Deut. 6:4 & 5 – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Rev 2:19-23 “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”
Idolatry of the mind and Unbelief:
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we cannot serve You among a pantheon of gods. You alone are God – You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We flirt and think ourselves sophisticated – another word for a hardened heart and we have not surrendered ourselves to serve You with all of our heart, soul, (mind) and strength. We have listened to this Jezebel spirit who encourages and emboldens us to pursue our appetites*. Have mercy on us Lord, search our hearts and root out this disease in us. We have run after Aristotle and introduced his contagion into the church**, so that the Holy Spirit is ignored and the mind is deified. We have spread ourselves under trees of knowledge***. Thinking that we could limit ourselves to our senses, we have touched the wrong things. We have alternately fled thought and immersed ourselves in our desires, all the while ignoring Your Spirit Who watches from a distance. Swinging back and forth, we have dulled our ears to You. We flirt with other religions and call it ecumenism, while You weep over our adultery. We know that You search our hearts and minds; bring us out of our deadly revelry and reverie. Break our diseased hearts until we are contrite and cleanse us with Your blood. We shrink from suffering, but we would rather suffer than come up short of Your holiness. Infuse us with Your Holy Spirit and teach us Your mind. Cleanse us from unrighteousness. Take our hearts of stone and soften them until we hear Your words and obey. You have said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) We repent for the sins of our fathers, and for how we have joined them. Purify our hearts, oh Lord, for we want to see You.
*The Jezebel spirit is more than a teacher or teaching, it is a force that seeks to introduce corruption into the church, particularly among leaders.
** Theologians like Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas introduced Aristotelian thought into Christian theology. They believed, like Aristotle, that we were limited to our senses for certainty, so the supernatural became superstition. Man becomes the final arbiter.
*** Like Israel was prone to do under the oaks in the sinful sexual practices of Ashtoreth and Baal, only here we’ve mixed in the image of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Our desire to know and experience often leads us to touch what is forbidden and harmful. Like willful, sinful children, we have built our swing under the forbidden tree. The typical Bible image is “under every spreading tree” but we like the image in Jeremiah 2 when He says: Jer. 2:20-21 “Long ago you broke off Your yoke and tore off Your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve You!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute. 21 I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against Me into a corrupt, wild vine?”
“Spreading” is a deliberate link to prostitution.
James 4:6-10 6 … “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
Pride: Dear Father, have mercy on us for our sin of pride.
Prayer: We set ourselves up against You like Adam and Eve. Our hearts are evil with sin. We imagine that we can stand on our own, not seeing the impact of our pride. We have separated ourselves from You and set ourselves arrogantly over others You have called us to serve. We have wandered off with evil companions and justified our actions as sophisticated and mature. When we stand on our own, we are not alone and we are not holy. Cleanse us with Jesus’ blood, purify our hearts of this tar-like sin, give us grace to love You with all of our hearts … all of our minds … all of our strength. Transform our minds by Your Holy Spirit that we may walk in obedience under Your direction. May our actions honor You and fall in line with what we say we believe.
Lord Jesus, I submit myself to You. You are the King, the ruler of the universe. All authority has been given to You. I acknowledge this is true and confess that You are my Lord and Master – You, Yeshua ha’ Meshiach and not any other. I denounce the devil. I want no part of him or his enticements. I renounce any lingering areas of my life that have previously wandered after Satan. I choose to draw near to You Father, draw near to me. Cleanse me in the blood of Jesus. Purify my heart and give me singleness of mind. Put a right spirit within me. Show me how to come to You in humility and repentance. Give me grace me to do that. I ask that in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Heb. 10:37-38 “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
Mark 8:34-36 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
Heb. 10:19-22 “ 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, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Lack of trust, poor view of God: Dreams are often compelling. Hundreds of testimonies on the Internet speak of Jesus appearing as a figure in blinding white light who invites the dreamer to join Him, to come to Him. The experience is suffused with the Holy Spirit which is working transformation in the dream. Men and women speak of overwhelming awe and peace in the presence of God. They feel His love and bask in it.
We, however, are divided in our hearts like we are in our minds. We shrink back from encountering You for fear that we will hear Your command and we are afraid of what that might be. Believing that You will lead us where we don’t want to go, we choose to follow our own desires and deeply grieve You Lord. We are disobedient to anticipated requests and terribly in need of repentance and forgiveness. Too often, we neither trust You nor do we believe in Your love. Have mercy on us Lord.
Prayer: Oh Lord, our self-centered, hedonistic stance tempts us to shrink back from You. While You offer the honor of serving You, we fear loss and do not step forward into Your presence to receive instructions and just bask in Your love. Every time we shrink back, we suffer a small death in our spirit, for we have chosen not to come. Renew a right spirit in us Lord. Let us leap in our spirit when we sense Your call and come expectantly. You have said that we will do even greater things than You did for the glory of our Father. Work Your grace deeply into us as You bring us to repentance. Release Your Spirit in us Jesus.
Have mercy on us most merciful Father. As Jesus has called us by name, transform us to stand in Your presence, for we must begin now, not just in eternity. By Your grace, we come confidently through the door You have provided for us. Our destination is beyond our imagination, for we stand before the Creator. Pour out Your grace so that we might say with Jesus, “nevertheless, Thy will be done.”
Heb. 6:7-12 “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. 9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case – things that accompany salvation. 10 God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
Sloth: We are so guilty of the sin of sloth (laziness of body and spirit).
Prayer: Lord, we are such weak disciples; we have fallen asleep in the garden. Investing ourselves in spiritual disciplines just seems too hard and without reward. We do not devote ourselves to being with You. We have omitted the commission and tried to fill our emptiness with unsatisfying things. America, which used to cross seas to spread Your gospel, now exports diversion and perversion. New icons and heroes are promoting sin and there seems to be no prophets in the land. Who will speak out Lord? We debate like effete intellectuals while brokenness surrounds us. There are so many in prison, so many poor, so many hungry, so many sick and homeless and who will help them? Who will bring them good news? Have mercy on us, oh Lord. Work a profound change in our hearts so we might be like You who came to serve, not to be served.
“Here am I, send me.” Have mercy on me so that I can pray that with my whole heart. Whether it is next door or thousands of miles, let me walk with You hand in hand.
Isa 43:10-13 “You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after Me. 11 I, I am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior. 12 I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are My witnesses, says the Lord. 13 I am God, and also henceforth I am He; there is no one who can deliver from My hand; I work and who can hinder it?” (NRSV)
Fear and lack of faith: There is unmistakable evidence that God is moving around the world in a wave of the Spirit that is exhilarating. God doesn’t know “closed countries.” He is not awed by the zeal and anger of other gods. He is not afraid to choose His sheep. His dreams not only call His own to salvation, they also often prepare them for resulting persecution. Yet the American church sleeps through most of this activity. The American church has to repent, wake up and become engaged in this move of God. We have an opportunity, no, an obligation to participate in this movement, but there are definite barriers. We are often too self-absorbed, building our own kingdoms, to give of our time to people in other countries even when the Internet offers an inexpensive and convenient means to do so.
Prayer: Jesus, we don’t want to be found outside the door. Let the eyes of our hearts open to the grandeur of Your work in the world. We have been easily frightened by the battle. The zeal of others cows our hearts and we are ashamed. Like Elisha’s servant, open our eyes to see the heavenly army. You have declared that greater are those with us than the enemy facing us. Work that truth into us, but first please forgive us. We have ceded the battle without picking up arms. Like Israel before Goliath, we quake and die within. You are greater than territorial spirits, caliphates, and flag burners. There is a battle, show us its true nature. Wash us in Your blood Jesus and fill us with Your holy spirit. We are not conscripts for we have been bought with a price that has won our hearts. Lead on, oh Lord, lead us into battle. Guide us in prayer Holy Spirit; gift us with the weapons of our warfare. Show us what ministries to pick up, where to get involved, how to balance it with family, church, and work. Let us not be afraid of the battle Lord. Give us a spirit of revelation, not only to know how wide and deep is Your love for us, but to transform us to stand with Your armor in the face of persecution.
Isa 49:6 says: “It is too small a thing for you to be My servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Jonah 1:1-3 “the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.”
Jonah 2:8-9 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. 9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.”
Eph. 2:17-20 “He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,”
Bigotry: Then there is the tribal sin of bigotry, in which we refuse to consider and encounter individuals, finding it easier to hate a group. This is a slap in the face of God who humbled Himself and took on the form of a man that we might be forgiven.
Prayer: We love to claim that we are a melting pot and yet we too often treat people as part of a group rather than as individuals (the way we want You to treat us!). This is tribal or familial and it is full of sin: self-centered arrogance, greed, unforgiveness, revenge … the list goes on. We have codified our divisions as diversity, but tolerance is a poor substitute for brotherhood and we are more divided than ever. Many of us don’t like You appearing to Muslims. We want vengeance on our enemies – the perpetrators of 9/11. God, how can You appear to Muslims, even murderers, and invite them to salvation? We can hear first century Christians crying out about Saul. It is hard for us to obey the commands to love the unlovely. Televised mobs burning the American flag stir deep emotions in us Lord. Cries calling the United States “the Great Satan” deeply offend us. So we stubbornly clench our jaws against Muslims. We ask Your forgiveness for taking over Your role and deciding who will get saved. Soften our hearts until we believe that You died for everyone the Father has given to You. That group is bigger than we might think. Isa dreams remind us that God so loved the whole world.
Jesus, You pray for us every day. You intercede for us in our weakness. Have mercy on us for our divisions. Let us see with Your eyes the hurts, needs and hopes of our enemies. Let us see the potential, give us discernment to see our brothers in the middle of our enemies. Call them forth Lord and enlarge our hearts to receive them. Holy Spirit, whisper their names in the middle of dreams, bring in the body of Christ until we are complete.
Rom 12:14-21 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (NKJV)
Matt 6:15 “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
It is hard to believe that a nation that has been forgiven so much could ever find it so hard to forgive, but there we are, Lord – we struggle to forgive Muslims. It is far easier to look on them as enemies with a malevolent force behind them than to see them as lost sheep.
Prayer: Jesus, I forgive the zealots for my attributions. I forgive them for the families still in grief in New York. I forgive them for America’s loss of security and for their raw hatred toward our way of life. I do not forgive their idolatry but I will not let their acts bind my spirit. Muslims are not our brothers, but there are brothers and sisters among them. Our preference and loyalty to Israel affects us when we consider praying for and serving Muslims. Please direct us in our prayers to individuals without objectifying them. Forgive us for refusing to forgive. We know Your warning that unforgiveness endangers us. Cleanse our hearts until they break. Make our heart to beat like Yours with a love that doesn’t know boundaries, isn’t nationalistic or rationalistic but rather is Spirit-led, with an expansive love to unmet family.