Category Archives: Prayer and Intercession

The Garrison Of Peace

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I was in a gathering a couple of days ago in which some very sincere prayer went up on behalf of certain ones who are going through some very difficult things.  I want to draw attention to just one of them.  I later heard that one of the young sisters we had been praying for—she was not present in the gathering, in fact was hundreds of miles away—told her husband when he got home (he had been present in the gathering) that she actually “felt the prayers.”

I find this very encouraging.  Sometimes you wonder what your prayers actually do… and sometimes you are tempted to believe they don’t do anything at all.  I’ve been praying for many years about certain things… with no answer thus far.

But I say tempted, because, beloved, if we only knew the heart of our God, and His great love toward us, and His great concern, we would know how deeply interested He is in us and all we go through, and He wants us to continue to bring our prayers before Him.  Something effectual takes place, as we saw in this instance.

It’s very reassuring to read Paul’s words to the Philippians.

Be careful (anxious) for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God that passeth understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4.7).

The word keep there is much stronger in the original; it actually means to garrison, to mount a guard over.  “And the peace of God shall be a garrison, a guard, over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  How deeply we need this garrison of the peace of God!  Some troubling thought comes up… but no, the guards refuse to give it access into the mind; some anxious concern tries to force entry into the heart but the garrison bars it.

How does this become effectual?  Notice the link in this passage.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And...

There’s the link.  “And, the peace of God which passeth understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

The one follows the other.  We make our requests known to God, and consequently the garrison of peace keeps us from all anxiety.  For, it’s a loving God we are praying to, we are bringing our requests to a God whose love for us can be measured only by the Cross of the Son of His love.  He has given us His Son, and shall He not also, in giving Him, freely give us all things?   Therefore, once we have brought our requests to Him, the peace of this loving God garrisons and protects us from every anxious doubting thought.  He loves us beyond our ability to comprehend.  And His love is at work.  He is working all things together for good on our behalf.

He wants to assure us of this.  Just look at how often in our Bible He does this.  I thought I’d prepare a list of how, over and over again, our God tries to persuade us (it seems we need to be persuaded) that He hears our prayers… and will answer.  Here are just a few instances, all from the Psalms.  Some of them are at… what shall I say… they’re not just neat tidy prayers, they’re at a pretty deep gut level.  Read them, asking this one question.  It was God who inspired these prayers to be written.  Why?  Just to fill up Bible space?

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness… (Ps. 4.1)

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation,
Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for unto Thee will I pray… (Ps. 5.1)

Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not forth out of feigned lips… (Ps. 17.1)

The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble… (Ps. 20.1)

Unto Thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me, lest if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit… (Ps. 28.1)

Save me, O God, by Thy Name, and judge me by Thy strength,
Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth… (Ps. 54. 1,2)

Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not Thyself from my supplication… (Ps. 55.1)

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer,
From the ends of the earth will I cry unto Thee when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I… (Ps. 61. 1,2)

Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer; preserve me from fear of the enemy (Ps. 64.1)

Praise waiteth for Thee, O God, in Zion, and unto Thee shall the vow be performed.
O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come… (Ps. 65. 1,2)

Save me O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul.
I sink in deep mire where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying, my throat is dried; mine eyes fail while I wait for my God… (Ps. 69. 1-3)

Make haste O God, to deliver me; make hast to help me, O LORD… (Ps. 70.1)

In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be put to confusion… (Ps. 71.1)

I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice, and He gave ear unto me… (Ps. 77.1)

Give ear O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock, Thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth…
O LORD of hosts, how long wilt Thou be angry against the prayer of Thy people? (Ps. 85. 1,4)

Keep not silence, O God; Hold not Thy peace, for Thine enemies make a tumult… (Ps. 83.1)

Bow down Thine ear, O LORD, hear me, for I am poor and needy… (Ps. 86.1)

O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before Thee;
Let my prayer come before thee; incline thine ear unto my cry;
For my soul is full of troubles… (Ps. 88.1)

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto Thee… (Ps. 102.1)

I love the LORD, because He hath heard the voice of my supplications… (Ps. 116.1)

In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and He heard me… (Ps. 120.1)

Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens… (Ps. 123.1)

Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O LORD.
Lord, hear my voice; let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared… (Ps. 130. 1-4)

LORD, I cry unto Thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto Thee… (Ps. 141.1)

I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.
I poured out my complaint unto Him.  I shewed before Him my trouble… (Ps. 142. 1,2)

Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplication: in Thy faithfulness answer me, and in Thy righteousness;
And enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified… (Ps. 143.1,2)

Again, why did God inspire these prayers?  Surely it is because He wants to give us complete assurance that the God who inspired the cry will answer our cry.

And so… let us continue to make our requests known unto Him—requests not just for ourselves, but for others.  A precious sister we know discovered a couple of days ago that there’s something effectual that begins to work as a result.

A Heaven Quake?

I’m very aware I lack insight as to what is taking place behind the scenes in heavenly places.  That’s where the real action is.  That’s where the things that take place in the earth are initiated.

Last year great shakings took place in the Arab world.  They call it Arab spring.  Unrest that began in Tunisia in 2010 spread to Egypt where in February, 2011 President Hosni Mubarak resigned after 18 days of protests that filled TV screens across the world.  Since then, further shakings have taken place in other parts of the Arab world.

Arab Spring is viewed largely from a political perspective, and certainly it has political ramifications.  But the interesting thing is that God called an Egyptian church to forty days of prayer and fasting just prior to the upheaval in Egypt.  The rest is history, as they say.  Great shakings took place subsequently, and are still taking place.

And in the midst of it all many Moslems are turning to the Lord, as the pastor of the church reveals.  Not only that, Christians previously divided along denominational lines are coming together.  During the upheaval in Egypt, Copts, Catholics, and evangelicals laid aside their differences to fast and pray together, embracing one another in true Christian fellowship and love.  It sounds like it’s ongoing.

I’ve attached a link to a video interview with this pastor.

The interview moved me, especially the latter part where the Egyptian pastor calls on the church of America to humble herself.

My point is… people across the world were glued to the news watching what was unfolding in Egypt.  But where did these shakings originate?  We need to be awakened as to just what it is that causes the things that take place in our world.  Sometimes things happen that… you just wonder, what was that all about?  Not just on the world scene, but in the smaller circle of our own lives.  I am saying that we don’t know what’s going on in the heavenly realm.  Great forces are in conflict there.  Great purposes are unfolding.  We can suddenly find ourselves in the midst of great upheaval unaware that it was caused by something that took place in the heavenly realm.

Daniel saw in vision the four winds of the heaven striving upon the Great Sea (Dan. 7.2).  Why was the sea so roiled and agitated?  Was it just earthly politics?  No, it was caused by the winds of the heavens.

Take this a step further.  Daniel tells us of a time of prayer and fasting he entered into that had repercussions in the heavenly realm (Dan. Ch. 10).  The Prince of Persia and the Prince of Greece were stirred up; Michael, “one of the chief princes” became involved.

What caused it?

Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for (as a result of) thy words (Dan. 10.12).

This grips me.  We Christians here in the earth– if we are walking seriously with God– we play a vital part in what happens in the heavenly realm.  Maybe we often feel we aren’t making much of an impact on our world.  But that church in Egypt by their response of obedience to a revelation of the will of God, humbling themselves, chastening themselves before their God… suddenly they became keenly aware that they certainly did have a vital part to play in the unfolding purposes of God.  Their whole nation was suddenly in the throes of revolution.  I wonder if that might be in the category of what the Bible calls a heaven quake.

And what caused it?

Let’s lay this to heart ourselves… and humble ourselves as Daniel did, as they in Egypt are doing.  Our walk with God, our sensitivity as to His leadings… our response to Him… our prayer and seeking… our obedience… getting our hearts right with God… in all this we find ourselves walking in harmony with the heavenly hosts behind the veil… and great shakings take place.  Unexpected things break forth.  A step of obedience in the will of God can produce shakings round about us.  Upheaval.  Spiritual attacks.  Conflict.

…All that.  And more.  The rule of the kingdom of God!  What took place in Egypt and is still taking place is far more than political change.  It’s only a step toward the manifestation of the kingdom of God that ultimately is to cover the whole earth as the waters cover the sea.

Stay In Intercession Mode

Just as I finished the last blog entry the light bulb went on.  I realized that the complaining psalmist struggling with diffidence was actually in intercession mode, if I can call it that.  Yes, he was complaining.  He had a lot of questions, as I do myself.

Will the Lord cast off forever?  Will he be favourable no more?  Is His mercy clean gone forever?  Doth His promise fail for evermore?  Hath God forgotten to be gracious?  Hath He in anger shut up His tender mercies?

But was he nursing these questions as a charge against God?  I don’t think so.  He was crying out his questions in intercession to God.

This kind of cry of intercession is all over the Bible.

O God, why hast Thou cast us off forever?  Why doth Thine anger smoke against the sheep of Thy pasture? (Ps. 74.1).

Is the psalmist doubting God?  The danger to doubt is always there, of course, in times when God is silent, in times when He has hidden His face.  But such times are also an opportunity to come before God in intercession.

O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt Thou be angry against the prayer of Thy people?
Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.
Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves (Ps. 80.5).

Is the psalmist actually charging God with being angry with our prayers?  Not at all.  He’s seeking to provoke God… to stir Him to action.  For there is no way God is angry with the prayers of His people.  Exactly the opposite.  And when we remember that it is God Himself who inspired this psalm we realize that He is actually encouraging us here to continue to come before Him in prayer and intercession when things seem very dismal and desolate!

Many there are who are more or less content with things these days in spite of the fact that we (the church, I mean) have terribly failed to stem the tide of darkness that has come in upon us.  Not so this psalmist.  He is alarmed at the state of things!  He can’t take it any longer.  He cries out.  He sees the true condition of things.  And he boldly cries out his questions to the Lord.

His cry is the cry of the watchman.  We who in this hour have upon us the calling of the watchman must gird ourselves with all the spiritual strength we can lay hold of to be faithful and not buckle under in the face of what we see.  It is overwhelming, the onslaught of darkness of this hour.  But we must not give in to doubt, to mistrust, to lack of confidence—to diffidence.  Our agony for God… the darkness that presses hard upon us… our awareness of the true condition of a church that sees herself rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing when she is actually poor and wretched and blind and miserable and naked… we can go under because of all these things.   And do go under at times.  We must do fierce combat with diffidence because of them.  How can we engage this combat?  By recognizing that it is GOD Himself who has called us to the difficult calling of the watchman!  It is God Himself who has pressed this burden upon us, and we must be faithful to carry it before Him till He answers the cry of the watchman.

And if He has called us in this calling, He will sustain us in it as well.

Look at Psalm 89, the psalm of another watchman.  It’s written by Ethan the Ezrahite.  It begins with a declaration of the faithfulness of the Lord.

I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations.

Seven times Ethan speaks of the faithfulness of the Lord, of His mercy and truth, of His Covenant.  He fills his psalm with great promises all prophetic, I believe, of the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Throne of God.

For I have said, Mercy shall be built up forever:  Thy faithfulness shalt Thou establish in the very heavens.
I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant, Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations…

I have loved this psalm for years, have read it often.  But more and more of late I come to the “Selah” at the end of Verse 37, and don’t want to read any further.  In fact at times I have had to close my Bible.  It’s been too hard to read the next ten or so verses—gut wrenching, in fact.  I read it and am frightened.  For, in the first part of the psalm he has spoken of God’s great unfailing faithfulness.  But now?

Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.

In the first part he says, “I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him” (vs. 22).  And then in the latter part, “Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; Thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice” (vs. 42).

Again in the first part, “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips” (vs. 34).  But later in verse 39, “Thou hast made void the covenant of Thy servant: Thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground.”

And so in the face of this great, this grievous contradiction, Ethan cries out, “How long, LORD?  Wilt Thou hide Thyself forever?  Shall Thy wrath burn like fire?”

This is the burden the watchman carries—to see the utter failure of the promises of God, to see total contradiction… and carry that contradiction in intercession before the Lord.

For thirty-seven verses God declares over and over again His great faithfulness.  I’ll set my faithfulness in the very Heavens, He says.  I will put David’s throne THERE:  “It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven” (vs. 37).  Over and over again God declares it: His faithfulness will not fail.

And then what?  Utterly the opposite!  His faithfulness seems to fail!  You said, Lord, “My covenant will I not break…”  But what’s this? “Thou hast made void the covenant of Thy servant.”

Is not this the way things seem to have turned out in this hour?  Where is God’s promised faithfulness?

But let’s keep reading.   When this is our experience we must betake ourselves to the last verses of this psalm.

Remember, Lord, the reproach of Thy servants…”

Here is where we discover the sustaining power in this very hard state of things.  “The reproach of Thy servants,” Ethan says.  We are serving our God in carrying this reproach.  It is His own reproach, actually.  We carry this burden with Him— that the days of the right hand of the Most High seem to have failed.  And we let that reproach do in us what God intended it to do:  to try us by fire, to break us, to humble us… and to prepare us for the glory that is about to be revealed.  It’s precious to discover that those who carry this kind of burden are doing so not because they are out of touch with God, or have somehow lost their way.  The reproach has come upon them because they are obedient.  They are walking in the footsteps of His Anointed One.

Remember, Lord, the reproach of Thy servants, how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD, wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of Thine Anointed.

So… it’s a very powerful psalm.  We’re given a powerful promise of God’s faithfulness… followed by a picture in which the bottom has dropped right out of things.  God would warn us, and by warning us, seek to prepare us.  He says there comes a time in His purposes when His purposes—and His faithfulness—will seem to have failed.  We must gird on our armour for this brothers and sisters—and stay awake!  It is a time of great difficulty, great perplexity.  But the faithful God is still at work.  There is great purpose in this time, and we must trust Him in it.

For, it is the prelude to a mighty display of His power and unfailing faithfulness.  Many will cry out then, as we ourselves will, “Great is Thy faithfulness.”  Let us do so even now.  Blessed are those who continue to trust Him in this time, and watch faithfully in their watch—and stay in intercession mode.

Jesus’ Prayer Partners

Jesus said in John 17, “I pray for them.”

At the right hand of the Throne of God in Heaven, “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.”

Now, if Jesus at the right hand of the Father is praying for His own, what does this mean for you and me?

I’d like to relate an experience I had years ago—one of the most meaningful revelations I ever received.  I had been going through a very difficult time—one of those times when you feel like you are going under for the third time… never to come up again.  I had gone under like Jonah.  The weeds were wrapped about my head.  One evening during this painful time I was in a little gathering with a few others.  There had been some singing, and then a time of quiet worship.  I was standing with my eyes shut, and my head bowed, and my hands folded… and feeling such a deep anguish.  I began to pray in myself, “Lord, I am feeling so bad… what I need is… I need You Yourself to pray for me…  Lord… please, You pray for me, that’s what I need.  I need You to pray for me.”  I continued on like this for a little while, head bowed, eyes shut, in my heart crying out to the Lord to pray for me…

…And suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder.  One of the brothers had quietly walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder.  Then another joined him.  And another.  And after a few moments the brothers and sisters were all standing around me praying for me.

I just broke.

And light dawned!  Jesus had answered my prayer!  Jesus Himself had prayed for me… just as I had asked Him to.  Oh, what a healing experience that was for me!

It was a revelation I never forgot.  The body of Christ is not just an organization, beloved.  The body of Christ is a living reality.  The body of Christ is just that—the body of Christ Himself.  We who have the Holy Spirit of Christ in us—can you believe such a wonder?—here in the earth we are the members of Christ.

And oh, how we need to be awakened more fully into this reality—that what the Head is doing in Heaven, the Body is doing here in the earth.  When He stretches forth His hand to heal, His arm here in the earth stretches out that hand, and healing with the power of the Throne of heaven goes forth.

When He prays, we pray—and it is effectual prayer, prayer with the power of the Throne in it.

Now I realize why Paul the apostle was such a praying man.  Read his epistles.  They are full of prayer.

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers… (1 Thes. 1.2).

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, always (continually) praying for you… (Col. 1.3).

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers… (Rom. 1.9)

I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day (2 Tim. 1.3, and note the singular thee here).

I won’t quote more; it’s all over the place.  Paul was such a praying man.  But we miss much if we think of this in terms of Paul himself initiating all this prayer… and we get to admiring Paul.  Why was Paul like this?  I believe it was because Paul was very close to that Intercessor who sits on the throne of Heaven.  This One by His Spirit indwelt Paul.  And so these prayers of Paul are in essence the prayers of Christ Himself.  Perhaps that is better put by saying that Jesus on the throne of Heaven had a prayer partner—Paul, among others.  Jesus prayed, Jesus wanted to pray, and so He sought out His prayer partner Paul, who, it appears, was always more than ready to get down on his knees and pray with his Lord.  Since Jesus was continually interceding for His own, Paul too was habitually interceding.

Let us be seeking this same kind of intimacy with Jesus, and be always ready to pray with Him.  Jude calls us to be “praying in the Holy Ghost…”  That hits the nail on the head.  When we are praying in the Holy Spirit, it is the prayer of Christ Himself that is going up to the Father.

And if there was ever an hour when the brothers and sisters needed this kind of powerful prayer and intercession, it is now.

Let us be praying for one another, beloved.  Because this is what Jesus is doing.  “I pray for them,” He says.  Let us be Jesus’ prayer partners, then.  He may just put His hand on someone’s shoulder through you or me.

Jesus Prays For Thee

Does it not fill you with awe, and humble you—to realize that the Lord Jesus Christ prays for you?

He prays for you.  And prays for me.

I know how you feel—this seems backward; isn’t it you and I who do the praying to Him?

But remember, Jesus told Peter He had prayed for him, that his faith fail not.  We are not told just when this happened, but it appears Jesus often prayed for His disciples while He was here on earth.  I think of the time when His disciples were struggling to cross the sea of Galilee against contrary winds in the darkness of night.  Jesus, we are told, had had gone “into a mountain apart to pray” (Mt. 14.23).  No doubt it was His disciples He was praying for.  “He saw them toiling in rowing” (Mk. 6.48).  That’s pretty good vision Jesus had, isn’t it, to be able to see His disciples in the darkness of the night across the stormy waters.  And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them “walking on the sea” (Mt. 14.25).

He still has the same good sight.  He sees us even now in our toils and struggles.  Even now He continues praying for us from the heavenly Mountain He has ascended into.  He makes intercession for us, as He did those disciples of old.   He tells us as much in John 17, which is the record of a prayer Jesus prayed during the Last Supper, praying as though He were already ascended to the right hand of His Father in Heaven.

I pray for them (Jn. 17.9).

He is speaking of His disciples back then.  But He adds:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word… (Jn. 17.20).

And the writer of Hebrews tells us:

Wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb. 7.25).

And in Romans we read:

Who is he that condemneth?  (Since) it is Christ that died, yea rather, is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rom. 8.34).

And so it’s very encouraging—that the main ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of the throne of the Father in Heaven is as our great and powerful Intercessor.

It could be said that there are two main ministries in this universe.  One is the ministry of the Accuser of the brethren.  The other is the ministry of the Intercessor of the brethren.

Beloved, one of these two ministries we want no part of—either on the giving or the receiving end.  But when we do find ourselves on the receiving end of the Accuser of the brethren, oh, how wonderful to know that we have One who ever liveth to make intercession for us.

It’s very encouraging the way Paul brings in the fact that Christ’s intercession for us is as One who is seated at the right hand of God—the place of the greatest power in the universe.  In other words, He is not making intercession for us as One who pleads with great love and desire, but has no power.  He intercedes as One whose intercession is filled with the power of the Throne of God, and is therefore effectual.

It is a wonderful thing to know that Our Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of power is there as our great high priest and intercessor.  He is my great High Priest—who laid down His life for me on the Altar of the Cross of Calvary.  But my great High Priest is also the great King.  He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  He has all power in Heaven and earth.  He is able to “save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him.”  How so?  His intercession on our behalf—on your behalf, and mine—has the power of the throne of God in it.

Now… maybe you already see where this truth is going to take us… which I will get into next time.

…But wait a minute.  How can I resist closing here with the wonderful words of one of my favourite hymns?  I’m singing it right now as I listen to it on Cyberhymnal.

And I’m rejoicing!  How can we not rejoice, brother, sister, to have so great a Salvation, and so loving a Saviour and Intercessor before the Throne of Grace!  Let us rejoice!

Here is the hymn, one of Charles Wesley’s finest:

Arise, my soul, arise,
Shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice
In my behalf appears;
Before the throne my Surety stands,
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above,
For me to intercede;
His all redeeming love,
His precious blood, to plead;
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears;
Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers;
they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray,
His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away
the presence of His Son;
The Spirit answers to the blood,
The Spirit answers to the blood
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled;
His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child;
I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

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