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Get Cozy or Go Crazy?
In our last lesson, we started to talk about meaningful ways to pass the time waiting on the Lord in prayer without going crazy. There are six activities that I recommend you either do or be careful to avoid doing. They are:
(We already talked about the first two in the previous lesson; now we will cover the other four.)
Third, the waiting period is a time to get the armor of God in order. Some Christians mistake a lull in the conflict for the end of a battle. They turn their swords into plowshares too early, and they forget to put on their armor. Suddenly, an enemy counterattack takes advantage of an unprotected Christian.
Intense waiting leads to intense warring. Yet, armor needs mending and swords need sharpening. How do you do that?
One way is to recognize that prayer binds the armor of light together (Ephesians 6:10-19). Why? Prayer is where God imparts things directly to us. Let me explain...
Oil from human hands produces a distinctive tarnish when it touches armor. In the same fashion, the Lord wants to touch our armor. God closes gaps in our breastplate. Among the breaches, He exposes vulnerabilities that may need our attention.
For example, emotional hang-ups can become enemy hideouts. That happens in the natural when a wound heals on the surface, but continues to fester beneath the skin. There are nurses who treat such deep wounds as a specialty. It may take time with the inner healing ministry of your church to shed the emotional baggage.
Next, unexamined prejudices can stop God from using us to touch people from other cultures. When they are outside of countries dominated by Islam, Muslims can express their curiosity over Jesus, revered as a prophet by the Koran. Treating all Muslims as lesser incarnations of Osama Bin Laden thwarts the Holy Spirit's work among Egyptians, Saudi Arabians, and others who might come to Christ.
Delusions of grandeur also lead us to think that we're stronger in some areas than we actually are. God may point out missing pieces of armor. One way to tell if you keep forgetting to wear an item of armor is if Satan attacks you in the same area repeatedly. Samson recklessly exposed himself to tests of strength, not realizing how weak he had become (Judges 16). God wants to toughen our armor before the test.
Two, God wants to prepare us for offensive contests as well as defensive conflicts. That's why He gave us the Word of God. Jesus used it to thwart Satan (i.e. Luke 4:1-13). Many believers don't know where to look in the Bible if the enemy questions what God has said. To be effective, weapons must be sharp, and the user must know how to use them.
Here's a scenario: The Holy Spirit actually lives within us. The enemy confronts us over some issue. The Holy Spirit looks for His sword, so He can use it against the enemy. But He finds nothing, or at best, a butter knife is all He's got to wield against the devil. Care to guess why?
The Holy Spirit works with what we supply Him. If we provide Him with the right tools--the sword of the Spirit--then He can handle the enemy. How can you give the Holy Spirit a sword instead of a plastic knife?
Study, meditation, and memorization are the most effective ways to put the Word of God within the Holy Spirit's grasp. When the Lord prompts you to memorize a verse, one way to do so is to write it down on a two-by-three card--about the size of some commuter train tickets--and then carry it around with you in a small credit-card folder. Make sure you also put on the card the scriptural reference (where it's found in the Bible). Then, whenever you have to wait, pull out your verse and read it over several times. Have a friend check your accuracy by reciting it aloud while the friend looks at the card. Once you know it by heart, move on to another Scripture. Verses that mean something to you are the best ones to memorize.
Soon, you'll find those same verses coming to mind at other times, when they will minister to you or to others. And guess Who will be bringing them to mind? (John 14:26)
Fourth, we need to be about the Father's business while we wait. What was the Father's business for Jesus during the thirty silent years? What did Jesus do while He waited for the fulfillment of the Father's promises to Him? I can't give you many details, but Scripture gives some indications (Luke 2:49-52). Jesus tended to his ordinary work as He later would His extraordinary works. Jesus performed His normal chores as if in the next moment, God might fulfill His word to Him.
That's what Joseph, Jacob's son, did. While we don't know much about Jesus' silent years, we do know about Joseph's time in obscurity. He applied himself diligently to the tasks at hand. Didn't Jesus say that to the one who is faithful in little, more would be given? (Luke 16:10). On the other hand, the one who is unfaithful in little, even that little would be taken away.
Fifth, delays give us time to develop a fearlessness based on His faithfulness.
That's what gave Joshua and Caleb the edge over the other ten spies who did a reconnaissance of the Promised Land. Yes, all twelve spies saw giants in Palestine. We learn later that Goliath came from that line. And yes, the land was brimming with fortified cities. Caleb and Joshua saw the same ramparts and towers that the other Israelite elders saw, so what made the difference? What forged fearlessness in the hearts of Caleb and Joshua, but not in the other men? Was it a partiality for manna? Was the desert climate better for their sinuses?
All twelve men had seen God's constant hand of faithfulness in warfare, first in His judgments against the gods of Egypt, second in drowning the army of Pharaoh, and thirdly, against the warring peoples of the Sinai. The difference appears to be spiritual amnesia. At the decisive moment, the ten spies forgot all the victories that God had given them and took God's blessings for granted. When we minimize what God has done for us, Satan is quick to sweep any memory of these victories and blessings under the carpet of forgetfulness.
The key to maximizing your ability to remember God's faithfulness is thanksgiving. We raise monuments in our minds with thanksgiving, so that God's specific, faithful acts will not be forgotten. Telling the next generation of God's faithfulness also reinforces their place in our memories (Deuteronomy 4:9). Our heart becomes fearless because we know that God proves faithful when push comes to shove.
Finally, use your waiting time to get a routine prophetic checkup. Checkups help locate health problems early. Doctors tell us what steps we need to take in order to live longer. If we don't follow their prescriptions, chances are we won't last long enough to fulfill our potential. Or, the physician may encourage good health habits we've established, because they see the results during the exam.
Prophetic tune-ups serve the same function. Many churches operate ongoing prophetic ministries. Some conferences offer prophetic appointments as part of their program.
Prophetic call-out services aren't the best way to get a checkup. They aren't always available in your area. You may not get called out by the prophet. And if you do, typically the prophetic word is short.
The results of a prophetic checkup may surprise you. God may encourage you over your faithfulness in waiting on Him. You might learn of a promise for a loved one that God wanted to spring on you at an opportune time. God might resurrect a dream (other than the one you've been praying over) that you thought had died.
Prophetic ministries often include team members who pray over you and the new words you have just received. Since some people in prophetic circles are also intercessors, impartations often occur during prayer. I encourage you to avail yourself of such prophetic ministry, if such an opportunity is accessible to you. GodSpeak provides an excellent teaching on their web page at www.godspeak.net/ps_lessons that will help you judge the prophetic words you receive.