When Tom was diagnosed with lung cancer in his early forties, his stunned friends decided it was time to assault the halls of heaven in prayer for his healing. For the first time that anyone could remember at our church, a group of eight or nine people gathered every Sunday evening and prayed for an hour for direct healing. Others were prayed for as well, but the primary petitions were specifically for Tom’s supernatural healing. Tom’s right lung was surgically removed and the customary round of chemotherapy treatments was performed. For three or four months, blood tests and the like came back negative. Then came the CAT scan that revealed the cancer had transferred to the brain. Prayers for supernatural healing intensified as radiation treatments commenced. As the first follow-up Scan neared to determine the effects of the treatments, our prayers were that the cancer would simply be gone; that God would supernaturally remove the cancer and nothing would show up on the Scan. Tom’s wife, Sally, was to call us on Friday afternoon to let us know the results. Never before at our church had a group of people so faithfully prayed for Divine healing as was being done on behalf of Tom and Sally.
When Sally called on Friday afternoon, the news was overwhelming. "There was nothing there," her excited voice spoke the words of miracle. "It’s gone! The cavity is there were the cancer was, but it has filled with fluid. The cancer is gone." The excitement of the report spread rapidly to all who had been so diligent a part of the prayers for healing. God had heard and He had answered. It was the first experience for many of us of fervently petitioning God for specific healing. Incredibly, He had answered!
It was a high moment of praise to God and celebration for a new encounter with the Power of Prayer.
On the following Sunday afternoon after church, Tom went outside to mow, and there in his front yard fell dead of a heart attack. Praise turned to stunned disbelief. Celebration turned to confusion. "What kind of a joke is this?" was the un-uttered question. The rug of prayer had just been yanked from beneath our feet, leaving tatters where our faith had stood.
Over the months that followed, God seemed to sift some understanding from the debris. He had heard our prayers. Because this was our first real endeavor at fervently praying for healing in accordance with the books of James and I John, God wanted us to know He had heard our prayers. In direct response to those prayers, He healed Tom of the cancer. But it was Tom’s time to come Home. He would honor and encourage our praying through the healing of the cancer, but He would bring him home peacefully and quickly through the heart attack.
Does Prayer change God’s mind? Does it effect overall outcome...or is God going to do what He wants to, anyway? Christ’s entire life was a monument to the power of prayer. Yet, in Gethsemane, His petition for the cup to be removed from Him was not granted. David’s prayers for the life of his son went unheeded. Paul’s requests that the "thorn" be removed from him were answered only with a promise of grace. Our own prayers are hit and miss. Some "work", some don’t.
Yet, history is strewn with golden nuggets of humble prayers answered greatly. The Battle of Dunkirk in World War II was most surely a miraculous deliverance as a result of prayer. Dwight Moody’s European ministry was launched on the back of 10 years of devoted prayer by a humble, invalid woman in London. The King James version of the Bible was scripted from the final, prayerful words of a martyr burning at the stake that the King’s eyes would be opened to the need for an English translation of the Bible.
Are these just bright and shining moments of prayer at Dunkirk and with Dwight Moody? Or are these available to us on a consistent basis?
What do we do with prayer? What does God do in prayer? How can we know what to pray?
What is the nature of prayer......fundamentally?
What is it all about in the trenches of our lives?
Does God need our Prayers?
God does not need our prayers. He chooses to make us partners with Him. He has always used human instruments for the carrying out of His purposes. He used Moses to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. He used Joshua to bring them into the Promised Land. He used Phillip to speak to the eunuch. "How shall they believe if they do not hear; and how shall they hear except they preach. And how shall they preach except they be sent?"Romans 10:14-15.
God's purposes are hindered if we do not hold up our end of the deal in this Divine partnership.
It is a principle in life…when winter comes, can spring be far behind?
After it was sown, the birds came and devoured the seed before it could take root and grow.Christ tells us in the parable of the sower that this seed was the word of God and the birds that devoured it were “the devil that takes away the word” out of our hearts.One of the sure signs you are approaching a spiritual threshold or turning point is that turbulence and confusion, difficulties and trials will break out around you. As surely as spring follows winter when a breakthrough approaches a breakdown is close behind.Satan seeks to destroy what God has begun.Where he sees what God has laid down, he seeks to pick up.Have you had a high experience? Expect a low to shortly follow.Have you had a breakthrough, then when disappointments and set-backs discourage and dismay you, know it is Satan trying to destroy whatGod has begun in you.
Your course is to recognize what is happening and who the enemy really is … and pray to that end.Don’t pray the circumstances.Pray toward the hidden players behind the scenes.Pray against Satan’s ploys and deceptions.Pray for the binding of his power and the disruption of his endeavors.Pray confusion into the mix of those who may be his unwitting instruments.Pray for the disruption ofSatan’s tactics.Pray for truth and clarity for those who need it.Pray for wisdom and discernment.Pray for courage…Pray for faith.
Fortify yourself with spiritual truth.Arm yourself with a spiritual mind.Insist on Satan’s retreat by the power of your faith, your obedience and your resolve.He will bark and growl and bare his fangs and screech in the howling winds, but when you know what God has shown you, call his bluff and stand your ground like a fierce warrior in the night.
Prayer and the Spirit Realm
“It is a fiercely contested conflict.Satan is a trained strategist, and an obstinate fighter.He refuses to acknowledge defeat until he must.It is the fight of his life…Prayer is insisting upon Jesus’ victory, and the retreat of the enemy on each particular spot, and heart and problem concerned.
The enemy yields only what he must.He yields only what is taken.Therefore the ground must be taken step by step.Prayer must be definite.He yields only when he must.Therefore prayer must be persistent.He continually renews his attacks, therefore the ground taken must be held against him in the Victor’s name.”
S.D. Gordon,“Quiet Talks on Prayer” - 1904
The Journey of Prayer
Prayer begins with the seen and moves to the unseen where unceasing prayer resides.If, only, we hang our prayer life on events and circumstances…on the physical realm…we miss 90% of prayer; we miss the fellowship of the Spirit.
There is a fellowship with God, deep in the spirit, that can be known only through the avenue of prayer.Prayer that accesses our inner life and feeds it must be pursued and nurtured.In that nurturing, a spiritual path is developed that allows the spirit to experience God’s embrace in on-going ways.What does this mean?
It means, down deep in the pit of your being, you can know a tangible peace and joy that manifests from subtle inner quiet (even in the midst of turbulence) to that which can be so powerful it is almost overwhelming.It is transformative.It does not happen if we stay only in our mind with prayer.If we collaborate with God through prayer in trying to get things figured out, loved ones rescued, events resolved, then this kind of experiencing of God will lodge beyond our reach.
Prayer works at a certain level on the surface but it has no intention of staying there if prayer is understood as linking us with the Divine.The Divine is the source of prayer, but if we understand it as being, as well, the destination of prayer, then we are in for a holy ride that carries immense implications for who we are and who we become.