#WarfareWeek: The Weapons of Our Warfare

Hello, lovelies! I hope you’re enjoying Warfare Week as much as I am! It was great to talk about what God is working out in my heart with advocacy and I loved connecting with Emerald about her testimony about the fight to love yourself.

Today, I’m excited to welcome Kandi J. Wyatt, author of the incredible middle grade fantasy series, Dragon’s Courage, and medieval retelling of Hagar’s story, The One Who Sees Me. Right now, she is also sharing the Holy Week story from a unique perspective on her blog, which I’ve been really enjoying. To say the very least, Kandi is an incredibly gifted author, and I’m grateful to have her join me this week to talk about the ultimate spiritual warrior and some weapons for battle.

Please join me in giving Kandi a warm welcome!

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When I think of a warfare, I think of a warrior—standing in the gap, willing to lay down his life for another, obeying orders to the end, holding out against all odds. Therefore, when I was asked to write about spiritual warfare, I immediately thought of a warrior—a prayer warrior. Phrases such as “Get down on your knees and fight like a man” came to mind as did the song, “She’s a prayer warrior down on her knees, wrestling with angels and principalities.”

My image of a warrior being in prayer formed early in life. I remember learning verses in Awana clubs. “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) “Casting all your cares upon Him for He careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) These verses were emphasized through both Mom and Grandma. They taught me that Jesus was a friend that I could talk to at any and all moments. He was a living part of our home.

As I grew older, I was introduced to Frank Perretti’s books This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. These novels added to my image of prayer as warfare. They give a unique glimpse into the angelic realm and portray angels as ready to wage war but waiting on our prayers to give them the victory! At the same time, my late teen years, I had three ladies who were my prayer warriors. They were either old enough to be my great-grandmother or in bed with cancer or both. They had not given up on life, however. They fought tooth and nail in prayer—prayer for me, prayer for our church, prayer for their families. I was about twenty-years-old when they died. I physically felt the gap from the loss of their prayers and said I would take up the banner and pray.

Being young and naive. I didn’t realize the war that took place when one is down on his or her knees. I have not been able to pray as earnestly as those three prayed for me, but I did find ways to pray. I’ve struggled and even now need to take my own advice and pick up the mantle to pray again.

In the hustle and bustle of our lives, I discovered it helped to pray when I had a specific list and a specific time. Living in a rural area, I found myself in the seat of a car on a regular basis. I drove past the homes of people I knew. I began to pray for them. My list began as I left the driveway, praying for my own kids. Then I moved on to pray for my extended family, from there, a person from church whose road I passed, then my son’s friend. Sometimes, I didn’t pass a specific person’s home, but a friend of theirs. To facilitate this type of prayer, turn off music until your prayer time is over, then you can add in some worship songs to finish praying. Know what to pray for. I prayed for salvation of loved ones, that they would be drawn close to God, that they would be kept pure for God and the one they would one day marry, for their marriages, for wisdom raising children, and if there was something specific going on that day or week. This type of prayer can also happen on a walk if you live in town and have a semi-regular walking schedule.

Another way my prayer life blossomed was through Moms In Touch, an organization that helped moms pray for their school age children. The format was intimidating at first—gather with other moms to pray for a full hour! Yes, you read correctly. Pray, not talk to your friend, but pray for a full hour. The more time I had with the group, I found we often had to limit ourselves to an hour. With the format it became easy to pray for that long. We began with praise to God focused around a specific verse. We would praise God for who He is based on an attribute or something He had done listed in scripture. Then we would have a time of silent confession of sin, again with a verse to guide our prayers. Next we would use a different verse for thanksgiving, thanking God for what he had done in our lives or the lives of our children that week. The meat of our prayers then focused on our kids and their schools. A verse guided our prayers. It is amazing the power of praying a verse for a person. You can pick it apart and pray many specific things for them. Finally, one person closed the prayer. The amazing thing with Moms In Touch was the way we prayed together. One person would pray a thought and someone else would pick up and echo or expound on that thought. It was a time that bound us together as moms. To this day, a lady at church still prays for my kids and I pray for hers.

Several years ago, I read the book, Radical by David Platt. It explained how the American dream has filtered through to the church and its teachings. I was challenged to pray around the world. Being a literal type of person, I found the CIA fact book and began reading an entry each day and then praying for that country. If I knew missionaries in the land, I’d add them to my list. After a year or two of using the CIA fact book, I discovered a 10-40 prayer calendar. It gave a specific people group each day of the year to pray for with some detail of their needs at the beginning of the month.

Prayer calendars are handy. Besides the 10-40 calendar, I also have one for praying for your kids and one for praying for your spouse. These two give you a verse to pray each day of the month for the specific person.

As the years have passed, I have struggled with prayer. The routine gets old, the enemy whispers lies in my ears. I need encouragement. So, writing a post on prayer has challenged me to return to praying. What tools have you used to keep up a consistent prayer life? Please share. I’d love to hear them and let you know which one I pick up next.

Prayer Warrior

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You can connect with Kandi on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And please show her some love by sharing the tools you’ve found helpful in your prayer life.

Thanks for joining us, Kandi!

A Wall of Protection and a Hedge of Thorns

The absolute best bit of advice I received last week was to pray over my workspace.

Friday morning, I arrived a little early, and I prayed. In the midst of telling the enemy to stand down in Jesus’ name, I remembered one of my dad’s prayers.

Every Saturday morning, for as long as I can remember, at the end of our family devotions, my dad would pray a wall of protection and a hedge of thorns around each of my siblings and I by name. As our family expanded to include siblings-in-law and nephews and nieces, they were added to that Saturday morning prayer.

The Scriptural concept of a hedge of thorns is found in both Hosea, where it is used as a method to frustrate a wandering heart, and in Job, where Satan says of God’s protection, “Have you not put a hedge of protection around him and everything he has?” I don’t know my dad’s heart, but given the language he used – a wall of protection and a hedge of thorns – I’d venture to guess he was probably praying for both.

Growing up, I didn’t have the understanding of this prayer that I do now. I had a picture of the hedge of thorns that guarded Sleeping Beauty designed to deter her Prince Charming. Wouldn’t a wall of protection and a hedge of thorns only serve to keep people away? Why would my dad want to keep people away from me?

No, I didn’t fully understand my dad’s prayer until last week, as I prayed it for myself over my workspace. My dad didn’t want to keep people away from me, or me away from people. He wanted to keep unworthy away from me, and me away from unworthy. He wanted me away from things that would use and abuse me, from things that would view me as something to be subdued and conquered, from things that couldn’t see beyond the wall and the hedge. And those are exactly the spirits I’ve been up against the past several weeks.

Some people within my circle of acquaintance will say, “That’s what you get for moving away from your parents on your own.” Believe me, I had that thought myself. Then I remembered, it’s not my dad and my mom who protect me. It’s not even me who protects me. God protects me.

Others will say, “Protection is not the point.” I know that. I’ve been through way too much to not know that. And I’m in no way advocating a playing-it-safe kind of life. I don’t roll that way.

However, I’ve been through way too much not to trust my gut, not to know that I’m not obliged to receive everything that comes at me. Sometimes I disregard my gut, and take everything anyway, because I’m determined to believe the very best about people and situations, but I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t. Just because bad things happen to everyone, and have happened to me, and will continue happening to me, doesn’t mean I have to walk around unprotected, either.

So I’m going to keep praying my wall of protection and hedge of thorns.

 

It Doesn’t All Have to Happen Right Now

Good gravy, y’all. Moving is no joke. (And I’m not even done yet). Yesterday, I moved my things from my temporary residence to my new apartment, and then on Saturday, I’m bringing the rest of my stuff from Texas. Good thing I’m not planning on doing this again anytime soon.

In the hustle and bustle that was yesterday, as I kept thinking about all of the things I needed to do and get for my new place, there was this little voice in the back of my mind, It doesn’t all have to happen right now, Lydia.

And that ended up being a good thing, because I spent 45 minutes putting up a shower curtain rod. Not the shower curtain. The rod. (I mean, seriously, who needs directions? Not this girl. Obviously.)

By the time I finished with that, I literally crashed. If you’re wondering, my plan today involves a nap before I even think about doing anything else. And that will be okay. It’s not like my apartment is going anywhere.

Anyway, with everything else going on, I managed to squeeze in our mid-week prayer meeting and Bible study at church, and I’m so glad I did. God knew exactly what I needed.

During our prayer time, I was talking to God about something personal, something I’d like right now, and if not right now, as soon as possible. And again, I heard that voice: It doesn’t all have to happen right now, Lydia. But I wasn’t listening. Not really, anyway.

Then, during Bible study, my pastor taught on Satan’s temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4, and he brought up something really profound, which I will attempt to paraphrase without completely butchering it. Basically, he said that Satan was trying to get Jesus to short circuit God’s plan by offering Him something more immediate.

I know, right?

It doesn’t all have to happen right now, Lydia. In fact, what you’re asking Me for right now would cause pain and confusion if I did it right now. You need to wait.  

This seems to be a theme in my life, the waiting. (I blame my Dad, who has prayed the Greek word hypomeno over my life since I was a little girl.) But it’s a different kind of waiting than I’ve done in the past, which usually consists of waiting in prayer. I mean, I still do that with lots of things, but with this particular situation, God seems to be directing me to wait to even ask. There will be a time to ask, but … this is not the time.

And, you know, that’s okay. My life is brimming right now as it is. I am blessed as God has brought me to the next level in life, ministry, and work, and so I’m just going to be in that right now.

 “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4 NIV).

Nehemiah

In my trek through Old Testament History books, I find myself in Nehemiah this National Day of Prayer.

If there’s something Nehemiah is known for, it’s prayer. (Well, and restoration, of course). In fact, the first thing he does is call out to God when he hears about the distressed state of his people and Jerusalem. When he needed wisdom in a particular situation, he prayed before addressing it (Nehemiah 2:4b). He leaned on God in times of opposition (Nehemiah 4). He sought God’s favor in everything he did (Nehemiah 5:19; 13:31). He responded to threats and fear by asking for the opposite (Nehemiah 6:9b).  He was a worshiper (Nehemiah 12).

Today, though, I was mulling over chapter six.  Nehemiah has been building, and the gaps are closed, in spite of opposition from Sanballat.  (I know, that just sounds like the name of a villain, doesn’t it?)  The only thing still needed are doors on the gates, so you would think the bad guys would recognize this as a lost cause and give up, but no.  In this chapter Sanballat tries to lure Nehemiah away from his project four times, and when Nehemiah doesn’t respond, he accuses the builders of plotting a rebellion.  Nehemiah shrugs it off, and continues working, so the enemy tries to plant seeds of fear: They’re weak and tired and they’re never going to finish.

Then what does Nehemiah do? He prays four words, “Now strengthen my hands.”

Honestly, I tend to think I would have given up back in chapter four, when Sanballat and his buddies first started coming around, but I almost certainly would have thrown in the towel at this point.  I’d probably be so sick of the threats and the distractions, I’d just say, “You know what? You’re right.  I am weak and tired and I’m not ever going to finish.” Probably.

Not Nehemiah.  He was so focused on his calling – restoring Jerusalem’s walls, and in many ways, its people – that he treated Sanballat as exactly what he was: a distraction.  He knew the only reason Sanballat was coming around was because the gaps were closing, and he remained undeterred in his task.

At the beginning of my twenties, I asked God to use this decade of my life to make me a prayer warrior. Six years in, I see so many circumstances that I’ve given up on in sheer discouragement.

And, I’ve got to be honest, there’s something going on right now that I want to give up praying for.

That thing is Seattle. After four years of upset plans regarding Seattle, once again, I find myself in not quite the right timing. After four years, I’m weak and tired and I wonder if I’m ever going to get there, or if I’ll be stuck in the state of Texas forever.

Here’s the thing: even though I know it’s not time for me to go to Seattle in September, and even though I have no idea when it will be time, I do know I will go when the time is right.  So, I have two choices: I can give up and try to never think another thought about Seattle again (hahaHA), or I can keep praying the vision God has given me, and be at peace with the fact that when it’s time, I’ll be there.

I’m going with option two, even though I am tired and weak and everyone who’s followed this journey with me is going to roll their eyes and secretly think I’m never going. There will probably be days when I think that myself, and not-so-secretly.  But over the past four years, God’s been cultivating this vision in me. He’s nurtured it and made it blossom, and I believe with all my heart that any delay is because He’s not yet brought me to where I need to be for this transition. In the meantime, I’m exactly where I need to be.

Yeah, I’m tired.  I’m weak.

But with God’s help, I am going to see this vision through.

Now strengthen my hands.

 

 

The Elijah Task: Not (Exactly) A Review

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(Click the picture or here to buy).

“To be a watchman or a witness is to see what God is doing. We use the word witness too often only to describe our speaking to others. Rather it means one who watches God in operation among men.” ~John Loren and Paula Sandford, ‘The Elijah Task: A Call to Today’s Prophets and Intercessors

Synopsis (from Amazon):

It illumines the Bible like a searchlight, pointing out the mysteries of God. There still is much confusion and misuse of the office and the responsibilities of the prophet and the intercessor in the Christian arena. John and Paula Sandford explain how prophets are called and trained. With a great passion and urgency, they challenge all intercessors to realize and understand their vital role in the world today and how closely they must work with the prophets. John and Paula Sandford clearly explain:

What it means to be called and trained as a prophet or intercessor
How to understand dreams and visions and hear directly from God
Why it is important for the body to work in unity

This book is filled with spiritual discoveries that will effect dynamic changes in every reader.

About the Authors (from Amazon):

John Sandford graduated from theological seminary with an M.Div. in religion. He pastored churches for twenty-one years before founding Elijah House. Paula Sandford was active in the churches in music and Christian education and also taught English and Spanish in the public high school for several years. She joined her husband in the team ministry of Elijah House from its beginning and was ordained in 1995. They are considered pioneers in the prophetic and healing movements of our day. They have been married since 1951, have six children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

My thoughts:

I have difficulty assigning The Elijah Task: A Call to Today’s Prophets and Intercessors by John Loren and Paula Sandford an Amazon-style rating, or even reviewing it the way I normally review books.  This book came highly recommended when I was looking for a different perspective on prophecy than that which I grew up (predominantly cessationist and quasi-cessationist), in order to learn more about and grow in this particular gift.  In spite of a few doctrinal differences, this book accomplished was helpful in all of the ways I hoped it would be.

The Small Stuff.  I came to this book with the understanding that many in the continuationist camp also hold a replacement doctrine (example: John Piper), so I was not surprised to find it alluded to at the beginning of the book.  It was by no means pervasive, but it was there.  The authors also presented the idea that the Holy Spirit is in and operates through all created things, and I think I understand and agree with the gist of what they are saying (honestly, I am a little iffy), though it may come across as pantheistic to some.  There was also a reference to self-flagellation as being sometimes necessary in the work of prophet or intercessor, a sort of “bearing of sins,” something I wholly reject.  I believe the only sin-bearer is Jesus Christ, and that His work is done.

The Big Beef.  Early on in the book, the authors asserted something to the effect that a prophet “must stand mute before the will of another.”  It’s the idea that a prophet should not beat people over the head with his or her message, or impose his or her will on another.  This concept is in line with the biblical principle that “a servant of the Lord must not strive” (2 Timothy 2:24), and within this context, I wholly agree with what John and Paula Sandford presented.  However, John later shared an anecdote of how God told him not to go somewhere, but a church leadership told him to go, and he went with what church leadership told him, because they were his authorities.  While I think accountability and godly counsel are good and necessary (especially in the realm of prophetic ministry), I believe God is the ultimate authority, not human authority figures, and I follow him first. Perhaps this is because I’ve seen the “authority” card played a few too many times in my life, and perhaps I’ll think differently with more maturity, but … I kind of doubt it.

 Whatever my differences of opinion, God used this book to challenge and grow me.  I had to discern through prayer what I was resisting because of the Holy Spirit’s guidance and what I was resisting because of my stubborn self.  I’m still wrestling with some of the concepts, but the point is that it has been a good and healthy experience being exposed to a new point of view.

My Big Takeaways. The point is not that people know that prophecy is one of my spiritual gifts, the point is not that I must always share what I’ve received, the point is not to beat people into my way of thinking (or to persuade them that my way of thinking is God’s way of thinking).  The point is to direct people to Christ and His riches, and to do it humbly, recognizing I’m every bit in need of Him as anyone else.  The point is to intercede for people, to boldly bring them and whatever circumstances have been revealed before the throne of grace, expecting God to act, because after all, He brought them to you.  The point is to present the truth lovingly and graciously and if necessary indirectly (asking questions, using metaphors/analogies/symbols/allegories). The point is to recognize that humans like to come to their own conclusions and to give them freedom to do that.  (I think this is the best application of standing “mute before the will of another”).

The point is that neither prophecy nor intercession are about me at all, but instruments that God uses to bring about His good pleasure. Going forward, I’m focusing more on intercession, though of course, I hope to speak up when and how God calls me to.

Finally, prophecy seems to be one of those gifts that put you under a microscope, at least coming from my background.  People seem to be waiting for you to be wrong, which you inevitably will be.  So, I learned about grace.  I learned that even if I make a mistake (either personally or in ministry), God’s grace can cover it.  (Which does NOT, by the way, excuse me from repentance or consequences, but it doesn’t disqualify me either).

Overall, this book was challenging and an encouragement – an exhortation, as some might say.  It was exactly what I needed.  And if you’re looking to learn more about prophecy and intercession, and are willing to be challenged on some things you believe, I highly recommend this book for you.*

*I do not recommend this book for cessationists  or people who have everything already figured out.

All this being said, I am looking for more book recommendations or teachings regarding the spiritual gifts of prophecy, exhortation, and mercy-showing.  Any suggestions?

“The ‘summum bonum’ [greatest good] is therefore the work of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father’s testimony to men. He is the wisdom that sits by the throne of God. He is the expression and vindication of God among men. His life will more and more express itself through the sons of God among men. But the church must learn to trust as He shows us that we are not as yet as He is.” ~ John Loren and Paula Sandford, ‘The Elijah Task: A Call to Today’s Prophets and Intercessors

Prayer That Is Hard

“Faith fights for the lives it loves.” ~from a teaching on Abraham and Lot (I wish I knew who said this, but it’s just a notation in my Bible, and I can’t find it in any old sermon/teaching notes.  I only know I did not come up with it!)

Confession:  For nearly two years now, I have neglected part of my calling from God.  You see, five years ago in April, God called me to be a prayer warrior.  He called me to do battle on my knees.  And I did, for about three years.  Three years ago it began to dawn on me that the people I was battling for were not even doing battle for themselves, and that brought with it tremendous discouragement, but I ploughed on anyway.  Two years ago I became tired and succumbed to feelings of hopelessness, and I stopped.

I didn’t stop praying,  I just stopped doing battle.  I stopped putting my blood, sweat, and tears into praying for other people.

God has been prompting me to go back into battle for a long time now, and I am ashamed to say, I’ve kept telling Him no.  I have resented the target that’s been on my own back as I do battle for others.  I have resented the emotional exhaustion of pouring out my heart to God on behalf of others and nothing ever changes.  I have resented the people I’m battling for as they don’t know or care about the intercession going on for them and they don’t change.

In the past year, I have begun to do battle for myself once more, to pray more boldly about what God will do with me, but I’ve held off fighting for others.  In my heart of hearts, I have been guilty of thinking that it is easier for God to change me than for Him to change others.

Last week, I was doing some thinking, and I heard God say to me,  “This is not what you prayed three years for.” And I just said back, “Are You even going to do what I prayed three years for?” (Oh, me of little faith).  And I breathed a little prayer right then, and almost promptly forgot about it.

Until what I prayed about happened.

I was then forced to reckon with the fact that the three years I spent doing battle had not gone to waste.  My prayers had been seen, heard, and known by the Sovereign of the universe, and He has always intended to do what I’ve done battle for.  And again, He asked me to do battle.

And so I did.  And I will continue to do so, hard as it will be.

Spending that kind of time and energy in prayer is never fruitless!