SEEKING GOD


Contents

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Chapter One
In the Wilderness
Chapter Two
God's Presence
Chapter Three
God's Will
Chapter Four
God's Hands
Chapter Five
God's Face
Chapter Six
God's Heart
Chapter Seven
God's Purpose

Chapter Eight
Through Prayer

Chapter Nine
God's Salvation
Chapter Ten
Through Gifts

 

Chapter Eight

Seeking God's Intimacy

"Through Prayer"

In chapter five I shared with you an encounter I had with the Lord in my front room while praying. At the time, I was recently divorced and felt that God knew that I needed some validation, comfort, and love. However, I believe there was a second reason why He allowed the experience.

I had committed to pray with Him for one hour each morning, and until that day, I hadn't fully followed through, as promised. I had forgotten what Jesus said to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane when He caught them sleeping and asked them, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour [1]?” The Holy Spirit gave me that experience, I believe, because I had committed to watch and pray with the Lord…that I entered not into temptation [2].

ACCESS TO GOD

When Christ died on the Cross [3], God the Father tore the veil leading into the Holy of Holies in two [4]. This gave us unfettered access to God. However, up until that point the only person allowed into the Holy of Holies was the high priest, and then only once a year. The priests tied a rope and bell on him in case he was not clean enough, either physically or spiritually, to go in. If he wasn’t, he died on the spot. If they did not hear the bell ring, they had to drag him out.

Christ’s death not only delivered us from judgement but God now had an open door policy; or should I say, He had an open veil policy to His throne room. It still takes the high priest to gain access but we have such an advocate with the Father [5]. Jesus Christ is our high priest! We can go in to see the Father but we have to go through Jesus with Him as an intermediary. He then takes us by the hand and leads us into the throne room. In today’s world of technology, our computers do not allow access to very many places without a password. Our password is "Jesus" and His name allows access into the Father’s presence.

Christ calls each and every one of us into deep intimacy and relationship with Him [6]. We are one with Him “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely [7].”

COMMUNICATING WITH GOD

God communicates with each of us in many ways: through His Word, through prayer, through other people, through ministry heads and leaders, through the church, through our circumstances, and even though the audible word. He also speaks to us through that little still voice in the pit of your stomach that you more or less feel and sense as opposed to hearing. Christ has said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me [8]. If I wanted to hear what God was saying, I would have to get closer to Him by moving to the other side of the gully as in my earlier story. In other words, back then, the reason I did not know the will of God for my life and whether or not the voice I heard was God’s, was because I was not relationally close enough to Him.

When we talk with God, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal prayer each and every time as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 might suggest when it says, Pray without ceasing. We can chat with God anywhere, anytime, no matter what the reason, whether we are in our house, car, church, on a sidewalk or lake, or in a field; it’s possible casually to talk with him all day long by involving Him in everything we do, just like you would with any friend. He is always there [9] to listen. This way, pray without ceasing becomes valid, true, and possible.

Prayer is a dialogue with God not a monologue to Him. Give the Holy Spirit a chance to interject something. Many times, my projected perception was that I had left God standing there hurt. I am wondering how many edifying and blessed moments I have lost because I prayed to God, said amen, and then went about my business. I did not give the Holy Spirit a chance to respond. I am also wondering how many times I have neglected to thank Him for answered prayer and for what I had already received before asking Him for something else. Please forgive me, Father.

TYPES OF PRAYERS

God gives us many opportunities to communicate with Him. There are prayers of salvation, petition, and supplication. There are personal prayers, conversational prayers, and prayers of fasting and worship. There are devotional prayers, formula prayers, and intercessory prayers. When we get into intercession, there will be prayers of birthing and travail as well. We do not lack any situation where we can’t converse with God and build that relationship.

Expounding on each and every type of prayer is beyond the scope of this book and is not a how-to writing on the mechanics of prayer, but just an overview on prayer. It is my desire to share with you a couple types that may benefit your relationship with God. Daily prayer is an individual and subjective process, but mostly, it’s a heart process [10].

Formula prayers

There is nothing wrong with prayer formulas but after a while, if we let them, they can become mechanical, meaningless, vain, and just repetitive words. This is the danger in praying formula prayers. They are good for teaching aids for new converts just learning to pray. The Lord’s Prayer [11] is just such a prayer. Each stanza of the prayer is a topic for the believer to pray through.

In Luke 11:1 the disciples asked Jesus, “…Lord, teach us to pray…” Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer completely in Matthew 6:9-13. This prayer was originally just a guideline for His disciples and not supposed to be a regimen of mechanical prayer by itself, although there is nothing wrong with doing so.

Before Jesus came to Earth, the Israelites learned how to fellowship with God through the Tabernacle. Each of the tools, doors, altars, instruments, and gate, were symbolic of the Lord. Even the colors, ropes, and poles were symbolic. They would pray through each instrument and object, as each of them had a significance for God.

As an example, when Jesus said that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life [12], He referred to the Tabernacle in terms that they could understand. The name of the gate, and the entrance to the compound, was "The Way." The door to the Most Holy Place, they called "The Truth," and the entrance to the Holy of Holies they called "The "Life."

Interceding on someone’s behalf

A few years ago while taking my evening walk with the Lord I noticed an uneasy feeling. Despite the beautiful sunset and the cool night air I couldn't relax. Something was bothering me.

A church prayer group had invited me to come to their church the following night, in order to pray with and for others. I wondered whether to accept their invitation because I felt unsure that my prayers would help. A lot of my Christian friends there had been believers for many years and had a great relationship with God. Their elegant prayers made me feel inferior and not qualified to pray for anyone.

As I walked, I contemplated my inadequacies, when off to my left I heard an audible voice. It wasn’t a thunderous voice but soft and kind. It caught me unaware, so I stopped. I jerked my head to my left to see who it was. Nobody was there. The voice said, “Who do you pray to—me or man?” It took only a second to realize the Lord was speaking to me—as if He were walking right beside me. He surely had my attention.

God has spoken to me before but not audibly. Usually before, what I heard was more like an internal voice that came from the center of my being. This time, however, I heard His audible voice and I will never forget the experience. I mention this only because it was important enough for God to speak to me and let me know how important my simple prayers are to Him. Since that night, I do not worry at all about the quality of my prayers.

Intercessory Prayer

Like most believers, I intercede for others quite frequently but God has not gifted me in intercession. Is this just semantics? Interceding on behalf of another person is the bulk of all prayers that go up to the Lord, but there are those who have dedicated their life to constantly (and I mean constantly in the strongest sense) pray for others. God called them to intercession and they were obedient to that call. It is their passion. The Lord can do anything for us according to His will but will not do anything until we either pray or ask. (That pesky thing we call free will.)

There is a small distinction between interceding and intercessory prayer. The gift of intercession allows a person for extended periods, on a regular basis, to pray to a degree that is much greater than that which is expected of the average Christian.

This is definitely not to say that one has a higher importance. On the contrary, they are both the same in importance. No calling or gift is more important than the other. We are all part of the body with Christ as the head. Remember though, that every time you intercede or pray in your gifting on someone’s behalf that:

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:16 KJV

This is basically, all we need to know except that intercessors often see a greater occurrence of specific answers to prayers and have a clear understanding that prayer is truly a conversation with God. The Holy Spirit will also wake up the intercessor at all hours of the day and night to lay prayer burdens on them. This is not to say that He doesn’t wake up all Christians to pray, but with the intercessor, it happens frequently.

Whenever those with this gift are alone, they often find themselves moved to pray for situations they are not completely sure about. They are praying as Romans 8:26, 27 declares:

v26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

v27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

Epaphras in the book of Colossians 4:12, 13 was an intercessor. In this Scripture, Luke is speaking to the Colossians of Epaphras’ prayers for them.

v12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

V13 For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.

I have seen, first hand, intercessors whose bodies will heave while they are in deep intercession for someone or something. When asked later about the experience, they intimated that there was no physical pain but a great travailing in the spirit, as in childbirth. My sister, who God gifted in intercession, said that, “At the moment of groaning and heaving, the Holy Spirit has complete and total control over you. You are totally in the spirit.” This may or may not have been Luke’s experience when he witnessed Epaphras but it wouldn’t surprise me. Laboring fervently is what I witnessed one day.

OTHER ASPECTS OF PRAYER: Fasting

In chapter two, an assailant pointed a gun at the victim and the man cried out to God. When we fast, our physiological body cries out to God in the same way. We are desperate for nourishment and our body aches, but the Lord says, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst [13].”

The idea behind fasting is to lose the bands of wickedness and to get closer to God [14]. We do this by shedding all physical needs so that all we rely and focus on is God. Here we have to be careful. The Bible tells us that God calls the fast; otherwise, it ends up being too pious.

I think it’s important to mention here that I believe that the Lord will not likely call a fast to those who are physically unable—such as those with diabetes. The traditional fast is from food but I believe that God says the opposite in His Word. In Isaiah 58 God all but says, “You lay there on sackcloth and ashes with mournful countenance, punishing yourselves in order to move my hand! Is this the fast that I have called?”

God doesn’t want us to punish ourselves, He wants to bless us. What God wants is for us to get rid of the sins and wicked things in our lives. He wants us to share our food and drink with the hungry. This is the fast that God has called.

I used to think that I needed to fast to get close to God when, in fact, I needed to draw close to God with a contrite, surrendered, and broken heart and this would precipitate the fast. When you completely surrender to God, the Holy Spirit pulls you in and you focus so much on Christ that you don’t care about anything else, not even nourishment.

When I go to God in prayer and fasting and after I connect with Him, the pain disappears and He refreshes and renews me. He magnifies His presence. I no longer need physical nourishment and I bask in the sustaining power of His love. From this position, things happen: healing, power, deliverance, revelation, and much more.

Word of God

The most effectual prayer is doing so according to God’s Word and will, as I intimated in chapter three. The best way to know God’s will is to read His Word and then pray His Words. The Bible is replete with verses on prayer. We would do well to emulate those who are doing the praying.

A reassuring verse regarding the power of praying God’s Word and His will is Isaiah 55 verse 11: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. That sounds adamant enough for me.

While I was talking to my sister about prayer, who God has gifted in intercessory prayer, I told her that I was impressed with her knowledge of God’s Word. She disagreed with me. She didn't think she knew God's Word that well.

However, as she talked, everything that she said, I recognized as coming from God's Word—Scripture after Scripture. I couldn’t hold back the laughter. By the time she was finished, we were both roaring with laughter. It was, indeed, second nature.

She said, “I believe that God doesn’t really want us to pray with our intellect. He doesn’t want us to think about how much Bible knowledge we have because then we might subconsciously want to pray for the Holy Spirit instead of the other way around." The Bible says that “…we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered [15]. We just have to be an open vessel through which God can work. However, we still need to study His Word to show ourselves approved [16].”

The catch is, we not only need to pray the word of God, but we also have to consider His will. Knowing God’s Word is tantamount to effectual prayer. An ever-present help to the Scriptures is a topical Bible. This will give you many topics about which to pray covering any given subject in the Bible.

If you want to learn how to pray, spend time with someone with a prayer spirit on them. However, when you offer up your daily prayer to the Father, do so by yourself [17] …and then open up your spirit to Him. Prayer is a heart thing and this is where God looks [18]. When praying to God, remember that it isn't the amount of words or the words themselves because He looks on the heart. God Word does say, however, that there is a wrong way to pray and that is when we pray to our lusts [19]. God as much as told me the same thing on that walk that I took a few years back when He asked me to whom did I pray. Our five word prayers are just as effective and meaningful to God as the 15 page prayers.

Worship

My sister, Judy, told me of a time when she held a retreat at the beach for a group of ladies to which she ministered on a regular basis. This particular weekend, they rented a room at a resort to worship, pray, and minister to God. They arrived, checked in, and headed for their respective rooms.

Judy had a special message for the ladies that God gave her over the course of three months. She would deliver it the next day. They all went to bed early in anticipation of the word from God. At one o’clock in the morning she awoke with a terrific pain in her hands, feet, and side. Her feet felt crushed. She couldn't walk. She had to crawl to the facilities and back. It was only bearable as long as she stayed off her feet. The pain went on all night.

Around 10 o’clock that morning, Judy was able to call her roommate, who had the adjoining room who got in touch with the other women and they immediately went into intercession for her. They all cried out to God, “We want to hear what’s on your heart, Father. Make it so she can give the message. Give us your heart…please.” This went on for about an hour.

Judy’s pain went away and she was able to give the message that evening but not before they all had prayed and worshipped God for hours. The ultimate communication with God is to be in His presence through worship. There is power in His presence and it is where things happen: healing, deliverance, insight, revelation, salvation, baptism of the spirit, and much more. Oh, and the title of the message that God gave to Judy during a three months span of time was, "Receiving the Father’s Heart."

I am in the process of writing a book about that message now. It is a powerful message that the Lord gave my sister a few years ago. I will also include the full story behind this anecdote.

When the ladies went to the beach to fellowship with God and minister to Him, He showed up in a big way. When we worship Him, He will show up every time. Because of their focus on prayer and worship of God, many wonderful things happened that weekend with each one of them. God manifested His heart to a small group of worshippers with just a little prayer and worship.

Truly surrendering to the will of God, seeking His face, hands, heart, and purpose with the right motive, the right attitude will get you in His presence every time. If you seek God for things, that’s all you’ll get. However, if you seek God for Him, you’ll get everything.

…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

Worship starts with a contrite and surrendered heart and is a love relationship with God. It is to embrace the romantic heart of the lover of our souls. The unity of His embrace releases His Spirit to change the atmosphere. In His presence there is fullness and joy.

In His presence, healing and deliverance are available and it sets the captive free, causing addictions to bow. In His presence, pride cannot stand. Where the spirit is, there is liberty. Only God knows what we need. We are naked before Him, transparent and vulnerable, where motives and intents are exposed. His grace reveals the area where we need cleansing.

Now, we are getting ready to intercede and pray.

His presence is a place where surrender through a thankful heart embraces humility, a place where love abounds. It is where our eyes are open and we hear the voice of God.

It is where we allow God to search from our attitudes to our ambitious zeal, from A to Z, as it were. We have to come to Him and be willing to stand naked and show Him everything about us that isn’t right. He sees it all anyway. It is just an act of surrender. We need to allow Him to fix and prune us, and all the while, knowing that He loves us and accepts us anyway.

Now we can worship and pray.

To God is the glory forever and ever. Amen.

HALLELUJAH!

As a matter of record we are in the last days when Christ could come for His Bride at any moment. We have learned that God's number one desire is that we know Him and make Him known to others. Therefore, while the world is worrying about what's coming down the road, we can look up and know that our redemption draws nigh.

While the world forgets about God and builds a man-made new age of peace and prosperity here on Earth, we can look toward the skies for the New Heaven and New Earth that is coming. We need to take as many with us as we can because the Lord is not willing that one should perish [20]. To help us all in this endeavor, let’s look at the beginning of it all, the road to salvation.

Go back up to the top


 Footnotes

    [1] Matthew 26:40

    [2] Matthew 26:41

    [3] Matthew 27:50

    [4] Matthew 27:51

    [5] 1 John 2:1

    [6] John 17:10; John 17:21-23; John 4:23

    [7] Revelation 22:17

    [8] John 10:27

    [9] Psalms 139:7-10

    [10] 1 Samuel 16:7

    [11] Matthew 6:9-13 The Lord’s complete teaching on prayer is contained in this verse. He gives a partial in Luke 11:2-4.

    [12] John 14:6

    [13] John 6:35

    [14] Isaiah 58

    [15] Romans 8:26, 27

    [16] 2 Timothy 2:15

    [17] Matthew 6:5, 6

    [18] 1 Samuel 16:7

    [19] James 4:3

    [20] 2 Peter 3:9