Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Isaiah 35:4
While meditating on Isaiah 35 this morning, my heart was quickened and renewed with the assurance that we will see God’s glory in the midst of our dry desert, and the excellency of our God in every situation that we go through.
In Isaiah 35:1, it says your wilderness and dry land shall be glad and your desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose. It goes on to say your desert will blossom abundantly! If you understand it in its natural context it seems like an oxymoron. When one thinks of a desert they attribute it to barrenness, dryness, emptiness, and isolation. But when we go back and read in Isaiah 35: 1, it says “the Solitary place shall be glad for them.” It is saying this solitary place is good for you because it is teaching you how to be strong, it is equipping you with spiritual armor, and forcing you to rely on and trust God even though your situation looks dismal in the physical. More, the solitary place is where your faith is being developed, and where your praise is born. Calling down prayer rain is to send praise up to heaven.
In Isaiah 35:6, it says in the desert the tongue of the dumb will sing. It says upon this singing waters shall break out and streams shall flow in the desert. I believe it is saying the tongue of the ‘unlearned’ will learn how to praise and worship their God, and upon doing so rivers of blessings shall flow into their barren places and dry lands.
The desert is where you learn how to praise God before the victory. The desert is where you learn to thank Him for the many blessings He has already bestowed upon you. The desert is where you praise Him for the trials in your life because you know according to “His excellency,” everything will work out for your good. It is where you thank Him for your desert experience because it is truly a blessing in disguise. And lastly, the desert is where you learn how to praise God in advance for answers still to come.
In speaking to different people about their prayer habits and prayer life, I noticed a common theme: Their prayer life is a direct reflection of their daily life. What I notice is a lot of people do not persevere until they get results. Many people with dire needs and circumstances may go to God in prayer but when their needs aren’t met in their timeframe they give up and stop praying. They do not push through until the end. It is the same method they use in their daily lives. They may start a project, task or goal but when they do not see satisfactory results they easily give up. The problem is this pattern of behavior becomes habitual. The person’s thinking is more focused on the task not working as opposed to their own belief system, stamina and endurance. They do not realize that the fault lies in their perseverance instead of the task.
First, before pursuing any assignment or goal one must be passionate about it. If you’re not passionate about it it’s not going to propel you to stick with it long enough to see the desired end. As well, prayer; one cannot go to God half-heartedly and expect results. No you must pray passionately about what you are expecting God to do for you. You must pray with intent and strong will, and earnestly believe that your situation will change. Now here comes the hard part: It’s easy to believe in prayer when a request is answered quickly or in a relatively short period of time, but it’s those prayer requests that may take months or years that you need perseverance for. Beloved, I have continually prayed for things that literally took y-e-a-r-s to come to pass. But nonetheless I kept praying because God promises us in Matthew 21:22, that “…whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” I hold onto that and other verses like that because God is a God who does not lie!
In prayer and in life you have to learn how to be a closer — complete what you start until you get a finished result. God will not always give you exactly what you pray for because He knows what is best for you. Sometimes people pray for things that are not in God’s will for their life. God does not grant many prayer requests because He knows it will harm you or it is not in your best interests. In the above mentioned times, God will reveal to you why He chose not to answer specific prayers but you must have a personal relationship with Him and spend time in His presence to receive these revelations. Prayer requires reciprocity. Before you say prayer does not work, are you asking and then spending enough time with the Father to receive His answer, and not the answer you want to hear? It is hard to ask for something not knowing when or if you will ever get it. But if you do not at least keep asking and persevering in prayer, you will give in to failure and defeat. You will stop praying and allow despair and sorrow to overtake your mind. Beloved, be determined, be persistent, and persevere in prayer until you get an answer from God!
Wow! What an amazing finish to this year! God so blessed me to finish “His” book: Don’t just breakthrough, BREAK FREE! I say His book because I had totally different intentions when I started writing the tome. But beloved, God had to bring me through various trials and deliver me from some things in order for me to understand the gist of what I was writing about! Including: stubborness, unforgiveness, pride, homelessness, joblessness and debilitating sickness. I payed the price with blood, sweat and tears! It took me nearly 7 years to finish this book!
I now realize if it had been published when I first started writing it, it would have been verbiage and not experience. It would have been words but no substance. It reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. God had to allow me to be thrown into the fiery furnace to test this word that I was proclaiming; He had to test my faith by fire! Luke 22:31-32 says, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail! So like clay, instead of being burned up, my faith has been refined into a beautiful vessel! Hallelujah! A vessel for salvation, a vessel of hope, a vessel of light to the lost, depressed, and those that are struggling to live another day!
Many of you may know I’ve recently lost a dear loved one. You never really realize the magnitude of death until it knocks on your door. When I was writing this book, for some reason God put on my heart to write: “From time to time, God will send you a travel companion to help you along your way [on life’s journey]. Although you may be tempted to get upset when they leave, don’t!” Page 237. I could not understand at the time why I had written that as I never really lost anyone close to me to death. While editing the final chapters of the book, when I reread that sentence, I wept. Beloved, God knows the trials we will endure before we can ever conceive of them. Surely, we can never understand why God allows good people to die violently, but oh how He loves us and protects and keeps us in the midst of life’s storms. I love you and God bless you!
When a rescue boat arrived at a canal in Beaumont Texas, there they saw 3-yr-old Jordyn floating atop torrent waters wearing her little back pack; which would turn out to be be her life-saving device that kept her afloat as she clung tightly to her mother. Fearing for her little life, I could only imagine, as her mother, 41-year-old Collete Sulcer lay dead, face down in the canal having tried to save her infant daughter from flooding waters. Upon reading this harrowing account of one of the most heart-wrenching casualties of Hurricane Harvey, if not the worst, I sobbed profusely. The reality of a child losing a mother at such a young age and now having to navigate the harsh waters of life — alone.
Watching newscast reports of haunting stories of Harvey victims, I felt guilty and helpless. And now with Irma having touched down in the Caribbean and threatening her wrath across the Southeast US by Thursday, and hurricane Jose and Katia following close behind, it brings fear and anxiety for the fate of our Southern neighbors and perhaps even us in New York if Irma extends her reach far north. As we sit by and watch haplessly news reports of its looming destruction, you may feel helpless or despondent. “What can I do?” You may ask yourself. Simply: Pray! There are people called to go support on the front lines and there are others that are called to fight behind the scenes! This is where I need your help! I’m asking that if you are reading this post, if you can pray and spread the word to pray against Irma in your immediate circles and dedicate a day or two to fast. Who knows? Maybe we can pray Irma away from its deadly path of destruction or lessen its impact. The Bible says in Matthew 18:20, that where two or three are gathered together in my name I’m there in the midst of them. Let’s call on God’s infinite power to intervene. Let’s stand in proxy for our SE neighbors. And, moreso, with pressing events happening around the world, now is not the time to be apathetic. It’s time to pray!
It reminds me in Isaiah 1:17, when Isaiah commanded the rain to cease from falling.
Now Elijah the Tishbite was a prophet from the settlers in Gilead. “I serve the Lord, the God of Israel,” Elijah said to Ahab. “As surely as the Lord lives, no rain or dew will fall during the next few years unless I command it.”
In this context, Isaiah commanded the rain to cease because at the time Israel was under the rule of wicked King Ahab and many in Israel were worshipping false gods. Idol worshippers in Israel believed Baal to be the god of agriculture and seasons. When Isaiah commanded it to stop raining, it did for 3 long years, those complicit in worshipping Baal soon realized they were worshipping a false god.
Beloved, when we are faithless, God remains faithful and He answers prayers! But, first we must ask!
Almighty Father, creator of Heaven and earth and everything in between, we humbly come before you. God, we ask you today for divine intervention in our lives, we ask for your touch in all areas of our lives; be it a new job, promotion, freedom from debt, rebuilding of our relationships with our spouses and friends, wayward children, or sickness and depression. Father any situation you touch, we believe it can never remain the same.
Father in heaven, let your will be done in our lives, as your decision in our lives is the best and will always be the best. Please send double portions, anointings and blessings as your name is being worshiped and glorified by multitudes in the name of your only son, our personal Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN!!!
God is going to shift things around for you this week, and things will work out in your favor. If only you would believe. God closes doors no man can open and God opens doors no man can shut! If you need God to open doors for you … take Him at His word!
As your enemies gather to plan your downfall and set backs, God shall confuse and dismiss them in SEVEN directions. You shall be blessed SEVEN times more until the blessed call you blessed! Amen!
Start a prayer chain … send this prayer to those who need a breakthrough! Let’s penetrate heaven!
With the current devastating events that occurred in Paris this past week, nearly everyone on social media shared hashtags to #Pray4Paris. I wondered how do I even begin to pray, where do I even start, as my heart was so broken at the loss of so many innocent people, as well as the heartache of my Parisian friends because of this malevolent tragedy. Immediately the movie ‘War Room’ came to mind. I remembered the movie to be an excellent pictorial that speaks to the strength and power of prayer. After viewing it, I was greatly encouraged by it. It taught me how to pray and reminded me to keep pressing in with faith no matter what the circumstances look like!
There were scenes I clearly identified with in the movie that reminded me when I too first started getting serious with God: when the protagonist went into the prayer closet to pray and found herself either falling asleep, eating or becoming distracted. Guilty!
How should you pray?
As a novice Christian there would be times I prepared myself to pray, sat in a room and my mind started wandering, I got bored easily, and lastly, I felt like I did not know how to even start praying. This made me wonder how many others are going through this dilemma today.
When most people think about prayer, they may think about a scheduled time to talk to God, praying within the confines of their home, a house prayer meeting or prayer night at their local church.
In hindsight I too thought I needed to make time for God on a specific day, at a specific hour or pretty much only when I was going through something.
I would hear pastors, family and friends retort, “pray about it!” when trying times came. I Never quite fully grasped if I were praying correctly, was unsure if my prayers would be answered or was uncertain of how long to pray.
After many years of being a Christian I’ve learned a lot, have grown exponentially, and have learned how to perfect my prayer life.
We may think we know how to pray, but are we really utilizing (exploring ) the full magnitude of prayer? Which also includes waiting to hear from God.
Let’s examine the full gamut of a powerful prayer life. Firstly, prayer doesn’t just involve you talking to God and waiting aimlessly for an answer from Him or just waiting for a problem to be solved, but prayer is reciprocal. It’s giving and receiving; giving time to God whilst receiving and doggedly believing His promises found in His word. Receiving, in faith and hope, His leading, direction, and guidance. I have created the following list of what a well-rounded prayer life looks like:
1. Praying doctrinal prayers
That means praying God’s word (the bible) back to Him. Memorizing scripture and reciting aloud the promises God tells us in His word. Doctrinal prayers tells God that you believe His word and are standing firm on it until what you are praying for comes to pass. Moreover, it syncopates in the spirit realm that you know what the word of God says and you have hidden it in your heart. It is your spiritual sword. When the devil attacks you, you pull out your weapon and immediately go to war, as opposed to having to look for a verse while the devil is gaining precious ground. That’s why it is of utmost importance to memorize scripture. In these days and times you never know if you may find yourself in a precarious situation with no access to a Bible.
2. Pray wherever you are, at any time of the day
You don’t have to wait until you get home or set aside a time to pray, or wait a week to pray with your church! No! Seize the hour! Feeling overwhelmed at work? Step into the bathroom and pray! Faced with anxiety or stress on the job? Pray at your desk, take a minute to pray. Instead of taking a lunch break with coworkers which oftentimes entails being an ear to gossip, separate yourself and pray for that hour! Stuck in traffic? It’s a perfect time to pray! Maybe if more people took the time to pray in their cars we’d have less road rage. Treated rudely by a store clerk? Discipline yourself to pray before you react! I love the verse. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The Father is telling us, be indwelled with my love, peace, security; He’s telling us to shut out worldly chatter and reach in to Him; anytime and in whatever situation we are going through. He’s available around the clock. Amen! No matter how small or how big your need is.
3. Don’t pray in unbelief
As a neophyte, whenever I endured a painful situation I would shut down. I was so weak, distraught, knocked down, I could hardly utter a word out of my mouth. Slowly, I got to where I could pray for 5,10 minutes then eventually as I kept going, I was able to pray a little bit more. I had gone through so many bad things in my life, when I could pray, I prayed out of desperation. Quite frankly, not even believing what I was praying for and demanding God–while feeling helpless–to do this, or to do that. Telling Him He owed me for such a difficult life! Wow! Most sadly, I was praying in anger and unforgiveness. Beloved, we have to release these things and come before God with a pure heart. We have to wait on God’s timing, trust that the situation will work out in the best interest for us, and not judge by what we see. Lastly, forgive anyone who has offended you. Only then can you be assured your prayers are reaching the throne room! Amen!
4. Pray in faith
The Bible says faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen, Hebrews 11:6. It takes a lot of courage to hope for something when you are in the middle of a terrible situation and can’t possibly see a way out that will end good. But the good news is–you ready?–you need to go through some bad things in order to perfect your faith and to stretch your faith. It is not something that can be taught; but practiced. The more things you go through, the more you begin to see how God delivers you out of them all! It is building your warfare muscles! So each forthcoming obstacle becomes a little easier to believe God for deliverance. You won’t be as frightened as you used to be when problems arise. You won’t worry and fear as much as you used to. But, it will definitely be a challenge! That’s why it’s of utmost importance to replace your words with God’s words, replace your thoughts with His thoughts. This will greatly encourage your faith.
5. Command your future
The Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).When the devil attacks our mind with fear, worry and lies, we have to learn not to accept it as truth. No, we have to refute the enemies’ lies. We have to speak back to the devil and reiterate to him what God’s word says is true, not the contrary! Moreover, we have to prophesy over our own future! We have to learn to speak into existence the things that we want to happen in our lives and pray for God’s will regarding it! As opposed to speaking negatively, degrading ourselves or our family members or children; no matter how bad we think they are, we must prophesy over their lives with positive words. When you use epithets towards and talk down to your children, spouse or family member when they do something wrong, you are speaking a curse over them that will eventually manifest! Learn to speak life over every situation in your life!
6. Command joy, peace and love
One day after I finished praying, a gloominess came over me. I couldn’t shake the feeling and was really bothered that I had just prayed and felt as if a cloud were hanging over my head. So I started asking God what’s going on, I just prayed why am I feeling like this? So out of frustration I just started speaking over my life and commanding whatever that feeling was to leave! On my way out of the house I kept demanding the feeling to go, singing in the spirit and calling forth joy, peace and tranquillity to surround me! I thought, how many times are we attacked mentally and accept this feeling as we go about our day and tell others, “I’m in a bad mood,” or I’m not feeling my best,” when asked. No! Command your happiness! Don’t let the devil oppress you when you have a Loving Father who has already defeated satan and has passed on to you his inheritance of abundant joy and happiness! His inheritance of victory, power, and the ability to conquer any enemy that attacks you. I’ve learned that when I’m feeling sad or downtrodden, not to settle for that feeling, but change my spiritual atmosphere by simply confessing life out of my mouth! I then saw how God changed my prayer language from desperation to prophesying over my life!
7. Encourage yourself
I hate to say it, but the road on this Christian journey can be very lonely at times. You’re not always gonna have people who are happy for you, happy for your success, cheering you on and excited about your progress. More, there will be times when you need encouragement and no one will be there! Sometimes people will be just busy with their own life. Other times God will use this isolation to teach you to depend totally on Him. Moreover, We have to learn how to stop depending on people when we need to be encouraged, but depend on God to uplift your mood. He will always be there when no one else is.
8. Create and compile a prayer list/vision board
A prayer list entails writing down a list of people to pray for or things that you would like to happen or come to pass in your life, then praying over it daily. Whether it’s people in your inner circle or people you feel led to pray for or pressing situations in your life that you really need to hear from God. Likewise, a vision board goes one step further. The term vision board has become very popular as of late. It is simply creating a visual board of reference, kind of like a powerpoint presentation at an office meeting. It is a visual compilation of words, pictures, and ideas. People cut out quotes, affirmative statements, or pictures out of magazines, news papers etc. and paste it onto a board. It is their visual story board that chronicles their future dreams and goals.
It is of utmost importance to fast in desperate times of need; times when you need an answer, a breakthrough, healing or direction. I have found that when I had a pressing situation or needed direction on which way to go, when I fasted God always gave me the answer via a dream, sermon, person or made it clearly stand out to me in the Bible!
When I take notice of my prayer language, it often sounds like this: God please! God I need! God won’t you! God could you! God, help me! It’s I, I, I, I, I ! It’s like children, not fully grasping the concept of hard work and appreciation, but always asking their parents to buy them things.
One day when I went to pray yet again for that problem, I just felt so guilty of this behavior that I just started worshipping God. Even though my heart was heavy, I had just started thanking Him for what He had already done for me. I think that’s why God doesn’t sometimes immediately answer prayer, oh how forgetful we are and take his blessings for granted. Sometimes as humans we take, take, take. To have a balanced, healthy relationship, it involves giving, thanking and appreciation. We have to begin to thank God for His many blessings and deliverance in our lives. We have to thank Him for our health, strength and mobility, among many other ways He’s blessing us. We have to tell God that we appreciate Him and what He has done and is doing in our lives. Thank Him for being a true and living God whom we have the benefit of being able to talk to on a daily basis! Thank Him for being our friend!
Beloved, to fully grasp this type of prayer life, it may take many years. I’m still trying to discipline myself in some of these areas.
Give ear and hear my voice, listen and hear my speech…This also comes from the Lord of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance. Isaiah 28:23, 29
There may be moments when you are on fire for God, anointed and filled with the spirit. A fasting master so disciplined, you make monks look fat! Then there are times when you are struggling to even pray, experiencing intense spiritual attacks, feeling like you aren’t hearing from God, and feeling isolated.
I’ve been a Christian long enough to know that this walk will be weathered with different seasons. Yes…there shall be peaks, valleys, mountian-tops, and let’s face it: the floor! There you will find yourself time and time again, mercilessly crying out to God–drowning in tears and wiping away mucous dripping down your face. Oh yeah! It gets ugly!
Praying, meditating, and communicating with God requires obedience, discipline, listening, and being open to where He is trying to lead you in your worship time.
When you go to God in worship and prayer, you cannot have your mind so set on what you want to pray, write, or do for that matter, that you’re not sensitive to God’s voice. You must worship with an open heart and a willing mind to be lead wherever the spirit wants to take you!
For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26
I remember a time when I awoke bright-eyed and bushy tailed, eagerly anticipating my devotion time; pen, paper in hand, Bible open and ready to write! O.K! nothing’s coming… Umm…doodle, doodle do. Hello, God I’m here, ready to write!…urgh! Ten minutes later I’m staring at a blank piece of paper. Frustrated, I turned on praise/worship music, and song after song that played touched my spirit in a most intimate way! Each song’s message was to just worship God, just lift up His name! At that time, God just simply wanted me to worship Him! I began to weep like a baby!
Other times during devotion, I would commence to pray about something that may have been heavy on my heart, and God would often lead me to pray in another direction. Whether it was for a country, a group, family, or an individual person. I remember one time saying, no I don’t want to pray for him, I don’t even like him! But, God gently kept leading me back to His will! Lol!
Beloved, there were also many times I have gone to the prayer closet, and simply could not pray! Empty, nothing, nada! When you can’t pray you go into panic mode! Lord, is there any sin in my life, have I been disobedient, have you taken your spirit away from me? No! Not at all! God may simply be nudging you in a different direction.
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9.
Beloved, there was one time I was so burdened I could’t pray! Feeling abandoned and like God wasn’t answering me, I asked God if He even cared about what I was going though? I was so upset, I went running. Trying to juggle my phone while in motion, I tried to turn on music and instead hit the podcast button. There was a pastor preaching an exact word on what I was going through! The pastor was speaking scarily into my situation! I stopped running, and began to weep! How much God loves us so that He attends to our deepest needs!
Beloved, God has various ways to communicate with us! Let us not be so focused on our agenda when we go into the prayer closet that we miss what The Father is trying to relate to us!
What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding…
I Corinthians 14:15
As a new year is beckoning us one can’t help but ponder the challenges, obstacles, twisting and winding roads that have met us. Some are still paralyzed perhaps, by this past year’s events. Maybe you have experienced a personal loss; whether it was the loss of a loved one, career, home or quite simply…hope. You may be tempted to carry into the new year the burdens of yesterday; a quite heavy load that oft times seem impossible to carry. Sometimes even wondering where was God through those sleepless nights and unbearable days.
According to Matthew 28:20 God says “…Lo I am with you always.” He was right there by your side! So I ask you, my brothers and sisters to perhaps think about your situations from a different perspective. Was there a common theme related to the pain, struggle, and hardship you endured this past year? Perhaps there was an area in your life God needed to bring to your attention. Maybe God allowed it to prune, refine, and complete you.
The theme that was a constant challenge in my life this past year was in the area of relationships. It seemed like I was being attacked on every side and in every aspect of my relationships; whether personal, family, or professional. After tirelessly, and frustratingly trying to work things out in my own strength I was humbled to my knees in prayer. God began to show me things about myself that I had not submitted to His will. In each relationship God used the other person to show me a mirror reflection of myself! The traits that I often had problems with in others were some of the same traits God was trying to perfect in me. Wow! And, on the other hand, I also struggled with character traits in others that were the extreme opposite of mine! Nonetheless, I could see how God allowed those situations to make me aware of my own behavior. When I realized the things that I was doing out of habit, stubbornness, or selfishness it was truly a wake up call! It wasn’t comfortable going through that season but I’m glad that I did! I learned a lot from those experiences and am very thankful God showed me what was in my own heart!
So I now ask you to revisit your trials and tests from the previous year. Now that you are looking at them through spiritual glasses, were there trying areas in your life where maybe God was building your character or maturing you spiritually? Spiritual growth often comes in the form of pain. It’s in those tough times that you learn how to depend on God. You strengthen your faith muscle when God delivers you out of trial after trial! Hallelujah! That’s how you get your spiritual wings and begin to fly! The more trials overcome, the closer you are to being free. Let’s go into the new year soaring!
~HaPpy NeW YeAr!