The 911 distress call goes out and YOU are the dispatcher. What rescue message do you send to Heavenly Headquarters? Your best friend’s wife is cheating. Your sister’s baby girl is stillborn. Your husband slumps through the door, shocking you with the news that he’s been laid off. A cut and bleeding heart is waiting for comfort, waiting for you to get in touch with God and pray your socks off.
Do you have a “hot line” to God? Words seem so inadequate. Wounds seem so deep.
What do you say?
I believe that’s when “bottom-line” prayers become your best S.O.S. The Holy Spirit can reveal to you God’s heart and their true need. Don’t be like the whiny toddler tugging at God’s pants leg begging “please, please, pulleeeze….” Don’t use your holiest Christianese filled with “Thee’s, Thou’s and Thine’s” to impress the Almighty.
But you can KNOW what to pray. Jesus knew what was in the heart of every man and woman and it was not always what he or she thought they needed. He always saw to the deeper issue. We can, too. Here are four examples from Jesus’ ministry.
A cast-off, rag-tag Samaritan woman plods toward the water well in the scorching sun. She finds a thirsty Rabbi, and asks Him about religion. He doesn’t answer her question about where to go to church. Instead, Jesus deals with the stigma and pain of her rejection and broken relationships with men. (John 4:1-26)
A rich young ruler desired Jesus’ approval for his self-righteous observance of the Law. Christ told him his root issue was insecurity over his finances and fear of the future. Could he step out on faith? (Matthew 19:16)
Martha Stewart, the Bethany cook who made a mean falafel, requested Jesus release Mary to assume her dishwashing duties. The Savior prayed for Martha’s people-pleasing, frantic life to be replaced with peace and worship. (Luke 10:40)
A dirty, contorted, paralyzed man lowered from the thatched roof by his buddies wanted one thing: to be able to walk. Jesus was known as a healer. But for this man, his root issue was a need for forgiveness. I’ve often wondered if the man harbored so much secret sin in his life that living a double life caused a debilitating stroke. Conjecture, maybe. But Christ’s answer was clear. (Matthew 9:2)
We can see inside the human heart with the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Here are a few suggestions in discovering to how to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in prayer.
First of all, when the crisis arises, stop. Just stop. Visualize the Omnipotent glorious God of the Universe enthroned in rainbows. See Jesus interceding for your suffering loved one. Worship and pray down from heaven and not up from earth.
Secondly, activate your Holy Spirit radar. If you want to see God you have to deal with un-confessed sin and un-mourned hurts. My husband squeezed a passle of eleven-year-old Sunday school girls into his Ford one Friday night and headed for the roller rink. The hot-air from their giggles fogged the windshield. Roger could barely see where he was going. A country cop pulled him over and gave him a ticket for missing a stop sign clearly posted nearby.
“Clean off your windshield, Son,” the policeman chided.
“And, by the way, you are over the passenger limit,” he added.
“And it might help if you turned your car lights on, seeing it’s night and all…”
Roger gulped and shushed his little charges.
“Now Sonny, I could throw you in jail for the night, but if you promise to clean your windshield and turn on your lights, I’ll let you take these little gals home.”
“Yes, sir, Officer,” Roger replied sheepishly. So he did.
Hearing God speak requires that we keep our lives free from unconfessed sin and unbelief. When you receive an impression from God, step out in faith and pray confidently. Let your blood bleed “Bibline.” Know the Bible so well that God can reveal His heart to you before you ever get the distress call. I have also found that my Heavenly Father hones my prayers when a pray with a group of mature believers.
Don’t let the distress calls panic you. Practice listening, ask wisely and your Heavenly Hero will do the rest.
Be encouraged. Even if words don’t come easily, you have this promise:
“ Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26. ESV
Portions of this article are taken from Dr. David Ferguson, www.greatcommandment.net.
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About Julie Barrier
For over 25 years, Dr. Julie Barrier, along with her pastor-husband, Dr. Roger Barrier, has been in demand as a national and international conference speaker, addressing topics such as marriage, ministry, Biblical study, and women’s issues in 32 countries. The Barriers are founders and directors of the Preach It, Teach It website, www.preachitteachit.org, providing sermons, devotionals, blogs, and videos by 100 internationally renowned teachers and authors such as Francis Chan, Josh McDowell, Max Lucado, and Beth Moore in 212 countries. Julie also taught Biblical Foundations of Worship, Conducting, and Arranging as an adjunct Professor at the Dixon School of Church Music at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. In their 35-year ministry at Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona, Julie has served as a minister of worship, orchestra conductor, and arranger. Julie is also a concert artist and radio talk show host. Dr. Barrier is the author or composer of over 100 published works: books, articles, devotionals, dramas, choral and orchestral pieces. Her latest book is Bored in Big Church: Recollections of a Church Brat and Tattletale (Xulon Press, 2011).
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