Leaps of faith. Exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. That is how I felt about announcing a meditative prayer session 28 days before having it. Kinda crazy. But I needed to do it. I needed to see how the whispers and the leading were going to manifest. I needed to see what God would do.
I’ve been communicating that I am hearing God call me to this; but planning this meditation was specific to hearing the word “effort”. So for 28 days I pressed in… with prayer, worship, claiming scripture, battling warfare, via blog, via email, encouraging people to attend. Following the call has meant over 40 hours per week, many 10-12 hour days. My mom and my niece have had little of me. But I experienced His glory on Friday, as did others, and this makes it all worth the sacrifice.
Over 30 signed up, almost 30 attended last Friday! People who attended are affiliated with 10 different churches as their home church. Most came from my church; but the diversity of denominational affiliations was encouraging to me. Also encouraging was that 23% had invited someone who met them there. Post session, 94% are saying they would highly recommend this session to others! Exuberantly! There was a wide range of ages from 25 to over 60. A small handful who came does not attend any church right now. This is the handiwork of God. But it’s not all He did.
My most dramatic encounter was when the Holy Spirit interrupted me during one of the sessions. It happened when I was anointing people with oil and prayer. Over one person, He stopped me. He spoke a corrective word which jumbled my thoughts suddenly. It shocked me and in that moment, I held it to myself. After the session ended, this person wanted prayer. I still held on to the word not knowing how to handle it yet. In true form, the LORD was tender, pouring out lots of comforting counsel and tender prayer. She was clinging to me. She was emotional. I wanted to break away; but God stilled me. He wanted me to let her cling and wanted me to just be with her. As I let silence settle me, He slowed His whispers and I just repeated the loving words He said. Then more silence, then a word of “turn”. I looked at her and asked if there was an area in her life that was a struggle, which she needed to turn. She answered; and I focused prayer on that. We broke and I went to pray with another person. She came around to me again; and, I asked her what church she attended. She didn’t have a church; but instead described a belief system she was brought up in. I had heard of the religion and said, “Aren’t they the ones who don’t believe in the Deity of Christ?” She said, “Yes”. Suddenly I knew what the stronger corrective word of “rebellion” was about and I told her. She was shocked. She explained the power the generational belief had in her family line. What was most fascinating is that God the Father had been talking to her over a long span of time, at a recent point telling her point blank, “You are trying to get in through another way; you must come through my Son.” She resisted God; and she said as a consequence she felt Him leave. He has been silent; she has been missing Him. Now I was amazed. This was amazing to hear! She knew exactly what the rebellion was about and she was completely aware of how patient and merciful God had been to her over time and why He pulled away. I asked her if she was ready to surrender. She said yes. We prayed about salvation; we prayed for deliverance. Her eyes were clear now, I could see light. This is amazing grace.
God worked through my misstep on the anointing, my lack of knowledge of the root issue during our first time of prayer, her need for loving guidance and strong correction. He handled it beautifully. And because over much time, He has prepared me to minister like this, I was allowed to be part of the beauty. I needed Friday to happen. I need to see His power trump my effort and weakness. He did.
Most wept during prayer. Most wrote pages of notes during the reflection questions. ALL stayed in the extended time of worship at the end to spend more time with God. You struggle to pray for 5 minutes? They were in prayer for 45-50 minutes, alone with God. I needed to see their hunger; I needed to see them being fed tenderly by the Good Shepherd. I am doing what He has called me to do.
I need help. I want to schedule another one; but I need people who will support me being a local missionary. This is not a money making business plan. It’s a call. I am called to “go”. I desperately want people to catch the vision, to see it’s His idea, not mine. He keeps telling me not to worry and that He is able, so I am keeping my face set like flint. Maybe now some will be stirred to step in and pledge support. I don’t know for sure. I will just continue following. The LORD is my Shepherd; I lack nothing.
In closing here is more reaction, some highlights from comments, texts, emails, and survey responses:
I am very excited about tomorrow's session! For the one's coming, know fasting and praying has been happening for you. Also know I have beautiful friends who will be fasting and praying during each session tomorrow! Divine weapons are in play! http://www.intothewaters.com/calendar.html
The main focus during the meditation tomorrow will include:
If you have trouble resting under his care, please come! You will be blessed! He is WONDERFUL COUNSELOR!
I felt panic as soon as that door slammed. I realized with true gravity who I had just slapped in the face. I remember straightening up real quick, wiping my tears of self-pity and apologizing. But it was not a quick fix. He let me feel the tension of his silence for a good amount of time. I’m talking about God. Maybe this will be a controversial post...
We wonder about his silence don't we? Not all silence is related to what I will share; but I think a fair portion might be. Lukewarmness is something HE clearly says He will spit out of his mouth (Revelation 3:16).
I confess a season when I acted obnoxiously towards Him. In response, He was pained and pulled away. Have you ever thought about the fact that God could feel this way? Have you ever considered how you approach Him makes a difference? The first and greatest commandment is to love the LORD God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength. Do we as his people pour into Him this way in our prayer time? It’s a convicting question; but one that brings great reward in redeeming a satisfying relationship with God.
God has always desired intimacy with us and has made himself vulnerable in it. His intent is clearly not one sided, but with hopes we’d desire Him too. His plan has always centered on choice. We have always been allowed to choose or reject God. Starting with Adam, God always intended pure fellowship, close in presence and conversational with His creation. Adam and Eve’s decision came quickly and God took his first arrow straight to the heart. You hear it when God calls out to Adam after disobedience, “Where are you?” When God sought out Adam, calling out to him, “Where are you?” the root meaning behind this type of calling infers crying out loudly, most probably with a sense of distress.
Take a minute and think about God’s panic and distress. (Luke 22:43-44 as one example) Do you think that God doesn’t feel distress over abandonment? You hear it when He says to his disciples, “You don’t want to leave too do you?” See John 6:67. He doesn’t need you, though He desperately wants you (John 17:24).
I don’t believe that God didn’t physically know where Adam and Eve were when He called out for Adam. More so, I believe He knew his grief was beginning. Soon he’d be hearing their excuses and blame shifting (Genesis 3). He’d be announcing to Adam and Eve that their now-forever pursuit would be flesh-based with purpose bound to sorrow. Instead of pleasure (Eden), “Eve” would have multiplied sorrow bearing children and longing for a man who’d rule over her. “Adam” would be stressed about work and laboring to provide food. It describes a lot of us men and women today, yes? God forced them out of the pleasure garden as a consequence to their choice. They chose self.
When we think of God being emotional, it seems people most often note God’s emotional reactions as anger. But if you read closely in Old Testament and New, God’s emotional reactions are based upon sorrow and upset over being continually rejected by His people and cast aside in favor of their flesh pursuits. His upset is always justifiable. Many of His emotional reactions are often after intense labors of long-suffering love towards His people, that despite warnings and unmerited grace, He is dismissed by them and His Word trampled underfoot. God eventually responds, often with silence.
This was the “slammed door” I experienced in prayer. Through the Holy Spirit’s reaction inside me, I felt God’s upset one day. I was holding on to a bedpost, being all dramatic and obnoxious, crying out wanting to “return to Egypt”. I knew as soon as I said certain words, He was VERY hurt. The door slammed in my heart. I’ll never forget it. He didn’t leave; but He silenced. The One who had done so much for me, was being disrespected and rejected hearing me cry out for an earthly king. His "pulling away" in response to my wailing was THE turning point in my prayer life about 16 years ago. He was not going to listen to my fits anymore and I got the point.
Now I am not saying God handles everyone the same. He knows our frame and He knew how to deal with my obnoxious behavior towards him. From that point, I took a different route and I grieved over hurting Him. I spent time with Him to know His heart. I set up an altar in my bedroom and for a season, I bought him flowers every week. I got baptized. Though silent, He was there for each step. I felt the beginnings of hope. I felt His love and presence more consistently. My prayer time was no longer filled with fits and cries; I had a reverent fear that respected Him as LORD. I did not hear His voice; but I kept pressing for more. I knew He was healing me. I knew my repentance opened up the slammed door. Truly repentance is a gift. We need to realize this and turn from ourselves towards Him. We need to realize He made himself unbelievably vulnerable to rejection, all because He wants us to want Him; He always has.
Because of Christ, we no longer hear a desperate, anxious, searching cry causing us dread. It’s an inviting call through Christ. We are to now hear a gentle and humble call, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”. With His own, He is at peace again, walking in the garden. You and I spending time with Him there, we hear His voice and sense His presence. He longs for us to humbly run to Him, not away. Here we find life that is truly life!
Are you signed up for February 19th? The meditation-based prayer session on Psalm 23 is a setting to encourage intimacy with Christ. Come and experience being led in prayer! Come without any pressure. If after you don’t see the benefit or are financially constrained, feel NO obligation to support the event! I just want to obey and serve in this way! COME!
Time in His presence is worth sacrificing all things and all others, those who do will be greatly blessed, and part of a remnant. They will be the Spirit-filled Body that He pours Himself into and through in our time. If your lamps aren’t regularly filled with oil of the Holy Spirit, you’ll probably miss out on all the adventure and blessing. As it was in the beginning, it is still today. He lets us choose.
I have a couple of memories around hearing the Lord's voice, that while lasting just fraction of seconds, changed me forever. Those moments have formed supernatural lifelines in my heart. I return to those precious memories and I relive. I recall and I claim. I affirm and I praise. God sees me. God sees you. In this hope we are saved.
One of these times happened when I lived in San Clemente for a season, a difficult one. God had brought me there in his tender mercy during a time of rebuilding me. I was mourning and broken. I was afraid and lonely. I was in my early 30’s and had only been a Christian for a couple of years. I had just rededicated my life to Him after His Word and Spirit led me to repent over clinging to an “idol” that almost destroyed me.
During this time, often after work, I would take the short drive down Avenido Pico to the coast, and park in a little beach lot off the Pacific. You’d think I would get out of my car and walk the beach, but I didn't. I stayed hidden within my car’s protective covering. I was crying a lot during this time and knew enough not to be the crazy person walking the beach sobbing. So in the car I watched the waves. I think God used their motion to keep me still while He was simultaneously washing away layers of emotional numbness, to release formerly inaccessible areas of pain. God’s deep was calling to my deep in these tearful ocean sessions, Psalm 42:7.
One evening as I watched the sun set through my windshield, I was replaying how many years I had wasted on a relationship, certain I was now without hope because I had severely disobeyed God. The LORD in His mercy broke in; and deep inside I clearly heard him say, “Don’t cry.” It startled me. It was new. It was merciful. It was a certain voice that held a hope and plan for me beyond my despair. The One outside of time was speaking contrary to the hopelessness I was sure my future held. In an instant, with that split second whisper, I knew Christ was speaking life over a coffin in my heart. I remembered those 2 words were somewhere said by Christ in scripture, so I frantically pulled out my bible and searched for them. Luke 7:13. He wasn’t telling me how; He wasn’t telling me when; but He was telling me in so many words, “Lift your eyes my child, I have a plan for your life. Trust and obey. I bring life from death. You are not alone.”
There is a phrase found in the Old Testament that describes the state I was in. Depending on the translation, the word will appear as either “cast” or “downcast”. When downcast, our life breath is at risk. Our sobs symbolically drown us, brought on by despairing thoughts. In this state, we connect with the gravity of our inability to retrieve time, reverse or control events. In our minds, we are down for the count. Or maybe our constant striving leaves us on our backs. Anxious thoughts literally suffocate hope. Our hearts panic, we break a sweat, we despair. Lifeblood drains and we can barely stand. Slowly our time with God ebbs away and He feels distant. Easily our anxiety, worry, willfulness, and lack of trust keep us “cast” down in heart.
The term is a shepherding term. Literally, for a sheep, it's a life threatening state. Here is a picture of a “cast” sheep. In some portions in the Bible, use of the word is meant to paint a picture for a desperate soul cry. It gives expression to depth of need. As an example, see Psalm 42.
Maybe you relate to being downcast; and the words penned in Psalm 42 will take on new meaning to you inspiring your heart cry. When a sheep ends up cast on its back, it can quickly die. The position brings dangerous levels of pressure on lungs and other internal organs. Blood leaves its legs and strength to help itself is severely compromised. A shepherd has to intervene when one of his sheep is downcast. He MUST help the sheep back on its feet. And then if he is a good shepherd, he stays close by it during recovery, holding it steady, often talking to it gently to calm it down, rub its legs for blood to flow again, and wait for it to rejoin the flock.
This is the beauty of intimacy with Christ as the Good Shepherd. This is the power of surrendering to God as LORD of your life. Sheep don’t survive without the care of the Good Shepherd. God absolutely refuses to be far from His flock. His way to stay near us is through the Holy Spirit indwelling His own and leading our hearts to follow Christ. The Third person of the Trinity is the promise of God to be the flock’s ever-present help. He testifies of Christ, whispers His love, reminds us of God’s Word that conquered death, teaches what we previously could not bear, affirms we are never alone ever again, calms our troubled hearts and stills our fears, see John 14:15-21, 25-27.
Letting the Good Shepherd care for you requires you admit you are merely a helpless sheep. This requires humbling yourself, abiding, following His voice, trusting and obeying.
At the time of the “whisper behind the steering wheel”, I had just gone through a long season of His silence while I humbled myself. After a year of Christian counseling, surrender of my will, repenting, getting baptized, serving in ministry despite depression, joining a small group, attending every service my church offered, spending hours in worship, and obeying when I did not “feel like it”, His voice broke in. He was speaking prior, although silently and through redemptive action, lovingly carrying me far away from the wolf.
He still whispers to those who are downcast, "Don't cry." It is His nature to stand over the coffins of our lives and resurrect hope (Luke 7:11-17). Are you sitting still in His presence letting His deep reach into your deep need? Your soul need not lie on its back, suffocate, and die. Christ did that for you. Christ is the sacrificial lamb “cast” for all. But He did not stay down. He was resurrected and lifted to His Heavenly throne. We are told we are to know this same power, that it is an incomparably great power at work in us who believe (Ephesians 1:19-20).
It’s a season of Lent. Follow the Good Shepherd. Sit in His presence asking for more of Him. Come to the Psalm 23 meditative prayer session on February 19th. Choose to attend 1 pm, 4 pm, or 7 pm. Draw near! You will not be put on the spot to group share or group process. It's a private time between you and the Good Shepherd. Come thirsty, come humbly. Your soul will be refreshed! Sign up here.
This Super bowl weekend, there will be a lot of people who will be loudly raving and wildly celebrating. Boasting about plays, players, strategy, pretty cheerleaders, their favorite commercial, the awesome dip they are eating, etc. All the activity is good fun and a form of connecting.
Boasting brings us together. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are fueled by the profitability boasting produces. We freely post selfies, family achievements, personal milestones and our own revelatory thoughts. Boasting is often central to our interpersonal discussions and how we affirm and connect with one another.
In this world, we are conditioned to boast. “Why should I hire you?” “Why should I buy your product?” “Why should I marry you?” “How would your associates describe you?” “What have you done for me lately?” “Why should I listen to you?” “Why are you worthy of hanging out with us?” “What are you bringing to the table?” “How do you react under pressure?” “Tell me your past achievements.” “What designers do you wear?” “How big is your bank account?” “Do you know so-and-so?” “What college did you attend?” “How is your son/daughter doing?” In their various forms, these questions are ultimately all questions with power to exploit the most vulnerable places within us. If we don’t have good answers or solutions, we can feel exposed, left feeling less than. We try hard to have good answers. Then we feel well positioned, more confident in the future. But it’s a faulty system.
Suddenly a job is cut, the profits turn, our intelligent solution fails, the marriage ends, the child rebels, the beauty fades, the prized relationship fizzles, the government shuts down, you make a critical moral mistake. Our boasts are often momentary. We do not have control.
However, boasting as God intended, gives you true strength and releases His divine intervention. It’s a powerful prayer position. Consider what God told Paul in a prayer time as he cried out for God to take away a painful situation…
2 Corinthians 12:9a- But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
From this Paul concludes, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” Read Paul’s life account in the book of Acts. Did he gladly boast in God? Did God’s power then rest on him? The man was like a cat with 9 lives… resurrection power on full display.
Consider what God also says in Jeremiah 9. “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. – Jeremiah 9:23-24
The Hebrew meaning behind the word boast is tied to acts of raving, celebrating, shining forth light, commending, praising, making a show of something worthy of praise. Think again of fans in a stadium. Have you ever been in a championship game setting, joining others celebrating loudly? When you are in church (beyond the eyes of the world) are you willing to celebrate God just as loudly as you cheer on your team? What feelings rise up in you if you were challenged to publicly commend God in a social setting this weekend? What feelings rise up in you if were to asked to shine forth light on your weaknesses to your work team next week?
His ways are not our ways. Revealing weakness makes many feel uncomfortable. Value is tied to acceptance, and we self protect. But we need to break on this point. If we live for the commendations of others, we are ineffectual as a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). We have no influence without His power accompanying us. Boasting in Him is a no-fail strategy for his power to rest on you. He exalts the humble. If He is your strength and wisdom and creative expression in your job, the sacrificial love you express in difficult relationships, don’t be silent about the power source; give Him the glory. If He has helped you love and forgive difficult people, tell them God intervened for them in your heart on their behalf. Confess your weakness, boast of His work in you.
Consider the King of all kings, who endured physical torture, people spitting in His face, striking his head, pulling out his beard, stripping him and berating Him. Did God’s power rest on His Son? Was an angel sent to strengthen him after He cried out in prayer for hours in the garden? Consider the end state of our Savior hanging on the cross, beaten beyond human recognition, abandoned by all. Did the Father's roar from Heaven, break the rocks, shake the earth, rend the temple curtain, snuff out the sun, raise holy people from their graves? (see Matthew 27:45-53). Yes. Have thousands of years served to silence God’s continued divine work to proclaim His Son? Will thousands more? No. Is He calling you to the same martyrdom? Probably not. But He IS calling you to be a LIVING sacrifice that confesses His Name.
Try boasting in prayer. This is the prayer exercise for everyone who reads this post this week. Boast of your weaknesses! Get in your car and boast loudly, praise God loudly. See how long you go before you have no idea what to say to Him. Evaluate your heart in this area and ask for help if you need to know Him better. Take risks in your public worship settings and be more open to joyfully celebrate Him in the midst of the saints. His power will rest on you. His joy and Father heart will become clearer to you. If you want to grow in your prayer relationship, boast in God.
Final challenge, stretch yourself in a guided prayer session. On Friday February 19th, I will be leading a Psalm 23 meditation. He anoints your head with oil for your cup to run over. Do you long for more? Sign up here. He blesses those who earnestly seek Him. Come expectant!
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Prayer is Gift!
Hi my name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 25 year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and praying for His life in greater measure!