Release and Renew: Prayers for Those with Heartbreaking Jobs

”I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 NAS1977)

Be deliberate today in your pursuit of the goodness of God. I speak especially to those in careers where you daily see the ugliest side of humanity, or perhaps the most hopeless-appearing situations. Soldiers, law enforcement, social workers, oncology nurses/doctors, ministers, teachers, counselors, and others–at the end of your day you must find a way to disconnect from the despair, lest you become a casualty instead of a catalyst for healing and hope. You can find that in prayer. At the beginning of your day you have to coat yourself in the hope of the Word to shield yourself from what you’re going to encounter. You might say, “why aren’t you suggesting I pray for the people I encounter instead of myself? This feels so selfish. What about their problems?” I’m writing this today to help keep you strong enough to do the hard work you do. You can’t help others if you wind up taken out by despair. It’s time to gear up because we NEED you doing what you do. Please, stay strong! Take care of your spirit!

Our world is sad. It’s bad out there. There’s so much despair and so many wicked activities taking place. There’s so much sickness and tragedy and cruelty. So many children, elderly, weak, innocent who are preyed upon. So many people operating under demonic influence inflicting pain and suffering on themselves and others. So much ADDICTION.

I’ll be honest. I went through my Twitter feed earlier this morning and the bad news was exhausting. I wanted to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. I honestly thought, “Death’s not such a bad thing…it’ll be a relief to leave this world and go on to heaven!” But then I remembered what Paul said about it being more expedient (needful) that he remain behind to help others instead of going on to be with the Lord. I want heaven. I want to go and be with the Lord and be away from all the madness for all eternity…eventually. But what I really want to do first is effectively hold back the worst of evil by collectively offering up effectual fervent prayer. I want to point others to Jesus and be someone who hammers signposts in the ground of life that show a lost world the direction in which to run to find hope. THE ONLY way I can remain objective is to have God’s Word tattooed on my heart and mind, and to stay close enough to Him to hear His voice. Otherwise I just disappear into the sludge of despair with everyone else who’s given up and is waiting to die.

So for all of you who are so bravely doing the jobs I could not do (or rather, don’t necessarily WANT to do), I just encourage you this morning to cover yourself. Even if you’re already well into your shift, there’s no time like the present to start. Pray with me:

“God, thank You for helping me survive all the situations I encountered yesterday. Your Word says Your mercies are new every morning. Today I receive Your new mercy. Clothe me with salvation, with humility, with strength. Just like the “whole armor of God,” I put on my tactical gear. My head’s covered with salvation. My heart’s covered with righteousness. My tactical belt is truth…I can attach every tool I need to do my job to this truth. My feet are covered with peace. My shield is faith. My defense weaponry is Your Word and Your Spirit! That said, Lord, I’m getting ready to walk into the unknown today. I will encounter messed-up lives. I will meet hurting people. My heart will break over what’s not fair. Use me to make a difference, to be Your light bearer in a dark place. Help me to respond not out of anger, but with great wisdom.

Help me to do my best while I’m on the job and then help me to LET IT GO at the end of the day. Lord, help me not to carry these problems home to my family. I need my family and they need me. Help me to appreciate and be ministered to by the innocence of the home I’ve worked so hard to build and protect.

Keep me safe today, guard me against burnout; help me to strategize with the mind of Christ about how I can use my gifts to bless others and my strengths to help those who are in the place of need. Help me not to lose my sense of compassion nor my sense of duty to minister to the disparaged. I don’t want to be callous or insensitive when someone is needing treated gently. Help me to be just and fair with all people, even those who aren’t just and fair with me. Remind me that I represent YOU and can’t afford to let my words and actions go contrary to Yours. Help me not to think as the world thinks, but as YOU think about situations. Keep me from being jaded. Keep my heart tender even as you keep it from breaking in two at the things which also grieve YOU. In Jesus’ name.”

And at night (or the end of your workday, whenever that is 😉 ):

“Father, thank You for helping me to make it to the conclusion of another day. These burdens I bore all day long, these suffering people I worked with, the situations I can’t necessarily fix with an easy button…these worries and cares all want to come home with me. The memories want to invade my ability to wind down, to hear my spouse and children’s conversations, to keep me from the place of prayer and the much needed place of recharging and sleep.

But just like a set of coveralls, I choose to unzip the activities of the day and I step out of them. What I couldn’t fix today, I will deal with tomorrow, but for now I let it go. I’m not God–You are. I trust You to put things on hold, to keep the people I can’t help 24/7, to send others alongside to help, and to keep this world spinning on its axis for another day. In Jesus’ name I reject the effects of constant exposure to negative forces. I will not cope with frustration and sorrow by engaging in substance abuse or destructive relationships. I will seek out things that keep my heart pure and guileless, I will freely laugh at every possible opportunity, and I will give mindful thanks for the simple blessings You afford me, like a beautiful sunrise or the giggles of a small child.

I boldly declare that the helmet of salvation will keep my mind and protect me from becoming a walking case of PTSD. You are strengthening me, You are renewing my mind, You are restoring my innocence, and You ARE my joy, my strength. I will run to You and not be so “tough.” You’re the One I run to when I’m out of my league. It’s ok for me to be vulnerable in Your presence because You heal me and help me. I plead the blood of Jesus now to wash me clean, to cleanse the portals of my mind from what I need to let go of. Thanks now for blessing my family time, my worship time, my downtime and strengthening me to fight another day. I love You and trust You. Amen”

RISING ABOVE THE “MONSTER VAC” OF INTIMIDATION 

“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. And God hath put all things under His feet, and hath given Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”  — Ephesians 1:17-23 NKJV

My cats hate a vacuum cleaner. Now, let me start by first explaining, somewhat apologetically, that I’m not an immaculate housekeeper like many of you ladies and gents. My vacuum gets run on a strict schedule–meaning, whenever I get around to it–which also translates to seldom if ever more than once a week (don’t judge! Ha!).

For those weeks when I don’t have to spend Saturdays working, it’s a designated cleaning day for me. So this morning, I started in the kitchen and am progressively working through the house. My cats always recognize the sound of the vacuum cleaner being rolled out of the closet and across the floor, and they begin evacuation at once. If I could hear it, I’m sure that there are supersonic severe weather warning sirens going off; because these two felines scatter like a Kansas super-tornado is impending. Shelter-in-place is typically behind the couch, under the bed, anywhere else but in the same room as the Intimidator.

Today I’d begun my devotion time with the above Scripture, so when what happened next occurred, I got a quick lesson that drove it home!

I rolled out the vacuum cleaner, plugged it in, and began vacuuming the kitchen entrance rug. I looked up to see something I’d never seen before: Sam had jumped up onto the window sill between the kitchen and dining room, and was watching the “terror tool” from above! She wasn’t running, because she had risen far above it…and had this curious sort of look of superiority as she observed the object of her great displeasure. The rumble and sputter and bright beacon on the vacuum head didn’t frighten her because she was no longer on the same level as it was. She watched me clean that rug almost the whole time, and eventually jumped down and sauntered away–not out of fright, but rather out of boredom.  

The Lord drew my remembrance to the Scripture and sweetly instructed, “When you finally grasp how, as part of the Body, you are connected to the Head–Who lifts you up above the things that intimidate you–you will stop being reluctant to confront the things on earth that I want you to confront!” Wow!  

The Lord knows my greatest desire in this season is to do just that. I want to be effective in the place of prayer, and to effect change to things I see wrong all around me. There are strongholds to pull down, sicknesses to rebuke and command to leave, lives that need the reconciling power of Christ. I know there’s a level I haven’t yet attained in my understanding and actions.  

But I want to go there. I want to stop dreading the sound of the adversary rumbling and shouting. I can’t ever get there with a mindset that I’m all alone down here having to stare at what scares me, trying to decide whether to fight or to flee. I must understand that connection to Christ’s authority–available to us if we’re believers–empowers me to rise above and address these things in a realm that brings true change and not just wishful thinking. We can do it with our Father’s endorsement as we pray in Jesus’ name! Oh, I’ve got a lifetime full of wishful thinking on my resume’. And quite a few episodes where I dove behind the couch and waited for the adversary to leave instead of establishing resistance against him.  

Interestingly, after seeing the vacuum cleaner from a different vantage point, the cat was no longer afraid. She actually came back and watched, from the a few feet away in the floor, as I vacuumed the next room…

Lord, thank You for helping me to learn a lesson from, of all things today, my cat in a windowsill. I respond with even greater enthusiasm to Your beckoning to a higher place where I might defeat the spirit of fear, and of fear of failure. Thank You that I rise above what has historically frightened and intimidated me. Use me, I pray, to make a difference wherever I am, and to draw people’s attention to how great You are!  

As Paul shared in Ephesians 3, I thank You for granting to me, according to the riches of Your glory, to be strengthened with might by Your Spirit in my inner man; that Christ may dwell in my heart by faith; and that being rooted and grounded in love, I may be able to comprehend (With all the saints! Help me teach others about what You’re sharing with me!) the the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which surpasseth knowledge, that I (and of us who serve You) might be filled with all the fullness of God. You are able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think…according to the power that worketh in us, Your Word says! You are actually empowering US as we remain connected and submitted to the Head–Jesus Christ! Why, Paul even says in the previous chapter (Eph 2:6-7) that you’ve raised us up with Christ and made us to sit with Him in heavenly places!  That’s a game changer!

Help us all to rise above what keeps us stagnant; to stop just shaking our heads and “tsk tsk’ing when we see the sick, the blind, the maimed, the bound. You want us to do something about it! Teach us to walk in Your power, to achieve Your will for our lives, to remain humble before You but fearless against the works of darkness!

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

STRIKE-ANYWHERE BELIEVERS

match“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”       –Jesus (Matthew 5:16)

There was a time when the humble little match could be ignited by striking against any surface. You see it all the time in the old westerns; macho cowboy strikes a match from his boot, lights his cigarette, and strolls away with that slow, Joe Cool gait.

Eventually, the original strike-anywhere match was replaced, however, when it was discovered that the highly volatile white phosphorus on the tip could ignite itself just when matches rubbed together in the box. The phosphorus was also poisonous when ingested; when men working in the match plants handled it or breathed it in, it slowly ate away their bones and left them physically ill or eventually dead. Others, learning of its deadly properties, misused the power of the white phosphorus match tips to commit suicide or to kill others. The United States actually forbade the import of the original formula white phosphorus matches early in the 20th Century.

The new match tips were made of a different combustible substance coated in wax, and the ignition key now became red phosphorus, a less powerful chemical than its white cousin.  The final difference lay in the fact that the special red phosphorus was the only surface whose friction could ignite the matches. To this day, the little strip of reddish-brown that you see on the edge of the matchbox or match pack is the only friction that can “set it off.” Safety matches. Although you can now buy a different version of a strike-anywhere match, which too is coated to prevent accidental combustion, it only looks like the original. Its properties are very different.

Spiritually-speaking, what kind of match are YOU? Do you catch fire only when you’re in church? Do you only allow yourself to be ignited in a special setting? Do you require the right music, the dim lights, the fog machine to “feel” the Holy Spirit? Outside those conditions, are you coated with a layer of carnality so that you have no potential to erupt into the flame of God without the backing of the Church to set you off?

I challenge you to go back to the original formula! Of COURSE it’s deadly when misused. The Holy Spirit is not to be toyed with. When the flesh tries to “handle” Him, the outcome is never good. His power is to be reverenced, never treated as a common thing. However, when you allow Him to become rich and full and operational in your life, you won’t find yourself restricting His flow when you are outside the box of the church walls. When He fills you, baptizes you, He doesn’t require the music, the stained-glass windows, or the goosebumps to erupt! He IS the fire which can show up anywhere!  The Holy Spirit gives us power for service.  The Holy Spirit is the “Go Ye” enabler in Matthew 28:19.

Our greatest danger of extinction lies in a watered-down experience with God. We’ve become so politically-correct, so reserved, so afraid of being thought of as obnoxious or weird by others, that we operate in only a very limited capacity. Healings and miracles are down exponentially because faith and the power of the Holy Ghost have had a “cap” put on them by the desire to blend in. If the devil can succeed in corralling that power into a church building and nowhere else, then he succeeds in having dominion everywhere else!

However…there is an awakening happening. A generation of people living in these last days are so hungry for the Holy Spirit to be operational that they are returning to the original formula. As they do, they are discovering that new wine can’t be contained with our “old wineskins” of religious etiquette and tradition. No, the power of the Holy Spirit has to be housed in a place capable of expansion, because He is “working” and needs some room!  Not even the restrictions of our nation’s new creed of universalism and tolerance can harness the Real Thing!  If others try to operate under a counterfeit, or if they should desire to remain boxed-in and proper, YOU BE AN ANYWHERE CHRISTIAN!  Operate in power!  We have work to do!

I challenge you today to ask God to fill you with the original, unwaxed, unlimited formula:

“Heavenly Father, I am tired of operating in limited power. There are sick people who need to be healed, evil spirits to be cast out, strongholds to be broken, and lives set free by Your salvation. Most of these people are not inside the church building, so I need to be able to shine Your light other places as well. I’m realizing more and more that a ‘less-volatile’ formula of You isn’t going to do it. I don’t want to have a form of godliness but no power. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit today. Make me dangerous to the works of darkness. Make me so combustible that I’m liable to erupt in the grocery store, the city square, even in front of the drug dealers and dignitaries and others who are kept ‘safe’ from witnessing You at work! I receive You, Holy Spirit, and I will not quench You when You are trying to operate outside the walls of the church. I will not misuse You or treat You as common, because You are holy. I will keep a clean temple and sanctify my mind so that You feel welcome. I will open my ears, eyes, and mouth to Your control. Allow me to hear Your voice, and to hear the silent cries of those who are ripe for the harvest. Allow me to see others as You see, and to discern what isn’t detectable by the naked eye. I will speak Your Word with boldness and not hide Your dominion in my life. I surrender all of me to Your use. Use me to light a huge fire everywhere You want to operate! In Jesus’ name I freely receive, Amen.”

Note: Scientific Facts obtained from Wikipedia.