…one of the most common temptations is to draw back from pressing in hard after God. I am not referring to being tempted to quit the faith but of being tempted to quit pressing in hard after Jesus and to just “coast” spiritually for a few years. The Spirit inspires us to recommit again and again to live in wholeheartedness and to never let go of our vision to walk in the fullness of God in our lives.
As you may know by now, I have been reading books as part of an intensive discipleship program, including books like the fabulous Growing In Prayer by Mike Bickle that I have posted several times about.
The latest book in this series is “He-Motions” by T.D. Jakes, which is full of great anecdotes for those who learn best through a story, and broadly covers waking with God. It is written to both men and women, with almost every single section including thoughts specifically for wives, and a special set of questions for women to ask, consider, and/or share with their husbands. I probably got the most out of hearing Breanna’s perspective on our family, my purpose and strengths, motivations, etc. I highly recommend this book for 2 main groups of people:
Middle-aged men who may be considering big questions in life
He-Motions covers many examples related to the middle of life and a mid-life crisis. Jakes steps back and puts things in perspective by talking about our purpose and identity, and the seasons and stages in life, putting into context some of the things men might be experiencing at transitional times in life. Jakes is also quite thorough in covering the emotions, issues, and relationships men face. By touching on many manly areas, like a man’s relationship with (or issues from) his father, relationships with other men and how to structure them to strengthen yourself, your relationship with your wife, your relationship with your children, and your relationship with God.
It is the balanced look at a man’s soul and walk with God that I think would be centering and realigning for both middle-aged men asking questions, and the second group:
Younger men (or perhaps men who are younger Christians) learning about walking with God
A perfect example of how this book centers on the basics of balance across the spectrum is the section on relationship with your wife. This section talks about power, money, and sex as the 3 areas of a marriage, where Jakes gives basic advice about not letting things separate you from your partner, like a division of chores or decision making where each partner does things they are good at and don’t mind, while making sure all the bases are covered for a well run house, family, and budget.
Another example is the pyramid of friends. He describes how we need one friend who we trust implicitly and who knows us completely, then a couple of friends that we still trust highly, then several friends who we are still quite close with, a large group that we know and call friend, and then the rest of the crowd, who though they may call us friend are generally in it to be served by us. He talks about the depth of trust needed at the top in order for a friend to be able to call you out when you are wrong, lift you up when you are down, and provide a different perspective when you need wisdom.
While the book was more based on stories and practical advice than on a deep delve into scripture, throughout the book Jakes discusses the life of David, using him as an example of a man after God’s own heart. Above all that is what we can take away from “He-Motions”; God does not require a man to be perfect, or have his life in order, even though the book provides advice to do so. Instead, God seeks for men willing to open their heart to Him, to turn to him even when its out of pain, frustration or doubt. A man after God’s own heart is not one that follows Jake’s advice to a “T”, but one who is willing to walk with God, through good and bad, throughout his entire life.
This posts continues the series “Growing in Prayer” by Mike Bickle, where I am discussing one of the most impactful books I have read in years. See the whole series of posts “Growing in Prayer” by Mike Bickle
As I covered in my last post, he discusses how and what to pray and grow in prayer, which in itself gave me many times more things to pray about. The next section of the book began to dive into Biblical understanding of prayer:
“Biblical Paradigm For Prayer”
Chapter 7 begins this with these steps:
1. Verbalize requests to the Father
2. Receive requests in the Spirit realm
3. Believe that you receive it
4. Remind God of His words and promises
5. Receive your requests in the natural realm, in God’s timing, with persistence
The next few chapters continue to analyze the prayers of Jesus and the apostles. Looking closely at Jesus, he primarily exhorted us to pray for release of the Spirit and for greater justice. Of course the Lord’s prayer is the most famous apostolic prayer, and Bickle breaks down its importance, found in seeing God as father and king, and six requests we should pray regularly: that is name be treated as holy, that His kingdom be openly expressed, that His will be done, for our daily provision, for forgiveness, and for deliverance from evil. By praying each of these thoughts in specific ways (ie. against a certain evil fad in culture, or asking for forgiveness in personal relationships as it is needed), we can experience a greater depth of prayer.
Looking at additional scriptures we see how intercession helps us grow in intimacy, avails transformation in us, unites us, renews our faith, multiplies blessing, and gives us an inheritance (specifically, our inheritance is the nations, like in Psalms 2:8). Chapter 12 discusses intercession in the form of spiritual warfare with a three-pronged approach: 1. Proclaiming victory over personal, cultural, and cosmic strongholds; 2. confess sins; 3. do the works of the kingdom (acting opposite of the evil in a certain stronghold).
Worship is agreement with who God is.
Intercession is agreement with what God promises to do.
Holiness is agreement with God’s heart of love.
Healing is agreement with God’s heart for life.
Devotional prayer includes prayers to strengthen our inner man, praying scripture, fellowshipping with the Spirit, declaring and honoring the names of God.
Ch 14 has a nice tool for prayers to strengthen our inner man:
F: Fear of God – aligning our hearts in awe and honor
E: Endurance – strengthen our hearts for patience, zeal, fasting, praying, and holiness
L: Love – God’s love for us, and our love for God, others, and ourselves
L: Light of glory – let me see you glory through dreams, visions, angelic visitations, etc.
O: One thing – sitting at the Father’s feet focused Him and his beauty without distraction
W: Worthy – a measure of faith and obedience to walk worthy of His call
S: Speech – like David asking for help controlling the words of our mouth
H: Humility – to learn from Him to walk in humility
I: Insight – that the Holy Spirit can guide us into truth, insight, wisdom
P: Peace and Joy – the fruits of the Spirit that are the inheritance of every believer
Next time you pray, focus on practicing each of these different types of prayer and these mnemonic devices and I am sure you’ll experience fuller, deeper prayer!
As part of an intensive discipleship group, I have been reading “Growing in Prayer” by Mike Bickle.
The first part of the book is spent on setting up what I consider the basic concepts of prayer: Why we’re called to pray, characteristics of effective prayer, how/what to pray and grow in prayer, etc. Having already discussed why pray, let’s move on to:
Bickle talks about the fact that effectual prayer energized by relationship (ie. Honoring my wife) and righteousness (which is a person with a heart set on obeying God, not necessarily someone who succeeds at it all the time!), because those are things that are important to God. This includes scriptural concepts like “abide in Christ” and “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”. Therefore, in order share in the love of God, to have an effective “fellowship of the burning heart” relationship with the family dynamics of the trinity, we are called to live righteously and respect relationships.
This overall theme of closeness with God, being both a prerequisite and an effect of prayer, runs throughout. He also discusses how God made us to enjoy fascination, pondering, mystery…and pondering Christ’s ministry and God’s beauty are the ultimate form of this! Personally, I’ve often been stuck assuming I haven’t been getting the answer I hope for because of something wrong with me, like righteousness or relationship. However Bickle also notes that prayers may be answered in different ways than we expect, or a different time than we expect because God’s timing is different than ours, which is the mysterious will and way of God, even if it can be tough to understand at times.
How and What to Pray and Grow in Prayer
Bickle’s first and most important point in discussing how to pray and grow in it is the need for us to 1) set regular prayer times, and 2) create a prayer journal. As I first read this, I was immediately resistant, believing I could pray just fine without it because the list is already inside me, and my schedule is too crazy for a set time and maintaining another list. However, as I continued to read, the number and types of things I became inspired to pray for grew so fast that I had to start a list! The incredible picture Bickle paints of a higher life following God was so powerful that I am willing to stop making excuses and even redo priorities in order to grow in this.
Types and Themes of Prayer
The other most pivotal part of the beginning of the book for me was the section on organization of prayer. He discussed:
three types of prayer – intercession, personal petition, and devotion
which is the rough organization of the rest of the book. Intercession is praying for others- people, places, organizations (ie. country or government, business). Personal petition is prayer for our own personal needs (sorta self-intercession). Finally devotional prayer is love, communion, and worship of God and asking for strengthening of the Spirit.
Next he discusses:
three themes of prayer – gifts of the Spirit, fruit of the Spirit, and wisdom of the Spirit
which can be used in all three types of prayer. So if you are following along, that creates 9 types of prayers, and he gives extensive examples of all 9. An example might be intercession for our president to receive wisdom. Or for you personally or a fruit of the Spirit like peace. Or you may pray devotionally thanking him for gifts of the Spirit like a prophetic word or healing you might have received or witnessed.
So by taking any one person on my prayer list, and creating at least 3 (if not a whole lot more, ie. praying through all the fruits of the spirit), you can see how I soon felt like I needed to write down that prayer list!
As part of an intensive discipleship group, I have been reading “Growing in Prayer” by Mike Bickle.
The first part of the book is spent on setting up what I consider the basic concepts of prayer: Why we’re called to pray, characteristics of effective prayer, how/what to pray and grow in prayer, etc.
Bickle discusses much about our calling to pray, but here are my two favorite reasons:
Fellowship of the burning heart – Bickle discusses throughout the book what he calls the “family dynamics” of trinity: The Father’s love for Jesus, Jesus’s love for the Father, and likewise with the Spirit. He discusses with scripture the depth and character of this love, and then points out that we are invited to the party! God’s love for us, our love for God, our love for others, and our love for ourselves are all designed to burn like the family love of the trinity.
Especially notable to me was the discussion of being jealous of all he called us to. In other words, we must honor his feelings for us by loving ourselves. We are to adopt God’s view of ourselves, not the enemy’s or the world’s.
The power of speaking
Actually covered more in depth later in Chapter 8 about intercessory prayer, in two sections about the power of Jesus’s words and the spoken word, Bickle discusses how even though God knows all, when we verbalize our prayers we agree and align with the will of the Father, the words of Christ, and the works of the Spirit (this is my own understanding and interpretation of the concepts in the book). In explaining this, Bickle uses scripture to describe the creation this way:
The Spirit waited for the Father’s plans to be spoken before He released His power in the earth. When Jesus declared “Let there be light,” the Spirit released light.
The image above is my feeble attempt to understand this. Humans being uniquely created like God have the ability to seek God’s will, speak in the power of Jesus name, and witness or be vessels of the Spirits works of wonder, but none of it happens with out prayers that seek God’s will, speak it, and commune with and petition to the Spirit.
Next: Effective Prayer Pray
I’ve begun a 10 month discipleship program, designed for me to learn more about following God’s plan for me so that I can grow as a person, pray more powerfully, and help others more effectively.
One of our first assignments is to read “Growing in Prayer” by Mike Bickle. I highly recommend the book for anyone wether you’ve never prayed a word in your life and need to take a first baby step, or whether you consider yourself an absolute prayer warrior.
How can one book cover so much ground? Well let me give you an idea by telling you about Mike Bickle. In the book he tells about one of his first big dives into the prayer life; as a freshman in college he decided to accept a challenge to pray for an hour every day, and
he soon announced to his roommates that he would pray from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. every single night
(what he soon begin to refer to as “the hour of death”, and if you’ve ever tried to pray for an hour straight, especially the first time, you know why!).
Fast forward many years and Bickel is now the head of the International House of Prayer, a church where 24/7 prayer has not ceased for decades now, night and day every day of the year.
What came in between is what Bickel calls the transformation of his prayer life “from duty to delight”.
I’ve only just started the book and it’s already taking me deep into the world of prayer, but I really wanted to share one quote from what little I’ve read so far. Let this sit with you today:
“By praying we can both release God’s blessing in greater measure and cut off the work of the enemy, who seeks to devour our finances, break our bodies, ruin our relationships, oppress our hearts, and destroy our families. Through prayer we can hinder his destruction in our lives. God opens doors of blessing and closes doors of oppression in response to prayer.”
You were created in God’s image, and God is love. If you are uncomfortable with God, you are uncomfortable with love. If you are uncomfortable with love, you are uncomfortable with yourself. If you are uncomfortable with yourself, you are going to be uncomfortable with others. If you do not believe you are lovable, you may find it difficult to receive God’s gift of unmerited love and favor. And it may be difficult to enjoy healthy relationships with others if you view yourself differently from the way God views you.
“God’s reality, the visible world merged with the invisible world, is a reality of threes, not twos. Let me explain. Deciding to mentor isn’t a decision that’s just between me and that person or me and that group. That’s a world of twos. It’s me, the younger person who needs a mentor, and God. It’s me, the potential Radical Mentoring group, and God. God is the third party in every transaction . . . every situation . . . every decision.”
It’s incredible what just a few hundred extra bucks a months can do! Stress goes down, free time goes up a little, and all of a sudden you and your spouse are more relaxed, free, and flirty. There is time and space in your brain for connection and romance. There is room in your heart to assume the best of each other and look for the good.
Another benefit is closeness of working together if your so lucky to have the chance. #askme about the opportunity for at home income from #Plexus, which is what Bre and I do. The product is quality, and the income is generous. I love when I create something cool for our business and surprise Bre, and we get to spend time talking and planning together.