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-- © GodSpeak International 2007 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: John DeLaughter <john.godspeak@sbcglobal.net>
Editors: Teresa Seputis and Sue Spaulding

Prayer-School Course #38

Praying To Obtain God's Best

By John DeLaughter

Lesson 14
Crucifying Our Carnal Nature or Dying To Self

The Apostle Paul talks about "dieing to self" or "crucifying our fleshy and carnal nature." That is something that God requires all believers to go through. But if you are an intercessor, God will probably give you an "accelerated course" in this area.

Dying to self is particularly important when God calls you to wait on Him for answers to certain of your prayer. Your flesh will get impatient when you don't see immediate results. It might manifest in various ways: as becoming frustrated, feeling discouraged, wanting to quit, etc. All of these responses are enemies to your assigned task, which is to stand in faith and wait on God. That is why God asks you to put your carnal and fleshly nature to death. He wants you to build your spirit during the wait, and to grow in faith, and that will require some dying to self.

There are four areas where God calls for crucifixions as we wait. They are:

  1. Our attachment to possessions.
  2. Our allegiance to people.
  3. Our appetite for personal advancement.
  4. Our affection for politics.

      (We already discussed the first two in our last lesson and we will discuss areas three and four in this lesson.)

      Area #3

      Our appetite for personal advancement can shut the door to answered prayer.

      Jesus cast light on occasions when a desire for personal advancement proved dysfunctional: "When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, He told them this parable: 'When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, "Give this man your seat." Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, "Friend, move up to a better place." Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'" (Luke 14:7-11).

      Let's examine the case of Korah from Numbers 16 to "flesh out" Jesus' point. First, our desire for recognition can lead to envy. Korah and his followers envied Moses They thought they could do a better job of leading Israel than Aaron's brother. Korah's jealousy resulted death: his death, the death of 250 of his followers, and the death of an additional 14,700 of those infected by his selfish ambitions. Had Korah focused on his God-given job, the Lord might have developed his potential in a more-satisfying and less self-destructive way.

      Second, our need for promotion slows the advancement of God's Kingdom. A baseball team can't have eight pitchers, nor can a football team have nine quarterbacks. If an aircraft carrier with a crew of five thousand has five thousand different captains, the ship will never leave the harbor. How many times has God tried to do something--say a revival in a city--only to find His purposes thwarted by pastors arguing over who's name appears first in the event's advertisement?

      So, what do you do when the desire for recognition becomes a problem? First, ask God to sensitize you to the presence of a wrong spirit. Next, take charge of the situation by rebuking the spirit that's provoking you in Jesus name. If the feelings lessen, then you know that a demon attempted to stir you up. Finally, ask God to heal the wounds that give rise to this type of envy. The feelings often signal that we didn't get enough approval as we grew up. The God-shaped vacuum that lies in each of us magnifies that emptiness. Our heavenly Father can fill us with a sense of approval that transcends deficiencies of our childhood. Only the Lord can remove the sting that prods our jealousies.

      God does this, because answering our prayer often brings us into situations where we have to share the credit for an accomplishment with others. And the Lord won't allow a wound in us to prevent Him from getting the praise that alone belongs to Him.

      Area #4

      Our affection for politics can cloud our fidelity. In order to fulfill our prayer request, God may need to use someone who with a different political leaning than we have.

      The November 7, 2006 US election changed my country's political landscape. It demonstrated how much I'd depended on politicians to alter what only intercession could affect. I lost sleep over the results, and felt depressed well into the next day. As I write this, I'm still coming to terms with the election.

      The Lord taught me that He, not man, must be my source. He is my hope. That sounds very basic, but did you feel a great emptiness and loss after the votes were counted? I forgot that they best way to change a person's behaviors is to change their hearts. People who want to do something are more motivated that those who are forced to do something. The USA doesn't need a Republican or Democratic Revolution: it needs a Great Awakening. Our methods should not rest on political maneuvers but pervasive miracles.

      Therefore, instead of criticizing our country, we need to cry to heaven on its behalf. Instead of cursing our new leaders, we need to call out to God on their behalf. The desire to extend mercy over those who are ignorant of their spiritual condition caused God to send Jonah to the City of Nineveh. "Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand?" (Jonah 4:11a).

      In a similar fashion, we need to pray on behalf of those who don't know how to pray for themselves. We need to occupy ourselves by praying over them rather than occupying ourselves with political gossip about them. Praying for leaders of both political persuasions fulfills Paul's admonition to Timothy: "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

      We can adopt politicians and intercede for them. Ask God to show you which politician(s) to pray for. If you listen, and pray the heart of God over that person, things will happen. One of God's promises to stand on for this type of intercession says: "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases" (Proverbs 21:1).

      Finally, God wants to remove my prejudice against people who hold different political opinions. Why? God may require you to work with people who have other political leanings to answer your prayer. If you can't interact with Christians from another political party, then God may not be able to answer your request. The same is true if we are bias against Christians from a denomination with different practices. Evangelicals and Charismatics hold many of the same essentials; the virgin birth, the substitutional death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, etc. God may want to work the answer to our prayers across denominational lines. That doesn't mean that we should compromise with cults. However, we must be willing to follow His leadings across political and denominational lines, or we won't receive the desires of our heart (Psalms 37:4).

      -- © GodSpeak International 2007 --
      -- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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