Intimacy First!

Can you put it into wordsHad a great reunion of sorts with some of the DPP family this morning! I really love this group of people. I’m proud of them and thankful for them.

I just felt that I should invite as many from the DPP family as possible to come this Sunday to talk about The Foundations of Our Pursuit of Intimacy With Jesus. Ten of them came and it was a joy!

We talked about

  • putting our desire for intimacy with Jesus into words.
  • the progression from praise to worship to intimacy.
  • allowing ourselves legitimacy in prayer by thinking about ourselves as God thinks of us, which, if we are saved, is as righteous. God thinks of us as righteous.
  • how our prayers for others will be more effectual when they flow from a place of intimacy with Jesus.
  • how we have been conditioned to think of intimacy in terms of “doing” and how that doesn’t work in our human relationships and that it doesn’t work in our relationship with God.

Want to be part of the Daily Prayer Project family? Just call 631-265-2485.

O God, do something in our days!

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5

Isn’t this what we want? We want Him to do something in our days. That’s what Habakkuk wanted, but he wanted God to follow his plan. Instead, God began to let Habakkuk in on what He wanted to do.

What is the key to answered prayer? Pray the heart of God. How can we do that? We must first know the heart of God. How? Answer this: How have you gotten to know the heart of your spouse, your children, your brother or sister? Your best friend? Through time spent with them. Real time; intimate time. It’s no different with God.

Good Morning, it’s Time to Wake Up!

Ok Project veterans and prospective Project participants—it’s a new year, a new start, a new opportunity to pursue intimacy with Jesus! So, wake up those prayer bones, make a fresh commitment to the guidelines we have learned together, and let’s pursue the fragrance of intimacy with Jesus together!

Go to the accountability page and post your present status in prayer: how you’re doing, what you’re struggling with, which obstacle is getting in the way!

Don’t Forget Faith!

Sometimes—especially when we have experienced some remarkable times in the Presence of God—we can find ourselves struggling and even discouraged when we can’t seem to find God. Sometimes there may be a reason we can’t seem to enter into His Presence—an attitude, a sin, an offense—but I think most of the time it is just because we are human and susceptible to the ups and downs of emotion and physical/mental energy, etc. BUT HERE IS AN IMPORTANT POINT TO REMEMBER: Our access into the Presence of God is not our ability to feel a certain way. It is our faith! Sometimes just remembering that fact is enough to jar our hearts and press through the numbness that can happen to us!

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2, NIV, 1984)

When You Think You Have Surrendered It All

Phil 3I have been struggling lately in prayer and not able to pinpoint the problem.

There’s not always a problem just because you don’t feel a certain way in prayer. The lack of emotion in your prayer time is not always a reliable indicator of how your prayer time is going. Think about it: My connection to those closest to me does not disappear just because I have a day where I don’t feel emotionally close to them or am distracted by the details of life. Genuine love and intimacy persist through such temporary things. But after a while, if things don’t get back to normal, it is wise to prayerfully examine your own heart and thinking.

In my case, I️ have been suspecting that the problem was distraction. Not phones ringing, or interruptions, but, in this case, a competing distraction.

This particular distraction is noble, useful, and, in my case, done for upright reasons. Yet, because it is something I️ also happen to enjoy immensely, it can be a distraction.

I️ have been praying for a few weeks now, asking the Lord to show me what He would have me do about this noble distraction. I feel that He gave me Philippians 3:7-8 (which you can see in context in the attached graphic).

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.As a result, I am examining the distraction in light of what really matters. Will He teach me to pursue this noble activity in a different way or give it up altogether? If He has me to give it up, what will have me do instead? Perhaps it is the doing that is the problem! We will see. For now, I am still wrestling but I understand the struggle now and will continue to pray about it until He wins!

Until There is Room to Run!

Picture the Secret Place as an immense wilderness.

You enter into it for the first time only to find that there is only a small square of grass on which to stand. There is more land, to be sure. Abundantly more! But it is fraught  with thorns and thistles, dangers and difficult places, and even enemies! It is overwhelming. You repeat a few perfunctory prayer requests and leave in discouragement.

But then somehow word comes to you of new possibilities for the Secret Place; at least they are new to you.

“The Secret Place is yours,” someone said. “It only needs to be cultivated!”

“How?” you have the presence of mind to ask.

“The Secret Place is about intimacy with Him!” you are told. “In fact,” the messenger says, “if you can receive it, the Secret Place is a reflection of your intimacy with Him. It cannot be cultivated by more and more petitions, and intercession won’t do it either. The Secret Place is cultivated by pursuing intimacy with Jesus!”

Seeing that you still could not understand, the messenger continued,

“You see, there are three ways we can look at the Secret Place that can help us to understand why it is so important and why the enemy fights so hard against anyone who would try to tarry there.

“First, the Secret Place is actually the Holy of Holies.”

“Hebrews 10:19-22 says,

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith (NIV84)

“When Jesus died, a ‘new and living way’ was opened for us ‘through the curtain.’ The curtain refers to ‘the veil’ that hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies–a room only the high priest could enter and then only once a year. That curtain or ‘veil’ was torn into two pieces, from top to bottom, as it hung there on the day Jesus was crucified.

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (NIV84).

“So now, because of Jesus, we are allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies. But don’t stop there in your understanding. Yes, in the Old Testament, the Holy of Holies was a room, but now, when we enter into the real Holy of Holies, we are entering into the Presence of God! But what is the Presence of God if not God Himself?

“So, the second way we can look at the Secret Place then, is to see it as Christ Himself!”

“We are entering into Him. Because we have been saved and called righteous by faith, we are already in Him. But that is akin to only standing in the doorway: we are ‘in’ but we can go so much deeper! However, petitions won’t take us further, nor are intercessions the path to deeper places! Those must flow out of our intimacy with Him!

“The third way we can see the Secret Place is to see that it is a reflection of our own hearts.”

“In other words, our hearts are the wilderness we encounter in the Secret Place and as we allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate the wilderness of our hearts into a place where He can move freely we find that the Secret Place becomes a place where we can run!”

 

There is a Reason it’s Called Contending!

Sometimes in the Project someone will describe the difficulties they had in praying IMG_1062the week before every day/set time/set place, and I remind them “that’s why I named the book ‘Contending for the Habit of Daily Prayer.” It is a daily battle.

When you have had to struggle for prayer or you feel you have been attacked by the enemy because of prayer, don’t be surprised! That’s contending!

The Daily Prayer Project

This June I will begin…

…a “perpetual” offering of my prayer class based on my book, Contending for the Habit of Daily Prayer (Revised and Expanded). The class has always borne fruit, in some way helping someone who was struggling to maintain a dynamic, meaningful, genuine, daily time in the Secret Place to begin doing so. The class has not been offered very often. But, starting on June 4, that is going to change!

The class will be titled The Daily Prayer Project. It is a five week class so my intent will be to have the class, break for three weeks, and then do it again with a new group. There will be sign-ups and only six people will be allowed in the class per five week cycle.

Click here for the calendar with dates and locations of the classes.

As I said above, the text for the class will be my book, Contending for the Habit of Daily Prayer, and it will be required reading. It will be made available at an affordable price to all who start and finish the class. All monies received from the book will be used to promote and carry out various goals of The Daily Prayer Project. The book will need to be in before class begins so that you can come to the first class having done the initial section of reading. It can be purchased from Amazon (allow three weeks or so), on Kindle from Amazon, or at the SGT church office.

Class attendance for the entire five weeks will be mandatory so please sign up for a class cycle that you know you can complete. Prayer is that important!

Once we are underway, we will expand the class to our CLM Online site so that those whose schedule’s don’t permit them to attend the class on Sunday and Monday mornings can participate. Also, those outside the Long Island area will also be able to sign-up and participate on line.


So, why the ramping up of prayer class offerings?

I am convinced more than ever that our chief goal should be to cultivate the Secret Place and pursue intimacy with Jesus. Everything else we do , everything else we pray about should flow out of that place of intimacy with Christ.

Here’s a timely excerpt from the Revised and Expanded version of Contending for the Habit of Daily Prayer:

We have been granted a purchase in the Secret Place. Our experience of it at the first is that it is very small. Not much room to stand. In fact, however, it is not small, but large and significant. The problem is that it has not been cultivated for our use. The reason it is uncultivated is because we have spent little time there, or we have not known what to do when we are there. We have much important work that needs to be done in the Secret Place. We have petitions, we have intercessions, and we feel these things to be very important. And so they are. But we don’t have much room for our feet to find leverage so that we can do the hard work of petitions and intercessions. We need for the Lord to increase our purchase in the Secret Place!

Offering many petitions and intercessions won’t increase our purchase in the Secret Place. Only one thing can do that—increased intimacy with Jesus. Jesus is our Secret Place! As our intimacy with Jesus increases, we go higher and deeper in Him. We find room to run in Him!  Room to flow in the Holy Spirit. Now, our petitions and intercessions flow out of our intimacy with Him and with the power that comes from knowing Him.

So, when we pray, “Father, increase my purchase in the Secret Place,” we are committing ourselves to pursuing intimacy with Him first and we are trusting that He will lead us by His Spirit into the petitions and intercessions that He desires us to offer. Now we can make petitions and intercessions with anointing and compassion!