I am going to talk to you about your prayers. For several years, I have been trying to say this all kinds of different ways, but this time, I am going to be more direct. You see, the way you were taught to pray, or at least the way you may have been praying, is different than the way Scriptures would have you pray.
Go ahead and search the Scriptures. When you do, you will discover Jesus’ prayers and intercessions were much different from the way we normally pray. The Old Testament prophets, too! All of them made prophetic declarations instead of petitions . . . instead of begging and pleading. All of the preliminaries had been worked out with God in advance, and instead of “Oh please God, if is You will . . .” these great men of prayer, simply declared, “So shall it be . . .” Elijah said, “It will not rain for three and one-half years,” and it didn’t! Isaiah told Hezekiah, “You will live and not die,” and he lived! It was that simple.
It is hard for the average praying Christian to identify with these Biblical Heroes of our faith. But the model laid down for us in the New Testament is exactly like this.
James, Jesus’ brother wrote:
If any of you are having trouble, pray. If you are happy, sing psalms. If you are sick, call for the church leaders. Have them pray for you and anoint you with olive oil. (Prayers offered in faith will save those who are sick, and the Lord will cure them.) If you have sinned, you will be forgiven. So admit your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you will be healed.
Prayers offered by those who have God’s approval are effective. Elijah was human like us. Yet, when he prayed that it wouldn’t rain, no rain fell on the ground for three-and-a-half years. Then he prayed again. It rained, and the ground produced crops. (James 5:13-18)
Now, if you are going to pray like this you will need to recognize your relationship with your Father. He will never begrudgingly hold back anything from you. Jesus said “I will do anything [not some things; not just the things I feel like doing at the time] I will do anything you ask the Father in my name [Well, that about says it . . . but why?] so that the Father will be given glory because of the Son”(John 14:13). Oh . . .
These are the keys to our intercession! I think it is important that James promised that Elijah, one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, is just like us! He wasn’t some special dude who had angel wings that he wore. Every intercessor has his potential; if not, he has a track record. Elijah is called a “righteous man” because he had a right relationship with God. He knew who his God was and was confident in his relationship with Him! “Prayers offered by those who have God’s approval are effective.” But why? Because they are bold and because they believe God. Remember what was said about Abraham? He believed God, and that allowed him to be accredited by God!
You have heard it said many times that “prayer changes things.” I’ll tell you what, it can even change the weather! I have personally seen this happen many times! It is not because I am some special angelic being, I simply believe my God can, and is willing, to do anything! So no, we are not special, in having special talents and gifts, but are not mere helpless spectators at the drama of creation, either. When we enter into intercession, we become co-creators, in a sense, with our Father! Our prayers do change things, but only Grace will change people! So, if you wish to change some thing, speak to it and it will change. However, if you want to see a change in the life of another individual, ask that Grace would be given to them to guide and direct and fill their life.
Oh my brothers and sisters, we so limit our God! We know that He is able to do wonderful things, but he is also more than willing to do them, as well. We have at our disposal the same Word that created the heavens and earth. And, the fingers that put the galaxies in place are also clasped in our own! The power that broke open the tomb on Easter morning dwells within us! It is not that we ask too much. We are “pikers begging for trifles,” when our Father wants to give us all things!
Let me share how I discovered this.
- Back in 1980, 13 months after being born again and filled with the Spirit of God, I attended the First Assembly of God in Kalamazoo, and I joined a group of college students and traveled down to Springfield Missouri to attend the National S.A.L.T. (Student Activist Leadership Training). The title sounds more impressive than it was. Essentially, it was a conference of speakers teaching how to impact our culture with the Gospel. But, after the conference, as we were traveling home to Michigan, it began to snow. by the time we reached Kalamazoo, it was almost blizzard like. It was a wet, icy kind of snow. By this time, I was driving the borrowed van and taking each student home. The last student lived about 20 miles out of town and by that time, I had a fever and just wanted to get home and sleep. But, I had to get her home. So, I spoke to the snow and commanded it to stop until I got back home. And it stopped! Both of us were shocked, but I kept going and once I pulled into the driveway of my home, it began to snow again.
- Later the next year, I had traveled with some others to South Bend, Indiana to attend a Lester Sumrall meeting. On the way home, we spoke to our gas tank to remain full–and it did, but the biggest problem was the fog. We were traveling on a two-lane highway and could not see the hood ornament of our car. So, we spoke to the fog and commanded it to lift–and it did. In fact, it rose high enough that we could see considerably down the road (but not to the sides. It was as if we were driving through a tunnel and the only thing that illuminated the road were our headlights). Needless to say, we sang our praises to our Lord until we each got home.
- Then again, in June of 2009, my parents were going to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary and I was traveling from Ann Arbor to join in the festivities. My father was dying of lung cancer and they knew this could be their last anniversary, so I did not want the weather to destroy their plans. As I drew closer to Kalamazoo, I saw the storm clouds beginning to surround the city, so I began to pray and to speak to the clouds. Because Kalamazoo sets in a valley, as I drove closer, I was able to see that the clouds had grown thicker, accept over my parent’s house. I am terrible at distances, but I am guessing that there was a 1/4 mile hole in the clouds and the sun was beaming down on their property! It was such a beautiful site to see.
- On August 10, 2013, we were celebrating the 35th Reunion of my High School class and we were on the downtown “Skydeck,” an outdoor rooftop concession area. Some of us had arrived earlier than others, and the whole time before our reunion began, we saw the weather front coming toward us. It looked quite ominous, and the few who had come early were getting worried. So, despite some chuckles from my prior schoolmates, I spoke to the storm. And, much to their amazement, it went around the sky deck, where we were celebrating our reunion. Yes, it did become a tad cooler, and a little windy, but it never rained on us!
I could go on and on with examples of how I have spoken to weather, cursed bees (and watched them die), drove bats from a church in broad daylight, cursed fleas that had infested the home of a sister in our church . . . but please understand that I am not bragging about my own “faith” and “awesome power” that I might have. Because they don’t exist. Nor am I trying to draw attention to me. I am attempting to demonstrate how marvelous our Lord is and “the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His active, spiritual power that is in us who believe!” (Ephesians 1:19
Honest. Do you remember the story of when Jesus and his disciples were crossing a lake? Very soon after they began, a terrible storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water and about to sink. But where was Jesus? That’s right, he was asleep at the back of the boat! His disciples became all panicky and woke Jesus up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to drown?”
So, Jesus rebuked the wind and told the sea, “Quiet down!” And what happened? “. . . the wind fell, and there was a great calm!”
Now that is pretty cool, isn’t it? The disciples were busy doing their “360’s” and slapping each other “high fives,” but Jesus looked at them and the same way that He rebuked the wind, he rebuked them saying, “Why were you so afraid? With all of the time you have spent with me, all of the miraculous things you have witnessed, don’t you even yet have confidence in me?”
Well, you hear those stories I shared with you and you either respond with doubt and criticism: “Oh, he is either a kook or lying.” Or, you join Jesus’ disciples as they are “filled with awe and say, ‘Who is this man, that even the winds and seas obey him?’” That was my wife’s response the first time she witnessed me curse some bees!
But when I read Jesus promise, “I can guarantee this truth: Those who believe in me will do the things that I am doing. They will do even greater things because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12), I believe Him! Well, He has gone to His Father, and I am just so foolish enough to believe Him! “Yeah well, Jesus didn’t mean that you could do the same miracles . . .” Well, maybe not. But maybe he did. I believe he did. Now you can have rain at your party, but I will continue to speak to the weather and the clouds at mine!
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you—a to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.