my family – from taking a church or a staff position, to pursuing a different career path, and even going back to the mission field. In my heart, though, I felt like none of those things were the God answer. I had no witness in my spirit except to keep traveling, keep preaching, keep going to the cities and the nations, and just trust God to somehow make a way, and I’m happy to report that somehow He did.

Things didn’t turn overnight, but got better gradually as I prayed and fought the good fight of faith. Amazing provision happened along the way. This is where most of us live, isn’t it? Every one of us needs constant encouragement. And every one of us should be an encourager. Encouragement can come in many forms. Sometimes it is our words; sometimes it is just a hug, a smile, a tender sense of understanding and listening; an act of service, a monetary or material blessing to meet a need. When others don’t encourage you, you need to learn to encourage yourself in the Lord (1 Sam 30:6).

Discouragement is a tool of the devil and we all face it from time to time, some more than others. Discouragement in my own life has taught me to be kinder and more sensitive to others because you never know what severe trials someone may be facing. Here are 4 things that helped me overcome discouragement:

1. THINK RIGHT. The Bible says to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Phil 4:8). That scripture alone will eliminate many of our thoughts. I began to remind the Father and myself of His faithfulness and miraculous provision in the past. I also began to think of people who had it worse than I had. We tend to think that our own problems are insurmountable until we go into the world of others who are experiencing far greater trials than we are. Then your own problems don’t seem so bad.

2. THANK RIGHT. I stopped complaining and began to thank God for His blessings and benefits that I was enjoying in my life (Phil 2:14) (1 Thes 5:18). At this time we did not have a surplus of money, but my immediate family was in good health. I could thank the Lord for that. We were all born again and living for God. We had a moderately nice home and a roof over our heads. The scriptures admonish us that having food and raiment we should be content. Let’s count our blessings. And count right.

3. REST RIGHT. Some people rest physically, but they don’t know how to rest mentally. The Word tells us to cast our cares on the Lord (1 Pet 5:7). This is easier said than done. It took a real labor to enter into this rest. I had to constantly remind myself, and bring the Lord to remembrance of my calling and His promises to avoid being swallowed up by worry and anxiety. For me, this scripture is one of the greatest scriptures for learning to walk in the Spirit and in a state of rest. If you’re not resting then you’re not in the Spirit. It’s that simple. If you are frustrated, aggravated, agitated, full of worry and anxiety, restless, angry, bitter, etc. you are not in the Spirit. These fleshly emotions actually serve to bind things up spiritually instead of releasing them. Walking in the flesh repels God’s blessings in your life, but walking in the Spirit attracts them to you. Rest in the Lord. Cast your cares and burdens over on Him.

4. TALK RIGHT. If you constantly think on the negative side of life you will talk it, too. And it is our words that set things in motion for what we have in our lives. When the children of Israel were complaining in the wilderness notice what God told Moses: “Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the LORD, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you’” (Numbers 14:28). What if the Lord stood in front of you and said that to you? Well, He is. This is a principle of faith in the Word of God. You have whatever you believe and say.

Practice these four things and your joy and peace will be restored. Let 2014 be a year of encouragement. And be ever so sensitive to encourage others.