Prayer Over the Emotional Health of Those in Christian Leadership

Kneeling man“Dear brothers and sisters, pray for us.” — The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the church at Thessalonica  (1 Thes. 5:25)

It’s one of the least talked-about issues in the church, because leaders oftentimes feel an obligation to appear stronger than their congregations; yet some of the greatest pastors and Bible figures have had struggles with anxiety and depression! We’re more than a little naive if we think that our leaders are immune to the struggles we ourselves face. I can tell you firsthand, a mature Christian can absolutely suffer emotional issues. Although we don’t sorrow as those who have no hope, we still suffer sorrow and loss, grief, oppression, and we still have to guard our hearts from the attack of an enemy who definitely doesn’t want leaders to be effective.

Look at King David, man after God’s own heart, who often wrote psalms that revealed despair and uncertainty—on the mountain in some of his songs, and hitting rock bottom in human desperation in others. Paul had a recurring or chronic obscure problem of which that he sought earnestly to be relieved. Jonah fell into depression after he’d completed the task to which God had assigned him. Elijah called fire down from heaven in between declaring a 3-year drought and declaring its end; and in the very next chapter, was hit by anxiety and asked God to just let him die. At age 23, Charles Spurgeon was hit with depression so great he nearly didn’t recover. On and on, the list would just continue to grow. My point? We have a completely saved spirit, but we have a soul and body that are still navigating a fallen world. Whether it’s environmental, trauma-induced, hormonal, generational, too-little sleep and exercise and quiet time, or just an attack of the enemy to derail a person—emotional issues can be just as huge a matter for a leader as they are for his/her followers!

So while we certainly need to pray for one another, we also need to know how to pray for ourselves. Our leaders are indeed there for us; but they are human too, and we all can lean too heavily on them at times. They wear many hats and get very little downtime. The person you’re counting on to listen to your problems and get that prayer through may be encountering an inner battle you know nothing of. That person’s spouse may not even have a clue that there’s a private agony of anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion, burnout from packing a burden the size of a church on his or her shoulders. Ask yourself, in whom can your own spiritual leader(s) confide, go to for honest accountability and prayer, and feel comfortable being real? Leaders want to be bulletproof. Many don’t want to reveal their own struggles because the devil wants them to believe they are incompetent leaders if they’re not always on the mountain; that their followers will lose confidence in them or begin to view them as hypocrites! They don’t want to be judged as weak, out of God’s will, or flawed and unfit for service. So today, while I realize many of you are wrestling with depression and emotional issues of your own, could we just turn our attention away from ourselves and pray collectively for the front line leaders, apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists, teachers, ministry workers, and intercessors who are oppressed?

Father, You already know our personal struggles and we trust You to finish the work You’ve begun in us. So in this prayer, we turn to the emotional health of our leaders and ask You to bless them and meet them where they are. Oh how they need Your angelic assistance, Lord! You alone know the agony they feel when they’re under pressure and feel they must put on brave masks in front of their constituents. You know the pressure of feeling as if they can never relax or come out from under the burden of other people’s miseries and suffering. You know the guilt they feel when they get weary of late nights and other people’s drama. You know every time they stand behind a lectern or pulpit or a writer’s pen feeling bankrupt—disqualified to help others because they too are wounded and bleeding. You know the very ones who’ve thought of suicide, who might be self-medicating, and who’ve thought of quitting the very ministries You’ve called them to. Lord, intervene! Teach us how to pray for those in authority over us, instead of expecting the prayer relationship to be one-sided!

O God, we pray, send Your ministering spirits to them! Father, we plead the blood of Jesus around our pastors, teachers, elders, public speakers, and believers who serve You as they work in civil government. Bring laughter and lightheartedness to their weary souls. Let a joy bubble up within, a calm and assurance and a FREEDOM, that actually matches the face they put on in front of others. Give them wise answers to the questions they often take to their pillows with them at night, so that they can sleep in peace. Give them opportunities for recreation and fun and keep insisting in that still small voice that they need to take what You’re making available to them! Father, we ask for special confidantes and mentors and accountability partners, for counselors, and for genuine friends for these in leadership. They need people they can “get real” with to talk about and pray about their private struggles, fears, and failures. Finally, Father, help them keep open doors of communication between themselves and YOU; and as You bring healing for their anxieties, and for the depression the enemy tells them they wouldn’t have if they were walking worthy of their vocation.

Father, ease their financial burdens and their family tensions we pray. Whatever issues are bombarding leaders tonight, we pray angels are released to do war in the heavenlies on their behalf. Give them days and nights where not one phone call fetches them away from needed rest or time with family. Intercept delays perpetuated by the enemy to keep them too busy to pray and invest time in study. Send laborers into the harvest so that they’re not doing all the work themselves; place armorbearers around them who will not bail and betray, and assign intercessors who not only pray daily for them, but who are awakened and sensitive to pray “emergency” prayers when that leader is silently suffering. May You keep those (including leaders on every level) in perfect peace whose hearts and minds are steadfast because they trust in You!

And Lord, for every fallen leader who’s given up, succumbed to temptation, walked away, or departed from the faith, we ask that angels and people You assign will go to their aid and help them regain their bearings. Remind them that it’s time to repent, get healed up, and strengthen others after they themselves are restored. Their latter days CAN be greater than their former ones!

Open up ministry centers geared toward the healing of wounded and weary leaders, where they can get help in a nonthreatening environment. Let this be the year when leaders have healed marriages, restored families, and renewed sense of purpose; not just painted-on facades of how they think they’re expected to look. And Lord, help us to cut the faltering a little more slack! Forgive us for not forgiving them their shortcomings, for judging them inappropriately, for speaking evil of them when we should’ve instead been on our knees in intercession.

We rebuke spirits of suicide, doubt and unbelief, pride, lust, delusion, anxiety, depression, fear, lack, mental illness, confusion, and afflicting spirits of every kind who are trying to take out godly people in authority. The Lord rebuke you and break your assignment off God’s chosen! We speak it in Jesus’ name and we release healing and a time of refreshing over the lives of apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, leaders on every level, intercessors, and godly civil servants. May these last days find Your called ones more determined than ever to make it and to bring in the harvest! Seal it, we pray, with good sleep, much laughter, and contagious joy, in Jesus’ name. Thank You, good good Father!

Obedience Above All

Years ago when I was just starting out in my young adulthood, I acquired a secondhand hot plate that had only one temperature:  wide open.  It was this Frankenstein monster of a thing—big, heavy, and depending on what you needed, handy—well, handy perhaps if you were planning on smelting iron ore.  You didn’t dare turn your back on it for a second if you actually desired to EAT what you were cooking.  It was a dumpster dive contraption that served a very temporary purpose, and I was so glad to retire it at the earliest possible opportunity…before I burned out the whole neighborhood and not just the scrambled eggs.

Sometimes we as believers are a lot like this old hot plate.  We mean well; but we have no thermostat, no discipline to read, listen, and obey.  And for that reason, God can only use us for very limited purposes.  If we’re stubborn enough long enough, we may find ourselves completely disqualified for the Master’s use…still saved, but not submitted; still rescued, but restricted.  We may be offended and affected by anything that has the ability to tip off our emotions; so although our zeal for the things of God may be genuine, it’s all over the place…instead of targeted where and to what extent God actually wants it.

The Church in the Wilderness had a lot of testing to endure; but it was as much a mercy as it was a proving ground.  There were mindsets to change in between liberation from poverty and the stewardship of promise. God had to prove He could trust them for destiny.  Oh, He fully knew their capabilities, but their very survival as a people—HIS PEOPLE—would depend upon how well they listened and obeyed.  He wasn’t setting them up for failure:  no, to be certain, the try-and-try-again course they were on was setting them up to succeed.  He loved them; He was qualifying them for where He would take them, but He also required their allegiance.  He was aware that some would simply refuse to be obedient—further validating what He already knew about the incompleteness of the Law.  We would need a Savior.  Even then, however, with a Savior, we would still have to choose to be followers and not just freelancers!

James gave us the perfect example of how serious rogue Christianity can be:  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (James 1:22-24)  It’s very possible, if we just hit-and-miss with our time in the Word and prayer, to go away and forget who we are and why we’re here.  Our carnal impulses begin to render His commandments powerless in our lives because there’s no discipline to hold to the purity of obedience.  We become religious rather than submitted; self-righteous rather than humble and attentive to His every instruction.  James says we deceive ourselves at that point.  The knob is ripped off and we run wide open, so therefore God can’t trust us for a second.

God winked at (tolerated) our ignorance initially, but He’s calling us all to repentance now. Change must come.  We are in critical times where one misstep, one wrong “my way or the highway” attitude on our part can completely abort a mission, defer an entire movement.  His merciful, extended testing time offers us daily opportunities to grow, to strengthen, and to prove ourselves as fit wineskins to hold His anointing; or we can go around and around the same dumb issues in our lives, unchanged and burning everything entrusted to our care.  At some point, regardless, we must decide whether to follow Him wholeheartedly or be left in on the sidelines.  God won’t entrust His harvest to those who’ll let it be left in ruins while they bicker about who’s in charge, who gets credit.

While He’s pruning us for fruitfulness, you can be sure He’s going to test us by changing up our plans to see whether we’ll accept His will as the final call, or whether we’ll pout and get in strife.  I’ve seen it (and had it happen to me) time and again.  Work toward a particular end—maybe have a new song rehearsed and ready to use in the worship set—just to have the Holy Ghost show up and shut it all down for a different direction entirely.  When it happens, can we joyfully handle submission, or will we instead defy Him by trying to “get ours” while we’ve got the chance to do so?  How you and I respond in these these testing moments either adds to or depreciates our stock value!  Can God trust us?  Is He REALLY Lord of all?

In my prayer time last night, God gave me the perfect example of how critical our obedience really is.  Imagine a “SWAT team” trained for duty, who’ve rehearsed every scenario and know every drill.  But someone on that team is overzealous for a chance to use that newly-acquired skill.  Frustrated.  Impatient.  Chomping at the bit.  In a hostage situation where lives are at stake, that drive to break bad can override the Commander’s instructions; and the undisciplined desire to ACT can result in unintended casualties–maybe even among that rogue member’s own unit.

We are in the spiritual world war of the ages; and if there were ever a time to be with our faces to the ground seeking God’s instruction, it’s now.  Captives are in peril and He’s calling us to pull them from the very jaws of death.  Many are in vulnerable, volatile situations.  It’s just as important to recognize and obey the command, “stand down,” as it is the command to “open fire,” because our spotter has a better vantage point than we do.  If we go by merely our own driven-ness and instincts, we can even forget who the enemy really is.  We then stop engaging in heavenly warfare and just turn on anyone earthly who appears to oppose us and what we preach.

If we crucify our tendency to run wide open all the time (some things go out only by prayer and fasting), we can come out of this with more than just ourselves intact; we can rescue lives.  If we have the attitude of “Don’t tell me to pull back, Lord.  I came here to git-er-done and I’m not going to waste all this adrenaline on waiting and patience and doing it Your way,”  however, then we forfeit His ability to use us in those very ways we long to be used.

Remember, God will always choose the most obedient, least ego-driven to carry out His will and establish His kingdom. Believe it or not, obedience will prove to become the greatest skill in your arsenal of spiritual warfare.  Your qualification to open the valve all the way in those appropriate times will be determined by your willingness to hold a controlled, unambitious grip during the slow-and-steady maneuvers.  If you can contain all that power but handle it with delicate precision that hears only one Voice calling the shots, God will entrust you to complete great exploits in His name!  Remember, obedience above all.  Master it.

Thorn-Proof Determination

macro-thorn“…I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  1 Cor. 12:6-10 NLT

I think often of the Apostle Paul and the “thorn” (2 Cor 12) that remains a mystery to us all to this day. Perhaps it was meant to be an unnamed source of contention, so that we could identify it with our own thorns.  Interesting, isn’t it, that Paul didn’t refer to an entire thicket of entanglement…just one lone irritating thorn;  like a splinter that is stubbornly embedded, or an itch in the middle of your back that you can’t quite reach.  You’ve dealt with all the rest and there’s this one that you haven’t been able to conquer yet.  Am I getting warm here?  Does this sound like any area of your life where you’ve not yet succeeded in getting permanent victory from struggle?

I could be wrong, but I like to think that instead of a chronic or recurring physical illness, Paul’s thorn was–and ours is– a personal ‪#‎struggle‬ on the battle front of the mind.  All of us have our areas which need work; and if you don’t, I sure do. I won’t bore you with the details, but there are areas of my life that require more spot-checks and maintenance than others. There are areas which, if I don’t renew my mind daily to the Word, will cause me to start reverting back to previous wrong mindsets. What’s your thorn? Is it disappointment in yourself or others…unforgiveness…a nagging temptation to do something that you know is wrong…a terrible feeling of inferiority that sabotages your best attempts for success…an old wound from someone who should have loved you but didn’t, and it robs you of peace?  The enemy has convinced many of us that sickness and disease is our thorn, and that God wants us to stay sick to teach us some kind of lesson.  What a load of garbage!  No, I don’t think the “thorn” represents sickness at all–but I do think, however, that the thorn in our mind can interfere with us receiving the physical, spiritual, and mental healing God has already provided, if we allow it to dwarf our faith with a cloud of unbelief. Where you see sickness manifest, however, there’s quite possibly also the presence of the thorn. Whatever your thorn might be, it operates as a distraction, an annoyance, an attempt to divert your focus from the truth. And yes, the thorn can fling you headlong into ‪#‎depression‬ when it digs in long and hard enough. The thorn whispers and taunts, “God doesn’t care about you. If He did, why would you be having this problem? You’re just a reject, a castoff. I don’t know why He even puts up with you!”

Your answer from ‪#‎God‬ is the same as the answer He gave Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you.” God didn’t tell Paul He would never remove the thorn; but He did tell Paul that His grace would cover those times when the thorn seemed to get the best of him. Who’s to say that God didn’t remove the thorn before Paul died? We only know from his writing that Paul apparently quit asking after the third time. Maybe at some point, Paul was so confident in God’s ability to keep him that the thorn no longer mattered.  The most important take-away of this passage is, God never lifted the grace that covered Paul’s weaknesses; He never left him to the wolves. If that thorn were endangering Paul’s soul or the heavy calling on his life, I believe God would’ve wiped it out the moment Paul were in imminent danger. Paul concluded that as long as he continually had to lean on the Lord and not his own strength, it kept him reliant on God; and it prevented Paul from believing himself to be somehow superior to the people with whom he shared the Gospel. Most of all, we see that Paul grew at peace in the fact that God loved him, thorn or no thorn. The thorn was not Paul’s identity; and you must not let the thorn become YOUR identity, either! God LOVES you!

Take this walk with ‪#‎Jesus‬ a day at a time. You may be high-fiving one day and needing pulled out of the ditch the next day. Maturity in the Word does help minimize the severity or number of times when you’re “the ditch person,” so be encouraged that you’re going to be having increasing good days as you gain strength and momentum. When you are in need of a helping hand, however, for heaven’s sake don’t isolate yourself out of shame. Your brothers and sisters have dealt with their own thorns that are just as embarrassing and tormenting as the one you’ve encountered. Let them help you. Let God help you. Keep a list of the Scriptures that pertain to your struggle somewhere that you can access at all times, and don’t just read them–speak the Word OUT LOUD over your circumstances. The demonic forces assigned against you can’t hear you reading silently, but they sure hate when you read and speak the Word into the atmosphere, where they have to hear it and tremble!

I suspect that if you’re reading this post, you’re having a low day. My friend, God has not left you, and He isn’t orchestrating some cosmic ‘pick-on-YOU’ party for his amusement. Our Father doesn’t work like that; Satan, however, is very much amused by your struggles and failures. God wants you to WIN. Stop beating yourself up today over the fact that you’re there, again, in that big hole where you’ve wound up numerous times before. God isn’t beating you up. No, if you’ll look closely, He is assembling angel armies around you to stand guard while you dust yourself back off. He is sending prayer warriors to intercede on your behalf. And He has already provided a finished work in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The same grace that saved you is the same grace that will cover you while you get back on your feet. It isn’t our excuse for courting a sinful lifestyle or for giving less than our best; it’s the mortar that holds our pieces together and makes up for what we cannot, even on our best days, give. Let His grace cover you now. Feel God’s love and forgiveness and yes–even understanding–scrubbing away all those hateful things the enemy is trying to write about you in your mind. Let it go. Receive God’s help. And whether the process is instantaneous or takes a little while to complete, it’s ok…God’s got your back.  If you’re depressed as you read this, remind yourself, “This is a temporary state and I’m already in healing and recovery mode. I can trust God while I wait to “get over the hump” and back to my normal self again.”

Pray with me: “Father, I’m hurting today. The enemy has launched another attack on a vulnerable spot, and I’m in need of Your mercy. You told Paul that Your grace was all he needed when “the thorn” pressed in and caused him pain. You didn’t love Paul any more than You love me. You’re not comparing the many amazing things Paul did and wrote against the small life I live. You’re willing to give me JUST AS MUCH grace as You gave Paul because the thorn in my life is important to You too. You’re just as much in favor of my being victorious. I release this wounded-ness to You today, and I surrender the fight to handle it my way. Whether it’s an addiction, an attitude, or a hurdle I can’t seem to get beyond no matter how hard I try, I am encouraging myself in You today and reminding myself of Your promise NEVER to leave or forsake me. It’s not Your will that I be destitute, sick, defeated, walking in lack, depressed, feeling inferior or walking under any kind of cloud. I submit myself to You, as Your Word has instructed, and then I resist the devil…and he MUST flee from me. I don’t care if he tries to come back again and again, I will fight him until You say, “Enough!” I plead the blood of Jesus now over my life, and I draw the bloodline around myself. I receive Your grace and I wrap myself in it, like a big protective bubble. The shield of faith deflects every piercing weapon the enemy tries to injure me with. Even those bruises and scratches and wounds I’ve already encountered are being healed by the Balm of Gilead! Thank You, Father, because Your Word is enabling me to see myself as YOU see me. I’m NOT a reject! I’m that earthen vessel in which You choose to house Your precious treasures. You are using this imperfect me–yes! And You are getting glory for the miracles You perform through me in spite of the fact that I’m not yet where I WILL BE when You’ve finished with me!  I will walk holy before You and trust You to carry me across the terrain that’s too rugged for my own feet to navigate.”

I say, “Devil, you cannot have me. I belong to God. You can’t even have me in my mind. I believe God’s Word and He is even helping me with any areas of unbelief…so be gone, in Jesus’ name! In Jesus’ name, I break your assignment against me today, all of you evil spirits who are trying to take me down. You WILL NOT wreck my day and you WILL NOT get my soul. God already knows my weaknesses and His grace is holding me together in spite of them. You don’t win in the court of Heaven today because I’m already forgiven. You have no authority over me. You are under my feet. I’m not listening to your lies. If you want to bring accusation, talk to the hand—the nail-scarred hand!”

Prayer for the Unsung Heroes: Caregivers

holdinghandsPrayer focus today: Please pray for those in your circle who are caregivers. Unless you’ve ever had to do it, it’s impossible to fathom the physical, emotional, and even spiritual depletion that can happen when you give care to a loved one round-the-clock. It’s most certainly a labor of love. Pray not just for the sick person, but for the person(s) unselfishly looking after him or her. And when you can offer help, a meal, an encouraging word, be a blessing to that person!

 

Father, we come before You today on behalf of caregivers everywhere. Lord, the caregivers would tell us to focus our prayers on the sick and infirm being taken care of, and we do that too; but today, we pray for the caregivers themselves.

We declare over these today a special Psalm 67 blessing. Thank You for being gracious, for making Your face to shine upon them, and for blessing them. When it seems as if they’re in a dark, unfamiliar place, cause that light to shine through the fog, bringing them hope and courage all over again. Calm their fears, Father. It’s a scary realm to navigate, especially when those dependent upon them are suffering from mental compromise. When they feel terribly inadequate or overwhelmed, surround them with encouragers. When they feel exhausted, send helpers to come alongside. When they see no possible opportunity for a break, Father, make possible times of respite. When they feel unappreciated by fellow family members, cause others to become more sensitive to their needs…and send a network of people into their lives who express needed appreciation. Remind them often, Father, that they are not alone.  You have a heart for the helpless, Lord, but You are also well-pleased with and aware of the people who are caregivers, rescuers, nurses, and helpers of those who are helpless!  You keep a record of those acts of kindness, so these who are in positions of caring for the helpless are under Your watchful eye.  Even when others aren’t aware of all they must do in a day’s (and night’s) time, You are there and You know.  Bless them indeed; bless them a lot!

We ask You to help caregivers embrace offered help, to not try and do everything on their own. If siblings are not rising to the occasion, send friends that “sticketh closer than a brother” to help shoulder the load. Cause strength to rise as they wait upon You and upon those who need their help. Strength like eagles, Lord. Running and not weary. Walking and not fainting. Renewed strength. We ask that every opportunity for sleep brings refreshment of double that time! No troubling dreams, no tossing and turning, no inability to relax. Remind them that as they rest, You are watching over those in their care. Thank you for protecting their own health. Healing flows in their adrenal glands so that they don’t feel exhaustion setting in!

We rebuke tormenting spirits, in the name of Jesus, that would create unrest in the atmosphere of the place where the care is being given.  In situations where caregivers are wearing thin to the point of losing compassion for those in their care, we ask You to intervene.  Don’t allow any of our precious caregivers to be stressed to the breaking point where they might be unkind or abusive, even unintentionally.  We invite the spirit of peace, the dove of the Holy Spirit, to rest and find habitation in this caregiving place. Bring peace and calm to the patients, but Lord, bring that same peace and calm to the caregivers. When the devil tries to inject guilt, depression, a feeling of inadequacy, feelings of bitterness or frustration or anger, or feelings of despair and temptation to give up, Lord, we raise the banner of Jehovah Nissi and we say, this territory is occupied by the Lord! Shalom has taken this territory and there is no room for enemies that would disrupt the environment.  Thank You for causing caregivers to be creative and able to hear Your direction…when right music, conversation, interaction, even games help their wards to be calmer, Lord reveal clever ways to caregivers to keep these in their care occupied and happy.

You are near those who are of a broken heart, Lord. Many of our caregivers’ hearts are broken because of the injured, sick, fragile, or even terminal state of their loved ones. Comfort them. Bring many opportunities for humor and laughter even in times when they feel overwhelmed. Let laughter flow as freely as tears, and when the Holy Spirit needs to numb the pain, we ask You to send that comfort too. Peace that passes all understanding…peace when it seems illogical that there should be peace.  Your Word also says that one act of pure and undefiled religion is to care for the widows (and orphans), and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. We pray you will send salvation to the caregivers who have not received You…but Lord, for even the ones who don’t yet have a relationship with you, we ask for very obvious blessings upon them for compassionate caring for the widow, the helpless, the infirm. Let them know that it is You who sends these blessings, and may they see this as proof of Your great love and mercy. We also pray that You will send financial blessing on them, so that they do not have additional pressures over money issues. Bring wisdom for financial management for themselves and those who are their wards.

And Father, for those who’ve done all they can and are struggling with the issue of having to recruit hospice, respite care, home health nurses, volunteer helpers, assisted living, or even a nursing home for their loved one, help them to be strong enough to let go and allow others to help.  Especially in the case where the caregivers’ health is declining, sometimes it’s just not possible to continue as before; and for many, the guilt over not being able to continue to take care of one’s spouse, parent, or child is unbearable.  When the cared-for person is too frail for home care, in need of full-time medical experience the caregiver doesn’t have, has wandering or self-endangerment issues, help the caregiver to be strong enough to turn the reins over and let others come alongside to help.  There is no shame in allowing a better solution for the patient to be had; so help those who must give up being a caregiver not to blame themselves when they’ve reached the end of their ability to do so.  Help them to not feel as if they are abandoning their loved ones if they cannot continue in the role of caregiver.  Sometimes we need medical professionals or just a few more hands involved; and guilt or pride won’t let us admit that we can’t do it alone.  When it’s YOUR time for more people to be involved in the care process, I pray that You will whisper a confirmation into the caregivers’ ears that it is OK; then heal their aching hearts as they make the hard decisions of life.

Finally, we confess Psalm 46:1-3 over them (and over ourselves) to affirm that we know You are with them and us:

 

“God is our shelter and our strength.  When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. So why run and hide? No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails. When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless.When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless.  Even in heavy winds and huge waves,or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless.”(Ps 46:1-3 The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.)

We confess Your Word and we ask these things in the name of Jesus…gratefully, effectually, fervently, and with FAITH that You watch over Your Word to perform it!  And, as You reveal ways to us to be more proactive in ministering to and assisting caregivers, we will rise to the occasion!

Cupbearers to the King: A Prayer to be Liaisons of God

GobletThere are two people in the Old Testament, one named and one not,  who served as a cupbearers to pagan kings…with supernatural destinies mapped out by God.

The first was the cupbearer who would displease Pharaoh and wind up a cellmate with Joseph.  Two servants had been tossed “in the slammer,” if you’ll remember–the cupbearer and the baker.  Joseph interpreted their dreams and begged them to remember him to the king when they got out.  Sure enough, the baker met the prophesied death, and the cupbearer was restored to his former position with his master.  Only after the king  himself began having troubling dreams did the cupbearer remember Joseph and the promise.  The story ends powerfully:  a godly man winds up in leadership directly under Egypt’s powerful potentate, and the lives of untold numbers of people (including Jacob/Israel and his entire family) are saved from a deadly famine.  The liaison God used to bring Joseph and Pharaoh together?  An unlikely cupbearer, whose very life was spared for one critical moment when he would speak a right word!

Fast-forward to the time of the Babylonian exile of Israel’s descendants.  Persia has ousted the Babylonians, who had taken God’s people out of their homeland and into captivity. Through the process of time and with much opposition from nations who hated the Judean people, the actions and edicts of King Cyrus,King Darius, and King Artaxerxes would eventually see Jerusalem restored.  I find this whole story (in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah) so interesting; because one day, seemingly out of the blue (which we know isn’t the case…it was because of God’s sovereign plan), King Cyrus just issues an edict that a temple in Jerusalem is to be built!  He orders surrender of the precious artifacts and tools that had been stolen out of the original temple.  From there, the avalanche of restoration had begun–on the enemy’s dime–and there would be no stopping it.  This is another whole message in itself!

Now, back to that second cupbearer, Nehemiah, who served King Artaxerxes.  While Ezra would be the one to whom it was given charge to rebuild the temple, it was this cupbearer of the king who would be given charge to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Artaxerxes was clearly pleased to have a trusted servant like Nehemiah, so I don’t take it lightly that he would be so willing to turn loose of this man whose job was to guard him from being poisoned!  This was no coincidence. Out of all the positions Nehemiah could have been assigned in that kingdom, God saw to it that his would be one in direct connection to the king himself; and that there would be a relationship of trust established.  Jerusalem would be restored, yes…and by people who had administrative abilities, labor skills, defense strategies, and priestly ordination.

It saddens me that so many believers want to be far-removed from the political arena these days.  Much of it is just this whole living-in-a-goldfish-bowl society of ours.  Everyone’s personal life is on display, and the price for offering one’s service to government often calculates to the destruction of his or her reputation and credibility.  These folks find enemies they didn’t know they even had.  From the campaigning time throughout a public servant’s career, his or her life is scrutinized and criticized.  I myself would be petrified at the thought of running for any office!   If you’re like me, not someone with political ambitions but who’s still concerned about the welfare of our nation, may I challenge you to offer yourself as a cupbearer to the “king?”  Taking on the role of a servant to those in authority, if you are a child of God, can be as instrumental in His purpose for our nation as being in rule yourself. By saying this, I mean a true servant.  Not a spy, and not a source of leaking information or gossip, not a saboteur or a manipulator: someone who recognizes that proximity opens the door of opportunity to bring prayer closer to those in leadership!

Presidents, governors, congressmen, judges, mayors and the like, they’re all just people.  They often find themselves uncertain and in need of input; more often than we even know..  As we saw in the movie, “The Butler,” those who serve them in a non-political capacity are often subsconciously regarded by these authorities as more trustworthy than the people in official advisory positions around them.  While a leader may or may not acknowledge that relationship as “friendship,” a trusted servant has a powerful connection!  There are others in the Bible with that same type of direct and indirect influence, such as Mordecai, Daniel, Shadrach, Meschech, and Abednego…and then there’s Esther, whose beauty and goodness became the favor point that earned her a place in the kingdom at the king’s side.

The Word admonishes us to be wise as serpents yet harmless as doves.  A mature believer full well knows the importance of one’s words.  Would you be willing to be an unsung hero for the kingdom of God, by just being an unassuming voice of reason to those who have the power to order a thing to pass?  Pray with me:

“Father, I don’t know whether You would will it to be so, but I offer myself today to be a cupbearer to the king, for Your glory.  If I was born for such as time as this, I am willing.  Thank You that we live in a nation and states where we are a free people, and where our religious freedoms still abound even when they are challenged.  Forgive me for times when I have railed on the “establishment,” and chose to complain instead of pray. However, I know we are in a late hour, and that You are mobilizing key people to be godly influences to those in leadership in these last days.  You are not just using our gifts inside the walls of the church; You are using our talent, abilities, and insight as tools in both the secular world and the government to turn attention back toward You.  Use what You’ve given me WHEREVER You want!

I may or may not have proximity to actual persons in authority, but I ask You to help me walk in the kind of integrity that could open up that possibility.  Help me to be a person in whom others can share things confidentially, knowing that I won’t betray their trust.  Help me to develop a reputation for honesty, for even-temperament, for respectability, for wisdom, for quietness until there’s a right time to speak.  May even those who don’t yet value You value the qualities they see You instilling within me.  Set them up for an encounter with You through me!  Give me great love for those who are over me; a willingness to see them as souls and not just authority figures.  Burden me to pray for them and their families.  Give me genuine concern for their well-being spiritually, physically, and mentally.  As Your Word has instructed, I will make it my priority to pray for them.  I ask You, too, to alert me to pray for the ones who are often overlooked by other intercessors!

Lord, even if it is not meant for me to be a servant or confidante of someone in authority,  I pledge to be salt and light right where I am now.  I’ll be a model citizen.  I will be that employee who’s trusted and valued.  And I pray now for others who might be chosen to be cupbearers.  Father, raise up godly men and women and young people who are in the ears of those who must make decisions that affect entire geographic regions–nations, states, counties, municipalities.  May these leaders feel drawn to the wisdom and integrity of godly influences, and may they begin to conform to the attributes of these godly people even though they might not yet know You!  Use your children to walk the halls of capitol buildings, corporate boardrooms, courthouses, and city halls.  May our prayers echo and bounce off the walls into every crack.  Lord, bless even the little old Christian lady who’s on her knees scrubbing the floor where a senator or governor sits.  As she does her job, may praises and prayer quietly infiltrate and change an entire atmosphere!  Send dreams to our leaders as well, and to their spouses…for You’ve even used dreams to initiate positive change.

Finally, Lord, as a cupbearer, I ask you to remind me when someone is in captivity or being treated unjustly!  Like the Pharaoh’s servant who suddenly remembered Joseph, may my carefully-dispensed suggestions come sparingly but always in Your time, so that a word in season might spark an entire chain of events capable of saving a nation!  Like Nehemiah, may my influence, whether at a secular job or in the town in which I live, open a door to further Your kingdom and Your will!  Give me favor and I vow not to abuse it.  If I am a cupbearer one day and suddenly assigned to build a wall of protection, to restore broken things, and to fight the enemy at the same time if necessary, then amen and so be it!  Make me a restorer and rebuilder wherever You situate me.  On whatever level You choose to use me, I am yours.  Make me Your ambassador, Your special liaison, and I will strive not to disappoint You in any way!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Catching the Spirit of Prayer

ObedientYou may not imagine yourself as a great person of prayer. I never did…but prayer just wouldn’t turn loose of me. My heritage of prayer came from my Granny Gladys. She would rise up every morning, way before daylight, and go into the bathroom to pray. The side of the bathtub was her altar. She had an old worn piece of notebook paper tucked into her Bible, which had names on it. Some of the names had long since faded…cried on, anointed with oil. Names were written up and down the sides, on the back, as many as she could cram onto that piece of paper.  I can still see her hands…large joints from arthritis and years of hard work, folding that smudged piece of paper and putting it back away for another day.  I admired her, knew what she was doing was absolutely right…but I never imagined myself being “her.” I was a free-spirit…the “don’t-hem-me-in” type; and that’s what I thought a devoted prayer life might do to me. I wanted to be on the move!

For me, however, the journey began as a sudden, growing fascination with prayer. I didn’t necessarily pray more at that point, but I couldn’t shake the interest in it as a subject. I began reading about it. I began listening to teachings on it. As I gained an understanding of what prayer really is, and of the powerful exchange which takes place in our intimate time with our Heavenly Father, I began to crave that deeper relationship. It was that craving for what praying people have with God which motivated me to go there.

Much of what I write about in my daily postings and in my blog is prayer. The reason why I talk about it to all of you so much is this: I want others to know what wonderful things are available to the person who draws close to our Father. It’s not a doom-and-gloom, all-serious, no joy, no laughter kind of thing. Not at all. At times, yes, we intercede with great urgency and solemn tone for situations; but real prayer, done daily, brings great peace and joy. It’s not beyond the possibility that you will find occasion to laugh as you share with God. His peace bubbles over in every area of my life. I love laughter, playfulness, humor, happy exchange. I can have that, because the burdens are dealt with in their right place–a private conversation with the One Who has an ability to do something about them. And interestingly, some of the greatest intercessors I know are the free-spirit, love to laugh people.  They’re not walking around long-faced, in sackcloth and ashes.  I shouldn’t be surprised. My Granny, who dealt with any number of difficulties in her life, always had a smile and a quick wit. You could go to her, thinking you might give her a word of encouragement, and walk way being the one encouraged.

I might add this:  the spirit of prayer does fit us all, but it will look different on you than it does on me.  My prayer life isn’t exactly like my grandmother’s.  The time of day, where I do it, what’s being said, it’s all unique to the person God created me to be.  Free-spirit that I still am, it’s more of an ongoing conversation with Him that begins first thing in the morning (and usually not at 5 AM like Granny!) and carries on throughout the day.  There’s not an ending amen; instead, for me, it’s more like a “to be continued.”  You may be very structured, though; same time, same place, same format may be how you are wired to pray.  I say that all to say, don’t look at someone else’s prayer life and despair that yours doesn’t resemble his or hers.  It won’t be the same.  God wants our heart; and HOW we arrive in the place of prayer isn’t so important as THAT we arrive in the place of prayer. If you’ll simply get used to talking to Him every day, in good times and bad, you won’t associate the prayer closet with misery, weeping, wailing, and dread—where you only go when something is terribly wrong.  Prayer is interaction.  You’ll talk to Him, yes…but if you’ll hang out with Him and just be still, He will talk to YOU.  How’s that?  Sometimes prayer is even sitting in silence as you wait for Him!

Don’t be afraid to talk to Him. Don’t fear that a prayer life will smother you and be cumbersome. Don’t fear that becoming a person of prayer will overwhelm you with other people’s problems. You are just a messenger! Take the needs to Your Father…and let Him solve them. You don’t have to fix people’s problems or be able to give them advice. Just be willing to carry them to the Lord. He’ll fix them…and you’ll find yourself longing to talk to Him, not dreading it like some household chore! It’s a gift, and yes, YOU can become a person of prayer!

Prayer: The Science of Moving Impossible Loads

Lever_(PSF)“Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with it.” — Archimedes, 3rd Century BC, while discussing the mathematical principles of a lever, and how it can simplify a near-impossible task.

A lever is simply a movable bar that pivots on a fulcrum attached to a fixed point. The lever operates by applying forces at different distances from the fulcrum, or a pivot. The Egyptians are thought to have moved the huge stone obelisks for their monuments by the use of levers.

Did you know that you have a spiritual lever?  It’s called prayer!  Prayer has the ability to move things too heavy to shift in the natural realm.  The Apostle Paul tells us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Eph 6:18).  “All kinds of prayers” is similar to the various placements of the fulcrum (pivoting point) of a lever.  Your prayer is the lever.  You, the willing servant of God, are the fulcrum.  God is the effort, and the enemy is the resistance.

Depending on its pivoting point placement, prayer can accomplish various types of moving that otherwise could not be done.  Think of a crowbar trying to pry something loose that’s stuck.  That’s a lever with a fulcrum in the middle, and the effort and resistance on opposite sides.  Sometimes in prayer, God will put you right in the middle.  As you intercede, you may feel pressure on both sides.

A nutcracker is a lever that breaks a shell off by having resistance in the middle, effort on one side, and the fulcrum on the other side.  God may get on one side of a situation, have you on the other side, and the two of you put the “squeeze” on a stronghold that needs broken off someone’s life.  In times like this, you may not be able to see God because the enemy has your view obstructed, but keep praying.  God can apply whatever pressure is needed on the enemy because He has you positioned to be a stable object to push against!

A pair of tweezers is a lever that has the effort in the middle, and the resistance and the fulcrum on opposite sides.  There are times when God gets in the middle, with you and the evil one on opposite sides.  The grasping motion of the tweezer helps it to pluck up deeply embedded things.  In this alignment, you can see God even when you can’t see the enemy…but that’s good!  God’s in the middle and because of the right placement, He can use your prayer lever to get a grip on what needs pulled out.

Have I lost you yet?  We can narrow it down like this: knowing how to pray the Word accurately can bring alignment on earth with God’s will in heaven. 

Through prayer, you team up with God.  You willingly become a support for His will to be done.  Through prayer, you can pry something loose in the spirit realm.  You can break off strongholds.  You can pluck something painful out of a life, or even pluck some ONE out of a dangerous situation, all through prayer.  If we pray according to God’s Word, God can even use the “resistance” to work to His advantage!

As you go into this day, ask God to make you a willing “fulcrum” to accomplish His will on earth.  You may not always understand the method behind His placement of you in a particular situation, but that’s ok.  Remain fixed.  If you’re obedient, you can stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!

 

Scientific Fact Source:  Wikipedia.com

 

No Such Thing as a Lost Cause

helping handDana was watching a history show today on TV about a man named Hugh Glass, a frontiersman in early 1800’s South Dakota. I was in the next room, but the story caught my attention and I found myself listening in. Apparently, this man was attacked by a bear and mauled so badly that his traveling companions thought he couldn’t possibly have survived. They dug a shallow, open “grave” and just placed him inside, sure he was either dead or soon to die. Being pioneers who didn’t waste anything, they stripped him of his tools and personal effects and left him in that ditch. A couple of months later, people in a fort some distance away were shocked when a severely wounded and emaciated man crawled into their midst, claiming to be Hugh Glass. Many didn’t believe he was who he said he was. Others thought he was a dead man come back to life and it terrified them. The unpleasant details of how he managed to survive make up a story that is nothing short of miraculous.

How many of our loved ones are in such bad shape that we finally just give up on them? Physically, perhaps they’re very sick and we have lost any expectation of their recovery…or spiritually, perhaps they’ve been so mean, so addicted, so rebellious, or so detached from our families that we’ve written them off as hopeless cases?  Or marriages in which we become just too tired to do the work of making them last?  I’m writing this to urge you, if you’re tempted to give up on someone, DON’T! The Bible is full of lost causes! Jairus’ daughter. The demoniac of Gadara. Lazarus. Gomer, the estranged wife of the prophet Hosea.  Peter, in prison. If you will persist in prayer, that person may be the next “dead man” to stagger into your midst, alive and set free from the clutches of Satan!

Who prayed for you? Now, for whom will you pray WITHOUT GIVING UP? “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 ESV)

Lord, raise up an army of lost causes, and may their testimonies of deliverance shake open the doors where others are held captive!