Category Archives: Prayer
It has been on my heart recently to host a “God Gathering” – a place where people can gather to seek the Lord. In the old days, people referred to this as “tarrying in the presence of the Lord”. It’s not exactly a prayer meeting – I’m not sure what to call it so I call it a “God Gathering”. 🙂
I have hosted many of these over the years and it occurred to me last night that there may be someone who doesn’t know how to do this so here’s how I do it – in case it might inspire someone else to host a God Gathering of their own!
- Make sure you are hosting the God Gathering for the right reasons. The Holy Spirit is usually the one who initiates the invitation by putting it on my heart to host one. You do not want to do this just because you feel like it – it won’t work. I had a friend call me one time and ask me to host one for her. I had a feeling she was motivated by emotion more than by the Spirit because she seemed upset and hosting the meeting was a reaction to her emotional turmoil. She contacted a bunch of people and twelve of them said they would come. I prepared for it, but I had this sense that this was an empty endeavor. Sure enough, the day for the meeting arrived and she was the only one who showed up. We sat together, quietly talking. When it became obvious that no one else was coming (not even other spiritual leaders, pastors, etc. that had promised to come), I told her I had a sense that it just wasn’t the right time. She agreed and went home. This was a clear object lesson for me – don’t be tempted to do this on your own. Wait for His timing.
- Prepare the environment. I usually do this by cleaning the room where we will be meeting and playing some soaking music softly in the background. I often do this a few days before and just let the music keep playing. My brother used to tell me he could tell the angels liked it when he left the soaking music on. I’m not aware of that but it does help your mind to focus on the Lord every time you hear the music. Some suggestions for soaking music are here.
- Send out an invitation and make sure people are clear on why you are hosting this meeting. You want to make sure that the people who are coming are sincerely wanting to connect with the Lord. This is not just a social gathering. If parents ask, I don’t usually include young children because it’s hard for them to sit still (though I have seen some children who really like these kinds of meetings, but it is rare). You want an environment with no distractions.
- Prepare the spiritual environment. Once the people have gathered and greeted each other, I turn down the lighting to signal that it’s time to begin. Then I pray some specific prayers to prepare the spiritual environment and our hearts for an encounter with Jesus.
- Pray over the room, asking the Lord to wash it and commanding everything else to leave. For example, “Lord, thank You for meeting with us. We are here for You. Would You please wash off this room and remove anything that does not belong here? No spirits of the enemy are allowed to stay here – leave now, in Jesus’ name.”
- Pray over the people, asking the Lord to wash us off and remove any distractions from hindering our time with Him. For example, “Lord, I ask that You wash us off from all that we’ve picked up today. Would You please draw us close to You? Open our hearts and minds to hear from You. Please remove any distracting influences during our time together.”
- Invite the Holy Spirit to come. Yes, the Lord is already there, but there’s something about this step that prepares YOU to hear from Him. For example, “Holy Spirit, we invite You to come. You are welcome in this place. Please increase our awareness of Your presence.” There’s a difference between the omnipresence of God and the tangible manifest presence of God. We are seeking His manifest presence.
- Invite Wisdom and Revelation. For example, “Wisdom and Revelation, come. We welcome you. We invite you to speak to us and show us God’s glory and goodness.” I don’t know how this works, but I know that when I do this it shifts the atmosphere. Some say these are specific angels that are released to minister – others say these are aspects of the Spirit of the Lord. Either way, you are welcoming them to reveal the Lord’s goodness and glory. I don’t have to understand it for it to work (like electricity, right?). Childlike faith is simple and powerful.
- Wait expectantly. At this point, I often turn the music up just a little bit so we can hear it and drown out any other sounds. It helps us to focus without distraction. Often the presence of the Lord has been building with each prayer of invitation spoken so now we just enjoy Him. I often find a smile bursting on my face because He’s HERE in such a tangible way – I am so happy to be with Him. Sometimes I whisper my love and worship to Him – trying not to distract anyone, but at the same time honoring who He is to me. Others may also whisper their love and worship. 🙂 Some people sit, some lay down on the floor, some kneel – each one is free to do whatever feels comfortable for them. (I have tile floors so when I host these, I often put big cushions on the floor and some fluffy throw rugs for people to lay on, if they want to.) Sometimes people pace at the end of the room – that’s okay too. It’s important for each person to be free to be themselves. I also make sure there is paper and pens on the coffee tables in case anyone needs to write what the Lord is saying to them, especially if they wish to give it to someone else.
- Receive from His presence. Just being together in God’s presence is incredibly refreshing and healing. We often just sit quietly and soak up His presence. No one is moving or talking – just being together. Letting God be God.
- Ask people to share. After a time of waiting on God, I will often feel prompted to lower the music a little bit and then I ask, “Would anyone like to share what the Lord is showing them?” One by one people share what the Lord shared with them – it could be a Scripture verse, a new insight into His goodness and care, a word, a song or a vision. Scripture says, “When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. Take your turn, no one person taking over. Then each speaker gets a chance to say something special from God, and you all learn from each other.” I Corinthians 14 The Message.
- Respond to each thing that is shared. This is really important and some people miss this. Pay attention to what the Lord is saying through each person who shares. Acknowledge what has been shared (thank the person) and then ask the Lord if there’s anything that needs to be done. I am often doing this internally while the person shares, asking the Lord to direct us. Sometimes it is obvious – perhaps something the person shares relates to a current event that needs to be prayed for. Ask that person to lead in prayer, others can join in after they pray. Usually the person who gets the insight or revelation has the authority to pray it out. If someone gets a word of knowledge or word of wisdom for an individual in the meeting, they should offer to minister to that person. Maybe they need prayer – but don’t force it. Ask them first. Sometimes it is not obvious right away what the Lord is saying but after 2-3 people share, you might see a theme emerging that guides you. Ask the Holy Spirit – in fact, I often just stop everything and say out loud, “Holy Spirit, what do You want us to do with this?” and we all just wait. If you don’t hear or sense anything, then just move to the next person who wants to share.
- Pray for each other. After everyone has had a chance to share what the Lord showed them, ask if anyone needs prayer. If there are many needs and time is running out, break up into pairs or groups of three and pray for each other. This is so important – we have no idea how much the people around us are in need until we ask. Asking for prayer requests tends to open people up like nothing else does – this is often the most precious part of these gatherings as people feel safe enough to be vulnerable and transparent about their pain and struggles. This is the body of Christ loving on one another – first we love God and receive His love, then we love one another. ❤
- Close in prayer. You’d think you could skip this step since so much prayer has been going on all night, right? But there’s something about “closing” that feels right. For example, “Lord, thank You so much for meeting with us tonight. We enjoy Your presence so much! Thank You for all You did tonight. We ask that You seal these prayers and all that happened here. We love You.”
I have not encountered too many church meetings that follow this format. But every time I follow it, the Lord comes powerfully and everyone leaves very happy, refreshed and blessed.
I wonder if you could do this virtually. Could you have an online God Gathering using video chat? What do you think? Would it work?
Is there anything you do that helps you and your friends connect with God? Please feel free to share it. I love new ideas!
Last night a young lady called me. She’s in a very sticky situation.
She is currently separated from her husband. A young man from church started pursuing a relationship with her. She’s not interested in him romantically and has made that clear. But they are talking and becoming friends due to their common interest in the things of God.
She told me, “I’m trying to free myself from this guy. I just want to focus on my relationship with Jesus and healing my heart! But for some reason, I keep feeling like I’m forced to be his friend and maybe more some day. I’m praying and praying, but I can’t get any peace. What can I do?”
Whew! That’s tough. When you are praying and yet don’t see the results you had hoped for, what can you do?
We talked for some time. She’s been growing rapidly in hearing from God and learning His ways.
One thing she said that caught my attention – “feeling forced” to be his friend.
I asked her about it. She said she feels this pressure and she wonders if it’s God or not. She’s afraid to cut things off with him because she’s not sure if maybe God WANTS her to be friends with him.
I told her that there’s a big difference between following the leading of the Lord and the feeling of being forced or pushed.
I sent her this chart I made to help her discern when it’s God voice or some other voice.
She immediately replied:
“Wow, I havent realized how much of the other voices I’ve been listening to because I wasn’t sure whether they were from God or not. It’s so clear now.”
I know this chart has helped me – sometimes when we feel unclear about something and especially if our emotions are involved, this can help bring clarity about exactly whose voice we are following.
Some charts I’ve seen contrast God’s voice to Satan’s voice. I chose to contrast God’s voice to “other voices” because sometimes that voice is our own! We are sometimes our own worst enemy – we tell ourselves what we “should” be doing, using guilt and manipulation to get ourselves to do things. Sometimes that “other voice” is someone in our lives giving us advice or telling us what we should do. This chart can help us figure out whether what they are saying lines up with the Lord’s voice. And yes, sometimes that “other voice” is the enemy, Satan, whispering things into our minds (which sounds like our own thoughts).
I encouraged her to keep that chart somewhere she could refer to it frequently. You might want to do the same.
So how do you know when it’s God’s voice versus Other voices? Feel free to share your experience below. What advice would you have given her?
You gotta know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run!
These lyrics from the song, The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers came to mind today as I contemplated some principles of spiritual warfare that I teach.
When the enemy is invading your territory (i.e. your home, your relationships, your business), it is vitally important to know which action to take.
There are times when you are supposed to “hold ‘em” – that could be standing your ground, making declarations in the spirit realm or even confronting another person about the darkness they are bringing into your territory.
There are times when you need to “fold ‘em” – that made me think of folding your hands together to pray for the situation. Maybe the bulk of the warfare is just clearing out the emotional baggage in your own heart and mind. This usually requires repentance – your own, or on behalf of someone else, and often on behalf of someone in your bloodline or ancestry.
There are times when you need to walk away. Yes, this is hard. But sometimes the best thing to do is pray for the other person and then say, “This is not my problem. You need to figure this out.” You emotionally disconnect from the darkness they are bringing into your life. You still love them, but you just step back from being emotionally attached to their breakthrough. This is often the hardest step for most of us to take because it doesn’t feel like love – but it is. It’s called Tough Love. And it can be a critical step to surviving a battle.
Lastly, “know when to run” means to be very aware of backlash from the enemy after you have stood your ground. You don’t literally “run”, but you do make sure that every door of opportunity that he has used against you is slammed shut and sealed with the blood of Jesus. You don’t open it and check to make sure – you keep that door closed!! If alcohol has been a problem for you, you don’t take one sip at a party just to see if you’re still free of it. If a certain person has been removed from your life, you don’t send a birthday text just to make sure they know you remembered it was their birthday. Don’t do it!
Backlash Can Be Brutal
I think the hardest part of spiritual warfare is the surprising force with which Backlash hits you. Usually when you least expect it. You’ve done the hard part of standing your ground, cleaning out the emotional “garbage” from you and your bloodline, releasing your sense of responsibility for the breakthrough of the people involved and finally you rest. Ahhh, the breakthrough is coming – I can feel it. You may even begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Then, BAM! You get hit by something unexpected that is designed to shake you to your core. It is sent to rattle you – to cause you to question who you are and your basis for authority. It’s happened to me many times.
Yet all you can do is STAND. Just keep moving forward in faith. Even when it seems impossible and you are ready to give up. Just do it. (And having done all, stand. Ephesians 6:13)
One of the enemy’s main tactics is to get your eyes off of the Father’s goodness and blessing to you and instead turn your eyes onto the darkness he is attacking you with. Use all your strength to ignore him and turn your eyes to God. Stay in Peace – he hates that!
You will keep her in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because she trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3
Backlash can be brutal. It makes you wonder who you are and what you think you are doing. It can attack your body, your mind and/or your emotions. Sometimes it is so vile, you don’t even realize what is going on. You just know you are miserable!
THIS is when you need the body of Christ around you. THIS is when you need a stable prayer partner or someone you can call to help you. Having a person who is very prophetic and sees in the spirit clearly can really help you break the power of backlash – because you will think you are losing your mind. You need someone who can tell you, “Wait. This isn’t yours. This is backlash. Let me pray.” And when they do, suddenly all the effects of backlash disappear.
I didn’t know that the enemy could attack your emotions and suddenly make you feel depressed, overwhelmed, jealous, fearful, suicidal, [insert any negative emotion here] FOR NO REASON. I thought emotional attacks were related to your actions – for instance, if you focus on your problems, you can get depressed or feel overwhelmed. But when you are suddenly hit with deep, overwhelming emotions that are dark, it surprises you. You have no idea why they are there. You can’t “fix” ‘em because they are NOT yours! They are often so thick that it is hard to think clearly so it may take a while for you to figure this out. That’s why having a close relationship with another intercessor or prophetic person can really help – tell them how you are honestly feeling and then the Lord can give them insight for you.
You gotta know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run!
And how do I know when to do each of these in battle? , you might be thinking. Answer: ATL
That means Ask The Lord. He is the Commander-in-Chief and He is the only one who knows which step is needed when. You follow Him and everything will work itself out for your good.
Got any keys that help you in battle? Please feel free to comment below so we can learn from each other. 🙂
Learn to be still.
In our society of rushing here and there, constant mental stimulation from the media and multitudes of distractions, it can be very hard to simply learn to be still. This is an important aspect of prayer that many do not mention. It’s not fast, fun or easy. It doesn’t appeal to our desire for self-gratification. Learning to be still is very important because it teaches you to wait on the Lord and quiet your mind.
Invite God to speak to you.
We not only talk to God when we pray, but it is also a time for us to listen to God. Tell Him you want to hear from Him. Open your heart and be willing to receive whatever He says (even if you don’t like it). He knows whether you will listen and obey Him or not so be sincere in your request. Lay down your natural willfulness and be open to what He has to say.
This is part of waiting on the Lord. Just like in a conversation – you speak and then you wait for the other person to respond. Sometimes the Lord is quick to reply, but often He waits to see if you really want to hear from Him. It may try your patience. Just sit quietly and wait – sometimes He answers right away and other times He answers later, sometimes days later.
Obey – do whatever He tells you to do.
Obviously, if God tells you to do something, you should do it. Henry Blackaby says that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not like our thoughts. They are so different that sometimes what He tells you to do may seem wrong or crazy. However, if you notice the pattern in the stories in the Bible, every person who was asked to do something by God knew it was God. It wasn’t like “well, this could be me or maybe this is God”. They KNEW. If you’re not sure, then wait for Him to confirm it. Usually you can tell because it stirs your heart and you just KNOW you better do what He said. And often it is not easy – not something you would have come up with on your own.
He really, really likes it when we trust Him. It’s a big deal. We like it when someone trusts US and we get offended if someone does something that demonstrates they don’t trust us, right? Why is that? Because we want people to trust our character and the intentions of our heart – that we will do what we say we will do. God is like that too – He likes it when we trust His character and His intentions, when we demonstrate that we believe He will do what He says He will do.
If you’d like some practical ways to get closer to God, I recommend the course: Developing a Close Relationship with God: A Simple Method. The course teaches you how to focus so you can pay attention to God without distractions. You will also learn to recognize God’s voice and become familiar with the different ways that He communicates. It provides simple activities you can do to interact with God. It’s short – just 15 minutes a week for 4 weeks. It’s online so it’s available whenever you are. You can listen to it while you drive or when you exercise. It can make God more “real” for you – and that’s priceless! 🙂
If you want to go deeper into having a relationship with God, I also recommend the book Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. The workbook version gives you exercises where you can practice talking to God and hearing from Him. It’s a lot of fun and it will also s-t-r-e-t-c-h you spiritually. I’ve read the book, done the workbook and taken a class on it. I’ve also taught the workbook with a small group once or twice. It is really life changing – you’ll never be the same after you learn how to recognize the voice of God in your every day life. 🙂
“You will not obey Him, if you do not believe Him and trust Him. You cannot believe Him if you do not love Him. You cannot love Him unless you know Him.”
-Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God
Rating: Educational, inspirational
Recently one of my clients told me he wanted to draw closer to God, but didn’t know how. Faith was new to him. He was raised in a home where no one went to church or prayed or anything so he didn’t really know where to start. He asked me for some direction. Here are some thoughts I shared with him.
Developing a spiritual practice that helps you draw closer to God is really important. But you want to make sure it doesn’t become an empty ritual. It needs to be authentic and based on your desire for God. I discovered early on in my spiritual journey that there is one prayer that God answers every time – asking Him to give you the desire to seek Him. When I first started out, I was excited to talk to God. It was new and different. But then over time, I felt my spiritual fervor waning. At first, I was kind of embarrassed. How do you get the desire for God back?
The answer I discovered is this: Admit you lack the desire and ask Him to give it to you. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works. When I ask God to give me the desire to spend time with Him, usually within a day or two it comes. It is not immediate, but it always comes. I’ve done this many times over the years.
So – that’s the first “exercise” I shared with him – ask God for desire. Because without the desire, any spiritual exercise can become an empty ritual.
Then I wrote up a “spiritual exercise” for him. I reached back into my past and tried to remember the first things I was taught that helped me become more closely connected with God. At first, I did these every day as a discipline – whether I felt like it or not. I wanted to teach myself to have a spiritual practice. Then after awhile they became second nature to me. I do them now without even realizing it – they have become part of who I am.
These are in a certain order – do them this way for 30 days. After the practice becomes familiar, you can improvise. 🙂
1. Acknowledge God – Honor who God is and that you need Him, humble yourself.
2. Confess your self-centered ways – Admit to God and yourself the thoughts and decisions you’ve made in the last 24 hours that were self-centered and apart from Him.
3. Ask the Spirit of God to lead you – Ask Him to show you His ways and the right decisions to make.
4. Open the Bible – Ask for inspiration and then read a passage from the Bible.
5. Turn something from what you read into a prayer – Make it personal to your life.
6. Give thanks – Tell God what you are thankful for.
7. Ask for what you need and finish by thanking God in advance for providing what is needed. He loves it when you thank Him ahead of time because it demonstrates your confidence that He is good and trustworthy. (It also gives you hope.)
8. Sing a song to Him – Learn some worship songs or make up one of your own. Rejoice in the goodness of God and His care for you.
This is not a rigid ritual, but more of a practice to teach your heart to turn to the Lord and depend on Him. You will be so glad that you did!
You are dearly loved by God and He is looking forward to talking to you and spending time with you. Did you know that?
So, how about you? Do you have a spiritual practice that you do on a regular basis that helps you to connect with the Lord? Please share it with us!
Rating: Educational, creepy, strange
A friend of mine, Lee, moved into a new apartment. She loved the view of the lake from her bedroom window upstairs. It was a peaceful, relaxing place to live.
One day she told me that she had been unable to sleep well ever since she had moved to the new apartment. I asked her why.
She mentioned getting a new bed – she thought perhaps that was the problem. It was a relatively inexpensive bed so the quality of the mattress was not very good. I asked if she still had her old bed. She said her daughter was using it in her room.
Is it the bed or is it a curse?
I suggested she sleep in her daughter’s bed to see if she slept better. She did that and she did sleep better, so she moved the bed into her room.
The next morning she was surprised to wake up feeling horrible. She hurt all over. Bruises appeared on her arms and legs – she had no idea where they came from. And she awoke exhausted.
I told her that waking up with multiple, unexplained bruises could be a sign of witchcraft. I have heard of that before. Also waking up exhausted after a full night’s sleep could be an indication that she had been in spiritual warfare all night. She said it felt like her body had been beat up all over.
She spoke to a couple of other friends and they both suggested the same thing – pray over the room and the rest of the apartment. I had mentioned this when she first told me she wasn’t sleeping well. It has been my experience that constant unexplained sleep disturbances are often related to the spiritual realm.
She took some anointing oil and anointed her room, her children’s rooms and the rest of the apartment. She prayed over the windows and the doors and anything else she felt led to pray over. She recently saw the movie, War Room, and followed the woman’s example in the movie – after praying, she opened the front door and commanded every evil thing to leave. Then she anointed the door and closed it.
She called me the next day – she sounded very excited. She had finally slept well! And she was surprised that all the pain had left her body. I asked her if the Lord showed her what had been keeping her from sleeping.
It was a curse!
As she prayed, asking the Holy Spirit to guide her, the words He kept giving her to say were, “I break this curse, in the name of Jesus. I plead the blood of Jesus over this place.” and other similar phrases.
My guess is that the previous tenants were practicing witchcraft – probably in that bedroom. People often conduct rituals in secret where others cannot see them. By conducting witchcraft in that room, a door was opened in the unseen realm. This door allowed evil spirits to come in and disturb her sleep. Once they saw her trying to fix the problem, perhaps they increased their attack to intimidate her.
When she used her God-given spiritual authority to break the curse and command all the evil spirits to leave, that closed the door in the spirit world and she was finally able to sleep.
Thank God for Jesus and the sacrifice of His blood – it breaks every curse! 🙂
I am very proud of Lee for taking authority over the demonic influence in her home – she had never done anything like that before. Her sleep being immediately restored spoke volumes to her and her children about the reality of the unseen realm and the importance of guarding themselves in it.
If you think you are experiencing similar problems in your house, you might want to read these posts:
Rating: Inspirational, Educational
War Room was the #1 movie in America last week. It is about the power of prayer and how it directly, significantly changes the lives of those who are prayed for as well as the one who is praying! I loved the movie and have seen it twice. It is very inspirational! I encourage you to see it. Here’s the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIl-XY9t_Lw
In War Room, an older Christian woman, Clara, explains to a young wife and mother, Elizabeth, that instead of fighting with her husband, she should do her fighting on her knees in prayer. She explains that we are all in a battle and that we need a War Room – a place we can get alone with God and connect with Him as well as plan strategies against the forces of darkness. Clara shows Elizabeth her War Room – a small walk in closet with prayers and scriptures posted on the walls. The movie shows Clara in her War Room, praying for Elizabeth and others.
Many people have become inspired to create their own War Room. I saw one video of a man with 5 children who said they didn’t have any space in their house. However, after the entire family saw the movie, the kids (who were older) decided to turn their old playhouse into the family War Room. They put Christmas lights up and added floor cushions so that they could sit in there and pray. He showed how the children had written out their prayer requests and taped them up in the playhouse. This father was grinning from ear to ear, so proud of his children and their desire to pray. Oh, may we all be so passionate and childlike in our trust in Father God! ♥
Do you have a special place where you pray each day? If so, please feel free to leave a comment and tell us about it. I have heard that if you pray in the same place every day, that place starts to change. It becomes “charged” with a spiritual atmosphere that others can feel. They showed that in the movie too. 🙂
By the way, if you need some inspiration and/or training in prayer, there’s a special book released as part of this movie. It’s called The Battle Plan for Prayer. It looks good! There are more resources on their site: http://warroommovieresources.com/
Update: You can now watch the movie for $6 on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1TFGseu
Today is a very special day to me. On October 8, 1980, I started my relationship with God.
I had heard of God and his Son, Jesus. But I didn’t really know much about them personally. I had heard some stories from the Bible and I had even memorized a few Scriptures. I attended a private Christian school and memorizing Bible verses was sometimes required for homework. I did it because it was homework, not because I had any interest in religion.
My family was not religious. We attended my grandmother’s small country church once or twice a year as part of a family tradition – usually just for Christmas and Easter. Most of my classmates at school were from religious homes where they attended church every week and went to Bible camp during the summers. But not me. I was different.
October 8 was a normal Wednesday. I got ready for school as usual. I made it to home room on time and went to my first two classes. Then we went to chapel, a weekly “class” that everyone attended. Our entire junior and senior high went to the same service – about 150 kids. The younger children in elementary school had a separate service, geared to their age group. I had attended this school since first grade and had been to many, many chapel services.
I sat in chapel that day with all the other 8th grade girls. Boys had “cooties” so we didn’t sit with them. I recall that we were seated near the back of the chapel, far from the front where the action was.
We sang some songs, among them “Onward Christian Soldiers”. A guest minister got up to speak. I don’t recall a word he said. Toward the end of the service, he started the altar call. That’s when a minister asks the listeners to respond to his message. I don’t know what he said, but it was effective. The last girl on our row began to cry. Her two best girlfriends were sitting next to her and they tried to comfort her. She got up and went to the front to pray with the minister, to respond to his invitation. Her friends went with her along with the girl sitting closest to them. There were only 3 of us left sitting on the pew. I turned to the girl next to me, we shrugged our shoulders and decided to follow the others. It seemed like “the right thing to do”.
By the time we got to the front of the chapel, we saw that the place for prayer (the altar) was really crowded – many other kids had also responded to the minister’s call. One of the girls saw an empty space behind the pulpit on the left side, so we all walked up the stairs to the platform and gathered in a circle on the dark red carpeted floor. I was hoping we weren’t going to get in trouble as normally no one was allowed up there but the adults.
I joined my friends, not really sure what to do. I was there for moral support. I had never been to an altar before – what was expected?
Soon the minister came to us and said, “Girls, would you like to give your lives to God?” Several of the “church girls” immediately nodded. They had all been to a youth retreat a few weeks prior where they all got “saved” again. It seemed that perhaps they had backslidden and needed to “fix” things with God. I didn’t really know what the man was asking, but I didn’t want to stand out – so I didn’t ask any questions. I remember that I glanced at the ceiling and thought, “Do I believe in God?” My heart answered, “Yes.” So I decided that meant I could pray with the minister.
He led us all in a prayer where we repeated some statements after him, as though we were talking to God. I had never prayed before – well, except that in elementary school we all recited a prayer before we went to the lunchroom each day. But that was different.
I don’t remember a word of what I said. I didn’t feel anything. No bright lights or a voice from heaven. I just “prayed the prayer” because someone asked me – and I didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t do it. When I looked around the room after the prayer, I noticed that the entire student body was on their knees praying – except for 2 boys in the senior class. They were surrounded by a few teachers who were talking to them – the boys kept shaking their heads “No”. I was amazed that they refused to open their hearts to God that day as everyone else in the place definitely was. I remember seeing even the “tough” boys in our class lined up at a nearby pew, on their knees, praying with the minister. That’s how real God was in that place.
Later that night, I spoke to God on my own. I had heard a few weeks earlier that you should talk to God every day. I remember thinking, “Then He should talk back to me then.” I was kind of cynical, even at that age.
The next day, as I was walking into the girl’s locker room, I said a swear word. Immediately, I heard a voice in my heart say, “You’re a Christian now. Christians don’t talk like that.”
I stopped walking. I knew that wasn’t my voice talking to me because I would not have thought of that. I remembered being told that after you decide to give your life to God and ask Jesus into your heart – He actually sends His Spirit to live inside of you. Hearing this voice and feeling the conviction that went with it, I realized, “This must be the Holy Spirit. I better obey.” And from that day on, I stopped swearing.
It’s funny how, when looking back, I see how “non-eventful” this experience appeared to be at the time. It was a normal Wednesday morning. I was in chapel, as I had been hundreds of times before. Yet on this day, something changed. Someone asked me to open my heart and life to God’s love. And I did. Not because I understood it. Peer pressure “saved” me. I didn’t want to be left out.
Since that time, I can honestly say that it was the BEST DECISION I have ever made in my entire life. From that first day, I started talking to God every night before bed and I have never stopped. He is the air I breathe. He is my hope, my peace, my joy and my strength. My life is SO MUCH BETTER because I decided to open my heart to Him.
Thank You, Jesus, for saving me as a young girl when I didn’t even know what I was doing. Thank You for being there through everything – my parent’s divorce, my boyfriends and my break-ups, my high school and college years, my first marriage and divorce, my time away from home and my time returning to my roots … and all the other times when I needed a friend, a confidante, a savior to get me out of myself and learn how to love others, really love others.
I love what You’ve done with my life. It is so exciting to see where we are going next. I never know what You have up Your sleeve – like the wonderful surprise of my new husband and what a pleasure it is to be married to him. I never saw that coming! And the life You’ve given me, allowing me to help others by sharing the pain and challenges I’ve overcome.
I am so incredibly thankful today. Thank you, dear readers, for celebrating this day with me.
I hope that if you are reading this and you have not yet opened your heart to God, that perhaps you will. Would you like to? It’s not hard. It’s just a choice – to choose to follow Jesus and learn how to love others, to respond to God’s love for you as His child. And guess what? He DOES talk back when you talk to Him! 🙂
If you’d like to do that, you can pray this prayer or something similar. You can use your own words, if you prefer.
“God, I am willing – I open my heart to Your Love. I give You my life. Jesus, please come and save me. I need Your help. I’m sorry for the things I’ve done wrong. Please teach me how to receive Your love so I can love others. Thank you.”
If you’ve never prayed that kind of prayer, please do. It will open up a world of goodness you cannot even imagine. There is so much peace and joy and love just waiting to come to you, if you open yourself up to it. Words fail me how much better my life is because of God’s love. It does not prevent bad things from happening to you – instead it gives you an inner resilience and a peace that passes understanding.
If you prayed this for the first time just now – then please let me know. Either post something below or send me an email: kingdomwalker2 (at) gmail (dot) com. I would love to celebrate with YOU and help you in your new relationship with God just as others helped me when I first started out.
God bless you today! ♥
Abraham said, “The Lord, in Whose presence I walk …” [Genesis 24:40]
“There’s a difference between living in the Omnipresence of God and living in the Manifest Presence of God.” – Alyn Jones, Grace Center, Franklin, TN
We all live in the Omnipresence of God – God is everywhere. We can acknowledge that and live in that knowledge.
But there is a place of living in the Manifest Presence of God – where you KNOW HE IS THERE, right there where you are. You are tangibly aware of His presence. It’s amazing – it’s life-giving, it’s comforting, it’s fullness of joy.
You can know this place – you can walk with God like this. It’s not impossible. Truly.
Walk with Him and obey Him. What is He telling YOU to do? Do that. Just that and nothing else. Don’t try to EARN your way into His Manifest Presence. Just obey with all your heart the last thing He told you to do. Be faithful.
Cultivate an awareness of His Presence. I’ve spent my life chasing after Him and I am happy to report that I now live in His Manifest Presence. Every day. Every morning I wake up aware of His Presence. If I wake up feeling foggy, then I speak to Him until my mind clears and I am again aware of His presence. I don’t leave my bed until I do.
Just do it – you won’t regret it. Make yourself aware of His Presence. Talk to Him as though He is really RIGHT THERE with you. Because He is. You just don’t realize it. 🙂
“Our believing produces our receiving.” – Alyn Jones
Can you imagine what it would look like to live in God’s Manifest Presence 24/7? Imagine the peace of knowing all your steps are ordered – never feeling rushed or worried. Being sure that all that you need will be provided when you need it – just like the sparrows.
Can you believe and can you trust enough to actually receive this in your heart?
That is the question.