Did You Know Charles Wesley Wrote Prayers to Sing? A Prayerful Look at Intercession Hymn #1 “For All Mankind”

In 1758, Charles Wesley published his collection of 40 Intercession Hymns.

These hymns are examples of intercessory prayers set to music. Music is a good way to remember words, and singing helps people have words of prayer and scripture on their hearts and tongues throughout the day.

Although Wesley’s collection of Intercession Hymns represents an era different from our own, many parts of these intercessory prayers are timeless, especially given their biblical foundations. All of Wesley’s hymns are steeped in scripture, and his Intercession Hymns are no exception. Even portions of hymns that are specific to Wesley’s day can be adapted for current situations.

Continue reading “Did You Know Charles Wesley Wrote Prayers to Sing? A Prayerful Look at Intercession Hymn #1 “For All Mankind””

What Blocks Your Hearing from God?

“Do you have cotton in your ears?” I remember my grandmother saying this whenever she thought we kids weren’t listening.

Sometimes I feel that way with God – that He knows I’m missing most of what He says. Why?

What Blocked Our Listening When We Were Kids?

Think about what it was like as a kid, when you didn’t listen. What were the reasons?

My list looked something like this:

  • Too busy, preoccupied.
  • Rebellious – didn’t want to hear, let alone respond.
  • Not really sure what the grownups were saying, so I tuned it out, or the words became distorted (like the teacher on Peanuts).
  • Didn’t like what I heard, or didn’t want to hear anything a grownup had to say on the matter.
  • Believed lies about myself, so whatever was really said became muted, muffled, or lost in translation.
  • Too many other voices in my head – mostly different parts of my own mind chastising or ridiculing myself.
  • Or just plain overwhelmed and checked out.

Those, and more, are the reasons we as kids often missed what grownups were trying to say to us. We missed helpful advice and direction. We missed expressions of love and concern. We missed fellowship.

The same can happen today in our communication with God. When our spiritual hearing becomes dull, we miss things.

How Can We Tune in to God’s Voice?

As an intercessor, you are no doubt interested in hearing from God clearly and frequently. How can you better attune your spiritual ears to hear Him?

One way is to identify what blocks your hearing.

This requires some heart introspection. What are the things in your heart that stand between you and God?

I went through many years of inner healing ministry to identify and allow God to remove many obstacles that blocked my hearing and my relationship with Him. I strongly recommend inner healing for everyone. We have all “stuff,” and it affects our relationship with God in more ways than just “hearing.”

Praying to Uncover What Blocks Us

Here is a starting point:

Ask God to search your heart and to reveal the things that block you from Him. That is one prayer He is very glad to answer. He began to answer me when I first prayed like this more than 12 years ago. He is still answering me to this day, showing me things in my heart that stand between me and Him.

Ask God to show you:

  • What lies you believe that are contrary to what His Word says.
  • Where you might hold unforgiveness or bitterness in your heart, or areas of your life where you might need to repent.
  • What lies you believe about Him, based on your relationship with primary caregivers in your young life. We often see God based on how we saw those first adults we encountered.
  • Where you have become consumed by religion, instead of relationship.
  • Any ways that fear or pride might block you from hearing Him.
  • Anything and everything in your heart that stands in the way of hearing and responding to Him.

Then realize that Jesus is here to help you pray through these blockages, to be healed, and to be free. Freedom means hearing your heavenly Father’s promptings, and responding to Him in love and prayer.

God Often Speaks in Silence

As an intercessor, it’s important to realize that you might not hear or sense God in ways that you would hear a person who walks into the room and speaks. God will have His own ways of communicating with you, and often His first language is silence. As an intercessor, your heart may simply beat strongly in tune with His, without you hearing a word.

So don’t take silence as an indication that you are not hearing.

But if you feel blocked in hearing from God (it’s usually a distinct feeling), the prayer detailed above can be a helpful starting point for drawing closer to Him and opening your heart even more to Him.

If you would like to learn more about hearing God, I recommend reading this wonderful article, “How Do I Learn to Hear God?” written by my friend Kerri Johnson at The Center for Inner Healing. It’s a quick read, and it gets to the heart of how we hear God.

Season Your Church Ministries with Intercessory Prayer

When intercessory prayer is woven into the fabric of your church, your ministries can stand strong and do exactly what God calls them to do. Every ministry of your church, from worship to hospitality, from nursery to seniors, from Bible study to softball, has the opportunity to incorporate intercessory prayer. Not only does this help the ministries to grow in healthy ways, but it also allows more opportunities for church members to grow in their prayer lives.

What are some ways you can season your church ministries with intercessory prayer?

  1. Open and close your ministry’s meetings and gatherings with prayer.
  2. Invite the folks participating in your ministry to share prayer requests through the week. Pray together each week (or at each gathering) for those prayer requests. Remember to include Praises of how God answers those prayers.
  3. Designate a volunteer “prayer chaplain” for your ministry, who can follow up on those prayer needs, and who will help your ministry stay prayerful.
  4. Whatever Bible verses you use in your ministry, invite your participants to begin praying those Bible verses together. Do a quick mini-teaching of how to turn a Bible verse into a prayer.
  5. Encourage different individuals in your ministry to lead the group in prayer, so everyone can have experience in praying out loud. Not everyone feels comfortable praying out loud, so don’t pressure them and don’t put them on the spot. But make it very easy for them to try. (I offer an online class, “Learn to Pray Out Loud,” that helps people get past this fear of praying out loud.) A small-sized ministry group is often the perfect place for people to practice praying out loud.
  6. Get to know the person who coordinates intercessory prayer at your church. Let that person know the best ways to pray for your ministry. You might write out a few “prayer points” that your church’s prayer leader and prayer team can pray for your ministry on a regular basis. You can also post these prayer points in your ministry’s location, in your written materials and website, or on a church bulletin board. Even better, ask your church’s prayer leader to set up a bulletin board where all church ministries’ “prayer points” can be listed. (Remember: These “prayer points” are about your ministry in general. These are not the confidential prayer needs shared by your participants, which should only circulate to the group and possibly confidentially to the pastor and prayer leader of your church.)
  7. Ask participants in your ministry to be praying for the ministry at home during their family prayer time. This means not only praying for the people in the ministry, but it also means praying for the ministry itself. Ask them to share with you what God shows them as they pray.
  8. Choose a Bible verse that reflects your ministry in each season of the year. Encourage your ministry participants to pray that Bible verse together through that season. Post the Bible verse publicly in your church so everyone can join you in praying that verse.
  9. Assign “prayer partners” among your ministry participants. This connects two or three individuals or families so they can pray for each other.
  10. Choose another ministry of your church to pray for. It should be a ministry with a completely different focus than your own. Ask that ministry’s leader how you can pray for them. Lead the participants of your ministry in praying together for that other ministry. Watch what God will do. Even better, encourage your church’s prayer leader to coordinate all ministries of the church in praying for each other.

Don’t be overwhelmed by this list. It’s called “seasoning” for a reason. Try one of these first and then add others as you are ready. Mix and match through different seasons of the year. Follow God’s leading. But find ways to season your church ministry with intercessory prayer.

What are some ways you have included intercessory prayer in your church ministry?

Why Every Intercessor Needs Inner Healing

Imagine you’re on a battlefield. Your sword is broken. Your armor has holes. Your knees are weak. You keep tripping over the ground. Your enemy taunts you, and those taunts become a torment so loud you can’t hear your heart pounding.

This is what it’s like to be an intercessor without inner healing.

Inner healing invites God into every dark corner of your heart. Any weaknesses you have, He will expose for healing. Psalm 139:23-24 should be every intercessor’s heart cry to God. It’s like pouring peroxide into a wound and watching the infection bubble to the surface for healing.

When you submit your heart to God for inner healing, you are bringing your heart into His sanctification process (Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 12:15). We don’t know the depths of what we hold in our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). That’s why we need to ask God to show us and heal us.

If you are trying to go into battle as an intercessor, without inviting God to search every area of your heart for healing, you will find your heart is exposed to the enemy. The enemy hates intercession so he will look for any place he can grab hold of you and torment you.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Ask God to begin showing you areas of your heart that need healing. Ask Him to begin the healing process and be willing to submit your heart fully to Him.

Don’t go through inner healing alone. I’m part of a whole tribe of people going through the journey of inner healing together, and we keep each other on speed dial for help, prayers, and accountability. Find your tribe and stay connected.

Lots of great inner healing ministries exist – one might be right in your neighborhood. The ministry that I love and have participated in for the past 10 years is The Center for Inner Healing. Whichever inner healing ministry you become involved in, be sure it is biblically based, Christ centered, Spirit filled, and invites heart encounters between you and Jesus for your healing.

Whatever you do, don’t let the enemy take potshots at you on the battlefield of intercession. Identify the wounds in your heart and allow Jesus to bind them up (Psalm 147:3, Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18).

Then you will be able to intercede under the shelter of God’s wings (Psalm 91:4), hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3), with clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3-4).