Godly cursing

Cursing is generally not commended in Scripture.  St. James sums it up when he writes, “out of the same mouth come praise and cursing: this should not be” (James 3:10).  And it is God’s intention to turn back cursing, whether it be the curse of sin under which we all labor, or the curses which may have been hurled our way, or which we have casually thrown to others.
But there is one kind of cursing that is allowed, even commended: the godly curse.  St. Paul mentions those who bring a different Gospel than that revealed in Jesus Christ: he says of them, “let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:8-9).  There are circumstances in which our prayers can include curses, not so much weighed against individuals or groups of people, but against the evil of the enemy at work in what they do to harm others.  So, for example, I make it a habit to curse pornography and the sex industry (“let them be under God’s curse”) while praying that those who are employees or consumers would be blessed to find better employment or more wholesome appetites.
So, as you pray for others, particularly those being harmed by others, be prepared to attack the enemy behind the harm with a godly curse, knowing that Jesus cursed the enemy when He died on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended to glory, thereby assuring that satan’s doom is sure.

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Forgiving the outrageous

We live in what some have called out “Outrage Culture”.  Our media, our friends and family, and the enemy himself, all conspire to encourage us to be injured so easily and to develop grudges so quickly.  Perhaps it has ever been thus, but it seems as if we in the church are in danger of losing the tender-heartedness and clear-mindedness which we need in order to pray.  As if to anticipate our need, Jesus teaches us how to pray even in an Outrage Culture:  And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them… (Mark 11:25).  There’s something about praying that doesn’t jive well with outrage and unforgiveness.  Perhaps we should make it a routine that whenever we stand to pray, we should do an outrage check in order to see if there’s someone or something we need to forgive.  It may well be that we will better hear the Great Prayer of Jesus at the Right Hand of the Father, and that the prayers of forgiven, forgiving, and righteous people will be powerful in their effect (James 5:16).

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It takes three

As I think about your praying for me and for others who have asked, I’m noting that you are “intercessors”, not just an “intercessor”.  The power in your praying is multiplied in that you do so with others, such that, whenever two or three are gathered together — and I take that term, “gathered”, somewhat more broadly than it’s original meaning, to include gathered virtually, or digitally, etc. — there is Jesus in the midst, interceding at the Right Hand of the Father.  In other words, as with Aaron and Hur, assisting Moses in his intercession for the army of Israel, “it takes three” (or even just two), to join with the Big Three in One – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – in the great work of intercession.
So, even if you’re praying alone, you aren’t, as you are joined by other humans similarly praying, echoing our Great High Priest ascended on High, and The Father with Whom He’s Praying, and The Holy Spirit Who is communicating that prayer to you.

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The sound has gone out

As I and my family continued to hear the testimonies of the wide-ranging effect of Hallie’s life and ministry, I recall speaking to her once about Psalm 19, which begins, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His Hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech’; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.  
If this is true of inanimate objects of God’s Creation, such as the silent heavens and skies above, how much more for those who are created in His Image, and recreated in Christ, and yet are silenced.  And so I said to her, paraphrasing, “though you have no speech, and no words, and no sound is heard from you, yet your voice goes out into all the earth, and your words to the ends of the world”.  And so it was so for Hallie, and continues to be so.  And so it will be for us who are in Christ, submitted to Him.  Even when we can no longer “speak”: the sum of our words, actions, thoughts, and lives will be sent by God to far-flung places and lives, and they will not return to Him void, but will accomplish more than we can even imagine.

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The power of thanksgiving

Each week in requests sent to my intercessors, I begin by listing that which I’m thankful for, including some affirmative responses from God to that which they have prayed for.  I do this deliberately, in order to ward off the sin of greed and envy which can cling so closely, particularly when I’m in a phase of life in which I must decrease so that Jesus [and His younger followers and leaders] can increase.  Paul advises those who pray to “devote themselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).  So please join me in “giving thanks in all circumstances”, and in cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

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Calling on The Name

I am so grateful for your calling on The Name of The Lord for us, because I can still remember when I didn’t, or couldn’t.  Genesis 4:26 describes how people began to call upon the Name of the Lord, implying that there were those who lived before who did not, like me and so many others you may know.  And there are still days when I don’t, or can’t call on God, due to a thousand reasons.  That’s why I’m grateful that you can pray for me, and I for you, so that communication between me and The One Whose Name means God saves and Who intercedes for us all can continue unbroken, in part by your prayer.

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Upholding the universe

We are told in the Book of Hebrews about The One to Whom and through Whom we pray, The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word.  After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right Hand of the Majesty in heaven.  From His exalted place, seated at The Throne of with The Father, The Son’s Word goes forth as He intercedes for us, through you.  Think of it!  As you pray according to His Word, you take part in His upholding the universe itself, including our small part in it!

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Asleep?

I’m particularly struck by how Jesus was asleep in a boat with His disciples during the storm, and as Mark records, in the sternon a cushion.  There are two ways of looking at this: either He was taking a nap, in a way that the Prophet Elijah accused Baal of being when he said, “maybe he is sleeping and needs to be wakened!”  Or, He was asleep, trusting in the Providential Care of the God Who never sleeps, even as the storm raged around Him (the fact that He was in the stern, the place of command in a boat, might give us a hint of what was going on, and would be going on when He awakened).  Which view you and I take of God in the storm as we pray for stormy circumstances will directly affect the effectiveness of our prayers.  As you pray, I urge you to pray from the second view.

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Heart’s desire

Psalm 21:2 reads, speaking to God of the king of Israel, “You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips”.  As we consider this Psalm in its context today, we think of God the Father, responding to the prayer requests of His Son Jesus, The King of kings and our great High Priest and Intecessor.  Thank you for joining in His requests as you pray for us, fulfilling the heart’s desire of the Lord that we be saved and kept for His glory.

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Surrounded

As I think about your praying for us, as well as many others, including those whom we know personally who visit us and send messages of encouragement to us, I’m so grateful that we are surrounded, like this:  since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of faith (Hebrews 1-2). Bless you for being part of the Great Circle of Love, grounded in prayer.

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