I got an answer! (Why I’m staying in the chair)

Interestingly enough, when we ask God for understanding and revelation, He gives it to us. In my last post I let you in on some of the questions I’d been asking God. Things like, “What does my worship mean to you? What goes on in your heart when I worship? What significance does it have?” Well, literally the day after writing and posting “How do I stay in the chair?”, I got my answer.

I went to class, expecting a normal day of lecture (this class in particular is about God’s purpose and plan for Israel). My teacher, Wes Hall, began by giving an exhortation on what worship is and why it matters. What you are about to read are not all my original thoughts, it comes from notes I took in class and then extra study I did afterwards.

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Everything in our lives comes down to agreement. We are always in agreement with something -whether it be lies or truth, Satan or God. When we worship, we are agreeing with truth. Whatever we agree with, we give authority to, and where that authority is given, a throne is built.

For example, when you come into agreement with Satan, you are giving him access and authority and He gets to build a throne over your life (also called a stronghold). When you agree with a lie, you say to the devil, “you are right” and are basically giving him your worship. In the same way when you agree with God’s Word, you give Him access to build His throne over your life. We know this because in Psalm 22:3 it says that God is enthroned in the praises of His people.

God’s throne is where His people’s praises are. When you worship God and agree with truth you are releasing the authority of God into your atmosphere and your circumstances. You are saying to God “You are right” and God is able to build His throne there.

We live in a culture that largely agrees with Satan. This mean’s humans are daily giving him the right to build his throne over their lives. Why 24/7 worship and prayer? Because when I worship God — even when I don’t feel it — I am letting God build His throne and dismantle Satan’s throne.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholdscasting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. The weapons of our warfare are found in worship. We worship the one true living God and tear down the strongholds that exalt themselves against the truth of who He is.

Satan is described in Revelation 12:10 as the accuser who stands before God and accuses the brethren day and night. If Satan thinks it’s worthwhile to speak lies night and day, then we ought to think it worthwhile to be speaking truth night and day. We want God to build His throne over us, our families, our cities and nation and that throne is built on the praises of His people.

So where ever He is being worshiped, His throne is being established, so why not 24/7 prayer and worship? We want His throne over our lives every second of every day. What could happen in cities and nations that are coming into agreement with God’s truth every hour, even through the night watches? The strongholds begin to be torn down.

Now when I head into the prayer room and I’m tired and I feel like my worship is unimportant, I can remind myself of this. My worship (and your worship), even in weakness and smallness is saying, “God, come build your throne here”.

 

 

How do I stay in the chair?

Usually the things I write and post on here are conclusions (based on the Word of God, experiences, and personal conviction). In the very least they are working conclusions. Today I am writing out a “wrestle”. It’s not something I have totally worked out — which is okay because I don’t think we will ever have everything worked out.

My wrestle, my questions, are simply my way of getting to a better understanding of something. The best way I know how to do this is to write it. If I write out the questions–though they be obvious or dumb–in the asking I am able to work my way towards a conclusion. You know how there’s internal processors and external processors? Well I’m neither and both at the same time. I’m a creative processor. I have to create to understand.

As I’ve said in blog post’s before, I feel no pressure to write for an audience. My topics come out of the overflow of situations and meditations. Thus, today’s wrestle began in the prayer room around 2am this morning.

I have questions. Many of these  questions I “know” the answer to, but knowing an answer is not enough at 2 in the morning. I need experiential knowledge rooted in the Word of God. I need something strong enough to establish my life on.

It began simply  with the question, “Father, why does my worship matter to you?”

Because at 2am, when you’re tired and your heart is dull you start to wonder why in the world you signed up to be in a prayer room. It’s great that I founded my decision to join the Night Watch on the glory of God and His worthiness, but that begs the question, “Do I even know what it means for God to be glorified? How is my worship glorifying Him? What does it mean that He’s worthy and why do I not feel anything about that statement on a regular basis?

The glory of God seems like such an ethereal, insubstantial thing. I think I have a small grasp on what it looks like for man to glorify God (obedience, affection, loyalty), but what does it look like to God? What happens when I am sitting in a chair singing a song to God that I don’t particularly like or feel emotionally connected to? What happens in the heart of God when I lift my voice and sing “Jesus you’re beautiful” even though I don’t feel it? I know it takes faith, (and faith is a whole subject I still need to understand) when I lift my voice. . . but it feels so. . .unimportant. Being in that chair night after night looks unimpressive. It doesn’t look like much and it certainly doesn’t feel like much.

Without a personal understanding of the glory I give to God when I worship and what goes on in His heart when I do so, I will not stay in the chair. I sort of understand the idea that God is glorified by His people corporately, but without individual praise arising from each heart, there is no corporate praise.

So, what does my worship mean to God? What significance does me showing up and telling Jesus I love Him have in the grand scheme of God’s heart and His glory in the nations?

The reasons this matters so much to me is, I won’t have the confidence to keep showing up to a pray room year after year for the rest of my life if I don’t believe it’s worth while or important. God has convinced me of the power of prayer and intercession; I know that when I stand up to pray I am in the throne room of heaven, God hears me and He is releasing His kingdom. I can build a case to spend the rest of my life interceding for God’s purposes in the earth because I know eventually they will be done, but my foundation for the house of prayer has to be more than just intercession. My foundation for the house of prayer ought to be the glory of God, but how can it be when I don’t understand the glory of God or the part I play in it?

This is the wrestle of my heart. Feel free to comment and leave your thoughts from what you’ve seen in the Word. I really am seeking answers, pray that God would reveal Himself to me. Thanks friends and readers!

A Fresh Ask

This week I am spurred on and encouraged by the new students arriving at IHOPU. They are eager and hungry for what God is about to do, and all of us are excited for them. Many teachers and faculty have already urged them “be expectant for God to move. Ask Him for an encounter”.

I remember showing up here 2 years ago. One word describes the state I was in: desperate. I HAD to have more of God. When you’re desperate you’ll do anything people tells you will work, you’ll spend long hours in prayer and cut out all the other distractions. During my first semester I asked God for a lot of things. I wanted to encounter His heart, I wanted to see salvation among my friends, I wanted to be free from old lies and thought patterns, I wanted to come alive in His love.

All this time I have been asking, but as answered prayers have relieved some of my desperation and unanswered prayers have become difficult to carry, there are areas where I have stopped asking. Or at least, my expectancy that God will answer has lowered. But, I am reminded as I see these new students how much the Lord actually has done in my heart in the last 2 years.

I feel encouraged to approach the Lord with a fresh ask in my heart. One of my favorite verses that first semester was Hebrews 11:6 which says “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

This is a major theme God is bringing back into my life. Do I actually believe he is who he says he is? Do I believe he is a rewarder of those who seek him? If I seek will I really find? If I ask will he really answer? Is he really a God that gives good gifts to his children?

I rise up in my faith and say “Oh my soul, trust in Him!” He is good. He does not tell us to seek him in vain. He is the God who loves to be found, who loves to be sought out.

So my fresh ask, my new reach, is that I would encounter God in a new way this semester. As I rearrange my life and seek him on the Night Watch I want to meet him in a profound way. I want to gain an understanding of the worthiness of Jesus, and a conviction about His cosmic story He is writing. I want to look back years from now and remember this season as the one that changed my walk with the Lord forever.

So I’m asking again.

What are you asking Him for? What encourages your heart to keep asking?

It Was a Set Up

I’m lying there, hoping to fall asleep and trying not to dread the weak feeling I’m going to have when I wake up and head into the prayer room. But God is so excited. He’s thrilled that when I wake up, I will HAVE to ask Him for help.

This was a set up.

I could say that doing the Night Watch was my idea, but it’s not. He’s lured me to this place. I am currently on night 5. My body is obviously still in transition, so that makes how weak I feel amplified, but I am already catching on to how this is going to be all semester.

Yesterday I was sitting in the prayer room at 4 o’clock. I had been in there 2 hours and didn’t want to pray anymore. Intercession was just beginning and I just didn’t feel like standing up, engaging, or praying. I sat there for a few minutes and then thought to myself “maybe I should ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen me”. Ephesians 3:16-19 talks about how He strengthens us with might by His spirit in the inner man. So I simply asked Him to.

Almost immediately I felt something. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was the feeling of literal strength touching my spirit. It wasn’t extravagant, it was just enough to get me on my feet. How we respond to the grace of God matters. At this point I could of said “that’s nice” and stayed sitting there. But I realized, this is the Holy Spirit helping me and I need to act on it while I have any ounce of desire to pray in me. So I did. I moved up to the front section of the prayer room and stood during intercession. I actually prayed.

I’m never comfortable when I’m up there, especially when I’m the only one standing, but it helps me to pray. As I was reflecting on this whole event while I was trying to fall asleep yesterday it occurred to me– “I am going to have to do the same thing tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.” God is just downright giddy about this. He was sitting up there on His throne, giggling with excitement because I am going to talk to Him tomorrow and ask Him for help.

Like I said, this was a set up. He’s so excited for this process. I couldn’t help but laugh too, because as much as I dread feeling weak, I love it when He comes and strengthens me. It was amazing to literally feel Ephesians 3:16-19 on the inside.

The New Things

Change and I have a love-hate relationship. Most of the time I like patterns, schedules and stability, but then every once in awhile I get the urge to rearrange the furniture, sit in a different section of the prayer room or buy a different type of cliff bar. I know. I try not to get too crazy. (It took me 2 years of thinking about it to dye my hair brown).

Recently I’ve begun one of those times in the rhythm of life called “change”. It’s affected nearly everything. Friends got married, some moved, some left the country. I finished the forerunner curriculum, went to my last small group with my best friends (#brigroup), and many other things.

This means: New roommates. New friends. A new major. New responsibilities. A new small group. Oh and a new cat (that’s nice–his name is Mark).

The goodbyes were hard, but I am confident that the new hellos are going to be even better. The endings are sad, but the beginnings will be so worth it. So here’s to the new things, may the adventure of discovering them be a grand one.

So…it’s happening.

Night Watch, I mean.

A year ago I was driving home from work around 1am and as I passed the prayer room a small cry arose from my heart. “I want to worship Jesus in the night”. It was small, hardly noticeable, but in the next months to follow it began to grow.

I am switching to the Night Watch in 10 days.

In the last few months, as I’ve been sharing and inviting friends to partner with me, the question keeps being asked “Why in the world would you want to join the Night Watch?”

It’s hard to put into words, but there’s something in me that I can’t shake. Something that won’t let me bend. It’s something that even when I thought Night Watch wouldn’t be possible right away, I knew was true with all my heart.

Jesus is worthy of 24/7 worship. He’s called me to pray and serve in the Night Watch, and though this whole process is out of my comfort zone I long to say yes and be obedient. To some it is irrational and foolish. I appears I am wasting my life, choosing a road that will lead to poverty and burnout. It might not be practical compared to the American Dream, but “God is not practical. He’s beautiful and beautiful things demand an extravagant response”.

I could be sorry that this response doesn’t lie within the average Christian confines, but I’m not. I could tell you this is just a faze and that I’ll grow out of it and move on to living the  American dream, but I won’t. Because, God willing, I want to spend the rest of my life knowing God, giving Him glory and making Him known. It can’t just be a fad for me. I’ve been gripped by something way bigger than myself and I want nothing more than to respond with obedience and love.

I know the House of Prayer, the Night Watch, and everything I’m doing seems crazy and yes it will be hard, but by the grace of God I am saying yes to the His leadership.

My own strength, my own zeal, and my own passion will not keep me here, for they are not what got me here in the first place. Only God can set watchmen on the walls (Isa. 62:6-7). Only God can raise up a night and day prayer and worship movement in the earth (Mal. 1:11). Only God can keep me steady in the trials and in the mundane of life.

With trembling and the fear of the Lord I take my place on the wall of intercession, knowing only He has put me here and only He will keep me.  Night Watch…here I come.

Getting Weaker

We’d like to think that buying into Christianity is like going to the gym.

It means we’re suddenly going to get ripped, have no problems, always do everything right and just be awesome. Wrong. So wrong. Christianity is about getting weaker.

This is just something I’m figuring out on the fly, so correct me if you don’t agree, but the more we fall in love with Jesus the weaker we become. No, not because we’re lacking the power of Christ to overcome sin. I understand that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It’s not that I think that we get spiritually weaker as we go on, I think it’s that we finally see how weak we always were and decide that relying on someone else is the only way to survive. So yes, it is weak, because none of the strength is actually ours.

Two years ago I thought I was a radical Christian with a pretty good walk with the Lord. But I could go days without talking to Jesus and it wouldn’t really bother me, I could watch movies with pretty awful stuff in it and not care, I could do lots of things and be just fine. But after two years of letting the Lord work on my heart and two years of seeking him in the place of prayer, if I go two days without talking to Jesus I am a mess on the floor. I just can’t function. I am so weak.

It’s probably good that I’m finding out my limitations now and not later. If I don’t talk to Jesus today, if He doesn’t wash me with His Word, if I am not connected to the Holy Spirit, then fear will surely overcome my heart.

The more I fall in love with Jesus, the weaker I become.

It’s because the more I depend on Him, the more I am relying on His strength and power, the more I am getting addicted.  It’s like if I were addicted to morphine to alleviate some pain I had, and then one day decided to not take any, my body would go into shock. Everything would be in chaos because I had been so dependent on it for so long. The more we love God, the weaker we become. We become addicted to liquid strength called the Holy Spirit and just can’t do with anything less.

I can’t get by without God. Call me weak. I don’t mind. I can’t watch or do certain things because they hurt me and they hurt my relationship with God. Call me lame. I’ll be fine. I don’t really care. I don’t want anything to come between me and the most precious thing I have.

Choosing Weakness

A lot of people say it’s not worth it to follow Jesus because they have such great lives doing lots of fun [stupid] things. Many say they’ll never give those things up because they’d rather have them than Jesus. The only response I have is –YOU’VE NEVER MET HIM THEN.

Really, how would you know that God can’t be more satisfying than everything else if you’ve never once experienced a conversation with the one who breathed the stars? I dare you to try it. I dare you to talk to God, to invite Him to spend time with you and to reveal His love to you.

All I know is, He took my anxious soul and gave me rest. He took my fearful heart and filled me with love. He took everything I was ashamed of and made me clean. I met God and He turned out to be the most pleasurable, good, pure, kind, beautiful thing I could ever dream of. And you know what? I am satisfied. Really satisfied.

This is called dependency.

So here I am, addicted and weak. I don’t want anything less than the pleasure of knowing and being known by God. I need Him and I know that I can’t live a single day without Him. I am dependent.