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Dressing For Intercession
How to Avoid Holes In Your Armor
The Shield Of Faith
In the first four lessons, we discovered that we need the armor of God because the battle is real. The enemy does NOT want us effective in prayer and intercession because it tears down his kingdom as we build God's kingdom, so Satan comes against us and does all he can to stop us. But God does not intend that we be vulnerable to Satan's attacks. That is why He gives us the spiritual armor to put on. Each piece is especially designed to protect us from a specific of attack of the enemy.
It is important that we understand what each piece is, the type of attack that it protects against and how to put that piece of armor on. Then we will be fully clothed and able to stand firmly in the battle. God does not want us to become casualties of war, He wants us to be overcomers in Christ. He wants us to walk in His victory. That is why He has given us this armor. So let's be sure to put it on.
The shield of faith is knowing WHO God is and believing deep down in the innermost part of our being that HE IS RELIABLE!!!
You see, God wants each of us to settle down deep in our hearts that He is who He says He is, a good and loving father and also the king and creator of the universe with ALL power and authority, someone who can do what He says He will do. Faith is not our confidence that God will do this or that, rather it is our confidence in Him.. that He is reliable, dependable, trustworthy. And because of this confidence, we know we can trust Him -- because He is trustworthy.
Faith does not necessarily know what God is going to do.. Take the case of Meshach, Shadrach and Abednigo in Daniel 3. They KNEW that God was the real and only true God and as a result they put their lives on the line... they refused to worship the idols that the government authorities set up. They were challenged on this just before they were to be executed. Now none of these three men knew what God intended to do.. and said so in Dan 3:17-18.. here is a rough paraphrase "We don't know what our God will choose to do, but we know He is the real and true God and we'd rather die for Him than worship a false god." They KNEW WHO GOD WAS. But they had absolutely no idea what God intended to do.
Who knows what silent prayers they were throwing up to God as their hands and feet were bound.. as they were carried to the mouth of the furnace and felt the heat of it on their faces. Maybe they were praying:
"God please give me courage, please make me strong."Or maybe
"God, please come through and deliver me"Or maybe
"God please work your glory in this... somehow."If it were me I would probably have been praying,
"Lord, please keep me from feeling the pain of the fire.. I am not afraid to die for you, but I don't do well with pain! so, please don't let it hurt!"In any case, they put their trust in God enough to obey Him rather than give in to the fear/intimidation/threats of the enemy. And God came and showed Himself mighty on their behalf. They had no idea what God was going to do.. they probably expected to die.. knowing God would raise them up to eternal life in Heaven. I rather suspect they felt frightened.. after all, the thought of being burned alive is pretty terrifying.. but they had confidence in God and were willing to risk their very lives on that confidence.
Look what God did!!! He met them supernaturally.. the soldiers that threw them into the furnace were burned alive, their ropes and bonds were burned off them.. but THEY WERE NOT HURT IN ANY WAY. God was with them and He met them there!! And when they came up out of the furnace, their hair was not singed, their clothes were not burned and they did not even smell like smoke! What a glorious miracle their faith had produced, because GOD IS RELIABLE!! They had no idea what He would do, but they knew that He was trustworthy and they risked all by putting their trust in Him and HE TOOK CARE OF THEM!
There is another aspect to faith.. First and foremost it is knowing Who God is and that He is reliable. Next it is knowing what God has called you to do and stepping out in obedience to do it. We obey God because we love Him and because we know He knows what He is doing. This is true both in big things and in little things. It is true for our life calling and it is true for our day to day obedience.
Let me share a little story with you... this is less than 24 hours old. A dear friend of mine is a minister/prophet down south. He moves strongly in the prophetic and carries an incredible anointing. He has recently been under a lot of financial attack and he has remained faithful to God despite all of this. The transmission on his car broke about a week ago... a $1200 repair. He was already at his financial limit before this happened... and there simply was no place to get the $1200 from, yet he could not be without a car because he needed it both for his ministry and for his side job.
So I began to pray for him.. that God would meet his needs. Two days ago, God spoke to me clearly and said, "Teresa, I want you to give him $500." Well having the $500 to give was not a problem... someone had just repaid me $700 that they'd owed me for a year. I had the money. The awkward part was the "how" .. how do I get this money to him without getting myself into an awkward situation. You see, I value this friendship VERY much and I don't want anything to come in and harm it.. in the past I've seen other relationships I value become awkward because I'd given them money to meet some urgent needs.. and I did not want to risk that with this relationship. I was afraid.. afraid that if my friend knew the money came from me, it would cause problems or awkwardness in the friendship. I schemed every way I could think of somehow get the money to him anonymously.. but that was not easy because he lives clear across the country from me and I don't personally know any of his local friends. Besides, $500 did not make any sense.. the car repair was $1200.
God had told me to call him on Friday and tell him that I was sending him $500. I chickened out until Saturday morning... and when I called him, he told me how he had come to a crisis in his faith on Friday... for the first time in many years he had not been sure that He could trust God to come through for him.. and then how God took him into His arms and comforted him and reassured Him of His love and faithfulness. I felt heartsick.. if I'd been obedient sooner, I could have spared him going through this crisis of faith. I confessed to him my disobedience and asked him to please forgive me and told him my side of the story.. how God had told me on Friday to give him $500.
He was so floored that he could not speak for a few minutes.. then he shared something with me that I did not know.. He had borrowed money to have the car fixed, even though he was already in debt. He had some significant bills coming due on the following Wednesday and he found himself precisely $500 short. He had told God that he had no idea where that $500 would come from, but he would need it to be able to go on... and here $500 was precisely the amount God had told me to give to him.
This incident left us both in awe of God's faithfulness! You see God knew exactly what He was doing.. God provided for him in a financial crisis.. in such an awesome way that both of our eyes were on God, both of our faith lifted and there was no awkwardness in my giving him the money.. it is not going to hurt the friendship in any way because this was so clearly orchestrated by God.
God knows what He is doing. When He calls us to do something, we can step out in our confidence in him and do it. Our faith is not in our own abilities, not in our own hearing, not in our own understanding of the situation, but in God.
A friend expressed it so well when she said:
"Our faith is only as good as the 'object' of our faith. We can have great faith because we believe in a great God!"Some people think they are supposed to have faith in their faith, but it has to be in God. You probably know the type. They often say things like "If I just have enough faith then..." Or they may tell you that you are not healed because you don't have enough faith, or that if you are in a trial or difficulty it is because you don't have enough faith.
This is sad, because it puts a false burden on them. All we really need is to know what God says and then have confidence to step out and obey, and leave the results to Him.
Sometimes people put faith in a particular person instead of in God. We see this a lot in the healing ministry. But God wants us to focus our faith on Him.. to look to Him as the one who is healer. Let me share a story from last October. I went to a healing conference in Victoria BC, where Charles Ndiffon was the featured speaker. He has an incredible healing ministry and powerful things happen when he prays for people. Charles is a humble man who uses a ministry team to pray for people.. and who preaches/teaches a very straightforward and encouraging gospel that God backs up with signs and wonders. I had the privilege of serving on the ministry team. Mostly Charles had the ministry team pray for people.. and God did incredible things. One night Charles prayed for many and .. oh the wonders God did through him... but that created a bit of a problem for the ministry team the next night... everyone wanted Charles to be the one to pray for them.. they did not want to let anyone on the ministry team pray for them instead. Yet, those who would let the team pray for them saw incredible miracles... blind eyes opened, deaf ears opened, cancer fell off of people. The ones who got the really big miracles that night were the ones who looked to God for their healing instead of looking to Charles for it.
1 Corinthians 2:5 says:There is another way we sometimes put our faith in the wrong thing. We decide that God has to move in a certain manner or do things a certain way when He desires to do it different way. We must not put our faith in the method God uses, but in the God who empowers that method.so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
Let me share a few examples of this. In 1996 I was scheduled to go to Moscow with Randy Clark (who is known both for renewal and healing anointings) for Moscow Catch the Fire I. I was in a major ski accident a few weeks before the trip and was hurt bigtime... the doctor said that I could risk long term disability if I went to Russia, but God told me to go and He would heal me. The verse He gave me was in regard to the 10 lepers who were healed.. "And they were healed as they went." I interpreted that to meant that Randy (the evangelist with the healing anointing) would pray for me when I met up with His team at JFK airport (New York). I showed up at the airport wearing my neck brace and hardly able to move.. and he looked at me and said, "You look terrible.. that must hurt" and moved on. Sigh. Not at all what I expected. I was devastated because God did not heal me as I expected Him to. We arrived in Moscow and checked into our hotel room.. and I was SO disappointed and in SO MUCH pain. Most of the team wondered what on earth I was doing there... and figured I'd be useless since I was such a mess physically. The next evening we had our ministry team orientation.. the emphasis of these meetings was to introduce the renewal to Russia.. so after the briefing.. the team all prayed for each other. I was there to pray, so I prayed for a few folks.. and then the power of God hit me and a few near me started to pray for me. All of the sudden my head was snapping rather violently from left to right (I had not been about to turn it more than a few inches before).. and I was instantly and totally healed. Most of the team did not know I was healed that night.. but saw me at breakfast the next morning... healed and without my neck brace.. and it was an incredible faith booster for them.. wow! And the conference started a little after breakfast. The team had just seen a demonstration of God's power in how He healed me.. and it really boosted their faith for the conference. God did not do it my way, but He certainly knew what He was doing!
I used to be a personal intercessor for Chuck Kraft. One afternoon the Lord showed me that Chuck was struggling with discouragement/depression.. which is not normal for Chuck. Now, I "knew" how to pray for depression attacks.. I wanted to go to battle on his behalf, rebuke attacking spirits, etc. But God stopped me in my tracks and told me to worship Him on Chuck's behalf instead. (Talk about crazy instructions that did not fit in with my understanding of how to war against depression!!) Well, I am obedient, so for three hours I worshipped and danced around my living room.. occasionally reminding God I was doing this on Chuck's behalf. I never had so much fun interceding for someone. Then suddenly I knew it was done... knew in my spirit that the depression had broken off.. But I found it hard to believe.. because my mind told me that this is NOT how one wars against depression or discouragement. So I called Chuck the next day and asked him about it. Chuck admitted that he had been struggling with incredible discouragement/depression the past several weeks but told me it had broken off him.. I asked when it broke and he said yesterday afternoon about 5:00 PM.. the precise time I knew in my spirit it was done... Is God smart or what!!!
The point of all this is that we need to discern not just what God wants to do, but HOW He wants to do it and then do it His way. Don't put your faith in formulas and patterns.. put it in God.
False burdens are taking responsibility for something that is really God's responsibility. It can take the form of blaming ourselves if something happens to someone we are covering in prayer.. or it can take the form of feeling obligated to pray for this person more than God is calling us to.. assuming that if we stop praying, something bad will happen to them and it will be our fault.
The enemy tries to pull intercessors into a trap of thinking that if we don't happen to pray for someone one time and something bad happens to that person, then it is our fault because we forgot to pray. This can be devastating, because we begin to put our faith in our prayers instead of in God.
This attack is so subtle that many experienced intercessors can inadvertently fall into it. There is a team of about 22 intercessors who have committed to pray regularly for the various GodSpeak International ministries and leadership, including myself. Last October I had just returned from a ministry trip where God showed up powerfully.. signs and wonders, miraculous healings, etc. I was in a very serious car accident a few days later. Two of the experienced GodSpeak intercessors (both mature in their gift) contacted me and apologized for the accident, saying it was their fault because they knew there would be increased warfare after such a trip, but they did not think to increase the intercessory coverage and pray for me. They took ownership (personal blame) for an attack of the enemy against me.. blame that was NOT theirs to take. This is a subtle way that the enemy likes to come against intercessors if their shield of faith is NOT firmly in place.
Now, don't misunderstand what I am saying here. Prayer is important and powerful. And lack of prayer coverage can definitely leave someone more vulnerable to enemy attack.. Look what God says about it in Ezekiel:
- "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.
- So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD."
Intercession is crucial.. but you are not the only intercessor God has at His disposal. God can raise up other intercessors to take your place should you slip or forget (see v 30 of Ezek 22). You are not God's only resource. If you make a little mistake in forgetting to cover your prayer assignment one day, God can either remind you or raise up another to cover it. He does not want you under the pressure of false burdens or in terror of hurting someone if you make a little mistake. He is the one who desires to bear our burdens.. don't try to take that job away from Him.. He did not assign it to you. Your job is to try to be obedient and faithful to the assignments He gives you and to let Him take ownership of the situation.
Be a team player.. on a football or hockey team, they are constantly sending players in and out for the strategy of the game... be willing to go in for any play (as God commands), but be willing to be taken out when God is doing something that requires someone else. Don't take personal ownership (blame) if someone you are covering in prayer has something bad happen to them.. Otherwise you have transferred your faith from faith in God to faith in your own prayers.
If we allow the enemy to trap us into bearing false burdens, we will end up falling into guilt and condemnation, which makes us ineffective as intercessors. Jesus said that He will bear our burdens and replace them with His yoke.. which is gentle and loving. Intercessors, don't accept Satan's yoke of false burdens... that is NOT what Jesus did for you on Calvary.
Our image of what God is like affects how we interact with God. God knows precisely who He is and has revealed Himself to us through the Bible as well as interacting personally with us as we get to know Him. Unfortunately, many of us have wrong images of God; e.g., wrong ideas of what He is like.
Our image of God is often molded by our parents. If your father was distant, uncaring, hard to please, inconsistent in discipline, etc, you might tend to see God that way. If your mother was critical, grouchy and harsh, you might see God that way.
Stop for a minute and consider how you see God the Father. What is He like in each of the following 4 situations (you might want to stop and write your answers down):
Now, bounce your perception of God against your perception of your mother, your father or other significant role models in your life. Do you see some similarities?
Now, go to the Bible and see what God says about Himself in each of these four areas...
Determine how close your picture of God comes to what God says about Himself. Then ask Him to help you line up your image of Him to more closely match the Truth of who He is.. invite Him to work in your life and heart to change any misconceptions.
For me the misconception was that I could not please Him, no matter what I did. My own father had been distant and hard to please.. and I saw God that way. God dealt with the hard to please in an interesting way.
I was at a renewal meeting and had just been prayed for. The Lord began to speak to me and tell me that He was pleased with me.
"OH, Yes, Lord!" I cried silently, "I want to please you someday!! I really do."
"No, Teresa, I did not say someday (future tense). I said I am pleased with you (present tense)."
"But God, you can't possibly be pleased with me now, but I DO want to please you someday.. I really do!"
"Teresa, are you calling Me a liar? I said I am pleased with you.. now." (Was that a trick question?? It put me in a dilemma.. if I called him a liar, then He certainly would not be pleased with me, but if I did not then I had to accept something that seemed totally incomprehensible to me.)
God went on to explain.. "I AM a reasonable God, Teresa. I have shown clearly in my word what it takes to please Me, and if you do the things I ask (honor Me, obey Me, seek Me, etc) then it does please Me."
Wow.. that was such an eye-opener for me.. God was reasonable. What a concept! I had never realized until that point that I had an unconscious misconception of him as unreasonable.. but I did.. and He fixed it and lined my perception of Him up with the truth of Who He really is.
I also saw God the Father as distant and unapproachable. He decided to deal with me about that .. so He told me that for the next three days, I was only allowed to pray to God the Father (not to Jesus and not to the Holy Spirit) and I was to call Him "Daddy". Well, that sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? But it was incredibly hard for me.. believe it or not I wasted the first day just checking in on my hearing.. and then another day trying to make sure what I heard was not disrespectable.. I was actually terrified that I was going to accidentally fall into blasphemy if I called God the Father "Daddy". Can you imagine that? It sounds so funny now, but at the time my image of God was so wrong that it prevented me from entering into loving intimacy with Him. By day 3 I was finally able to do as He asked me.. and discovered just how warm and loving and playful and wonderful God the Father really was... I felt heartsick that I had wasted 2 of my 3 special days with Him and told Him so, so He gave me an extension.. an extra week of this special arrangement. By the end of that week, I wanted it to go on forever. And He told me that in a sense it could.. I was no longer limited to pray just to the Father or to address Him only as Daddy, but I could pray to my Daddy any time I wanted to. I had learned that God the Father is a loving Daddy.
How do you see God? Do you see Him as hard to please or distant, like I did? Of maybe you see him in some of these other ways:
Many of us today don't know what a good father is because so many families are disfunctional. We unconsciously carry the baggage from our disfunctional childhood into our relationship with God.. we have trouble relating to Him because we see Him wrong.. and God wants to heal our broken images of Him and reveal Himself to us as Who He really is. Are you willing to let Him do that for you?
Someone once sent me an email sharing their struggles with fear of deception. When I sat down and prayed about how to answer her, God told me to share my own personal struggles with it. As I sat down to teach this section, God reminded me of that email so strongly.. that instead of teaching on this I am going to share my own experiences in struggling with it and overcoming it. Here is what I wrote to her.. I hope it ministers to you as well...
I do understand your fear of deception.. I struggled with it for many years myself... I was assisting Chuck Kraft at a deliverance and the demon was an imitation Trinity.. and during that deliverance I learned that the woman had been dialoguing with the demon when she thought she was praying to God. That terrified me and it took me YEARS to get over that fear of deception. When I thought I'd hear something from God, I would take it back to Him and repeat it to Him... and ask Him to confirm or correct. I did this so many times that it was very slow going with God... anytime He'd speak to me, I'd be suspicious of whether or not it was really Him. And I tended to disqualify myself from whatever ministry He tried to raise me up to due to that and a few other things.
I particularly struggled with this in 1997.. where God was speaking fairly major things to me very clearly. I would obey in fear and trepidation that maybe this was not really His voice, but was afraid to disobey in case it might really be Him. And He began to build a ministry around me.. and oddly I became known as one who "really knew" his voice, yet I struggled with this fear repeatedly and as a regular mode of operation I would run everything He said by me for confirmation.
In Nov of 1997, God gave me a corrective prophecy.. where He addressed certain things, including this fear of deception. I spent a couple of weeks fasting and praying and seeking Him about this... and He showed me the root fear of being deceived and how it had entered. Then He assured me that He is faithful and trustworthy and that I could depend on Him to lovingly (without getting mad at me) correct me if I were to hear something that I thought was Him but it really wasn't.. and correct me before harm could be done through the mishearing. We entered into a covenant... my part is to obey Him and to trust Him to lovingly correct... and His part was to be faithful and correct me if I were to mishear (sorta like my old ice skating coach would do to help me learn to be a better skater). I found He was faithful and dependable and the fear sort of broke off me as I realized just how good and dependable He really was. There are times when I still run specific things by Him for confirmation or correction, but mostly I have learned to be confident to step out in obedience as soon as I hear. There have been a few times where He has "short circuited" me and told me that what I heard was not really Him.. and then lovingly directed me where He wanted me to be. I really gained confidence in Him as I was occasionally corrected (and always in such a positive and life-giving way). The fear of deception was replaced by a confidence in His faithfulness and in His ability to communicate to me.
You see, if God is trustworthy and loving, and if we are truly seeking Him, He will not allow us to fall into deception and live there. He will shine His light and bring His loving correction because He is faithful and His ability to communicate His truth is greater than our ability to be deceived.
- Faith brings us into good relationship with God
- Romans 5:1
- since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Faith gives us intimate relationship w/ God our father
- Galatians 3:26
- You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
- Faith gives us access to God
- Romans 5:2
- through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
- Faith gives us freedom and confidence to approach God
- Ephesians 3:12
- In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
- God will increase our faith if we ask Him to
- Luke 17:5
- The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
- Faith grows as we get to know God's word better
- Romans 10:17
- Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
- Faith allows us to witness effectively
- Acts 11:22-24
- news of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
- When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
- He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
- Faith Pleases God
- Hebrews 11:6
- And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
- Faith makes us successful in our endeavors for God
- 2 Chronicles 20:20
- Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful."
- Faith makes us stand firm
- Isaiah 7:9
- If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.
- Faith keeps us from being afraid in the midst of adversity
- Matthew 8:26
- He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
- Faith causes us to be healed
- Matthew 9:22
- Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.
- Faith makes us overcomers
- 1 John 5:4
- for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
- Faith releases the miracles of God
- Matthew 13:58
- And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
- God likes to answer our prayers when we ask in faith
- Matthew 15:28
- Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted."
- Faith makes all things in God's will possible to us
- Matthew 17:20
- "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you"
- Faith lets us walk in the supernatural and in God's power
- John 14:12
- I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
- Jesus is the one who builds faith in us.. it comes from God, not something we work up for ourselves
- Hebrews 12:2
- Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith
The key to taking up the shield of faith is intimacy with God.. it is knowing Him so well that there is an unshakable confidence down deep in your spirit.. you know God is dependable because you know God.
This is what He wants to work in you right now.. He wants to show you Who He really is and what He is really like. He wants to draw you into a place of intimacy with Him.. of knowing that you know that you know that He is good and He is reliable.. holy and yet a loving father, and that He is capable of working His glory in each situation.
It is sort of like learning to trust a friend.. the better you know your friend, the more you can predict your friend's reactions and the easier it is to trust your friend. Well the better and more intimately you get to know God, the easier it will be to trust Him.. to walk in faith and to have confidence in Him.
God is inviting you right now into deeper intimacy with Him. It is time to bow your head and ask Him to speak to you. He is reaching out to you right now, asking you to take His hand and go with Him. You won't know precisely where the two of you are going, but you can have confidence that He won't let go of your hand and that He will teach you more and more of Himself and draw you into deeper and deeper levels of intimacy. Now, purpose in your heart to take this trip with Him, ask Him to lead you to that place of really knowing Him. Reach out and take His hand...