On Choosing Celebration and Finding Joy

Originally published April 21, 2012.

I am reading through Paul’s letter to the Philippians at night, in a thick hardbound edition of The Message.  I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases Paul’s letters in fresh energetic language that jumps off the page with the sheer force of the writer’s personality.  I picture Paul a lot that way: colorful, energetic, passionate  and driven about his message to the point of being offensive at times….tact was clearly not his strong suit.  But then, when you are an itinerant preacher spreading the good news of salvation to the bulk of the civilized world in the first century, there are more pressing concerns than being “nice.”

I have been parked in chapter 4 for the past few nights.  The middle of that chapter is one of my very favorite “how to live” passages of Scripture anyway, but this week I have been captivated by the way Peterson phrases it: “Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! “  I can picture PauI leaning forward, eyes alight.  His is the voice of experience– in a life without any of the comforts we prefer on a daily basis, he has discovered an ever-flowing fountain of joy, and urges his readers to search it out. Revel in God and there will be no more room for self-pity, or despair, or even run-of-the-mill grumpiness on general principles.  Celebrate the infinite God and you’ll never run out of joy, never come to the end of Him.

We are used to following our feelings, paying attention to them and letting them move us through life…it is the pattern of this world that we have conformed to since birth.  Has it never occurred to us that a woman’s hurt feelings are what got us into this mess to begin with?  And the more we follow our feelings the more mixed up our minds get.  What a surprise to Self to discover that God is far more concerned with our obedience than with our comfort.

No wonder most of Scripture’s practical how-to passages are teaching us how to stop listening to the feelings of Self and instead listen to the Spirit of God, be transformed by the renewing of the mind.  Think first, choose how to respond, then act in a way that pleases God, and the feelings will follow.

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” 

Philippians 4:6-7

I come back to this over and over, transfixed by that last line.  When I follow my feelings– focus on them and act out of them– I am putting them at the center of my life, making them an idol, letting them control me.  Worry?  Discouragement?  Fear?  Anger?  No good can come from following where they lead.

Choose to do this instead, Paul says… choose to offer up those feelings to the One who made them and put Him in the center of your life where He belongs.  Do this… choose this…it’s an act of the will, an act of obedience.  Let your mind be transformed by Jesus and lead you to what is right, and let the feelings tag along behind.  Paul even leaves me pointers on what to think about if I want a transformed mind– if I want to follow Christ instead of these tyrants of emotion: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8)

Simply put, I live best when I fill my mind with God’s truth… all He has done for me, all that He is… thankfulness and praise taking the lead.  It’s an every day kind of choice, and some days every minute.  So I keep coming back to Paul’s letter to the Philippians, soaking the reminders in, deep down to the heart.   It’s the best prescription there is for getting emotions back on track.


When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse
    everything I know of You,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,
    including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos,
    to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, Your thundering breakers
    crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day,
    sing songs all through the night!
    My life is God’s prayer.

Psalm 42:8, The Message


Better is a moment that I spend with You
Than a million other days away
I’m running, I’m running
I’m running to the secret place
Hands are lifted high, hearts awake to life
We are satisfied here with You, here with You
Chains will hit the floor, broken lives restored
We couldn’t ask for more here with You, here with You

The Secret Place, Phil Wickham

Chasing After Great Things

We’re talking about prayer around the table, and how God invites us to call out to Him. And I feel sure that most of us are thinking of those pressing things we’ve been asking about– maybe feeling relieved to hear that God actually wants us to pour out those needs to His listening heart. But the song lyrics keep running through my head: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2) And it seems to me that all these verses we are reading have more to do with relationship than they do about fixing our problems.

When He says “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for….” (Matthew 7:7), Jesus was talking to hearts that are hungry to be close to God, people who will continue knocking on doors of opportunity to know Him better, who persist in wrestling with the deep questions of life in order to understand them in His light. When we persevere in coming to Him as the needy people that we are, we discover His heart toward us, an abundant flow of grace. This is how the Church-planter could claim “In everything…present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) And it strikes me how that peace is not a passive feel-good vibe but an active transforming Presence within us. Whatever circumstances are on our hearts, when we answer His invitation to come, He gives us the best answer we could hope for in return– Himself, who is the very Prince of Peace. “Keep on seeking and you will find…” (Matthew 7:7).

This invitation to come near is about taking our eyes off our needs and problems, and instead focusing our minds and hearts on Jesus. He is calling us to long for Him– to leave our cares in His capable hands and pursue relationship with Him. He understands what we need most and is ready to tell us, if we will only learn to come and to listen.


Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Jeremiah 33:3


How we direct our eyes, minds, hearts, and hands in the everyday will determine who we ultimately worship and what we ultimately become.

Ruth Chou Simons

When The Answer Is No

(Originally published on March 28, 2015.)

I must have absorbed it by osmosis through the years, this idea that answer to prayer was a synonym for receiving from God what I had asked for. And unanswered prayer somehow became just another way of saying “I haven’t received what I want” I don’t remember being told that, specifically, and if you had asked me I would have said with certainty that God doesn’t always do what we ask of Him. Any praying person figures that out pretty quickly. And yet there it was, that use of the term that implies the only answer that matters is the one we want.

As we study prayer in small groups, we have talked about this particular oddity of church culture, and we have found our understanding of God’s answers widening. God promised His people, “Call to me and I will answer you…” (Jeremiah 33:3) So whatever God gives us in response to our prayers He must consider a sufficient answer, even if sometimes it does not look at all the way we thought it would. Sometimes the answer is a promise for the future; sometimes a charge to repent or take action so that He can bless us; sometimes His tender mercies toward our heartache, or provision for our need; and much to our dismay, quite often His answer is No, my dear child.

Indeed, sometimes when the need is most pressing and it feels as if the world is collapsing around us, still the answer can seem to be No, and hearts can lose their faith in the rubble, unless we can be still and listen to His promise: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Because when we ask anything of Him, the unspoken question between us is always whether we will trust Him in this, and which we want more– the thing we desire, or more of Him. It is not an easy thing, to say with the Church-Planter Paul, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

We can blame it on perspective, maybe, because we are very bad at knowing what is good for us, and our prayers reflect both our short-sightedness and our dependency on the world we can taste and touch.  Quite often our prayers are more heartfelt than wise, and we should be glad that the God who lives in Eternity knows what is actually good for us in the long run, knows all things inside and out. As Sheldon Vanauken observed, in his account of love and loss, sometimes our great tragedies are but “a severe mercy” from the hands of a compassionate Father. Job was honest about the impact of his life-changing losses: “For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” (Job 3:24-25) But I wonder, in the long run, whether he would have traded those long dark months of grieving, in light of his glimpse of God’s glory and the wisdom he gained through it. You can’t have one without the other. I heard a preacher say once that God allowed the worst thing he could imagine to happen in his life, because it made him desperate…and desperation brings about transformation. In God’s book, it is always okay to be desperate.

What does it mean in practical terms to pray “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” like Jesus taught us to do? That phrase has a ring to it, and it rolls off the tongue very poetically when you are reciting The Lord’s Prayer in a group. But to be able to pray that with face to the earth, in total surrender to the Lord of heaven and earth, requires us to dig deeply into our desires and motives. It’s not the kind of prayer one should pray lightly, without counting the cost. Yet when you think about it, is God’s will not the end goal of all true prayer? If prayer is abiding with Christ and communicating heart-to-heart with Him, then each of our petitions, from the simplest childish request to the deepest struggles of the human heart are a seeking for Him, a crying out for the Father to respond to His children. And every answer He gives (no matter how it comes) is a way to know Him better, a glimpse of His heart and His plans for us. And the more we know His heart, the more we trust Him and embrace His will, till everything in our corner of the world bows in submission and worship, as it does in the heavenly places. With Jesus we will be able to pray, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) and know that even when the answer is No, God will be there still, and He will be Enough.


“He must often seem to us to be playing fast and loose with us….And the danger is that when what He means by ‘wind’ appears you will ignore it because it is not what you thought it would be– as He Himself was rejected because He was not like the Messiah the Jews had in mind.”

CS Lewis in a letter to Vanauken


“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

 (Isaiah 54:10)

A Mother’s Super-Power

The world is a scary place, maybe for mothers most of all. Whether we are sending our baby girl off to preschool for the first time, or releasing our young men to pursue their dreams, our hearts race on ahead of them, and we are profoundly aware of all the ways the world will hurt and confound them…how swiftly and irrevocably tragedy can fall. Any mother can tell you, we would face lions to keep safe the ones we love. And any mother can tell you, we know there are so many giants out there that our growing-up children will have to face alone. This is the particular strength and vulnerability of a mother’s heart.

But we are not alone with our fears and we are far from helpless, because the God who made us designed our hearts to look like His, to mirror the nurturing care He has for all His creation. Jesus reminds us that His Father God feeds all the little songbirds; He watches when they fly and when they fall. The same Creator who tells Job that He keeps track of when the wild goats give birth, describes Himself as “a bear robbed of her cubs” to the prophet Hosea. He appeals to a mother’s love as the highest standard, to help us understand how He feels: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15) It is one of the most intimate and passionate promises in the Scriptures.

Perhaps this is one reason that many women become such warriors in their prayers: expressing their hearts to God’s in that shared intensity for the needs and well-being of others, a common language of love. Women like this are affirming Paul’s conviction that “neither death nor life…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Although our children will certainly face monsters in this world…of bigotry, of injustice, of violence, of harsh words and harder consequences, of war and disease and heartbreak…yet we understand God’s heart and we say with Paul, “if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32) All the monstrous evil in this world is overcome with the blood of the Lamb, God’s own fierce sacrifice of love for us, and nothing has the power to destroy us in the shadow of His Cross.

So we can stand firm on truth in the midst of a frightening world, and be who God made us to be. We can teach our children to know their Creator and follow His ways, so that they have a foundation on which to build. We can show them how to live with integrity, how to walk in faith, and how to serve in love. We can pray with them and for them in Jesus’ mighty Name and claim His protection over them.

And we can rest our hearts in knowing that He loves our children even more than we do, and He is at work in their lives as He has been in our own. We can trust His love and faithfulness to follow them all the days of their lives. This we can do, as mothers, and take captive every fear.


“The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?… Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.” (Psalm 27:1, 3)


“Peace be still, You are near
There’s nowhere we can go
That You won’t shine redemption’s light
Our guilt withdrawn
As You rise, we come alive
The grave has lost, the old is gone
And You’re making all things new
You are making all things new
You are making all things new
And we are free”
(All Things New, Elevation)

Keeping It Simple

Feeling thankful this week for the wise words from other pilgrims on this Faith-journey, and how they inspire and challenge us. When you read their words from long ago and are amazed at how much you resonate with their spiritual experiences, there is a certain sense of soul-satisfaction– a relief that you are not alone. That is also the best part of being in a small group, of course. The encouragement and prayers of brothers and sisters in Christ accomplish for me far more than my own solitary efforts could ever manage.

But I also see how comparing ourselves with others becomes one more way we complicate our walk with Christ. Somehow we get the idea that if we can’t pray or teach or give or send cards like someone else, we are not doing well as a Christian; maybe God prefers people who dress a certain way or like to read the Christian best-sellers. Surely there is some kind of point system to all this, and surely we could be doing better. That feeling of not measuring up can be downright paralyzing. After all, how do we know how much is enough, to feel close to God and have that abundant Christian life we truly desire? And here we are– just ordinary women who often fall asleep in the middle of our prayer lists at night.

As we wrestle with implementing basic good habits for spiritual health, let’s not get off-course by setting up impossible standards for ourselves. No matter how many hours you’ve heard so-and-so spends in her prayer closet (before dawn, no less!), or how many times another one has read through the Bible…no matter whether you feel heart-hungry or ready-to-give-up…let’s not forget that all God asks of you is that you choose His way right this moment. Just make the effort and show up, expecting Him to meet you. He will not let you down. Whether you read one verse or fifty. Whether you pray with your eyes closed or open, indoors or outdoors, in stillness or in chaos. Whether you feel His presence or not. “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8) The testimony of millions of saints who have gone before us stands as a reminder (maybe even a challenge) that there is nothing in life that is more vital to our inner health and well-being than time with our loving Father. Just do it. Any way that works for you. Today, and again tomorrow, and over and over again, until it is a lifestyle.

Ours is the choosing to spend time with Him; His is the fruit that will grow from our actions. Sometimes the choice comes out of our desperate need; sometimes only out of obedience. Regardless, it is better than not showing up at all. He will not fail to speak to us if our hearts are ready to listen. There is no magic formula for success in the Christian life. There is just real life and a real God who wants to be right there in the middle of it. Don’t let anyone complicate this matter for you.


“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:21)


“Most important though is…our deciding on some time and duration and sticking to it, at least for a trial period of a few weeks.  This means that once we’ve decided to do it, we treat it like brushing our teeth: it is just something we “do,” without agonizing over it each time.  Brushing our teeth, once it’s a habit, is very simple.  So is prayer time.  If we leave open a crack for “re-deciding” every day, then it becomes complicated. We’ve undercut the very simplicity that prayer time can reveal.”  (Tilden H. Edwards)

When Cares Abound

Finding much encouragement and challenge in this old sermon from Charles Spurgeon, first delivered in January of 1888 from his pulpit in the Metropolitan Tabernacle. What would it have been like to listen to this sermon 127 years ago in London, from the mouth of “The Prince of Preachers” himself?

“I suppose it is true of many of us that our cares are numerous. If you are like me, once you become careful, anxious, fretful, you are never able to count your cares, even though you might count the hairs of your head. And cares are apt to multiply to those who are care-full and when you are as full of care as you think you can be, you will be sure to have another crop of cares growing up all around you. The indulgence of this evil habit of anxiety leads to its getting dominion over life, till life is not worth living by reason of the care we have about it. Cares and worries are numerous, and therefore, let your prayers be as numerous. Turn everything that is a care into a prayer. Let your cares be the raw material of your prayers and, as the alchemists hoped to turn dross into gold, so you, by a holy alchemy, actually turn what naturally would have been a care into spiritual treasure in the form of prayer! Baptize every anxiety into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit—and so make it into a blessing!” (Spurgeon, Prayer, The Cure for Care)


“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

How Big Is Too Big?

On the whiteboard in my classroom we are writing our mountains, the big rocks that only faith can move. The ones that Jesus said would pick right up, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed.” (Matthew 17:20). The ones we might have all but given up on. The ones that we pray about because they matter, but wonder if there are really any answers out there: our young people to come to faith and stay close to God; powerful men and women to stand up and speak truth and wisdom in our society; our marriages to grow deep and healthy; the next step in ministry; bodies and minds of people we love to be made whole.

We’ve talked in small group before, about this odd rating system we have for prayers– the subconscious evaluation of what is the right-sized prayers to bring to God, and which ones might be beneath His notice or too presumptuous to ask…though why we think we are qualified to make that judgment is a mystery. Or maybe it’s just a matter of how much stress we can handle, and how much we are willing to risk. I read a youth pastor this week saying, “To have faith in God means that you need to tender your resignation….as CEO of the universe….recognize that some things are out of our control.” (Glyn Barrett) And surrendering control is risky business– even if it was only an illusion all along– because what if everything doesn’t turn out right? (But if I stay in charge everything will turn out just the way I want? There is a yawning precipice there, if you start to follow that through, logically.)

Putting our mountains down in ink is a statement of belief: a statement of Who is in control and that He is good. A commitment to believe what God says about Himself. A refusal to be satisfied with mediocrity just because it seems more attainable. A courage to step out of familiar places and into the risky unexpectedness of supernatural power.

Because we are studying the resurrection, and how Ezekiel speaks God’s Word into the dry hopeless bones of his people, and there is power that brings new life. And how Jesus’ mere touch brings healing to desperate people….power strong enough to reverse a lifetime of suffering for a desperate woman, and perspective big enough to look at our great enemy Death and call him a Pretender. We are seeing God’s depth of compassion for the brokenness of His creation, and His desire to lift the crushing weight of the consequences of our sin. In the middle of all this dirt, He weeps for our pain and our fear and the bonds of our mortality. Jesus stands here in our dirt and looks in our eyes and offers hope: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) And we whisper a yes and write down our mountains. Putting them into words here is a commitment to see them with Jesus’ eyes, in light of the resurrection.

Paul says that “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” (Romans 8:11) The Spirit of God has taken up residence in our flesh and blood, made Temple by His presence. And so Eternity touches and transforms us from the inside out, and the resurrection of Jesus becomes a starting place, or as Paul calls it, the “first fruits” of what is to come. “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:21) If we can believe in the resurrection of Christ, it is just the beginning to believing in a great many other impossible things. It’s the mustard seed of faith that He can move these mountains.


“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18-21)


“Saviour, he can move the mountains–
My God is mighty to save,
He is mighty to save.
Forever author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave;
Jesus conquered the grave.”
(Mighty to Save, Hillsong)

What Prayer Does for Me

At its roots, prayer is evidence of our restored relationship with God. Prayer acknowledges that He is the Creator and we are the created; He is the Provider and we are the needy; He is the King before Whom everything bows, and we open our mouths to praise His name and give thanks. It is appropriate (or fitting, as they used to say) for us to turn our hearts toward Him in prayer, constantly and gladly. It is the best way to stop the painful legacy of hiding and self-sufficiency that we got from our First Parents, and clear evidence that we are being transformed into Christ-likeness. Charles Spurgeon preached it well:

“…the act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is no small blessing to such proud beings as we. If God gave us mercies without constraining us to pray for them, we should never know how poor we are. A true prayer is an inventory of needs, a catalog of necessities, an exposure of secret wounds, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth, it is also a confession of human emptiness. I believe that the most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty, and always depending upon the Lord for supplies. It is to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus. It is to know our personal weaknesses and yet be mighty through God to do great exploits. While prayer adores God, it lays the creature where he should be—in the very dust. Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer that it brings, a great benefit to the Christian.” (The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life, Charles Spurgeon)


“All of You is more than enough for
All of me, for every thirst and every need;
You satisfy me with Your love,
And all I have in You is more than enough.”
(Chris Tomlin, Enough)

Prayer is Always Called For


In every situation we can possibly find ourselves, there is one response that is always appropriate (even necessary), and that is to pray. God gives us this command over and over again through Scripture: come to Me…call out to Me…turn your hearts to Me…over and over, because our turning away to do things on our own is part of the great Wrong that needs to be righted, the Original Sin. This aspect of relationship is so important to Him that because we could not bridge the gap, He came to find us Himself and tear down all the walls between.  And still, over and over, God tells us, “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3) It is food for every hungry heart. It is a command that covers every circumstance.


“Are you sick? Call unto Me, for I am the Great Physician. Are you fearful that you shall be able to provide for your family? Call unto Me! Do your children trouble you? Are your griefs little, yet painful, like small points and pricks of thorns? Call unto Me! Is your burden heavy as though it would make your back break beneath its load? Call unto Me!” “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never allow the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22) In the valley, on the mountain, on the barren rock, beneath the billows in the briny sea, in the furnace when the coals are glowing, in the gates of death when the jaws of hell would shut themselves upon you—never cease to pray, for the commandment addresses you with, “Call unto Me.”
(The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life, Charles Spurgeon)


“He will call on Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” (Psalm 91:15)

The Power in Prayer

If prayer is opening the door of our hearts and lives to Jesus in the Everyday, and coming in His name before the throne of God the Father, it shouldn’t be surprising to discover that the third member of the Trinity is involved in prayer as well. It is while Jesus is talking to His followers about praying in His name that He first brings up the Spirit-Helper that He is sending to us. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive….You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)  Could there be any better way for us to get to know God than by having His Spirit as Ezer, or “helper suitable”?  Jesus goes on to explain that after He returns to Heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand, this Helper will stay to communicate God’s heart, His will, His mind to our spirits, so that we can understand Him and live as His children. From the beginning then, it was understood that we would need help in praying to God, that this communication was more than our human hearts could manage. The nineteenth century world-renowned preacher, Charles Spurgeon, who was also famous for his dedication to prayer, pointed out that if prayer is just saying the right things anyone with a mouth can accomplish it; if prayer is about desiring the right things, many hearts are able to aspire to great things; but because prayer is of the human spirit and reaches up to our Creator whose Breath we were born of, we need His spiritual help to reach across the infinite distance between.

Paul says plainly that the Spirit’s purpose is to help us to pray to our heavenly Father: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26) How else could the limitations of human speech and mind address the Almighty, without the help of a Divine Translator to fill in the gaps? The prophet Isaiah felt his own spiritual inability keenly when he recorded his vision of the heavenly throne: “‘Woe to me!…I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’” (Isaiah 6:5) An angel helped the prophet, cleansing his lips with fire, but in our own time of need, God Himself makes up for our weakness, cleansing us with Christ’s blood and putting acceptable words to our heart-cries. “And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:27)

We could not ask for a more loving, patient, constant Helper, and lest we slide into picturing Him as some sort of live-in companion for the elderly, let’s remember that the word Ezer comes from root words that mean “to save, come to one’s aid, to make strong” and is generally used in a military setting. The word picture is of a battle comrade who fights alongside and has your back. Appropriate, when we think of how often Paul described the Christian life in just that way, saying“…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against… the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) And just a few sentences later, after detailing the armor we need for the battle, he reiterates the necessity of constant vigilant prayer for ourselves and others. There is a reason we refer to those with a powerful prayer life as Prayer Warriors. It is because of the Ezer, who is strengthening and protecting us in every moment, helping us to “live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God….” (Colossians 1:10)

Our part in prayer is to open the door and give all our hearts to Him, but it is the Ezer‘s presence and power that makes prayer something more than words.


“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.” (Psalm 139:1-4)


“He will direct your desires to the things that you ought to seek for. He will teach you your real needs, though as yet you do not know them. He will suggest to you His promises that you may be able to plead them. In fact, He will be the Alpha and Omega to your prayer, just as He is to your salvation.” (Charles Spurgeon, The Power of Prayer in A Believer’s Life)