The apostle Paul, writer of most of the New Testament, made an extraordinary admission in Romans: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). Notice the key phrases:
The Spirit helps us to do prayer, to get away from the bustle of life and get alone with God. He reveals our critical need of daily grace by contrasting God’s strength with our human frailty. He draws us gently to our Source and helps our hearts to sincerely bow, believe and petition at God’s throne.
Many times, we face situations in life that are quite complicated and we are unsure what we should pray for — there is no obvious right or wrong choice. Maybe an opportunity arises for a short-term mission trip or a rebellious child gets into trouble with the law. What is God’s will in those situations? How should we pray? That is where the Holy Spirit helps us by revealing God’s will and granting us the faith to pray in the right direction.
The prayer of faith moves mountains (Mark 11:23-24; James 5:15). The Spirit alone makes the power of God so real to our inner person that we are enabled to ask, seek, and knock with bold assurance. This is another reason why the deepest truths and secrets of prayer can never be learned by lectures, teaching tapes, or books.
Prayer is learned by praying, and the heart usually learns faster than the head. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The Holy Spirit marries prayer and faith together within us, and brings about life-changing results.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.
In Joshua 7, we find the entire nation of Israel wailing in prayer. The village of Ai had just defeated them and put them to chase. As a result, Joshua called an all-day prayer meeting and the people gathered before God’s mercy seat to seek him.
The defeat by Ai had totally baffled Joshua. The Israelites had just come from a huge victory over mighty Jericho, and tiny, insignificant Ai should have been an easy victory. Yet now they were defeated and he couldn’t understand it. Joshua prayed, “Lord, why did this happen? Your reputation as a deliverer is going to be reproached.”
This prayer may seem spiritual but the Lord was not pleased with being blamed and he stopped the meeting cold: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them” (Joshua 7:10-11).
The implied meaning is, “You can pray all night and all day but until you deal with your sin, you’re going to keep falling before your enemies.” The sin the Lord was referring to was Achan’s disobedience of the clear word of God by committing theft (see 7:1). And now the Lord told Israel, “Get up off your knees. I won’t hear your prayers until you remove the accursed thing from your midst.”
When Scripture says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23), it’s referring to more than public exposure. It involves every area of your life, including prayer and fellowship with him. Jesus said the Father demands righteousness under the New Covenant as well as the Old: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).
You may believe you’re infused with Christ’s righteousness. You can pray for hours, study the Bible daily, and minister to the poor. But if you harbor sin against someone, you’re wasting your energy. Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? Are you angry with someone? The Lord is ready to answer your every prayer today and He wants to bless you as never before. But you have to believe his Word fully and accept what he says about sin. Then you will know God is hearing your prayers and he’ll come to you quickly!
“For the Lord loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever” (Psalm 37:28).
Once God touches and possesses someone, it’s for a lifetime. The Lord will never surrender to Satan what is his. You may falter, fail or fall into devastating sin, but once God possesses you, he will never, ever give up on you. Also, when he possesses you, he prepares you for ever-increasing usefulness.
Think back to the time when God came to you and supernaturally touched your soul. He called you to himself and filled you with his Spirit, while making a commitment to you: “I claim you; you are my possession.” Suddenly, God took control of your life and nothing was going to change that fact. You became God’s purchased possession: “The church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
The Creator of the universe bought you with the price of his own blood and nothing has power over that blood. Satan himself may ensnare you in a hellish trap and yet, just as he thinks he has you, God says, “No, devil, you can’t have him. He’s mine. I’ve purchased him and you must release my property.” God is preserving you, preparing you for his best.
David was a God-possessed man. Even though he was a giant killer, an anointed psalm writer, and a great king, he battled a fierce compulsion in his heart. At the very height of God’s blessing and favor, he was overtaken by a violent attack of lust. He fell into sin with another man’s wife and even had the woman’s husband murdered in battle. David suffered dire consequences for his sin but God preserved him through the ordeal. In fact, David was prepared for even greater ministry after his fall. His voice was heard throughout the land as never before and today we read his anointed words in the Psalms. The truth that God revealed to David through his trial is still being preached today.
Remember, the Lord will never give up on you no matter what struggle you face. You are the Lord’s, so receive his love, power, forgiveness and freedom! “For the Lord will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance” (Psalm 94:14).
The prophet Ezekiel testifies, “He brought me through the waters” (Ezekiel 47:3). In a vision, God took the prophet on an amazing trip through water. Carrying a measuring rod, the Lord paced off 1,000 cubits, about one-third of a mile. The Lord and Ezekiel then began walking in the water, which was flowing about ankle high.
The Lord kept urging the prophet onward, deeper and farther into the river. After another 1,000 cubits, the water came up to the knees — and it was still rising. Do you see what’s happening here? Ezekiel was walking into the future, right into our time.
Christians today live in the final 1,000 cubits of the river in this vision. We’re in the very last measurement of water and Ezekiel says that when he stepped to the edge of this measure, the water was too deep for him, too overwhelming. “I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim” (47:5). In other words, the water was over his head.
All the Old Testament prophets had a limited vision of Christ. Jesus himself tells us, “Assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it” (Matthew 13:17). The Lord reveals in this prophetic vision that in the very last days, the church of Jesus Christ will be more glorious, more victorious, than in its entire history. The Lord’s true body isn’t going to weaken and sputter; it’s not going to dwindle in numbers or decrease in power or spiritual authority. No, his church will go out in a blaze of power and glory. And it will enjoy the fullest revelation of Jesus that anyone has ever known.
Ezekiel writes, “Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many” (47:10). Ezekiel is saying that a body of believers will swim in rising waters of the Lord’s presence and God’s presence among his people is going to increase until the very end.
In the midst of all the death and destruction we see happening, the Lord’s prophecy thunders, “My river is going to rise and everything will live where my river flows.” You see, the river of life, which will crest just prior to the Lord’s coming, brings life wherever it goes.
Most sermons on Pentecost focus on the signs and wonders performed by the apostles, or the 3,000 who were saved in one day, or the cloven tongues of fire that appeared. But we don't hear about one event that became the greatest wonder of all. This event sent multitudes back to their nations with a vivid, unmistakable impression of who Jesus is.
Overnight, thousands of for-sale signs appeared in front of homes throughout Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Scripture says, "All that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need...Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need" (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35).
Imagine the scene in Jerusalem! Multitudes of houses, lots and farmland were suddenly being sold off, as well as household goods such as furniture, clothes, crafts, pots and pans, works of art.
Onlookers had to ask, ‘What’s going on? Do these people know something we don’t?” Any believer would respond, “No, we’re followers of Jesus and when we gave our hearts to the Messiah, his Spirit changed us. Now we’re doing the works of God and raising money for the poor and helpless.”
How did the Holy Spirit bring about this sudden change of heart in those newly baptized believers in Jerusalem? It was through the quickening in their hearts of the words of Jesus: “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
These believers knew they could never live the same way again. Suddenly they saw how serious this matter of representing Jesus truly is and it drove them into their houses to find everything they didn’t need and then take those goods to the streets to sell. Simply put, Christ’s Word gave them a new attitude of love and concern for the needy.
If you cry out for God’s touch and seek to have a new passion for Jesus, you’ll be taken on a great journey by the Holy Spirit. At some point on that path, you’ll end up facing the challenge of Jesus to care for others.