Here’s a truth bomb for you: God is the only one who knows what the future holds.
Thankfully, Jesus did tell us that when the Holy Spirit came upon us that He would show us what we need to know about our future. Now, this doesn’t always mean that God is going to lay out the five-year-plan for us and He isn’t going to tell us everything — but He tells us enough about what’s to come so that we can take the next right steps.
So, let’s talk about it! (p.s. You can watch this video message on YouTube here, too.) First, we’ll hopscotch through 1 Corinthians 2 — and then I’ll tie it all together in a bow...so stay with me!
We’re starting with chapter 2, verse 9-10: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.”
Verse 9 is definitely talking about our eternal life to come — but not only that...even in our temporary life here on earth, are we unable to fathom the magnitude of God’s goodness towards us! The unlimited capacity of God’s love and mercy and plans for our future is beyond our comprehension, but thankfully He knows it all!
Now it may sound like God is keeping some big secret from us, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! God wants us to have security in our future, which is why He has revealed His plans to us through His Spirit. It’s amazing, I know. Naturally, the question becomes, “But how do we receive revelation of the things to come?” God shows us clearly by His Spirit and His Word.
We see that unfold as Paul preaches to the Church of Corinth...
How Do I Get Wisdom?
Check out what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:1:
“When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness--timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”
We can all agree that the wisdom of men often fails us. Compared to God’s wisdom, the Bible says that the wisdom of men is foolishness. That’s why Paul came to the people of Corinth in a spirit of humility — to allow the awesome power of God to shine.
So I ask you, do you want the power of God in your life? Do you want his power to be manifested? Of course you do! Who wouldn’t! We want to receive the plans and the purposes He has prepared for us. Let’s keep reading in 1:6 Corinthians...
“Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God--his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.”
Paul wasn’t trying to compete with the “wisdom” of the rulers...he wasn’t trying to keep up with the wisdom of the political rulers, the celebrity trends, the influencers on social media. Instead, Paul encourages us to seek and speak the wisdom of God. Stay with me…
Here we go in verses 9-11:
“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But God has revealed these things to us by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.”
God has given us his Holy Spirit, so that we can know the things that have been promised to us from God! So now what do we do?
How Do I Get Spiritual Revelation?
Here’s the dealio. Spiritual wisdom, spiritual revelation, spiritual knowledge—these things are not natural, human, strategic, logistical plans and thoughts. The future God has prepared for you is not of human design or comprehension. But how do we walk in these promises? We speak these things. Verses 13-14 in 1 Corinthians give us some hints:
When we speak these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual cannot receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.
To receive spiritual revelation, we speak words, not with man’s wisdom, but words that the Holy Spirit teaches. I know, I know. You’re likely thinking, “What words are those?” I got you... Well, Paul’s got you..look at vs. 7 again: “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.
If we jump ahead a few chapters, 1 Corinthians 14:2 gives us the key to what this all means.
“If you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be a mystery.”
If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you can access a prayer language. Sometimes people refer to your prayer language as “speaking in tongues,” “praying in the spirit” or “praying in a heavenly language.” If this is new to you, we explore how to tap into your prayer language throughout my book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.”
For those of you that do pray in the spirit, this is your call — and your reminder — to speak and pray in the Spirit! Because when we pray in the spirit, we are speaking out a mystery. This is how we the receive spiritual revelation of things to come!
Which leads us to the final question…
How Do I Solve the Mystery?
You and I can pray out our future — the future God has prepared when we pray in the spirit. Yes, our future is a mystery that none of us know. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, heart has not imagined...We have no idea about our future! But God knows — and He promised to reveal it to us by His Spirit. When we are praying in tongues (literally speaking mysteries), we can have confidence that we are praying out our future!
When we pray in the Spirit, we are praying out the track we will run on in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. So, if you find yourself saying, “I don’t know what to do! It’s so uncertain! Life is crazy!” then pray in tongues. That’s what you do. That’s the secret. That’s the solution. That’s the action item. Pray in the Spirit. Get in your car, go for a prayer drive, and pray in tongues.
In fact, let me share a personal, real life experience with you:
I had a time in my life where there were some things in my heart that I knew God wanted, but I didn’t know what they were. It was concerning my future as a whole, but also in marriage and in ministry. I knew that God had things prepared, but I wasn’t walking in them. My eyes couldn’t see it, my ears couldn’t hear it and I couldn’t get my heart wrapped around it. I just knew it existed. That’s it. I had prayed in my English language, using English words many, many times. I had believed God and I had done everything I needed to. But I still sensed on the inside, “God, I want to bring to fruition this purpose of yours. These things you have prepared.”
God led me in that season to pray in the Spirit every time I got in my car. He led me to pray it out, pray out His plans and His purposes, pray out the track that one day I would run on, pray out these mysteries. So I began to pray out the mystery of my future in tongues, in my spiritual prayer language, for two weeks, every time I got in my car. I was desperate for God’s plan for my future. And do you know what? After a few weeks, I felt a sense of release and relief. I still didn’t have every answer, but I had peace and I knew I had prayed out the thing that was heavy on my heart.
Are you desperate for God’s plan for your future? Are you wanting discernment for your future bad enough to pray it out, however long it takes?
Then go for it! Pray whatever is pleasant, for as long as there’s an unction, and then you stop. It doesn’t matter how it sounds. It might sound like gibberish, it might sound foolish to you. And that’s ok! Because the foolishness of men is the wisdom of God.
Today, I simply want to encourage you. The things that God has prepared for you, your future is bright and He’s given us this incredible process to pray it out in the spirit. So let’s do it. Pray in the Spirit and embrace the future God has prepared for you!
For more resources on effective prayer, check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study to help you understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules.”
Here’s the plain and simple facts: The Bible is true!
And the Bible tells us that what God has blessed, no man can curse. If you are blessed, then you are blessed. It doesn’t mean that we won’t face tribulations and trials. We will go through some testing and some persecution, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t blessed!
So what does it mean to be blessed? What is “the blessing?” So often we hear phrases like “God bless you” or “Be blessed.” But did you know God has given us a blessing in the Bible that is for us today, here and now? Take a look at this familiar passage in Numbers 6:22-26:
And the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Tell Aaron and his sons to bles the people of Israel with this special blessing: May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.”
Common names for this passage of scripture include “The Aaronic Prayer,” “The Priestly Blessing,” and “The Lifting of the Hands Blessing.” No matter what you call it — this blessing is still undeniably relevant today! No matter what is going on around us, God has declared that you and I are blessed. That is a big deal! Especially during times like these, unprecedented and uncertain, but we can stand firm in the knowledge and understanding that we are blessed.
Fun fact: In 1979, archaeologists in Israel were digging at the Old City and they came upon two tiny silver scrolls. On those scrolls, written in Hebrew, was the blessing from Numbers chapter 6. Archaeologists say that these scrolls are the oldest known biblical text. These scrolls precede the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls by approximately 400 years. These historic artifacts prove the veracity of the Old Testament.
So, let’s break apart the blessing, line-by-line, verse-by-verse, so that we can fully understand the magnitude of what it means to be blessed — and how we can pray and declare this blessing today.
Right off the bat, we see that the Lord initiated this blessing! No one had to invent it or twist His arm. The Lord, of His own will and volition, wanted (and wants!) to bless His people. Here’s the good news: we are His people! We go on to see that Aaron is simply the spokesperson and the next few verses are instructions on how to administer the blessing.
The visual image is similar to our modern benediction: God has instructed Moses to tell his brother Aaron, the high priest, to decree the blessing over the Israelite people. Aaron would have stood in front of the people, lifted his hands high, and decreed these words over them.
As we continue to navigate our way through each piece of the passage, we see that it’s a spirit, soul, and body blessing.
Blessing #1 : May the Lord Bless You and Keep You
This blessing is a double whammy: bless you and keep you. Let’s tackle part one, first. The Lord wants you blessed. Can we just marinate in that for just a minute? I mean, this is big. I think sometimes we forget that, no matter what season we’re in, God does not change. In Malachi 3:6, God says, “I am the Lord, I change not.” Which means, if He wants you blessed then, He wants you blessed now — and always, regardless of life season. Whether you’re in a season of joy, a season of strife, a season of struggle, or anywhere in between, God. Wants. You. Blessed. Period. No matter the trial, tribulation, or persecution, we come out of it on the other side because He always causes us to triumph in Christ.
Now onto part two! The word “keep” in this verse really means “guard” and it’s actually the same word we see in Genesis 1 where the Lord told Adam and Eve to keep the garden and to guard and protect it. The declaration of “the Lord keep you” translates to “God will protect you, God will keep you, and God will guard you.” Can you even imagine anything more comforting than this promise? Wow. Even in the book of Job, God puts a hedge of protection around Job to keep him safe, and He will do the same for you, every time.
Blessing #2 : May the Lord Smile on You and Be Gracious to You
Look at that...another two-part blessing…whoop whoop! The decree of blessing here is that the Lord would light up because of you. Think about the way you react when a loved one visits who you haven’t seen in quite some time, or when you pick your kiddos up from school and they run into your arms, you light up! In the same way, God will have this joyous reaction when He sees you and interacts with you because you are His child.
Moving right along to: May God be gracious to you. Before we talk about what it is to be gracious, let’s talk about what it’s not. Words that mean the opposite of gracious include gruff, ornery, grumpy or rude. Graciousness is the extension of grace given. Being gracious is the idea that the person who is superior (boss, professor, teacher, figure of authority) bends or stoops in kindness to an inferior. Graciousness is having the power to do something nice for someone and doing it. If you’re gracious, you have an easy going and pleasing manner.
God knows you, He knows me, He knows we’re human. God knows we need His grace and mercy. So when we receive the blessing, “may the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you,” we see that God isn’t mad at us, He’s not gruff or grumpy toward us. He’s gracious. He is not as uptight as we have made Him out to be; God is easygoing, He’s got a pleasing manner. Don’t you love that!?
Blessing #3: May the Lord Show His Favor and Give you His Peace
Here’s the deal: Because of sin, God’s favor was turned against us. But because of Jesus, God’s favor is now upon us. God is no longer displeased with us. He accepts us! That is what this blessing is about. It’s not about “God is so mad! If you don’t repent you’re going to be in trouble!” It is about God’s unconditional, all-encompassing love for us. He is kind, He is gracious. His approval, His favor is upon you. He likes you!
In this scripture, “peace” is the word “Shalom.” Shalom is a huge, huge word for the Jewish people. It is so inclusive. It’s a greeting word they did (and do) use to greet one another. It’s a blessing! When you say “Shalom” to someone, you’re saying “peace”, but you're also saying that you want that person blessed in their family, with their children, in their security, in their safety, in their happiness, in their healthy and wellness, in their inner harmony, wholeness, prosperity, and long life carrying with it the implication of permanence. The purpose of this last portion of the blessing is that God wants us blessed! Through and through, He wants nothing but peace and goodness and blessings upon our lives.
If you’re in a discouraging place at the moment or you’re wondering what the future looks like or you’re filled with “what-ifs” swimming around your brain… God wants you to know in your heart that the Lord bless you and keep you. He smiles on you and is gracious to you. He shows you His favor and gives you His peace.
This is why we celebrate God with all our hearts! Because of His great love that’s been lavished upon us in Christ, we have already been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm, including the three blessings to receive every day given to us in Numbers 6. By accepting Jesus as our Lord, we get to partake of the blessing and become the people God has blessed and whom no one else can curse. What a powerful promise to stand on!
Are you ready to receive all the blessings God has designed for your life? Check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study to help you understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules” to further develop your relationship with Christ!
This has been a fairly unusual season, am I right? And a long one, at that.
But there is good news in Christ, y’all! Our best days are indeed ahead… Praise the Lord! In unprecedented times like these, we could all benefit from a word of encouragement. And that’s exactly what you’ll read in this post (and watch in Preach to the Dry Bones). We’re talking about true liberty, the liberty that Jesus has provided for us through His finished work on the cross and through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 3:17:
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
This is powerful stuff, friends! As many of you know, there’s a great song by Elevation Worship called “Rattle” that we’ve been singing at our home church of Valley Family Church lately. Psst: You can listen to “Rattle” here. The words to the song come from a prophetic passage in Ezekiel. The scriptures were originally inspired words for Israel, and yet, there are so many great lessons and truths for us to embrace concerning our liberty in Christ. Check out Ezekiel 37:1-6, appropriately titled “A Valley of Dry Bones.” This is Ezekiel speaking:
“The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then He (God) asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” I replied, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know the answer to that!”
Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will continue to put breath into you and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
We all go through seasons where we can feel like dry bones; we can feel spiritually dry, emotionally dry, mentally dry, relationally dry. And so many elements can influence our feeling of dryness. There’s a lot going on in our world, a lot of uncertainty. We’re positioned to ask, “God, what does the future look like? Can the dry bones that some of us are experiencing come back to life?” We don’t have all the answers, we don’t know how it’ll all come together and shake out… but He most certainly does. We gain access to those answers through His word and through prayer. That’s why I wrote my book “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer;” to equip you with the practical, comprehensive tools you need for effective prayer.
So what is our role in bringing dry bones back to life? How do we work toward alleviating spiritual, emotional, and mental dryness? It’s simple: We preach to the bones.
Take a look at how the Bible puts it:
The power of words is a principle throughout the Bible. God is wanting to encourage us. He wants us to “preach to the bones.” Now the question becomes, what does that even mean? How does that work specifically in the different areas of our lives? You speak to your spiritual life, you speak to your health, you speak to your emotions, you speak to things in your life that are DRY. God’s power goes to work as you and I will put His word in our mouth and speak life to those things.
The key here is that we’re not just putting our own thoughts into action, we’re putting God’s word in our heart and mouth. We should preach God’s word into our own lives in the areas where the enemy has tried to put fear, anxiety, and uncertainty and to create angst.
Let’s explore a few ways to put that practice into action.
Prophecies to Proclaim for Your Dry Bones
The Bible tells us that the path of the righteous grows brighter and brighter until the full day. Oftentimes we say, “What does the future look like? It’s so uncertain! I’m scared, I’m worried, I’m anxious!” God tells us we should preach to the bones and instead say, “Hey! Path of my life! I speak to you. I’m preaching to you, path of my life. And I’m telling you, you will grow brighter and brighter.” This is how we preach to our lives according to God's word.
Here’s another one you can pray over your future: “I’m talking to you, my future! I’m talking to you according to God's word. With long life, God will satisfy me. I declare it, I prophesy, I preach it to the bones, Amen!” This prayer aligns with Psalm 91:16. [Jesus said] I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation. We have to speak His word into fruition!
Proverbs 10:7 tells us that the memory of the righteous is blessed. The Bible also tells us that we have the mind of Christ. In putting those verses together, we preach to the dry bones of our memory, saying, “I’m talking to you, mind. You have the mind of Christ! I’m talking to you, brain. My memory is blessed!”
Next in line: Your health. Preach to the dry bones of your body using God’s word in Psalm 103:3 as your foundation. You can say, “Hey! Listen up, body! I’m speaking to you from the top of my head to the souls of my feet: Body, be healed in the name of Jesus! Be strong. Be whole. Sickness and disease leave. Health and healing come according to God’s word.”
We can preach to the dry bones of our hearts and our relationships by saying, “Listen, heart. You are filled with the love of God! The love of God fills your heart and you love the Lord and you love people. When you see people, compassion, love, and kindness bubble up in you and your first inclination is to be good to people. Heart, I’m talking to you because you are filled with the love of God. I’m prophesying, I’m preaching to the dry bones.” If you feel dry in your heart toward loving people, God wants to help us with that.
The Bible is loaded with all kinds of great scriptures, promises, and things that belong to us in Christ, to declare over our lives, but that’s not the end of the story. Let’s circle back to the passage in Ezekiel and pick up in verse 8 when God actually did all of this. He brought the bones together and gave them flesh and muscles. But…there was no breath in them; they were still lifeless. Now what? God continues to fulfill the prophecy.
Breathing Life into Your Dry Bones
Yes, we have to preach to the dry bones. But there’s still one more step. Prophesy to the bones, but then also prophesy to the breath. What does that mean for you and I? We are called to prophesy and pray, to ask the Holy Spirit, who is the breath of God, to come upon you afresh. This looks like: “Holy Spirit, I’m prophesying, I’m speaking, I’m preaching, I’m praying. Holy Spirit fill me. Fill my heart, I feel dry, I feel jaded. God I’m discouraged, I’m disappointed, but I’m prophesying.”
Remember that verse we talked about earlier? 2 Corinthians 3:17: For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. It’s time to get filled with the Holy Spirit and declare over your life that you could experience true life and liberty in the power of God.
Getting filled with the Holy Spirit is a game changer. The most important thing of all is inviting Jesus Christ to be the Lord of your life. But the second thing that is an option, a blessing, and a gift from our Almighty God is the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This is when you and I open up our hearts and say Holy Spirit, fill me from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, I surrender to you. I want your power. I want your anointing. I want the breath of God to fill me spirit, soul and body.
The truth is, without the breath of God, we are just a bunch of people with no breath in us. We are dry bones. There’s no results, no life. It’s no fun! But when you get filled with the Spirit, you get filled with life and energy and hope! And power begins to be a reality in your life on a regular basis.
Let’s circle back to the passage in Ezekiel once more. In chapter 37, verse 10 Ezekiel says, “So I spoke the messages as he commanded me, and breath came into their [the dry bones] bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet - a great army.” Jesus goes on to say in Acts “Hey, disciples, I’m leaving and I’m going to the Father. I’m coming again one day, but right now, I’m going back to the father. But very soon, you will be filled, the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and fill you with power. And when he does, here's what’s going to happen: You’re going to be like a great army.”
We’ve been talking today about what to do with our own dry bones. But we need to consider, why do we feel dry in the first place? One reason is because we’re not fully functioning in our role in the army, in our role as witnesses for Christ. But if you make a decision to say “God, I don’t want dry bones. God breathe life into me, I commit to being part of your army, Lord. I will be a witness for Christ.” God wants us to prophecy to the bones and to the breath so that we become strong people, a strong church, strong in community, strong in the Lord and filled with the Spirit of the Living God. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Remember: It’s not your power. It’s not my power. All we’re doing is agreeing with God’s word and following His command to prophesy to the dry bones and bring them to life.
Yes, there will be tough days and we will face challenges, trials and tribulations, but if we are alive in Christ and filled with the Spirit, we have the advantage. Our best days are still ahead. The path of the righteous grows brighter and brighter. Amen!
For more resources on effective prayer, check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study to help you understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules.”
We’ve been focusing on PRAYER the past few weeks, as you can see in these posts: How to Pray for Your New Normal and 3 Prayers You Can (and should) Pray! If you’ve missed them...I’d love for you to take a look and totally believe they’ll encourage you in your prayer life!
>> Today, we’re doing a deep dive into The Lord’s Prayer — the ever-popular scripture and prayer that many of us are familiar with! We’ll discover how and what to pray with the help of 6 prayer secrets found inside The Lord’s Prayer as taught by Jesus in Matthew 6! (We also cover this entire message on YouTube if you’d rather watch than read!)
Before we explore each of these insightful “secrets” to prayer, let’s first look at the Lord’s Prayer in its entirety. You’ll find the complete prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. This is from the good ole fashion King James Version bible, because, for a lot of us, that’s the version we know!
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
As familiar as that prayer may be, you may not have particularly noticed the very first words that Jesus said: “After this manner, pray…”
What’s so important about that? Well, so often we pray or sing this prayer simply from memory, as a rote prayer, and that’s ok…to a degree. But, the thing is, Jesus had something else in mind entirely when he told us about this prayer!
We’re going to walk through Christ’s exact intentions for the Lord’s prayer, but first you’ve gotta check out these quotes. They’re from a range of well-known Christians who were used by the Lord as either theologians or pastors — or their moms or dads. Most importantly, they were pray-ers. These are people that prayed. They prayed often and they prayed well.
“She seldom gave the Lord less than a full hour a day in prayer. She was the mother of 19 children. She would take her apron and pull it up over her head for her prayer time. Her children were instructed to never interrupt their mother while she was praying.” — Said of Susanna Wesley (mother of Charles and John Wesley)
“God does nothing but an answer to prayer.” — John Wesley (composer of famous hymns we still sing today)
“What the church needs today is not machinery, or better, not new organizations, or more or novel methods, but men and women who the Holy Spirit can use. Men and women mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through people of prayer.” — E.M. Bounds
“Heaven is full of answers to prayer, for which no one bothered to ask.” — Billy Graham
“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelism in history.” — Andrew Murray
“I would rather teach 1 man to pray than 10 men to preach. Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscles of omnipotence, to seek aid in a time of distress from a supernatural being is in the instinct of human nature. I believe in the truthfulness of this instinct.” — Charles Spurgeon
“A sinning man will stop praying. A praying man will stop sinning.” — Leonard Ravenhill (famous evangelist)
“Pastoring a church with millions of members and having an extensive international ministry, I’m not able to do all that I’ve been called to do without spending the minimum of one hour a day in prayer. If I were just to get up and begin my day, without spending the hours I spent in prayer, I would only have my natural resources to depend on. Yet having spent time in prayer, I can trust the unlimited resources at God’s disposal.” — Dr. Paul Young (founded and pastored the largest church in the world)
My hope for you (and for me!) is that these examples fire us up to go pray! That’s also exactly why I wrote my latest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer,” to give everyone the tools and understanding needed for an effective, joyful, powerful prayer life. Now that we not only see the need for prayer, but also the undeniable benefits of spending time praying, let’s figure out what to say when we pray!
Are you thinking to yourself, “Ok, I’m going to pray because I’m supposed to pray… but what do I say?” I get it! It’s understandable to feel like you’re getting tongue tied or that you’re running out of things to talk about. But if you’ll use The Lord’s Prayer as Jesus intended it, I’ll tell you what: You’re going to love your prayer life.
Remember when we highlighted those first few words of The Lord’s Prayer? The first portion of Matthew 6:9 says “After this manner, pray.” Here’s what’s interesting, though: this “manner” is intended to be an outline. God is telling us to use The Lord’s prayer as a template, an outline for our prayers. The six steps in the outline are essentially a table of contents for how we can pray in a personal, customized way!
Here’s the layout and 6 "secrets" you might not have seen before:
#1: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
#2: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
#3: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
#4: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
#5: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
#6: “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.”
This method of utilizing The Lord’s Prayer as an outline to guide and dictate your prayers will add so much richness to your prayer life! It gives you structure without taking away the ability to flow and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. If you watch this video, you’ll find more detailed ways to pray within each of these 6 steps that truly align with God’s intentions and design for The Lord’s Prayer. While you’re learning and practicing praying in this way, feel free to print out the outline and pin it to your bathroom mirror or stick it on your fridge — somewhere you will see it often.
>> Your prayers matter!! They matter here on earth in the interim and they matter long-term as it pertains to eternity. The day is coming where we will stand before the Lord and we’re going to sing the song of His glory.
Before we wrap up this post, check out what Revelation 5:6-8 says about prayer:
“Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: ‘Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?’ But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it. Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.’
Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”
Isn’t that the most amazing thing?! Your prayers not only affect things on Earth, but they make an impact in God’s kingdom, too. God loves our prayers!
If you’re unsure of what to say when you pray, follow the outline that Jesus gave us. Spend real time on each of the 6 prayer secrets from The Lord’s Prayer and let the Holy Spirit lead your thoughts, your words and your praises in a customized way each time! That’s the great thing about an outline...your prayers will be unique and special each time you pray as you follow the Holy Spirit’s leading!
If you want to learn more about effective, Spirit-led prayer, check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study to help you understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules” so that you see results for your benefit, for the benefit of others and for the glory of God’s kingdom!
When we think about every facet of our lives and the current season we’re experiencing on a global level, many of us have the mindset of “I can’t wait ‘til it all returns to normal!”
But, I wonder… is the Lord wanting to help all of us rearrange our mindset?
The truth is, we’re likely not going back to normal as we once knew it. All of us are now heading toward a new normal. Which begs the questions: How do we process that? How do we prepare for that as Christians? How are we to think about our new normal?
Well, we definitely continue to stand on what we know is a sure foundation. We believe in God! We believe in His Word (the Bible). We believe, regardless of anything happening in our world, that Jesus is Lord and is coming again. And yet, we live in the midst of some very uncertain, unusual times. So then, how do we prepare for the new normal? We prepare in PRAYER!
Preparing in Prayer for YOUR New Normal
Whether we like it or not, we are all in the season of preparing for the new normal. And we won’t make it through this season without prayer. I don’t mean that to sound bleak, I mean that to portray the overwhelming necessity of prayer as we navigate the coming times!
For both your own life and family and also for the global body of Christ at large, there are practical ways to prepare in prayer! One way is to recognize that what’s happening all around us is a spiritual battle and to follow the “battle plan” God gave us in Ephesians 6:10-18.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.
Then, after the battle you will be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
Did you notice the first words of each of those bolded statements? They’re all verbs. As in, something you do.
We find more of this instruction in Psalm 55:17: Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress and the Lord hears my voice.
>> The new normal is a call to action. Our action step is simple: PRAY at all times, being led by the Holy Spirit. I’m not talking about written prayers or memorized prayers or religious prayers. I’m talking about Spirit-led, Spirit-initiated, Spirit-dominated prayers. This looks like partnering with the Holy Spirit to discern what HEAVEN wants us to pray about.
To help you better understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules,” I’ve written a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study called “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” We’ve got to know HOW to pray if we're going to pray in preparation for our new normal!
Preparing in Prayer for OTHERS TO KNOW CHRIST
In talking about the “new normal” it’s easy to look ahead to the future and wonder: “God, what are you up to? What is Your will? Why is planet earth going so crazy right now and when is Jesus coming back for us?”
Let’s dig into God’s Word more than ever to gain knowledge and understanding about the times we are living in and where God’s priorities are!
We find this answer in James 5:7: “Therefore, be patient until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and the latter rain. You also be patient! Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
>> We know Jesus is coming...but what’s he waiting on? He’s waiting on the precious fruit of the earth.
>> What is the precious fruit of the earth? The fruit of the earth is as many people as will come to Christ.
God is so patient. He is not slow concerning His coming. He is patient towards us, waiting and willing that all will come to repentance. That’s what He’s waiting on! God wants the precious fruit of the earth; He wants people to be saved and come to Christ, a revival, a harvest of souls before Jesus returns!!
That harvest of souls, that revival is waiting on something. Can you guess what it is? It’s waiting on the rain. The harvest before the Lord’s coming, the fruit of the earth, is waiting on the rain.
I’m sure you’re now asking, “What is the rain?”
Deuteronomy 32:2 tells us: “Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants.”
Hosea 6:3 says “Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”
Rain is the teaching of God’s word. Rain is the proclamation of God’s Word — of the gospel! It’s knowledge and revelation from the Bible!
So how do we get the rain? We find that answer in Zechariah 10:1. “Ask the Lord for rain in the spring, for he makes the storm clouds. And he will send showers of rain so every field becomes a lush pasture.” What do we have to do to get the rain? WE ASK FOR IT IN PRAYER.
Let’s look further at the rain cycle as described in the Bible to better understand the connection...
In Isaiah 55:9-10, Jesus says, “For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my Word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
This is where YOU come in. This is our new normal...we are to PRAY like never before!
Let’s pray for God to fill us, to fill the body of Christ on earth — every preacher, every pastor, every evangelist, every apostle, every prophet, every Christian — fill us with your words so that we get so heavy that we can’t help but “rain down” upon our sphere of influence by sharing the Word! (Here's a link to a blog I shared recently with 3 Bible Prayers to Pray that would be a great place to get started!) When the rain (God’s Word) goes forth...it produces fruit...the precious fruit of the earth that the Lord is waiting on.
We play an active part in praying for our new normal — and we are responsible for praying for others to come to know Christ. This is our new reality, and we all get to decide if we’re up for it! Are you in?
For even more revelation on the importance of prayer, check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study that will stir you up in how important it is for believers everywhere to pray effective prayers!
As we continue navigating our way through post-pandemic life, we’re transitioning into new normals. As we adjust to the new life as we know it — whether that means going back to school this fall, going back to work in the office or remaining working from home, or just living your routine life again — we can, and we must, pray.
The absolute need for continuous and effective prayer begs the question: “How do we pray?” Fear not, friends. We’re staying hot-on-the-prayer trail and uncovering all the details in this pivotal message…"3 Prayers to Pray from a Powerful Position."
Have you ever wondered if your prayers are working? Are you curious about the effectiveness of your prayer life? To what degree do you have confidence that your prayers make a difference? To best answer these questions, we’re going to thoroughly explore the ins and outs of each of these 3 prayers to pray, and we’re also going to emphasize your position in prayer that makes them productive.
>> 3 Prayers You Can (and Should) Pray!
Here we have it, folks. Clear, simple, effective prayers you can (and should) be praying now and into the future. We also deeply explore each of these prayers in the 3 Prayers to Pray from a Powerful Position episode of our prayer series that you can find on the Valley Family Church YouTube Channel (where I Pastor with my husband Jeff).
Ok, here we go! Here are the 3 prayers God has promised to answer because they are straight out of His Word, which is His will:
This is a prayer for the knowledge of God’s will, for spiritual wisdom, for empowerment to live a life pleasing to the Lord, to produce fruit, to know God better, to be strengthened, to be joyful, to be thankful.
Here’s what it says: "So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light."
There’s a lot wrapped up in this prayer! As pastors, we’ve taught this prayer many, many times. We learned this practice from one of our mentors as he prayed this prayer among others for months and months and saw noticeable, dramatic results in his own life.
By simply inserting your name, your husband's name, your wife, your friends, your family, friends at church, the church name itself, you can pray God’s will for your life. Praying this prayer brings complete knowledge. That means if your knowledge of God is incomplete (which it is for all of us), he’s going to continue to complete your knowledge and complete you.
Everybody wants to know God well. This is the prayer for it! We get understanding and wisdom spiritually so that we may live in a way that honors and pleases the Lord. In attending church, the ultimate goal is to know God better. It’s the whole point of the church, the worship, and the messages being preached. If you want to know God, pray this prayer over yourself as well as anyone and everyone impacting your life.
Here we see a prayer for inner strength to understand and experience, and a revelation of God’s love. Feeling weak? Anxious? Disoriented? This one’s for you. If you look this prayer up in your bible, the heading even says, “Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth.” It doesn’t get much clearer than this, y’all!
"I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."
Simply put, this is a prayer to strengthen you and your inner man, to help you get understanding, experience, and a revelation of God’s overwhelming love. Pastor Jeff and I have prayed this prayer for you, for us, for our kids, and our family for decades. As you begin doing the same, you’ll start to notice these “gusher moments” where God imparts the answers to these prayers into our lives. You see, there’s always a steady stream of God pouring understanding and knowledge into you, but there’s also big, bursting gushers where all the things we’re praying become real in a fresh, expansive way.
That is what God wants for all his church, his people, his children. He wants us to know his love, embrace it fully, and rest in its peace. Don’t forget, when you pray this prayer, God hears you! In your heart, you’ll receive a revelation of the length, the breadth, the depth, and the height of his love. It changes everything.
This prayer is one for spiritual wisdom, insight, knowledge, hope, your calling, and God’s power. We need to know our individual purposes and assignments so we can always keep running our race. Similar to the previous prayer, the heading above this portion of scripture reads “Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom.”
"Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called--his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe in him."
Remember: throughout this prayer, you can insert your name and say, “Lord, I’m thanking You and I’m praying for myself and my spouse and our family. Please give me the spirit of wisdom and insight so that I may grow in my knowledge of You, Lord.” Customize the wording to include those in your heart, yourself included.
We have got to get ahold of the hold of the hope to which God calls us! Each of us have individual tracks, purposes, and assignments. It’s time to get clear on your calling! God, fill us with the hope of our calling! May it stay in front of us always so we keep running our race.
>> Your Powerful and Productive Prayer Position
Now we know the prayers to pray. We know the ‘what’. But what about the ‘how’? Here’s the deal: The effectiveness of your prayers is based on your position. It depends on the perspective of how you pray. Before we dive into this concept, consider Ephesians 2:6 from The Passion Translation:
“He raised us up with Christ, the Exalted one, and we ascended with him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm, for we are now called, seated as one with Christ.”
THIS is your position. It’s a new perspective in prayer, and we’ve gotta get ahold of it. Remember: We are co-seated with Christ in the heavenly realm. And this has nothing to do with us… It has everything to do with God’s love for us as he raised us up together with Christ. It’s our job to enforce the victory that Jesus purchased for us through his death on the cross. We decree, we declare, and we pray according to God’s word and God’s will.
When we do this, God and the angelic realm and all of heaven goes to work fulfilling his will, because we are ambassadors for Christ on this earth, both in prayer and in being a witness for Christ to those in our world. This is powerful stuff, folks! And keep in mind, this position of authority isn’t just for the ‘super-spiritual’ people. NO SIR! You are a CHRISTIAN! That means you’re in the body of Christ!
You have been raised up far above every authority, every name that can be named, you have the position of being seated together with Christ. We cannot come from a weak, helpless, hopeless position. Do not let intimidation, low self-esteem, or any other negative thoughts talk you out of doing these things!
Through Jesus, you are no longer in a position of striving. You are in a position to grab yourself up by the shirt collar and straighten up and act like you are raised up and sitting with Christ in heavenly place. Because, you are. Are you stirred up?! Let’s not squander this position that we have been given.
In the name of JESUS, rise up! Take your place seated with Christ!
p.s. want to learn more on prayer? feeling stirred up? I encourage you to study with me through my Bible study workbook: Getting A Grip On The Basics Of Prayer!
“The things that are seen are temporal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18, NKJV
If you can see it, you can have it. This is a faith and leadership principle. It’s the vision protocol.
The converse is true, too. If you can’t see it -- often you can’t have it.
Again, let’s look at this interesting verse in 2 Corinthians, “The things that are seen are temporal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) In other words, if you can see it then it must be possible to experience in the temporal realm -- aka: your life!
We often see this verse in light of not being focused on temporal things, but on having an eternal perspective, and that is the overall context of the verse, but there is a vision truth for the temporal lodged in this verse as well. Let’s highlight different words and read it several different ways...
“The things that ARE seen ARE temporal.”
“The things that are SEEN are TEMPORAL.”
The encouraging thing is that if you can see it, it must be possible in the temporal realm. If you can see yourself in a new house, with a new job, moving up in life, expanding your family, enlarging your circle of friends, increasing your influence and so on -- it must be possible in the temporal realm. Can you see that? (Pun intended!)
So, what do you see? What can you envision? What can you visualize?
If you can see it, you can have it -- and the Lord will guide you with His wisdom to experience it in this temporary life! Trust the Lord for His wisdom and plan for realizing it in its fullness!
“Wisdom is the most valuable commodity -- so buy it!” Proverbs 4:7, TPT
Yes, as Christian leaders we should read our Bibles, we should pray, we should seek God to get His wisdom. And, He’s promised to “freely” give wisdom to those who ask. (Aren’t you glad some things in life ARE free!) But, that doesn’t mean we should discount the value of buying wisdom. In fact, the Bible tells us we should!
Buying wisdom means throwing down some hard earned money to obtain the knowledge, wisdom, insight, discernment and strategy we need and desire. We buy wisdom from those who have it. Whether we buy their books, video series, online courses, expertise, conference tickets or their lunch to spend an hour asking them questions -- the truth is, you do get what you pay for!
Sure, there are a lot of free things out there in cyber world and we access all of it as often as possible. But, if you want the gold. The secrets. The scoop. The details. The how-to’s. You’re going to have to buy it.
In order to “buy it” -- you’ll have to change your mindset from “freebies” to “investments.” What I mean is this, sometimes when it comes to buying wisdom, people say, “I can’t afford it.” Or, “Is it worth it?” Those are the wrong questions. The real questions are: “Are you worth it? Can you afford to NOT have the wisdom you need?”
>> The answer is a resounding YES, you are worth whatever the wisdom costs!
And a resounding NO, you can’t afford to NOT have the wisdom you need!
Wisdom will accelerate your life, business, marriage, family, ministry, health and relationships. You need wisdom.
Over the years, I’ve purchased wisdom.
I purchased my college degree by attending two great universities -- Western Michigan University and Boston University. Not sure how much wisdom I gleaned in my first year of college, not because it wasn’t being dished up, but because I was young, too busy having a good time and I didn’t have ears to hear everything I needed! (Any other young and foolish college freshman out there?)
The first time I remember purchasing godly wisdom was after I became a Christian in May 1978. As a sophomore in college, I raised the funds and paid for a trip to join Campus Crusade for Christ for a week of discipleship training and beach evangelism at Daytona Beach during Spring Break 1979. (Location. Location. Location.) I was such a baby Christian and so hungry that I gulped down the wisdom the Bible teachers were serving and with a fresh boldness from the Holy Spirit, we went person-to-person on the beach sharing the gospel. We got to pray the salvation prayer with dozens of people! After that, I bought wisdom by attending every conference, workshop or Campus Crusade event they offered -- always learning and growing. #daytonabeachspringbreak1979
I got serious about buying wisdom when I went to Bible school!! It was expensive! Not the actual Bible school itself, but the whole process -- it cost money to move to another state, to rent an apartment, pay tuition and buy books. It cost me two years of my life. And...it was one of the best investments I ever made.
Later, I needed more wisdom. So, I purchased EVERY cassette tape (those were popular right before CDs were invented!) two of my favorite preachers had available. I had been touched and ministered to by their teaching and I wanted to hear and know everything they had to say. So, I bought ALL of their materials and I listened to everything they taught and I studied all the Scriptures they shared, until it got inside of me. It was life-changing.
As a young married couple, my husband needed financial wisdom so we had to decide between buying extra groceries or sending him to an expensive conference where he could accelerate his knowledge and wisdom in this area. We invested in wisdom and went without the Doritos.
When our son Luke was in high school, he wanted to learn how to make videos. I wanted to learn, too. So, he and I paid to attend a week-long video camp at the University of Michigan. I was the oldest person in the class, but I didn’t care. I wanted the wisdom our young instructor had. Both Luke and I learned how to make and edit videos in the industry standard video software of that time. Right away we were able to put that wisdom to use in our ministry.
When I’ve wanted to learn new technologies or entrepreneurial methods, I paid the big bucks to take online courses from those who knew what they were talking about. I watched every video. I did the worksheets. I mastered the topic. The wisdom I’ve gleaned has helped our own lives and ministries immensely. In fact, without the wisdom I gained through these courses, we would be light years behind where we are now.
What wisdom do you need? What person(s), what church, what organization has it? Buy the wisdom you need. Buy every book they have. Purchase every teaching they offer. Enroll in all the online courses they have. Attend the conferences they offer. Pay for every video they sell.
Wisdom is the most valuable commodity -- so let’s follow the Lord’s advice in Proverbs and “buy it!”
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should...” 1 Corinthians 9:24, NLT
If you want the baton, run faster! Run like you want to win.
Your future promotion, influence, impact and calling depend on how you run!
Think about it. At some point, the people in front of you want to pass the baton! Your parents, your boss, your pastor or the company owner aren’t going to be leading the parade forever. One day, they will pass the baton, but to who?
To the runner who can keep pace with them and better yet, run faster and farther! To the runner who can grab the baton and move everything forward! Not to a runner who is lazy, disorganized, going slow, sitting back and waiting for the baton with an entitled attitude.
No, if you want the baton, learn how to outrun your parents, your boss, your pastor or the company owner. Show them you don’t make excuses, show up late, forget deadlines or mismanage your income. Show them you’ve got the motivation, optimism, dedication, discipline, work ethic, people skills, administrative ability, vision and leadership quotient needed to keep the organization moving forward at the same speed or faster.
I don’t know any leaders, founders or influencers who want to pass the baton and watch things go backwards. But we know many leaders who regularly look around their organizations to see if anyone is running faster than they or if anyone will emerge with the leadership gifts and anointing to take things further, faster!
If you want the baton, run like the wind my friend.