Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ready for Harvest


I heard a story last week that quickened my heart. It was about a teenager who survived a horrific accident as a child to become endowed with great depth in the Spirit. The boy came to his pastor one day to share a dream he’d had. After hearing about the dream, the pastor told him it was one of the most profound revelations he’d ever heard of the end time battles that Christians will find themselves in.

In his dream, the young man saw a beautiful golden wheat field gleaming in the sunrise, ripe and ready for harvest. As he glanced around, he saw an army gathering and knew that the people were believers. They were anxious to enter the field and had long wished for harvest. In their hands, they held both sickle (sword) and shield. With each firmly in place, the people of God entered the perimeters of the field to gather the harvest.

As they did so, large vultures with massive wing spans swooped in unexpectedly in such numbers to darken the skies. The talons of the birds of prey were ugly and in them were missiles poised like razor sharp arrows. Immediately the birds started to release the missiles upon the people of God. At first, the believers did an amazing job of deflecting the enemy’s missiles. Their shields moved in unity to protect against the arrows that assailed them and the sickles were swift to harvest.

As they moved deeper in to fields however, they started to encounter obstacles they hadn’t seen from the perimeter. There were tares in the wheat that began to wrap themselves around their legs, and stones hidden in the wheat that caused them to stumble. As the unity in focus started to shift to personal difficulties, large gaps began to appear in the covering provided by the shields.

There were some who came into the fields with no shield of their own, but depended upon the shields of others. These were the first to fall prey to the vultures. The young man grieved as he told his pastor about the grandmother trying desperately to protect her grandchildren behind her shield. The teenagers wanted to engage the birds, to play with them. They danced away from the shield, only to be lost and consumed. One by one, the believers fell as the protection of shield and sickle fell in the heat of battle.

Soon, there was left only a remnant that stood together. These believers were protected not only by sickle and shield as they made their way to the end of the field, but they had also clothed themselves with other protective garments: helmet, breastplate, and belt. Weary and battle worn, but standing firm in the defense of the sickle and shield they carried, they gazed up to see a mighty King upon a white horse standing before them!! Right behind Him was the outline of the New Jerusalem!! They rejoiced and began to sing knowing that the battle was forever over!!

It is clear to see and understand most of the symbolism in this story. As believers, one of the first things we see is that the majority of the army was not equipped with the whole armor of God. They went into battle unprepared. And then of course, the vultures seem to represent the internal battle we all face with our own carnal, fleshly nature and the Holy Spirit residing in us who calls for obedience. The sin of the world around us calls us to come and play with subtle suggestions that hide the end result of the consequences: death. The enemy has no loyalty to the deceived. When he is finished with them, they are consumed. The missiles present a clear picture of an enemy who seeks to kill, steal and destroy.

The tares and the stones are explained by Jesus in the parables in Matthew 13. The saddest part of the story is that the victory was within reach for the army as they worked in unity, protected by the shield of faith. Yet because the enemy-planted tares and troubles of the world shifted the focus to their own trouble and away from God, they left themselves open to the enemy’s arrows. Only a remnant remained to see the glory of the New Jerusalem!!

What about us? Do we clothe ourselves in the whole armor of God? Do we play with the enemy? Do we really understand the consequences of sin? In the hidden places of our hearts, are we sifted and tossed about when the cares of the world bring trouble to our fields? Do we desire to be among the remnant? Do we really (I mean really) believe what we say we believe? Do we accept the Bible in its entirety or do we pick and choose? Do we even know what the word of God says or are we dependent upon someone else for access to God, upon someone else’s accountability? If the bridegroom were to come tomorrow, would we be ready?

There is a shaking taking place. Is the Lord calling us to get our houses in order? Whether death itself visits us unexpectedly or the Lord raptures us and calls us to await the wedding feast, Scripture says: For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Romans 14:11-12. What will our account be?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is Famine Coming?

A dear sister in the Lord recently sent me an email, in which Kay Arthur was supposed to have said that God had given her a revelation of coming famine. The first thing I always do when I see an email is to check it against snopes.com. When I checked this one against snopes, it said it was partially true. See: http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/kayarthur.asp . This past weekend at our prayer conference, Pastor Don Pierson reminded us that famine has historically come prior to every great move of God.

I know that the Lord has been cautioning my own heart for a long while now. As I look at today’s news, its almost like a Biblical news reel flashing across a big movie screen from my youth. I definitely believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that they are still operational, and I love the prophetic word of God. As such, praying for great discernment, I occasionally check some modern day prophetic sites. Caution is always in order. Some of them are credible and some I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.

When I read some of the prophetic words, I see declarations of turnaround, prosperity and other great things for the US, but my spirit does not bear witness at all with them nor does the recent schedule of current events. I personally believe that there are hard and breaking times ahead of us. I also think if you study the Word of God and you observe and compare what is happening throughout the world today in context with it, the fig tree is ready. We may well be the generation that welcomes the Lord. No one knows when the Father will say, "This is the appointed time." I believe and have said many times, that I do not believe the "harvest" we yearn for will come from any righteous repentance or decision to turn to God. Rather, I believe the "harvest" will come through great tragedy, forcing people to their knees and face to face with their own frailty and need for God.

So many people I know who truly love God and are devoted to serving Him are undergoing incredible challenges of every kind. Yet God is strengthening us through them, and I think He is allowing them so that we can be confident of His ability to protect and take us through dark valleys. Revival has to take place in the church before the church will be ready to receive and disciple those who come to Christ in hope. I think the Lord calls us to seek wisdom and discernment, yet commands that we trust in Him and not react to the events around us. I remember hearing of how some Germans before World War II withdrew all their money out of the banks and hid it in terrible economic times. Yet, the finances collapsed, and the money they’d hidden away was worthless. I keep a certain amount of food on hand for emergency, but I have not received a Godly push to hoard.

I never thought I would see the things happening in the US that I do today. I recall how Jesus wept over Jerusalem as I consider such great degeneration in such a short period of time. My dad says he doesn't recognize the US anymore. We are no longer the mighty sovereign nation we used to be. Our people are divided and most of them blind to the times.

I sincerely believe we are spiritually linked with Israel, and like Israel our rebellion against God is ushering us into dreadful captivity. For instance, America used to be the bread basket of the world, yet now our local grocery stores import many foodstuffs from various nations. We manufacturer very little of what we consume in goods. We have sold our ports and infrastructure to foreign lands.

Our banks and financial foundation is crumbling. The Federal Reserve is owned by the wealthiest financiers, not the US government. I wonder how many folks know that. The system is nominally controlled by member banks, ie., all national banks plus some state banks, but real power rests with the board of governors in Washington. The Fed's chairman and board of governors are appointed for long terms by the president but can't be removed by him and don't report to him or anybody else.

When you consider the natural disasters (praise God that while so much material property has been lost, very few lives have been - that's grace) and the world stage (Russia, Iran and China) in light of the prophetic word, it appears to me that something mighty is stirring. Christianity is exploding everywhere in the world except the US. All it would take is one nuclear bomb released, one attack against a major water supply, and we would all be on our knees.

Yet, the Lord always provided for the remnant of Israel who were faithful. His Word says that we are to trust in Him. I believe that the Lord is calling believers back to Christ and the foundation of our faith because we have a job to do before He returns. Christ is coming after a triumphant church not a broken weak one. The scriptures also tell us that the Lord will be our strong tower, our sanctuary and our provider in times of challenge and duress. We will be light to a broken world. We have nothing to fear.

The email laid out 7 essential steps for Christians in making it through tough times. They were:

1. Return to God. Break up the fallow ground. I cannot tell you how many, many times the Lord has brought that phrase in the last few months.

2. Mourn. Yes, Jeremiah mourned and grieved for his people. God wants us to understand and grieve for the state of our people too. He wants us to have a heart that weeps for our nation, our children.

3. Pray. This is a common message God is bringing to the church today. All over the US, we are hearing of pastors called to build the church as a House of Prayer. I am so grateful that what I hear our pastor say is the same message that I hear from pastors and intercessors throughout the US.

4. Love God's Word. Understand what our covenant is and who we are in Christ. Less than 9% of professing born again Christians have a Biblical World view. That just amazes me and makes me weep. 57% of Evangelical Christians think that there are many ways to God. How many will be deceived? Scripture says only a remnant will remain faithful.

5. Love others. Yes. Deeply, sincerely.

6. Introduce people to Christ. Yup. It is life and death business. The Lord will equip - prepare, and nudge. It’s up to us to obey.

7. Rest. Oh is this important. We need to make sure we take the time not only to get enough physical rest but to rest in the Lord.

How good to know that nothing can separate us from God’s love! How good to know that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind!

Blessings and Shalom!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The State of the Fig Tree

"If anyone tells you then, 'Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Over here!' do not believe it! False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Take note: I have told you in advance. Matthew 24:23-25 HCSB

One thing I really struggle with as a believer is why so many others who I really believe love God appear to be so blind to some things in the scriptures. I know that those of us who love Christ and have accepted Him as Savior operate as different parts of the Body, gifted and called for unique and special purposes known only to God. Maybe that is why he gathers us together sometimes under little placards above our doors that identify those of us who are more inclined to certain understandings. At least that is true in America. In parts of the world where Christianity is exploding and people are willing to be martyred for their faith, most are simply called follower of Christ. Somehow the tags just aren’t as important in those circumstances. Tags fade away in the face of that kind of adversity.

For as long as I can remember (even before I ever got serious in my faith), I have loved the prophetic Word of God and longed to understand it. I have also loved Israel. It’s as if my love for both is deeply embedded in my DNA. To love them is as natural for me as breathing. I never cease to hunger to glean from the threshing floor of teachers (and many are arising today) who help me understand the vision of Ephesians 2:14-16 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. NKJV

I am one of those people who believe that our mandate as Christians is to keep on keeping on until the Day of the Lord. But Jesus also told the disciples in the parable of the fig tree: Learn this parable from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that He is near—at the door! I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. Mark 13:28-31 HCSB I want to be the like the Sons of Issachar who recognized the signs of the times and knew what to do in them. I think the fig tree is telling us something. And I don’t understand why so many in the Church seem to be asleep.

I’ll probably spend lots of time on this subject, but I want to tell you something. Today, I read the full text of Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s, speech before the United Nations General Assembly. Wow! It activated my arector pili (fifty cent words for goose bumps). My overwhelming thought was that the serpent is smooth . . . How easy it would be for someone who is not grounded in the Word of God to be deceived. I hope to share more on this next week. In the meantime, blessings and love!!

And by the way, I just love this blog stuff. It’s a great outlet for folks that love to dwell on the things of God. I’ve got lots to learn though. Pray for me and my blogging friends who love Jesus. Ask the Lord to protect us He guides and directs our steps!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Story of Faith: 2 Extraordinary Women


Last week was quite a week for me. I am still pondering all that the Lord revealed to my heart and the sweet confirmation of His grace and power in all situations. Early last week, we learned of that our friend Mary Jo, who had hoped to begin an experimental treatment for her lung cancer now had a brain tumor. Our hearts cried for our friends and we were unified in our disappointment and love for them as we responded to our pastor’s call to come together and seek the Lord on their behalf. Those who weren’t able to join us at the church prayed at home. It was a special time of intercession, and I am convinced that the Lord is calling us to truth in the power of intercessory prayer. As tears fell, declarations of God’s word and praise for His sovereign ability to cover and care for MJ and her entire family brought a strong and sweet presence of the Holy Spirit into the room. In my quiet place at home, I asked the Lord if I should change my prayer from a petition for healing to a request for comfort and strength. I waited.

On Friday, five ladies from our church climbed into a van and headed for Minneapolis to attend a Women’s Ministry Conference. It was a wonderful time of sharing and fellowship for sure, but I couldn’t help wonder what I was doing. I had a very busy week ahead of me with both work and a prayer conference to be held at our church that I had helped to plan. How would I ever catch up? As we arrived and gathered at the conference for a time of worship and opening comments, the conference planners asked the question, “Why did you come today?” “Lord”, I said in the quiet place of my heart, “I don’t know. What is it you have for me here?” I really don’t see myself in a role of ministering to women because I know my calling is as an intercessor, and women’s ministry was the foundation for the conference. Yet I knew that my place in the group, as well as this particular group of women itself, had been ordained to take the trip for such a time as this!

The speakers were introduced and the topics were reviewed. One of the speakers and each of her workshops seemed to strongly draw me. The first workshop she presented was about ministry to women who were hurting, the subsequent workshops on Resting in the Lord and Prayer. In them she shared stories that would stitch together a sweet tapestry of the Lord’s message to me.

Karen Alexander Doyel shared an incredible account of a joyous life, starting with a solid foundation in a family who knew and loved Jesus Christ. She told of the little boy her daddy said she’d marry and the way that the Lord confirmed her daddy’s vision. She married the love of her youth, the love of her life, and bloomed in joy and gratitude for the gifts that the Lord would wrap her in. She fondly recalled a marriage and life style in which she’d live, laugh, and love for 28 years. She was a pastor’s wife, totally in love with the Lord, with her encouraging and ever joyful husband, with her amazing sons, and with her role of serving the church. Life was good.

And then one night, she would receive a call that would forever change her life. The call came from one of her sons asking her to pray for her husband. He told her only that her husband had fallen. As she knelt to pray, Holy Spirit quickened her instead to begin to pray for her sons. Little did she know that as she prayed, her beloved husband Doug had entered into the presence of the Lord he loved and served so faithfully.

Following the family tradition, Pastor Doug and his sons had gone to the top of a Tennessee mountain on December 31 of that year, in a trip specifically designed to praise God for His goodness and all He had done in the prior year. Just hours before Doug Alexander would fall into the arms of Jesus Christ, would stand with arms outstretched exclaiming to his sons, “Boys can you imagine anyone looking at this magnificent creation and not believing in God?”

Doug and his sons would take turns going close to the fire to warm themselves at the top of mountain after darkness fell. As Pastor Doug slid back from the fire on his 3-legged stool, he would fall off the face of the precipice into the night. Two of His sons would go over the side of the mountain in an attempt to find their dad. They would catch themselves on a lone tree sticking out from the side of the steep embankment. As their mother prayed for them, unseen arms would help those boys make it back to the mountain top and to the mother who prayed.

Later, after the services, Karen would enter a dark season in which the Lord would provide treasures of wisdom to help her minister to others. She shared with us the importance of not trying to “fix” those with a need to grieve and exhorted us to listen, to cry with them, and to pray and stand along side those who are going through great loss of any kind. She talked about how critical tears are to healing and how expecting those who have lost to be “okay” prohibited them from a necessary process to healing.

Karen shared with us an unexpected gift the Lord had given that would result in a magnificent testimony for Karen and for renowned painter Thomas Kinkaid. The Lord would bring a unique message to Karen as she gazed upon the place her beloved husband last stood to praise God in a painting she discovered in a shop in Tennessee. She would then share her story with Thomas Kinkaid, who would later tell Karen how the Lord would move him to paint “Sunrise”, completing the mirrored image of a place he’d never been on December 31. It would be the spot where Doug Alexander went home that very night to Christ and to eternity.

Karen went on to tell us how she continued to walk through a valley of challenge, yet the Lord would faithfully hold on to her. There were times when she couldn’t pray and to focus on anything was a terrible struggle. My heart cried as she shared the story of her son’s cancer diagnosis and it rejoiced in learning he was cancer free. I wept as she told us how on the very day they planned to celebrate God’s faithfulness in healing her son that she would discover she had cancer herself.

One of her cancers was treatable; the other a form of Lymphoma was not. Both were now stage 4. She shared the agony of pain she would endure and the night in which the pain in her legs burned with raw agony as she cried out to the Lord telling Him she could not endure the pain any longer. Her sons would arrive that night at her door, and she would plead with them to help her. As they came to their mother and covered her in prayer, they would begin to call out to the Lord, not in petition but in praise . . . they began to praise God for their mother, to praise God for what He was perfecting in their mother, to praise God for all the good that He had given and nurtured and promised to them as believers!

Shortly after, Karen so weak that she could not open her eyes nor speak, felt a heat and pressure in her stomach. She thought to herself, “This is it, I am going to die. This is what death feels like.” Her doctors told the family to prepare as hope for any healing waned. In this place of weakness and total surrender, Karen began to hear the sound of her name. She recognized the voices of her sons and her friends and knew that what she heard was her name being lifted to the Lord through prayer. And as they prayed for Karen, the prayers were released directly to the throne of God and received by Jesus himself, who sat at His Father’s right hand.

Karen did not die, but began to feel better, so much better in fact in that she was released from the hospital to go home. She would continue to be monitored by MD Anderson Cancer Center. She felt better, but hope was guarded in how long this season would last. Karen was grateful for each day with her family and each day the Lord gave her to declare His mercies, and continued to offer her praise on a continual basis.

As a child, Karen’s dad taught her to read through the entire Bible each year. She did so using a different translation every year. She would tell us of her delight in the way the Lord would speak specifically to her as she read and how God’s perfect timing always seemed to bring the right scripture on the right day.

In late August of this year, as Hurricane Ike prepared to buffet South Texas, Karen had an appointment at MD Anderson in Houston. After routine tests, doctors told Karen that they would have to redo some of the blood tests. She asked them why, and they said that the tests had come back normal. She questioned again, “Normal for me?” No, the doctors said, “Normal”. The subsequent tests would confirm them.

As Karen went to her beloved scriptures, she asked the Lord for clarity on what the doctors told her. She wasn’t sure exactly what it was they were saying. As she opened her Bible to read the passage of the day, her eyes fell on Mark 5:34, And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction." Karen doesn’t know how long this season of healing will last. None of us have any guarantees. She only knows that she has determined to praise God for His ever faithful presence in her life and for the treasures that she has gleaned from the dark valleys that He brought her through. Her message to us today is to seek God, to trust God, and to continue to praise God in all things. Our God reigns!

A little less than a month later, as Karen shared her story with us, the Lord would bring great confirmation to this woman and to her sisters in many things that the Lord had been saying to their hearts. Each of us shared with each other the things that the Lord had quickened to us about Mary Jo. Mary Jo’s presence and that of Jesus were with us on that trip.

On the way home, we had opportunity to stop and pray with Mary Jo at her mom’s house in Mason City. I think husband Brent orchestrated some special time alone with MJ for us. As Mary Jo shared her heart with us, the words from her lips would mirror many of the same confirmations we’d received from Karen. Mary Jo’s encouragement to the church . . . “Tell them to praise God in all things!” Mary Jo continues to put her trust solely in the solid foundation of Jesus Christ. She says for sure . . . that if healing is to be hers, one thing is sure . . . it will be for God’s glory! I have watched this sister with such deep respect and love. She amazes me in her beauty!

And as for me, the Lord answered my question. He said “Continue to declare your sisters healing!” As Karen recognized the voices lifting her name to the throne of God, I was reminded that we just simply do not fathom the power contained within our prayer. Sisters and brothers, we are commanded to pray. It is through the Word of God and prayer and obedience that God speaks to us, reveals to us, and creates an intimacy with Him that cannot be explained if it is not experienced. And it is through our prayer, that God’s power is released in a broken world.

Karen has her testimony and other incredible lessons the Lord has given her available on CD through karenalexanderdoyel.com. Mary Jo’s testimony is not yet complete. Please continue to pray with me that both Karen and Mary Jo walk in complete healing and uncommon favor through Christ our Lord!! And please pray that the testimony of both women continues to shine as beacon of light and hope in a troubled world!!

Blessings and love to you!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

About the Closet

I think that one of the most misused and misunderstood scriptures on prayer comes from Matthew 6:5-6. Was our Lord saying here that we are not to pray corporately or aloud? Most certainly He was not. Jesus was Himself devoted to prayer, remaining in consistent communication with His Father, interceding on behalf of those who would become sons and daughters of God, and praying openly, audibly, and with others. Jesus understood both God’s original plan for communication and the Father’s desire that we would invite Him into our circumstances. He fully understood the power released through prayer. So then why does the Bible say this?

To truly understand God’s word we must “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (AMP) The Holy Spirit will help us to understand the Word of God as we search, but it is important that we do not lean on our own understanding and instead study the scriptures. Some of the tools I use in my own study are the commentaries of the great saints of God who devoted their lives to the study of God’s word.

Two of my favorites are Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary and John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible. In this instance, I am using John Gills Exposition. John Gill preached in the same church as C. H. Spurgeon. Though he was not well known, his work is complete in its information and gives treasured insight found no where outside the ancient Jewish writings. His commentary presents a verse-by-verse exposition of the entire Bible. So how does John Gill divide the Lord’s mandate:

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:5-6 (NKJV)

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites, As the Scribes and Pharisees; whose posture in prayer, the places they chose to pray in, and the view they had therein, are particularly taken notice of:
for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. It was their usual custom to pray "standing"; nay, it is established by their canons.

“There are eight things, (says Maimonides F21,) that a man that prays ought to take heed to do; and the first he mentions is "standing"; for, says he, no man may pray (dmyem ala), "but standing"; if he is sitting in a ship, or in a cart, if he can stand, he must stand; if not, he may sit in his place and pray.''
Several hints of this custom there are in the Misna F23. “On their fast days they used to bring out the ark into the streets-- (hlptb wdme), "and they stood in prayer", or praying; and caused an old man to go down before the ark, who was used to recite prayers, and he said them.'' Again F24, “whoever (hlptb dmwe), "stood praying", and remembered that any uncleanness attended him, he might not break off, but he might shorten.'' Yea, standing itself is interpreted of praying; for it is said F25, “and Abraham rose up early in the morning to the place, where he stood, (hdymeb ala hlpt Nyaw), "and there is no prayer but standing”;’ though sometimes they prayed sitting, as David did, (2 Samuel 7:18) so it is said of R. Jose, and R. Eleazar, that (yluw wbty) , "they sat and prayed", and afterwards rose up and went on their way F26. So it was likewise customary to go to the synagogues, and there pray; and indeed they were places built and appointed for this purpose.

“Wherever there were ten Israelites, a house ought to be provided, in which they may go to prayer at every time of prayer; and this place is called a synagogue F1.” Hence some have thought, that not such places are here designed, but any assembly, or concourse of people gathered together upon any occasion; but such an interpretation will find no place, when the following things are observed. “For ever let a man go, morning and evening, to the synagogue; for no prayer is heard at any time, but in the synagogue; and everyone that hath a synagogue in his city, and does not pray in it with the congregation, is called a bad neighbour F2.” Again F3, “he that prays in the house of the Lord, is as if he offered up a pure offering.'' Now, partly on account of the publicness of the place, and partly because they thought their prayers were only heard there, therefore they chose to pray in the synagogues; and also in the corners of the streets, where two streets met, and they might be the more easily seen. This was also a common thing to pray in the streets: “says R. Jochanan, I saw R. Jannai stand and pray in the streets of Tzippore F4.'' And a little after, it is said of another, that he stood and prayed (ayjroab), "in the streets"; though such places were not reckoned holy, as the synagogues were.

‘The street of a city, (says Maimonides F5,) although the people pray in it at fasts and stations, because that there is a great collection of people, and the synagogues cannot hold them, has no holiness in it, because it is accidental, and not appointed for prayer.'' Wherefore streets were only used in case of necessity, or by such of the Pharisees, who chose to be seen of men. A reason is given for this practice in another place F6, where it is asked, “why do they go out to the streets, i.e. on their fast days? to show that we are reckoned as if we were carried captive before thee: says Joshua ben Levi, because they prayed in "secret", and were not answered; therefore they went without, (wmorptyw), "that they might be made public”.’ Now let it be observed, that neither the posture, nor places of prayer, are condemned by our Lord, but their view in all to be seen of men; and a considerable emphasis lies upon the word "love"; they loved "standing" in prayer, rather than any other posture, because they could be better seen; and they loved to be in the synagogues and streets, rather than in their closets; they liked public better than private prayer, because it gained them applause among men.

Verily I say unto you, they have their reward; they gain their point; they have what they seek for; and this is all they will have. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet… Or "chamber", a secret place, fit for private retirement, meditation, and prayer. And when thou hast shut thy door; see some such like phrases in (Isaiah 26:20) where they are used to express security, here secrecy. Our Lord does not mean to exclude and condemn public prayer, in joining with few, or more persons, in such service; for he himself directs to it, and approves of it, (Matthew 18:19, 20) but his view is to instruct persons that they should not only pray in public, but in private also; and especially the latter, which is more suitable and fitting for their particular cases, and less liable to pride, hypocrisy, and vanity.

Pray to thy Father, which is in secret; who is invisible; not to be seen with the eyes of the body, but to be approached with a true heart, in faith and fear, through his Son Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man; and who is the image of the invisible God, and in whom he is pleased to manifest himself to his people, so as he does not unto the world: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, observes and takes notice of the secret breathings, pantings, desires, and requests of thy heart and lips, shall reward thee openly, both here and hereafter; by pouring into thy bosom all the good things thou hast been praying for, both for time and eternity. This is agreeable to what the Jews sometimes say, “that a man ought not to cause his voice to be heard in prayer; but should pray (vxlb), "silently", with a voice that is not heard; and this is the prayer which is daily accepted F7.''

So in essence what our Lord was teaching here was that communication with the Father was not to be delegated to the Church alone, nor were the great oratories of those who loved to be heard of men favored by God. Their reward was complete in that they may have impressed a few. But to touch the heart of God, we are all exhorted to develop humble, honest and focused time spent in communication (prayer) with our Father.

The chamber or secret place means that we are to close the doors on the distractions of the world and enter into the presence of God where our offerings of heart, soul, and mind are directly presented to the lover of our souls. This place of intimacy is open to all who believe, and each of us has access to our Father in the same degree. As we do this, we find our heart changes and so does the way we pray. Our prayer becomes less “me” focused and more “God” focused. We begin to glean from the Spirit, and our eyes open to deeper understanding in all that the Lord has done, is doing today, and will do tomorrow.

I am consistently delighted in the way the Lord continues to draw, teach, and show the treasures we search for. The more I pray, the more I want to pray. As the days go on, my desire is to share the sweet things the Lord has shown to me with you as regards prayer ~ especially the critical nature and power released in corporate prayer and intercession and to have you share your insights with me too!

Blessings and love!

Monday, September 29, 2008

A New Experience

This blog is created as a direct result of the encouragement of Heartland Community Baptist Church Associate Pastor Dan Barnes, who is not only in the process of becoming a mighty vessel to be used to bring a message of hope and healing in our Lord, but a young man who also takes the time to urge an old dog to learn a few new tricks!! Thanks, Dan, for sharing your love for God and His Word, wisdom, kindness and insight so freely. They are qualities of the heart that plow up the fallow ground in preparation for seeds of righteousness and understanding to take root and grow.

There is nothing that delights my heart more than sharing with old friends and making new ones in gleaning from the things that the Lord shows us as He delights us in new revelation of His Word and His love for us. I'm not sure how this blog will bloom and grow, but I pray the Lord's hand will guide heart and pen in the days ahead.

My intitial thoughts are that this blog will most likely develop in some way connected to prayer. I am an intercessor by calling and love to spend time talking with my Father, knowing that as we pray Jesus sits at our Father's right hand and intercedes for us!! For this reason, I chose to call my blog, Grandma C's Closet. It is my hope that in the days ahead, we can explore some treasures of the Lord together, share some tears, and encourage each other through the hope that is ours through the sacrifice of the cross and the covenant that is ours as King Jesus obtained for us the title of heirs according to promise!

Who will read it or why? How will the Lord direct this path? I have no clue. That too is known only by God, but I yearn to walk in obedience and delight in His surprises!

My love to you!