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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 22
The End of the Road

This is the final lesson of a series that it has taken me six months to write. I hope you've found encouragement as you have read the lessons. I haven't gone back and re-read my earlier lessons, and I have forgotten some of the details of what I've written in them. But for this final lesson of this series, I want to revisit some of the highlights from the previous prayer modules. It's hard to pick what I believe are the best cherries out of the bunch

There are four points I hope you walk away with that are foundational to your work as an intercessor. We may expand on these in our next series. They include:

  1. God needs your prayers to accomplish His work on earth.
  2. God's greatest concern is the total process of prayer.
  3. Praying with others is a great encouragement to pray.
  4. We free God to do what He wants to, when He wants as we draw near to Him.

Point #1

First, God needs our prayers to accomplish His work on the earth. Ezekiel says: "I [God] searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one" (Ezekiel 22:30).

God needs our prayers. That doesn't mean there is some deficiency in God's personality, that He can't live without us talking to Him. It does mean that God has chosen to limit what He does to what His people ask Him to do. Our prayers define God's limits: Our prayers either restrain, or release God. When people don't pray, God's work doesn't get done.

Another truth is that there is a shortage of people who pray. People exclude themselves from prayer because they feel either inadequate to the task, or they feel that some sin has disqualified them from praying. We once examined the fact that if God answers the sinner's prayer, then we are adequate to the task of prayer. In the same line, He will answer our prayers.

God's biggest challenge is not holiness, but willingness. Therefore, we should step forward with confidence to fill out the ranks of God's prayer warriors. The Lord is surprised when His people don't avail themselves of the opportunity He provides them: "And He saw that there was no man and wondered that there was no intercessor [no one to intervene on behalf of truth and right]..." (Isaiah 59:16a).

God expects more out of prayer than we do, so our prayers count. We count. Anytime we are taught that this isn't the case, or such thoughts invade our mind in one of several guises, we must reject such thoughts. They must not be entertained, even when the immediate and tangible results of our prayers haven't appeared. Our position is our possession: "...and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6-7).

The supernatural world, like the natural world, abhors a vacuum. When we don't pray, or cease praying too early, the enemy gains access. We blame God for allowing something to happen, when our shortcomings in prayer lie at the heart of the problem.

We needn't end up like people who win the lottery and instead of enjoying the benefits of their prize over a lifetime, they trade in their promised winnings for present wages. They forfeit tremendous amounts of money, accepting pennies on the dollar, just to satisfy temporary pleasures. Later, many file bankruptcy. We must not sell ourselves, or our prayers short, especially in light of the promises He makes to us: "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust" (2 Peter 1:4).

His promises are purchased through prayer. I need His life to pray His breath into situations. I need to pray; otherwise, needs go unmet.

Point #2

Second, God's greatest concern is the total process of prayer. Does that contradict the point that God's main purpose for prayer is to provide for the needs of the saints? Not at all. Due to our limitations, we create "to-do" lists to get things get done. We prioritize, because we can't address everything at once to the same degree.

We sometimes subconsciously apply the same limitations to God. The Lord must prioritize things too; that explains why my prayer requests don't get answered as soon as I wish they were. Or, God is more interested in the fellowship provided through prayer and less concerned about actually answering prayer requests.

Both statements contain errors, theologizing an excuse, when we set an expiration date to a waiting period that God hasn't agreed to. What that does mean is that God doesn't waste any opportunity He has with us. If we give the Lord an inch, He'll take a mile. God isn't quiet about His ultimate desire for us. He doesn't have hidden agendas: "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29).

Our Father uses His waiting room as a furnace to remove Satan's dross from us. We need to tarry in the waiting room long enough to complete the process. My desire has been to help you find the courage to persevere.

Why persevere? I've written the teachings out of my experience. And more often than not, I've found myself waiting on God to answer one prayer request or another. I remember a prophecy once where the person said that God didn't always answer my requests right away--so that the fruit of the process of waiting on Him would mature and come into its full-measure. To be honest, I haven't always had the best attitude towards what seemed to be God's taking His own sweet time in answering a request. But, then that was part of the grinding my rough edges off during the same waiting period. God doesn't ask my vote on how long the wait shall be. Like the quote from the Chronicles of Narnia concerning Aslan, the Christ-like hero of the series: "...Aslan is not a tame lion..."

We cannot tame God; instead He trains us.

Point #3

Third, praying with others in a great encouragement to pray.

Praying with others at two junctures in my life has been the catalyst to my growth, both in my walk with Christ and as a person who prays.

One period occurred during the early eighties, where for a short session, I met every morning from 5-7 with a Nazarene pastor and his staff for prayer. I wasn't fully awake, but I was alert enough to know that the presence of the Lord filled that meeting in a tangible way. The Lord's nearness leaked over into my personal prayer life. How could it not? I first ran into manifestations of the Lord in prayer that didn't fit the Nazarene theology, though it did fit God's Word (Romans 8:26). Nevertheless, because our joint prayers touched the throne room, God defined His Own theology; it didn't matter whether it fit my Baptist upbringing, or the Nazarene group I fellowshipped with while I discipled one of its church members. Amazingly, God didn't draw denominational lines when we prayed together.

The second period of praying with others started six years ago, when I joined the prayer-walking group at my present church. It began with my donning the role of intercessor once every two weeks, and putting that garb back into the closet at the end of the evening. In time, I didn't have to take my intercessor's robe out of the closet; God called me into the prayer closet. My motivation to pray grew among those who were motivated to pray.

I started there, because I wanted to return to the place with God that I remembered from long ago. In the intervening years, I'd been to seminary, and then worked at two churches, two VA hospitals, and as a chaplain in the Army reserves. I was taught more about organizing than agonizing in prayer. I was a victim among victims, for my professors knew no more about prayer than they'd been taught. Then, one by one, God allowed me to watch all those organizational schemes fail. He left me frustrated, so I'd hunger after that which provided the true bread.

Then God called me into the prayer closet. My motivation to pray grew among those who were motivated to pray. That's the lesson of Hebrews 10:23-25: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."

I learned these verses as an apologetic tool for answering the question, "Why do I need to attended church?" But then, I found how they apply to a company of people who pray. I learned to better handle the ambiguity of waiting on God to answer my prayers after I prayed for others and over a city. I wouldn't have gotten involved with the prophetic ministry Teresa Seputis developed at our church, had it not been for the spiritual gifts God stirred up as a result of being in the prayer-walking group. Why? Because as we tried different things in prayer--say, listening to God, and praying back the subjects that came to mind as we prayer-walked. The spillover affected other giftings the Lord wanted to raise up in me.

Point #4

Finally, we free God to do what He wants to, when He wants as we draw near to Him. Intimacy brings its own rewards.

Prayer isn't always a matter of waiting for God to answer our prayers over a long period of time. Sometimes He imparts a token of His love, even before we make a request: "Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalms 37:4).

"It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear" (Isaiah 65:24).

Teresa related a story to me about this. At one time, she liked to eat ice. But her refrigerator only made cubed ice, so it made it difficult to enjoy the ice without hurting her teeth. She visited a friend's house who had a refrigerator with an ice maker in the door that delivered either ice cubes, cold water or crushed ice. She thought to herself how much she would like one of those so she could easily get crushed ice. The next day, she was in deep fellowship with the Lord, and basking in His presence. She didn't ask the Lord for anything during that time of intimacy.

Well, later that day, an appliance technician came out to work on another appliance in her house. She asked him in passing if he could also fix her refrigerator, which was freezing her milk and orange juice. He checked it and found that it was missing a part, so he put the part on order.

A couple of days later, Teresa got a call from the repairman, saying that the part was no longer made. As a result--based upon the terms of her service contract--the appliance repair company had to replace her entire refrigerator at no charge to Teresa. The new one dispensed crushed ice through the door. So, even though Teresa didn't breathe a word of the request before God, because her heart was open to Him during their time of intimacy, the Lord just read her heart, and answered her request before she got a chance to vocalize it!

God loves to surprise us. Our authority stems from our intimacy with Him. And our intimacy with Him allows him to exercise His authority through our life.

May God grant all your prayers, and use you to turn nations to Him.

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

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