Are you called to be an Intercessor?

Several weeks ago I asked our Intercessory Prayer Sunday School class, How many of you feel called to be an Intercessor? Some raised their hands, some didn’t.

One member said, I don’t have that gift, and I said, It’s not a gift, it’s a calling. I didn’t expand on that statement then but I’d like to do it now, with another question:

How do you know if you’re called to be an Intercessor?

In the beginning of my adventures with Jesus (1972) and the Holy Spirit (1974) I didn’t start out to be an Intercessor, or even much of a pray-er. I started out to be just a student of the Bible. And then to be a teacher of the Bible. And then to be a better student, and a better teacher.

Along the way I began to make prayer lists. After all, I figured that was what every good Christian did. Occasionally I wrote those prayers down in notebooks, which I still have today.

Reading back through those lists it’s easy to see that some prayers were answered, some weren’t. Some answers were almost instant and some were gradual, but some never came. Why?

Discouragement began to plague my prayer time as I tried to understand – What had I done wrong? What had I prayed wrong? So I went back to being a student of the Bible, seeking answers to those questions.

After a while I realized that my interests were changing. I wasn’t interested in reading the same sort of books (murder mysteries and spy novels), or watching the same sort of television programs (cop shows) as I had been. Now, that wasn’t intentional, but gradually the use of my time shifted.

More and more of my time was being spent in seeking the Lord, studying the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom, understanding, and information – answers to those “What” questions.

And then I discovered I John 5:14-15… “This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”

Over a span of some years I discovered more and more of my time was being spent in praying for other people. Family, friends, and strangers. Believers yes, but many non-believers. Prayers for Mercy! My focus was shifting.

More time was being spent online reading reports of the Lord’s work around the globe. News from missionaries, revivalists, ordinary Christian people in Turkey, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Australia, Philippines, Russia, China, Japan – and many others.

Also news reports from mainline media, some Christian, some secular, in the United States and overseas. Reports of events, happenings, situations, chaos, conflicts, disasters, often accompanied by prayer requests from Christians and non-Christians. Many requests for prayer kept showing up in my emails and news feeds.

Pretty much automatically, I found myself praying and praying and praying as I read. Asking the Lord to inspire my prayers, to pray His will through my prayers!

Eventually it became evident that He had answered that particular prayer. He had implanted his desires right in the middle of my desires. Like, other drivers being annoying? Unsafe? “Pray mercy for them,” says the Holy Spirit. “You may be the only person on earth who will pray for them.”

Hitchhikers, bike riders, pedestrians along the road? “Pray they will encounter my presence, my compassion, my mercy,” says the Holy Spirit. Snarky people on Facebook? “Pray mercy for them,” says the Holy Spirit again. “They need Me, not a holier-than-thou attitude.”

A name suddenly pops into your mind? “Pray for them,” says the Holy Spirit. “They need a prayer right now.”

I began researching intercession and the authority of the believer in prayer, and what the scriptures have to say about all that. Wow. Prophetic intercession, prophetic worship, intercessory worship, there’s still a lot to learn! I’m still learning.

Well, being an Intercessor wasn’t what I started out to be. But it’s what the Lord started: an additional assignment. A calling.

Could I tell him No, I don’t want to do this? Certainly. I could refuse to spend my time this way, he wouldn’t send me to hell because of it. He might make me miserable… because my joy is to do what the Lord wants! To go where he wants, do what he wants, say what he wants, and pray what he wants.

See, some years ago I did say No to the Lord. In an unhappy state, I decided that if I just quit teaching the Bible things would get better. I would be happier. So I quit teaching and I quit reading my Bible and I quit praying.

Guess what happened? “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (Jer. 20:9) I was miserable!

Thankfully that phase didn’t last long and soon I returned to what I knew He wanted for me. Now this is what he wants for me.

How about you? Are you called to be an Intercessor? If you are, the Lord will show you. It may or may not be an instant revelation, but your focus will shift, your interests will change, and your use of time will be different.

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Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Prayer and Intercession

Holy-Spirit fireReaders, please notice a new Page titled Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Prayer and Intercession.

This is a series of teachings given during a Sunday School class titled Principles of Prayer and Intercession.

You will need to click on the Page and its menu for individual posts, as they are not automatically distributed via email to subscribers.

I will do my best to update the Page as new material is addressed in class. Please let me know if you have questions about any of these posts, or if you would like to read notes from our previous classes on Prayer and Intercession.

 

Remember the donkey

DonkeysDiscouraged. Hurt. Angry at God. Disappointed. That’s how I was feeling one morning, after a lot of discouraging things had happened the day before.

And so I had a conversation with the Lord about faith (which I had been studying more about recently).

I told him that it seemed to me faith wasn’t real; that the scriptures about faith weren’t true. The things I had believed in faith when I prayed just were not happening.

I said a lot more than that, of course, but basically I was deciding as I talked that it was pointless for me to pray for anyone or anything, or even go to church any more. What was the point, if what the Bible said would happen when we prayed really DIDN’T happen? If there were no results?

Then Jesus began quietly talking back to me. “Remember the donkey,” he said. “Remember the colt.”

The colt? I began to remember. The week before Passover, on what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus told the disciples to go to a specific place, find a specific donkey and colt, and bring them back to him. (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 20, John 12.)

I visualized that, could almost see the disciples looking at each other, shrugging their shoulders with unasked questions.

What did the disciples think Jesus was up to? Why did he want a donkey? He and they walked everywhere, didn’t they? We know now why he did it, Matthew 21:5-6 says it was so the prophecies would be fulfilled. But did the disciples know that? Whether or not they knew why, they obeyed him. They went and collected the colt.

“What were the results?” the Lord asked me. That required more thinking on my part. Well, there were several levels of results…

  • Jesus got to his destination. (The Temple in Jerusalem)
  • The crowds began praising Jesus. (Shouting Hosanna)
  • The religious leaders got upset. (Seriously plotting)
  • God kept his timetable. (Crucified on Passover)

This journey on the donkey’s back, the praise from the crowd and the upset Pharisees were necessary steps to instigating the crucifixion by the right date – Passover.

Okay, I said to the Lord. So what does that mean for me, for my prayers, my desire to see you DO something when I pray? What does all that have to do with faith at all? He recapped for me what I had just been thinking:

Immediate results – arrived at destination.
Intermediate results – stirred up opposition necessary to fulfill God’s plan.
Final results – God’s plan fulfilled.

So there are short term results, mid-term results, and long term results. Obviously some answers to prayer, God’s plans, may take a really long time to arrive. But they will arrive.

Then I began to consider that faith question, again.

Faith comes to everybody, but not everybody takes it. (Faith comes by hearing, according to Romans 10:17.) Children have to be told something first, in order to have faith, i.e. trust, just as adults do. A child learning to walk, for example.

“Walk to Mama,” we say. “Come on, you can do it!” We can show him how, help him stand up and get his balance, but we can’t walk for him. The child must obey our words and do something that requires trust in the person speaking. He must take that first, perhaps wobbly step, then another.

He can obey or refuse to obey. If he obeys and experiences positive results, i.e. takes a step or two without being hurt, he acquires trust that this will work. That trust leads to another few steps, i.e. more experience in walking, and more experience becomes stronger trust. Faith that yes, he can do it. He can walk. And pretty soon, he is walking, and running.

That process began with hearing words from someone speaking to him, him trusting the one speaking, accepting those words and obeying them. The faith was actually contained in the words of the trustworthy speaker, but it wasn’t forced on the hearer. The hearer was never forced to accept the words as true or trustworthy, he had to make a choice. Choose to believe the person speaking, or not believe the person speaking. And choose, sometimes really often, to keep on believing.

“Remember the donkey,” the Lord said. That was pretty much the end of my conversation with him that morning, but I’ve been thinking more about it since.

Getting answers to some prayers – certain long term results – seems like too much hard work for many of us. Too much painful trouble. Too much stress. Too much time, too much energy, too much disappointment, too much anguish. Too much waiting.

That’s what I was thinking when that familiar voice interrupted my thoughts with a whisper: “Long term results begin with short term results.” I thought some more.

I began to think about the Olympics. About Usain Bolt winning an Olympic gold medal in running… how did that begin? Well, it began with him hearing those first words, “Go for it, you can do it, you can do it.” It began with him believing those words and accepting them as true. Stepping out to obey, to try, to gain experience. To fail sometimes but not quit. To fail sometimes, and succeed sometimes, and eventually win the gold medal.

How long did that process take? How much experience? And how much reinforcement?

Faith comes by hearing, present tense, not having heard, past tense. How many times did a parent, a coach or a team-mate say those words of encouragement to Usain Bolt, “You can do this, you can do it!” And so he did.

The first thing I did after that conversation was to apologize to the Lord, to repent and ask forgiveness for my attitude, and to ask for his help in reinforcing my faith. What I asked him for is stubborn, determined, persistent, persevering, teeth-clenching, gutsy faith. I think that’s what he wants me to have. What he wants all his children to have.

I want to “Remember the donkey” today, and every day, as many days as it takes.

God’s joy, my strength

FilledWithJoyWomanNoBirthdayMessageThe article below about Joy was originally posted on December 28, 2011.

2011 was a hard year for me. In January 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Most of that year was then spent undergoing chemotherapy, mastectomy, and radiation therapy.

I had serious side effects to all of those, including pretty bad radiation burns that cut short the number of those sessions. I published a personal diary of those adventures at the time, and some since then. (www.BettesJournal.wordpress.com)

The Lord told me clearly at the beginning of these adventures to “put the unbelievers out of the room.” He meant, for me not to talk about the diagnosis to everyone, only to Christians who truly believed God’s word – who truly  believed what Jesus said in John 10:10. I have an enemy out to kill me, who wants to steal my health and destroy my faith. But Jesus has come to give me life! Abundant life!

And so I didn’t tell many folks about the diagnosis or that blog, only several like-minded Christian friends who knew how to intercede according to the scriptures. No wishy-washy, 50-50 chance, fearful, doubtful, uncertain prayers were wanted. I got some of that kind nevertheless, but I also got many life-filled, love-filled, faith-confirming intercessory prayers too. Those were worth their weight in gold, believe me.

2011 was spent in a lot of Bible study, reading, and watching hundreds of miracle videos, preaching and teaching from evangelists, pastors, revivalists. It was spent filling my mind and soul and spirit with God. With his creative power, his life, his healing.

I didn’t publish many blog posts that year and ended the year with the post that follows: God’s joy, my strength. It was true then, it’s true now.

December 28, 2011

James 1:2 says “Consider it pure joy, my brethren, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (NIV)

That verse doesn’t say that whatever is going on will feel joyful. Trials don’t feel joyful but despite that, we should act as though they did. It will strengthen our faith (and will certainly drive the enemy crazy too!)

Well, I know by my own experience that that’s easier said than done. This lesson is for me.

John 14:1 – Jesus said “Let not your heart be troubled.” If Jesus said for us to do it, then we can do it. It is our job to prevent our heart from worrying.

Here’s one way: consider whatever is troubling us in the light of his power. His power, not ours. With the Holy Spirit living in us we can do it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)

John 15:11 – Jesus said “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Can you imagine Jesus being joyful? Obviously he was. Luke 10:21 tells us that Jesus “rejoiced in the Spirit,” because he had sent out the seventy to minister in his name and they had returned successful.

What had he told the disciples? Here are some of those things:

  • John 15:7 – “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”
  • John 16:24, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
  • John 16:23 – “My father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
  • John 8:31-32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Set you free in the Greek means to ‘free you’, make you delivered, at liberty, free from bondage. Many people misquote those verses by leaving out the first sentence. But it’s a prerequisite for the second sentence — only if you are really a disciple of Jesus, holding to his teachings, will you know the truth and be made free.

Nehemiah 8:10 says “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Not your joy, God’s joy. They could be strong now because God was joyful over them. He wanted them to be joyful too!

The people had returned from years of captivity in Babylon. On this day they were assembled in Jerusalem to hear God’s word read for the first time in a long time, and as they heard and understood it they began to weep.

But Ezra and Nehemiah told them not to weep, not to mourn but to celebrate. This was a sacred day! They were being given back their lineage, their family tree and the temple itself. They were moving back into and living in the city of Jerusalem as their home. They could once again worship in God’s temple. God was joyful about that!

Zephaniah 3:19 says, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (KJV)

Some of these words have interesting definitions in the original language:

Save:  Deliver, defend, rescue, avenge; to be open, wide, free, safe.
Rejoice:  To be bright, cheerful, glad; make mirth.
Joy (noun):  Glee, mirth, pleasure, gladness.
Joy (verb):  To spin around, rejoice.
Rest: To keep silent (secrecy); to let alone. God’s love keeps our sins hidden. What a wonderful thought!
Love:  Affection.
Singing:  Shout, cry, a creaking or shrill sound, triumph. This isn’t a sweet harmonious melody, this is the shout of the warrior, the triumphant battle cry.

Can you imagine Father God being full of this kind of joy? Twirling around and shouting in triumph over his people? He did, and he still does.

In John 17:13, as Jesus faced his arrest and crucifixion, he prayed this for the disciples: “… that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus, “for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross.” That was some kind of joy!

Despite the ordeal facing him, that wasn’t a prayer born out of grief but triumph! God’s joy is triumphant, a mirth-filled celebration of victory no matter what the circumstances look like.

That’s God’s joy; Jesus’ joy!

I certainly need it. We all need it and we can have it — it’s one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow!

Already an interesting year

Some new readers may have missed the following post, originally published on December 25, 2015:

2016 – what will it be like?

Praying before sleep one night last week, I asked the Lord about next year. “What will it be like? Worse than 2015? More disasters, chaos, tragedies? More wars?”

“Appointments met,” he said. “Promises kept. Prophecies fulfilled. A year of kairos moments.”

Kairos – the appointed time, in due season, the fullness of time, at a fixed and definite time, for a certain time only.

It’s going to be an interesting year.

—————————————————————-

2016 has already been an interesting year. I’ve met many new people online, read many interesting articles and blog posts, had the privilege of praying with many people in person, on the phone or online, and seeing God at work everywhere. Almost every day…

Thinking about that, the Lord reminded me of an occasion some weeks ago that was way MORE than just interesting.

A routine appointment with my cardiologist was scheduled for 1:30 on a Friday afternoon. As usual, I arrived a few minutes early and checked in with the receptionist. She looked a little “frowny,” so I asked how she was doing.

“Not too good,” she said. “I have a terrible stomach ache. I couldn’t even eat my lunch.”

So, I reached my hand across the counter, she took it, and looking straight into her eyes I smiled and said, “Stomach, be healed in Jesus’ name.”

She thanked me and I turned into the waiting room, found an empty chair and sat down. The only other patient nearby looked over at me and spoke hello with a big smile on his face. He had seen my interaction with the ailing receptionist.

Dropping my purse onto the floor, I leaned back to get comfortable when I heard my name called. I’d been there five minutes! That never happens… usually there is a lengthy wait time.

In a little room off the main hall, a very overweight medical technician took my weight and checked my blood pressure, pronouncing both of them excellent.

“Wish I could say that,” she commented. “I can’t seem to lose weight and I know my blood pressure’s too high.”

“Would you like to know how I do that?” I asked her. “Sure,” she said.

And so I told her about the power of the Holy Spirit to stick with a healthier lifestyle. She said she and her husband were both Christians and he was doing okay, but she had a hard time eating right.

“Would you like me to pray for you?” When she said yes I held out my hand and she took it. With a smile I simply prayed, “Father, please give my sister the desire and the ability to take better care of her health, especially with what she eats, in Jesus’ name.”

Thanking me, she walked me straight to an examining room – which never happens! Usually patients go into an intermediate waiting room first, but this time we skipped right past it.

The young cardiologist and his physician’s assistant came in within a very few minutes – which never happens either! He read through my chart, listened to my heart and lungs and said, “You’re doing fine, just keep doing what you’re doing and come back in six months or so.”

As he prepared to leave the room, I asked him, “Can I pray for you?” (I already knew he was a believer from previous appointments.)

“Oh yes, I’d love for you to pray for me,” he answered, then put his arm around my shoulder and bowed his head.

I asked the Lord to bless him, to meet every need for him, his family, his staff and his practice, and especially to bless his relationship with the Lord. He hugged me, thanked me and turned to leave the room.

His physician’s assistant still stood there. She looked a bit glum, so I asked, “Would you like me to pray for you too?”

She teared up and began to cry. “Oh yes, please,” she said. “I’ve been having a really hard time lately and I need somebody to pray for me.”

I didn’t ask her for any details. I just took her hand, she bowed her head, and I asked the Lord to touch her life, to make Himself very present to her, and to let her know how very much God loves her and wants to help her.

I have no idea what words I said specifically. I just let the Holy Spirit use me to speak directly to her heart. She hugged me and thanked me, I got dressed and went back out to the receptionist’s desk.

The receptionist was smiling and cheerful as I asked, “How’s your stomach?”

“It quit hurting the second you prayed!” she exclaimed. She told me how much she appreciated the fact that I cared enough to pray for her. I smiled and said “Be blessed!”

Walking to my car, I glanced at my watch. I had been in the doctor’s office for about thirty minutes – that never happens!

Since that afternoon, I’ve had multiple opportunities to lay hands on the sick and see the Lord heal them – including laryngitis that instantly vanished, and a broken foot that was instantly healed, confirmed the next day with x-rays.

There have been many chances to see the Lord at work, to pray with and for people with a wide variety of problems, some serious – like the young father of four whose truck and his wife’s car both broke down at the same time. The Lord marvelously provided a replacement vehicle and truck repairs at very little cost.

Some of those chances have been at church, some in grocery stores, some in other businesses, and some online. Jesus went about doing good. He told us to do what he had been doing. A disciple isn’t just someone who reads about another person – his master – and tries to do what they did. A disciple is someone in training to be LIKE his master.

In our case, that’s Jesus. Being his disciple is doing what he did, how he did it. It’s listening to the Holy Spirit and doing what he says, with the dunamis power he provides to do it. If we’re not doing what Jesus did, how are we to do the “greater works than these?”

2016 is indeed going to be an interesting year. It already has been!

Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”

John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

I’m whistling up my sheep

16 Jan 2016

“I’m whistling up my sheep,” the Lord said to me this morning.

Lying in bed about 5:00 AM, not quite ready to get up, I asked the Lord to talk to me. (Last night I had gone to sleep so quickly that I didn’t even pray much.)

That was his answer. “I’m whistling up my sheep from all over the world.”

Then he showed me, scene by scene, masses of people being born again. In Iceland. Greenland. Lapland. The Gobi desert. Afghanistan. The Russian Steppes. China. South Africa. Indonesia. Kuwait. The continents, the island nations, small and large.

And on, and on, and on. Lost people responding to the prayers of found people, their hearts are waking up to desire God, to hunger for the true God. They are seeking Him and they are finding.

“If they have never heard the gospel, a way will be made for them to know it. They are entering the kingdom by twos, and threes, by two thousands, and three thousands. My sheep are coming in.”

I suddenly began to see faces, nations – black, white, red, yellow, brown, every shade of every skin color. Oriental. Pacific Islanders. Asians. European. Scandinavian. Native Americans. South American. First People.

Then I heard the whistle, like a boy calling his dog, or a coach calling his team, or a shepherd calling his sheep. The Shepherd is calling His sheep, and they are coming.

I realized – those who he is calling were not yet born again when he began whistling. The whistling is in response to the intercessions of his obedient born-again ones. As they pray and decree what the Shepherd wishes, he carries out those wishes.

And so he is whistling up his sheep. Whew. I can see those faces, hear those whistles. Multitudes are coming into the kingdom.

(See Zechariah 10:8)

Should Christians get involved in politics?

PoliticsWhy not? This country was founded by Christians who got involved in politics. Some Christians say politics is full of hypocrites, and that may be true. They also say the news is too gloomy, and that may be true, so they don’t know what the issues are or who stands for what.

They say those are reasons enough not to get involved, and that is certainly not true.

I’m sure some supermarkets are run by hypocrites, but we still buy groceries. And some gas stations may be run by hypocrites, but we still buy gas… and we educate ourselves on where the best buys are on T-bones and unleaded, don’t we?

Perhaps if more Christians had been involved in American politics in the past, things would be better in the present.

Two primary ways for Christians to get involved is through intercession (prayer) and intervention.

In I Samuel 12:23, Israel had demanded a King and God gave them one. Then the prophet Samuel told the people of Israel, “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you…” It was a sin against God, not against people, to not intercede for the nation.

I Timothy 2:1-2 tells us to pray for all those in authority so that we may live in peace. No peace? Maybe not enough prayer for those in authority.

Praying is the first way to get involved in politics. Pray for the right candidates to run and pray for those who get elected. How do you know which are the right ones? Not by remaining ignorant; not by refusing to read up on the issues or watch the daily news.

Another way to get involved is through intervention. If you think things are going the wrong way, intervene. Interfere. Interrupt. Become informed about taxes, schools, the environment, and more controversial issues. Then speak up. Make phone calls, send emails, write letters to the editor and others, talk to your friends, family and neighbors.

Silence is often taken for agreement when it might just be laziness or complacency.

There are more ways for Christians to get involved but these are the first and to me, the most important.

(Reprinted from Talk With Bette, 13 February 2007. Still appropriate.)