Right now, I’m reading a book entitled A Call for Character by Greg Zoschak. One of the most profound quotes I’ve read thus far is Every believer should have this testimony: I love God more than I did a year ago; therefore, I don’t fear like I used to. Because of this, I now overcome something that used to defeat me. In this spirit of growing in Christ, I share my top 5 spiritual lessons of 2009. Perhaps they will bear witness with your spirit, too. [All scriptures reference King James Version.]
1. How to pray – for real – every day.
“…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
The Lord arrested me at the beginning of another one of my going-through-the-motions prayers one morning. I had just said my usual opening, “Lord, I thank You for another day,” when everything seemed to stop. It was as though the Lord said, “Talk to the hand. I’m not listening because you don’t really mean it.” And He was right. Whenever I didn’t really have any pressing issues on my heart, I pretty much babbled in His presence, and the babbling always started with the same phrase while (simultaneously) I was probably wondering whether or not I’d given my daughter lunch money.
Preparing myself to be in His presence by designating a time and place as well as quieting the world around me has significantly changed my prayer life – thus my entire life. Because He has taught me how to come before Him with expectation of His mighty, overwhelming, Holy presence, I don’t even do go my prayer closet now without Kleenex! (I’m a crier, by the way.)
(My prayer closet film is below.)
2. How to stop grieving the Holy Spirit.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30
Ignoring the Holy Spirit’s leading has consequences which often mask themselves as drama, health problems, and maxed-out credit cards. I’m learning to listen and obey Him on the little things (“Don’t repeat what she said, Michelle” and “Don’t call them back. I’ll handle it” or “Just wait until next month”) so I can hear Him on the big things I’m praying about as well. Really, if I don't listen on the little stuff, why should He trust me life-changing revelation?
3. The Holy Spirit speaks the truth and helps me pray more accurately.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. John 16:13
For example, a friend asks me to stand with her in prayer about something, but we're not seeing results (I do expect things to change when I pray). When I ask the Holy Spirit about it, He might tell me that we’re both praying amiss (James 4:3). Then I can go to her person in love and we can get to the bottom of the problem and pray as the Lord would have us pray. Whenever this happens, my friend usually says, “Yeah, the Lord has been dealing with me about that already – I’m glad you confirmed it.” Of course, the Holy Spirit speaks the truth to me about me, too. Ouch!
4. If I operate in love, I won’t have to worry about my motives.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
This year, I had to come before the Lord and say, “Okay, God, I’m going to be totally honest with you. Yes, I write Christian fiction, and yes, I like to working with kids and teachers, but really, I want to be rich. Like, King Solomon's next-door-neighbor rich. And I’m hoping all this good stuff I’m doing will bring in a lot of money, so I can buy that dream house I’ve been thinking about since 1999. I’m tired of watching MTV cribs and seeing all these people who blatantly dishonor you with all the riches stored up in their homes!” In response to my honesty, God has done two things: 1) Showed me that I am already rich because I have everything I need every day (Luke 11:3) and 2) Given me a true heart for ministry to His people. Do I still want the dream house? Yes, but only as part of the “other things.”
5. I’m supposed to know God’s will.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
In past years, used to just pray “God’s will be done” and leave it at that when I really didn’t know what to do. But God checked me on this in His Word. Since the Holy Spirit lives in me, it’s my responsibility to seek out His will and do what he tells me to do. This year, God (ever-so patiently) walked me through searching the Word first (imagine that – seeing what the Bible has to say about issues?), praying in the Spirit and asking for revelation, and having faith to believe that He will actually respond to me. He may not tell me everything all at once, but He will let me know what my next step is - even if that step is simply to stand and be in awe of His work!