Saturday, March 30, 2019

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In this blog, I provide encouragement and biblical teaching on seeking the Lord with all your heart, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and living a life of holiness, righteousness, and truth.

As the Scripture says:

'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

And "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat 7:13-14)

Some of the topics covered include seeking the Lord, prayer, worship, tithing, inquiring of the Lord, hearing His voice, obedience, grace, godly attire and adornment, sanctification, consecration, backsliding, repentance, brokenness, suffering, humility, the fear of the Lord, the role of the commandments for the disciple of Christ, and the conditions of the New Covenant.  I hope this will be an edifying and encouraging experience for you that will help you to grow in your walk with the Lord.

Seeking the Lord Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God Holy Fire Baptism
Lifting Your Face in Prayer Lifting Hands in Prayer Crying Out to God Loudly
Pressing on Toward the Goal Taking Heaven by Force God Exalts the Humble and Brings Down the Proud
Whom Are You Seeking? Should you fear the Lord? Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?
Aim for Perfection Obedience by the Spirit Is Obedience Optional?
Salvation with Fear and Trembling Holy Living in a Perverted World Drifting Away
The Cost of Discipleship Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Is Tithing Required?
Where Should You Give Your Tithe? Walking in the Perfect Will of God Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian
The Obedience of Faith Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross? Law of Love in the New Testament
The New Covenant Law of Love in the New Testament The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith Costly Grace The Law of Christ
The Eyes of the Lord Garments of Godliness The Three Elijahs
The Burning Ones The End Has Come Now, But Not Yet
The Happy Hunters on Fire You're Better Off Following Jesus God Chooses the Weak Things 
The Beauty of Brokenness Seeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and Glory Hearing the Lord's Voice
Hearing the Lord's Voice Inquiring of the Lord Praise the Lord!
The Loving God Who Bids Us to Come One thing Righteousness, Peace, and Joy
Is the the Self-Help and Actualization Movement a Sham? From Self-confidence to Confidence in the Lord The Self-Help Gospel
Checklist for Revival God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He? The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer
The Flaming Sword Clean Hands and a Pure Heart The Spirit of the Law
Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy An Open Mind that Loves the Truth Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? The Apostasy Parables

The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught
The Disciples’ Prayer Is Tolerance a Virtue? Righteousness by Faith not Law
Life is Short. Eternity is Not. Noah's Ark a Type of Christ Grace, Mercy, and Peace
Ultimate Accountability Separation from the World The Knowledge of the Holy
The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness Ask for the Ancient Paths Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven
The Straight and Narrow Path Unhealthy Competition A Peculiar People
Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets Hope for You

Beware of Philosophy and Empty Deception
The Love of Jesus The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer Having a Servant's Heart
Avoiding Worldly Worship Purge the Evil from Among You Who is God?
Living a Life Worthy of the Lord Praying for the Lord Jesus Who is God? - Part II
The Way, Will, and Word of God Overcomers in This Life The Afflictions of the Righteous
Saints Alive in Jesus Bowing Low in Worship Repentance That Leads to Life
Keeping a Good Conscience Remember Lot’s Wife Called to be Blameless
If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words The Lord Will Rejoice Over You The Nature of Persecution
The Wardrobe of the Saints Filled Up to All the Fullness of God Loving Deeply
Seeking Glory from God Amazing Grace God's Sovereign Plans and Purposes
Abominations in the Sight of God Identification with Christ Alabaster Jar
Running from God Forgetting the Past Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?
God's View of Public Bathing Is Secular Music for Christians? Ignorance is Not Bliss
In the Yolk of Christianity Songs of the Holy Fire Known by God
Modern Day Idols Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Walking in Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness
Escaping from Dead Religion Living Sacrifices in Consuming Fire God's Amazing Plan for Your Life
Your Identity in Christ Having the Love of God in Your Heart Knowing the Lord
Following in His Steps Our God is an Awesome God! Hide and Seek with God
Belonging to the Lord No Turning Back David, A Man After God's Own Heart
Living on Earth as They Do in Heaven Chosen for Obedience The Ironies Between Jesus and Barabbas
Dedication to God Keep Your Lamp Burning The Holy Fire Series
The Active Nature of Faith Why God Hides His Face Only What's Done for Christ Will Last
Praying Heart-Prayers Trembling at His Word Seeking Him in the Wee Hours of the Night
If My People Who Are Called by My Name The Flesh vs the Spirit

Our gift of these articles by Len Lacroix is made possible in part by your gracious support of the ministry. Partner with us online.  You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Seek My Face" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Friday, March 29, 2019

If My People Who Are Called by My Name

Let's turn together to a famous passage and see what the Lord is saying to us through it. This one comes from 2 Chronicles 7 from the time that Solomon dedicated the temple to God. After he finished building the temple, the Lord appeared to him at night and said:

"If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chr 7:14, NIV).





















There are four tasks in this verse that are our duty, if we are the Lord's people who are called by His name:

1. Humble ourselves 

The first condition within our responsibility is to humble ourselves. It's necessary to humble yourself beneath the mighty hand of God and in due time he will lift you up (1 Pe 5:6). There are various ways to humble yourself, including fasting, prostrating yourself before the Lord on the floor, and going without the usual comforts of life and luxuries you typically enjoy. Daniel said, "I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over." (Dan 10:3, NIV). Sometimes the people in the Bible would put on rough, abrasive, uncomfortable clothing called sackcloth and sprinkle ashes on their heads.

2. Pray

The second condition that we must meet is to pray. Prayer is essential in order to maintain communion with God. Nothing else can take its place. It's our two-way communication with Him. We talk to Him, and we listen to what He says to us in our hearts by His Spirit and through his Word. We should have regular times of prayer each day, and then there are special seasons of prayer, too. We need to pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17).

3. Seek His face

Our third responsibility in order to meet the conditions is to seek the Lord's face. Nobody can do it for you. Seeking His face and seeking His presence are virtually synonymous. We get hungry for God and desire His presence more than the air we breath. We long to be with Him, because we love Him. Everything else is laid aside while we seek His face.

4. Turn from our wicked ways

The fourth condition that is our responsibility is to turn from our wicked ways. This requires repentance for our sins, confessing before Him, and turning our backs on the wicked things we've been doing. For more on this, see Repentance That Leads to Life. The apostle Paul wrote:

"Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and, 'Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.'” (2 Tim 2:19, NIV).

A great example of this is the way that Nehemiah prayed. He wrote, "...I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:

'Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.'" (Neh 1:4-7). For the rest of his prayer, read verses 8-11.

Daniel was another great example of how to pray. He wrote:

"So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

'Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.'" (Dan 9:3-6). For the rest of his prayer, read verses 7-19.

Those four conditions listed above must be met in order for us to receive the promise found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Once we meet them, then the Lord will fulfill His promise and do his part, which includes these three things:

5. I will hear from heaven

If we want the Lord to hear our prayers, which we all do, then it behooves us to meet the four conditions above. It's an amazing thing to know that God in heaven has heard you, and this brings great joy to your heart when it happens. It's God's job to hear from heaven. His ear is not too dull to hear, "but your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." (Is 59:2).

6. I will forgive their sin

Not only does the Lord hear from heaven, but He also forgives our sin, when we meet the conditions above. He is eager to forgive us, which only He can do, but He needs us to do our part first. There can be no forgiveness without sincere repentance and turning away from wickedness. Yet "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 Jn 1:9, NIV).

7. I will heal their land

The final thing God promises to do if we meet the above conditions is to heal our land. This is His job. We cannot do it, the government cannot do it, programs cannot do it, scientists cannot do it, doctors cannot do it, and no man on earth can do it. When we look at all the problems in our land -- the crime, the lawlessness, the murder of innocent children, the drug addiction, the sickness, the disease, the hopelessness, the suicide, the poverty, the economic problems, the injustice, the social issues, the deep divisions, the wars, the political problems, the corruption in our government, the environmental problems, and the problems affecting our wildlife -- our land is in desperate need of healing. Only the Lord can heal it, so it's essential that we do our part, in order for Him to do His part.



Closing Words
We must do our job and meet certain conditions, which are to humble ourselves, pray, seeking His face, and turn from our wicked ways. But once we meet those conditions, then the Lord will do His job. which is to hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission.The image may be subject to copyright, used per the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, please also see the following: Ask for the Ancient PathsSins That Will Keep You From HeavenBowing Low in WorshipRepentance That Leads to Life, The Land Mourns in the Last Days, Seeking Him in the Wee Hours of the NightCrying Out to God Loudly, Lifting Your Face in Prayer, and Lifting Hands in Prayer. You may also enjoy my daughter Charity's poem called America, Turn Back to God. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and you may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Seeking Him in the Wee Hours of the Night

Jesus Praying All Night
It's natural and normal for us to prioritize sleep, since our physical bodies and brains need time to rest, and when we don't get it properly, then we don't feel well. However, the passages of Scripture about people in the Bible being awake during the night seeking the Lord show us that this was a greater priority than sleep for them. Let's take a look and see.
Paul
Our first example is Paul the apostle. He described the hardships he had suffered for Christ, saying that he had served the Lord "in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger." (2 Cor 6:5, NIV).

One instance for which we have a record of one of those sleepless nights he had was when he and Silas were singing praises to God at midnight in the Philippian jail. Scripture says, "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." (Ac 16:25, NIV). They chose to stay awake singing hymns to God rather than sleeping, and the Lord used it mightily by sending an earthquake that opened the prison doors. But Paul chose instead to use that as an opportunity to share Jesus with the jailer rather than to escape.

Another instance is when he received the vision of the man from Macedonia, which happened during the night also. "During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (Ac 16:9, NIV). This was not a dream but a vision while he was awake during the night. Perhaps he was seeking the Lord alone while the others were sleeping.

Psalmists
The next example is the psalmists, who had many sleepless nights.

The blessed man is the one who meditates on the Word of God day and night, so he spending time with the Lord at night. "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night." (Psa 1:2)

"I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears." (Ps 6:6, NIV).

"When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches..." (Psa 63:6)

"In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness; My soul refused to be comforted...You have held my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, The years of long ago. I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart, And my spirit ponders." (Psa 77:2-6)

"O LORD, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You." (Psa 88:1)

"Awake, harp and lyre; I will awaken the dawn!" (Psa 108:2). Normally the dawn awakens man, but in this case, the psalmist said he would be the one to awaken the dawn, as he got out of bed to sing and worship.

"O LORD, I remember Your name in the night, And keep Your law." (Psa 119:55)

Even after the psalmist was in bed, he would rise at midnight for a time of thanksgiving to God. "At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You Because of Your righteous ordinances." (Psa 119:62)

"I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word."(Psa 119:147-148)

"Surely I will not enter my house, Nor lie on my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes Or slumber to my eyelids, Until I find a place for the LORD, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob."
(Psa 132:3-5)

Jesus Christ
The third example is Jesus Himself. "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." (Mar 1:35, NIV). Since he got up and went off to pray alone outdoors so early in the morning before dawn, it was probably sometime between 4:30 and 5:00 AM.

Then there was the time when He went up into the hills to pray all night while the disciples struggled at the oars, rowing against the wind all night on the lake. "After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea." (Mat 14:23-25). In this instance, He prayed from evening (anytime between 5:00 PM and 8:00 PM) until the fourth watch of the night (between 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM). So he may have prayed alone in the hills from 7:00 PM until 4:00 AM. He was not sleeping, but spending time with the Father.

That was certainly not an isolated incident. Another instance when He prayed all night was before He chose His twelve disciples. Luke wrote: "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God." (Lk 6:12, NIV).

We can't forget the late night prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed. Scripture records:

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. "Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!" (Mat 26:36-46).

First of all, He chose to spend that night in prayer rather than sleep, so the enemy would not catch Him off guard, because He knew He would be betrayed on that night. He won the victory in prayer in the garden, and that is why He was able to endure the cross the next day. He expected the three disciples Peter, James, and John to keep watch with Him while He prayed. He was probably just as tired as they were, and perhaps even more so, since He routinely arose earlier than they did for prayer in the morning. 

How did Jesus address His disciples who were supposed to be praying with Him late at night? When He saw them sleeping, He asked, "...you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." That proves that He prayed for a full hour that night, and He was expecting His disciples to do the same with Him. He was surprised that they could not do it, and He admonished them to keep watching and praying as He had told them to do, since their flesh was weak, even though their spirits were willing.

We know the attitude that Peter had expressed earlier that evening at the last supper, when he said he would go to prison with Jesus and even die for Him. His spirit was willing, but since his flesh was weak, and since he slept rather than prayed that night, he later ended up denying the Lord three times.

First Century Saints
The fourth example is the saints in the first century. Were the saints in the first century more concerned about getting enough sleep or hearing the Word of God and breaking bread together? Scripture says:

"On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight..." (Act 20:7-8).

During this all-night church meeting, a young man fell asleep and fell from a window he was sitting in, plunging to his death three stories below. After Paul went down and raised him from the dead, he went back up and rather than send everyone home because it was late, he continued the meeting until dawn. The Bible says, "When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left." (Act 20:11). Obviously Paul was undeterred by that incident and proceeded with the all-night meeting as planned. He didn't apologize and the church didn't complain to him that they needed their sleep or that the meeting was going too long. They were hungry for God. Being together in that place breaking bread and listening to the Word of God was more important than sleep. This is foreign to the twenty-first century church, which prefers short messages and meetings.

Apparently that occasion was another one of Paul's many sleepless nights that he wrote about in his epistle to the Corinthians, as I mentioned earlier (2 Cor 6:5).

He Gives Sleep to Those He Loves
All of this talk about praying and meeting together in the middle of the night might cause you to wonder if God even cares about sleep at all. If it does, then let me assure you that God knows your need for sleep and He fulfills it. The psalmist said, "In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for He grants sleep to those he loves." (Psa 127:2). This means that people who assume too much of the burden of toiling for life's basic necessities, and fail to trust the Lord to provide, are burning the candle at both ends for nothing. They need to remember that the Lord gives sleep to those He loves.

Sleep Deficit of Christ
Did you ever wonder when Jesus found time to sleep, since He often prayed during the middle of the night or in the very early hours of the morning before daylight? Not only that but during the day He stayed very busy serving others by preaching to them, teaching them, healing them, feeding them, and casting demons out of them. When did Jesus sleep? Perhaps He got a little bit of sleep at night, and on certain occasions He caught a brief nap during the day. Did He always get enough sleep? I suppose He probably did not. I'm sure there were plenty of times when he got less than eight hours of sleep, which is that amount that most people today associate with their basic, daily requirement. In fact, it is my opinion that He probably got around five hours or less of sleep per night on average. On some occasions He may have only gotten three hours of sleep or none at all, so it's likely that He lived with an ongoing sleep deficit, and since He was fully human as well as fully God, He probably felt the physical effects of it in much the same way we do when we don't get enough sleep. 

Sleeping Through a Storm
Children are known to be sound sleepers who can sometimes sleep right through a major thunderstorm. Perhaps it's because they don't have any worries and they enjoy deep, peaceful sleep.
How do you suppose Jesus was able to sleep in the boat during the storm? Probably because he had faith in His Father in heaven to protect Him from all harm, which would explain why He asked His panicking disciples when they awakened Him, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Here is the account from Mark's gospel:

"Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?' And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?'" (Mar 4:38-40).

Luke's gospel states: "As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger." (Lk 8:23, NIV). It was as they sailed that Jesus fell asleep, because he was probably tired and entrusted Himself to the Father. Even though the boat was being swamped and they were in great danger, Jesus remained asleep, because He had peace in His heart. As He slept, His heart was as placid as the sea was after he calmed it.

Matthew's gospel says, "Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping." (Matthew 8:24, NIV). This emphasizes the fact that it was not just a typical rain, but a furious storm that suddenly came upon them, and the waves were actually washing right over the top of the boat. However, throughout all of that noisy, intensely turbulent action, Jesus was sleeping. That's one of the benefits He enjoyed of spending those long nights in prayer. Whenever He did get some sleep, He slept like a rock.


He could say with David, "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me...In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Ps 3:5; 4:8, NIV)


The Lord experienced what the Holy Spirit spoke through the mouth of Isaiah the prophet, who said, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You. Trust in Jehovah forever; for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength." (Isa 26:3-4, MKJV). May the Lord help us to keep our minds stayed upon Jehovah. As we do so, He will keep us in perfect peace, even in the midst of life's storms, because we trust in Him. That was the secret to Jesus sleeping during the storm.

Primary Source of Rest
Does our rest primarily come from sleep or from God? Scripture says it comes from God.

As David said, "Truly my soul finds rest in God...Yes, my soul, find rest in God." (Ps 62:1,5, NIV).

The Lord replied [to Moses], “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Ex 33:14, NIV). This means that it is God who gives us rest through His abiding presence with us. When you have the presence of the Lord with you, then you will experience rest as He refreshes you. For times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord (Ac 3:19b, NASB).

In this way, the Lord sustains us -- both young and old -- even when we have not gotten adequate sleep. As Isaiah said:

"He gives power to the weary; and to him with no vigor; He increases strength. Even the young shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but those who wait on Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isa 40:29-31, MKJV)

There is rest for the weary, if they will come to Jesus and trust Him. He said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Mat 11:28-29; cf., Mk 6:30-37). May the Lord help us to understand that He alone can give us rest. The flesh, the world, and the devil will run us ragged and lead us to exhaustion. But in Christ we find true rest, which is not merely a physical rest resulting from sleep, but much more than that -- rest for our souls. Until you have found that rest in Him, you would not be able to understand how or why anyone would miss sleep to be with Him, because you might be incorrectly associating rest only with sleep. As someone said, "Sleep really is overrated."

Essentials of Getting Good Sleep
What are some essentials to getting good sleep?

The second wisest man in the world taught us how to enjoy sweet sleep when he said, "The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up And the skies drip with dew. My son, let them not vanish from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion, So they will be life to your soul And adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely And your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." (Pro 3:19-24). So the key to sweet sleep is keeping sound wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and discretion.

Loving Sleep
Although we all need to get some sleep for our health, should we love sleep? No, we shouldn't. There are actually numerous warnings against loving sleep in the Bible.

Solomon warned, "Do not love sleep, or you will become poor; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food." (Pro 20:13)

And again, "How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. (Pr 6:9-11, NIV)

Be careful not to look only to sleep as your comfort, because then what will you do if it is disrupted? Job said, "If I say, 'My bed will comfort me, My couch will ease my complaint,' Then You frighten me with dreams And terrify me by visions." (Job 7:13-14)

That's why a hard working man can enjoy sweet sleep, regardless of how much he eats, while a rich man may not. Solomon said, "The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep." (Ecc 5:12, NIV)

We must be careful not to love sleep, because it should not become a top priority in our lives above the Lord. It is possible to de-prioritize the things of God like worship, prayer, the Word, preaching, breaking of bread, and doing His will, and thus fall asleep spiritually. What good is it if you get a full night's sleep every night but lose your soul?

"For this reason it says, 'Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.' Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." (Eph 5:14-16). This Scripture is just as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. Many are fast asleep spiritually in these last and evil days, and are in desperate need of an awakening. Let's wake up, people!

"And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Rom 13:11, NIV).

Listen to what Jesus said to the Church of Sardis:

"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.'" (Rev 3:1-3)

Jesus says, "Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame." (Rev 16:15)

Modern Examples
In addition to all the examples I have already given of people who prayed in the wee hours of the night and morning, I'd like to cite some examples of modern day people who have done so. One person who comes to mind is John Wesley, who rose daily at four or five o’clock in the morning for private prayer.

Another one I'd like to mention is brother Yong Doo Kim, a South Korean pastor, who led his church in all night prayer meetings for a month one year in January. During that time, he and the members of the Lord's Church that he pastors began to have supernatural encounters in the spirit realm. This brought about a mighty, spiritual awakening not only in that church, but in the lives of people like me around the world who have read his series of books called Baptized by Blazing Fire, which recounts many of those supernatural encounters that his church experienced. Many people like me have also attended his all-night meetings called holy fire revival meetings that go on for three or four days at a time in locations around the world where he travels. I am a life that was changed after reading his books and attending his all-night revival meetings that he held in Liege, Belgium in 2012. That in turn impacted my whole family and brought about a spiritual awakening among us all, as well as transformed my ministry and powerfully touched the lives of many people to whom I have ministered.

If you would like to learn more about that, then I recommend reading my articles Baptized by Blazing Fire -- a Korean church's testimony and Holy Fire Baptism.

Closing Words
While it may be natural to prioritize sleep, we see plenty of examples of people in the Bible being awake during the night seeking the Lord, which teaches us that this was a greater priority than sleep for them. These people included our Lord Jesus, in whose steps we should follow, as well as Paul, who said to follow him as he followed Christ. Other examples include the psalmists and the saints in the first century church, who sometimes pulled "all-nighters" in prayer, worship, and listening to the Word.

Based on what we know from Scripture, due to the prayer life that Jesus maintained, we could safely conclude that He probably operated with a sleep deficit during His days on earth. The same could also be said of Paul and many of his fellow first-century disciples. These students were not above their Teacher, but once they had been fully trained, they became like their Teacher. As Jesus Himself said, "The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher." (Lk 6:40, NIV).

According to Scripture, the Lord gives sleep to those He loves, so we don't need to fret and toil at our occupations from the time we get up until we go to bed. We can go to bed trusting Him to provide for us. Yet even though He does give sleep to us, we should not love sleep or make it a top priority above God and His will for our lives. We should always remember that God and His glorious presence with us is our primary source of rest, not sleep. When we come to Christ and He is our focus, then He'll keep us in perfect peace and give us rest for our souls. Then we will be able to sleep peacefully through the furious storms of life. As we maintain wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and discretion, we will enjoy sweet sleep.

Finally, the time has come for us to wake up, arise from the dead, and strengthen what remains, so that Christ may shine on us. We are nearer now to Christ's soon return than when we first believed, and each day we are another day closer to it, so let's stay awake and keep our clothes, so that we will not go about shamefully exposed.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures where indicated are from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission.Image of Jesus Praying All Night may be subject to copyright, used according to the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes. The first boat in the storm painting is Christ Asleep in His Boat, by Jules Joseph Meynier. The second boat in storm painting is Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee - 1695, by Ludolf Bakhuizen.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, please also see the following: Who Intercedes for UsCrying Out to God Loudly, Lifting Your Face in Prayer, Lifting Hands in Prayer, Praying Heart-Prayers, Standing in the Gap, and Baptized with the Holy Spirit. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and you may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Trembling at His Word

What is it that makes you tremble? Is it a fear of flying, or encountering serious engine trouble on an airplane during flight? Is it being in a major auto accident or encountering a life threatening emergency of a loved one? There are many things that can cause people to tremble, such as being threatened at gunpoint or knife point by a violent person. All of those things threaten the life of the person who experiences them, but there is something else that makes those who follow Christ tremble, and that's His Word.

The psalmist prayed, "Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your Word." (Ps 119:161, NIV). This verse in the NET Bible reads: "Rulers pursue me for no reason, yet I am more afraid of disobeying your instructions." The literal Hebrew translation of the second half of this verse in the NET Bible notes says, “'And because of your instructions my heart trembles.' The psalmist’s healthy 'fear' of the consequences of violating God’s instructions motivates him to obey them."

It seems the psalmist was more afraid of God's Word than he was of the powerful rulers who persecuted him without cause. This is just as the Lord Jesus taught us when He said, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Mt 10:28, NIV).

This psalmist practiced this when he said to God earlier in Psalm 119, "My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws." (Ps 119:120, NIV)

You know, there's another verse that speaks about trembling at His Word, and that's in the last book of the prophet Isaiah. He prophesied, "These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at My Word." (Is 66:2, NIV).

The Hebrew word for tremble in Isaiah 66:2 is wə•ḥā•rêḏ, which is derived from the word chârêd meaning "fearful; afraid, trembling." The Greek word in Isaiah 66:2 for tremble in the Septuagint is tremonta, which is a form of the word tremo, meaning "tremble (with dread), i.e. shake and quiver from fear." (J. Thayer). This is not just a general reverence for the Scriptures, but an actual trembling in fear of it in a healthy, loving way. In verse 2, the Lord says that He esteems the one who is humble and contrite, and who trembles at His Word.

Applying it to Our Lives
Do I tremble at His Word? That's a good question for each of us to ask ourselves. If you want to be esteemed by the Lord, then according to Isaiah 66:2, you definitely should tremble at His Word.

Perhaps another good reason we should do so is that we will be judged according to what is written in His Word. Our Lord Jesus said, “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day." (Jn 12:47-48, NIV). If anyone rejects Jesus and does not accept His Words, then the very Word of God will condemn that person on the last day. But someone may say, "I don't reject Jesus. I have accepted Him and I accept His Word." Well enough then, but do you actually keep His Word? I'm not talking about owning a Bible or carrying one, but reading it and being a doer of the Word, because the Lord said if anyone hears His words but does not keep them, the very words He has spoken that are written in the Bible will condemn that person in the end. He said what He meant, and He meant what He said. Since that is true, we have good reason to tremble at His Word with a humble and contrite heart, since our very souls depend on it.

I didn't say that, Jesus did. He is the one who said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Mt 7:21, NIV). That narrows it down to very few who will enter the kingdom, since only those who do the will of the Father in heaven will enter that place. That eliminates those who merely call Him Lord, but do not do what He says. He said, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Lk 6:46, NIV). So what becomes of those who do not do what He says in His Word? This is what will happen to them. Jesus said, "I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Mt 7:23, NIV). This is the gospel according to Jesus. Therefore, as James said, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (Jam 1:22, NIV). Our eternal destination depends on this, so let's not forget that. It's my hope that this has given us all a deeper appreciation for the Word of God, and that we would always tremble at His Word.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible New International Version (NIV), copyright Zondervan, used by permission.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I invite you to read my other articles called Should you fear the Lord?, Salvation with Fear and TremblingThe Obedience of FaithIs Obedience Optional?Obedient to the Heavenly VisionFollowing in His StepsLiving on Earth as They Do in HeavenDoing What is RightFaith Works!, If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words, Aim for Perfection, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Called to Be BlamelessElection and Predestination, and my daughter's poem, Overflowing Blessings. There are more articles on the Home page of this blog, too. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Praying Heart-Prayers

I have previously written about the need to cry out to God loudly in prayer, which I still believe is important and necessary. But have you ever felt like you don't know how you ought to pray in a given situation? God has a great solution for that. Today I'm going to discuss what I call heart-prayers, whereby you pray without using intelligible words, and sometimes even inaudibly.

The apostle Paul wrote, "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;" (Rom 8:26).

The Help of the Holy Spirit
This verse speaks of the help of the Holy Spirit in prayer, because our weakness greatly limits us in our ability to pray for ourselves and for one another. Our natural human condition is that we do not know how to pray as we should. As Matthew Henry said, "We are often at a loss - graces are weak, affections cold, thoughts wandering, and it is not always easy to find the heart to pray, 2Sa_7:27. The apostle speaks of this in the first person: 'We know not.' He puts himself among the rest. Folly, and weakness, and distraction in prayer, are what all the saints are complaining of. If so great a saint as Paul knew not what to pray for, what little reason have we to go forth about that duty in our own strength!"

Moreover, we don't know what to pray for specifically, because we do not fully understand our situation as the Lord does. Another reason is that in our nearsightedness we tend to focus on our immediate need rather than on what is best in the long term and even in eternity. We also tend to be partial in favor of our own selfish desires.

In light of all that, it's no wonder we need the assistance of the Spirit in prayer. There are many ways in which He helps us, including through the Word of God as we pray and read it. He speaks to us through it and reveals to us the promises of God for us, as well as how to go about living. He also speaks directly to our hearts as well. But the help Paul was speaking of here is specifically referring to the Spirit's help by praying for us. Not only do we have the assurance that Jesus Christ is interceding for us in heaven before the Father, but we also have the promise that the Spirit is interceding for us in our hearts.

Matthew Henry commented: "The Spirit in the heart helps, dwelling in us, working in us, as a Spirit of grace and supplication, especially with respect to the infirmities we are under when we are in a suffering state, when our faith is most apt to fail; for this end the Holy Ghost was poured out." He explains that the word for "Helps" is the Greek word "sumantilambanetai," meaning "heaves with us, over against us, helps as we help one that would lift up a burden, by lifting over against him at the other end - helps with us, that is, with us doing our endeavour, putting forth the strength we have. We must not sit still, and expect that the Spirit should do all; when the Spirit goes before us we must bestir ourselves. We cannot without God, and he will not without us. What help? Why, the Spirit itself makes intercession for us, dictates our requests...draws up our plea for us...so graciously has God provided for the encouragement of the praying remnant. The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, teaches us what to pray for, as a sanctifying Spirit works and excites praying graces, as a comforting Spirit silences our fears, and helps us over all our discouragements. The Holy Spirit is the spring of all our desires and breathings towards God."

The Spirit's Intercession for Us
Now keeping in mind the meaning of this help of the Spirit who heaves with us, consider what Albert Barnes aptly pointed out about the meaning of "Maketh intercession," regarding this work of the Spirit in our hearts. He stated, "The word used here huper-entungchanei, occurs no where else in the New Testament. The word entungchanō, however, is used several times. It means properly to be present with anyone for the purpose of aiding, as an advocate does in a court of justice; hence, to intercede for anyone, or to aid or assist in any manner. In this place it simply means that the Holy Spirit greatly assists or aids us; not by praying for us, but in our prayers and infirmities."

It's interesting to note that the root word "huper" is where we get our English word "hyper". It means over, beyond, and more than, in much the same way we use the word hyper today, as in hyperactive. I like this word huper or hyper, because it connotes something extraordinary like turbo power in an automobile engine or like the after-burners on a fighter jet that light up with flames shooting out the back, as the aircraft takes off in a steep climb skyward. But huper also means "in behalf of, or for the sake of." When you combine this word "huper" with the word "entungchanei" which refers to interceding, you have a powerful word. The Spirit Himself "hyper-intercedes" for us in a manner that is supernatural, extraordinary, more than we could ever do on our own, and beyond our natural abilities. He does all of this on our behalf or for us, which is the other part of the meaning of huper, and that's why it says the Spirit intercedes "for us." This is like turbo-prayer on our behalf.

It also reminds me of another illustration from auto mechanics, which is something called overdrive. According to Wikipedia, "Overdrive is a term used to describe the operation of an automobile cruising at sustained speed with reduced engine revolutions per minute, leading to better fuel consumption, lower noise, and lower wear." When your vehicle shifts into this gear, you are able to cruise long distances at high speeds with less friction and wear on your engine. When the Spirit performs this hyper-supplication within us, it's a wonderful feature, because we are enabled to accomplish far more in prayer than we ever could on our own, and we can do so without wearing ourselves out.

Groanings Too Deep for Words
Let's just recap for a moment. The Spirit heaves with us inside as we pray and assists us with the heavy lifting by providing this supernatural, high-powered intercession within us. It's a sort of extreme prayer or ultra-intercession. What does that look like or sound like? Let's return to Matthew Henry's comments for more on that:

"Now this intercession which the Spirit makes is, (1.) With groanings that cannot be uttered. The strength and fervency of those desires which the Holy Spirit works are hereby intimated. There may be praying in the Spirit where there is not a word spoken; as Moses prayed (Exo_14:15), and Hannah, 1Sa_1:13. It is not the rhetoric and eloquence, but the faith and fervency, of our prayers, that the Spirit works, as an intercessor, in us. Cannot be uttered; they are so confused, the soul is in such a hurry with temptations and troubles, we know not what to say, nor how to express ourselves. Here is the Spirit interceding with groans that cannot be uttered. When we can but cry, 'Abba, Father,' and refer ourselves to him with a holy humble boldness, this is the work of the Spirit."

Henry pointed out here that this intercession of the Spirit is with groanings too deep for words. As I've been saying, this happens at a much higher level, above and beyond anything we are capable of in ourselves. Since these groanings are so deep that they cannot be expressed with words, they may come forth as a deep sigh, a cry, or a moan. By definition a groan is a deep inarticulate sound made in pain or despair. That's basically what we're talking about here. In some cases, it may even be completely inaudible to the human ear, such as what happened when Moses cried out to God in his heart.

When he was leading the Israelites out of Egypt, as they were being chased by the Egyptian army and the people were crying out to him that he should have left them in Egypt, he was telling them not to be afraid because the Lord would fight for them. But even as he was in the midst of all that commotion, he must have been crying out to God fervently in his heart with faith, because the Lord said to him, "Why are you crying out to me?" (Ex 14:15a).

Another example that Matthew Henry cited was the time when Hannah was earnestly praying to God, and her lips were moving, but no sound was coming out. "Now it came about, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli was watching her mouth. As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. Then Eli said to her, 'How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.' But Hannah replied, 'No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the LORD. Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation." (1Sa 1:12-16). That's a great definition of heart-prayer, which illustrates what this intercession of the Spirit for us in our hearts may actually look like sometimes. It could be completely silent, except to the one praying, who is aware of the deep cries within his or her heart, and to the Lord who hears that silent prayer, as well as to the angels who are involved in carrying our prayers to God.

Another example from Scripture of heart-prayers is the time when Abraham's servant was sent back to get a wife for Isaac. The servant said, “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’" (Gen 24:45, NIV). The actual prayer that he prayed in his heart is found in verses 42 to 44. It was not a short prayer either, but it was definitely inaudible.

Here's another one you may not have noticed before in the gospels, regarding what happened when Jesus met the demoniac in the region of the Gerasenes. "When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!' For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man." (Lk 8:27-29a, NIV).

In this passage, notice that it says the reason the demon inside the man caused him to cry out at the top of his voice, begging Jesus not to torture him, was that Jesus "had commanded" the impure spirit to come out of the man. However, as with the silent prayer of Moses referred to in Exodus 14:15, there is no record quoting the Lord's actual command to the impure spirit to come out of the man, as we see in other passages, but only a retrospective statement about it after the fact. It's my opinion that Jesus in his heart may have commanded the demon to come out of the man without doing so out loud. While others around Him didn't hear it, the demon did!

My Experience
I had an experience like this one time. I used to work as a bellman in a four diamond hotel when I was in graduate school studying Missiology or World Missions in the Regent University School of Divinity. This particular time there was a guest who called himself "Michaelangelo," who was staying by himself at the hotel. He began acting bizarrely not long after he checked in. I was standing in front of the bell stand in the large front lobby of the hotel next to my fellow bellman John. We were looking directly across at the front desk on the other side of the lobby, where one of the female front desk clerks was standing. John was also in graduate school, but he was studying psychology in the School of Counseling.

At that point, I recall that "Michaelangelo" the guest came around the corner into the lobby and I believe he spit his room key out of his mouth onto the front desk counter top. As he was interacting with the front desk lady, which I believe was about some complaint of his, John was evaluating him out loud to me in a low voice. He was seeking to diagnose the man's psychological problem. Perhaps he was diagnosing the man as schizophrenic and/or having obsessive-compulsive disorder. On the other hand, my approach was to view things as Jesus did from a spiritual perspective, and I sensed that this man was demon possessed, but I kept that to myself. I simply looked right at the man from across the room as he stood at the front desk, and in my heart I silently but authoritatively commanded the demon in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of him. However, I was not scowling at him or making any kind of angry expression.

At that point, as if the man actually heard me, he looked at me and came right over to me, challenging me belligerently to my face. He was a little shorter than me, so as he stood closely right in front of me just inches from my chest, he looked up at me and commanded me to tell him my name. He said something like, "What is your name? I command you to tell me your name!" I maintained my peace and the professional servant-to-guest demeanor, but I referred to my name printed on my name tag attached to my uniform and I called him "sir." I didn't back down or back away from him a single inch, despite his intimidation tactics. Then he began to say, "I don't like you!" He looked at John the student of psychology and said, "I like you," then he looked back at me he said, "but I don't like you." Eventually he went away and the front desk lady commended me for maintaining my peace and not being afraid of him. The police ended up being called in to deal with something going on in the man's room, and I cannot recall if he was suicidal or what. But that seems to come to mind for some reason.

My point in telling that story is that although I had not said a word out loud, in my heart I silently commanded that demon to come out of the man, and I believe the demon inside him heard me loud and clear. As a side note, I also found it interesting that the demon in him liked the person who was studying psychology, but it didn't like me who was operating in the supernatural power of the Spirit. I have never forgotten that incident, and it seems to me that it was a clear example of a heart-prayer assisted by the Holy Spirit. That's why I tend to think this is what Jesus did to the demon inside the man in the region of the Gaderenes. In other places in Scripture, we see the words recorded that Jesus spoke to the demons, but in this passage, it only refers to Jesus' command after the fact by saying, "For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man."

Here is another example of heart-prayer from the gospels. This time it's from the incident when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. "So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.' When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'” (Jn 11:41-44, NIV).

I want you to notice the part that says, "Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.'" This means that Jesus had prayed to the Father in His heart silently, and when He thanked the Father for hearing Him, He only did so for the benefit of those watching. The reason it benefited them was that they could not hear His silent heart-prayer to the Father, and by His thanking the Father for hearing that silent prayer, it helped them to believe that that the Father had sent Him when they saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead.

He Perceives Our Thoughts
According to King David, the Lord knows our deepest thoughts. He said, "You perceive my thoughts from afar...Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely." (Ps 139:2b, 4). That means that you can communicate heart to heart and thought to thought with Him without even speaking the words out loud with your mouth. He already knows what you're going to say before you say it. There are times when this type of heart-prayer is all you are able to do, either because of the place you find yourself in, where you are not free to pray out loud, such as when you are sharing Jesus with a non-believer, or because you are unable to speak, or because you don't know how you should pray. In moments like these, all you may be able to do is to cry out to Him in your heart, and He hears it.

According to the will of God
In the verse following our main text, it says that the Spirit always prays according to the will of God. Paul wrote, "And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Rom 8:27). That's another great benefit of this intercession of the Spirit in our hearts. As Matthew Henry says, "The Spirit in the heart never contradicts the Spirit in the word. Those desires that are contrary to the will of God do not come from the Spirit. The Spirit interceding in us evermore melts our wills into the will of God. Not as I will, but as thou wilt." According to the apostle John, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." Therefore, God always hears these prayers of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Praying in the Spirit
One more way that the Spirit's intercession in our hearts for us may be manifested is by praying in the Spirit. I realize that some people reading this have never spoken in tongues, so they cannot relate to this or understand exactly what it is, but I and many others who have received the promised baptism with the Holy Spirit have experienced it first hand and know it well (Lk 11:13; 24:49; Ac 1:8; 2:4, 16-18). Not everyone has the gift of tongues in the sense of delivering messages publicly in a known or unknown language that they have never learned to speak (1 Co 12:10; 14:26). Whenever someone does so, there needs to be someone with the gift of interpretation of tongues to deliver the message to the people in a language they can understand (1 Co 14:27). But the Lord does give us a prayer language that we can use in our prayer time to communicate directly with Him and edify ourselves (1 Co 14:4).

Paul spoke of it quite a bit in his epistles. He wrote, "For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries...One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself...Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues...For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also...I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all." (1Co 14:2, 4a, 5a, 14-15, 18). He also wrote, "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints." (Eph 6:18). Jude wrote, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit," (Jud 1:20). Therefore, we know that there is something called praying in the Spirit, and one way this happens is, as Paul said, praying in a tongue. When I pray in a tongue (i.e., pray in tongues), my spirit prays, but my mind does not understand what I am saying. The Spirit prays through me to the Father, making intercession for me and those I am praying for. This enables us to effectively pray the will of God when we know not how we should pray or what we should pray.

Closing Words
As we can see from Scripture, because of our weaknesses, we don't know how we should pray. God has graciously provided the saints with the help of the Spirit, who heaves with us, "hyper-praying" on our behalf with groanings too deep for words. This is a marvelous service that He provides! It has many applications, including silent heart-prayers, sighs, groans, calling out His name, and even praying in tongues. The Holy Spirit cooperates with us as we pray, and He knows exactly how to pray according to the will of God. Let me encourage you to fully take advantage of all the Lord has provided for you as a believer. Don't miss out on anything the Lord has for you.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. The artwork of a woman praying in her closet is by my daughter Charity Lacroix, and you can find more of her artwork and calligraphy at A Brush with Life.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, please also see the following: Who Intercedes for UsCrying Out to God Loudly, Lifting Your Face in Prayer, Lifting Hands in Prayer, and Baptized with the Holy Spirit. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and you may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.