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Archive for the ‘Intercession’ Category

Psalm 91

You who live in the Secret Place of the Most High,
  who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
You will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
    my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence;
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    or the destruction that wastes at noonday.  (Ps. 91:1-6)

My dear brothers and sisters, and fellow pilgrims in Christ

At a critical time in our lives my wife and I were praying for our son and our daughter as both of them were struggling in the university environment and the Lord led us to base our spiritual prayer of intercession for them on the words of Psalm 91. For certain we knew that He needed to “cover them under His wings” and to “deliver them from the snare of the fowler”.

One thing the Lord led us to understand before we began our prayer program was that in order to pray this prayer we had to have an intimate spiritual relationship with Him, in order to abide in His “Secret Place”, that is His “Place of Shelter” which is His Temple and His Temple is His “House”. As Jesus, as a child, told His parents when they were searching for Him … “did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house!”

Also, as Psalm 27 indicates, King David indicates that his spirit’s desire was to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life and that this “secret place” was where he could find protection and peace. That is why we both consecrated ourselves To Jesus as our Lord and Savior. So that we also would dwell in His House / Secret Place all the days of our lives.

Psalm 27
~ One thing I asked of the Lord,
 that will I seek after:
 to live in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
 and to inquire in his temple.
~ For he will hide me in his shelter (Secret Place)
 in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
 He will set me high on a rock.      (Ps. 27: 4-5)

Before entering into intercession for our Children we had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and thus were sensitive to His leadings as we were depending on His leadings to empower our prayer time with the Divine. So just as we need His Spirit to worship in Spirit and in Truth, we knew that we needed to include praying in the Spirit in order to harmonize our petitions with His will. That is why in praying from His Secret Place must of necessity involve letting His Spirit Pray through us, for this is what “Praying in the Spirit” entails.

In order that you may understand more about this manner of prayer I will continue by discussing this way of prayer as the doorway to uniting ourselves to Him as we reach out to Him In His Secret Place.

Praying in the Spirit enables us to Pray from the Secret Place of the Most High!

Praying In the Spirit

“… if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unproductive. What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also. “ (1Cor.14:14 -15)

There are several sayings of the Apostle Paul regarding “praying in the spirit” that I could quote to initiate the discussion on this subject, but I chose this one because it goes directly to the point – a point many of us would try to avoid. That is, that “praying in the spirit” involves praying in tongues and that when we pray in the spirit it is our “spirit” that is involved and that it is distinct from “praying with our minds”, that is, our soul. This distinction between soul and spirit is one many moderns seek to avoid.

Speaking or praying in tongues is one of the more controversial gifts of the Holy Spirit (as per, 1Cor. 12 ff) because many see praying in a language you don’t understand as a demeaning of our persons – especially our intellect. After all how can it be prayer at all if you don’t know what you are saying? How can spouting what appears to be a bunch of gibberish be called prayer? This mystery can only be understood if we properly understand that man has been endowed with a capability to transcend the natural – that capability is embedded in what scripture calls the “spirit” of man.

The main reason for our lack of understanding of this gift is that most of us Christians don’t believe or understand that God created us as a tri-partite being consisting of body, soul, and spirit. For most of us, the only levels of awareness we normally experience is at the body and soul level.  That is the awareness that come through our senses, our physical body and our intellect, thoughts, emotions, feelings and self-identity, that is, our soul. However there is within us, at the very center of our being a sense of awareness that is non-conceptual and non-verbal. This center of our beings is the where our conscience and our innermost unexpressed desires are formed and reside, it is what we might call “our secret place”, or what Jesus termed “our closet” in his sermon on the Mount. Paul also refers to it as our “inner man”. It is this place of inner awareness that the scriptures term “the heart of man” or “the spirit” of man (eg., Is. 57:15, Ezek. 18:31, Ezek. 36:26,  Ps.51:10, Heb. 4:12). It is at this level of awareness that we are enabled, by God to communicate with Him ”in the spirit”. This spiritual capability is there by God’s design so that He could, through this intimate sense of awareness, maintain a personal relationship with every individual human person. Because God is “spirit” it is only at this spirit-to-spirit level that we can commune with God. That is why Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that…

“… the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, however, this spirit-to-spirit connection with the Divine was broken, not only for them but for all their descendants, that is, humankind. So while we are still born with a spiritual sensitivity, that sensitivity is NOT attuned to the Divine, because our fallen nature is only attuned to the world and our own self-will and NOT to God’s will. So, it is in this sense that our spirit is termed “dead to God” and, thus, may only be revived by God Himself, because, ”only Spirit can beget spirit” (John 3:6).  For this reason, because of the Father’s love for us, His creation, He sent His beloved Son, Jesus, to pay the price for Adam’s sin and the sins of all humankind so that our spirits could be regenerated (1Ptr.1:23), thus enabling us to be restored to the relationship with the Divine for which we had originally been created, that is, to be His Children, to be formed into the image of His Son.

Without a renewed spirit to enable communion with the Father, not only is the sincerity of our worship hampered but our prayer life as well. That is why on several occasions Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in their observance of prayer and worship, saying to them …

“ You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, ….’” (Matt. 15:7-9)

Now, in order to function as a true child of God in the image of Christ, enabled for communion with the Father, we not only need a regenerated spirit but an empowered spirit as well. That is why Jesus told Nicodemus that …

“ … “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” (John 3:5)

That is, that one needs to be converted and baptized in water in order to have a revived spirit and then you need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be empowered to share in Jesus’ ministry in this world. Jesus himself, although He was sinless, models this pathway for us in His baptism with water by John and His subsequent empowerment by the Holy Spirit. For our benefit, John the Baptist tells the seekers of his day that, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt:3:11)

In another place and in another setting, Jesus put it this way…

“Nor do men put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out, and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matt. 9: 17)

So it is, brothers and sisters, that before we can be filled with the  Holy Spirit’s empowerment we need to have “new wineskins” – a renewed spirit in Christ.  Then, and only then, can we receive and hold “the New Wine”, the infilling of the Holy Spirit and His empowering gifts within us.

The empowerment with the Holy Spirit is what we receive with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This empowerment is manifested through the Spiritual Gifts summarized in 1Cor. 12. Among the gifts we receive, is the gift of praying in tongues or speaking in other tongues. This gift is what enables us to “pray in the spirit”

This spiritual empowerment is absolutely necessary for the church to carry on the ministry of Jesus. That is why he told His disciples, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49)

This empowerment by the Holy Spirit is the Promise of the Father (Acts 1:4) that was given to the Messiah and was than imparted by Him to His disciples at Pentecost and to all believers who have converted and been baptized in water. This is testified to us in the book of Acts when Peter preached to the astounded crowd after the Spirit had fallen upon them.  When they were convicted in heart by the message, they asked, “what then shall we do?”.  He told them: “… repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and [then] you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)

In a later post I will go into more detail on all of the Empowerment Gifts of the Spirit (as distinguished form the Sanctifying Gifts on which I have already posted some articles). Right now the emphasis of this article is to advise you as to the importance of “praying in the spirit” and why there is such a need to accept and exercise this gift for our personal edification and for the good for the community.

Now the Apostle Paul said that he would prefer that everyone would prophesy as opposed to speaking in tongues.

“Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their up-building and encouragement and consolation.

Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.” ( 1 Cor 14;1-5)

The reason that he said this is because prophecy works directly to the building up of the Body of Christ and that was a more urgent objective to him, at that time, than the building up of the individual. However, in our modern culture today, If we neglect the spiritual growth of the individual, the community will also suffer because that neglected individual will not be able to contribute to the community if his or her spiritual growth and thus, the maturity of their gifts, is not at the stage where they can contribute meaningfully to the growth of the community.  In fact they may become a drag on the community because they may require more personal ministry than those who have matured and are better able to minister to others.

One of the reasons we lose many of our youth to the world today is exactly because their spirits have not been activated through praying in the spirit and, thus, sensing a spiritual emptiness in the rote expression of their religious traditions, they wander off into the world in a vain attempt to fill that vacuum in their spirits.

Much of this could be avoided if we introduced our children to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit at an early age, especially the gift of “praying in the spirit”. For you see this gift continues the infilling process of the Holy Spirit in us, The more we pray in the spirit the more of the spirit we imbibe, bringing us to a greater spiritual maturity. This spiritual maturity begins to provide the infilling our spirit is seeking turning us closer and closer to the Divine.  It also permits us to enter into worship in a way that we could never experience at the soul level alone. For instance, John the Revelator was in alone in a cave on the island of Patmos on the Lord’s day worshipping “in the spirit” when he was caught up into Heaven and into the Sanctuary of God (Rev. 1:10)

Praying in the Spirit is usually manifested in a person’s private prayer closet but it may also come up in some of the smaller more cohesive prayer groups where the members all participate in prayer simultaneously as led by the Spirit and where the prayer in tongues (in the spirit) spontaneously erupts into singing in the spirit in praise of the Divine.  In such cases the gift also helps build up the community. The fruit of this type of prayer is the wisdom and love needed to appropriately exercise the other gifts within a community.

Now, speaking in tongues may manifest not only in personal prayer but it may also be the media whereby the Lord wishes to express a word of prophecy to the community. In such cases it is necessary that there be someone in the community to interpret so that it can be of benefit to all.  One is also free to ask the Holy Spirit to interpret their prayer language when praying in private.

One of the main reasons that individuals resist accepting this gift is the erroneous concept that you are going to be controlled by the Holy Spirit like a puppet. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Holy Spirit values your freedom even more than you do. You see the true agape Love He desires in you can only be derived from a free spirit – otherwise it is not agape Love. What the Holy Spirit is seeking is your freely given cooperation, in Love, so that He may inspire you to freely open yourself to what He is giving you. When you do, He gives you an uplift in your spirit that brings you a joy and peace that is beyond understanding and you also experience the intimacy of the presence of God in your hearts. It is this, His presence in you, which fills you and satisfies the longing of your spirit, for this, the purpose for which we were created.

If you really want to know what you are praying in the spirit, just ask the Holy Spirit for understanding. St, Paul, in fact, tells us that we can be praying in our understanding at the same time as we are praying in the spirit (1Cor. 14:14-15).  When you begin praying in the spirit you will find that you do not lose the capability to pray in the understanding at the same time. In fact, this should indicate to you that our spirit and our intellect are two distinct faculties that can operate independently.

Prayer, true prayer that reaches the heart of God, must come from the depths of a pure and sincere heart – a heart that resonates with the Love and Compassion that is in the Father’s Heart, The closer our prayer is to the desires of the Father’s heart the closer that prayer is to being answered. And, because, our access to the heart of God is through His Spirit that is in us, it is, when we pray in the spirit, that is, out of the depths of our heart, the sanctuary of His Spirit, that our innermost desires become one with His and our prayer is, de facto, “according to His Will”. Of course, if you are NOT “in Christ” you have no access to the throne of God or His sanctuary and need to get in Christ as quickly as possible, through confession, repentance, and conversion ( see Related Links).

Praying in the Spirit is the gift that permits us to enter into that sanctuary and where we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that our prayers are inspired by His Desires – The desires of the Living God.  In order to express these desires through our prayers in the purity they deserve, the Holy Spirit speaks through us in an unknown tongue so that our own intellect and human motives will not taint the pure prayer that comes from the heart of God through us.

The is why the Apostle says that those who speak in other tongues are not speaking so that other people may understand but they are speaking mysteries (praying secretly) to God (who does understand) (1Cor. 14:1-5).

The exercise of this gift permits the Holy Spirit to use us as His agents, through prayer, to ask for those things the Father desires to achieve in us and through us so that His will might be accomplished and His Kingdom might be manifested in this world.

Now, it is possible for us, using our human abilities, to pray the same prayer with our understanding, but because of our limitations it would take many hours of meditative prayer to get to the depths of our prayer needed to obtain the same level of purity and harmony with the Lord’s desires that praying in the spirit can achieve (see the article on St. Theresa and the Four Levels of Prayer in the related Links).

Thus, from its operation in us, we see that this gift is a supernatural tool that the Holy Spirit uses to permit our very common and otherwise very limited human nature to participate in bringing forth God’s Kingdom without requiring the human effort and prayer talent required to achieve the same level of prayer and communion with the Father’s heart.

We also understand from experience that the practice of this gift increases our spiritual awareness to the Father’s will and desires so that our own spiritual growth is enhanced through the continuous practice of this gift. Our increased maturity, in turn, will assist the community through the increased wisdom and love that flows through our service to others.

And, of course, we must never forget the Apostle’s admonition that, unless we practice the spiritual gifts out of unconditional, selfless agape love, it gains us nothing.

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13.1-3)

I pray brethren that this has been of benefit to you and an encouragement to receive and practice the gift of praying in the spirit!

May the Lord richly bless you as He takes you deeper in prayer through the gifts of His Holy Spirit!

Your brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2018])

RELATED LINKS

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Double Portion Anointing

The Kingdom of God: Our Inheritance

St. Theresa: Regarding Prayer

Releasing the Spirit

The Key Of Knowledge

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 Prayer and the Word are the two essential elements for spiritual growth in the New Year. In that regard, I present the following article on prayer that I pray will incite my readers to go deeper into the Word of God and prayer.
 
Your brother in Christ … Bartimaeus
 
Regarding the Modalities of Prayer
(excerpted from “Thy Kingdom Come” a book on the personal reflections of Jorge Madrid Sr., Posted with the author’s assent)
The Essence of Prayer is in Personal Dialogue with God

The Essence of Prayer is in Personal Dialogue with God

Why Prayer is Essential

Prayer is the most essential component of a Christian’s spiritual life after conversion because it is prayer that enables a personal communion and dialogue with the Divine Mystery and from that interaction we derive the spiritual energy needed to grow spiritually. No relationship can function or grow without a person-to-person interaction or dialogue. This is especially true of the relationship we have to the Father through Jesus His son. However, because of our own limited understanding and experience of what is meant by “prayer”, we limit the capacity of our prayer life  and correspondingly our capacity to develop the intimate personal relationship the Lord  desires of us.

Although the religious environment in which we are raised provides us with our initial exposure and training in prayer, it also tends to limit us because the teaching of prayer is constrained by the cultural and self-imposed limitations on the teachers themselves, be they parents or ministers. The limitations are understandable from the standpoint that we all are conditioned by our culture to specific worldviews regarding the human experience and how we are to relate to God. Our religious conditioning is no exception. If we are exposed only to verbal prayer in our families and churches to the detriment of non-verbal or silent modes of prayer then breaking out of that conditioning will require some degree of prayer and effort on our part and some competent direction on the part of our pastors.  One of the reasons silent or mental prayer (contemplation or meditation) is not emphasized in some bible-oriented religious traditions is that there is not a clear example of this type of prayer in the scriptures. Since we are not given any insight as to how Jesus prayed when he went off to be alone with the Father we only assume that he prayed verbally in the same manner as he prayed in public or with his disciples,

Prayer and its Modalities

It is clear from scripture, however, that there are different modes of prayer, depending on the nature of the circumstances which impel our prayer. Communal or group prayers by their very nature need to be verbal while personal prayers are not limited to the verbal mode. We are so conditioned by our communal prayers that we think the Lord can hear us only if we express ourselves in words.  Just as when we use words there is a  distinction between our prayers of petition, intercession, thanksgiving, praise, dedication so also our intimate prayers when we focus only on our relationship with the Father have distinct modes of silent expression. Jesus said that this latter type of prayer (meditation) we are to do in our “closets” in private. I think we may safely assume that since God knows our hearts intimately this type of prayer need not be verbal at all. In fact, as we grow in our intimate relationship with the Lord, words may actually get in the way and a silent contemplation or meditation provides a more ample channel of communication between our spirits and the Lord of Glory. For this reason when we pray it is best to have separate times for our verbal prayers and our more intimate personal dialogues with the Lord (yes, we can have dialogues with Him, especially in times of silent prayer)

Another of the limiting concepts we have of prayer is that we incorrectly assume that its main intent is for us to communicate our needs to the Father so that he can intervene to help us in our time of need. Without diminishing the importance and validity of that type of prayer, we must understand that the Lord already knows our  needs. While Jesus has told us to “ask and you will receive”, what the Father primarily yearns for is a personal relationship with us from which our worship will spring. Our dilemma is that, even when we are aware of this, we find it difficult to enter into intimate one–on-one prayer with the Lord because, as soon as we enter into prayer, our mind begins to bring up our list of needs that has been constantly running through our minds.

This reaction on our part, reminds me of our little granddaughter who lives with her parents in a city very distant from us. We usually phone them each week to see how they are and to share briefly in the events in  their lives. On one occasion my wife them called to discuss arrangements we were making to visit them. Suddenly, our daughter interrupted what she was telling my wife to announce that our three year old granddaughter wanted to speak with her.  My wife immediately greeted our grand daughter and began to tell her about how excited we were in anticipation of our visit. The three year old responded with a stream of excited baby-talk which Laura could hardly understand. When she asked our daughter what she was so excited about, she told her that our grand daughter was trying to tell grandma what she wanted for her next birthday. Our proposed visit was not so much the cusp of her excitement as was the gift she wanted to receive.

For us as grandparents we were thrilled that our granddaughter was aware that grandma and grandpa were the source of some of her most beloved gifts. We in turn are blessed in giving her the gifts she desires because it enhances our relationship with her. We know that when the emotion of the moment passes, the intangible bond of relationship will have been enhanced and strengthened so that as she grows she will relate to us in terms of her relationship and not for what she can receive from us.

What Our Initial Approach to Prayer Should Be Like

The Lord similarly, loves to listen and respond to our prayers for His help in our lives, but his ultimate desire is that as we grow spiritually we will begin to relate to Him personally  for who He is and not just for the answered prayers and gifts he continuously provides.  We need to value His person more for who He is than for what He provides.

Praying In the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

What we need to do when entering our intimate prayer state is to begin with praise and worship, preferably praying in the spirit, then after spending  a quiet time meditating on His Person and His Presence, we quietly slip into quality time with our Father sometimes without even uttering a vocal prayer but merely contemplating the beauty of the Lord! Then, just as Jesus said, “Seek to give yourself totally to the Father so that His will may be manifested in you and through you; and all the things that you thought were so  important will be added unto you without your even asking”[1].

Of course, there will always be needs or circumstances where we need to ask the Father to come to our assistance. However we will find that our prayers of petition come more naturally if we come before Him from the position of our on-going relationship rather than from a “what’s-in-it-for-me” approach. In fact you will find that as your dialogue with our Heavenly Parent improves He will ask you or suggest the things for which you should pray. It is from this standpoint that we should approach experimenting with the various modalities of prayer. As our intimacy with the Lord grows we will also come to understand more clearly His will for us. This in turn will help us when we pray in intercession or petition because now when we pray we will be praying in HIS will. His Word tells us in general His will for us but it is through intimacy with Him that He reveals His will for specific circumstances in our lives.

My Witness Regarding Prayer

I must admit, for most of my life I was not a praying person so the Holy Spirit really had to work on me regarding prayer. Even now I consider myself only a raw novice when it comes to prayer. Prior to the point of my spiritual revitalization, the term “prayer” only meant to me repeating a scripted or memorized prayer and directing it heavenward. Although, I was aware of other forms of prayer, I had never had the incitement to attempt anything beyond the routine prayers that I recited at either liturgical functions or at desperate moments in my life.

But when I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit all of this changed. Suddenly I became so hungry for God and His Word I  literally “devoured’ the scriptures for almost a year. At the same time my prayer life was jump-started by God’s grace so that the mere recitation of scripted or memorized prayers no longer satisfied the thirst I had for intimacy with My Father in Heaven. Once I had tasted of the Lord, I could not find enough ways to satisfy my thirst for Him and His Presence.

It was only after my spiritual awareness was activated that I began to see that prayer is not so much what you do, or say or think but a giving of our very self to God through our spirits. That means that by investing all that we  do with a spiritual motive everything in our lives can be turned into prayer and so the modalities and depth of prayer may be as varying as the colors of the rainbow. In this way every prayer no matter how simple is heard by God as long as it is the sincere, humble, and loving cry of our hearts (spirits) as we approach the Lord’s throne truly seeking His Face.

Entering Into Intimate Prayer and Moving in the Distinct Modalities

If one wishes to progress in intimate one-on-one prayer there is one key principle to remember: purity of motive.  Jesus in giving his disciples the principles of the Kingdom said, “Blessed are the pure in spirit[2] for they shall see God”[3].  For me this meant that the primary driving motive for intimate prayer must first be a sincere desire to Glorify God by unreservedly giving myself totally to Him, especially during our times of intimate communion. I found that when I came to Him in this type of prayer with tainted or ulterior motives, my time with Him was not spiritually satisfying.

We should not enter our intimate prayer time motivated by what we expect to gain from prayer, even spiritually. If we enter prayer merely to  enhance our spiritual experiences, we are attempting to come before the throne of God with tainted motives. When we come before the Deity, we come as we are: broken, repentant sinners washed in the Blood of Jesus with no merit of our own, only our desire to “present (y)our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is (y)our spiritual worship”[4]

            If one keeps this principle in mind, the modality of prayer, although important in itself, is secondary. The modality of the moment should be the one with which the Holy Spirit is leading you to enter at a particular time and place. If you follow the Spirit’s leading you will be in the will of God and if your motives are pure you will enter before His Throne. Notice that I use the term “modality” rather than “method”. This is because, although methods of prayer can be helpful at first, they can quickly become a hindrance because we become bound to them out of habit and thus lose the freedom to respond to the Spirit as He would lead us. The Holy Spirit does not minister to us with regard to any method to which we might resort. Rather he ministers to us out of our freedom, our willingness to move wherever and however He is leading us. The term “Modality” speaks more of an entry approach to prayer which leaves us free to move in any direction the Spirit chooses.

The modality of prayer we choose is something we as humans need to get ourselves out of our “selves” and flowing into our “spirits”. Thus the modality we use is usually relative to the circumstances out of which our prayer arises. However, once the “pump” of our spirits have been primed to the flow of the Holy Spirit we need to let our prayer be guided by Him and not by any particular “method” of prayer.

As I have mentioned before, silent contemplation before the Presence is itself a prayer and almost certainly the purest form of prayer. But such a modality of prayer comes as a gift from God and usually comes only after we have nurtured our relationship with Him in the various modalities of prayer we have been introduced to through our religious upbringing, namely the various forms of mental and vocal prayer. Being a novice at prayer I certainly am not qualified to comment on such modes of prayer as : Centering Prayer, Lectio Divinae, The Labyrinth,  or The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. There are many excellent references regarding these which I will not mention here because they are so numerous. I have listed some of them in the bibliography.

My intent in the next section is merely to reflect on some of my experiences with personal modalities of prayer that had a lasting impact on  my own prayer life.  I hope, through this testimony, to show how the Holy Spirit working through our yielded human spirit, melds and blends the various modes of our prayers, however simple, into a harmonious spiritual symphony before the Lord. A spiritual symphony that produces fruit to His Glory! Praised be His Holy Name!

Copyright © 2008 Madrid Family Living Trust

(Note by Bartimaeus: the section referred to by the author will be presented in another posting on this website. Please consider this as merely an introduction explaining what the author considers as “the Modalities of Prayer”)


[1] My own paraphrase of the citation from Matthew 6:33

[2] All of man’s motives flow from his spirit

[3] Matthew 5;3

[4] Romans 12:1

___________________________________

Strongly Related Links – Please Read!

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 2)

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“Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down;  Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

 

At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”

 

Elijah Contends Against ThePriests Of Baal

Elijah Contends Against ThePriests Of Baal

Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God.” (1 Kings 18: 30-39)

After his confrontation with the priests of Baal (1 kings 18: 17-40), Elijah, the prophet, fled into the wilderness to avoid the wrath of Queen Jezebel who was in the process of executing all the prophets of Israel she could find  (cf., Kings 19). It is interesting to note Elijah’s very human response to the queen’s threats after he had experienced the power and Glory of God overcome the priests of Baal and thus overwhelmingly show the people that there is only one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

His reaction shows that Elijah did not let the anointing the Lord had placed on him go to his head. He knew that he was only a channel and instrument through which the Lord was working and that all of the power manifested during his ministry originated with the Divine and he had nothing to do with it other than being His willing servant. He knew that he was a weak human being in need of God’s protection and blessing. So he cried to the Lord for help.

Elijah in despair

Elijah in despair

“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” “(1 Kings 19: 1-5)

As the Lord led him to refuge at various locations Elijah kept complaining to the Lord saying, that he was the last of the prophets who was faithful to the God of Israel, until finally the lord rebuked him telling him that He had seven thousand more who “had not bowed the knee to Baal” (1Kings19:14-18), “Seven Thousand”, hidden ones, who, by implication were His reserve force against the forces of darkness. These, then, were the “hidden ones” of that epoch. They were hidden because they were under the protective cover of the Lord to be used by Him for His purposes in dealing with Israel.

Thy Hidden Ones

Thy Hidden Ones

These former “hidden ones” were “hidden” not only in the sense that they were under the covering of His wings (cf., Ps.91: 4) but also in the sense that they had no rank or status within Israel or the world of that day and thus were indistinguishable from the common people, the poor, the despised, the lay people of that time, sometimes referred to as the “Anawim”.

Yet, it is these simple ones that the Lord holds up to Elijah as his reserve force against the power of evil in the pagan culture into which Israel was being drawn; the term “Seven Thousand” being merely a cultural metaphor for a significant number.

The implication is that these “hidden ones” were the righteous praying ones whose prayers for the restoration of Israel was the reason the Lord was acting through Elijah to bring about the changes needed in the heart of the people so that Israel could once again be considered as “the people of God”.

Today's Golden Calf

Today's Golden Calf

Today, it appears, is no different from the times of Elijah. For we indeed live in a world that worships other “gods” – gods of their own making: money , sexual immorality, lust, power, ambition, greed, narcissism and so on – gods which pervade even our Christian communities and thus prevent the faithful from achieving the personal holiness and service to which they were called.

Today, we also have our “Elijahs”, God’s ministers and prophets who are being persecuted for their stand against the evil world culture through the proclamation of Word of God and His Kingdom! These Elijahs are also being sustained in prayer by God’s elect intercessors, today’s “Seven Thousand”.

These intercessors are also “hidden” in the sense that they attempt, as they ought, to keep in the background of our religious culture. Their relative anonymity provides them the degree of freedom needed to focus and practice the “charism of intercession” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and apart from any influence that would quench the fire of the Holy Spirit that is working through them.

Because they operate “under the radar”, so to speak, these servants of the Lamb may not have come to your attention. You will find them in almost every Christian denomination eschewing any publicity, because their calling, their Charism, depends on their separation from the world and from the religious politics and worldly influences that surround them. Their great desire is to yield themselves totally to the Spirit of God so that He and He alone rules in their hearts, so that their prayers become the supplications of the Spirit of God for His people.

Each intercessor must be free to express what the Spirit places in his or her heart and thus the modes of prayer will vary form intercessor to intercessor. There will be some who pray and sing in tongues, some who fast and pray continually, some who praise and worship in Song, some who use the prayer of authority to bind the demonic spirits that they are challenging, some who specialize in silent contemplative prayer reaching deep into the Heart of the Divine. Most mainstream Christians would probably not understand the various and distinct modes of prayer and spiritual gifts which come into play when the Spirit of God is given full liberty to express Himself through these intercessors.

Such servants of God would not normally fit in to our over-structured and regimented religious culture where human tradition and formality rule the with regard to the accepted modes of prayer, where there is no liberty to express the true gifts of the Spirit, or to speak the oracles of the Lord as He gives them to us. So it is natural that they would want to congregate in their own small groups, while yet being dedicated to praying for the whole body of Christ.

Today, brothers and sisters, the Lord is calling out for us to pray and support these “hidden ones”, these intercessors of the Lamb. For because they are in fact our front-line prayer warriors against whom the Evil one is waging war against to “take them out”, so to speak, so that he and his evil spiritual companions may continue to disable the church from performing its commission. These “hidden ones” are sent to war against the Satanic powers and thus bring about the Victory of Kingdom of God into manifestation through the power of the charism of the deep prayer of intercession.

The reason the charism of intercession is such a threat to Satan is because it is not merely a human form of supplication but it is, in fact, Christ’s prayer of intercession through His elect servants who yield themselves to His Spirit. For you see, the charism of intercession is the Lord’s charism, for He and He alone, is the one mediator between God and Man (1Tim.2:5). Those who yield themselves to this charism are yielding themselves totally to the Intercessory Spirit of Christ in them so that through that spiritual union they may become His instruments of intercession for His people.

In the Catholic tradition, this type of prayer is not usually well understood because it does not usually follow the traditional forms of prayer but rather depends heavily on the unfettered work of the Holy Spirit through spiritual gifts and contemplative levels of prayer required to enter into spiritual union with the heart of Christ. It is for this reason that most of these type of intercessors usually do their praying inside of convent or monastery walls.

Recently, however, some intercessor communities are coming “out of the closet”, so to speak, but, in certain occasions, are not being welcomed into the mainstream Christian community as they ought. That is why I am asking you, my fellow pilgrims to enter into intercession for them.

In order to focus your prayers for the moment, I am asking that you lift up a specific group of brothers and sisters who have been “crucified with Christ”. Namely, the community of intercessors once called the “Intercessors of the Lamb”, but now, due to suppression by their Diocese [1], humbly call themselves the “Bellwether Lambs” or the “Companions of the Lamb”.  I have placed the links to this organization in my sidebar under the Label: “NEED PRAYER?”, so that you may frequent their prayer site when you also are I need.

Please ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you enter into prayer for them. Ask to be joined in the spirit with them in unity with the Divine so that you may fully comprehend in the Spirit, the Father’s Love and desire for this group and their leader and foundress, M. Nadine Brown.

May the Lord empower you prayers and may He bring them to the place where He wants them for His Glory! Amen and Amen!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus  … Bartimaeus.

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011])

Recommended Links:

Thy Hidden Ones at Bellwether

The Prayer of Intercession

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[1] Note: keep in mind the suppression of Padre Pio as reported below:

The Suppression of Padre Pio

(Excerpted from the  National Catholic register

http://www.ncregister.com/info/email-a-friend/his_friends_remember_padre_pio )

…  

It was on Sept. 20, 1918, that Padre Pio received the stigmata — the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion — while praying in the choir loft of the 16th-century church attached to the friary. After this event, his fame grew, and by 1922 he had attracted the attention of many people — including the Vatican’s Holy Office, which began an investigation. As a result of this investigation, which concluded that Padre Pio was not experiencing anything supernatural, the Holy Office attempted to transfer him to another monastery in 1923. An uprising of the people in San Giovanni prevented the move. Nevertheless, the friar was not allowed to say Mass publicly, or even to correspond with those who wrote him. In Terlizzi, a small town near Bari, about two hours from San Giovanni, another Capuchin who knew Padre Pio said of him, “Knowing Padre Pio was like knowing Jesus Christ,” he said. The key examples from Padre Pio’s life he says, are “silence and obedience.” Referring to the years when Padre Pio was suppressed, Padre Pancracio noted: “With one word he could have changed things, but he kept silent.”

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Praying Down the Kingdom:

The Prayer of Intercession …   by Jorge Madrid Sr.

(Posted with author’s permission)

Moses in Intercession

Moses in Intercession

There are forces of darkness in the spiritual realm that actively oppose any effort to bring people into the Kingdom of Light. Occasionally, when we pray the prayer of petition and don’t receive answers it is sometimes due to the opposition by the forces of darkness. Again, if we ask for discernment in such cases, the Lord will reveal to us the existence of such opposition. In such cases, our mode of prayer needs to move from that of petition to that of intercession. The prayer of intercession brings to bear the forces of Heaven to break the power of resistance that the Love of God and His Kingdom of Light might be made manifest in this world (eg. Daniel 10:12-13).

From what I now understand, I see that my prayers prior to my spiritual revitalization were merely like self-centered whimpers to God to provide me some necessity or to help me in some life crisis of the moment. Occasionally I would pray for someone near and dear to me out of the human compassion I felt for his or her plight. But it never occurred to me that God had in mind a greater destiny for our prayers, a destiny that involved God wanting to use our prayers to bring His Kingdom to manifestation. After all, I thought, God is sovereign and he is working out His plan for this world through whatever process that He wants and we fallible humans mainly just tend to get in His way.  It did not occur to me that since we are the Body of Christ and since the Son always completed what He saw the Father doing, we also must be about bringing to completion His saving work in this world. This work cannot be accomplished without prayer because it is through prayer that the Lord reveals to us what He is about, namely, the bringing forth of His Kingdom.

The bringing forth of His Kingdom is very much likened to a human birthing process where after conception and a gestation process of nine months a new human life is brought forth to this world. Similarly, after Jesus’ Ascension, the word of God took seed in the still disempowered, but expectant, group of disciples and after nine days of intercession and travail the Lord brought forth from the community a fully empowered church, His Body in this world.

This process of intercession is still the means God uses to bring forth spiritual life. Paul, in exclaiming to the Galatians, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19), indicated that once again he was in intercession for them that they might be brought to spiritual maturity in Christ. Similarly, comparing intercessory prayer to wrestling, he tells the Colossians that, “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured”(Col. 4:12) .

Unfortunately, for the most part, the average member in the modern church does not relate to true intercessory prayer because he or she does not know what it means nor have they ever seen it practiced. The most they can conceive of is some sort of prayer of petition, which may have to be repeated, over and over again. We need to understand that the prayer of intercession is to the prayer of petition as an Olympic cross-country race is to a morning jog.

To the Galatians, Paul uses the terms of a woman’s travail to convey the intensity involved in the prayer of intercession.  For a woman who has given birth knows exactly what travail means and can relate to that. In today’s modern environment the “travail” of intercession has more meaning for women than for men. For that reason women are more open to intercessory prayer than men because they can relate directly to the birthing process. Paul, in addressing the Colossians, attempts to convey the process of intercession to men by the use of the term “wrestling”. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul also refers to intercession when he says , “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”(Eph. 6:12) .

Intercession is a mediation between God and man. As such it can only be undertaken under the High Priestly role of Jesus the Messiah. For He alone is the One Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5) .  However, when Christ became our life, we also took on His priestly role as it applies to our responsibilities in life. For instance as a husband and father I have been given the role as “priest” for my family. In that role it is my privilege, nay, my obligation, to intercede for my family. Paul as an apostle of Christ exercised his priestly role by interceding for the churches he planted. Similarly, when the pastor of a church senses that there is a need to bring spiritual revival to his community, he has the privilege of praying down God’s kingdom through the prayer of intercession. He can delegate this privilege or gift to any person or group he chooses. Usually a group is selected because deep intercession is spiritually draining and the members of a group help to sustain one another in intercession.

Besides praying for guidance for the pastoral team, such a group first begins by praying for a spirit of intercession to come on them so that the Holy Spirit praying through them can intercede for the new work. The Holy Spirit responds by placing a prayer burden on the group so that they identify themselves personally with what God wishes to bring forth work from this effort. The Holy Spirit leads them in identifying the major obstacles that need to be submitted to prayer so that these “mountains” can be moved to ensure the effort’s success. Each member of the group becomes so personally identified with their intercession that they continue praying individually even during their daily activities. Each time the group meets the members share their prayer experiences and the leader coordinates the praying to focus on what the Spirit is leading the group to pray during each particular period. As the prayer achieves successes in the spiritual realm, the Holy Spirit lightens the prayer burden until final success is achieved. Although the results of the intercession may not be immediately evident, the prayer participants know that the battle has been won and move on to other prayer assignments.

Of course, deep intercession may take many forms depending on the circumstances. For instance when the Israelites sinned against God and God wanted to destroy them it was Moses who stood in the breach to keep God’s wrath from destroying them (Ps. 106:23) . When the armies of Israel were facing an implacable foe such as the Amalekites, Moses, Aaaron, and Hur interceded to God for victory (Ex 17:10) . When Israel was in captivity and their fate was uncertain was it not Daniel who interceded for the nation ? In His High Priestly prayer Jesus interceded not only for his disciples but also for all those who believe in their message . Whatever the case, we dare not undertake any spiritual endeavor without some level of intercessory prayer. How can we fulfill our destiny to be the channels by which the Lord brings His Kingdom into manifestation if we ignore the very tools he gave us to accomplish His work?

Today the Lord is again saying, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none” (Ezek. 22:30) .

I pray that all of us may be called to intercession so that we, as a Kingdom of Priests (1Ptr. 2:9), may pray down His Kingdom into a world that is in dire need of His Peace and His Love! Amen.

(excerpted from “Thy Kingdom Come”  by Jorge Madrid Sr.; © 2003 Madrid Family Trust, all rights reserved)

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