Tag Archives: Prayer and Intercession

God Is My Witness

Just before His ascension Jesus promised His disciples that upon His sending the Holy Spirit, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me” (Acts 1:8). But have you noticed in reading the epistles of Paul how often he mentions God being his witness? This is the “flip side” of receiving the Holy Spirit and thereby being made one of Jesus’ witnesses. Here are a few instances:

In his epistle to the Philippians: “For God is my record [witness], how greatly I long after you all in the bowels [tender mercies] of Jesus Christ” (Phi 1:9).

Also to the Thessalonians: “For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness…” (1 Thes 2:5). And a few lines further on: “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe…” (1 Thes 2:10). You mean, Paul, you had a conscious awareness of God witnessing your activities, your behaviour, 24/7?

And to the Corinthians, where Paul as it were called God to the witness stand to vouch for his motive in delaying to come to Corinth: “Moreover I call God for a record [witness] upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth” (2 Cor 1:23).

And here, to the Romans: “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost…” (Rom 9:1). Here Paul is speaking of the witness of the Spirit. This is one and the same as the witness of God.

Again to the Romans he writes of this witness of the Spirit: For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…” (Rom 8:15,16).

Now this one, again to the Romans, in which we discover that God bore witness to Paul’s prayers; this is what we want to focus on just now:

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
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 always in my prayers;
Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. (Rom 1:8-10)

Here again, as Paul clarifies in verse 13, he wanted the Romans to know his motives—that he had not been unmindful of them, in fact had often wanted to come to them but had been hindered from coming. And who better to vouch for one’s motives than God Himself? And so he writes, “For God is my witness…” The question is, how did he know that God bore witness that he continually brought up the Roman saints in his prayers, asking that he might now “at last” have a prosperous journey in the will of God to come to them? As if God were saying, Yes, that’s right, Paul does that continually.

It was because Paul in all things—and especially as he prayed—was conscious of God. He knew God was hearing him.

It was two or three years from the writing of the epistle to the Romans before God answered Paul’s prayer, and it appears he had been praying about this even earlier. Nevertheless all that time he had the assurance that God would indeed answer his prayer in His time. He had the witness of God about it.

UK Bible teacher Ron Bailey says, “The first criterion of prayer is not need consciousness but God consciousness.” This accords with what Samuel Chadwick has written about prayer: “God is in secret. Let the first act [of prayer] be to affirm the fact of the Holy Presence” (The Path of Prayer, Samuel Chadwick). Later in that same book Chadwick again emphasizes, “Never leave without a conscious season of real communion.”

How vitally important. This is what Paul enjoyed and practiced, this is what enabled him to say that God was his witness to his prayers. He was conscious of God when he prayed; this—God consciousness—was the beachhead that with the help of the grace of God he established in prayer and maintained as he advanced throughout the day.

But know this. Paul, man of great stature that he was, had no other access to the Father than you and I. Let me say that a different way. You and I have the same access to the Father—faith in the blood of Jesus Christ—that Paul did. And so you and I may also enjoy the same witness of God not only in our prayers but in all we say and do.

You mean… God watching us with His eye continually upon us so that He is witness to all we say and do and think? Who could bear that, who could live under such scrutiny? I recall from years ago the testimony of an old man who said that when he was young he saw an Eye in the sky, and fled to hide from it. Well might he flee, and well might we all, and find no hiding place—that is, if we have not received the witness of God that He bore concerning His Son. This is what happened to the youth who saw the Eye in the sky. Somehow he knew it was a portent of a Day to come, and it led to his earnestly seeking God, and discovering the one and only Hiding Place that God Himself has provided—His Son Jesus Christ. For, when the eyes of God bear witness to what Jesus Christ the Son of God accomplished at Calvary on behalf of sinners, those who receive this witness enjoy that most happy and blessed state of a heart cleansed from all sin. Yes. All. No lesser purity than the very purity of God did the Son of God accomplish for sinful man, who washed us from our sins in His own blood. God Himself bears witness to this, as Peter confirmed regarding the Gentiles of Cornelius’ house who had come to faith in Jesus: “And the heart-knowing God did bare them testimony [witness], having given to them the Holy Spirit, even as also to us, and did put no difference also between us and them, by the faith having purified their hearts” (Acts 15:8,9 YLT).

And so since God bears witness to this, what is the result but a conscience that bears witness to this, a conscience that now has no awareness of sin. Far from it being unbearable, who wants to live without this?

And with it we have boldness and confidence in prayer.

“It is the Spirit that beareth witness…”

Here is a passage of Scripture about the Witness of God. Many of us have found it enigmatic (especially verse 8, for which please see the endnote: [i]) But let’s highlight at least some of it. John is strongly affirming and bearing witness that Jesus is the Son of God in whom alone is the victory:

6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood.
7 And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth.
8 For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three agree in one. [ii] (A second endnote.)
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for the witness of God is this, that he hath borne witness concerning his Son.
10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him [in himself]: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne concerning his Son.
11 And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life. (1 Jn 5:6-12 ASV)

John is saying that the witness of God is that which He bore concerning His Son—that is, of what the Son of God, being fully man, accomplished by His death on the cross of Calvary on behalf of sinful man. God in Heaven bears witness to that. So does the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who believe Him. That’s why the heart is cleansed, and the conscience; the Holy Spirit bears witness to that. In fact God could not send the Holy Spirit to abide in us without the Son of God having first become the propitiation for our sins. And so the Holy Spirit is Himself the witness of God, just as Jesus is Himself “the faithful and true witness“ (Rev 3:14). “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth” (1 Jn 5:6 ASV). The Holy Spirit in you and me who believe in Jesus is the witness of God, the testimony of God, the evidence, that Christ has put away your sin and mine. The Holy Spirit in our heart is God’s witness, the witness that He has borne concerning His Son.

That Witness within is one and the same as having eternal life. For Christ has vanquished sin and death.

It is this Witness of God that the apostle Paul as a believer in Jesus enjoyed. We who believe Him may enjoy this same Witness. He is the provision and cleansing for any known sin that is confessed. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9). Moreover He is the provision for any lingering sense of a sin conscience:

18 My Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth.
19 Hereby shall we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before him:
20 because if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God;
22 and whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.
23 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he gave us commandment.
(1 Jn 3:18-23 ASV)

John is saying that if our heart (our conscience) condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things—knoweth that His Son has put away all sin so that we may be free of sin and enjoy a heart (conscience) that does not condemn us. Further to that He has given us commandments to obey—believing in His Name, and loving one another in deed and in truth—so that we may maintain that clear conscience. And with that, since our heart does not condemn us, what do we have? “We have boldness toward God and whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.”

It is a boldness, an openness, a confidence, an assurance, brought about by the Witness of God in the conscience.

Here again is that same thought:

13 These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.
14 And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us:
15 and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him. (1 Jn 5:13-15 ASV)

This is just what Paul said about God being his witness. He believed the Witness of God. He knew that God heard his prayers. He confidently anticipated the answer.

[i] I am inclined to agree with F.F.Bruce’s comment on 1 John. 5:8.

“The sequence ‘water and blood’ is not accidental, but corresponds to the historical sequence of our Lord’ baptism and passion. Cerinthus, we recall, taught that ‘the Christ’ (a spiritual being) came down on the man Jesus when He was baptized but left Him before He died. The Christ, that is to say, came through water (baptism) but not through blood (death). To this misrepresentation of the truth John replies that the One whom believers acknowledge to be the Son of God (verse 5) came ‘not with the water only but with the water and with the blood’: the One who died on the cross was as truly the Christ, the Son of  God, as the One who was baptized in Jordan.” (The Epistles of John, F.F. Bruce, Eerdmans, 1970.)

Perhaps this false teaching of Cerinthus (AD circa 50-100) is also what John had in mind when he wrote his gospel in about AD 90 and reflected back on what he had witnessed 60 years earlier when the soldier pierced Jesus’ side, “and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe” (Jn. 19:34,35).

[ii]  “The sentence which appears in the AV as 1 Jn 5:7 (‘For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one’) is no part of the original text of the letter. It appears in a treatise written by Priscillian (a Spanish Christian executed on a charge of heresy in AD 385) or by one of his followers…” (F.F. Bruce, The Epistles of John)

Bruce goes on to say that this statement was eventually incorporated into the text of the Vulgate in about AD 800, with the balancing words “in earth” added to the following sentence. Bruce explains further that Erasmus, upon whose 1516 Greek testament the King James Version is based, at the insistence of others included the spurious text against his own better judgement.

Silence In Heaven

A friend shared with me earlier today that she and her husband in a time of prayer together received an assurance that God was attending to a certain much-prayed, yet still unanswered, prayer.

The word she used—attending—took hold of me, and a line from a prayer in the Psalms came on my heart:

Hear my cry, O LORD, attend unto my prayer; from the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee when my heart is overwhelmed… (Ps. 61:1,2).

It’s a cry to God to attend, to give His attention, to that prayer.

Later, I thought upon a passage in The Revelation that I often dwell on:

And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Silence in Heaven? What is this about? What is happening during this time of silence in Heaven? Let’s read further:

And I saw the seven angels which stood before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand (Rev. 8: 1-4).

What is happening during the silence in Heaven? We see first of all that in this time of silence the seven angels who stand before God are handed seven trumpets. They are not sounding their trumpets just yet; they are just receiving them.

Then we discover that during this time of silence in Heaven it appears that the saints in the earth are offering up their prayers, and an angel is intermingling “much incense” with the prayers of the saints “upon the golden altar which was before the throne.”

Let’s drop back down into the earth for a minute. Here are the beloved saints of the Lord offering up their earnest prayers… and wondering, wondering, why the Silence? And it has been the heart cry of the saints of all ages to understand the silence of Heaven. Why, Lord, are you silent? Why do you not answer our prayers?

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…”

Keep not silence, O LORD, be not far from me…

How long wilt Thou forget me, O LORD? Forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?

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.

The cries go up to The Silence. Is God angry against the prayer of His people?  Never!  He has commissioned an angel who is given “much incense” to offer with the prayers of the saints. Where did the angel get this special incense? Where else but from the apothecary of God? For God Himself is burdened with the burdens of His people far, far more than we comprehend. And He has ordained that heavenly incense be added to our prayers—His way of saying Amen to our cries… His way of crying with us! His way of assuring us that our burden is His own burden!

Let us never fail, in the silences of God, to read His heart aright. Let us never interpret the silence of Heaven as a message that our loving God is careless about the prayers of His saints—the seekers, the humble, the broken, the destitute.

He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer (Ps. 102:17).

…Oh, far from not despising it, just before I began to write this something happened to me (and it seems I am to include it here, but I know I can’t adequately describe it). I unexpectedly felt pierced—yes, that’s the word I must use—pierced to the heart, and overwhelmed, with an awareness of God’s great great love and concern for my concerns—the darkness of the hour, the overwhelming needs on every front, yet God seeming so silent. I was pierced by the awareness of His love so great, so deep: it’s impossible that He could not be concerned. Oh, how it grieves me, that I seem to know so little the God of love!

Oh, let me never misinterpret the silence of Heaven. It is a very pregnant silence. Something very momentous and very powerful is about to burst forth. Seven angels are given seven trumpets, and stand in expectant waiting. At the same time, another angel having a golden censer stands before the golden altar before the throne of God, and continually adds his incense to the prayers of the saints.

And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.

Now something else happens. Now comes the response:

And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

The same censer full of incense intermingled with the prayers of the saints is suddenly cast into the earth! And there are voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

No silence now!

Notice the storm elements—thunder, lightning. The voices of Heaven…

Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before Him,   and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him” (Ps. 50.3).

A great eternal Storm is about to break forth!

And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

No silence now!

How long will our God be inattentive to the prayers of His people? He never has been. Not for an instant. The half-hour silence in Heaven is a time of great preparation; the angels with the trumpets are preparing themselves. And oh, we feel the growing pressure of the word God has been preparing, preparing, preparing…

And we know that the hour of its mighty release is at hand!

The LORD shall roar out of Zion, and utter His Voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake…” (Joel 2.16).

The silence in heaven precedes the silence there is going to be in the earth when the Lord God Almighty speaks from His throne!

But the LORD is in His Holy Temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him (Hab. 2:20).

Beloved of the Lord in great trial, at the end of your earthly resources with heart overwhelmed, let us never take the silence of Heaven to mean that our loving God does not hear, does not care.

He hears, oh, He hears, and cares, and is giving my prayers, and yours, His loving attention!

Don’t Give Up On God

Last week I was in as deep a temptation to give up as I have been in my Christian walk of some forty years.  I desperately needed to hear from God about a certain matter.  Would it be this, or that?  I needed to make a decision.  Yet prayer was so difficult.  God was so silent.  It seemed I had no other choice but to give up on God.  I won’t go into detail, but let me tell you how it happened that I did not give up.

I went to a prayer meeting, and it hardly got going before one of the brothers spoke of George Mueller and his continual experience of answered prayer.  George Mueller proved, demonstrated, over and over again that God answers prayer.  Then a sister shared that the Lord had laid on her heart again the same two passages that have been given to us in our prayer gathering over several months.  They both involve prayer that does not take no for an answer.

One is the parable Jesus gave with the express purpose of teaching that “men [the word is gender inclusive] ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Lk. 18:1).  That is, not give up.  It’s the story of the widow who relentlessly pressed an unjust judge to avenge her of her adversary.  Although the judge gave God no place in his life, nor sought favour of man, he finally did for her what she wanted just to be rid of her.  Jesus then comes to His point.

And shall not God avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.

He then adds this:

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?

So He gave this parable specifically to encourage people to “not faint,” to not give up on God, but keep pressing Him with our prayers and believing He will yet answer in a day when God is silent and faith is severely challenged, tested, because of it.

The other parable is the story of a man with two friends—one in great need, the other with great provision.  The friend in great need has come to the man hungry in the middle of the night but the man has nothing to set before him.  So he goes to the friend with great provision and, standing outside the door, calls out and wakes him up and asks for what he needs—three loaves.  But calling to him from within, this friend puts him off, he is rebuffed—go away, we’re all in bed here, I can’t give you what you need.  But the man keeps after him till finally he gets what he wants.

Jesus then brings out that it is this importunity, not their friendship, that got the man the provision he needed.

And I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth”       (Lk. 11:8).

Importunity—it means to ask or demand urgently, repeatedly, persistently, relentlessly, tenaciously.

Just prior to this parable the Lord has given his disciples what has been called the Lord’s prayer in response to their request that He teach them to pray.  Then with this parable He continues to teach them to pray—to be importunate in prayer.  Then after the parable He says this:

And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.  For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Ask just once?  Seek for a while?  Knock once or twice?  That’s not what the man with two friends did.  He kept on asking, seeking, knocking, till he was given his heart’s desire.  And that, actually, is the force of the Greek tense here—present continuous.

Keep on asking, and it shall be given you; keep on seeking, and ye shall find, keep on knocking, and it shall be opened unto you.  For everyone that keeps on asking receives, and he that keeps on seeking finds, and to him that keeps on knocking it shall be opened.

We need to know and believe that our God greatly desires to answer us and give us our longed-for requests, though it seem He is a reluctant God.  Not so.  We must never take unanswered prayer as God’s answer to prayer.  We must be persistent.  Importunate.  We may not understand why just yet, but this, it seems, is something very important to Him.

At the outset I called it a temptation that I was about ready to call it quits.  I chose that word specifically, because another of the brothers in our little prayer gathering brought out how the disciples slept through the greatest opportunity they’d ever had—that of praying with Jesus in Gethsemane in His hour of temptation to evade the cross.

What, could ye not watch with me one hour?  Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation… (Mt. 26:40).

It was when the brother brought this out that I suddenly recognized what I had been going through.  It wasn’t just my own thoughts, it was a temptation.  I have an Adversary who would love nothing more than to see me pack it in, and persistently advises me to do so.  I am so thankful that with the help of brothers and sisters I was able to disappoint him.  I was able to recognize the temptation for what it was, and not enter into it.  If the Lord Himself had been sitting in the prayer gathering in that living room He could not have spoken to me more clearly than He did through the brothers and sisters who were there.  I heard my Father Himself speaking to me.  Don’t give up.  I hear your prayers.  I’m going to answer them.


Prayer of Repentance–Carter Conlon

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The following is a transcript of Carter Conlon’s remarks and prayer during the Sunday June 29th, 2014, Times Square Church service.  The prayer was part of a U.S. national initiative calling all churches in the United States  to pray for that nation.  After reading Psalm Two, Carter Conlon said that it was a psalm that talked about  times when leaders get together to cast off God’s restraint.  Conlon then continued:

This morning we have the privilege as a church congregation of joining with two million other believers across the country… who at this moment or thereabouts are going to fall to their knees… and say, Lord God, heal our land.  Lord, do what we have not done; forgive us for how we have misrepresented you.  The Scripture says that “When there is no vision the people perish.”  And that means that when there is no demonstration of the power of God, when there is no visible manifestation of who Christ really is, society throws off its moral restraints, and that’s what we see happening in our day.  We can point our finger, we can blame government leaders, and we can try to blame various elements of our society, but really the blame belongs in the house of God.  It belongs in the pulpits of the churches across this nation.  Where we have turned, and focused on ourselves, and have not preached the cross of Christ, we’ve not fully embraced the power of prayer, nor allowed God to make us a visible testimony of who He really is to this generation.

But I want to remind you that even though judgment seems to be abounding in every corner of our nation, mercy still rejoices over judgment.  I believe that with all my heart.  Now I want you to picture in your mind that perhaps for the first time since this country was formed, people from all across the nation are going to be falling to their knees in the house of God for about five minutes and asking the Lord to have mercy on us, and come and do what we have failed to do, and heal our land and let the testimony of Christ abound one more time.  Give us a spiritual awakening  in our generation.  It doesn’t mean that all things are going to carry on as they have in the past.  It’s not about saving sand castles and retirement accounts.  It’s about people.  Christ  died for people.  And I thank God that we have the privilege of prayer this morning…. we’re going to pray with believers from all across this nation, and we’re going to ask God to do what we have failed to do, and I want to remind you that God is a God of mercy.  Remember in the Scriptures that Daniel saw the power of God’s mercy in the Scriptures, he saw it written, and he opened his window and began to pray toward Jerusalem, and he said, “Lord, we have sinned.”  He had not been among those who had been responsible for the captivity, nevertheless he didn’t exclude himself in his prayer: “We have sinned.”  As a testimony of God, we have fallen greatly short of what we ought to have been.  We took the blessing of God and began to worship it, we built a golden calf in the house of God, created our own Christ that we could carry on our shoulders and point in any direction that we wanted Him to go, and subsequently  the nation looked at us, and laughed, and cast us out as salt to be trodden under the feet of men.  Though we have churches on every corner throughout the cities and towns in this nation, we have failed to represent Jesus to this generation.  God, give us the grace to walk humbly now before you.  Give us the grace to put away all finger pointing.  Give us the grace to look within, and say, Jesus, we call on you one more time to do what only you can do in this country….

Conlon then got down on his knees with the TSC elders and continued with the following prayer:

God Almighty, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Lord, you are the only Creator, beside You there is no other God, and Lord, we gather together today to pray with brothers and sisters of all denominations throughout this nation.  And we realize the perilous times we are now living in, where evil is becoming good and good is becoming evil.  We are living on the precipice of a social, political, and moral, and financial collapse.  We have rightly judged ourselves, God, we have rightly brought ourselves into these rough waters, because we have ignored Your word; we have ignored Your warnings; even in the house of God we have crafted our own Christ; God, forgive us for this abominable evil; forgive us, Lord, forgive the pastors of this nation, for what we have done, standing in pulpits and not preaching a Christ that people can lay hold of.  Lord Jesus Christ, we ask you, God, for a season of mercy, we ask for a spiritual awakening in this land, we ask You, Father, in Jesus Name, to touch our hearts, touch our homes,  God, touch our churches.  Lord, you are the God in the book of Ezekiel who breathed on bones and brought them back to life, even though they died around the altars of their own making.  You showed how merciful You can be.  Oh God, You are the one who stood before the grave of someone you loved who had been dead for four days, and You called him back to life again.  So this is Who we cry out to this day, Lord.  You are able to breathe on us again, You are able to call to us again and bring us back to life.

I pray, God, forgive us our ignorance, bring us back together as a body all over this nation, bring us back together in prayer, singleness of purpose, bring us back to the Scriptures again, help us to cast off the gods of our own making.  Oh Jesus Christ, we ask You, Lord, for a season of mercy in this nation, we ask you for a time, God, such as You gave the apostle Paul in the book of Acts Chapter 27, when men and women had an opportunity to hear who You were one more time.  God, give this generation an opportunity  to hear about You.  Turn back the flood of evil, turn it back, O God, Your word says that He who sits in the Heavens shall laugh, and vex them in His sore displeasure and have them in derision.   God Almighty, we ask you, God, to blind those who are trying to drag this nation into a moral abyss, and we ask You, Lord, to open the eyes of this generation, open the eyes of the people of God, open our eyes to who You are, and what You desire to do, Your ability, God, to move Heaven and earth as we begin to pray.  You Yourself said that if My people will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked way, I will hear from Heaven, forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.  Now, My eyes shall be open, My ears listening, for the prayers that are going to be prayed in this place.

And so Lord God, we are asking not for ourselves, but we are asking for others, we are asking for a great turning of our young people who in our schools and colleges have been lied to and told there is no God.  Lord, we’ve allowed the Enemy to build fortifications around all of our institutions, and God Almighty, we ask You to bring these walls down, for David the king said, By God I have leaped through a troop, by God I have leaped over a wall, by God my arms have been strengthened so that a bow of steel is broken by them.  Oh Jesus Christ, Son of God, give us power, give us strength for this last moment of time. Let our praises truly be birthed in God, let the word of God be preached again in the house of God.  Oh Jesus, Lord, we ask for mercy, Lord, for all of our pastors across this land in every denomination.  Lord, those who are still alive, cause them to be encouraged, those who barely have a flicker, breathe on them, bring them back to life again, those who are dead, call them, raise them out of the grave, but oh God, let every man and woman of God  have a testimony, Lord, of the resurrection power and life of Jesus Christ.  Bring the Cross back to the central focus of our theology; deliver us, Lord, from all of the foolishness that we have presented as being from You and Your kingdom and Your heart, and bring us back to that which really matters– the shedding of Christ’s blood, the power over sin and death, the resurrection life that belongs to everyone who turns to Christ for redemption.

God, we yield ourselves to this purpose, for New York City we ask that You would breathe on… this city, and bring it back to life; let there be a massive touch of God come into our streets, our boroughs, our homes, our colleges, O God, let even our park benches become places of prayer meetings.  God, stop all the commerce, let men and women begin to turn to You with all of their hearts.  Father, be merciful, O God, to those who parade their sin in our streets, be merciful, God, to those who do these things, we’re asking, Lord, for mercy, we’re asking for salvation, we’re asking, God, for a true joy, a true peace, and true life.  Father, we’re asking for these things, we praise You, and we bless You in the mighty unmatchable Name of Jesus Christ, King of kings, and Lord of lords, in His precious name we pray, Amen, and Amen.  Thank You, Hallelujah, thank You Lord, thank You, mighty God.

All I can say to this is, Amen, Amen.  Regardless what nation we are living in, the moral collapse Conlon speaks of is all around us; we groan for this, sigh and cry for this; our need for the shining forth of the living Christ is beyond words.  And He, for His part, is breaking to manifest Himself.

And will.  Let us not, then, miss the hour of our visitation.   Let us in this difficult hour– this tremendous hour, which is the prelude to that visitation– give ourselves to Him utterly without reserve.


Thank God For… You

Have you ever been frightened by the sudden awareness that you were in the presence of something very holy?  This happened to me recently while reading one of the letters of the apostle Paul.  A certain fear came unexpectedly upon me; I suddenly became aware of the deep love for the saints that dwelt in this man.

Paul, it seems, was always thinking about the saints of the Lord that he knew in various places.  Like a parent whose children are scattered far and wide, they were always on his mind… and continually in his prayers.

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 always in my prayers… (Rom. 1.9).

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers… (Eph. 1.15,16).

…Praying always for you… (Col. 1.3).

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).

I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers… (Phm. 4).

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

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you making request with joy… (Phil. 1.4).

If you will take your New Testament and (when you have time) read the last two passages I quoted—Philippians Chapter 1 verses 3-11, and the first three chapters of 1 Thessalonians—I  think you will come away from your reading the same way I have, awed by the depths of the love you have touched in this man.  His prayers to God on the behalf of the saints were the consequence of the love in his heart for them.  He loved the saints.  He loved them deeply.  And so he couldn’t help it, he had to be on his knees for them.

One thing more—did you notice this in the verses quoted above?  Paul is always thanking God for the saints.  Why would he be thanking God for them?  It was because of their faith (Rom. 1.8, Col. 1.3) and their growing love for God and for one another (1 Thes. 1.2, 2 Thes. 1.3), that is to say, for their fellowship in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1.3).  How it comforted Paul’s heart in this dark and wicked world to know that some here and there had turned from darkness to walk in light.  Paul was in fellowship with these ones.

It’s a word that has lost much of its strength these days—fellowship.  It means, simply, sharing together, or commonness; but what Paul and these other saints shared and held in common was an uncommon cause, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They were vastly outnumbered in this cause, were persecuted and despised and hated in this cause.  So when they came together it was something very precious, and tender.  They were brothers and sisters who loved one another and were ready to die for one another.  And so they were greatly thankful for one another.

This got me thinking.  It hadn’t really occurred to me.  Am I thankful for my brothers and sisters?  Yes, I pray for them, but how often do I get on my knees and thank God for them?  I mean, really thank God for them!  They are my comrades in battle.  They are my fellow pilgrims on a dangerous journey.  They are an oasis of green in the waste and howling wilderness of this world.  They love the Lord Jesus with all their hearts, and they want to do His will.  Many there are who love darkness rather than light, but these have turned from darkness to light, and with the help of the Lord’s grace they are determined to be faithful.  At the cost of their lives if need be.  This caused great thankfulness to well up in Paul.  He thanked God for these ones.  And prayed continually for them.  It is far from an easy walk; it is fraught with peril in this present evil age.  And so Paul found these saints continually on his heart, and continually in his prayers.

Do we want to be like Paul?  It will mean coming into a love that, in its continual preoccupation with others, loses sight of itself.  But let’s not stop at the desire to be like Paul.  There’s another reason why Paul prayed so continually for the saints.  Paul was like Jesus.  And Jesus is preoccupied with the saints.  Jesus at the right hand of God is continually praying for the saints.

He ever liveth to make intercession for us (Heb. 7.25).

It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rom. 8.34).

And so if Christ at the right hand of God is continually praying for the saints, this is what Paul found himself doing also.  He prayed continually for the saints because the Holy Spirit of the ascended Christ dwelt in Him—and so the same love that burned in Christ burned in him also, continually firing his prayers with the fire of the Spirit.

Are we short of this, brothers and sisters?  Does the same love that dwelt in Paul dwell in you and me?  Oh how we need this more and more in the body of Christ in this difficult hour—the love of Christ.  We could not help but pray for one another, then.  I mean, fervently.  It’s the only way we would find release from the burden of love in us.

Release, I say… yet like a fire, this love grows when you feed it.  If just now it’s not much of a fire, let’s feed it then!  It will grow.  And grow.  And grow…

Let there arise in our hearts a new appreciation—Paul’s appreciation, the Lord’s own appreciation—for our fellow saints.  We need one another.  Let us be praying for one another.

And thanking God for one another.

Are You In With God?

The Bible describes the sovereign God as the One who does as He wishes in Heaven and earth (Ps. 135.6).  At the same time He is the God who hears prayer.

O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come (Ps. 65.2).

This is quite something—that the great, the omnipotent, the sovereign God, desires to, is willing to, involve us in His sovereignty.  This ought to inspire us greatly in our praying.  I think it was John Wesley who said God will do nothing but in answer to prayer.  For years I missed the import of that.  This is not just saying we need to pray more, and that if we don’t we’re not going to see God do anything.  It goes deeper than that.  What Wesley meant is that God is the kind of God who wants to include a man in His sovereignty—someone who has an in with Him, and is recognized by others as having an in with Him.  God wants to do things, but He wants us to be part of that doing.

The implication is that certain men and women have pull with Him, as they say.  They are people with connections—connections in Heaven.  Who are these ones?  As we read further in Psalm 65 we discover they are those whom God has chosen to draw nigh to Him.

Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee… (Ps. 65.4).

Simply put, then, they are people who are close to Him.  We think immediately of the apostle John.  Even the other apostles recognized that John had a certain in with the Lord Jesus—a closeness of relationship with Him that they themselves lacked.  During the last supper as they were all reclining around the meal, John was the disciple who “reclined in Jesus’ bosom” (Jn. 13.23).  You can see that in your mind’s eye—John reclining, leaning on his elbow, his head very close to Jesus’ breast as they supped together.

And at some point during the supper Jesus tells them that one of them will betray Him.  They are all aghast.  Who might this traitor be?  Each of them, tender of conscience, is anxious it could be himself.  They want to ask the Lord who it is, but this is something they sometimes struggled with.  They would talk with one another about their concerns and questions, but there was sometimes a certain fear in them about approaching their Lord Himself.  They stood so in awe of Him.  But it was more than that—their own insecurity.  They lacked the security of relationship with Him, the knowledge and assurance of His love that would enable them to draw near to Him and speak to Him face to face.

With John it was different.  John somehow had the assurance of His love.  The verse that tells us he was reclining in Jesus’ bosom goes on to describe John as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”  You mean He didn’t love them all?  Of course He did.  But somehow there was an open-faced relationship between John and Jesus that enabled John to receive this love, to know and believe this love.  And so during the supper he is reclining in Jesus’ bosom just where he wanted to be—and knowing that’s where Jesus wanted him to be too.

And while the attention of the others is on something else—perhaps they are anxiously conferring with one another about this very matter—Peter beckons to John to ask the Lord who the betrayer is.  And the Lord reveals this to John.

This, I think, captures the essence of our message.  The closeness of our relationship with the Lord puts us in the place where we stand between God and men on behalf of men.  John was the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”  John was secure in this love… and, oh, that we all might have the same open-faced relationship with Him—knowing His love for us, and loving Him in return… and therefore, instead of being among those who, like Peter, are asking someone else, “You ask Him…” we are the one reclining in His bosom, the one others are urging, “You ask Him for me, please.”

Consider Job.  After God revealed Himself to Job He reproved the three men who with their unkind and unjust accusations had given Job such a hard time.  They were in serious trouble with God now.  His wrath was kindled against them.  So He advised them to go to Job and offer up a burnt offering to God.

And my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept (Job 42.8).

This is very intriguing.  Could not these men have prayed to God themselves?  Could not God have transacted this whole thing with these men directly, telling them what He required of them to set things right?  I suppose so, but we see here how much God desires this—a man praying to Him on behalf of other men—even men who have hurt that man.  A man like Job.  A man He has accepted.  A man in close relationship with Him.  Satan had tried to separate Job from God.  Everything he did brought about the exact opposite.  Job came through the great ordeal a man approved of God.  He was now one who was accepted with God—meaning that his prayers would be accepted as well.  Let us remember this in our own trials.  God’s objective in it all is to make of us the kind of person who is near Him, has an in with Him.

Incidentally, by requiring these men to go to Job, God humbled them—something they very much needed.

Now Abraham.  When Abraham went to sojourn in Gerar he fell back again on the old arrangement he had with his wife Sarah.  Sarah was a very beautiful woman.  Abraham’s fear was that someone might eye Sarah and want to take her for a wife—which they couldn’t do legitimately if her husband was alive.  And so whenever they came into unfamiliar territory she was to tell people she was Abraham’s sister, not his wife.

And they come to Gerar.  Apparently even at ninety-two years old Sarah is still a strikingly beautiful woman.  Sure enough, Abimelech king of Gerar eyes her.  And he takes her into his harem, thinking she is the sister of this man who has come to sojourn in his territory.  But then God speaks to Abimelech in a dream.

Behold, thou art but a dead man for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife (Gen. 20.3).

Abimelech confronts Abraham about this and Abraham tells him the truth, at the same time explaining that he hadn’t really lied either: she is in fact his sister—the daughter of his father but not the daughter of his mother.  However, God has afflicted the whole house of Abimelech for this.  None are able to bear children.  How will the matter be rectified?  It’s interesting to note that while never referring to God by His covenant name Yahweh, Abimelech obviously has some kind of relationship with God.  He is in conversation with Him about this, explaining that he took Sarah into his house in his integrity.  And God tells him that He knew that, and withheld him from sinning against Him.  Nevertheless the whole situation has to be set right by Abimelech restoring Sarah to Abraham.

And then God shows Abimelech how the death sentence upon him, and the affliction that is causing the barrenness of all the women, is to be removed.

Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live…

See how high a thing this is with God—that he has nurtured this man Abraham into such relationship with Himself that He is moved by his prayers? Abimelech obviously had a relationship with God to some extent: could not Abimelech have prayed to God himself?  And could not God as a result of his exchange with Abimelech have dealt with the problem sovereignly when he returned Sarah to Abraham?  But once again we see how greatly God desires to include in His sovereignty a man who is in close relationship with Him.

He shall pray for you…

One more illustration.  Simon the sorcerer.  This man was green with envy upon seeing that when the apostles Peter and John laid hands on others they received the Holy Spirit.  He approached them and asked them to sell that ability to him also.  Peter immediately rebuked him.

Thy money perish with thee because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money… Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thy heart may be forgiven thee (Acts 8.20).

However, Simon isn’t all that confident his own prayers are good currency with God.  He responds—and he is speaking to both Peter and John:

Pray ye to the Lord for me that none of the things which ye have spoken come upon me.

Once again there is the recognition here that God can be moved by the prayers of those who are on good terms with Him and in close relationship with Him—those who are near Him.  Eliphaz the Temanite knew God (you know what I mean: God spoke directly to him).  Yet it was not the kind of knowledge Job had.  God told Eliphaz it would be Job’s prayers that saved him from being dealt with according to his folly.  Abimelech also knew God.  But it was Abraham’s prayers that moved God to heal Abimelech’s household.  Simon the sorcerer did not know God.  But he recognized that someone in close relationship with God could influence Him on his behalf.

And so… this is the kind of God that our sovereign God is.  “O Thou that hearest prayer….”  He is the God who hears prayer.  The Hebrew word here actually means answerest.  “O Thou that answerest prayer…”  God hearing prayer means that He answers, and grants the desire of the heart.

But whose prayer does He hear?  Those who are near Him.  Let us draw near Him, then, nearer and nearer.  Let us set our hearts to be such men and women—the kind that others come to asking us to ask God on their behalf—and being assured that He hears us when we ask.

(An excerpt from my writing The Golden Altar Of Incense)

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 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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