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How to pray through a crisis

We all need to learn to pray through a crisis...before the crisis hits.

I just found out i had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID 3 days later. I knew how to pray when confronted with a crisis.. do you?

This is from my booklet '30 Days on: Practical Impact'

How to Pray Through A Crisis

-From my booklet: 30 Days on Practical Impact

Day 18, How to Pray Through a Crisis 1

1 Sam. 30.6 Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

David had just returned from an attack and found that his enemies had invaded their camp, kidnapped the women and children and set all their supplies on fire.

The men that were with David were so traumatized that they discussed killing David. This is an understandable response to grief. David, though, chose another path; He pursued God as He always did. This is why David was a man after God’s own heart.

These next few entries will be about how do we pray when we find ourselves or loved ones in a crisis.

Most importantly, before we get into any details is this point; you CAN’T learn to pray in a crisis while going through a crisis. If you don’t have a strong prayer-life before the crisis hits, you will be hard pressed to learn while your life is going sideways. As a pastor, it grieves me when people come to me in a panic because all I can do as a pastor, is bless the praying that they are already doing. Sadly, I frequently have to tell people; ‘I can’t pray for you like you can pray for you!’

When my little brother was in a life-threatening car accident I knew exactly what needed to be done. When my wife died, I had prayer structures in my life to stay connected with God when all I wanted to do was crawl into a scotch bottle.

So, if you are not in crisis, review the past few entries to make sure you are prepared to jump into battle when needed.

The next thought is to get proper perspective on a crisis from a Biblical perspective. Satan is called ‘ruler of the world’ by Jesus, ‘god of this world’ by Paul, and the ‘power of death’ in Hebrews. Satan is defeated, but he is like the kidnapper that is surrounded by police holding a gun at the head of a victim. Defeated--but not surrendered. Subjected- but not surrendered. Jesus has all authority but not everything is under His feet yet (Heb. 2.8).

Every time we pray in a crisis, we are sowing seeds of life where the enemy has sown AND REAPED seeds of death. If you feel behind the proverbial eight ball in a crisis it is because we are.

The moment every person is born they are placed in a river called death that is heading towards a waterfall called ‘bodily death.’ Every healing is pulling someone away from the waterfall or away from the center of the river. We all are going over, but prayer pulls people back from the edge. Jesus pulled everyone He prayed for WAY back from the edge. We are growing to pull people further back as we learn to agree with Jesus.

So, with this in mind, the three elements of praying in a crisis are:

1. Don’t Panic

2. Stop / Structure your world

3. Get to gratitude

Each section will get an explanation in coming days.

For now though imagine…if you received a pink slip or the call in the middle of the night, are you ready not just to ‘say prayers’ but ‘prevail in prayer?’

Am I ready to pray myself or a loved one through a crisis?

Day 19, Crisis Praying 2: Don’t Panic

Phil. 4.6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The power in your praying is in your peace.

Now that doesn't mean you don't pray the most prayed prayer of all time: Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. Oh god! That doesn't mean you may not have a moment or two of saying JESUS HELP!

God and Jesus are both said to be life, light and peace. When the enemy gets an advantage, we release the life, light and peace of God into situations where death, darkness and fear are currently winning.

The amount of peace you release when you're praying for someone is what makes the difference. Peace isn’t necessarily quiet, but it is never afraid. Fear is the opposite of love and faith.

Have you ever been in a situation and you heard somebody pray “O Lord thou art enthroned above the Cherubim in thy hypostatic union!” And it's wonderfully scripted, and it sounds beautiful, and you just ask ‘was he talking to God or was he talking to other people?’ Conversely, have you ever heard your grandma say JESUS!!! and you feel the heavens come down?

Here's what happened: Your grandma released life, your grandma released the power of peace.

Both Britney Spears and Aretha Franklin write down ‘female singer’ when they fill out their tax forms. How does this apply to prayer? I've seen a lot of Christians who pray like Britney Spears, pretty, sophisticated and popular. But when I am in a crisis I want Aretha praying…someone who knows the power of God and isn’t afraid to call on the name of Jesus even if it makes someone uncomfortable.

Remember, when the storm came, the disciples screamed “Lord don't you care that we're gunna drown?” What is Jesus doing? Sleeping. You can only calm the storm you can sleep through.

The second part is you need to learn to fight your brain. You'll have moments of doubt and fear, but there's a difference between a moment and getting stuck in fear and unbelief.

So, here's how you fight the battle; every morning, find your song and or scripture and let that go through your brain as loudly as possible.

Next thing is to let the fear propel you back into the fight. Pretend every scared thought is a pinball bumper bouncing you back into the fight which consists of declaring God’s truth of victory over the situation.

When I had to leave my family on Christmas morning to go to the ICU to sit with my brother, the Chris Tomlin chorus ‘nothing formed against me shall stand, You have the whole world in Your hand…I’m holding onto Your faithfulness…You are faithful’ became my song and my verse that I strapped myself onto. Find your song and verse and pray on!

Let the power of your peace from Jesus light up the darkness and bring life crashing into death.

If you had to pick a song or verse right now, what would it be?

Day 20, Crisis Praying 3: Stop/ Structure Your Life

Is. 62.7 On your walls…I have appointed watchmen, All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; And give Him no rest until He establishes… Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Luke 18.7 Now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night?

I believe intercession starts when your world stops. When you are in the midst of a crisis in your life or in a loved one’s life, intercession is when you instigate a divine encounter. You set boundaries for the enemy and you release the power of God to bring about His will on earth as it is in heaven.

When asked how long does it take to pray for a breakthrough, I always answer as long as it takes to put out a fire. If your praying with a squirt gun, it may take a while. If you are praying with a water hose, you’ll make more progress. If you and your friends all pack firehoses and join in prayer you’ll see the breakthrough sooner.

So, its time to stop your world. Turn off the TV. Turn off your phone. Maybe put on some worship music. But place yourself at the feet of Jesus and be the conduit for His life to flow through.

Turn back a few pages and start going through the prayer activities listed on days 14-16.

Closely tied to stopping your life is structuring your life to find some new pockets of time during this crisis. Some of my favorite pockets of time to steal during a crisis are:

Prayer walks: I put my dog on a leash, worship music in my headphones and walk 30 minutes one direction and 30 minutes back and pray for the situation based on the words of the song.

Prayer drives: If a walk doesn’t work, I jump in one of my Saabs and drive out and back praying along with the music. Praying in the car is great because I can pray VERY loudly and release a great deal of life.

Remember, the goal when you are praying is to sow seeds of life into a situation where the enemy has sown AND REAPED death. The words you say aren’t as important as the faith you have while you are praying them. Jesus told His disciples to pray as if they had ALREADY RECEIVED the answer.

I frequently imagine praying into a dark room, and the longer I pray, the more candles are lit until the whole room is light. This type of spiritual warfare is like walking around the walls of Jericho. We don’t know how many times around it will take but THESE WALLS ARE COMING DOWN!

If I’m journaling, I will write and edit what I am asking for and then I will read the prayer over and over knowing its not about the words, its about the life flowing out of my spirit like ‘rivers of living water.’ I am using my will power to release the power of God’s will.

Other great times to steal are in the shower, during a lunch break at work, after dinner dishes are done and my best time to pray is before bed and then as you fall asleep. When my brother was in the ICU, I went to bed every night praying a breath prayer: Tommy is healed- by the stripes of Jesus.

What prayer structures in your life do you have now and what times could you steal?

Day 21, Crisis Praying 4: Get to Gratitude

Phil. 4.6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Thess. 5.18 In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

We’re going back to the verse in Philippians again. Note the unnecessary detail; thanksgiving.

If there is a ‘steroid’ for spiritual growth, thanksgiving is the magic growth pill. From God’s perspective, every American is in the top 2% of wealth of every person who has ever lived. We may not always feel thankful, but from God’s perspective we should be the most thankful.

This doesn’t mean we give thanks FOR everything, but we can give thanks IN everything. I was not thankful FOR my brother’s accident, but I guarded my heart so that I would BE thankful in the midst of the process.

I was thankful Tommy was alive, was not paralyzed, for doctors, for nurses, for technology, for insurance, for medicine, for progress, for setbacks to become set-ups etc. etc.

Note in the Thessalonians verse, Paul says a thankful heart IS God’s will. I knew the accident was NOT God’s will, so I made sure I was releasing God’s will into the situation by being thankful.

The reason thanksgiving is so important is the devil’s plan is to get humans to doubt God’s goodness just like he did in Eden. Once you doubt God’s goodness you are not in faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Living consumed by doubt makes us double-minded; James says we should not expect to receive anything from God while living double-minded. When you are in crisis you can’t afford to disagree with God! So, I guard my heart to always stay thankful.

If I have an important decision to make or need to choose between options, I always get as thankful as I can and make my best decision. When I am thankful, I am in my best brain-space because I am agreeing with my spirit. Conversely, if I find myself whiney or grumpy I NEVER make an important decision. Every comfort-seeking decision has always led to a selfish decision.

Remember, Jesus started washing feet after He remembered who He was, where He was from, what He was given and where He was going (John 13.1).

Quick aside; the quickest, surest way through a crisis is to get to believing ‘I know God is blessing me even when it looks like He isn’t blessing me.’

When you get to that point, you have officially broken the devil’s neck under your feet. Your picture is on the wall of hell and the caption reads ‘what will it take to discourage (your name). If you can get to the place where discouragement comes and goes like wind through your hair, you become a person who will overcome everything just like Jesus promised we would.

Was the devil going after my brother’s life? Yes. But he was also going after my faith and all my family’s faith. The enemy knows if he gets our faith he gets everything.

But if we learn to let the suffering of this life lead us back to Jesus then catastrophes become catapults! Catapulting us further into our destiny.

Somebody say amen!

What can you be thankful for in your current difficulty?

Day 22, Praying Through a Crisis 5: Fasting

Matt. 6.17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Jesus says when you fast, not if you fast. Don’t get mad at me…I’m just reporting what He said.

Two things about fasting: 

First, Jesus says fasting should be a part of His disciple’s spiritual life. Earlier we talked about how fasting is a great spiritual discipline because we learn how to live while our flesh is being denied. 

Fasting teaches your body it doesn't get everything it wants. Hunger won't kill you. Fasting will teach your body that your spirit needs to be in control.  

Fast as you can, not as you can’t. Fasting isn’t a hunger strike; God isn’t being pressured to answer a prayer because I skip breakfast. God is not up there saying “OH NO! Sean is HUNGRY!! Angels…DO SOMETHING!!”

Maybe start with skipping a meal a day for a few days. Personally, if I am seeking a breakthrough, I will skip dinner and breakfast for three days. I have done all-day fasting and once I did a three-day fast. I know of others who have done twenty-one-day fasts.

I also knew someone who was fighting legalism, and this person did a thirty-day fast and came out of it more legalistic than they went into the fast. Not helpful.

The most important part of fasting and praying is the PRAYING. Make sure you are taking the time you would be eating to spend praying. Without prayer, you are just going hungry.

Fasting is a type of silent, all-day prayer. When you start to feel uncomfortable you are saying ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the great.  

What do you want more? Your comfort zone or a spiritual breakthrough? You will get whichever you desire most. 

Currently, I fast breakfast five days a week. For me, eating is my biggest potential addiction. Every day I skip breakfast, I specifically pray ‘God, I am the watchman on the wall that will not give You any rest until you make Living Hope the praise of Spokane. I am fasting to tell my flesh to SHUT UP and create space for my spirit to take its rightful place.’ Then as my stomach grumbles, I pray ‘thank you Lord that my flesh is not my source of life. You are.’

Remember, you have everything you need for faith and every spiritual blessing. Fasting is just a practical way to thin your flesh. When Jesus was being tempted, He fought the devil with the Word and His flesh with fasting. The goal is not to get more out of God, but to get more of you, out of you. We have all God has given to us…we just need to give more of ourselves back to God.

Honestly…fasting from TV and internet junk may be the most powerful fast you can do. Spend a month without fiction television and see how your perspective changes.

Is fasting a part of your spiritual journey? How could you add this discipline to your life?

Day 23, Crisis Praying 6; Prayer Language

1 Cor 14.2For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues…18 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all

Rom 8.26 The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with (non-understandable) groanings… the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Welcome to the ‘Pandora’s Box’ entries of the booklet. While this is a divisive subject lets lay clear what is undebatable;

1. Paul wishes all the tongues-worshipping Corinthians would speak in tongues.

2. Paul, God’s chosen spokes person to the Gentiles and theological father of Christianity, speaks in tongues more than all the tongues-worshipping Corinthians.

3. Praying in tongues (or a prayer-language as I call the experience) is the Spirit praying God’s perfect will through you.

I can say without question or qualification that my hours-a-day in my prayer language is the bedrock of my faith. The reason my main spiritual gift is prophecy is because the time I spend speaking ‘mysteries’ to God sows the seeds for prophetic understanding.

Any sermon insight that has been life-changing, any advice that has helped, any person I’ve prayed for that has been physically healed is because of the hours-a-day I spend in my prayer language.

A prayer language is the bridge to prophecy. In Acts 2, no one was saved while the people spoke in their prayer language and people heard in their own language. Look it up: 3 times in 5 verses the emphasis is on the hearing not the speaking. But when Peter preached prophetically people came to know Jesus.

When you pray in a prayer language, you are praying God’s absolute highest will for any situation. The reason we God has to bypass our understanding is we understood, we would probably self-edit or mess it up. Your prayer language is when God says: ‘I need you to pray in perfect agreement with Me on earth as it is in heaven- but I can’t tell you the details.’ As you speak what you can’t understand, God sees He can trust you with what you CAN understand. Speaking in tongues is like hitting golf balls at the range. You are practicing hearing God and speaking whatever He puts in your brain. The great part is God is speaking His perfect will over any number of concerns on your heart.

Plus, your spirit-man is being built up and strengthened as you spend time in absolute agreement with Jesus. Then as you go through your day, when thoughts come into your brain that don’t agree, they will stand out so you can take them captive toward obedience. More on this tomorrow…

Praying in a prayer language is like running downhill.

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