In August of 2010, on a warm summer Saturday, I put on my shoes, a pair of shorts, and a sleeveless t-shirt. The grass grows quickly in the summer in Ohio, and as I am our yard’s barber, I was preparing for my weekly ritual to style it to our liking once again.
As I was mowing over the little hill at our house in Pataskala and worshiping the Lord to the sound of worship music from my mobile phone, I heard the voice of the Lord clearly speak to me. This is normal for me – to hear God. What is strange and always stands out to me is when I hear Him without searching for Him to speak. I love the Lord, and I love singing to Him. But once in a while, when I come to praise God – not seeking anything from Him or desiring Him to give me something or to do something for me – but just to praise Him for who He is and all He’s already done – He speaks to me. He wanted to tell me something, you see. He wanted to warn me – to prepare me for battle, because He loves me that much. He loves you that much too. And He’ll speak to you the same way if only you’ll make time to listen.
He told me that the devil was going to attack me with the same strategy he used when I was in high school.
Immediately, I remembered my time in high school. I remembered how at the pinnacle of my walk with God – the greatest time in our relationship – the strongest my communion with God ever was – this attack came. I remember it manifest as a desire I had above any other. It manifest as something I prayed for fervently – something I refused to live without – something that would cause me to cease to move unless I saw progress in that area of my life. I had become depressed and down. Really, the best way to describe it is “useless.”
Then God spoke again. He said, “The devil has already been attacking you in this manner for 2 months.”
I found this odd, as I hadn’t noticed any negative difference in my life, and I said, “But Lord, I haven’t even noticed an attack. I’ve been filled with joy to overflowing!”
He responded lovingly – I could almost feel His smile – and He said, “Because I have shielded you.” I saw in the spirit myself – as I was standing there mowing – and a giant glass dome that was all around me and my house, protecting me from an active attack of the enemy on every side of the dome. Then He said, “But I am going to lift this shield – not because I desire you to be hurt – but because I want to prove your faith to the devil. I want to show that in you, My Spirit is great. I want to show you off – that He will know you have faith in Me in greater measure now than you have ever, and that at this attack, you will overcome.”
I smiled and wept at God’s confidence in me, and I told God “Then let it be so.”
A few days passed, and nothing happened. I went on life normally and was happy – truly free to live in the love I have for God and the love He has for me.
Then it began. Out of nowhere, that joy declined. I remember that same issue that had stopped me up in high school re-presented itself to me. I began to pray. I began to weep. I began to be depressed and sad, though nearly no one knew it. Things were fine when others were around, but due to my schedule, there were multiple hours built into my world where I was alone. I remember once I was at work, scheduled to be alone, and I realized that I was becoming useless. My mind and my heart had trouble focusing, though I tried, and I wasn’t being effective. What was more – I knew if I didn’t do something about it, it would only get worse.
Right then and there, I decided enough was enough. I decided I was going to deal with this thing. It wasn’t going to get the best of me. It wasn’t. I was going to trust God to make a way – after all, He’s always made a way – and I was going to think on it no more. I stood up and paced around my chair a few times, turning my mind and my thoughts to the Lord. I began to weep, and to tell God that it was happening, and that I needed His help. I told God, “I’m going to ask You for this thing one time, and I won’t ask You again. I will just believe that You are the God that supplies all my needs, and fulfills my every desire. I will just believe that You love me, and because You promised You would, You will take care of all the affairs that concern my heart.” Then I asked God for what I desired, and told Him I was done.
Immediately I saw in the spirit God pouring into a funnel many things – His will as to what I should be concerned with and what I should pray for – things He wanted to put into my life. I knew this vision represented my time in high school. I realized that the funnel was me and under the funnel was those things manifest in my life – in our world. I realized the thing I desired most among all the things He poured into the funnel got caught in the small end. It didn’t get caught because it was too big to pass through the small opening – no, this thing only seemed big to me – to God it was tiny and easy. It got caught because I wouldn’t let it go. I saw that God had to stop pouring into the funnel, because it became full. You see, I couldn’t believe that God would do what I asked simply because I asked in Jesus’ name and would believe that I would receive it. I hadn’t come to fully understand that I should put more confidence in God to answer my prayer because He said He would than in my own ability to pray or my persistence in praying. And because of it, I was stopped up. The devil had succeeded in stopping up what God desired to do in my life. You see, God couldn’t get anything through to my life because the devil had stopped up my prayer – my words, and God surrendered His right to act independently in the earth without the agreement of a man – He surrendered His right to act independently in my life without my agreement. (Genesis 1:28; Amos 3:7; Isaiah 45:11)
But I knew better now. God said He had confidence I’d overcome.
God spoke to me and said, “Tell the devil what I’m going to do in your life.” He never told me what He was going to do. He only told me in the scriptures to believe that He’d do what I asked Him for in prayer. So I began to speak, and as I spoke (out loud), I felt as if the Spirit of God was all at once pushed into me and was erupting from my mouth. I began to speak “There is coming this thing which God promised and it will end this in me forever,” and I went on and on and on, prophesying for nearly 25 minutes all sorts of things. I prophesied about what God was going to do in my life, and the lives of my friends and family. I prophesied about what God was going to do in my work, my job, and my church. I prophesied about my Pastor and my community. I prophesied about the lost – those that don’t place their faith in Jesus – and those God would place in my life. I went into details that I had never before thought of. I spoke about things that don’t normally concern me, with a fiery passion and all-encompassing authority. And while I spoke, I felt the enemy and all his plans crumbling as if they were being crushed by the God in whom I placed all my trust. Then I stopped.
I saw a new vision in the spirit. This time it was the same funnel – me – and again, God was pouring into the funnel. The same things God poured into the funnel before, He poured in again, along with many other things. That thing that stopped up the funnel before began to get caught in the small end again. But then all at once, I prayed and pushed it through. When I did, all the other things began flowing freely and quickly through the funnel.
At the same time, I knew the small end of the funnel was my mouth and the things God was pouring into the funnel were words and desires and prayers – things the devil intended to stop up, to prevent me and those around me from receiving what God desired to give through my life and prayer. I knew God had been my victory, and through Him, I had overcome. I realized then that the heaviness and sadness I had been feeling was gone. The joy had returned, and my life was filled with a purpose and assurance that I had been too worried to even realize had been missing.
The devil tried to bring up this worry in me many times after that day, but He was never successful. It got to the point where when I would sense him trying to build it up in me, I would literally laugh and repeat the words God spoke through me that day. “There is coming the thing God’s promised, devil – and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”
You see, our words are important. The Bible says the power of life and death is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). But more than just watching what we say, we must watch what we pray for. See, I believe that prayer is powerful. Every time we pray, we must understand that it could change our lives forever. My Pastor has recently pointed out the way by which God delivers things to us according to the Scriptures: we hear God, we believe God, we repeat what God said (vocally – with your mouth), then we receive from God. (Matthew 18:18; John 14:13; John 16:23; Matthew 7:7; Mark 11:22-24)
What’s more is that God longs to answer your prayer! He’s named Himself the God that heals us, not the God that makes us sick. He’s named Himself the God that restores us, saves us, delivers us, redeems us, blesses us, corrects us, and helps us – the God that loves us. He has plans to prosper us and not harm us – plans to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). After all, eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man all the things that God’s prepared for them that love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Prayer is powerful, and our words are important. I believe that those of us who believe the Word of God in this matter and practice it in their lives will have to account for the things we prayed for and received from God that He didn’t intend us to have in the first place. But that’s for another time. What’s important is that we realize we don’t have to pray 900 times for God to hear our prayer and answer us. He heard and answered the first time if we pray believing we will receive. And what’s more is that its okay to move on once you do. As my Pastor says, having to wait for God’s answer to come isn’t evidence that God didn’t answer. Its actually proof God’s answer is on the way. And that you have to wait sometimes is merely an opportunity for you to prove to God – and the devil – that you trust the Lord at His word. You trust that He is a good God that loves you, is looking out for you, and will do all that you’ve asked Him to do.
Now how many know that God didn’t give us these promises and God didn’t establish this truth just so that we can make our car payment and buy food for today. Those things are important, and we’re thankful that God has made provisions for them. But since God has taken a personal interest in the affairs that concern our hearts, lets ask ourselves, “What are the affairs that concern God’s heart?” God gave us the answer. You. Your neighbor. Your aunt and uncle. Your parents. Your friends. Your co-workers. Those you pass on the street. Those you contact every day. Those people, those hearts, those eternal souls – those are the affairs that concern God’s heart – the affairs that should concern ours.
Use your words to pray for them to come to the cross, and use your words to encourage them in the Lord. Tell them about Jesus, what He’s done for you, how He’s saved you, and invite them to know this God that loves you without a reason. But above all, don’t let the devil stop up your words. After all, your words may be the difference between eternal life and eternal fire for someone God loves today.