After Trauma, There Is Life

I heard a broadcast recently where young businessmen were talking about the pandemic. It’s the first time they’ve had to deal with disaster recovery and business continuity. I could hear the fear and uncertainty in their voices. I wished they were in front of me so I could give them hope that one day we will be on the other side of this and it will be okay. 

I was in their place once. I was a young business woman in NYC during 9/11. I too experienced daily fear and uncertainty in the aftermath of that tragedy. For those who lived through it, there were days, weeks, months when it felt like we’d never have peace or hope or life again. But eventually we did. And that’s what I wished I could have told those young men. It does end, and we will not be in a crisis forever. 

I’m an “old lady” now, and from my generation to the younger folks, I just want to share comfort and hope that we will get through this. Because I’ve seen it happen. I’ve been through the kind of crisis that tears your world apart, and come out on the other side to experience joy and laughter again. 

I also want to share how Jesus provides incredible healing from trauma, even right now in the midst of it, if we just ask Him.

On that note, I want to share this link to the book I wrote about how God healed me from the trauma of 9/11. Maybe you or someone you know could use some trauma healing, and this book will show you how that’s possible. It’s available on Kindle, and I’m told it’s a quick and encouraging read.

With love and prayers from an “old lady” who knows there is life on the other side of trauma. And that God never leaves us or forsakes us.

When All Is Lost: A Personal Story of 9/11 Trauma and the Healing Power of Christ by [Janet Lynn Eriksson]

When All Is Lost: A Personal Story of 9/11 Trauma and the Healing Power of Christ (Janet Lynn Eriksson)

Where Has God Placed You as an Intercessor?

When you are called to serve God as an intercessor, and you say “Yes” to Him, don’t be surprised where He will place you for the purposes of intercession.

Intercessors are called to affect the atmosphere around them, wherever that may be. God will allow them to see and hear circumstances and strategies for the purpose of intercession. God shows intercessors what He wants to do, where and how He wants to move. The intercessor responds by saying, “Yes, God. Come and do that.”

I’ve known intercessors who work in schools, businesses, court houses, government. I’ve known intercessors who work in the fashion industry and the finance industry and who work in hospitals or drive school buses. Some intercessors are called to travel overseas, to write books (and invite the Holy Spirit to move through their words), to drive for Uber. One intercessor I know works in an office with people from many different faiths and cultures. She carries the peace of Christ and looses His peace in her workplace every day. One intercessor I know prays from her home all day. Her husband is called to the marketplace. She is called to sit in her yard, listen to God, and pray as He leads.

As an intercessor I used to work on a church staff. Now I work in the marketplace, and I am also involved in community prayer. In the marketplace, I have the privilege to work behind the scenes to discover how God is moving in various industries. The more I listen, the more strategy I sense for how to pray.

I pray for the individuals I’m listening to, in whatever ways God leads. I pray for their families. I pray for the struggles they encounter in business. And I follow God’s strategy in praying for what He desires to do through the people He has placed in those industries. I don’t have a deep knowledge of those industries. But I know God has already placed people there, whether they know it yet or not. So I pray for God to help the intercessors and those who have a heart for Him that He has placed in those industries.

It’s a stealth mission of intercession (as many intercessory callings are). No one knows I am praying. God has placed me anonymously behind the scenes. I simply need to listen to God, hear His heart, and pray as He leads.

I need to know what I have authority to pray … and what I don’t have authority to pray. I can’t pray in ways that would violate a person’s free will or in a way that would disregard where the enemy has rights. I certainly don’t want to pray against any territorial spirit or principalities. That is in God’s hands, not mine. But I can loose the Holy Spirit all day long. And the more intentionally and closely I listen to God, the more I can pray to invite Him into each situation that comes across my desk each day.

I also walk with a group of people in daily accountability. This helps me make sure I am staying within my authority as an intercessor. It helps me keep my heart focused on God. And I have people covering me in prayer as I do what He calls me to do. If you’re an intercessor, I recommend that you also have accountability and a prayer covering. See my article Why Every Intercessor Needs a Cover for more on why intercessors need intercessors.

God wants us, as intercessors, to invite Him into the situations that surround us. He wants us to say “Yes” to whatever He desires to do. He wants us to affect our atmosphere daily, everywhere we go, by loosing the Holy Spirit and the Peace of Christ around us.

Wherever He has placed you as an intercessor in this season, bloom where you are planted. Ask Him to show you how to intercede right where you are each day. And stay close to His heart, be aware of what He is showing you. Pray as He leads. You may not see the changes right away (sometimes you will!). But you will know by faith that God is working in response to your prayers. And your time with Him each day will bless you in amazing ways.

 

Is Your Church Hurting for Money? 12 Ideas that Might Help

Many churches and ministries struggle to make ends meet. I know what it’s like for a ministry that lacks resources to pay the bills. And I’ve worked for a church as a full-time, unpaid staff member. Over the years I’ve spent time in prayer and in the Bible trying to understand how to live in this situation and how to pray. While I have no easy answers for you (Jesus never said it would be easy to follow Him), I do know that whatever we do must begin by focusing on the Holy Spirit and our relationship with God. I offer these suggestions with all humility and prayer, in the hope maybe one or more of these ideas will help you.

If your church or ministry isn’t making ends meet, prayerfully consider a few steps you can take to place the situation in God’s hands:

God's provision for the church
Photo by Kelly McCrimmon at Unsplash

(1) Tithe. Be sure you and your family are tithing. Help your congregation understand tithing by inviting someone (with a biblical understanding and strong testimony of tithing) to teach a class for your congregation.

(2) Repent for any ungodly ways or practices in your church. When doors have been opened to the enemy, that is a sure way to block God’s blessings. As a leader of your church, start the repentance with yourself and invite your church leadership and congregation to join you. Then extend this repentance to the history of your church – repent corporately and restitutionally for all ungodly ways that have characterized your church’s history. Ask God to show you where you need to repent.

(3) Consecrate the land. Through prayer (and through a knowledge of local history) you may discover that curses from ungodly practices have passed through your church’s land. It is a wonderful blessing for your community when a church offers a land consecration to God. Here is an article written by a friend and minister that will help you learn more about land consecration: Dedicating Your Home and Land to God by Kerri Johnson.

(4) Be sure your volunteer business leaders operate by spiritual principles. I’ve seen churches focus on the secular experience of business leaders to keep things running. Unfortunately, very few secular businesses are run on spiritual principles. Common strategies from the business world often don’t translate well to the church. Be sure your business advisors live every aspect of their lives by the leading of the Holy Spirit. If following the Holy Spirit in church business decisions is new to your advisors, that’s okay. Find people in your church who demonstrate maturity in living by the Holy Spirit. Invite and encourage your business advisors to work together in unity with those individuals. In this way, your business advisors can learn and grow, as they live and move and have their being in the Holy Spirit. God has blessed your church with business people not only to benefit the church, but also to grow those persons spiritually. They can take that spiritual lifestyle back into their homes, businesses, and the community. Doesn’t that sound like God?

(5) Open all business-related meetings with prayer and invite the Holy Spirit to lead you. Stop and pray throughout your meetings as you address and discuss challenges. Seek God together right there in your meetings for answers to difficult questions. Be open to what God wants to reveal to you about how to lead the business aspects of your church. Allow the intercessors in your church to pray over your leaders and your meetings on a regular basis. Listen to what God shows them and take that revelation prayerfully into consideration.

(6) Pray and fast together with leadership to seek God’s best plan for your church’s provision. Then listen and share what God shows each of you. Often He will give each one a piece of the puzzle. Bring those puzzle pieces together and see the unified vision that emerges. Unity commands a blessing. If no unity, don’t proceed.

God's provision for the church
Photo by Francesco Gallarotti at Unsplash

(7) Invite personal testimonies from your church members of the fruit of tithing in their lives. Share these testimonies publicly, including in the church newsletter and on the giving page of your website. The testimonies lift the focus off the practical and place the glory on God. That is the way to plant seeds that will lead to good fruit.

(8) Place your focus on people, not on money. If you focus on what’s important to God, i.e., people, He is going to give you what you need. Be sure your church nurtures a culture of giving to the community and to your own families, for the sake of all that God wants to do in the lives of people. As you pour out, God will refill you.

(9) Do not open the door to fear. There is a big difference between operating in financial wisdom and operating in fear. You can tell by the spirit in which you make decisions and explain things to the congregation. Consider gathering a group of spiritually well-balanced individuals whose fruit of a mature spiritual life is evident. Ask them to test the temperature of your church’s messaging and practices with regard to finances. They will be able to discern whether or not your practices are fear-based. Remember that faith cannot occupy the same space as fear.

(10) Continue to seek God for what your church is and is not called to do. Givers may experience lack because they give in areas where God did not call them. Be discerning to spend and invest specifically where God calls you to do so. Is another church in your community already doing something really well (like homeless ministry, addiction ministry, children’s after school care, etc.)? Consider sending people to their community ministry rather than spreading yourself too thin. Praying about starting a new program in the community that exceeds your budget? How about gathering several churches with the same vision and working together in unity? It takes the whole body of Christ to cover a community.

(11) Expect God to provide. If you don’t expect His provision, then change your expectations. Do some heart searching here and be honest with yourself. What do you really expect? When you are entrenched in expectations that are fueled by ungodly motivations, you can end up blocking the resources God wants to give you. The provision of God’s kingdom is not a zero-sum game. Too often churches are tempted to hold back where they should give, or to give out of desperation where they are not called to give. These are reactions led by flesh, not by the Spirit. Often these reactions come from expectations that do not line up with God’s nature and His Word. God gives good gifts to His kids. All good things come from God. If your expectations for church finances are not in line with His truth, then change your expectations. And be sure your church’s corporate practices are not harboring hidden ungodly expectations that have become part of “the way things are.”

(12) Praise God, show gratitude, and share your testimonies. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to the many ways He is already providing for your church. This may look different than your usual measurements. Respond to Him in gratitude even when you think you don’t see signs of His provision. Because He is providing for you. You just may have to realign your heart with what He is doing in your midst. Praise Him publicly and be grateful. Share the testimonies boldly and humbly as you recognize the fruit of what God is doing to grow the resources of your church. Recognize that often your resources come through the people He sends to you, and in ways you might not expect. Keep an open heart and be grateful.

Stay encouraged, pray and seek God’s best, and truly submit every aspect of your church’s business functions to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

God's provision for the church
Photo by Leonardo Baldissara at Unsplash

Prayer for Individuals and Families Living in Poverty

In 2013 I was very blessed to be teaching an eight-week course to a church women’s group. The focus of our course was on the challenges of poverty in the community and the church’s response. We worked through a book on poverty. To use with their reading, I printed up and gave each woman a bookmark containing Bible verses that focus on poverty:

Community prayer for persons living in poverty

The Bible passages that focus on poverty include the following verses:

  • Leviticus 19:18
  • Deuteronomy 15:11
  • 1 Samuel 2:8
  • Psalm 82:3
  • Proverbs 14:31
  • Proverbs 19:17
  • Proverbs 21:13
  • Proverbs 22:9
  • Proverbs 28:27
  • Isaiah 58:6-7
  • Matthew 5:43-45
  • Matthew 10:30-31
  • Matthew 11:28-30
  • Matthew 13:31-33
  • Matthew 13:44-46
  • Matthew 15:32-39
  • Matthew 18:10-14
  • Matthew 19:19
  • Matthew 22:35-39
  • Matthew 25:37-40
  • Matthew 26:11
  • Mark 14:7
  • Luke 3:9-11
  • Luke 6:38
  • Luke 10:27-37
  • Luke 12:30-34
  • Luke 17:20-21
  • Luke 21:1-4
  • 1 Corinthians 13:13
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7-15
  • Galatians 5:14
  • Ephesians 2:8-10
  • 1 Timothy 6:17-19
  • James 1:27-28
  • James 2:14-17
  • 1 John 3:17-19

Those are just a few of the places where poverty is discussed in the Bible. There are many more such Bible verses on poverty, and I encourage you to search for them and pray over them. A wonderful way to pray is to turn a Bible verse into a prayer, by praying that verse back to God and thanking Him for His Word and for His heart for people living in poverty. You can do that for each of the Bible verses listed above, and more as you search for them with God’s help.

As an example, let’s look at Isaiah 58:6-7:

“’Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?'” (Isaiah 58:6-7 NIV)

Our prayer could be as simple and powerful as this, praying that scripture passage back to God:

Lord, thank You that You have called us to pray and fast, to invite You to loose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke. Thank You, God, for calling us to share our food with the hungry, and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, and when we see the naked, to clothe them. God, don’t let us turn away from our own flesh and blood, Your children whom You have given us as brothers and sisters in the family of our community. Thank You for teaching us how to live and empowering us, by Your Holy Spirit, to live this out in our daily lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Pray that together with others in your community. Be expectant and sensitive to how God will respond.

During our class time with the women’s group, I invited a guest speaker to give us insight into how widespread poverty is in our own community. One of the reasons I asked to teach this class is because when we read a book together as a group of women (we had a women’s reading group that met quarterly), we then need to put those ideas into action in some specific way. That’s exactly what I wanted to do with this class, to give them an opportunity to respond to their reading. And we did it. We created specific action steps that the women considered, discussed, and agreed on. And we took those steps together as a group and as individuals.

Because I believe prayer is the first action step to take, I also asked our group to create a prayer for persons living in poverty in our community. And then pray it together often, expecting change in our community and in our own hearts and families.

I wanted each person in the class to contribute to creating the prayer. We took some time to be quiet and listen to God. Then we went around the table, and each person suggested one prayer point to include in our prayer:

Pray for

  • Strength
  • Not accepting but trying to get out and not with violence
  • Us to see a way they can get out
  • Physical needs – shelter, food, clothing
  • Peace
  • Courage
  • That they will not feel judged
  • Opportunities to receive and give back
  • Joy of the Lord
  • Transportation problem (in our county)

It would have been enough just to have those prayer points in front of us and pray them in unity at the beginning of our class time each week. But I wanted the women to have a full prayer they could read out and share. Together we created the following prayer. I hope you will join us in praying this together in unity for your community:

PRAYER FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES LIVING IN POVERTY IN OUR COMMUNITY

Lord, we pray for everyone who is living in poverty in our community.

We pray that You would lift them up and give them hope.

Show us how to do our best and Your best for other people.

Help us try our best each day to pray for individuals and families living in poverty in our community.

Show us how to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to show His love.

Help individuals and families in poverty to have a voice, and help us to be Christ’s voice on their behalf.

Lord, we pray for people who become suddenly impoverished, because of accidents, health crises, job layoffs, natural disasters, etc. Give them strength and let them know hope and know that there is a way out, and help them not to give up and lose heart.

For individuals and families living in poverty in our community, Lord we ask that You would help them to realize who they are to You. For them to know there’s somebody who cares and who prays for them and who will walk beside them.

We ask this all in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Amen

10 Things Moses Has Taught Me about Intercession

I did an inductive Bible study of Exodus 32-34, looking especially at the role of Moses as intercessor between God and His people. Being an intercessor myself, I was curious what Moses could teach us today about intercession. Following are just a few of the takeaways I learned from studying this passage:

Students of Inductive Bible Study will note that for each number below, the first paragraph is my “inference” and the second paragraph is my “observation.” While I made each observation first, I listed the inference first in this article because I want to emphasize the takeaways (inferences).

1. Exodus 32:7

Moses’s intercession is based on two truths: These are God’s people, and Moses is identified with them.

God associates the people with Moses and says Moses brought them out of Egypt. By contrast, in 32:11-12 Moses counters that the people are God’s (and repeats this in 33:13) and that God brought them out of Egypt. Meanwhile the people attribute this feat to “gods” represented by a molten calf (32:4, 8).

2. Exodus 32:12-13

God’s plan for the people is greater than the people’s sinful actions. God’s mission in the world is not thwarted by their actions.

This passage shows a contrast between God’s wrath and His promises. Moses is the mediator who voices this contrast. In response to the contrast that Moses presents, God turns from His desire to destroy the people (32:14). In this passage, we see that God “thought” to do this “evil” rather than “planned” it (32:14).

Note that God doesn’t really do “evil,” but it was perceived as such by humans. God’s wrath comes only from His holiness and our violation of that holiness through idolatry and other sin. That’s why we need a savior: Jesus Christ.

3. Exodus 32:14

Moses says “Yes” to God’s own plan, and God responds to affirm that plan. Moses doesn’t ask God to do anything He hasn’t already planned to do by His own power.

The turning point of 32:14 follows several reminders: the people belong to God (32:11); God led them out of Egypt (32:11); God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (32:13); and that God’s promise was made by God’s own power – that God swore by His own self (32:13).

4. Exodus 32:11

Moses’s intercession appeals to God’s plan and promise and does not deny what the people deserve.

Moses’s intercession is described with the word “besought.” The Hebrew word is חלה, defined in this context as “mollify, pacify, appease,” seeking favor in place of wrath (Brown-Driver-Briggs). The same dynamic seems to take place in 33:13. The connotation acknowledges the reality of God’s wrath and seeks favor despite it. Moses places that search for favor in the promises of God (32:13).

5. Exodus 32:7-8

The relationship of Moses toward God is characterized by trust.

Moses learns about the people’s rebellion at first, not by sight, but by God’s words. Moses’ response (32:11-13) indicates Moses believes God.

6. Exodus 32:12

God wants the nations of the world to recognize who He is. God’s promise and plan is for the world.

The words of Moses acknowledge that the way God deals with His people will be seen by the Egyptians. Even though the people have been delivered from slavery in Egypt, the reader of this passage is reminded that the nations are watching.

7. Exodus 32:9-10

God’s promises and covenant, not His wrath, constitute God’s plan to overcome the pride and stubbornness of the people. God’s focus is on restoration, not retribution.

Although Moses asks God to turn from His anger, Moses does not express any disagreement with God that the people are stiff-necked. The Hebrew word for “stiff-necked” is קשה ערף, a figurative description of Israel’s obstinance (Brown-Driver-Briggs). Moses reminds God immediately of His promises to the ancestors of the people.

8. Exodus 33:12-16

Intercession is corporate. Individual relationship with God has a corporate impact and is for the sake of the people. Moses identifies with God’s people and approaches God corporately on their behalf. The characteristics that God has given to Moses in approaching Him are meant for the entire people. Corporate intercession is focused on God’s larger plan of restoration in the world.

This passage interweaves Moses’ personal interactions toward God along with Moses’ corporate identification with the people he belongs to. Twice Moses mentions “I and thy people” (33:16). When Moses asks for favor, he speaks first personally and then reminds God that the people are God’s (33:13). Moses identities himself with the nation and reminds God that the nation is God’s. Moses reminds God about qualities that characterize their relationship (presence, favor), and he connects these with a larger corporate relationship.

9: Exodus 32:8-13, 33:16

God allows intercession despite the scope of the people’s sinful disposition. The turning away of God’s wrath is not because punishment was undeserved or because His holiness could tolerate idolatry and rebellion. Rather, the turning away of His wrath was for the sake of the bigger picture of God’s mission in the world and His desire to bring restoration to His people. God is faithful to keep His promises for the sake of His mission in the world – not because anyone has earned it, but because He has a plan.

Moses pleads with God despite the people’s rebellion, idolatry, self-absorption, worship and sacrifice to a false god, and stiff-necked obstinance. Moses reminds God of the details of His history with these people. Here the scope of this passage widens for the reader, so the current rebellion can be set against God’s larger work in the nation of Israel and in the world. There is a common factor in Moses’ first and third attempts at intercession that both receive a positive response from the LORD. That common factor is Moses’ mention of how God’s relationship with Israel is distinct in the world.

10. Exodus 32:30-35

Sin has a corporate impact. Corporate relationship with God is just as important as individual relationship. The role of intercessor between the people and God does not carry the power of atonement.

Moses offers himself as atonement for the people’s sin. God does not seem to accept Moses’ offer. Throughout this paragraph, the author refers to “the people.”

This last observation and inference are very important because this passage points us to Jesus as our ultimate intercessor (Hebrews 7:25; 4:14-16). As intercessors, we invite Jesus into each situation, and we say “Yes” to His plan.

Moses has a lot to teach us about intercession: corporateness, God’s holiness, God’s plan for the restoration of His people, God’s mission in the world.

Most importantly, this passage about Moses as an intercessor points us toward the only One whose intercession carries the power of atonement and the gift of salvation: Jesus Christ. Jesus is the One who leads us as intercessors in God’s great big mission in the world.

Praying in Your Dreams

If you have made yourself available to God as an intercessor, don’t be surprised if He prompts you to pray in your dreams. I can remember several instances of prayer during sleep. When I awoke, I knew I had been praying for someone. I’ve heard similar situations from intercessor friends.

One situation I remember vividly. In a dream while sleeping, someone called to me and asked that I join others in prayer. In my dream, I followed this person to a place where a large group of people stood in a circle, praying. I joined the circle and began to pray.

I could see there had been an accident. Two people had been critically wounded. Paramedics attended to them.

Leaning over the paramedics stood two large angels. I had the immediate sense that the two wounded people would not survive. The angels were there to minister salvation. That’s why we were praying and interceding: that the two people would be saved before they died.

We stood there quite a while, praying. And then I awoke from my dream.

It was early morning, and I felt disoriented because the scene had been so vividly real.

I turned on my radio, and the newscaster was saying two people had just been killed in a bomb explosion in Baghdad. I knew immediately those were the two people we had been interceding for, and I had incredible peace that they were now with Jesus.

If you, as an intercessor, make yourself available to God for however He wants to direct your prayers, don’t be surprised by the ways He will use your intercession. God bless your intercessor’s heart.

Instead of Complaining, Pray

I was with some friends in a restaurant, and the waiter seemed in a grumpy mood. When I commented about this, one of my friends said, “Then we need to pray for him.”

Her comment made me realize how many times I am quick to complain (even silently) about the way someone is behaving toward me. What if I were to pray instead of complaining?

God has called us to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). When we notice something amiss, our first response should be to invite the Holy Spirit into the situation.

This might mean we pray silently in intercession for the Lord to help the person who is in a grumpy mood. We have no idea what’s going on with that person to cause that behavior. They obviously need God to help them because they are not at peace. So we can pray and ask God to help that person.

We might even ask the person, “Are you okay? Can I pray for you?” Often in a busy restaurant, a waiter will not feel comfortable praying with you at the table. Although when I hang out with my intercessor friends, this happens sometimes. But the person might be willing to tell you how to pray. Or the person might simply say, “Yes, please pray for me” with no further explanation before walking off. The beauty of asking is that now this person knows someone is praying for them. And that alone can bring encouragement, hope, or peace, in addition to the spiritual power that your prayers will bring.

Your invitation to pray might not be face-to-face. Perhaps you are driving or sitting in traffic and someone cuts you off, yells, or acts crazy. Is your first reaction to complain and yell back? Or do you take that opportunity to invite the Holy Spirit and tell Him: “Someone needs your help. The person driving that car back there needs You. And I need You too.”

The tendency to complain might not be about a person, but rather about a situation. I am in a life circumstance right now that I do not like.

I have a choice:

I can muddle through this circumstance griping and complaining. All that does is fuel my anger and frustration. It disrupts the peace God desires to give me. It invites the enemy to push through those open doors of bitterness, fear, and futility.

Or I can choose not to complain, and instead I can pray. I can invite the Holy Spirit into the situation and ask Him to keep me in peace while He works.

It’s clear which is the better response. But the choice, in every situation, is ours to make.

Will you complain today? Or will you pray?

Dear God, teach us to pray instead of complaining. Help us to stay in Your peace and invite Your Spirit into difficult situations. Nudge us to pray for others throughout the day. When we encounter a person who is not at peace, remind us that our first response should be prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Intercessors: Don’t Forget to Cleanse

Spiritual Cleansing Prayer for Intercessors
Photo by Suju at Pixabay

Have you ever gone through an intense time of intercession? How did you feel when it was over? Intercessors often tell me they feel “black and blue,” as if they have been in a battle. Or they feel heavy or drained after praying for someone. Intercessors often take people home with them spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. They wrestle all night over what the person is going through.

If this is what intercession is like for you, you may be relieved to know it doesn’t have to be that way. Spiritual cleansing prayers can help you be restored to yourself after a time of intercession. You will find it easier to breathe and go about your life, trusting the person or situation to God’s care.

I’m not saying it is always easy to intercede. Sometimes it does get pretty intense, especially in travailing prayer. We need times of rest and recharging in between times of prayer. But overall, intercession doesn’t need to feel heavy or draining. You don’t need to wrestle all night long.

The Lord tells us His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). After all, He is the one carrying the person or situation we are interceding for. Jesus is the ultimate Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25). In order for Him to move on the person’s behalf or in the situation we are praying over, we need to get out of His way. When we overstep our bounds as intercessors, and try to take the situations on ourselves, we can actually block what the Lord is trying to do. Instead, He wants us to invite Him into each situation, and then let His Spirit work.

Cleansing Prayers: A Healthy Way to End a Prayer Session

One of the most effective practices that will help you get out of the Lord’s way is to pray cleansing prayers after your time of intercession. When you intercede for someone, you come into agreement with them, in the spirit realm, on the issues you are praying about. You make a type of spiritual connection as you approach the throne of God together (Hebrews 4:16). When you pray cleansing prayers to close out your time of intercession, it breaks the connection. That is the healthy way to end any time of intercession.

If you don’t intentionally break that spiritual connection when your prayer time is done, you could be taking that person home with you spiritually. That’s where the all-night wrestling and heaviness come in. If that person is being oppressed by the enemy, you might continue to be harassed yourself for hours or even days later.

It will help if you become intentional about saying cleansing prayers after your times of intercession. Otherwise, it is so easy to forget to pray cleansing prayers. We get caught up in the person’s situation, or what the Lord is doing. Then we say, “Amen” and go about our day. So make cleansing prayers a habit, a natural part of closing out each time of prayer.

Cleanse Where Any Spiritual Connection Is Made

Cleansing prayers are important whether you are praying with someone, in person, or praying on your own, from afar. Spiritually you are connected, either way. When you are in the company of the person you are praying with, it is important that they also hear your cleansing prayers (out loud), so they can be aware the connection is being broken. (Another purpose of praying this out loud is so the person will not think you had anything to do with the results of the prayer. You want them to focus only on Jesus.) If you are praying from afar, it is equally important that you pray for cleansing, for the other person’s sake as well as your own. You both need that temporary spiritual connection to be broken, so you can be restored to yourselves, stay connected only with Jesus, and go on your way.

Cleansing prayers are vital whether you are praying for one person or many. We have a team that goes into the local jail for ministry once a week. Before we leave, our whole team circles up to pray cleansing prayers. It has become our habit, and we don’t leave the property until we have done this. We take turns reminding each other to do our cleansing prayers, in case one of us should forget. We pray that we will be cleansed of anything we encountered in the jail, and also that the women we worked with will be cleansed from anything spiritual we brought in.

Spiritual Cleansing Prayer for Intercessors
Photo by Pixel2013 at Pixabay

If You Forget to Pray for Cleansing

If you forget to pray for cleansing, you will probably realize it soon afterward. If you are worrying about a situation in your mind the next day, did you pray cleansing? Pray it as soon as you realize it. It is never too late. If you feel like the enemy is following you home from a prayer session, did you pray cleansing?

There have been times when I have called my teammates on the phone after a prayer session and said, “We forgot to pray for cleansing.” And we will pray at that moment together. Usually I am prompted to make that call because I feel the enemy has harassed me all the way home. Once we pray for cleansing, the harassment stops. If I can’t reach a teammate by phone, I pray for their cleansing from afar. Then I email them and remind them to pray for cleansing too.

If a teammate has to leave a prayer session early, we will include them spiritually in our cleansing prayers at the end of our prayer time. And we will email and remind them to pray for cleansing as well. When it’s possible, we have a teammate step aside and pray cleansing over that person before they leave early. This may not always be logistically possible, but it is certainly a helpful habit to practice.

Practice Routine Cleansing Prayers

You want to be sure you leave any place spiritually cleansed after you’ve been praying there. Even when you’re not interceding, it’s a good idea to pray cleansing prayers whenever you leave a space. Ask God to clean up anything spiritual that you brought in. Whether it’s an office, a hotel room, or a friend’s house that you visit, pray for God to cleanse the atmosphere of any spiritual residue you might have left there.

If you are a church intercessor, make sure your prayer team has a practice in place for routine spiritual cleansing of the building and property. So many people move through a church on a regular basis, and they may be carrying all kinds of spiritual debris. That’s fine! That’s exactly what churches are for. Ideally, they leave that debris at the altar and go home with the peace of Christ. But as an intercessor for the church, you need to be sure your prayer team prays for God to sweep up that debris and loose the Holy Spirit in its place. When I used to serve in intercession at a church, I once told the church janitor, “We have similar jobs.”

A Sample Cleansing Prayer

A cleansing prayer can be very simple. The words are less important than the intent of your heart. The following cleansing prayer can help you get started, but let the Holy Spirit lead you each time. Prayers are not about being rote. They are about engaging in conversation in an active, ongoing relationship with God. You don’t want to pray with rote words any more than you would speak to your spouse that way. Just pray from your heart.

“Lord Jesus, thank You for everything you have done in ________ (this person’s heart, this situation, this place). We ask that You seal everything You’ve done, and we praise You for it. Lord, now cleanse each of us, so that we don’t take anything away from here that doesn’t belong to us. Wash us clean of anything we have picked up that is not of You. Return to each of us what is ours, cleansed by Your Spirit. Where we have made a spiritual connection to each other (or to other people), separate us and draw each of us back to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen”

Or simply:

“Lord Jesus, please cleanse us. Amen”

Praying the Bible with Gratitude

Life is hard. Sometimes we go through seasons where everything feels so discouraging and futile. During those times (and at all times) it is important to have the support of a community who can remind you who you are and whose you are. I don’t recommend that anyone try to go on this journey of following Christ without a tribe. (Meet my tribe here! I am grateful for them.) God created us for fellowship.

During difficult seasons (and again, at all times) it is also important and so helpful to focus on prayers of gratitude. When you speak to God with gratitude, it realigns your heart and mind with who He created you to be.

Gratitude also reminds you of who you truly are in Christ. And why you’re here – to bring glory to God. That’s right – you bring Him glory and you reflect His goodness simply by being you. He made you! Your existence means more to Him than anything you could possibly do. He loves you just for who you are.

Praying the Bible with Gratitude
Photo by John Hain at Pixabay

As we go through life’s struggles, it’s easy to forget that we are here to reflect God’s love and to bring Him glory through our mere existence. We get caught up in everything that’s going wrong, and we forget what’s going right: That we are God’s kids! So praying with gratitude helps us remember that.

Your prayers of gratitude can come straight from your heart – even if you don’t feel grateful, you can pray out of obedience. Your gratitude will bless God, and it will help you.

If you aren’t sure where to start, you can’t go wrong by praying the words of the Bible and letting God’s Word express your gratitude for Him.

Here are two examples (one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament) to help you get started in praying the Bible with gratitude:

Psalm 63:1-3

God, I am so grateful You are my God.

Thank You that I can seek You and find You.

Even though I feel like I am parched and dry, I know You are here, and You love me. You are my refreshment. I am so grateful that You revive me in ways I don’t even know about. You are always here for me. You are the river of life, and You give Your life-giving Spirit to me freely.

God, I am grateful that I can worship You. I am thankful for how powerful and majestic You are. Thank You, God, that You created me to bring You glory. And that I bring You glory by simply being Your child.

Thank You, God, that Your love is forever. Your love does not fail, ever, for any reason. Your love is steadfast, and You love me no matter what, forever.

God, in gratitude, I praise You because You are my amazing God. Thank You for giving me life. I love You.

Matthew 8:23-27

Lord Jesus, I am so grateful for You. You are everything to me, and I know I am everything to You. Thank You for dying for me, so I could live with You forever.

Lord, it feels like I’m in a boat and the waves are crashing in all around me. Thank You for showing me, in Your Word, that You are here with me. I am so thankful that You are here to help me, always, no matter what I am going through. You have never left me, and You never will.

Thank You, Jesus, that You have saved me. Because of Your love, I will not drown, no matter what I am struggling through right now. The waves will not overtake me because You are with me. I am grateful.

Lord Jesus, I am thankful that You teach me how to have faith. That You are growing my faith. Even though times are difficult, I am grateful that You are using this time to increase my faith in You. I want to draw closer to You. Thank You for teaching me that I don’t need to be afraid. That I can trust You..

Jesus, I am grateful that the wind and waves respond to You. I know You are in control. I know that in Your presence, I will find peace, no matter what is going on around me. You help me to be calm. I am grateful.

Lord Jesus, thank You for teaching me that Your first disciples in the boat on the stormy sea that day wondered in amazement at who You were. I am grateful that today I know who You are. I am grateful for all those who have taught me who You are, and grateful to You for revealing Your love to me. You are my God, and You are the One who loves me forever. All of creation is at Your feet, and You are in charge. I am so thankful, Jesus, that You are here and always will be.

Your Favorite Verses

What Bible verses are your favorites? Turn to one of them now, and pray that verse as a prayer of gratitude. See how God responds in your heart. Be blessed.

 

Praying the Apostle’s Creed

Depending on your church tradition, you may or may not be familiar with the words of the Apostle’s Creed. I grew up in a church where we memorized the words in Sunday school at a very young age. Our teachers taught us what the words meant and why we stood and said these words each Sunday in church.

The Apostle’s Creed is still a great way for people to learn about the Christian faith. For those who are new to the faith, the words can help people learn, ask questions, and grow. For those who have been Christians for a while, it can be helpful to look over the words of the creed to remember and affirm what we believe. On difficult days and in trying times, the words of the Apostle’s Creed remind us that no matter what we are facing, it’s all worth it.

I wrote a paper in which I went through the Apostle’s Creed, line by line, and elaborated on the beliefs involved with each line. I have posted that paper as a free PDF on my website.

In addition to speaking the words of the Apostle’s Creed to affirm our faith, I believe it’s also helpful to pray through these words. We can pray this for ourselves and our families, for our local church, and for our church around the world.

Here’s another idea. Does the confirmation class at your church learn the Apostle’s Creed? Whether that is a part of their teaching or not, you can be sure they are learning about what we believe as followers of Christ and why we believe it. What a great way to support your confirmation class by praying the Apostle’s Creed as you intercede for them.

How do you pray the Apostle’s Creed? The simplest way would be to say the words to God. It becomes your prayer, your way of telling God you believe who He says He is, and you believe what He has done for us in Christ.

You can also turn each line into a prayer, as the Holy Spirit leads you. For example, here is the first line:

“I believe in God the Father, Almighty”

Lord, thank You for being our heavenly Father. Thank You for the faith You have placed in our hearts so we can believe that You are our God. Lord, we don’t want to take that faith or that belief for granted. It is a gift from You. Thank You for Your grace that has drawn us to You and has helped us to believe in You. Thank You for being our God and for reaching through the darkness to save us and to bring us back to You. Thank You that You are the Almighty God. Nothing can shake You. You stand strong to protect us, love us, and guide us. Help us always to turn to You and to seek You. Help us to live each day in ways that will help others see and know that You are God.

Here is the next line:

“Maker of heaven and earth”

God, thank You for creating heaven and earth. Thank You for Your marvelous works that we see all around us in nature. Help us to care for this beautiful planet You have given us. Help us to care for the natural world and for all of the people You have created. Forgive us when we bring harm to Your world. Help us to better love and serve You by the way we treat others. God, thank You for showing us that You are the Creator of all things. You are bigger and more powerful than all things. Nothing should shake our peace because nothing can come between us and Your love. Remind us of that daily. We are so grateful that the Creator of all things desires to be in relationship with us and to talk with us. Help us to be more mindful during our busy lives to pay attention to You and to spend time with You.

That’s the idea. This is just an example. Begin with a line from the Apostle’s Creed and let the Holy Spirit lead you in prayer.

How amazing if your church would pray the Apostle’s Creed daily during the time your confirmation class is meeting. Intercede for them as they learn and grow in the faith, and pray this for you and your family as well.

God bless you.

Here is a beautiful and inspiring song, “By Faith.” This song comes to mind every time I reflect on the Apostle’s Creed. I hope this song will bless your day, as it has blessed mine:

By Faith

 

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The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth

And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary

Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell

The third day he rose again from the dead, He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead

I believe in the Holy Ghost

I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church; the communion of saints

The forgiveness of sins

The resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.