April 1, 2016

Intercession requires focus

There is a poster in my kitchen that says, “Be the kind of woman that when you rise in the morning, the devil says, ‘Oh no, she’s awake.’”

This poster is not meant to be cute. It is my reminder of who I am and the task God has given me to do. It is a bit of a repeat of the time I was complaining about prayer and how long it took and how much work I had to do. The Lord answered me: “This is your work.”

Because Jesus lives in me and because His Spirit governs my life, intercession ought to be the most normal work that I do. This is because it is His work also.

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27)

It ought to be normal because Christ lives forever to intercede, and the Holy Spirit intercedes as well. The flesh or the natural man does not pray for others, but “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

That kitchen poster is my reminder that the Liar wishes to stop me from praying. Daily temptations also remind me. If I fall into sin, God is far more interested in restoring me to a forgiven and cleansed relationship with Him than He is in answering my prayers. This is why He is continually interceding for me . . .  and this is the reason that I should pray without ceasing; those I pray for need to be in a forgiven and cleansed relationship with Him also.

Many things can divert my attention from prayer, even the burden of prayer itself. This can weigh me down and push me out of the presence of God, which robs me of any desire to worship — yet worship is vital for intercession. If I cannot worship, I cannot pray in the will of God.

The desire to do His will sometimes pushes me to run ahead of God instead of worshiping Him. We all seem to be creatures of ‘do something’ instead of those who wait. If the pressure to take action keeps me away from worship, it eventually will drive me toward despair. I cannot worship God and intercede according to His will from a position of despair and hopelessness.

The greatest illustration of this is the crucifixion. I can imagine the disciples being so distressed that they prayed God would stop this from happening. Even though Jesus told them this was the Father’s will, it made no sense to them. They were fearful and not able to intercede, only run for their lives.

Yet getting into the heart of God means knowing how to pray when disaster comes, daring to ask if this is part of His plan. The death of His Son seems the worst that could happen, but for God and for us, it was the greatest act in history. How then can I pray about calamities, illness, misfortune, or anything that runs contrary to human comfort? What do I know about the plan of God?

This is why we pray “Thy will be done” at the end of many prayers. Yet this can become mechanical. I need to mean it with all my heart. That is a far greater challenge, and the devil knows it. He wants me out of that worshiping and yielded mode so I am praying for life to be pleasing and comfortable for everyone, without any burdens on me or on them, and without the sacrifice of praise.


Darrell said...

I can't tell you how excited I am to have stumbled across your blog. I have been reading and providing personal interaction and commentary to Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for almost four years and I truly look forward to reading all of your writings! Darrell Crane

Elsie Montgomery said...

I'm excited that you are excited about reading and interacting with Chambers too! He goes deep and the Lord keeps using his thoughts to make me think. Thanks for your encouragement!

Darrell said...

Elsie, which month did you start doing Utmost in 2016 and which reading did you leave? I am trying to make sense of the readings at the beginning of 2016. Thanks, Darrell

Elsie Montgomery said...

Hi Darrell, I started using Chambers January 19.

However, my main focus is what the Lord says to me through the Bible passages that Chambers uses. God sometimes uses Chambers to enlighten or challenge me, but the Holy Spirit often takes me in a different direction entirely. For me, the teacher is the Lord, and I listen for His words on my needs, etc. That is why my devotional posts may not click with Chambers. They are what God speaks to me on that particular day. As you likely notice, Chambers sometimes says things that run contrary to my understanding, and when that happens, I might 'argue' view or at least present it and hash it out. Again, this is according to what I'm hearing from the Lord.

You will note that Jan 17-18 are reports on what was happening with my hubby rather than a devotional. I read/prayed those days, but sometimes the opportunity to write down anything is just not there!


Darrell said...

I knew your husband was going through a rough spell in January and I was praying for the both of you. Thanks for staying in touch.