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We are exploring a 6 step model for personal intercession. We looked at the first two steps in great detail in our last lesson. Let me review them briefly for you here, as a reminder.
Step 1 was to have a time of praise and worship, were we remind ourselves of Who God is and of what He has already done for us. Then we feel and express gratitude and worship to Him for this. Many people find it helpful to use some form of music during worship. Some like to dance before God as an expression of worship. Some like to read worship passages from the Bible. Some like to meditate quietly before the Lord as they worship Him. There is no right or wrong way to worship God, providing your heart and mind are dwelling on Him and seeing some aspect of Who He is and responding to Him.
Step 2 was to invite God to lead your prayer time, and to take authority of the enemy to keep him from interfering with it.
Now let's move on to the remaining four steps.
Step 3 - Assure You Are Right With God
Invite the Lord to show you anything in your life that displeases Him. Ask God to show you anything in your life that separates you from Him. Then immediately deal with anything He brings up by confessing and repenting and asking for forgiveness. Allow God to wash you in the blood of Jesus and make you holy. Repentance is useless if we don't receive the forgiveness that Jesus has already purchased for us on Calvary.
It is a very good idea to examine your heart with God. James 4:8-10 says, "8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."
The area that comes up the most often for most people is the area of forgiving those who wrong us. It is very important to forgive; in fact, it is crucial. Unforgiveness is the area that most often hinders our prayers. God considers unforgiveness a sin, and it must be dealt with before you can pray effectively. If you find it too hard to forgive someone, discuss it with God and ask Him to help you.
Look what Jesus said about forgiveness in Mark 11:25. He tied our ability to approach God in prayer to forgiving those who we have ought against. He said, "And if you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone." That is a pretty clear-cut command, isn't it?
In fact, Jesus made an even stronger statement about forgiveness in Matt 6:14-15, "14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Suffice it to say that you cannot harbor unforgiveness and bitterness in your heart and enter into effective prayer. God is not going to listen to your prayers unless you have released bitterness and unforgiveness. The good news is that He will help you to truly forgive if you ask Him to. He will empower you to do it.
Step 4 - Invite God To Change Your Nature To Be More Like Him
This is my favorite step.
We want a relationship with God where we do not grieve the Holy Spirit. But there is a fundamental problem that gets in the way of that goal. We have a sinful nature that makes it very easy for us to grieve Him. Our fallen natures makes us want things that He doesn't want. It makes us like things that He doesn't like and think in ways that are contrary to His nature. We want our desires to line up with God's, so that we will naturally please Him. But how do we make this transition from the wrong desires to the right ones? How do we transition from wrong thinking patters to right ones?
One way to move in that direction is to ask God to change your nature and make your more like Christ. Invite Him to change your desires to line up with what He wants to do in your life.
I prayed that type of prayer every day for a few years. I did not realize it while I was in process, but God began transforming me daily as I prayed. The changes were a little here and a little there. The things I enjoyed doing changed over time, and the things I disliked changed as well. Then one day He used a friend to call the change to my attention. My friend said to me, "You're not any fun any more. All you ever want to do is God-stuff." That incident caused me to back up and see how much He had transformed me, and I was amazed.
I would like to give you a sample prayer along these lines, because when you regularly and persistently ask God to transform you, He does. The exact words of the prayer are not important. What matters is the heart and attitude behind the prayer. Here is the prayer I prayed:
Lord, please transform me and make me like You. If I could change myself and present myself to You perfect, I would -- but I can't. So I am asking You to please change me.
Please change the very desires of my heart to line up with the desires of Your heart. Make me want the things You want. Let the things that are important to You become important to me. Let me love what You love and hate what You hate. Make me to distain the things You distain.
Please change my personal ambitions and even the motives of my heart to line up with Your motives and with Your plans and purpose and call on my life. I want to be like You. I want to desire what You desire and I want to want what You want. Change me Lord, transform me. Teach me to look at things from Your perspective, to see things Your way. Give me ears to hear Your voice and a heart to obey You.
There are a lot of Scriptural references for this type of prayer. Let me share a couple of them with you. Ps 40:8 says, "I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart." Ps 51:10-12 says, "10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit."
Ezek 36:26-27 shows us God's desire to answer that type of prayer. He says, "26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My judgments and do them."
Step 5 - Prayer Time Topics
Having done all that preparation, give God control of the prayer time and trust Him to lead you, as per John 16:13-15. "13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you."
Here are some of the things He might want to do in prayer time:
- Intimacy (no petition or requests)
- Deal with areas of your life that He wants control of
- Heal past hurts or help you to forgive someone
- Review your day with you
- Have you intercede for someone else
- Share your delights with Him
- Have you tell Him about weakness or fears and turn them over to Him
- Make plans with Him: little ones (planning your day) or Big life-impacting ones
We need go give God free reign to visit and change any area of our lives, as per 2 Thes. 3:5, " Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ."
Pray your agenda if God did not supercede it. Most of the time He will allow you to prayer your prayer agenda, He does not always supercede it. While praying, if you notice that the dimension of His life and power is not there ... or if you notice that the divine intensity or unction is missing, stop and ask God to examine what you are doing with you. Invite Him to redirect you if you've wandered outside of what He is doing. Tell Him you desire to be led of His spirit as you prayer. Then go back to prayer, trusting He will direct you.
Step 6 - Ending Your Prayer Time
Remember that "Amen" is not "The End." Thank God for what He's done. Ask Him to keep you close to Him during the day. Invite Him to call on you anytime during the day for whatever He wants. Drop into prayer frequently throughout the day, even if only briefly. Remember you're building a relationship with Him. So spend time with Him and abide in Him throughout the day.
John 14:23, "Jesus answered and said to him, 'if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
Ps 37:3-6, "3 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday."
So abide in the Lord throughout the day, and delight yourself in Him.