John Wesley, whose followers eventually founded the Methodist Church, was controversial in his day. Eggs and tomatoes were often thrown at him as he walked the streets of England, sharing what God had shown him in His Word.
One of his controversial statements concerned prayer:
I am convinced that God does nothing on the earth, except in response to believing prayer. –John Wesley
Let’s think about that for a moment.
In Genesis we see that God gave man authority (dominion) over the earth – and He also gave him free will. He doesn’t force you to obey Him, and He doesn’t control your life apart from your permission. God places great weight on people asking Him for His intervention. We can choose to run our race with Him – or not!
So what was Wesley saying?
Wesley’s point was that when God is ready to put a new piece of His plan in place, He first impresses upon the hearts of His true prayer warriors to pray for it. And He always has those who are willing to pray for His purposes.
Sure, God’s ways are so much higher than ours, He will surprise us with His methods and details. But I am talking about God’s overall plans. For your life – and for your world. The plans He reveals in the Bible.
The Word is full of examples of this concept.
One of those we can find in Daniel 9:2.
In the first year of his (Darius’s) reign, I, Daniel, observed in the Books the number of years which was revealed as the Word of the Lord to Jeremiah the Prophet for the completion of the desolation of Jerusalem, namely seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord to seek Him by prayer and supplication.
Interestingly, Daniel saw in God’s Word that their captivity was to be for 70 years. And the 70 years were complete! So Daniel prayed for this promise to be fulfilled.
And it was!
In Ezra 1, we see that God stirred up the heart of Cyrus the King to facilitate the return of God’s people to Jerusalem. Cyrus was not even a believer, but God still impressed upon him to grant favor to the Jews. And thus the return to Jerusalem began – just as Daniel had prayed.
Let’s look at one more example.
If there was ever anything which God would have done without any prayer from man, it would have been the birth of Jesus. That was God’s design from the very beginning. So did He have people praying for that?
Indeed, in Luke 2 we can see that He did. On the 8th day after the birth of Jesus, His parents brought Him to the temple to be circumcised. There He met two of God’s Prayer warriors who immediately recognized Him as the Messiah. First, Simeon, who was told by God that he wouldn’t taste death until he saw the Messiah.
When he saw Jesus, he proclaimed:
Now, Lord, you are releasing your bond servant to depart in peace, according to Your Word,
For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.
A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the Glory of your people Israel
Next comes Anna, a prophetess.
Anna was an 84 year old widow, who stayed in the temple night and day fasting and praying. When she saw Jesus and heard Simeon, Anna rejoiced greatly, thanking God for the Messiah having been born.
God always has His intercessors. While many of the church leaders were parading around in their priestly robes, trying to impress their subjects, God had some seemingly less significant people praying for His purpose.
Yet to God, they were the most significant! These intercessors were the ones who saw and recognized Jesus when He was only 8 days old.
Neither of them was a person of high position or great honor; they were simple people. Both of them were advanced in years and both spent lots of time praying. These two were the first in the community to recognize the Messiah because of their prayers.
Each of these people had seen in God’s Word that the Savior would come, and they were praying for it to happen. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he wouldn’t see death until he had seen the Christ, and that’s exactly what took place.
The joy which came from this man was evident as he recognized Jesus and proclaimed God’s Word. Overhearing these words, Anna agreed, and her joy exuded to others – the Savior had come!
God’s methodology hasn’t changed. There are many today who parade around in their pride and arrogance, ignoring God’s plan, and even discounting his Word. Even some leaders are caught up in their own importance, and ignore God’s desires.
Then there are others. There are those who love God and His Word, and who spend time praying for it to come to pass. Sometimes these people are unrecognized, even by those around them. But God knows what they are doing, and He is pleased.
Our world is in great need of awakening – a promise God has made to His people. There are those who believe God, allowing Him to direct their prayers, and increasing in their ability to pray. Those are the ones who will recognize what God is doing, as they work with Him for His great plans to come to fruition.
They take the Word which God impresses to them, and they pray it back to Him. They thank Him for the manifestation – and they decree that Word into the atmosphere. And they don’t give up!
Great moves of God can take time, so patience is necessary. Yet significant change is on the way.
We have already begun to see trickles of it, but we will see more. We will see God move in the hearts of people, calling them to a greater life in Him.
And it all happens because of prayer!!
Faith can seem like a strange thing. One day you are on top of the world. You are facing huge obstacles, yet you are trusting God and you know way down deep in that place that’s hard to describe, that you are going to come through this OK.
In fact, you are quite sure that the obstacles are crumbling before you.
Then there are other days. (You know, one of “those” days).
Just getting out of bed in the morning seems like a huge feat – and one that you might not be able to pull off!
So what happened? How can that be?
One day you’re up; one day you’re down. One day you see yourself right up there with David …and Paul! The next day, you’re more like Demas, the loser.
Will you ever be consistent and not wavering? You begin to doubt your ability to walk with God in a reputable way. Can you truly be His person?
Yes, you can. You just have to understand the nature of faith and why it may seem elusive.
One way to grasp the right perspective would be to compare your spiritual strength to your natural strength.
Life is fluid. Health is fluid. Strength is fluid. Strength of any kind is not like an object which you acquire and proudly display. It is part of your living being, and as in any part of life, there are efforts which are essential to maintain it.
Consider an athlete – such as an NFL player. Can you imagine what would happen if he took his strength for granted? He wouldn’t be around very long.
Even when he looks and acts like he has arrived at the zenith of physical perfection, he continues to work out and to practice. And, if he suffers an injury and has to sit out for awhile, his training increases to a new level upon his return. The athlete knows that his strength, endurance, and physical expertise are totally dependent on practice and training. He would never expect to maintain his desired level of achievement while in a total rest mode.
We need to take a lesson from the athletes. We need to honor the precious thing we call faith – our belief in God – our trust in His Word – and our zealous appropriation of all that He has for us. We must realize that our fath is a living thing. It grows or it diminishes. And a lot of the current status of this precious faith is dependent upon our current mindset.
The Bible says that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) The nutrition which feeds our faith is God’s Word, and if we aren’t nourishing our spirits with his rich food, our faith will be diminishing. Even if yesterday we considered ourselves spiritual giants, yesterday’s food will not keep us full of faith. It’s like the manna in the wilderness which became rancid on the next day. We need fresh food everyday.
Let’s go a little deeper.
“Word” in Romans 10:17 is the Greek word “rhema.” It means the spoken word. The revealed word.
As you read the Bible, verses will seem to leap off the page and “speak” to you. You will sense that God is speaking those verses to you personally, and your faith will be built up by them.
As you meditate on those words, they will become planted in your heart and your mind. They will become yours to believe and to act upon.
Then in Jude 20, we see that faith is built up by praying in the spirit. So how is your daily prayer life? Do you check in with your spiritual headquarters every day, listening for direction, heeding His nudge, and listening for His voice of encouragement and affirmation?
Do you speak His Word into the atmosphere around you, changing the fog of delusion into the clarity of His vision?
Remember, yesterday’s manna is rancid. (Exodus 16: 15-20). Every day we start with a new need for our Father and His Word. Every day we have an opportunity to build on our strength of the past, or to allow that strength to recede.
Staying the same is never an option.
As a pastor, my husband led those in our church to say often, “I believe God.”
That seems so simple, you might think, well of course we do. But as you say those simple words, you will find your spirit leaping within you. A resounding, “yes!” You do indeed believe God and not man.
All of society around us needs us to be true believers, strong in our understanding and faith.
So let me encourage you. Believe God and strengthen your faith continually.
Read His Word. Pray. Do those things which build up your faith, and those things which cause it to continue.
When you find discouragement creeping into your thoughts, run to Gods Word. Ask Him for guidance in what to read. Then read and meditate. Allow that Word to become part of you.
If you do these things, you will keep the faith!
The year was 1985 and our family was visiting my parents on the southeastern coast of Georgia. As my husband and I drove over the causeway to Sea Island, we were overwhelmed with the beauty – the incredible expanse of marsh grass, the huge Live Oaks dripping with Moss, the windswept trees, the sand dunes, and the array of extraordinary vacation homes.
Each home was unique – representing the taste of its owner. There were some resembling ornate French palaces. Others exhibiting more of a rustic look. Some extremely modern. Others traditional.
There were also some common elements.
These homes were very expensive – and well-manicured. They were the vacation homes of well-moneyed families, top executives, greatest philanthropists, and even international royalty.
The richest of the rich. And many of the leaders of our nation.
I had taken this drive many times over the years and had loved it. It was refreshing and energizing to see the variety of homes and landscapes, and awesome to think of the money required to maintain such a lifestyle. Splendor and more splendor.
But this time it seemed different.
I felt a heaviness coming upon me – a sadness. I couldn’t understand why this could be. Suddenly I realized that God was calling me to pray. But why right now?
As we returned home, I went off alone to talk to God and He began to give me some revelation which has continued unfolding through the years.
Those homes were homes of the most powerful leadership in our country. Since they were the leaders, they also made a statement about the spiritual condition of our country.
Then I was in for a surprise.
The Lord led me to Isaiah 46:1,2: Bel bows down, Nebo stoops over…They bow down together. They cannot save, but are themselves going into captivity.
During this season, my husband and I had been studying about the time when Israel was taken into Babylonian captivity. They were captured and carried away to a foreign land – with foreign gods, and foreign customs. We were studying the underlying conditions of Israel which had caused that to happen, realizing that the natural episode was a type for a spiritual condition.
Then the Lord spoke very clearly, “My church has been taken into Babylonian captivity. No longer am I, the One true God, being worshiped, but the Babylonian gods are being worshiped. Bel (Baal) and Nebo are the idols of my church now.”
I knew who Bel (Baal) was: the god of prosperity. But who was Nebo?
I began to do some research. Nebo was the Babylonian god of handwriting, but by extension he became the god of education and the intellect.
Ah, there you have it. I knew what God was saying. He was saying that the church trusted more in money and in humanistic education than they did in Him, the one true God.
This new revelation took some pondering, because I knew that our God didn’t want us to be poor and ignorant. He wants us to be educated and to be prosperous.
But when we don’t put Him first, when we don’t look to God for our answers then the blessings of education and prosperity can become a curse. They can cause us to worship the creature and not the Creator.
We become humanistic in our approach to life.
I started to see how entrenched these idols have become in our culture, and the results are obvious. When we are worshiping ourselves, there are no standards. We think that whatever we desire is just fine. No restrictions. Lust, greed, perversion: no problem.
For many, the rule has become that whatever you can “get by with” is okay. Much hurt and confusion have come as these idols have caused us to trample God’s truth and to trample each other.
But God is calling back to Him those who will listen. He is calling us out of Babylon. He wants to cleanse us and show us His true nature. Then He wants to show Himself strong to the world.
So am I coming against education? Am I coming against prosperity?
Of course not! These are gifts from our Father.
But we are called to worship the Gift-giver, not the gift. When our hearts are pure and our perspective is clear, these gifts are true blessings.
They enrich our lives and those of others.
It all comes back to the attitude of the heart. When our hearts are in the right place, then we do have standards: God’s standards. And these standards are the foundation for our knowledge and wisdom. They become a base upon which we build our beliefs.
It seems like it’s time for all of us to do a heart check, and to continue to do these checks as we go forward.
There is much for us to do, and we want to have clear minds. We want to represent God’s truth to the world, not a skewed version of it.
Only pure hearts can do that.
It’s time to bow our knee and let God be God.
Let Him clear our focus.
It’s time to cast aside any Babylonian garment we may have acquired, and represent our father in spirit and in truth.
You and I need triumphant faith.
All of life is in a state of flux.
Now you may think that I am talking about the current state of affairs. The virus. The discontent. The political divisions.
No. I am talking about all of life.
All of it.
From the time we are born until we die, we are going through changes. As we mature and have families, engage in careers, develop friends, we are continually encountering opportunities – and challenges.
That’s life. Everyone has challenges which need prayer and they need faith to overcome them.
Then we ask, “Is this supposed to be? What’s going on? And if it isn’t God’s will for my life, how can I change it?”
That’s when we go to that miraculous book, the Word of God, the Bible. We find out what His will is and how we can overcome. He gives us instruction.
Then we pray to Him and we speak that word – His word – into the atmosphere.
And continue to do that.
You know that
faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17 NASB)
So as we pray and meditate on what God is telling us, our hearts begin to grow in that faith. We continue to speak that word, and we find ourselves believing it more and more as we go along.
Time goes by. It takes time.
We want everything done instantly. We want to snap our fingers or find out a few words which can be spoken for instantaneous reward.
But we all know that life isn’t that way.
Just as Oaks start out as tiny acorns and eventually reach their destiny, so do we, our children, our health, our marriages, and our finances.
And so does our faith within us start as a tiny seed and grow to maturity.
A few year ago I had an experience with the Lord which I’d like to share. I had been fasting, praying, and reading the word.
I was reading in Matthew 13, when my eyes fell on verse 44:
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44, NASB)
That verse is very familiar, and there have been many concepts drawn from it. I had always thought of a pot of gold, or treasure chest, hidden in the middle of the field.
On that special day I saw something different. Quickly a picture flashed across my mind, like a mini-vision.
I saw a plot of land, freshly plowed and planted, with rows and rows of dirt. Since I lived in a farming community, the scene was very familiar. There was no green anywhere; only rows and rows of slightly mounded dirt, signifying that the seed had been put into the ground.
It was planted, but there wasn’t a sprig of green in sight.
Suddenly I knew what the Lord was saying. I had been praying for my children, as they were going through some challenges.
He was showing me that the treasure is the seed – the Word of God. When I was taking the word of God and planting it into the soil of my heart, and then speaking it out in prayer, I was burying treasure in my field – and it was hidden.
As I saw this picture, with no sight of green – only fresh dirt, I knew that the seeds which were planted would eventually spring forth into a luscious, green crop.
In the same way, as I planted and watered the seed of God’s word, there would eventually be a harvest.
So what about the “selling all that he has?” The Lord showed me that when you are in the midst of praying for something which needs to be changed, you will see plenty of evidence which could discourage you.
Until the change comes (the seed begins to produce), the circumstances will scream at you that nothing is happening. There is no seed; there is only dirt!!
But because of your faith in what your God is doing, you sell those thoughts- totally tossing them aside – and buy the planted field, knowing that the seed of God’s word is producing the desired result.
There is a process which takes time, and that is why patience is so important. If you give up in the middle of the process, you will never see the desired result. You have to hang in there and be patient, knowing that God is at work on your behalf.
Through faith and patience, you inherit the promises.
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11-12 NASB)
So let me challenge you to look at those things for which you are praying.
Are you praying for health, family, finances, a co-worker, the awakening of the church in America and around the world?
Whatever you have on your heart to pray for, you will have many opportunities to give up. You will look around and it will look like nothing is happening. You will feel like you are wasting your time.
But don’t give up! Promise yourself and God that you will not quit, but that you will see this thing through. You will continue to look to Him and His word, and you will continue to pray it back to Him and to speak it into the atmosphere.
So be encouraged. Know that God watches over His word to perform it.
He will bring forth His word in your life as you bring it forth in your heart and tongue. If many of us will rise up and do the same, we can see great changes come to our families, our communities, our country, and even our world.
Never, never, never quit!
John Adams is one of my heroes.
Every year when we celebrate Independence Day, my mind wanders back to the roots of our nation. It is clear that regardless of all of the flaws of its people, God has blessed the United States of America.
“Why?” one might ask. “What’s so special about the US?”
That’s when I start reminding myself about our founders – like John Adams. They didn’t get everything right – after all, they were humans. They had some wrong ideas… some of them preposterously wrong!
Yet in their hearts, most of the founding fathers knew that there was a God who created us. They also knew that the Christian principles of the Bible had to be the foundation for the new nation.
That realization was what this country was built on.
Over the decades God has brought correction to us. He has addressed slavery and the rights of all people. He has guided us toward retribution and compassion toward the Native Americans.
And He has continued to bless us.
Today we can’t stop receiving His correction. A return to Biblical principles will answer much confusion and error in our current society. We will have to see our God as the source of all wisdom and knowledge – and the only One with the answers we so desperately need.
Listen to what John Adams had to say.
SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; JUDGE; DIPLOMAT; ONE OF TWO SIGNERS OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS; SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.1
The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in this earth. Not a baptism, not a marriage, not a sacrament can be administered but by the Holy Ghost. . . . There is no authority, civil or religious – there can be no legitimate government but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it. All without it is rebellion and perdition, or in more orthodox words damnation.2
Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company: I mean hell.3
The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity.4
Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!5
I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world.6
1, Thomas Jefferson The Writings Of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, DC: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIII, pp 292-294. In a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813.
2. Letter from John Adams to Benjamin Rush, from Quincy, Massachusetts, dated Dec 21, 1809.
3. John Adams, The Works Of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1856) Vol X, p 254, to Thomas Jefferson on April 19, 1817.
4. John Adams, Works, Vol III, p. 421, diary entry for July 26, 1796
5. John Adams, Works, Vol II, pp 6-7, diary entry for Feb 22, 1756 6. John Adams, Works, Vol X, p 85, to Thomas Jefferson on Dec 25, 1813