Funny how God invades my quiet times and turns my thoughts upside down and inside out! I’d love it if I had some sweet sunny rainbow and bunnies post today, but I cannot turn my face away from this child! I cannot hide, deny, or run from the heart of my Jesus and his call on my life and yours. We are not our own; we were bought with a price. We are HIS, and HE needs us to grow up now.
Yesterday I saw horrendous photos of children – and I mean toddlers – being shot in the head by terrorists, children’s bodies lying in rows as hooded men stood over them. This morning I’m reading Psalm 143 and reciting the verses I have memorized, “Save me from my enemies, for I hide myself in you….” And I stop short. This morning this prayer isn’t about me, isn’t meant to be just about the adversary I face in my own life; this morning the Holy Spirit is enlarging both my heart and my prayers.
And haven’t I encouraged other people to do this very thing? On the World Day of Prayer in 2007 I gave a message entitled, “I Need a Bigger Pot” at another church, encouraging the folks assembled to “un-bonsai” their prayer life by taking prayer out of the “my world, my needs” pot, letting their roots and branches grow to un-stunt the growth in the oaks of righteousness they were called to be.
In a split second (God moves at the speed of understanding, which is sometimes faster than the speed of light) I thought of the Prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 and the impact Dr. Bruce Wilkinsons’ book by the same title had on me personally and millions of others back in 2000 when it hit and flew out of bookstores.
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez,[a] saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NIV)
The subtitle of that book was “Breaking Free to the Blessed Life.” Oh, my righteous Father, do I think the line about enlarging my territory means give me more goodness in my life? Give me influence over more people, in more places, and raise me up to greater accolades and affirmation? Do I realize that 262 of your children desperately NEED to BREAK FREE of their ungodly, unholy captors? Did my heart break yesterday for them? Better question: did I enlarge the territory of my heart? Did my heart-rent prayers GO UP FOR THEM? DID I LET YOU, JESUS, ENLARGE MY HEART AND THE BREADTH AND REACH AND POTENTIAL OF MY PRAYERS?
Read it again, Rose, with God’s eyes, with Jesus’ heart, with the Holy Spirit’s call to you to get down on the floor and pray Psalm 143 FOR your brothers and sisters in more than harm’s way. Lift them to the Father. Defend them with the Blood of Jesus. Call for some Angles to listen up to Psalm 103:20 “Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word” and give them some Word to take!
Read it again or for the first time, couple it with your desire for God to “enlarge your territory,” and extend your heart and your passionate prayers for the Persecuted Church, to dying innocent children, to mother and fathers watching their flesh and blood shot and beheaded. DOES THAT ENLARGE YOUR TERRITORY? How does that impact your prayer, “Oh, that you would bless me.. .and keep me from harm”?
How can I pray that for myself without praying it for that toddler who had six rifles aimed at her precious little head? Can you hear the words of Jesus today in a new way, in a larger territory? What do you hear in his words?
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-4 (NIV)
What do you hear Paul speaking to you? “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NIV) Is there something, someone you could pick up and carry in your prayers today?
“And God granted his request.” If God sent a yes to Jabez, won’t he send a yes to your passionate prayer? Don’t you think he’s waiting for you to ask him to move in a way that will show the world his majesty, his holiness, his love, his righteousness, his power? Don’t you think THEY are waiting for prayers from their brothers and sisters to join with their own and set captives free?
I’d love for this post to reach maybe a million people today, so passionate is my cry to see God move to end this horrendous, treacherous abomination by HIS POWER in HIS WAY for HIS GLORY. Maybe only one person will read this. Maybe only one more person will pray. If that person is you, and if you have no idea how to begin, here are Psalm 143 and 144. Put their “names” into this word, launch it, and believe with me that
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11New International Version (NIV)
A “… BUT…” to pray today: LORD, your children all over the world are in peril, literally for their lives, BUT YOU O GOD promise to hear me when I pray, and I ask you to enlarge my territory, so I pray for them:
A psalm of David.
1 Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
1 Praise be to the Lord my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.
2 He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples[a] under me.3
Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
4 They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.
5 Part your heavens, Lord, and come down;
touch the mountains, so that they smoke.
6 Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy;
shoot your arrows and rout them.
7 Reach down your hand from on high;
deliver me and rescue me
from the mighty waters,
from the hands of foreigners
8 whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
9 I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
10 to the One who gives victory to kings,
who delivers his servant David.
From the deadly sword
11 deliver me;
rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
12 Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns will be filled
with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields;
14 our oxen will draw heavy loads.[b]
There will be no breaching of walls,
no going into captivity,
no cry of distress in our streets.
15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true;
blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.