Let’s make a difference.
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.Colossians 4:2-4 NKJV
We started this journey by asking the question, “What can we do to help Christians who are struggling to receive the healing God has provided for them.” We looked at the importance of putting on our new identity in Christ. We saw some of the places where out understanding of faith may need to be adjusted. Finally, we spent a lot of time on the importance of covenant relationships, particularly in the area of prayer. There is power in covenant, committed intercession for the sick. Thank God that we have learned more about how to receive healing! Now I want to take it one step further.
Let’s go back and look at 1 Corinthians 5:1-5:
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.1 Corinthians 5:1-5 NKJV
As we noted in Healing Help 35, Paul appears to be instructing church leaders to have a prayer meeting to allow the devil to physically attack a man who was living in open sin. We spend most of our prayer energies trying to get the devil off of people who are serving the Lord and who know His healing power. That prompts the question: “What kind of protection did they enjoy that we seem to have lost?”
The idea of God’s believing and obedient people enjoying protected status is a common topic in Scripture. Israel lived in Goshen, free from the plagues in Egypt. Deuteronomy 28 promised protection from disease as a blessing of keeping covenant. We all know Psalm 91’s safeguards for those who dwell close to the Lord. The Lord taught the disciples to pray, “deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:13).” Jesus prayed for us on the eve of His crucifixion, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15)” You get the idea.
In this concluding section of Healing Help, I want to challenge you to take part in a revival. There is a kind of praying that has, to a large extent, fallen by the wayside. On April 18 of 2021, the Spirit of God spoke to me in a service, and I wrote it down:
“If you wait for a request for prayer, that means the situation has gotten bad enough to motivate another to ask for help. If God’s people had been praying as led by the Holy Ghost, the situation may have been avoided or aborted at an earlier stage. By the time the prayer request comes, damage has already been done and a process is in motion with momentum, and the process will be more difficult and painful – remedial rather than preventive or protective.”
It’s time to move beyond just praying to get the devil off of folks. Thank God for the ability to do that, but there is a place of prayer where we see the enemy’s plan and head him off. We may actually be able to prevent the enemy’s attack before it happens. Notice Paul’s language in Colossians 4:2, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving (NKJV).” Vigilant is a word that describes those who stay awake and alert, who stand watch for the enemy on the horizon, a kind of spiritual sentry. This is not an uncommon idea:
Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. (Mark 13:33 NKJV)
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38 NKJV)
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7 NKJV)
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NKJV)
praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— (Ephesians 6:18 NKJV)
God gives us the capacity and the instruction to stand watch in our prayers. As we have seen, He wants us to do this with persistence and expectation. Unfortunately, most of us are so “busy” that we tell ourselves we don’t have time for the kind of praying described in the Bible. It’s time to take a hard look at how we use our time and our attention. Priorities need to change. We are entering a season when the enemy will throw everything he has into dissuading the Church from it’s mission. Without some changes in how we view life, our faith, and the things of the Spirit, the assaults of the enemy on our people will continue. He will keep us running from one emergency to the next, trying to put out the fire of sickness after it’s already running wild. That is being led by the devil instead of the Spirit.
The remedy for this situation is a revival of the kind of continual, vigilant prayer that sees ahead and intervenes in the Spirit. If you want to be part of protecting your church family from the devil’s assault, there are skills and disciplines you will have to develop. In order to do this, you will have to get serious about prayer. Are you ready? Here are the tools that you’ll need:
Watching, waiting prayer tool kit:
- Prayer priority: Until you believe intercession is important and powerful, it won’t happen. Until you make a decision to do it, it won’t happen. Until you put the importance of prayer above the “urgencies” in your life, it won’t happen. Do you believe that prayer changes things? If not, go back and read Healing Help 37: Why Pray?. If so, pray!
- Fasting: Fasting isn’t about food. It’s about getting control of your passions and distractions so you can devote your attention to prayer. One great way to make time to pray is to substitute prayer for one meal a day. Another fast that will help you is the fasting of entertainment and digital toys. Turn off the TV and the cellphone for an hour and focus on God. If you don’t, the devil can always find one person (it just takes one) that he can inspire to distract you and pull you away. (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 / Luke 9:23-26)
- Praying in the Spirit: We have touched this subject at length, but please never forget the importance of getting your mind quiet and allowing God to use your tongue to pray His will. (See Healing Help 43: I Will Pray with the Spirit)
- Praise and thanksgiving: Paul specifically instructs us to “ with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6 NKJV).” Praise to God opens the doors of heaven and prepares the ground of your heart. This doesn’t require that you be a singer. (If you can’t bring yourself to sing, try reading Psalms aloud. Then try writing your own and reading them.) Ps 100 / Eph 5:18-19
- Waiting: For many folks, this is a very difficult thing. We don’t like silence. We’re addicted to mental or physical activity. However, if you want to hear God, the discipline of silent, expectant waiting is necessary. The Bible ties this to reverence. If you believe He is almighty and all-knowing, try acting like it. How do you listen if you expect a still, small voice? Quietly! (Psalm 28:1/1 Kings 19:12 / Psalm 4:4 / Psalm 46:10 / Habakkuk 2:20 / Luke 10:38‑42)
- Listening and obeying: When we learn to listen to the Spirit on the inside, we put ourselves in prevention or early detection mode. We see ahead in the spirit for those with whom we are in covenant. That’s what it means to watch in prayer. Becoming aware of and sensitive to the spirit on the inside is key to avoiding many heartaches.
- When words rise up in your heart, speak them. We talked about prophetic intercession in the context of praying for the sick, now apply that principle to preventive prayer.
- When specific people or circumstances come to your mind while praying, continue to pray until the Spirit takes hold with you. Don’t back away when you sense the burden or the grief or the pain of another. Stay steady when overwhelming compassion rises in your heart. Pray through just like we did when praying for the sick, until the burden lifts and peace or joy is restored in your heart. You are fighting the battle in the spirit before it comes in the natural.
The next step is to take what you learn in your prayer closet into your everyday life. The sensitivity to the Spirit on the inside that you develop in prayer can be the alarm bell that saves your life or the lives of others. The Lord is looking for people who will stand in the gap before Him (Ezekiel 22:30). How does God search? He touches the hearts of those in whom He dwells. If God lives in you, take the time to be sensitive to Him. He’s in you all the time, at work, at school, while you’re sleeping. Don’t ignore Him when He touches your heart with someone else’s pain or despair or anxiety. He’s looking for a gap-stander. Step away from whatever you’re doing at your first opportunity and pray until you know you’ve prayed it through.
Here’s the Point: God wants you healed. He wants all His children healed. He has established the Kingdom in such a way that we need each other in order to experience the fullness of His blessing and to fulfill our purpose. One of the ways we live this out is by praying for one another.
In the early church, there was no TV, no electricity, no cars or telephones. The rhythm of life was much different than what we experience today. We are inundated with information, true and false. We are often connected by technology rather than human contact. In fact, the technological marvel that enables me to preach in a service a thousand miles from home, also overwhelms me with information and requests that I can’t possibly process. It beeps and buzzes and flashes, demanding attention right now. It distracts me from face-to-face connection with the people who live next to me, and it certainly pulls at my mind to move away from the things of the Spirit.
I have spent most of the last 40 years trying to make complex ideas simple so regular people can digest them. I’ve tried to present folks with simple, accessible, even easy, ways to put their hand to the Gospel plow. It’s apparent to me that those days are over. A revival of the kind we need in order to live above the last days chaos will take a re-ordering of priorities. I suspect that very few will be willing to do it, but I pray that some of us will be. It’s important!
Next Steps: Start the revival. Make extra time to pray. Get in your private place, yield yourself to the Spirit of God, and let’s remember who we are and what we have. I’m again asking you to take part in a determined, unyielding, inconvenient calling to bring weary believers into contact with the healing power that God provides. Having done that, commit to the effort and sacrifice it will take to pray watchfully and continually, with your eyes on the spiritual horizon, intercepting the enemy before he can strike.
God told Pharoah that He would protect His people from the plagues of Egypt: “I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.” (Exodus 8:23 NKJV) We can make a difference that will be a sign to the world. Let’s do this!
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