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Lifting Up Leaders

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By Dave Butts

  “The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.’

    “So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

    “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’

    “Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, ‘For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD’” (Ex. 17:8-16).

This Old Testament story is so rich with meaning. Many times I’ve used it to teach of the power of intercessory prayer. But today, I want to see it in the light of prayer for and with leaders. John Maxwell calls this story the first biblical example of a prayer partnership.

In Partners In Prayer, Maxwell writes, “With the help of Moses’ brother Aaron and a layman named Hur, Joshua was able to be victorious against the forces that were trying to destroy God’s children. Moses was one of the greatest leaders who ever lived. He spoke to God face-to-face, as a person would speak to a friend (Ex. 33:11). Yet he still could not do it alone. Even he needed assistance and encouragement” (p. 85).

What a majestic picture! Imagine Moses, standing alone on the mountain, interceding for Israel. As he prays with hands lifted up to God, with the rod of God – the symbol of power – in his hands, Israel triumphs. But as this eighty-something-year-old prayer warrior gets tired, his hands drop, and the battle turns against Israel. In today’s culture we might say, “Well, let’s just get a younger, more vigorous leader…one capable of standing in prayer with his hands outstretched for longer periods of time. Maybe it’s time we throw a retirement party for Moses.” Fortunately for Israel, they had no such throwaway mindset.

Instead of discarding their aging leader, they prayed for him. Aaron and Hur came to the top of the mountain and together they held Moses’ arms up until the victory was secured. It is interesting to note that to hold Moses’ arms up, the two men had to also hold their own arms up. A prayer meeting was taking place, as all three held their arms up before the throne of God in prayer.

The question today is, “Who is holding your pastor’s arms up in prayer? Who in your congregation is standing with him as he wages war against the enemies of God? Where are the Aarons and Hurs of our day?”

The need is great for Christians who will take seriously the biblical mandate to pray for leaders. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4). All those in authority are not simply civil authorities. We must pray for those with spiritual authority as well – especially for those who lead, guide, and teach the Church of Jesus Christ.

It should be obvious that there is an all-out assault by the forces of Satan to discredit and sideline Christian leaders. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Zech. 13:7). Satan has certainly put that verse to use. In church after church pastors are under attack. Who will stand with them? Who will pray for them? My friend, Terry Teykl, has written a wonderful book entitled, Your Pastor: Prayed For Or Preyed Upon? What about your pastor…is he the prey of ravenous wolves, or prayed for by those who love and respect his service for the Lord?

Roger Campbell tells the following story: “A young preacher had just begun his first pastorate in a Philadelphia church when one of the members came to visit him. ‘You are not a strong preacher,’ said the visitor, ‘and in the usual order of things you will fail here, but a group of us has agreed to meet every Sunday morning to pray for you.’ The young minister saw that group grow to more than a thousand people praying for their imperfect pastor, J. Wilbur Chapman, who later became known as one of the greatest preachers in America.” Campbell continues on, observing, “Not many pastors build great churches, but great churches build great pastors by choosing to encourage and pray for them rather than focus on their imperfections.”

Praying for our pastors ought to be a regular and continual part of our Christian life. This could be the year that your church begins to take seriously the need to pray for and encourage their pastors. You can be the one who begins such an effort in your congregation. Don’t wait for someone else to do it! Begin praying today for God to empower, protect, and supply every need for your pastor or pastoral staff.

–Dave Butts is the president of Harvest Prayer Ministries and the author of 11 books on prayer or revival.

Why the Devil Is Interested in Your Church

By America Prays, General News No Comments

(Recognizing the Places of Spiritual Attack)

 By Dave Butts

Several years ago I had the opportunity to write a book entitled The Devil Goes To Church. It’s been interesting to watch the responses of people who see the title for the first time. Most of them say, “The devil sure does go to church… especially mine.” Why this overwhelming awareness that Satan is somehow interested in what happens in churches? Maybe it’s because we’re seeing his hand at work in the church. This excerpt helps us understand why Satan is interested in your church and four ways that he attacks local congregations.

There is a very real reason why the devil goes to church. The Biblical worldview is of a great cosmic battle between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. Christians are those who have changed sides in the battle. Paul writes about this changing of sides in the second chapter of Ephesians: “…in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (vv. 2-5).

The enemy of our God has become our enemy. We are not in a neutral position. When Christians gather as the church, we become a real threat to Satan. We are there to worship, to pray, to teach and to encourage one another to live and proclaim the Kingdom of God and as such, proclaim the enemy’s defeat. It is apparent that he will do all he can to prevent that from happening….

The real danger for us is being unaware of the enemy’s schemes. We approach every difficulty in church as though it is just a natural thing. When churches divide over whether or not to use hymns or contemporary choruses, it is not natural. When the flock turns on the shepherd, it is not natural. When the saints, called to live in love, spend their time criticizing and accusing one another, it is not natural. The devil has come to church!

…There is one obvious thing about Satan’s attacks – he is consistent. He does basically the same thing over and over again in church after church, down through the ages. We might categorize them in these memorable ways: Doubt, Deceit, Discouragement, Division.

Doubt

Sowing doubt has been one of the enemy’s weapons from the very beginning. In Eden, the serpent stirred up doubt in Eve, causing her to sin. He caused her (and Adam) to doubt God’s word, asking the insidious question, “Has God said…?” You can almost hear the oily voice continuing, “You don’t really believe that do you?” The same voice, the very same voice, is asking the same question today, causing Christians to begin to doubt God and His Word.

Doubt was the weapon Satan used against Jesus in the wilderness. Every temptation was preceded by the word, “if.” “IF You are the Son of God,” the enemy whispers, attempting to instill doubt into Jesus. He still uses the same attack.

Doubt can come in many forms. Sometimes it is the frontal attack on the veracity of the Bible. There are many in church who simply do not believe that all of the Bible is truly God’s inspired Word. But sometimes the most vicious attack comes on those who do believe in the Bible, but are then led into doubt as to the power of God’s Word. “Will that really work?” people ask. Whole segments of Scripture are robbed of their power as Christians relegate them to some other day or time, and fail to appropriate them for themselves. Be careful when trying to explain away a clear meaning of Scripture. It may be that the enemy is raising doubts.

Doubt is also raised as to the nature of God. When tragedies come in life (and they do), even Christians find themselves doubting the love or mercy of God. “How could a loving God cause (or allow) such a thing to happen?” The whispering enemy is again at work to cause God’s people to doubt the goodness or power of their God. We’re sometimes told that to doubt is natural. Not for those who have tasted of the goodness, mercy and power of God! Faith is the natural response to God. Look at Job and the almost inconceivable tragedy that changed his life. Though facing great loss and with tremendous grief, still he words one of the great faith responses in Scripture, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).

Doubt also comes to the individual believer regarding his/her position in Christ. The enemy continually works at trying to separate us from Christ. He doesn’t have the power to actually do that, but he tries to instill doubt in us as to who we are in Christ. The best way to counter that is with the truth of God’s Word. Christian author, Neil Anderson has written much on this topic and has prepared a wonderful list of scriptures that affirm who we are in Christ:

• John 1:12 – I am God’s child.
• John 15:15 – I am Christ’s friend.
• Rom. 5:1 – I have been justified.
• 1 Cor. 6:17 – I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit.
• 1 Cor. 6:20 – I have been bought with a price; I belong to God.
• 1 Cor. 12:27 – I am a member of Christ’s Body.
• Eph. 1:1 – I am a saint.
• Eph. 1:5 – I have been adopted as God’s child.
• Eph. 2:18 – I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit.
• Col. 1:14 – I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
• Col. 2:10 – I am complete in Christ.

Deceit

A second weapon that Satan uses against the Church is deceit. This should not surprise us since Jesus Himself described Satan as a liar. Satan delights in twisting the truth, confusing people and leading them into error. That’s rather obvious when you look at the condition of Christian doctrine, both within and without the Church. It may be as subtle as the lack of understanding concerning Christian grace or as obvious as those who deny the inspiration of the Bible.

The Apostle Paul speaks of difficult times for the Church in the last days, especially in regard to truth. We are warned of those who are “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth, men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected” (2 Timothy 3:7-8).

This passage is so clearly being lived out in the Church today, that we can easily see the enemy’s handiwork. There is no shortage of Bible studies in our churches. But we debate the meaning rather than living out the intent of God’s Word. We have fallen into the trap that James warned us about: “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). Studying Scripture without doing it is one of Satan’s great deceits.

This deception concerning the Word of God leaves the Church powerless and unable to function as God has intended. George Otis, Jr. delivers a scathing indictment of this powerlessness as follows:

“If ever there was a moment for the Church to stand up and be counted, that moment is now. Unfortunately, American Christendom is in the midst of a low, debilitated spiritual state. At almost every turn, supernatural power and insight have given way to religious inertia. Fellowships are growing numerically, but members are not maturing in character. There are programs aplenty, but little fear of God. Most ominously, modern believers seem oblivious to their own unhealthy condition. Having succumbed to the Laodicean Syndrome (see Revelation 3:14-17), they view their compromised state as normal – even blessed.

“A troubling, if predictable, consequence of this spiritual self-deception is that the Church has found itself unable to speak into the current crisis with any clarity or consistency. Burdened political leaders seeking direction from Christian clergy and prayer networks report receiving advice that ‘wanders all over the map.’ Needing wise men with keen understanding, these national decision makers are finding instead blind guides and flesh-clouded counsel” (George Otis, Jr. “Fading Light,” January 2003).

Discouragement

One of the main passages of Scripture that we often use to hit people over the head with to get them to attend church is Hebrews 10:25: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” The focus of the passage however is not merely attending a meeting, but in the process, encouraging one another.

One of the very practical reasons for this scriptural command is to counter the enemy’s strategy of discouraging the believers. Many faithful Christians who have withstood the more frontal attacks of Satan in the area of morality, truth and righteous living, have found themselves blind-sided by discouragement. A few words of criticism here and there, a “down” day, a little loss of fresh vision, a program that didn’t go according to plan, and suddenly we find ourselves discouraged and wondering if we can go on.

Many great women and men of God have had severe bouts with discouragement and depression. Perhaps the clearest example is that of Elijah following his great victory over the prophets of Baal. In the wake of that victory, Queen Jezebel ordered his execution. In fear, Elijah ran and ended up in this situation in 1 Kings 19:4: “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” Now that is serious discouragement from a great man of God. It took the intervention of the Lord Himself to bring Elijah out of that depressed mood.

You may not have sat under a tree with a desire to die, but discouragement can hit us all. The great word of God to the Church in this case is that we are called to be an encouragement to one another. We are to build one another up in our faith. Our gatherings need to be times of great encouragement. The church that is a place of support and edification is a place where the enemy’s plans have been thwarted.

There is an old story about discouragement called, “The Devil’s Tool Sale”:

“It was advertised that the devil was putting his tools up for sale. On that date the tools were laid out for public inspection. They had prices on them, and there were a lot of treacherous instruments: hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride, lying, and so on. Laid apart from the rest of the devil’s tools was a harmless-looking tool, worn more than any of the others and priced very high.

“‘What’s the name of this tool?’ asked one of the customers.

“‘That,’ the devil replied, ‘is discouragement.’

“‘Why have you priced it so high?’

“‘Because discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get inside a man’s heart with that when I cannot get near him with any other tools. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since so few people know it belongs to me.’”

When we begin to understand that discouragement is of the enemy, we can begin to counter it using the weapons of our warfare. It is not natural for a Spirit-filled child of God to walk around discouraged. This is an attack of Satan to put us on the sidelines.

Division

Francis Frangipane writes, “If there ever was a false doctrine that was so widespread, so accepted in the Body of Christ, yet so contrary to the heart and teachings of Christ, it is the tradition of division within the Church” (Becoming the Answer to Christ’s Prayer, p. 2).

One of the most effective strategies of Satan has been to bring about division in the Body of Christ. It makes sense that the enemy would push for a splintered, divided Church, since Jesus desired exactly the opposite. The main focus of Jesus’ great high priestly prayer of John 17 was that His followers would be united. A strong, united Church is a testimony to the world of the love of God. Satan is doing all he can to destroy that testimony.

One of the main weapons we have against this attack is awareness of the enemy’s schemes. If we are unaware of the satanic nature of division, there is a greater tendency toward excusing it or just assuming that this is one of those things that happens occasionally in the church. When we see clearly though, that we as a church are under attack, then we will determine at all costs to guard against division. Members of a congregation are well-prepared to resist the enemy when, finding themselves in times of conflict, they begin to ask the question, “What is the enemy trying to do here?” Then, turning to the Lord, they ask the most important question, “Lord, how do we counter the attacks of the enemy against Your people?”

When a church finds itself facing issues that bring division, the prayer meeting is far more effective than the board meeting. Division always has a spiritual issue at its root and the enemy is always involved. It is heartfelt, heaven-sent prayer by the Body of Christ that will rout the devil and deal with the issues that are at hand.

I’ll never forget a church where I taught a prayer seminar in central Indiana. I’m so grateful I got there early that Sunday morning. As I walked into the church sanctuary, I was amazed to see about a dozen men walking around the room praying. They were laying hands on the pews and walking to the four corners of the room, praying for a new awareness of the Lord’s presence, a fresh moving of His Spirit, and for protection from the attacks of the enemy. What a powerful way for a group of Christian leaders to go on the offensive against Satan and to keep the devil from their local congregation.

How will you take your stand against the enemy?

Excerpted from The Devil Goes to Church: Combating the Everyday Attacks of Satan by David Butts, Harvest Prayer Ministries

7 Ways to Start Praying with Your Spouse

By America Prays, General News No Comments

This is an important question, as the majority of Christian couples, even pastoral couples, don’t make this a regular practice. Yet it is probably the most fulfilling and divorce-proofing thing any couple can engage in. Also, it has been said that praying together is the most intimate thing a husband and wife can do.  So how do you get started? Here are a few ideas and things to consider:

  1. Maybe all it will take is for one of you to simply suggest it. Many spouses just haven’t considered this practice as it was never modeled in their own homes. Perhaps just a suggestion that you pray together for your children/grandchildren, or for one another’s day…could prime that pump.
  2. Sometimes one spouse is obviously a more seasoned prayer, especially out loud. This makes the other feel very self-conscious. Be sure to remember that you are talking to God and simply agreeing in prayer with your spouse. Reassure one another and make a commitment to be completely non-judgmental of one another’s prayer styles.
  3. Praying Scripture over family, friends and situations is a very good way to pray together if this practice seems difficult at first. For example, pray the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 over children/grandchildren and even over one another. Another Scripture to pray over children/grandchildren is 1 Timothy 4:12. A good prayer devotional can also be very helpful.
  4. Pray as you take walks or while you are driving together.
  5. Try praying together first thing in the morning. Get coffee and a blanket and sit on the couch or outside (depending on weather). Some like to hold hands as they pray.
  6. If you are trying to make a decision together, ask God to bring your thoughts and hearts into unity. Perhaps spend a few minutes praying silently alone. Next, share what the Lord seems to be saying to each of you. For example, when my husband and I pray together about an amount of money we might want to give to a missions organization, we will pray separately and then share the amount we feel God has impressed on our hearts. If we don’t have the same amount, we split the difference. Then we give thanks together that He has blessed us to be a blessing to others.
  7. Whenever you are angry or upset with one another, come to the Lord in prayer together and ask Him to give you forgiving hearts, wisdom, peace, or whatever seems to be at the root of your disagreement. It’s very difficult to stay angry with someone you pray with.

Even if it’s only for five minutes a day, please consider praying together as husband and wife. Not only will it benefit your relationship greatly, it will please the heart of God, be an incredible example to your children and/or grandchildren, and you will always wonder why it took you so long to get started! If this practice is a blessing to you, please don’t keep it a secret! Engaged or newly married couples need to hear your testimony of what it has meant to you to pray together as a couple. Pass it on!

How can I learn to pray out loud?

By America Prays, General News No Comments

By Kim Butts

God can hear our prayers anytime, anywhere, and at any volume! He is able to hear us even when we think our prayers to Him rather than voice them. Yet, so many of us struggle and would like to be able to verbalize prayers in a group setting. Here are a few tips on how to stretch yourself a bit and grow in this area:

  1. One of the best ways to grow in praying out loud, is to practice listening to yourself reading prayers from Scripture. You could start with the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Hearing your own voice as you pray out loud is an important step.
  2. Read Psalm 145 out loud back to the Lord and then say, “Lord, You are___(fill in the blank with some of the attributes you find in this Psalm). Looking for ways to praise God in His word is a powerful way to express your love for Him out loud. The more you know about Him and His goodness and love, the more you will want to express what’s on your heart to Him.
  3. After using Scripture to help you pray out loud for awhile, try to voice your own prayers based on those you have been praying. Here is just one way: try looking at pictures of some of your family members and tell God what you want to pray for each of them. For example, “Father, my daughter Emily is really struggling to make friends in her new school this year. Would you bring her some godly young women to get to know?” Or, “Lord, my husband has such a stressful job. Please help him to feel Your presence and to be filled with peace instead of anxiety.”
  4. When you are ready to try praying in a group, first recognize that you are talking only to God, and not to the other people around you. Flowery or “super-spiritual” language is not required. Talk to Him as you would talk to a good friend about the person or situation you are concerned about. Don’t worry about how others view your prayer…it is between you and God alone.
  5. Spend time with others who are in love with Jesus and listen to them pray. Ask them how they learned to pray out loud and see if they can give you some good ideas as well!

As with anything new you undertake, the more you practice praying out loud, the more confident and comfortable you will become.

Why do my prayers seem to go unanswered?

By America Prays, General News No Comments

First of all, it is important to recognize that there are many reasons why prayers “seem” to be unanswered, or at least not answered in the way we would wish or expect:

  • The most common reason is that we have already determined what the answer we want to hear or see is before we actually ask God. In other words, we make the decision about the answer rather than waiting on the answer God wishes to give…we don’t ask God to do what He feels is best in our situation or someone else’s.
  • We may ask God with wrong motives…usually because we selfishly want something to benefit ourselves or those we know. Perhaps our prayer may be completely counter to God’s will and purposes. It is important for us to realize that every prayer we pray should bring honor and glory to God alone!
  • If we are intentionally living sinful lives, God is under no obligation to answer our prayers (Psalm 66:18). We need to check our lives carefully before coming to God with our requests and needs. If there is sinfulness, we need to confess it before Him because He promises to forgive us (1 John 1:9)…opening the way to His response to our prayer lives! This is the grace-filled life with God.
  • Sometimes we ask in a half-hearted way rather than praying with faith and power, which can make our prayer ineffective and weak…much like a medical treatment that fails because it isn’t the correct dosage or even the correct treatment. The prayer of desperation cries out to God because He is the only place to go when we are in need.
  • Sometimes what we are asking infringes upon the needs of another person, or pits us against them – even unintentionally. It’s like two parents on opposing sides rooting for the team their child plays for to win. This is asking God to take sides instead of asking forHis best in a situation. God knows what we…and our children need even more than we do! He will help us to handle loss, pain and struggle when it comes, just as He will rejoice with us in celebration and victory.
  • Our “bad” circumstances are not caused by God. We live in a fallen world where “bad things happen to good people.” Recognizing that God, through His life in us, can take our pain, disappointments and roadblocks into His heart and give us comfort, reassurance and victory in the midst of difficulty and struggle will keep us filled with hope, peace and strength. He will sometimes allow the circumstances in our lives to lead us to something better even though we may not see it at the time. He will also utilize anything the enemy attempts to do to us in ways that will be used for good – even when we may not perceive it – if we will trust Him enough to ask (Matthew 7:9-11). Too many people blame God, and walk away from their faith because they feel their prayers were not heard, were not answered, or that their prayers were not answered as they expected…because they do not understand this truth about God… He wants to give us His very best. He is always present in the believer. He understands our suffering because He suffered and died on the cross. The ultimate victory is eternal life through Jesus Christ…forever…no matter what this life may bring.
  • If we are not careful, we can miss God’s answer when it comes. It is important to be watchful in our waiting…and because the Father wants to give us His best to strengthen our walk with Him, we must be prepared to yield ourselves to His answers – even if they seem to go against what we think that answer should be. Sometimes our answers will not come in our lifetime, but in His eternal purposes we will one day see how He answered every prayer we have ever prayed…even if the answer is counter to our expectations or desires. One day it will be amazing to see how God’s hand worked in our lives and situations for His glory!

“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need.” (Matthew 6:7-8 MSG).

Reaching, Equipping, And Praying For The Revival Generation

By America Prays, General News No Comments

By Kim Butts

    Over 50% of the world’s population is now under the age of 15. Studies have shown that if a person has not accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord by age 15, the chances of this decision happening decreases significantly over time! Yet, studies also show that the Church gives, on average, a much higher percentage of its attention, focus, funding and planning to adults.

    We could spend a lot of effort examining this trend, and trying to figure out why it is so; however, in order to bring the most glory to the Father, I think it is more urgent for us to realize the reality of this current situation and do something about it. If we are truly Christians who desire to complete the Great Commission, then we must, as individuals, families and the Church, shine the light of Christ into the upcoming generations with more fervency and intentionality!

    The census bureau statistics in 2001 showed that the 15 and under population of the United States was much lower (at 21%) than the global statistic of 52%. This is due to factors such as expanded health care that increases the longevity of the elderly, and abortion, which has ended the lives of millions of the unborn. Therefore, in our culture, children are a smaller segment of our society than elsewhere in the world. Perhaps because of this, the nation in one of the greatest positions to reach out to children all over the globe is, for the most part, unaware that the largest identified group of unreached people in the world is children.

    God is very clear about what children mean to Him. He places great importance upon their spiritual development, and gives them high value and attention throughout the pages of His Word. He desires to work in and through them. He hears and answers their prayers. He reveals His truth and the mysteries of His Word to them. And, I believe, He is getting ready to pour out revival through them – but He is waiting for the Church to wake up to the seriousness of this hour, and to recognize how we have neglected their spiritual condition.

    What must we do to equip, empower and release into ministry these young ones whom God so desires to use to advance His kingdom on this earth? And then, what must we do to reach the lost children and youth of the upcoming generations? Jesus clearly told us to “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). Carefully consider the definition of the word “them” and recognize that it includes the 52% of the world’s population that is under 15 years of age. They must be reached! They must be trained and mentored so that they can reach the spiritual potential that God has set before them. We must reach children and youth so that they can reach other children and youth! This is the revival generation, whose growth has been stunted by the Church.

    As the Church, we must repent of this sad condition and move forward with fervency. We must teach and encourage parents and grandparents, and all adults (because the nurture of young ones is the responsibility of every Christian). We must see young ones with the same eyes that the Father sees them with! He does not see practicing prayers. He sees prayer warriors. He does not see the Church of tomorrow – He sees the Church of right now…and it is intergenerational! Consider carefully the following passages of Scripture:

God Gives Instructions to Parents and Grandparents

    1. To teach children to trust and keep His commandments.

    Psalm 78:1-7 “O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old—what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders He has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.”

    Deuteronomy 4:9-10 “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when He said to me, ‘Assemble the people before Me to hear My words so that they may learn to revere Me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.’ “

    2. To love Him deeply and to take every opportunity to teach and to be an example to their children.

    Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

    Deuteronomy 11:19-21 “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”

    3. To share the miraculous and mighty works of God with their children.

    Exodus 10:2 “…that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD.”

    Exodus 12:26-27 “And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when He struck down the Egyptians.’ Then the people bowed down and worshiped.”

    4. To tell their children about the Lord’s faithfulness, and to give Him praise for it!

    Isaiah 38:19 “The living, the living–they praise You, as I am doing today; fathers tell their children about Your faithfulness.”

    5. To dedicate their households to the service of the Lord.

    Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

    6. To spend whatever time is necessary to train godly children.

    Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

    7. Not to cause little children to stumble into sin.

    Matthew 18:6 “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

    We have not done well at this through the years, as evidenced by the fact that although parents believe they are the primary source for the spiritual development of their children, they do not spend any time during the week imparting spiritual principles to them. They count on the church to provide all of their children’s spiritual training. (Charisma Magazine, July 2003).

God Shares His Desire for Intergenerational Unity in the Body of Christ

    1. When God calls for a prayer meeting of His people, it is intergenerational.

    Joel 2:16 “Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.”

    2. God intends to pour out His Spirit on young and old alike.

    Joel 2:28 “And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”

    3. God is preparing His unified body to be the Bride of Christ.

    Malachi 4:5-6 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

    Luke 1:17 “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

    4. God desires adults to welcome little children into their midst.

    Matthew 18:5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.”

God Reveals His Plans to Work in and through Children

    1. The Father has ordained the praise and prayers of little children for the purpose of defeating the enemy.

    Psalm 8:2 “From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”

    Matthew 21:15-16 “But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things He did and the children shouting in the temple area, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant. ‘Do You hear what these children are saying?’ they asked Him. ‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read, “From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise”?’”

    2. There are things God intends to reveal only to children.

    Matthew 11:25-26 “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was Your good pleasure.’”

    3. God demonstrates how everyone must come to Him with the humility of a child.

    Matthew 18:1-4 “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”

    4. God gives a special blessing to children.

    Matthew 19:15 “When He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there.”

    In Matthew 19:14, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” As mentioned above, 52% of the world’s population is under the age of 15. It is therefore extremely important that we do not hinder them. As a nation, we have fallen way short in our responsibility to spiritually train children. Our examples are weak because we have allowed our busyness to rob us of our time in studying the Word, prayer, meditation, and other spiritual disciplines. One generation after another is being consistently raised without spiritual training in the home. Children have little opportunity to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of Christ because there is no one to mentor or disciple them. God’s Kingdom belongs to them! How can we possibly hope to complete the Great Commission without a major paradigm shift? Jesus told us to “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). How is this even in the realm of possibility when we will not even reach our own children? It will take a revived Church!

Prayer Response for Families

    How can we, as praying families, lift up the parents and children of our nation and of the world and pray that they will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus…and then be trained and equipped to reach others for His kingdom as the intergenerational and complete body of Christ? Here are some suggestions:

    1. Pray for strong and solid two-parent families, and for the sanctity of marriage.

    2. Pray for children at risk in areas such as abuse, abortion, forced labor, poverty, etc.

    3. Pray for parents, grandparents and all adults in the Church to take responsibility for the training and nurturing of children and youth.

    4. Pray that those who don’t know Jesus will be drawn to Him!

    5. Pray for the Church to rise up and function as the intergenerational body God intended it to be!

    6. Pray for the Holy Spirit to visit and anoint children in power!

    7. Pray for the bringing down of pitfalls and traps that the enemy has laid before children through the media, games, books, etc.

    8. Pray for godly mentors and discipleship in the Church!

    9. Pray for REVIVAL! It is only through revived individuals, and then revived families, that a revived Church will be enabled to reach the unsaved individuals and families in our pews and out!

    The bride of Christ has been deformed and unwhole for too long. She will only be prepared and made beautiful when she is made up of the entire body – young and old – functioning in the fullness of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the Father’s plans and purposes! I pray that God will use us all to this end so that He is given all glory and honor!

Copyright © Herald of His Coming 2021. Used by permission.  

Reaping A Harvest

By America Prays, General News No Comments

By Kim Butts

 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

    What an amazing time we live in! Much of the Lord’s harvest is ripe and ready all around us and across the globe! At the same time, there are still fields that need to be sown, watered and fertilized before the harvest can be reaped! By faithfully doing good we can join the Father’s work of drawing all men to Himself. Wondrously, the best good the Lord has given us to do for anyone allows us to participate in the harvest at every level – prayer! We can pray for the lost in our own families, our neighborhoods, at school or work, and in unreached people groups living in nations that we may never have the opportunity to get into any other way! We are also privileged and commissioned to pray for all believers, whatever their needs or situations so that their lives will bring honor and glory to the Father. First Timothy 2:1-4 states that we are to pray for everyone, because this is good and pleases God, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

    One important thing to consider as your family prays for the harvesting of souls is that God may call one or all of you to be the answer to the prayers you pray. That’s right! When we pray, we should always be prepared for the Lord to use us to do good in someone else’s life. Make it a practice in the prayer life of your family to keep Bibles, pencils and paper at hand. Following prayer for each situation, person, nation, etc., ask the question: “Lord, how do you want to use us to be the answer to this prayer?” For example, you might be praying for the salvation of a family in your neighborhood. Stop and ask the Lord how He wants to use you to draw them into His kingdom. Ask each family member to listen carefully to see what the Lord might say to his or her heart. Perhaps one of your children might say, “I think God wants us to invite them over for dinner” or “My heart says we need to offer to help them build their fence.” Isn’t our Lord amazing? If we will allow it and be good listeners, He will show us how to be the answer to our own prayer by giving us the next step…in this case, doing good for the neighbors. And, as we are obedient listeners and do-ers, and if we do not get tired and give up…lost people will begin to see the light of Jesus shining so brightly in us that they will want to know more about Him.

    Let’s take a closer look at Galatians 6:9 to see what the Father may want to teach us about reaping a harvest for the glory of His Kingdom:

“Let us not become weary…”

    Sometimes we forget that God’s timing isn’t always the same as our own. Some of the answers to our prayers will not be known for days…or weeks…or years…or even until we see Him face to face in heaven. When we become weary or discouraged, the Lord is there to lift us up and sustain us. Consider these passages as you pray for renewed strength:

    1. The suffering of Jesus will give us hope. “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:3). We will never suffer as our Lord did, so when we endure for the sake of His Gospel message, we should be filled with hope that “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thes. 5:24). He is the completer of every act of kindness. He is the fulfiller of every prayer.

    2. The Lord and His Word will give us strength. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:29-31). “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word” (Psa. 119:28). When you feel weary and weak, go to His Word and soak in it. When we are weakest, He can make us strong (2 Cor. 12:10). Learn to pray His Word as you pray for lost people.

    3. God promises to refresh, renew, sustain, and carry our burdens. The Lord has promised to “refresh the weary and satisfy the faint” (Jer. 31:25). “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Give lost people to the Father. Remember, it is His Spirit that draws the lost as you pray. You are simply to pray and listen.

    4. He will not fail us or forsake us. “David also said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished’” (1 Chr. 28:20). The Great Commission is our mission, and God is with us every step of the way!

    5. Through His mercy we have this ministry. “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor. 4:1). Because all of us from youngest to oldest are called to the ministry of intercession, He will also supply the strength we need to persevere.

    6. Our labor is not in vain. “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” (Psa. 126:5-6). When praying for others and doing good in tangible ways for them becomes difficult, always remember that there will be much rejoicing when even one person comes to faith in Jesus! Every prayer and every loving act is significant, and you may never see or know the results of some of your planting or watering this side of heaven. You may just be preparing the soil for someone else to reap the harvest…in which case, you will one day also share in the joy of it!

“…in doing good…”

    Remember, our good works do not get us to heaven! Our salvation has been bought for the price of one Man’s sacrifice. Good works are a response to the call of God to be like Jesus. Prayerfully examine these Scriptures in your life and apply them to your family:

    1. The example of Jesus was doing good and we are called to be like Him!  “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).

    2. It is God’s will that we do good to others. “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (1 Pet. 2:15). Actions speak louder than our words. Christians should be known for their godly character as well as for the good they do. Are you known as a praying family that listens carefully to the marching orders of the Lord and obeys them?

    3. Doing good to ALL people is a command. “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture” (Psa. 37:3). “But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). See Luke 6:35 also.

    4. We were created to do good works. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).

    5. There is nothing better for God’s family to do. “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live” (Ecc. 3:12).

    6. It pleases God when we do good to others. “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God” (1 Pet. 2:20). “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:16).

    7. The enemy will try to stop us from doing good – be aware! “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Rom. 7:21).

“…for at the proper time…”

    The proper time is always up to God. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6). “The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time” (Psa. 145:15). His timing is always perfect.

“…we will reap a harvest…”

    1. We must sow generously to reap generously. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor. 9:6).

    2. Praising God results in the blessing of harvest. “May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear Him” (Psa. 67:5-7).

    3. When we speak with wisdom we will reap a harvest from our words. “From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him” (Prov. 12:14). “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied” (Prov. 18:20). As we speak out our prayers to the Lord, heaven stirs with activity in response. Much good can also come from speaking kind words and encouragement to others.

    4. We must pray and ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers (even if He wants to send us to be the answer to our prayers). “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field’” (Matt. 9:37-38).

    5. We must sow in peace. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (Jas. 3:17-18).

“…if we do not give up”

    1. Diligence and perseverance in our lives will lead to the salvation of others. “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:15-16).

    2. We must “…keep on loving each other as brothers” (Heb. 13:1).

    3. We must press on towards the goal! “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

    4. We must keep on praying. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

    Could your family determine that some part of every day will be dedicated to reaping a harvest? Start with prayer and see where God may lead you.   

Copyright © Herald of His Coming 2021. Used with permission.

Important Alignments to Pray Effectively for Breakthrough | Doug Stringer

By America Prays, General News 2 Comments

Prays Family, below is a message from a member of our Board of Advisors. We encourage you to read the following on prayer breakthrough!

Hitting the Mark

Effective prayer is prayer that hits its mark. As a praying people, we want to be like archers who shoot out their arrows and hit the bullseye. But how do we become effective in prayer? A lot of people pray, but is all prayer effective? Do our prayers avail much, as the Scripture says? Let’s face it: Sometimes when we pray, it feels as though our prayers hit a brick wall.
May this part 1 of a 2 part article be an encouragement to each of you. May we all remember and experience the Master of the Breakthrough Himself.  

3 Crucial Alignments to Pray Effectively for Breakthrough
https://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/41448-3-crucial-alignments-to-pray-effectively-for-breakthrough

Below are more powerful articles to read.

“Accessing the Power of Desperate Prayer” https://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/41419-accessing-the-power-of-desperate-prayer

“Praying Effectively in Corporate Agreement” https://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/41449-secrets-to-pray-effectively-as-we-approach-the-last-days

“Leading Well Though Life’s Detours” https://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/personal-character/25895-lead-well-through-life-s-detours

-World Prays Team