Praise Now?

"A grateful heart is the biggest barrier to depression," wrote Selwyn Hughes, a Welsh minister. 

King David must have known that. He found the most unusual times to praise the Lord. Psalm 34 was written regarding the time he pretended to be insane in front of Abimelech. This was probably not the happiest moment in his life. David "was he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard" (1 Samuel 21:12-13). 

Yet when David wrote about that incident, he declared,
"I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the LORD;
Let all who are discouraged take heart."

The word "discouraged" means those who are "depressed in mind or circumstances." "Boast" according to Strong's Concordance means to make a show, to be clamorously foolish, to celebrate. David was calling us to celebrate, even to the point of appearing foolish to others.

When my mother was in Papua New Guinea she wrote that one of the missionaries, Miss Ellis, had been sick with fever, headache, and pleurisy. As she lay in bed, Satan whispered, "You're a long way from home." 

Jesus immediately whispered, "But you're not very far from Me." Then the Lord gave her Psalm 50:23 and she recalled hearing a paraphrase of that verse: "Who offers praise glorifies me, and to him that uses praise over and over again enough to make a trodden road, to him will I show the deliverance of God." She began "trodding the road of praise." 

A short time later, the Spirit said, "Get up, make your bed, and comb your hair." While doing these things, she was healed.

Teach us, dear Lord, to praise and prepare the way for You to show us Your salvation. 

"He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God" (Ps. 50:23).

How to Express God's Love

Some time ago, a friend made a few remarks on the phone about some people. She really had not intended to be critical. Yet after we hung up I realized that I felt negative toward them, and I was going to have to go speak to this group. It's not worth the effort, I was tempted to think, as negative thoughts rolled in. 

As I went about my day, an amazing thing began to happen. God impressed a precious truth on my heart. It was as though the Lord let me see these people as He did. I thought of our time together and knew the Holy Spirit would be there. Immediately, I recognized that He would not be there to be critical of them but to uplift, encourage, comfort. His banner over them would be love (Song of Songs 2:4). As I thought of His love, the Spirit poured out His love for them into my heart.

John wrote, "Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God" (1 John 4:7). If love comes from God, what does He require of us? Simply that we be conduits of His love by guarding our thoughts and words and saying and thinking only what we know is acceptable to Him. If we provide the right words and thoughts, He'll provide the love. 

Showing love doesn't have to be desperate striving and then failing. When tempted to speak sharply, or be ill-tempered, we're to abide in Him and pray, "Dear Lord, if those hurtful words and those slights had been directed toward You, if You had been misunderstood as I have, what attitudes would You have?  Give me that mindset, the mind of Christ."  He will do that when we're ready to lay down our defenses and to give up our rights to be understood and treated with patience.

Thank You, Jesus, that You never give impossible commands.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). 

The Blessing of "Soaking" Prayer

When Wanda Alger and her husband, pastors in Winchester, Virginia, learned about "soaking prayer," they decided to incorporate it into the life of their church.* They discovered that God would share His active presence with those who spent time worshiping Him with no agenda other than taking time to simply linger in His presence with an atmosphere of quiet worship music.

Earlier they had tried interspersing praise and worship with intercession, and though this brought a measure of success, it wasn't the same as "soaking" prayer.

Her husband Bobby felt led to set aside Saturday nights for soaking prayer to prepare for Sunday morning worship. They noticed a change in their services immediately. Although only a handful had participated, the tangible presence of God was evident the next morning. More people participated in singing, and the atmosphere was saturated with the sense of the Holy Spirit's work.

It didn't seem to matter how many were involved. God wasn't looking at numbers but the posture of their hearts. If only three people sincerely desired to align their hearts with His, God responded. 

People present in these times consistently testified of the "heavy weight" of God's presence. Every one was refreshed and renewed. After setting aside a significant time in His presence, their prayers were then not simply a list of needs but reflections of God's heart.

This principle of "soaking" prayer bringing God's presence is applicable to our individual as well as family lives also. God always responds with His manifest presence to hungry hearts desiring to draw closer to the Father.

Dear Jesus, teach us to seek for a divine visitation of Your awesome presence. 

"Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs" (Psalm 100:2).

Adapted from The Connecter, December 2014, Intercessors for America newsletter.

The Result of Praying Psalm 91

After my daughter Arla read Peggy Joyce Ruth's book on Psalm 91, she became convinced that praying that psalm for protection was something she should do. She didn't do it daily, but when she did, she saw answers to prayer. For instance, one morning she felt impressed to pray for her son Peter the verses about angels guarding guarding him in all his ways. That morning, the pickup he was riding in went through a window but no one was injured. She decided she'd better not stop praying Psalm 91.

So about a year ago she began praying it daily. One night recently when she left Peter at karate, the thought flashed through her mind, "Peter could get hurt in class." She immediately reminded herself she had prayed Psalm 91 protection over him that day, and then thought, "I'm leaving him in Your hands, God." She then went home and didn't think anything more of it. 

After class, Peter came home and told that one of the black belts named Antoine had done the "mugger throw" on him that involved flipping him over his shoulder. Peter went vertical with his head toward the ground and wasn't sure he could get rotated properly before he hit the ground. 

Peter said that when he had gone just slightly past vertical, "Antoine caught me and placed me gently on the ground." 

Arla thought it sounded rather unbelievable that Antoine could have caught a 130-pound teenager at that rate of speed while holding onto his arm. But Peter insisted that Antoine had caught him in the air and given him a gentle landing. Arla messaged Antoine and asked if he had caught Peter and set him down, and he responded that, no, he had not done that. She told Peter, "I think those were God's arms under you."

Arla said, "After all, when I left the dojo, I was leaving him in God's hands!"

"He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone" (Ps. 91:11, 12).

Use the Power of Patience

Marilyn said she noticed that she set the tone for her family on Sunday mornings. "When I feel rushed and out-of-sorts because we're going to be late for church, our whole family is grumpy. But when I'm calm and happy, the whole family seems to absorb my contentment." 

Impatience perpetuates itself. If parents impatiently respond to their children, their sunny dispositions disappear in a minute. A half dozen quarrels later they find they're punishing the children for their bad attitudes! 

Reproofs given to vent an impatient spirit are one thing, and reproofs given to lovingly discipline a child are another. The one is an act of disobedience; the other is an act of obedience to God. The one will help save your child, the other may help ruin him. 

Our own words have a tremendous power to mold our own spirits, so avoiding loud, sharp tones of voice when exasperated helps. Proverbs 15:1 can refer to the speaker as well as to the listener: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Giving a gentle answer often helps the one speaking to feel more patient. If we wait until we are certain something has to be said and then say it slowly and gently, our own spirits as well as the spirits of those around us will be calmed. 

Try to never reply instantly when you're tempted to be annoyed. If any reply is needed, trust the Holy Spirit to give you the right thing to say. This will give a death blow to impatience.

Thank You, Lord, that if we've lapsed into the habit of over-reacting or of speaking sharply, the Holy Spirit will help us modify our behavior as we respond to Your Word.

"A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense" (Proverbs 19:11).

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2).

Whose Side Are You On?

Joshua had been surveying the insurmountable wall of Jericho. Taking this city appeared totally impossible. 

Then Joshua looked up. If he had studied only the problem, he would have gone home discouraged. In Joshua's upward look, he caught a vision of the Commander of God's armies with His sword drawn prepared to fight. We now know He was seeing Christ, but perhaps not realizing that supernatural help was before him, Joshua asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"

The Man answered, "Neither," or simply, "No," in the Hebrew.

The question, then, was really to Joshua, "Whose side are you on?" God comes to accomplish His sovereign purposes, not our agendas. 

"I used to ask God to help me," Hudson Taylor said. "Then I asked God if I might help Him. I ended up by asking Him to do His work through me." This is what Joshua was learning. The Commander was not there to help Joshua fight his battle; Joshua must see the battle as God's and be willing to allow God to be in charge.

Joshua humbly begged, "What message does my Lord have for His servant?" Surely the Lord was about to give some important strategic details. But, no. First, Joshua must worship.

"Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." Before we can allow God to use us to fight His battles, we must stand in His presence. We recognize that we are in His presence - right where we are! Anywhere we acknowledge His nearness is holy ground.

"This is a spiritual battle, Joshua, and you are not ready for it until you stand in the presence of a holy God."

Dear Lord, allow us to see the difference between asking You to fight our battles and trusting You to fight Your battles through us.

"Anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work" (Hebrews 4:10).  

A Way to Resist the Devil

A mother concerned about her son and his wife recently emailed this request: "God has led me to do a Jericho' prayer...Would you join with me in "marching around the walls' this week. I am fighting this battle with praise!"

She was referring to the time Joshua faced a huge challenge-that insurmountable wall of Jericho. In Joshua 5:13, it appears that Joshua had gone to survey the situation. Taking this city looked impossible. 

When Joshua stood in the presence of the Lord, the Lord assured him, "See, I have given Jericho into your hands" (Joshua 6:1). But God's instructions to march and blow trumpets did not appear to be a sure way to victory. They obeyed, though, and after the Israelites marched around and praised God with a shout, the walls of Jericho fell.

It's not surprising that this week the mother who had fought her battle with praise, emailed, "God has worked mightily."

I recently read "Onward Christian Soldiers" written by Sabine Baring-Gould in 1865. The third line of the second verse caught my attention:

"At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on then,
Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise."

James assures us that if we "Resist the devil...he will flee" (James 4:7).

Dear Lord, help me to remember that praise is a powerful way to resist the enemy.

I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.


A Joyful Thought

The Holy Spirit stays with us continually, and He invites us to live with an awareness of His presence. Margaret Therkelsen in her book Realizing the Presence of the Holy Spirit, tells that years ago after reading in Revelation 7 of the praise in heaven, she entered into a time of deep worship. She was filled with praise and humbled herself as she saw Jesus as the victorious, risen, and triumphant Lord of lords.

After this time of tremendous love and praise began to fade from her heart, she heard the Holy Spirit say something unexpected. "Margaret, you will actually bow before Him one great day, but for now I don't want all your thoughts of Jesus to be external, outside of yourself. He is transcendent, but I want you to come to a deepening reality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within you at this present time."

Then the Holy Spirit brought to her mind scriptures that speak of the indwelling of God's Spirit. 

"He lives with you and will be in you" (John 14:17).

"He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him" (John 14:21).

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23).

She wrote, "I realized I had been too focused on God as being outside of me and not enough on God within me." The thought that we are to become more aware of the Holy Spirit within us has been a joyful thought to me. 

Dear Jesus, help me not to ignore Your Spirit within me.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20)


Say "I Love You" Without Words

I walked into our small church some years ago and someone said, "We have no teacher today for the primary class. Would you teach them?" 

When I entered the small class of pre-schoolers, I decided to concentrate on only one thing: I would love them. We sang a few songs and I told them a Bible story while I concentrated on having a loving spirit for each of them. 

Class ended and we all went to the worship service. I wondered if loving them had made any difference.

At the end of the service, I was still seated when I looked down and saw the children in my class gathered around me and looking up as if to say, "Love me some more, Teacher." Even though I had not said in words that I loved them, my spirit had communicated love. I've become convinced that people sense our spirits. 

"The Holy Spirit is the love of God" states Margaret Therkelsen in Realizing the Presence of the Spirit. Asking for more love is asking for more of His Spirit to be flowing through us. "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5). When we allow the Spirit to flow through us, we are channels of His love.

Dear Lord, make me a channel of Your love to those with me today.

"Epaphras...has told us about the great love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you" (Colossians 1:8 NLT).



President Reagan and Worship

When our son Gregg was a teen, he had the good fortune of standing with a row of about ten others with whom President Reagan shook hands. 

Gregg told us later, "I had planned to ask him if he still liked jelly beans, but when he shook my hand I was too overwhelmed by his power."

Perhaps we need a sense of being overwhelmed with the greatness of Christ when we come to Him in prayer. The apostle John "was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is going to betray you?'" (John 21:20).

But it was a different story when he saw Christ in his vision on the Isle of Patmos. John said he saw someone "like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance" (Revelation 1: 13-16).

John said, "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead." After being overwhelmed with the majesty of Christ, John was then ready to hear God's voice. 

Meditating on passages that exalt Christ and cause us to worship help to lead us into His presence! They remind us that although we are invited to come boldly to His throne, we are not to consider it as merely a casual encounter.

Dear Lord, help me to glimpse Your greatness so I can worship and adore You acceptably.

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all" ( 1 Chronicles 29:11).

Moms and Their Words

"Mommy, may I help fold the clothes?" three-year-old Amy asked. Minutes later her mother looked in horror at the pieces her daughter had folded and immediately started to refold them. Amy began to cry. She had been proud of her job.

Her mother realized she had hurt her daughter. Did it really matter if the laundry wasn't folded as usual? Wasn't it more important to help her daughter feel confident in her work?

A child's feeling of competence is formed according to how he thinks others, especially his mother, feel toward him. If he's frequently told he does a sloppy job, he'll continue to fulfill what he thinks is expected of him.

In her book Children Are Wet Cement, Ann Ortlund wrote, "Over and over Ray and I told each child separately, 'I can hardly wait 'til you grow up. You're going to stand out in a crowd! You're going to love the Lord; you're going to lead others in spiritual things; you're going to be a wonderful Christian adult. We'll be so proud of you.' And it's true; each one of them has become that."

The impressions our words make as they go into his ears and down into his heart are absolutely crucial in forming his concept of his abilities.

Jesus, let my words be as encouraging as Yours must have been to children.

"Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body" (Proverbs 16:24 NLT). 

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness" (Proverbs 31:26 NLT).

Jeanette's New Name

For many years, Jeanette Howard was a lesbian. After she became a believer, God began to show her that He had a different plan for her life. Although she tried to resume her lesbian lifestyle, she felt uncomfortable and out of place in it. What was once so appealing to her was now hollow.

In her book Out of Egypt, she said God brought her to a point of decision. She began to hear Him say, "I know that you believe this is all you have. But I have something better. I have the best for you."

God didn't tell her what the best was, but she understood that in receiving Him, she had to turn her back on lesbianism. She was frightened. "Won't I actually be rejecting myself and my friends?" Jeanette asked. To give up her lesbian identity seemed impossible, yet she knew it was the only decision she could make.

"God," she whispered half hoping God wouldn't hear, "I don't want to play games with you. If I make this commitment and give myself to you one hundred per cent, I need you to keep your half of the bargain. I need you to be there for me." She paused then took the step of faith. "Okay, God, I'm yours."

At that moment her heart felt as though it had been ripped from her body. Then she sensed a hand resting on her chest. Slowly the pain transformed into a comforting warmth. Tears welled up in her eyes and trickled down her cheeks, soaking her pillow.

In the following weeks, she sensed God carrying her through the painful "loss" of her old life. At times she even forgot the pain, she was so overcome with the joy of the Lord. 

At a women's retreat, God exposed false labels behind which many women had hidden. One woman shared that God had changed her "name" from Stubborn to Persevering One. 

"What about me, God?" Jeanette begged. "What new name do you have for me?"

"You have believed a lie," God revealed. "But I am going to change your name. From now on you will know yourself as Woman."

His words pierced her. Woman! Years of confusion and anguish fell away as she embraced that elusive identity. God had touched her at the very center of her being.

She looked at the sea of female faces at the retreat. Something had changed. She no longer stood apart. For the first time in her life, these women seemed accessible to her--sisters in the Lord. It was an amazing feat on God's part!

Dear Father, I praise You for knowing what truth will set each one free.

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

Open Heart Open Home

Our houseguest had a close relative in town who told me he would be honored to have our guest stay with them. After several days, I began to wonder why the guest didn't go stay with his relative.

I remembered that God's Word instructs me to show hospitality without grumbling. And that means not to grumble in my thoughts, too.

So I prayed, "Okay, Lord, since You know my thoughts, I guard my thoughts and spirit. I will welcome him." And I did.

The next morning I was again tempted to feel resentful of this guest who I felt should be staying with his relative. I slipped out of the house to a quiet place and said, "Lord, all I care about is Your approval and Your smile on my attitude. Thank You for Your grace."

I walked back into the house at peace with whatever God allowed. To my surprise, that morning the guest announced he was leaving.

God is in control of our guest list; he guards their coming in and going out. If I trust Him to protect my schedule, He will when I respond in obedience by guarding my attitude.

Thank You, Jesus, for not letting me get by with a wrong spirit and for giving grace to be hospitable.

"When God's children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night" (Romans 12:13 NLT).

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling" (1 Peter 4:9).

Be Where God Is

"The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent" (Joshua 33:11).

Joshua refused to leave the tabernacle. God had been there speaking face to face with Moses, and the glory that Joshua sensed in that place drew him. 

Up to this point, he had been following Moses, but something about the presence of the Lord attracted him. In the verse above it appears Joshua thought, I am not going to leave this place of God's presence. I want to be where God is.

Moses had taught him that the glory came after spending time with God. He had been privileged to see Moses experience times of intimate fellowship with the Lord. During those times, Joshua began developing a longing for the glory he saw on Moses. Perhaps a hunger was being borne in him for a personal visitation of God.

Do you sometimes feel a longing to be in God's presence? Have you been challenged to make prayer a more significant part of your life when you've observed someone who has the peace and confidence that comes from having been alone with Him?

Sometimes the Holy Spirit gives a gentle prompting, a desire to be in God's presence. Martyn Lloyd-Jones cautions, "Always respond to every impulse to pray. I would make an absolute law of this-always obey such an impulse."

I give You thanks, dear Lord, for every time I feel drawn by the Spirit to pray. Help me to spend much time in the "Tent of Meeting," the place where You promise to meet and speak to us.

"For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you; there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory" (Exodus 29:42, 43).

Is Your Conscience Clear?

When my husband was a boy, occasionally his mother would ask him, "Do you have a clear conscience?" If he didn't, she would learn what was bothering him, and they would pray until his conscience was again clear. 

It's also a good question for adults to ask themselves. A lady who wrote to me gave permission to share how she gained a clear conscience.

"I'm quite an actor and play nearly any role--the good mother, a loving wife, the most fun aunt, cool adult. And that is who I really want to be, but one morning the Lord told me to stop acting and start being. 'Love must be sincere' came to my mind so I looked it up. [It is an] awesome section--Romans 12:9-21! I'm memorizing it.

"During a fun day at Lake Michigan I confessed to two godly sisters in Christ. One said, 'Now we need to pray because it says  to confess your sins one to another and pray for each other that you may be healed.'"I told them I wanted to be healed of some arthritis in my hands.

During the next few weeks God very gently showed me the possible wages of that sin. I was stricken with grief and repentance at the possible outcome of what the enemy had tried to minimize to me. It was a sin I was aware of for many years. 

"About that time I noticed my hands weren't aching even after painting all day. Usually gripping a paint bush can be somewhat painful after a while. I called my friends and we rejoiced."

Dear God, I don't want to stand before You and realize I have offended You and never asked forgiveness."

I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man" (Acts 24:16).

Jesus Offers Us His Name

Angela, a young wife from Taiwan, said her mother was Buddhist for many years before she became a Christian. After the mother accepted Christ, she began moaning at nights as though in great misery. 

Angela said, "I would hear her and go into her room and pray, 'In the name of Jesus, leave her alone.' Mother would quit groaning and awaken. 

"Then I thought maybe it is just my voice that awakens mother, so I began to experiment. I decided to pray silently. When I heard her groaning, I went to her room and silently prayed, 'In the name of Jesus, leave her alone.'"

Her mother awakened and said, "Oh, thank you, Angela, for rescuing me."

Jesus sent 72 on a mission trip. They returned amazed. "Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name" (Luke 10:18).

Jesus was not surprised. "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." He was saying, "You don't need to be astonished. I know his position and I have authority over him. When you use My name, you have the authority I have."

The key is for us to have the same purpose behind our requests that Jesus has. He promised, "I will do whatever you ask in my name that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You can ask me for anything and I will do it" (John 14:13). The purpose of prayer in Jesus' eyes is to bring glory to the Father.  According to this verse, He will do anything to bring His Father glory. 

Jesus, I praise You that all power is Yours and You make it available to all who long for the Father to receive glory.

"I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name" (John 16:23).


More Valuable Than a Grocery List

In Common Sense Living, Edith Schaeffer recalls that when she was a girl in Shanghai, she went skipping along beside Dr. Hoste, the director of the China Inland Mission. He didn't turn her away but simply told her he was praying and that she could come along if she wished.

She walked with him a number of times, holding his hand being very quiet while he prayed. She wrote, "He prayed for each missionary in the China Inland Mission, and for each of their children by name. He had the list with him, and he went through it. It was not just a recitation of names; he cared about each person and knew something of their needs. He felt this was his work."

"The list of ministers in our church lasts me 200 miles," someone said referring to the way he spends some of his many hours on the road. Most of us realize the value of taking a grocery list with us to the grocery store, and it occurred to me that when approaching God, I should be at least as prepared as I am when I go to the store. The more accessible I keep the list, the more I can use it throughout the day.

Could it be that some day we'll say, "But, Lord, if I had known You were going to answer all those prayers, I would have prayed more; I would have put more people on my list." 

Thank You, Jesus, that I still have time to touch others with my love and prayer.

"We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers" 1 Thess. 1:2).

Pray Until the Answer Comes

When I was in a prayer meeting with about twenty others, one of the wonderful ladies of prayer said, "Prayer is hard work. We don't 'just pray.' When it gets hard to pray, we pray on through that. The old-timers called it 'praying through.'"

When Jacob wrestled with the angel, the angel said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak" (Genesis 32:26). If the angel wished to go, why didn't He? He clearly had the power to slip from Jacob's grasp. But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

 In prayer, we often come to a place where we could easily stop praying or we can say as Jacob did when wrestling with the angel, "I will not let You go." 

This incident parallels Christ's response to the two disciples who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus: "Jesus acted as if he were going farther" (Luke 24:28). In both cases the principle is this: God will go if we do not desire Him to stay. 

It's an infinite honor for the Spirit to put any burden of prayer on us even when it is for our own family. We should cling to this honor as Jacob clung to the angel. 

The best help to our faith is a determination to pray a request based on Scripture until "we know that he hears us" (I John 5:15). Often that assurance that He has heard is accompanied by peace, a quiet knowing in our spirits. The Holy Spirit can give us as clear assurance as any person can. 

Faith is evidence of the unseen, so it's possible to pray until it seems God says, "You don't need to pray anymore because I've heard!" By faith we can rest from our own efforts and "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."

Thank You, Lord, that it is possible to know You've heard and will answer our prayer.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).

Can God Change Me?

Betty Malz shared a life-changing experience in which God revealed her true nature. She was very ill, unable to speak, but at times very aware of God's presence. One night various scenes of her past came to her, and in each one she saw not her excuses for reacting as she did but what God knew were her real reasons for her actions. 

As each scene flashed before her, she was gently made aware of a truth about herself. Her determination to protect her hairdo when traveling with her brothers on a hot summer day, for example, caused her to angrily demand that her sweltering family shut the car windows. This she saw to be not only self-centeredness but also the beginning of a pattern of wanting to get her own way.  

Her husband had wanted to invite a couple known for their marital infidelities to dinner and then to church. She had replied that the neighbors might think it strange if they identify with people of low reputation and that it would be best for them to meet at church.

"I fought off a desire to turn away from these painful revelations about myself," she wrote, "but there was no condemnation in the Presence. Only loving concern."

"Seeing my self-righteousness and pride made me want to hide my head under the pillow in shame." Tears flowed down her cheeks as she prayed for cleansing. 

"The Presence did not have to say a word, nor did He try to soften the impact. I felt awed by the exposure of my selfish, arrogant nature. When the tears of repentance came, there were comfort and reassurance in His manner."

After the Presence left, "Everything was unchanged outside of myself. Inside I was different."

Malachi promises that there is a Purifier of all our selfish motives. "He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the pleasant unto the Lord" (Mal. 3:3,4). 

"I'll come and purify you of all your selfish motives," God promises through these words. "I'll give you the ability to offer yourself and pray prayers that are one hundred percent pleasing to Me."

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me" (Ps. 139:23).

Thank You, God, that You don't show us our wrong motives without having the ability and desire to cleanse us.

Told in A Glimpse of Eternity by Betty Malz.

Begin With Praise

Just as there was a gate into the Old Testament tabernacle, there is a gate into the presence of God. "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise"(Psalm 100:4). Psalm 22:3 reminds us that God inhabits the praises of His people. God is present where there is joyful praise.

When we skip praise, we are missing the part of prayer that strengthens us for the prayer battles. Jesus implied this when he interchanged the word "praise" for "strength" 

Psalms 8:2 says, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger." Reread the verse substituting "praise" for "strength" as Jesus did when He quoted it in Matthew 21:16. He is saying that even the simple, the toddlers, and babes, can stop the enemy with praise.

Paul Billheimer suggests, "Satan is allergic to praise, so where there is massive triumphant praise, Satan is paralyzed, bound, and banished."

God shows us how to worship in His Word. Every Hebrew word for worship teaches something specific about how to worship. For example, yadah, which is used over ninety times, means "to worship with extended hands, to throw out the hands, to give thanks to God." It is often translated as praise in the Old Testament, as in Psalm 107:8: "Oh that men would praise (yadah) the Lord for his goodness."

By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" (13:15).