Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Handle With Prayer - Charles Stanley

Handle With Prayer:  Unwrap the Source of God's Power for Living

I really enjoyed reading this book.  For some reason - right now - God seems to be putting prayer "in my face" more than ever before!  This book was part of that.  I didn't agree with everything Charles Stanley wrote, but most of the book was helpful to me.

Four key areas of impact for me were...

(1) God desires to make known to us what is unknown.

Jeremiah 33:1-3  While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the Lord came to him a second time: 2 “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: 3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Stanley states, "We read books, attend seminars, and talk with others, trying to find out what God has to say to us.  Usually, after we've exhausted all over possibilities, we turn back to the Lord and wait on Him..." 

ouch!  So true! There are some things that only God can reveal to us in prayer.  We are a very resourceful people, but sometimes God desires to reveal His mysteries to us in the deep and intimate communication of prayer.

"How many times have we just said or heard others say, 'I just don't know what I'm feeling.  I can't seem to figure it out.'?  Fasting prunes and peels off layer after layer of feelings, attitudes, and experiences until we get to the hard core of what God desires to say to us." 

This idea relieves my heart.  Like many, I tend to be analytical and try to "figure it all out."  Sometimes, that is not my job - I simply need to go to my Father.

(2)  Prayer is powerful in the battle, more powerful than anything else

"The only time Satan worries about us is when we enter into this battle.  Nothing else we do is much of a threat.  Satan knows that real spiritual battle is fought on our knees.  Prayer is the weapon he fears most; therefore, it is prayer against which he makes his greatest attack... it is on our knees that we will face our greatest assaults." 

"[Satan] does not feel threatened by our organizations or our cutting-edge technologoies.  But when God's people fall on their knees and claim Christ's power and authority, everything in heaven will begin to move, and everything in hell will begin to shake."

We often don't need better strategies - we simply need more prayer.
I've also been warned that the stronger one's prayer life grows, we need to be prepared for greater attack - and thus pray more for protection from it!

(3) God sometimes gives us 'prayer burdens'

Sometimes there is something on our heart that we just can't shake - a person, conflict, situation, or need.  Sometimes it is for our own lives, but often it is for others' lives.  God means for us to get on our knees and stand in the gap for that person or issue.

Stanley shares these ideas:

"Be careful not to mistake a burden for some physical or emotional problem.  Sometimes a burden will drag a person down to where he thinks it is a case of depression.  But instead of getting down in the dumps, we are to get down on our knees." 

"..whenever God burdens our hearts about a particular situation, the burden is evidence that He is already working."

"If God requires a drastic change in my life, the burden will stay with me until the change is made.  He will keep the pressure on until I focus on Him and seek His guidance.  ...When a burden comes, a time of cleansing always follows.  Perhaps this is one reason we run from burdens - we don't like to be cleansed.  But God knows that the cleaner and more Spirit-filled we are, the more effectively we can pray." 

"We stand in the gap between the need and the satisfaction of that need.  When we see ourselves in that position, we will understand the need for consistent, unwavering prayer.  We will begin to pray without ceasing." 

(4) Prayer and Conflict

"Through prayer, God closes the gaps created by conflict.  He then manifests His Spirit of godliness and reverence." 

"In our spiritual conflicts, the outcome is not determined by what is seen in the field of battle, but rather by what happens in the place of prayer." 

"Our faith soars as we see that those who war against us must also war against the Christ Who is within us." 

If our confict is with another person, we have spiritual authority to come against the strongholds of sin that we may observe in their lives - and ask God to convict and release them to greater effectiveness in the Kingdom.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood...

Other Thoughts:

One question I had after reading this book was this - in one section of the book he states that we don't need to keep asking God for the same thing over and over and over again.  If we ask in faith, and if we believe God has promised to answer, then it is done and we just need to wait.  But in another section of the book, he discusses the parable of the man who came and pleaded with his neighbor for bread and would not leave until he got what he needed.  This was a parable that Jesus used for prayer. So which is it?  I suppose the key difference is when you believe God has promised you an answer, in faith, you do not need to continue to ask.  But sometimes I just don't know - so I choose to keep knocking on the door as Jesus instructed. 

Closing Musings...

The content of this book was helpful to me, but perhaps even more so was the example that Charles Stanley has set as a man of prayer.  When one can write with experience and authority in this area, it is born from countless hours of unseen time on his knees before the Throne of God.  That speaks more powerfully than anything else. 

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