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Archive for the ‘Personal Prayer’ Category

Shall we then continue in sin that Grace may abound? (Rom. 6:15)

God forbid! (cf., Rom, 3:31; 6:2; 6:15; 7:7; KJV)

The King within us

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2Tim. 4:1-3)

Brothers and Sisters,

The signs of the times clearly indicate that we are indeed in the “Days of Noah” and the “Days of Lot” as indicated by Jesus in the Gospels (cf., Luke 17:16-28 ) and also in the “perilous times” as indicated by St. Paul to Timothy:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.  But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” (2 Tim. 3:1-9)

false_prophets_2I am posting this article because we all need to be made aware of the many false teachers and preachers in our midst who are twisting the Word of God to peddle their “gospels” of permissiveness, self-indulgenece, and prosperity as being  “enlightened” forms of understanding scripture.

Recognizing False “Gospels” Regarding Grace”

Amongst the many false deceptive messages being delivered today is that of a libertine form of “Grace” (a licentious grace) that teaches that, because of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross we are no longer under “law” and can live pretty much as we wish and be assured of our salvation. Since all of our sins have been paid for and since we have all been reconclled with God through Christ, the moral law, declared by God for all humanity is of no more consequence to us who consider ourselves to be “under Grace”.

This devious, anti-nomian concept (lawlessness) is attractive to many in today’s world because it is in line with the ego-centric, self-centered, free-wheeling spirit of the current generation, who abhors any constraint on their ability to live as they please and who are in the process of being conformed to the “world”.  It comes from a religious spirit that wants to put a fig leaf over their moral nakedness so that they may continue dabbling in the world system with it’s enticements, lusts, greed, and carnal excesses, without exacting any feelings of guilt. The intent of what is being taught is, of course, to attract uninstructed youth to fall into their snare by attempting to appease their consciences using selectively misinterpreted scriptures, out of context, telling them that “God’s Grace” has freed them to do whatever pleases them without losing their salvation – while all the while they are being used to satisfy the pride and greed of the false teachers, whose own spiritual lives are in tatters.

In the attempt to justify themselves the proponents of this deviation from the true purpose of Grace in our lives, teach that since God has reconciled us to himself in Christ it would be an act of unbelief to “repent” of our sins, since our sins have already been forgiven at the cross. In a previous post, “Be Reconciled to God” I provided a scriptural argument against this  erroneous position. In that article I point out that it is the apostle Paul, himself, who, after having proclaimed that God has “reconciled us to Himself”, is, in this same letter, he then exhorts the Colossian beleivers to “be reconciled to God” (Col.1: 21-23). Clearly indicating to us, that we, whom God has reconciled, also need to respond to His infinite act of Reconciling Love by an act of faith that activates in our renewed spirit the reconciliation He offers.  This act being our repentance.

Now that act of faith, is in effect, an act or word on our part, that acknowledges our godly sorrow, our need for reconciliation, and our willingness to receive God’s forgiveness – an act that, directly or indirectly, expresses repentance, on our part. Being keenly aware, that this act of faith is incited by God’s Grace and Love, as an act of gratitude and is NOT deemed by us as somehow earning a grace or favor that was freely provided to all humanity while we were yet sinners more than two millenia past.

Jesus:  Regarding the Gospel of Repentance

After His resurrection. Jesus gathered his disciples at an unscheduled prayer beakfast and tried to explain to them that what had happened in Jerusalem during His Passion was all contained in the scriptures, saying to them …

“…This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:44-48)

Quickly bring  a robe and put it on him ...In the parable of the prodigal son (cf.,Luke 15:11-32), Jesus, portrays very clearly how  the Grace of Reconciliation is received through a sincere act of repentance. Namely, when the son who has left the father’s house to “do his own thing” in a far-off land finds himself in a famine with nothing to eat and feeding pigs instead of himself, he, because of his circumstances, “comes to his senses” and says to himself “I will return to my father’s house”. And the father, who, holding nothing against him, has been lovingly waiting for his son, such that when sees him approaching he runs to him and embraces him, telling his servants to provide the son with a family robe and sandals while he places the ring of family authority on his finger.

In this parable,Jesus paints  an allegorical picture about how grace and repentance relate to one another! It is provided to us through scripture for our instruction to let us know how we are loved by the Father, without condemnation, and how we, in returning to Him, should respond to the unmerited Grace he showers upon us by accepting his embrace and the symbols of His love for us: the Robe, the sandals and the ring he places upon us,as unworthy as we are. But the story also tells us that when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and, although sensitive of our own unworthiness, we need to freely turn to the Lord without fear of condemnation, because we know in our hearts that He loves us and  will accept us as we are. (see also my article on “The Prodigals Amongst Us”)

Branches Bearing FruitIn another allegory, Jesus tells us that our relationship (fellowship) with Him should be like the branches to the Vine, that is,   in our attachment to Jesus. And, just like the branches, if we are to function and bring forth fruit, we must remain attached to the Vine. Otherwise, if we become detached (lose our  fellowship with Him) we risk being like dried up branches that must be cut off and burned (John 15:1-8). Our fellowship with Jesus is, of course, is the outcome or the purpose for the Grace of Reconciliation and implies  that this Grace, that comes through the Vine, must continuously  flow in our lives in order for us to remain attached to the Vine and  bear fruit for the Kingdom and the Glory of the Father. (see also my article on “Bearing Fruit Through Prayer”)

Through Jesus parables like these and through the teaching of the apostles in scripture, the case can be clearly established that this Grace of Reconciliation through Repentance is freely provided to us believers, not only to enter into fellowship with the Divine, but also in order to continue in and maintain that fellowship throughout our lives so that we may bear fruit!

The Apostle John; Regarding Fellowship, Sin, and Confession

John the Evangelist affirms this thesis when he says in His first epistle…

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1John 1:6-10)

And, in order to ease our discomfort, when we do sin, he says…

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.  (1John 2:1-6)

The Apostle Paul: Regarding Putting on the New Self after our Justification

The apostle Paul also make some clear statements regarding how to carry out our responsibility to “walk as Jesus walked’, in our loving response to the Grace of Reconciliation and Fellowship which we freely receive at our justification. Now, it must be clearly  understood, that this ability to maintain fellowship also emanates from the Grace of Reconciliation and reflects the work of the Holy Spiirt in us in conforming us to the Image of Christ. (Rom. 8:29)

From all of this, It is should be clear to us that when we sin by living by the flesh rather than the Spirit we begin to break out of our fellowship relationship with the Divine and the Holy Spirit, who is in us, works in us to help us recognize our failings, so that through the on going Grace of Reconciliation, we may be brought back into full fellowship with the Divine.

I challenge you to take seriously, these statements from the apostle Paul, who is sometimes misunderstood or misquoted on the subject of being “under Grace and not under law”…

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

CrossBy no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:1-2)

Here also for your discernment, is  his exhortation to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:17-32) regarding the sin problem amongst (apparently) justified believers, and what Paul proposes they do …

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

To this, Paul, adds an important statement indicating that the intent of living a holy life after justifications is not to claim any gain on our part for His Magnificent and free provision of Grace, but to lovingly yield ourselves to Him in acknowledgment  and thanksgiving for the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 5:1-14)

What then is to be our response?

In conclusion brethren, in light of what I have just presented and in light of the darkness that is coming over this world, I think we all need to pray and meditate on these scriptures and, in discerning God’s will, we should ask ourselves:

<>”Have I arisen with Christ?” or am I just sliding along in life with one foot in the “world’ and the other foot in “church”?

<>”Have I truly awakened to the light of Christ and the Resurrection Life He brings us, or am I still stumbling along in the spiritual darkness of the world and its enticements?

<>Let us then awake and rise up, understanding that the full intent Grace that God provides is not merely  to “justify” us so that we can go to heaven, but to also give us the opportunity to yield ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit so that He may initiate the process of conforming our lives to the image of our master, Jesus. So that, being under His anointing for service, we may be filled with His Light and become envoys of His Light to this fallen world in which we live, for the Glory of His Name and for His Kingdom!

May God, our Father who loves us, and His Son who saved us, be praised for ever and ever. Amen!

Your Brother In Christ and Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

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Our Father: It all begins with relationship

Our Father who art in Heaven

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

(Matt.6:7-13)

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My dear fellow pilgrims,

It all begins with relationship.

Only when we enter into the awareness that we are truly The Father’s Spiritual Children in Christ Jesus and enter into a personal relationship with the Divine can we begin to fully understand our inheritance in His Kingdom (cf., § Becoming Children of God). And that, through that understanding and the Divine Wisdom that comes with it, we may find our place and role in the here and now so that, through us, His Kingdom may indeed be manifested here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

For just like children of the flesh in this world who mature to fill distinct and varying roles and positions of responsibility, so too, we, God’s Spiritual Children, are purposed by Him to be His Arms of Love extended to the world – the world He created and redeemed so that He could manifest His Kingdom in their midst.

In His loving will He also has determined where and how are to serve Him and the spiritual gifts we will need to accomplish His will in this world.  That is why it is so important that we discern our individual calling and ask for His Holy Spirit to empower us to carry out that calling. But we cannot do this outside of a relationship with Jesus and the Father.

Lest we let this concept of being His instruments incorrectly exalt us, we must also be aware that this work is not to be accomplished by us, but by the Son of God who lives in us and works through us. He, and He alone, is the author and source of the work of the Kingdom. The only way we may participate in this work is through our complete surrender to Him and His Love. This surrender is not easy and is termed by Jesus as “ carrying your Cross”.  Believe me it is a difficult cup to drink from because requires us to die our own self-sufficient mentality and enter into a God-centered mentality – where we acknowledge to ourselves that, “without Him we can do nothing” (Jn.15:5)!

The Foundational Prayer for Discipleship  – The “Our Father”

That is why the prayer form that Jesus taught His disciples (cf., Matt.6:7-13) begins with the acknowledgement that God is “Our Father” and that we, as His Children, are totally dependent on Him and His Glory and power. A recognition that, although His Name, that is His Character and Person, is Holy and beyond the reach of any human rapprochement, He, through His Son, has breached the gap of holiness that separated us, so that we enter into a full and true relationship with him through His Son!

The prayer further states that, it is only through this relationship of obedience and love with Him, as Father, our source of life, provider, and sustainer, that we can be His instruments in bringing His Reign (Kingdom) into full manifestation in this world.

But of course, before we can be channels of His Love, His Reign must begin in us through our full surrender to Him and His Holy Spirit so that He might begin the work of His Kingdom in us!  The work of His Kingdom in us begins by His Spirit working in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son! Blessed be His Holy Name!

Recognizing that it is His work that must be accomplished, we ask for His daily sustenance and provision.  Although most of us take this request to mean “food for the table”, the reality is, that it is a request for His continual and daily spiritual empowerment, the infilling of His Spirit, to be able to carry out His Will. For us today, it refers to the living spiritual strength that is derived from communion with Christ in the Eucharist.

In the prayer we also recognize that our human failings against Love are a major impediment to the fulfillment of His Will and therefore ask for His forgiveness, in accord with our forgiveness of those who trespass against us.  In doing this we clear out anything in us that would impede His Will from being accomplished.

Recognizing, also, that the enemy will come against us through temptations to impede the Father’s Will from being completed, we also petition that He not permit any testing that goes beyond our ability to resist.

The reason this prayer, which we term “The Our Father”, is so important is because it is foundational to establishing the appropriate spiritual attitude of faith which underlies our ability to serve Him as His Children and fully committed disciples. That is why many have stated that this prayer really ought to have been named “The Disciples Prayer”.

If the problems of your life situation are creating impediments to your progress as a disciple, always keep in mind the admonition Jesus gave His disciples,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? … [S]eek first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”.  (cf., Mat. t6:25,33)

Or, put in today’s modern dialect, “ Do not let the worries and concerns of everyday life deter you … your first priority must be to let God reign in your life so that you are always faithful to accomplish His Righteous Will, then you will find that the worldly concerns in your life will be resolved appropriately”.

The Necessity of Prayer

Once, when through faith in His Word and Prayer, you have entered into an intimate relationship with the Father through Jesus and deeply desire to follow Jesus in discipleship, you will find that your need for a deeper continuing prayer life increases.  Just as Jesus, spent most of his evenings or early mornings in prayer, so to we who are following Him, must do the same.  We will do so, not so much as an imposed devotional practice, but instead to fill our awareness of the increased spiritual need for His presence in our renewed lives.

As we go deeper into discipleship we will find that we will not be able to adequately deal with the events and situations which we are called to handle without our daily prayer encounters with Jesus and the Father. Once we begin our prayer encounters and see the results in our everyday lives, we will willingly seek out these payer times on our own – for we begin to understand that our continuous need to tap into the source of LIFE without which we cannot function spiritually.

First of all we need to remember, that it is only through the intimacy of prayer that we receive from Him the wisdom, knowledge, empowerment, and Love we will need in preparation for the next day’s events. Secondly, it is through meditative  prayer in union with His Inspired Word, that we continue to be taught by the Holy Spirit in order to be formed and grow spiritually and learn from our experiences. St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that “…there are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands, and let themselves be formed by his grace.”

Once we have entered into true discipleship we will find that we can no more do without daily prayer than we can do without food or water.

The Need for Discernment

One of the problems we face as Lay Disciples of Jesus, is that the modern church is not structured to properly assist lay people, who are not part of the “religious establishment”, to follow the personal path of discipleship the Lord is calling them to follow.  The modern church establishment does not expect lay people to enter into such individual callings.  The establishment expects that any one who has such a call to either enter a seminary to become a priest, deacon, or minister or to join some religious order. It is difficult to overcome the prejudices of the past that have placed lay Christians as passive , un-empowered, servants of the clergy, having no understanding of things spiritual.

As a result, until the Lord works to change the situation we must seek the Lord intensely for personal discernment and guidance for what the Lord wants of us each day– a discernment that goes beyond that of our calling – a discernment that leads us to hear the voice of the Head Shepherd, Jesus Our Lord! (Cf., § Hearing and Obeying His Voice)

It is only through hearing and living His Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit that we will be able to distinguish between our fleshly-driven instincts and the spiritual directives and revelations from Our Heavenly Shepherd. Praised be His Holy name!

Now, I don’t discount our need of our earthly shepherds because they are still the dispensers of the sacraments, especially those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. It is just that some of them cannot fully comprehend where we Charismatics are, spiritually, making it difficult for them to provide in-depth spiritual guidance for us when they themselves have never experienced the fullness and spiritual gifts of the Spirit and, in many cases, even resist them.

I try to maintain good relations with all members of the clergy, but I usually feel them out before going into spiritual issues until I sense they are on the same page with me and with the Holy Spirit. I know its not their fault, its just that the depth of their spirituality varies depending on their seminary and life experiences especially if they have not been introduced to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, I expect that this spiritual lethargy that is still evident with some of our clergy will all be changing in the church of the new era we are entering, where the Spirit of God will overwhelm all Christians with His Glory and many of those who are now holding back will be surprisingly renewed in the Spirit. It will be a very difficult era for Christians and He is preparing us for those times when we will need to draw upon His power and strength to manifest His Kingdom on this Earth!

I must also mention that If you are struggling with discerning the Lord’s Will in your life, obedience to the Father is of the essence. If you yoke yourself to the Lord He will bring you though the times when you are being tested because of the fleshly baggage we all have to contend with.

Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clear. Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment. This is humiliating; because when we are confused we know that the reason lies in the uncertain state of our mind. But when our natural power of sight is devoted and submitted in obedience to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the very power by which we perceive God’s will, and our entire life is kept in simplicity.

Relationship is Everything

Finally brethren, in order to make clear the importance of our relationship with Jesus and the Father, let us recall the words of  Our Teacher when he told His disciples to …

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’  (Luke 13:24)

Yes, we also may claim a mundane familiarity with Him through your religious practice and even have worked signs and wonders in His name, but unless you personally “KNOW” Him, He will tell you when you come to His door: “depart from me you workers of iniquity, I do not KNOW you”.

Relationship, then, is everything, and without it our works for God become meaningless for entry into the Kingdom.

I pray brethren that the preceding discussion has been of help in encouraging you to move through the “narrow door” into a personal and private discipleship relationship with the Father through Jesus.  If you have that desire in your heart then you can be sure that the Holy Spirit placed it there. Pay heed, then, to that desire and seek the face of the Lord in prayer. If He placed it there He will confirm it and bring you to the open door to the Kingdom!

Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be the Name!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2016])

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Putting on God’s Armor

You Need Armor to Fight the Battle

You Need Armor to Fight the Battle

“… be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph. 6:10)

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There are times in our walk with Christ when the enemy throws everything at us in his attempt to cause us to deviate from the purposes of the Father for our lives by weakening our faith. These attacks often come in multiple fronts. For instance, illnesses, that out of fear and anxiety, cause inordinate tensions between family members combined with problems with our employment or lack thereof that cause us to doubt the Father’s  provision for our families and our faith in His Promises and His Love.

These attacks sometimes appear suddenly, especially when we are spiritually unprepared and leave us even more vulnerable to these incursions. And, because of our unpreparedness we are more likely than not to succumb to these attacks. If we have good faith foundations in the Word and an active prayer relationship with Jesus we are better able to recover from these situations because we can turn to Him immediately for help. But if we have wandered from our relationship with our Lord and Savior we will need the help of spiritually active Christians to assist us in such situations to assist us in returning to Christ who is our refuge and our fortress in such situations.

Of course, St. Paul, who himself was exposed to every type of attack of the enemy, exhorts us to always be prepared by putting on the spiritual armor which the Lord has made available to all of us through His Grace and the power of the Blood of His Son.

“… be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.} Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

images“Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the SHIELD OF FAITH with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil {one.} And [having taken on] THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God … With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints …”  (Eph. 6:10-18)

Before entering the discussion about the armor one thing must be made clear, in order to put on the King’s Armor you must be a soldier under the command of the King and in  good relationship with Him!  In today’s terms, this means we must be in an active relationship with Jesus and not holding to any sin in our lives.

If are holding back some sin or failing before your conscience, the enemy can rightly use this as weakness that can use as a claim against you and your right to put on the King’s Armor.

So the first thing we must do before putting on God’s armor is to repent of our sins and through confession and the Eucharist, thus restore ourselves as loyal and obedient Soldiers of our King and Savior Jesus, the Son of the Living God.

Once this is accomplished we must then understand exactly what is meant by “God’s Armor” so that we can begin the task of putting it on as we prepare to engage the enemy.

Accordingly, St. Paul, the author of the letter to the Ephesians provides us further information in other of his epistles that brings us to a fuller understanding of the elements of the armor and its use in our defense and our offense against  the enemy.

Regarding Truth and Righteousness, St. Paul informs us, as follows:

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”  (Rom. 3:21-28)

”There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom. 8:1-9)

Regarding the Shield of Faith

11-25-1Clearly, a shield is vitally important to a soldier. It provides a blanket of protection. It is meant to be taken up in all circumstances. It is the first barrier against the enemy’s attack. Often, shields were painted with identifying marks; a Christian who takes up the shield of faith identifies himself as a foot soldier who serves the Commander of the Lord’s army (see Joshua 5:14).

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Verse 6 stresses the importance of faith: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Satan’s attacks can sometimes cause us to doubt God. Faith prompts us to believe God. We give in to temptation when we believe what it has to offer is better than what God has promised. Faith reminds us that, though fulfillment of God’s promise may not be readily visible to us, God is true to His Word. When Satan attempts to plague us with doubt or entice us with instant gratification, faith recognizes the deceptiveness of his tactics and quickly extinguishes the arrows. When Satan accuses us, faith chooses to believe that Jesus has redeemed us and that there is no more condemnation (Romans 8:1, 34; Revelation 12:10–12).

Faith is one of the greatest gifts (1 Corinthians 13:13), and it is the means by which we receive grace and come into right relationship with God (Ephesians 2:8–9). It is because we have been justified through faith that we belong to God and have peace with Him (Romans 5:1). Faith is the doorway to hope in God (Romans 5:2). Because we have faith in God, our suffering need not faze us; in fact, we can persevere under it (Romans 5:3–5). The things Satan attempts to use to discourage us can actually become tools in the hands of God.

All believers have this promise: “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). Faith is a protective barrier between us and the schemes of Satan. When we believe God and take Him at His word, we remain grounded in truth, the lies of the enemy lose their power, and we become overcomers. In that way, faith is our shield. (excerpted from gotquestions.org)

Regarding Having our feet “fitted with the Gospel of Peace”

Verse 15 says, “And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” The New Living Translation words it this way: “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.” The gospel of peace is the message that Jesus gave to those who trust in Him (John 14:27; Romans 10:15). It comes with the assurance from God that we are His children and nothing can snatch us out of His hands (John 10:29; 1 John 5:13). It outlines clearly what is required to become a child of God (1 Corinthians 15:1–6; John 1:12; Romans 10:8–10). Any other message is a false gospel.

The word readiness implies constant vigilance. A victorious soldier had to be prepared for battle. He had to have studied his enemy’s strategy, be confident in his own strategy, and have his feet firmly planted so that he could hold his ground when the attacks came. A soldier’s battle shoes were studded with nails or spikes, like cleats, to help him keep his balance in combat. He knew that, if he lost his footing and went down, it wouldn’t matter how great the rest of his armor was; the enemy had him. When we are ready with the gospel of peace, we live with the understanding that we are continually under attack from Satan. Second Timothy 4:2 says to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”

The “peace shoes” that God supplies His soldiers have two purposes: defensive and offensive. In order to defend ourselves against the “flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16), we must have confidence of our position in Christ. We must stand firm in the truth of God’s Word, regardless of how terrifying the circumstances may be (1 John 5:14). We must understand grace without abusing it (Romans 6:1–6), remember that our position in Christ is not based on our own abilities or worthiness (Titus 3:5), and keep our belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness securely fastened (2 Timothy 1:12).

When Satan attacks with a flaming missile of doubt, such as “If God really loved you, He wouldn’t have let this happen,” we dig our peace shoes into the turf of God’s Word and reply, “It is written: All things work together for the good to them who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). When Satan stabs from behind with “Remember what you did?” we dig in more deeply and reply, “It is written: If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

In addition to standing our ground, shoes are also for moving. God expects us to go on the offensive and take the gospel of peace to others. First Peter 3:14 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Sharing our faith is one of the best ways to maintain our own sure footing. God knows that, when we are active in speaking of Him to others, we not only charge into Satan’s territory, but we dig our shoes more deeply into truth and will be much harder to dislodge. When we have “studied to show ourselves approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15), we are ready to stand firm in the gospel of peace no matter what the enemy brings against us (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Regarding the Helmet of Salvation:

Ephesians 6:17 instructs us to put on the whole armor of God and to “take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” When a soldier suited up for battle, the helmet was the last piece of armor to go on. It was the final act of readiness in preparation for combat. A helmet was vital for survival, protecting the brain, the command station for the rest of the body. If the head was badly damaged, the rest of the armor would be of little use.

The assurance of salvation is our impenetrable defense against anything the enemy throws at us. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The idea in this verse is that, as we prepare for Satan’s attacks, we must grab that helmet and buckle it on tightly. Salvation is not limited to a one-time act of the past or even a future hope. God’s salvation is an ongoing, eternal state that His children enjoy in the present. It is daily protection and deliverance from our sin nature and Satan’s schemes.

Because of the power of the cross, our enemy no longer has any hold on us (Romans 6:10; 8:2; 1 Corinthians 1:18). He knows that, but he also knows that most of God’s children do not know that—or, at least, they do not live as if they know. We must learn to keep our helmets buckled so that his fiery missiles do not lodge in our thoughts and set us on fire. Through this helmet of salvation, we can “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

There are several actions a believer can take to keep this helmet fastened and functioning:

1. Renew our minds. Our minds are battlefields. The outcomes of those battles determine the course of our lives. Romans 12:1–2 instructs us to renew our minds by allowing the truth of God’s Word to wipe out anything contrary to it. Old ideas, opinions, and world-views must be replaced. We must allow God’s truth to continually wash away the world’s filth, lies, and confusion from our minds and adopt God’s perspective.

2. Reject doubts that arise from circumstances. Human beings are sensory creatures. What we cannot fathom with our five senses, we tend to disregard. If we allow them to, circumstances may convince us that God does not really love us or that His Word is not true. It is impossible to have faith and doubt at the same time. God rewards our faith. With the helmet of salvation firmly in place, we can choose to believe what appears impossible (Hebrews 11:6; 1 Peter 1:8–9).

3. Keep an eternal perspective. When life crashes in around us, we must remember to look up. Our salvation is the most precious gift we have received. Keeping our eyes on that can help us weather life’s storms. We can choose to live our lives by the motto “If it doesn’t have eternal significance, it’s not important” (see Matthew 6:20; 1 Corinthians 3:11–13).

4. Remember that victory is already accomplished. When we consider ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God” (Romans 6:11), we eliminate many of the opportunities Satan uses to entrap us. When choosing sin is no longer an option for us because we recognize ourselves to be “new creatures” (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 3:9), we effectively cut off many avenues of failure.

5. Find all our hope in Him. Psalm 73:25 says, “Whom have I in heaven but You? Besides you, I desire nothing on earth.” Our helmet is most effective when we treasure what it represents. The salvation Jesus purchased for us cannot share the place of importance in our hearts with earthly things. When pleasing the Lord is our supreme delight, we eliminate many of Satan’s lures and render his evil suggestions powerless.

As we wear the helmet of salvation every day, our minds become more insulated against the suggestions, desires, and traps the enemy lays for us. We choose to guard our minds from excessive worldly influence and instead think on things that honor Christ (Philippians 4:8). In doing so, we wear our salvation as a protective helmet that will “guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7; cf. Isaiah 26:3; 1 Peter 1:5). (excepted from got questions.org)

Final Word

Regarding the imminent return of Christ, the apostle Paul said, “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11–12).

The Prayer of Engagement

Jesus, You are Lord over the entire universe and I give you the Glory for Your creation and Your Power over all that exists – both physical and spiritual.

Thus, It is In Your Name and Power that I bind all demonic forces that have come against us and our families and I cover all of us in the protection of Your Precious Blood that was shed for us upon the Cross.

In the Name of Jesus, I also take authority  and I bind all powers and forces in the air in the ground, in the water, in the underground, in the netherworld, in nature and in fire.

In the Name of Jesus, and in the power of His Precious Blood, I hereby bind and  command all the powers and forces evil to depart right now, away from us, our bodies, our souls, our spirits ,our homes, and our lands, leave us and never return.

Holy Spirit come and restore all that the enemy has taken and fill us with your presence so that we may thank and glorify Jesus, our Lord, and Our God in the spirit as He, and He alone, deserves.

We thank You Lord Jesus for you are faithful to your Word and compassionate and loving to all those who believe and worship you.  To you be the Glory forever and ever, Amen.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

May the Holy Spirit guide you and may the Blood Of Christ be your covering as you take action against the enemy of our souls.
Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2015])

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Praying as a Disciple …

Letting the Holy Spirit Help us in our weakness

Deep Spiritual Prayer - Rises to the Highest

Deep Spiritual Prayer – Rises to the Highest

“… if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for {us} with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to {the will of} God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.” (Rom. 8:25-29)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today, I am writing about one of the greatest deterrents for those just entering into a discipleship relationship with Jesus, And here, I am presupposing that you have already gotten past the primary deterrent, and that is understanding what is it that entails a true discipleship with our Lord and Master. It is, of course, more than just believing in Jesus and being Christian, it is a conscious decision to no longer live for yourself but to let Jesus live and reign in you and through you. It is setting for yourself the goal that St. Paul set for himself, namely….

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

About Entering into Discipleship

In this new life we enter when we come into true discipleship, we leave behind, the apparently noble, but yet self-driven independent intent to dedicate ourselves to doing things “for” Christ, to that of yielding ourselves so completely that the Spirit of Christ that is in us takes over all that we do or think or say. In this manner, it is He, and He alone, who is working in us, and who manifests His Kingship in us and through us by using us as His bond-servants to manifest the Father’s Perfect will in this world. That is why the “Our Father “ prayer (Matt.6:9-13) He gave his disciples should really be called the “Disciples Prayer” for in this prayer He clearly states the commitment to the Father’s Kingship over us that brings us to discipleship in the first place.

Unfortunately, this statement of commitment that yields our “self” to God is not truly understood as intended, by us moderns. Restating the commitment statement in modern terms, it should probably be read as…

“Father, I yield my “self” completely to your Kingship, over me, so that Your Will may be done in me and through me, here on earth just as it is in Heaven”

Here, you see, what the term, “thy Kingdom Come” really is intended to mean in the Lord’s prayer.

 So if this meaning is only just being made clear to you, I suggest that you pray about it and let the Holy Spirit bring you to that same understanding so that you may proceed along the path to discipleship.

“If any man comes unto me, and hates not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, even his own “self” as well, he cannot be my disciple. Whosoever does not bear [this] his own [personal] cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)

Accentuating our call to discipleship, there is of course, Paul’s exhortation to the Romans:

 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may understand what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”         (Romans 12:1-2)

About Praying as a Disciple

Now, getting back to my other point on the second-most important deterrent to a life of active discipleship, and that is a continuous dedication to deep and intimate prayer with God. And by prayer I mean a life of continuous personal dialogue with the Divine, be it the Father, The Son, or the Holy Spirit. A dialogue where you spend much of your time listening to what the Spirit of God is saying to you and asking Him any questions you wish to ask regarding His purposes for you and your life. Without such a fellowship with God you cannot follow though on your commitment to discipleship.

Here is what Jesus says on this subject:

 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10: 26-30)

Of course, it is a given, that if you hear His Voice, and listen and converse with God, your commitment to Him and His word will lead you to obey and live by what He says.

 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (John1 1: 5-10)

An active and pure prayer life combined with mediation on His Word is essential to keeping on the path to life and maintaining ourselves as instruments of His Love. Prayer is what keeps us in His Kingdom.

Our problem as humans is that not all of us understand how to enter into such a prayerful communion with God and how to bring that communion into our everyday lives. The main reason being that we have been brought up to think that our secular lives are to be lived separately from our religious lives. Oh yes. We understand that we need to behave morally and equitably in the world, but most of us moderns think that God is not interested in our decisions at work and the business world – that all He wants of us is to behave morally.

No! My brothers and sisters. The Father, through His Son Jesus, desires that we invite Him into every aspect of our lives. We have to realize that when we enter into discipleship with Jesus, we are entering into a partnership with the Father so that He is involved in every aspect of our lives. This is the way that the Father uses our persons to bring His Kingdom into this world . For in this way, the Spirit of Jesus, uses us in manifesting the Kingdom of His Love into this world. This is what it means when we pray or act in “Jesus’ Name”. When we do things in our name, we are NOT building His Kingdom, His Kingdom can only be manifested when we act and pray “in His Name!”, and not in ours.

Jesus, does not assert Himself over us. He always asks us to invite Him into our lives and our affairs. He will not violate our free will because His Love can be manifest only out of our “agape” or selfless willingness to yield our selves to Him. Here is what He says to us:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Rev. 3:20-21)

Now, in order to maintain a prayer life that is fruitful we must take care that our prayer be consistent with His Word. For that reason a part of our prayer life must be dedicated to mediation on His Word. It is through prayerful meditation on the Word that the Holy Spirit inspires our prayer life with the appropriate segments His Word to empower our prayers to be representative of a Holy Spirit empowered prayer for a particular intention.

A Story – In order to make a point

In order to give you a concrete example of how prayer can be brought into our everyday lives, I am going to propose a very real-world type of situation where a young man and his wife are involved in initiating a new business which will be operated mutually between them. They are making this intent because through certain situations in their lives their family economics are in a crisis situation but also because they have entered in to a discipleship relationship with Jesus, they have been led, through prayer and meditation, that Jesus has indicated to them that He wants to join them in the start-up of a new business – He wants to be their partner!

In order to understand how this situation suddenly came about and why Jesus wants to be involved, consider for instance, that the husband has just been laid off from his professional job, and the wife, who a year ago just gave birth to twins, is just now getting back to working part time. The income crisis upon them is such that there is no way they can cover their family expenses.

But why are they not panicking? Instead what they do is turn immediately to the person they have been in fellowship and dialogue for the last 6 years.   After breakfast each morning they invite Jesus to join them during their day and ask Him to take over the events of that day for His Glory. They place the entire situation in His hands and ask him to guide each of them in the affairs of the coming day.

Because, they have both entered into a personal discipleship with Jesus, they are not dismayed at the circumstances they are facing. Rather, they know that, for those that love Him and are called according to His purposes (ie., called to be disciples), all the circumstances in their lives can work for His Glory (Rom. 8:28) as long as we discern them and dedicate them for His Glory. In these situations He uses not only our prayers but those of our prayer partners, such as with our parents to work out His plan to redeem the circumstances and not only rescue us from them but to redeem them for His Glory (to understand this read again the story of Joseph, Genesis 37-45).

The Lord works in the life situations of disciples in a variety of ways, but all begin with disciples inviting the Lord into their specific situation. And not only their own personal prayers, but also those of their prayer partners such as their parents,

In this particular instance God, the Father, begins to help the couple by placing in their hearts the desire to start their own business. Their inspired dream is somewhat based on contacts the husband has made and their mutual talents. But they, in their commitment to the Lord, have placed this dream before Him in prayer and, in response, both have received a certain peace about what is in their hearts regarding the fulfillment of this dream or desire.

The wife’s parents, praying on their own, have also received some assurance of the Lord’s favor on their children’s desired venture. In communicating their inspiration to them, they propose to the couple that if this business is His will for them, let them pray that if the Lord provide a client who will provide them initial support, they in turn, for this sign from the Lord, will dedicate themselves and the new business to the Lord and, that through their commitment, more souls may be brought into His Kingdom as they interface with the public.

No sooner had they prayed that, out of the blue, to their surprise one of the husband’s prior contacts tells him that he has a client that is willing to give them the initial support they were praying for. They immediately take that as a sign that the Lord is encouraging them to begin the new business. After meeting with the client, who by the way offers them a place for the business, they go to their lawyers and initiate the business under very favorable conditions.

In order to help them further in satisfying their commitment to Jesus, the wife’s parents provide them with a prayer of dedication to the Lord that integrates the Word of God with their business intentions. They have come to the wording of this prayer through meditation and prayer so they truly believe the Holy Spirit is guiding them to provide this prayer to them. They, then, ask the couple to pray and meditate on what they have provided them in order to complete the dedication of their new business to the Lord.

The couple agree to their proposal and after praying over the materials given them they, as a couple pray to dedicate themselves and their business together for the Glory of the Father and in thanksgiving for what the Lord has done for them.

The following is the material that the couple took to themselves to pray over …

•    Psalm 37 (NASB2)

 1Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers.

2For they will wither quickly like the grass, And fade like the green herb.

3Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

4Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

5Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

6And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday.

 •   Prayer of Dedication, in accord with Psalm 37

We thank you Father for placing your desires for us in our hearts.

We also thank you Father for the Blessings you have given us in our new business. We consider this business as the “Land “in which you have placed us to “Dwell”. We therefore dedicate this “Land” to you and we dedicate ourselves to “Delight” in you and your Word through meditation and prayer. We confide in your promise that by being faithful to you and committing ourselves to You, You will guide us in our business by placing Your desires for this business in our heart. And, that, by committing our plans and our trust to You, then, You, and You alone, will bring all our plans to fulfillment thus vindicating our trust in You and Your Compassionate Love.

We pray this in the Name of Jesus Your Son for the sake of Your Glory working in our Lives. Amen and Amen.

 In Conclusion …

This narrative that I have just provided could have been the experience of any faithful believer or believers who acted and prayed in faith on God’s Word. However, if these are not committed disciples, the Holy Spirit would have a harder time working with them because, since they are not in constant dialogue with the Divine, the believers would probably not have been sensitive to the way the Lord was nudging them to pray, especially, in their invitation to the Lord to work in them and through them in their specific situation.

 Discipleship IS NOT a way to earn the Lord’s favor for anything– no, it is our way of yielding ourselves to the Lord to permit Him to work in our life circumstances to fulfill His Purposes and for His Glory, not ours! That is why we have to empty ourselves to Him so that He may fill us with His Spirit so that He and He alone may be glorified in us and through us! Blessed Be His Name Forever! Amen!

 Brethren, I submit this writing to you, mainly to incite you to ask the Holy Spirit reveal Himself to you in a very personal way so that He, and He alone, can teach you what you need to hear so that you may invite Him into the very special circumstances you are being submitted to at this moment in your life, and that in so doing you also may see the Lord’s Glory manifest itself in your lives! May it be so in Jesus’ Name! Amen and Amen

 Now, for your benefit, I re-state Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians …

 “ … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; {and} that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him {be} the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21)

May the Lord be truly with you as you continue in your walk with Him. Praised Be His Holy Name!

Your Brother and fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2015])

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JesussmercydarkLiving the Truly Christian Life – is letting Christ live through us … In order to truly live the Christian life we have to intentionally yield our selves to the Spirit of Christ so that He may not only live in us but also through us to the Glory of God the Father and the manifestation of His Kingdom in the world today!

<> Intentionally following Jesus begins the process … Jesus said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.” (Luke 9:23)

<> Jesus emptied Himself to let the Spirit of God work through Him… Paul told the Philippians, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2:5-7)

<> As we empty ourselves, the Holy Spirit conforms us to Christ our Master… Likewise we also must empty ourselves so that He may increase His life in us and perform His Works through us(cf. John 3:30). For… “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.” (Rom 8:28-29)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the main problems that we modern Christians have in really living out our faith is that we don’t understand that, in order to truly live the Christian Faith in Christ Our Savior and Lord, we have to let Christ truly “live in us” and “through us”, not just “around us”.   Because we incorrectly assume that, because we have received the Spirit of Christ at baptism, all we have to do to live the “Christian life” is through our own self-willed, efforts and diligence in living a “moral” and “sanctified life”. We never consider that this approach is not consistent with the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached. And, that living a religiously compliant life under our own self-will is exactly what the Pharisees were doing in Jesus’ time. Jesus is asking us to go beyond that.

The Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached indicated that, the Father, through His Son, Jesus, was opening the door for a new epoch in Man’s relationship with God. A relationship that would involve an intimate personal interaction of God with us, such that by re-birthing His Spirit in us, He would bring us into partnership with Him in order begin the process of bringing His Kingdom to this world. Since Jesus, His Son, was to be the Way for Man to enter into that partnership, He had to become one of us, yet without sin, so that He could, through the sacrifice of His Life and Resurrection, be the source of the New Life in the Spirit for those who believed in Him and accepted Him as their Savior and King.

Jesus accepted His commission from the Father when He yielded Himself to the Father’s Will and was baptized by John. In turn, we as believers, not only receive His indwelling Spirit at our baptism, but also the responsibility and honor of freely ratifying Jesus’ commitment to the Father by yielding ourselves completely to His Spirit in us so that He, and He alone, could work in us and through us to bring forth the Kingdom of God in this fallen world.

We must further understand that we, even though baptized, cannot, out of our own self-willed efforts, do anything spiritual, such as bringing forth God’s kingdom! It is only through the power and authority of the KING who dwells in us that anything spiritual may be accomplished. Remember what Jesus said, “…without Me you can do nothing”.

The only thing lacking for our full participation in partnership with Him, however, is our ratification of Jesus’ commitment to the Father. We ratify Jesus’ commitment and become His partners by yielding ourselves completely to His authority, and letting ourselves be empowered by His Spirit so that He, and He alone can operate in us and through us. And, by doing so, then we make it clear that it is indeed He who activates and empowers all that we do in His Name! “For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory, Forever and Ever. Amen!”

Nevertheless, because we don’t know any better, most of us neglect to make this affirmation or ratification of Jesus’ Commission through the yielding of our lives to Him and thus fail to activate the work of the Holy Spirit in us to permit HIM to revive us spiritually and open us to a new awareness of the Spirit of Christ in us to move us towards the accomplishment of His purposes – not ours!

If however, when led by God’s gracious Spirit, we do make such an intentional yielding of the right to ourselves, we continue our normal everyday, intellectually self-aware living of our lives but we begin a gradual transition to a life lived in a new, transformed awareness – a spiritual awareness completely apart from the awareness we receive in this material world, that is, from our physical senses and our intellect and reasoning powers and our emotions. It is an awareness that we, sadly, didn’t even realize was available to all believers who have been converted and baptized into Christ.

I am speaking of a spiritual awareness where we can, without leaving our bodies, actually experience contact with the Spirit of God and His Holy Spirit and where we can experience a personal fellowship with the Triune God, who then, through this relationship, empowers us to live our lives, not for ourselves, but for Him, through the indwelling Spirit of Christ in us. To Him be the Glory forever and ever. Amen and Amen!

<> What Jesus told Nicodemus about  coming to a renewed Spiritual Awareness …

jesus_nicodemusWhen Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, came to Jesus at night (to avoid being noticed), he admitted to Jesus that the testimonies he had heard about the miracles Jesus was doing in the community, caused Him to realize that God must be working through Him. Jesus, in essence told him that if He had come to the awareness that God was working through His ministry, the only way he could come to that awareness was that God had activated his spirit to that sensitivity.

Here is what Jesus said, “ Verily, Verily I say to you, unless the spirit of a person be re-born (or re-activated), that person would not be aware of the manifestation of His Kingdom.” (see. John 3:1-18 for the entire discourse)

Nicodemus, like many of us, was incredulous, asking, “How is it possible for a mature living person to be “re-born”? Can he enter into his mother’s womb a second time?”

Doesn’t that sound like a lot of us when we first hear that our spiritual natures need to be re-activated in order to be aware of what God wants to do in our lives? Don’t we respond with. “well, I have been baptized, do I need to be baptized again?”.

Listen to how Jesus responded to Nicodemus’ question. “verily, verily, I say to you, unless a person is not only baptized in water [like I was] but also baptized in the Spirit [like I was] he cannot participate in the Ministry of the Kingdom. Being born naturally does not activate your spirit, only the Spirit of God can re-activate a person’s spirit [so that you become a new creation and be empowered to minister in the Spirit].”

He continued to explain to Nicodemus (and to us), “Just as you can sense when the wind is blowing in your face so also you can sense the leadings of the Holy Spirit. If you have not yet become aware of the leadings of the Holy Spirit working in your life, then you have NOT YET been born of the Spirit!”

<> Would you like to go further in Following Jesus?

Yes, brothers and sisters, we may have received our spiritual batteries at baptism, but have we, at the cusp of our maturity and free will, turned on the switch that turns on those batteries? Don’t you think it is time to do that and begin living our lives as instruments of His Love in us?

And say, that in the past you may have actually turned on the switch, but through the circumstances of your life, the switch was somehow turned off? Don’t you feel the Spirit urging you to turn it back on again?

And what is that “switch”? It is our free-will decision, out of agape Love, to die to self by relinquishing the right to our self-will, and yielding our self to the Rule of Christ our King so that He may live in us and through us! This is how we may all truly live out the Christian Life! Now, doesn’t that reach your heart?

Here is the opportunity to do so! Below are a brief set of prayers that will get the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through you to set about letting Christ work in you and through you! Praised be His Holy Name!!

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# Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit

As I have indicated before, a true and sincere conversion is the scriptural prerequisite to receiving the “Promise of the Father”, the Gift of the Holy Spirit, in your own personal Pentecost. This means you first need to discern whether you are indeed a converted Christian and not just a cultural one as I was. If you are not sure, and you have determined in prayer that you want to be right with God and have a hunger to know the Lord Jesus personally then that is easy to remedy.  Just pray as follows:

“Lord Jesus, I am deeply aware that my sins have separated me from you and from the eternal life which you have promised to those who believe. I repent of my sins and turn to you in faith for the salvation and forgiveness you won for me on the cross through the shedding of your blood even when I was yet a sinner and without merit before God. I surrender my life to you. Come into my heart, be the Lord of my Life. Be my Savior and my King. Live in me and through me so that I can truly represent you in my service to others in your Name. Amen.

Now, if the terminology,  “baptism in/with the Holy Spirit”, creates a theological hurdle for you receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, just think of what you are desiring as a  “release of the Holy Spirit” that is already in you through baptism and confirmation. The Holy Spirit is not so much concerned as to your theological understanding of the Promise of the Father as much as He is looking for your sincere desire to be open to His working within you and through you no matter how or what you call it! All He wants is your permission! Your surrender to His purposes in and through you!

Once this is settled in your mind, then you need to pray about what you are sensing in your spirit. If, after prayer and meditation on the scripture you sense a strong sincere desire to receive all that the Holy Spirit has for you and to be open to His working in and through your life (without restrictions on your part), then you are ready to proceed to the next step.

In asking for the Holy Spirit to empower you (whether in a community setting or a personal one) come into the Father’s presence and ask (something like this):

“ Father, as your child in Jesus I desire to be totally an instrument for Your Kingdom to manifest through my life. I desire to receive your Promise of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. Jesus, my Savior and King, baptize me in the Holy Spirit so that the power of your resurrection will work in me and transform me according to your will. Holy Spirit, empower me and fill me to overflowing. I hold nothing back from you. Work your gifts in me and through me, all of me, so that the Father’s Kingdom may be manifested in and through my life. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen!”

Now, begin praising and worshipping God with all your heart. Release yourself from all the inhibitions you have and raise your voice in songs and psalms. Express those longings you have held in your heart for so long but were unable to let loose because of your inhibitions. As you sing and worship release yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can pray and worship through you.

As you enter this time of praise and worship you will begin to experience a sense of the presence of the Lord. You will begin to lose your self-consciousness and you will sense that the flow of your prayers and song is coming as if from out of nowhere. In fact, as your praise increases you sense that you are uttering words that are no longer in your mother tongue. But you know in your spirit that these words are honoring God so your flow in these phrases increases. You have just received your prayer language. You are feeling so blessed, you find that you don’t want to stop. Don’t stop. Pray and sing your heart out, glorifying God!

Praised be His Holy Name! You have now ”Entered the Kingdom” of the Father! Walk in the leading of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to His call!

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20014].

Related Links

I Stand At The Door and Knock.

Has Jesus Arisen In your Hearts? (Part 1)

(… Part 2)

(… Part 3)

 

 

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About Personal Modalities pf Prayer

The Essence of Prayer is in Personal Dialog with God

The Essence of Prayer is in Personal Dialog with God

My dear fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

In my previous article on Worship I presented to you a section from Jorge Madrid’s  reflections on prayer as he has personally experienced it. I intentionally began with his essay on Worship because it emphasizes the importance of coming before the Father “in spirit and in truth” whenever we interact with Him, not only in worship but in all the modalities of prayer the Holy Spirit draws is into.

Of course, there are circumstances in our lives when we need God’s help and do not have the opportunity to move into the appropriate spiritual state. However, you may be sure of this, that if we are “in Christ” the Father will hear us and respond to our prayers for His Help.

I only mention the need to pray “in the spirit and in truth” to indicate to you the level of intimacy that we need to strive for in our prayer in order to reach a closer union with Spirit of the Divine. This is the level of intimacy that Jesus sought when He isolated himself to commune with the Father. Scripture often mentions Jesus withdrawing for prayer to either  a “quiet place” or a “place of soilitude”.

There are modalities of prayer that we can exercise even as we go about the busyness of life. But we usually can only do so through a preparatory solitary prayer session where we consecrate the events of life before us as a continuing prayer.

Amongst the many modalities of prayer we might list the following:

• Praying the Scriptures

• Prayer and Fasting

• Meditating on the Word (Lectio Divina)

* Taize Prayer and Meditative Music   ( Special: Music Section)

Praise and Worship Music

• Prayer Of Dedication

• How then Shall We Pray?

• Preparation For Prayer

• Prayer of Communion with the Divine

Prayer for Healing

• Prayer of Deliverance

• Prayer and the Ministry of the Word

•Marriage as a Living Prayer

•The Prayer of Command

• Redemptive Prayer

Neither I or Jorge Madrid are in a position to inform you on all of these modalities and more.  However simple, I present to you a couple of personal modalities to which Mr. Madrid provides his witness in order to incite you to strike out on your own personal modality with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, of course! The following is an additional excerpt from Mr, Madrid’s personal reflections

I pray they will serve a purpose in moving you towards a more personal and intimate prayer live with the Father through the Spirit of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus HaMashiach, who is the Way The truth and The Light and into whose Spirit we  believers have been immersed. Praised be His Holy Name!

~+~+~+~++~+ Excerpted from Jorge Madrid’s Reflections ~+~+~+~++

Praying the Scriptures

Praying  the Scriptures came naturally to both my wife and I as we grew together in the Spirit. Even before we heard of any one else praying the scriptures we were led by the Spirit into using the psalms to guide our family prayers.  The Lord used the crisis moments in our lives to cause us to seek Him in the scriptures. As we searched the scriptures for guidance as to how to pray for our children or the situations the family was facing in life we found ourselves drawn to the psalms. In reading the psalms we began to find that certain psalms clearly spoke to us of the Lord’s promises and  intervention in the circumstances of the psalmist’s life. These evoked in us a hope and faith  that the Lord would surely respond to  us since we sensed that our needs of the moment were paralleled in the particular psalms to which we were drawn.

As we began reading and meditating on these psalms together, we began to interweave our impromptu prayers with the words of the psalm. Reflecting on this now, I remember how each prayer instance created a spiritual unity between us and the Lord creating a very personal and intimate reaching out of our souls to God. It is now clear to me  that the Holy Spirit was working in us to tailor the prayer to  what the Lord wanted to work in  the lives of ourselves and our family.

Sometimes, because we began to see the effectiveness of these prayers in  a particular circumstance, we had a tendency to attempt to repeat the same psalm-prayer process as a different circumstances arose. As we progressed in our prayer journey, however, we discerned in our spirits that the particular psalm-prayer we were using was not harmonizing with what the Spirit wanted of us for this new circumstance.  The moment either of us sensed this, one of us would say, “I think this is not the right psalm for this occasion”. This would lead us to  a period where each of us would consult the Holy Spirit privately, while meditating over the psalms. When either of us thought we had an insight, we would then come together to share that insight and pray through the psalm for which discernment had been given. When we both had confirmation in our spirits we began to pray again together, working with the Holy Spirit in integrating the prayers coming through our spirits with the words of the psalm.

To give you an example of this type of prayer I will relate one incident which happened as we prayed through Psalm 34. This is a psalm which my wife and I prayed nightly during a particular period in our family’s life. Of course, we had meditated over this psalm prayerfully before we adopted it for this particular epoch in our lives.

One night after we had prayed through this psalm we received a call from a spiritual ministry team who “happened by” the University where our daughter was studying several thousand miles away. The leader of the team told us that as they were walking through the campus they felt led to go to the chapel. As they entered they found only one person there: our daughter. They said they spoke with her and determined that she needed prayer because she had undergone a very stressful examination and was “down” in spirit. As they prayed over her, her optimism returned and her spirits were encouraged. They called to tell us because they felt that we as her parents should know what the Spirit of God was doing in her life and that everything was fine and we need not worry. Praised be His Holy Name!

Here is a re-creation of the way in which we usually prayed through this psalm.

Praying Psalm 34

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. (v. 1-3)

[Lord, we praise your Holy Name! We exalt you in our lives in all that we say and do. For You are our life, You alone are our hope, You alone are Lord of all that happens in our lives. For You are Lord! And your Glory is forever and ever. Amen]

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. (v.4-6)

[Father, our children are thousands of mile away at their universities and we are extremely concerned for their physical and spiritual welfare. They don’t communicate well with us Lord. They don’t tell us of all the problems and struggles in their lives but we know Lord that they need you and that they may be in serious situations that they are afraid to tell us about. We ask Father, in the Name of Jesus that you send your angels to protect them and guide them through the circumstances they are going through. We trust in You and we thank you because you hear us, you deliver us from our fears and save us out of all our troubles. Amen]

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.  (v-7-10)

[Father, we thank you because your angels encamp around our children and you deliver them. Lord, we take refuge in you and you alone. We know we and our children have been blessed because we have taken refuge in you O Lord! We know that nothing will be lacking in their protection and guidance. Praise Your Holy Name!]

Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.  Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (v 11-14)

[Lord, keep our children from evil. We have done our best to train them in the fear of the Lord. But the world and the flesh are always at the door of their minds seeking to divert them from the truth. Holy Spirit guide them and strengthen them to resist the snare of the fowler and move them in the paths of righteousness and truth. Amen]

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (v. 15-18)

[Lord, we come to you not with our own righteousness but with the righteousness of your Son. It is because of His righteousness that we know You hear us and answer our call to You. It is because of Him and Him alone that we know that our children will be delivered from the troubles that surround them at this very moment. We also know and trust that out of your compassion you will reach out to them in their brokenheartedness and save them not only from their problems in this world but spiritually as well. We thank you for all these graces in the name of your Son who redeemed us by his Blood. Praised be his Holy Name!]

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him. (v. 19-22)

[Lord, even though we live in a sea of troubles we stand in the imputed righteousness of Your son and on Your Word that you will deliver us from them all. As long as we are in You, You are with us in every problem of life and you have delivered us from every trouble and will deliver us from every problem to come. More than that, we know that we are not condemned because we have taken refuge in You! We give you all the praise Glory and Honor for You are Lord of Lords and King of Kings! Amen]

Praying by Proxy

On another occasion, the Lord led me into a type of prayer that I had never envisioned. Prayer by proxy. The following is a summary of the circumstances that led me to comprehend through my direct experience that modality of prayer.

One of my best and closest friends worked at the same institute where I was based. At one time I had been in his organization and we had developed a close working relationship. As I progressed in my career I obtained an appointment in another division of that institute and although our families kept in touch, our official responsibilities were so different that we did not get a chance to see each other much during business hours.

One day my friend called me and told me that he had been relieved of his position within the division and assigned to a more menial task under a supervisor who had some ill feelings toward him. As he continued his story he told me that the supervisor was trumping up some charges of malfeasance so that he would be fired. He had tried to get the attention of his section manager but no one was willing to come to his assistance.

I told him that I would do what I could but since I was no longer in his division I expected that I would likewise get ignored. After contacting some managers in his division I was told  that I should leave the matter to the administrative process and not to interfere.

I began investigating the situation quietly to determine what was really behind this overt effort on the part of some individuals to get my friend fired. As I talked to individuals in the group to which my friend pertained, it became clear that one individual in particular was trying to get my friend’s position. He was doing this by lying to his boss about my friend and impugning his capability, his integrity and his fairness. His boss not only believed the lies but was in fact cooperating with the person in creating a case for his dismissal and beginning proceedings against him.

My heart was heavy  with compassion for my friend for I knew the charges against him were groundless but I was unable to do anything. I began praying every evening for the Lord to help him out of this situation and provide him a defense against this unjust assault on his person.

As I prayed during the first week that I took up his cause, I began to discern the Spirit of the Lord affirming me in my compassion for my friend. I was very surprised to further sense that the Lord wanted to join me in my prayer as well. I was surprised because I expected that His role would be in answering my prayer. Instead He wanted to be a part of it!

So the very next evening, I asked the Lord to join me in prayer. As I began to pray in His Name, I felt led to pray through a particular psalm that I  had never prayed through before. I asked the Spirit to tell me  how to pray this psalm because it was in the first person and I was not sure how to pray it for my friend since he was not praying it with me. In fact, I was not even sure how my friend would take the fact that I was praying for him because he was a non-practicing Jew who was not too happy with his religious training as a child and rejected anything spiritual.

The Lord indicated that I was to pray this psalm in proxy. That is, as if my friend were praying this psalm for himself. Since my friend did not have sufficient faith, The Lord said, He would use my faith for his as I prayed.

My praying through this psalm with the Lord began one of my strongest experiences in intercessory prayer.  The burden for the prayer continued with me during every waking part of each day. Yes, I was able to perform all my duties but I felt as if inside of my spirit the Lord was praying in me and through me in all of my daily activities. Whenever I paused or stopped to actually pray verbally or mentally the word of the psalm would come up in my mind and I would give myself to it totally until I had to break off to attend to another duty. I prayed as I was driving to work, I prayed as I was flying to business meetings, I prayed whenever and wherever I had time to pause.

This kept on for a period of about a month. During that period my friend was reassigned to another supervisor and the immediate threat of dismissal was put off. Later that month an executive in his division took his side and began to question the legitimacy of the charges.

I continued to pray. After two months as I sensed the prayer burden diminishing, my friend was asked to attend a deposition regarding the charges that were being made. After the deposition, the person in charge of the case against him resigned and the case was dropped without comment. Later, we learned, that the person who initiated the charges and his cohorts were themselves discharged from the company.

That year at Thanksgiving, as was customary for our families, we were sharing a holiday dinner together. His wife asked me to say grace. In deference to my friend and his family I began with the standard Hebrew blessing over a meal. Then I offered a prayer of thanks to God for the deliverance He had wrought in my friend’s life and I told Him then that this was the work of God and that I had been praying for him. As a remembrance of what the Lord had done for him, I gave him a copy of the psalm that the Lord had led me to pray for him.

My friend has never forgotten that experience and, even though he is still resists religious expression for himself, occasionally when recalling his miraculous deliverance, he often tells me to remember to thank the “Man Upstairs” for him.

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I pray, Brethren that the Spirit of  the Living God fill you with His Peace and Guide you as you walk long the Way.

Praised  Be His Holy Name!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

Recommended Link(s):

Living and Praying Through Jesus’ Passion

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 2)

Casting Your Net on the Other Side

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest (Part 1)

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest (Part 2)

Overcoming the World

Understanding The Kingdom

Yielding to the Kingdom Anointing

Christ In Us the Hope of Glory!

The Kingdom Of God Our Spiritual Inheritance

The Empowerment Gifts That Manifest The Kingdom Amongst us
(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2014])

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Taizé in Texas

In the spring of 2014, as part of the “pilgrimage of trust on earth,” three weekends for young adults will be held in Texas:

Austin, March 21-23, 2014

Inscriptions open until March 15!

For more information and to register, click here

Dallas – Fort Worth, April 4-6, 2014

For more information and to register, click here

Houston, April 25-27, 2014

For more information and to register, click here

The gatherings will begin with evening prayer on Friday and end with Sunday morning worship in different churches.

Flyers and posters in English and Spanish are available for download:

Austin

Dallas – Fort Worth

Houston

An explanatory video can be seen by clicking here in English or in Spanish.

Excerpted from:  http://www.taize.fr/en_article15814.html

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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

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