How to Pray Less, Succeed More: Praying the Word of God.

How important are words to God? How important is his own word, to God?

According to John14:26, the Holy Spirit will bring back to our remembrance the words that Jesus told us. He’s our “Reminder-in-Chief” of God’s word, and he does it in several ways:

By our reading, studying and meditating on the scriptures for ourselves (the Holy Spirit can’t remind us of something we didn’t know in the first place); by hearing teachings and sermons of people like pastors and Bible teachers; and even by the conversation of Christian friends, our mentors whether they consider themselves as that or not.

Here are some reminders, scriptures dealing with our use of words. We all use words in casual conversations, as well as in our thoughts:

  • Proverbs 6:2 – “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.” (KJV)
  • Proverbs 18:21 – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
  • Proverbs 21:23 – “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”
  • James 3:19 – “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
  • Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

Since you are a hearer of your own words, they should be ministering (delivering) grace to you yourself, as well as anybody else. Even in your private thoughts, you’re hearing words.

So what kind of words might you be hearing from your own self? Words of confident, relaxed faith? Or words of frustration, irritation, annoyance, impatience, anxiety, worry, doubt, anger, fear? Pain or disappointment?

It’s a common temptation to let our words contain stuff that doesn’t minister grace to anyone, including ourselves. Even the words we may use in prayer. The temptation is to pray in exasperation, desperation, frustration, and not in faith.

Then too, did you ever begin to pray but then get distracted? Distraction is another common temptation, losing focus, the mind wandering to family situations or work problems.

Trials and temptations – do they affect prayer?

Yes, they do. Of course they do. But there’s an excellent example of coming out ahead despite them – our primary example, Jesus.

Matthew Chapter 4 and Luke Chapter 4 describe the temptation of Jesus in the Judean wilderness, after he received the Holy Spirit. We tend to think about the desert as being empty, and that idea limits our ideas of the temptations Jesus faced. But he was tempted in every single way that we are, and that temptation started in the desert.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15, NASB)

Let’s think about that a bit. What exactly was Jesus tempted with, during those 40 days before Satan began “sweet-talking” him? Where was that wilderness, what was in it, what it was like at that time? Here’s some interesting information about it:

East and south of Jerusalem, the Judean Wilderness is one of the smallest deserts in the world, much of it lying adjacent and west of the Dead Sea. It was and is craggy and rough, hilly and mountainous with steep cliffs and deep ravines, difficult but not impossible to traverse on well-used trails criss-crossing the area. Takes concentration.

There were occasional streams and many wadis, some pools of water in shaded areas and oases with trees and other vegetation.

Sparsely inhabited, it contained small villages on its edges (Bethlehem was one of those), as well as Bedouin encampments, camels, sheep and goats, leopards and other wild creatures. People! Company! Interesting conversations! Temptations? Perhaps.

Then there was the spectacular and huge Herod’s Palace (Herodium)* south of Jerusalem, which may contain his burial site. It has been the site of an intermittent archeological dig over the years. In the days of Jesus’s wilderness temptation, this was a busy place with many people coming and going, the Roman guards who served Herod, as well as Herod and his entourage.

Masada is also there, overlooking the Dead Sea. It was captured and built up by Herod as a military fortress. More Roman guards came and went; lots of people to see.

(Both of these historical sites are Israeli National Parks today, popular tourist attractions.)

There were quite a few trees in the Judean Desert; they existed then and still do today, such as these:

The Carob / Locust tree (above left). It’s fruit is edible whether green or dried, and is frequently used as a chocolate substitute. The Acacia is also called the Rain tree (above right) because its leaves fold together in rain or high humidity. It’s used for animal fodder, gum, and has many medical uses.

Also located in the desert were date palms, pistachio trees, and wild figs. Fasting would definitely have been a temptation for Jesus; there was plenty of food and water available.

Physical fatigue, loneliness sometimes, and a great many distractions including people and scenery. There were lots of things to do, lots of things to see – and lots of things to guard against, including wild animals.

Not to mention the enemy, who used words to tempt Jesus to compromise, as he does to tempt believers today. But Jesus knew the importance and power of the scriptures, and he made excellent use of them. So can we. So must we, if we’re going to Pray Less and Succeed More.

* For more information about Herodium,, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodium and http://allaboutjerusalem.com/attraction/herodion-national-park.

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God is building a wall

Late Friday night March 15, 2019 I was sleepily praying about many things including politics, the President’s wall proposal and the opposition to it, when the Lord interrupted my prayers.

Quite clearly, he said, I’M building a wall.”

Okay Lord, YOU’RE building a wall, I answered, visualizing the wall of a house.

“No, bigger than that,” he said. So I imagined a much taller wall, although still part of a house. A bigger house, maybe two-story.

“It’s a wall that divides,” he added. “I’m not through with America yet. Now is the time for people to choose; to put themselves on the right side of my wall.”

Oh, wow. Wow. As I considered that, the image expanded, becoming more like the Great Wall of China.

“It will become a tower.”

I recalled towers I’d read about in scripture, such as those built in the center of vineyards. Watch towers.

“Think more like this,” the Lord said, and showed me the city wall around Jerusalem, with tall, broad, high guard towers at intervals.

Slowly the image expanded again; the wall grew higher, and broader, and longer, encircling a much greater distance than any one city. It was still growing when our conversation ended, but my thoughts didn’t end there.

I couldn’t go to sleep. I praised and thanked God for his message, and prayed. As I did, the faces of many people and accounts of horrible situations ran through my mind like a newsreel. Occasionally I dozed off only to wake up a short time later, still praying. More faces. More needs. More lost souls!

When Saturday morning dawned I was still praying. Eventually I got up, fed my hungry kitties, made myself a cup of coffee, and meditated on what the Lord had said. I jotted down some notes.

I knew he didn’t mean a wall in the natural world somewhere.

But like a physical wall, I knew this spiritual wall is becoming more obvious as it goes up. It is indeed a divider, between good and evil. God is creating a wall and drawing a line, making people choose. By their words and actions, they are revealing their hearts publicly.

And I understood more clearly, too, the purpose of the call to pray that is spreading across the world today. The intercessions of God’s people are the building blocks for his wall, brick by spiritual brick.

I spent some time Saturday researching definitions and uses of the words wall, tower and fortress in the Bible. I discovered that God himself is our strong tower, our defense, our fortress.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runs into it and he is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10) I remember singing that verse many years ago, and now I find myself singing it again.

Over two years ago the Lord gave me specific words to pray, more like a command or decree: “Out and oust.”

That meant, reveal those (in government, or business, or media, or entertainment) who are opposed to God’s work, and remove them from any sphere of influence. Since then I have watched the answer to that prayer play out publicly, again and again.

God’s wall is going up, spiritually. He is drawing the line. And people are being forced to choose which side of God’s wall they want to be on, when the final bricks are laid.

Worship; definition?

It was a mid-week church service, sometime in the early 1980’s.

Who was preaching? I don’t remember. Who was leading the singing? I have no memory of that. Who was playing the pipe organ, the piano, the drums and guitars? I can’t recall that either. Who was present? A few relatives, a few friends, myself and many others whose names I didn’t know. I was only a visitor, not knowing what to expect.

What was happening? That I will never forget.

The main floor and the balcony of the sanctuary was filled that evening. The preliminaries had taken place – greetings, announcements, offering, followed by hymns and praise songs accompanied by enthusiastic clapping. The congregation had taken their seats. But then…

A complete hush fell over the congregation. The silence was so deep you could have heard a pin drop. Literally. It was as if a thick cloud had descended, cutting off every nuance of noise. No foot shuffling could be heard, no throat clearing, no nervous coughing, no nothing. The quality of light subtly changed from that provided by the ordinary church chandeliers to a brilliance I’d never seen before. It was hard to keep your head up or your eyes open.

After only a few moments it was also hard to stay in your seat. Many didn’t. People began to slip off the front pews and platform chairs onto the floor, out of the side pews into the aisle. No-one spoke. Nobody even seemed concerned about it. Everyone was too affected by the manifest presence of God in the room to take notice of their companions.

About half-way back on the left side of the building, my own row was too packed with people for me to move but I couldn’t raise my hands from my lap. I just basked in the soft, cherishing, comforting presence of the Lord.

What was it like? The closest I could describe was like being wrapped in a warm blanket, sitting on my mother’s lap and hugged close.

How long did it last? I never looked at my watch so I don’t know. But gradually the cloud began to lift. The people on the floor were helped back to their seats. The pastor got to his knees, then climbed to his feet holding onto the pulpit, but he couldn’t speak. Maybe he wanted to try to explain what had happened but I don’t think anyone was listening anyway.

Because the entire congregation was worshiping, telling Jesus how much they loved him, how much they adored him, how much they appreciated him. Some stood to their feet with arms raised and tears flowing down their face. Nobody wanted to leave that night and many of us lingered for a time, too awestruck to drive home yet.

As we milled around, we discovered that several miracle healings had occurred throughout the sanctuary. Nobody had laid hands on the sick or offered to pray, but as the presence and power of the Lord engulfed them the sick and hurt were made whole. Pneumonia in an elderly violin-maker – lungs completely cleared. A cracked elbow in my school teacher sister-in-law – bone completely healed.

That was my first experience of worshiping God in spirit and in truth in a church service. I’ve had similar worship experiences since then, in church buildings, convention centers, and the privacy of my own home. God instigated, they are not for his benefit, but for ours.

So, how would I define worship? Falling in love with the most precious, most beautiful, most wonderful, most worthy person that ever existed or ever will exist, knowing that he loves you back, and telling him how you feel.

(Originally published in 2015, reposted in 2017, but worth sharing again, I thought.)

The Anointing

Esther's Petition

Lord, what is the anointing?

“If you need to hammer a nail, I hand you the hammer, then my hand on your hand, together we hammer the nail. My hammer, handed to you, my hand on your hand wielding the hammer – that’s the anointing.

“If you need to saw a board, I hand you a saw, then my hand on your hand, together we saw the board. My saw, handed to you, my hand on your hand wielding the saw – that’s the anointing.

“If you need to preach a sermon, I inspire in you the sermon, then my words in your voice, together we preach the sermon. My words, inspired in you, my words spoken through your voice – that’s the anointing.

“If you need to love the unlovable, I impart to you my love, then my love in your heart, together we love the unlovable. My love…

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40 year adventure

45 years now…

Talk With Bette

FlamesBackI celebrated a 40-year anniversary this past Tuesday… April 15, 1974 was the date. You can read about it on one of my other blogs, Esther’s Petition, if you’re interested: https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/testimony-adventures-with-the-holy-spirit-part-i/

The last part of that post from 2011 reads, “I realized that the events of that night were an answer to my prayer for help. I wasn’t sure exactly what had happened to me, or if anyone else on the planet had ever had a similar experience. But I was determined to find out.”

I have spent the last 40 years finding out. It has been an adventure, to say the least. Other posts in Esther’s Petition catalog some of that adventure.

So why am I writing these thoughts over here, on this blog? This is where I used to jot down musings, opinions and advice about politics among other things. I say used to, because I don’t write…

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One minute after midnight

First posted in 2009…

Esther's Petition

I’m thinking about writing a fictional story titled, One Minute After Midnight.

Whether or not people believe in the rapture, or the 7-years of tribulation (some do, some don’t) — if they believe in the 1000 year reign of Jesus immediately after all that – what will the planet look like? who will be here? what will there be to do?

What will the planet look like? Like it did in Genesis chapter 1 – without form and void, as a result of war, natural and unnatural and manmade disaster, sort of like the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan after WWII, only much, much worse and widespread.

Who will be here? Supernatural (Jesus plus changed Christian) human beings; natural non-Christian human beings; natural non-changed Christian human beings; and the same old unseen beings, angels and demons.

What will there be to do? The command God gave Adam in Genesis…

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The day all things became new

Esther's Petition

It was a sunny summer day in 1972, the day I finally gave up to the nagging voice in my soul. A little voice kept calling my name. “Bette.” Whispering to me, reminding me, persuading me, cajoling me. Tch-tching me.  Umm umm-ing me. Uhh uhh-ing me, too. Soothing me, urging me, pricking me, always nagging me.

For years the voice had waxed and waned, but it had never really gone away, ever since the day as a teenager in church I had told God I understood how to be saved, and yes, I wanted to be saved, and okay, okay, I’ll accept Jesus as my “saver.”  Not really enthusiastic about it, I just said it and promptly forgot it.

I went to church weekly in those days, a Bible-teaching church, but one that taught that the miracle life of the apostles and New Testament Christians had died out and would only come back to reality in…

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