But we all, with open face beholding (dimly) the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD. (2Cor 3:18).
A. The “beholding and becoming” principle – whatever we behold (meditation unto revelation) in God’s heart towards us becomes awakened in our heart back to God (transformation).
- Bible study is crucial, but so is beholding. Renewing our minds happens by agreement with the Word. But transformation happens by beholding prayer. By beholding we will change our emotional chemistry. Long and loving mediation on the Word and Dialouge with the Spirit, are values being emphasized with the new wine/wineskin. As in the wedding of Cana, so in the generation the Lord returns, He has saved the best wine for last, the revelation of intimate prayer and communion.
- Men who have done greater revival works such as David Brainerd and Bernard of Claireveau, have testified to the transformative power of beholding prayer.
- The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all (2 Cor 13:14). (communion of the Spirit -nkjv)
ESTABLISHING A VISION FOR DEEP PRAYER ACCORDING TO Eph 3:19 FULLNESS OF GOD
That he would grant you… to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man… that all of you might be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph 3:16-19).
Key to the ‘new wineskin’ of bridegroom fasting(Mat 9:14-17) is the value of Contemplative Prayer, or ‘Long and loving Meditation/Dialouge with the Holy Spirit). And secondly ‘key’ to contemplative prayer is establishing and sustaining a corporate vision to go after the ‘fullness of God’ (Eph 3:19). We set a vision to be filled with the Spirit in greater capacities. Faith arises as we increase expectation.
- “I’ve never seen a church sustain a fire for prayer, without prophetic preaching of a vision for going after the fullness of God in the innerman. We need the regular, clear proclamation of what God has in His heart for the heart of the people.” –Mike Bickle
- The absolute definition of fullness is that we will progressively pursue it continually, but the relative definition of fullness relates to overwhelming experiences of God’s presence and revelation filling our capacity and understanding. Some define ‘going after the fullness,’ as being hungry for God. Illustrating the ‘fullness’ highlights the difference between what we are walking in naturally, and the ‘fullness’ He is offering.
- Eph 3 is one of the highest points of revelation of what God will give the human heart. Paul starts the prayer ‘for this reason,.. I labor in prayer; that you experience the love of God and are filled with all the fullness of God. Many say ‘I don’t feel loved.’ As they shouldn’t, it is the supernatural divine power of the Holy Spirit moving on us to experience this. You don’t have because you don’t ask, knock on the door and it shall be opened to you. Each Scripture relating to the love of God is a door to be knocked on.
- God has invited each of us to experience the deep things of His heart. He has opened Himself up for us to understand and feel His emotions, desires and affections. This is foundational to what Paul prayed for the Church when he asked that we would be able to comprehend the depth of God’s love (Eph. 3:18-19). But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God..Now we have received.. the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Cor 2:10-12)
John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
- We want to let the written word take us to the Living Word. –Jeanne Guyon. Communion with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13:14) is our goal in this model. We see here the principle of ‘coming to Him’ using the Scriptures that testify of Him. Each verse we can: 1. Thank Him for and 2. Ask for either revelation or power to obey.
- So with a verse like 26 The Holy Spirit…will teach you all things… (Jn. 14:26) We would pray, Thank you Holy Spirit that you teach me, I ask for revelation on what it truly means for you to teach me, and help me to understand you leadings. Or John 15:9 As the Father has loved Me, I love you. We would pray, Jesus thank you for this love, strengthen me with might (Eph 3:16) to experience this love. I ask for greater revelation of this love. And we would worship and journal revelation.
- Scriptures will impact us most when we pray them directly, not just thinking about them or studying them. We when meet with Jesus, the Scriptures are our anointed conversation material. So depending on the verse, we can thank God for the truth in it, and then ask for revelation on the verse, or ask for power to obey them. The Scriptures are living and active (Heb 4:2) and are so powerful to transform us and renew our mind as we pray them. They rewrite the code of our inner man enabling us to abide in God so that Christ can more fully manifest within us (Eph 3;16-19).
- The Gen 1 principle is that the Holy Spirit hovers and waits to move in power wherever the Word is spoken by those in covenant with the Father. Therefore we value the Scripture in prayer, though He speaks many ways and hears all our words. The Spirit lives to reveal Jesus, and impart His love to us.
- The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good… (Gen. 1:2-4)
- Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Rev 3:20). We are seeking to behold and experience, we want to not just ‘read the menu, but eat the meal’. If a man love me, he will keep my words(written on our heart): and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (Jon 14).
- Continually asking for revelation is so powerful, we grow in revelation. Each Scripture is like a door we knock on, as God is inviting us into encounter, in the Knowledge of God. The Holy Spirit is with us to teach us, like Jesus taught His disciples. We must lean not on our own understanding, but seek God. It helps to ask for the Eph 1:17 Spirit of wisdom and revelation and enlightening of the spiritual eyes.
26 The Holy Spirit…will teach you all things… (Jn. 14:26) 13 The Spirit of truth…will guide you into all truth; He will tell you things to come. (Jn. 16:13) 27 The anointing…abides in you, ..as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things… (1 Jn. 2:27)
- David calmed and quieted his soul (ps 131:2). We need to dial down or just take our foot off the gas pedal and listen (without stirring our souls up to fervor). An over-active soul keeps us out of sync with the subtle movements of the Spirit. We quiet our soul to connect with the Spirit’s whisper in our heart (the still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13)). We quiet the turbulent activity of our soul in our clamoring for attention, pleasure, a restless anxious spirit that naturally active.
- To fellowship with the Holy Spirit means we talk often to Him as we give our heart to Him. It means we hear back from Him in a two way dialogue. The Holy Spirit honors our part in the relationship by not forcing us to dialogue with Him, if we do not want it. He does not force conversation or friendship with anyone who is not desperate——click to >or hungry for it. Love requires a voluntary response. He waits beckoning us to a deeper and more continual conversation. It takes a while to get in sync with this (few months). The discipline of waiting on the Lord, is invaluable.
- 6 Set Me (Jesus) as a seal upon your heart…its flames are flames of fire. (Song 8:6) We set Jesus as a seal on our heart by fellowshipping with the Spirit as God’s light, fire or river in us. The Holy Spirit ministers in us a bright light that drives darkness out and overpowers the darkness of confusion, accusation and rejection (Jn. 1:5); a consuming fire that devours everything that gets in the way like bitterness and addictions: a flowing river that connects our heart with the spontaneous movement of God’s heart (Jn. 7:37-39).
- As we linger in His presence, speak affectionately (intermittently saying to God, “I love You”) speak slowly (not rapid fire), softly (not shouting at the indwelling Spirit), briefly (short phrases not paragraphs, even reducing phrases to one word) and minimally (listen twice as much as talking by limiting our speaking to one third) with many pauses, praying with our spirit (1 Cor. 14:2) along with gently sighing (Rom. 8:26) with gazing in silence for few seconds or minutes. “Less is more” in terms of amount and volume of speaking. Journal: take time to record thoughts and prayers so as to capture the truths He gives us.
A. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24)
B. The Holy Spirit will reveal Jesus to us and cause our hearts to burn with holy passion. He was a burning and a shining light: and all of you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light (Jn 5:35). I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burns (Is 62:1).
C. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it beholds him not, neither knows him: but all of you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you (Jn 14:17). How do we behold the Spirit? Not by analyitical observation of a healing. It is intimate fellowship, communion. Deep friendship and partnership with the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit might say “where do you experience me and know me?” In our innerman. There is a world of reality to be experienced inside each of us. In this we behold the glory of God, the beauty of God in this way. He will bring us into deep communion with God’s heart.
But we all, with open face beholding (dimly) the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD. (2Cor 3:18).
D. The Spirit of the Tabernacle of David was Psalm 27:4 This one thing I have sought all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord. The prayer movement through IHOP was prophetically established according to the tabernalcle of David. David led the nation and oversaw the military, but He had an intense fire burning in His heart to behold the Lord.
E. Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 42 But one thing is necessary: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Mary still did household chores, and served, but she desired to drink from the well of living waters, no lesser pursuits drove her.
F. This one thing I do… reaching forth unto those things which are before, and I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings). (Phil 3:13). Spiritual boredom is the enemies best weapon against us. A vision for pursuing knowing Him is our weapon against this. We can do great works like Paul but without a burning heart it is nothing.
G. For some learning to be like David and keep their heart engaged, while hands are working, is difficult, because of the nature of their work. Dialing down our life so that having a burning heart is a priority is an offensive message. The Lord is calling forth a people of ‘one thing,’ we must ask for wisdom how to align our schedule with our priorities. Time is the essence of life and the primary thing we will account for. He will not ask how big did our ministry or bank account get, but how big did our hearts get.
PRINCIPLES OF THE INNERMAN
- In John 5 Jesus choose a feast to speak of living water flowing from people who didn’t even yet have full access to the Holy Spirit living water. I think He did it because the context was fitting to illustrate the contrast between feasting on food and feasting on Jesus who in v 35 says is the Bread of Life, and John 1:14 says is the Scriptures made flesh. Just before in the first chapter John says it is just before the feast and Jesus has just done the miracle of food multiplication and He then says “John 6:27 Labor not for the food which perishes, but for that food which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.
- So why would we labor for the food if we have the indwelling Spirit and therefore we shall never hunger?
- I believe the answer is in the Greek related to how Scripture says we experience the water and food of the Spirit (being filled with the Spirit), and how our hunger is quenched. When Jesus says in John 7:38 that ‘out of our belly shall flow living water’ the word belly is qereb which is inward parts or innermost man. Now interestingly Paul prayed in Eph 3:16 for the believers at Ephesus that they be strengthened with might in the innerman the greek for innerman is ‘eso,’ not qereb, not innermost man. He prayed for this so that the Eph 3:17 Spirit of Christ would dwell in their hearts and so they would “Eph 3:19 experience (epigos) the love of God, and be filled with the fullness of the (Spirit of) God.”
- So it is biblical to pray for our innerman to be strengthened so we can experience the innermost-man-dwelling Holy Spirit more, in the inner man. Laboring in this way seems to be advised by Jesus.
IV. STRENGTH MADE PERFECT IN VOLUNTARY WEAKNESS
- 2 Cor 12:9 gives a spiriutal principle that God’s strength is made perfect in voluntary and involuntary weakness. In 1 Cor 1 Paul talks about strength and in that chapter, Paul seems to refer to the cross that we as disciples must all pick up and follow. Luke 14:27 And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Paul says this cross is foolishness to the world, and we know it is not a literal cross for us unless we are percecuted. Paul is referring to the weakness of the lifestyle disciples must live (2 Cor 5:15). These values of the ‘fasted lifestyle,’ are the expressions of restrain such as prayer, giving/tithing, serving, and cheek-turning/blessing/meekness.
- God has chosen weak things like fasting as a way into more of God. 1 Cor 1:27 God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. God has chosen fasting as a weak thing, an expression of the cross that we are to embrace. It seems likely Paul referenced Isa 58: “Is this not the fast I have chosen” here.
- He’s chosen the weak thing of fasting as one way into the 1 Cor 1:23 power of God and the wisdom of God. For 2 Cor 12:9 God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. If we want more spiritual strength, we must at times embrace weakness. When He Eph 3:16 strengthens us with might in the innerman, that might is to increase our ability/capacity to contain the Spirit of God, even eventually unto the fullness of God.
- We can experience answered prayer and the Spirit without fasting. Fasting is an intensifier, an accelerater, and is and expression of humility, desire and discipline. The person who fasts understands the gap between what God wants to give them and what they are actually experiencing.
- Fasting does not ‘earn’ us more of God. It does increace our capacity to experience the Holy Spirit, and accelerate the process of communing prayer. I have found fasting on water, 1 day a week, to be unparelled in terms of its impact on my experiencing of God. Ihop-kc calls believers to fast at least one day a week. The benefits are tremendous in fasting two days a week, but let desire for God drive your fasting, not commands or religious spirit.
- This depth of fasting is well within the reach of most people. But we desperately need more revelation of Jesus as our Bridegroom who has burning desire for us and fiery affections toward us. As we live in the truth of the bridal paradigm, we fast because we long for Jesus. Jesus told the Pharisees the day would come when the Bridegroom would be taken away from the disciples, and then they would fast out of longing for Him (Matt. 9:15). When Jesus ascended to Heaven after His death and resurrection, He was taken away in the sense indicated in this Scripture. The Bride of Christ is meant to long for His return, His Second Coming, and fasting is one way we express this longing.
L. By knowing Jesus as our Bridegroom and seeing ourselves as His Bride, we will become energized with a spirit of prayer and filled with courage to live lives abandoned to God in holiness. Only then will fasting seem appropriate, reasonable or even wise.
M. Spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, meditation, etc.) are ordained by God as a necessary way to posture our heart to freely receive more grace and they give us opportunity to show how much we value our relationship with Jesus.
N. Many of us are continually battling renoucing inferior pleasures. The Lord is offering might in the innerman to experience superior pleasures, thereby equipping us to resist that which does not satify or profit. Then we can love Him with all our heart soul and strength, also defined as wholeheartness. The breakthrough of anointing often comes in giving up the 1% that was keeping us from 100% wholeheartedness -MB. But it takes time to get to that place, step by step.
G. Analogy: We put our cold heart before the bonfire of God’s presence by seeking Him in the Word and prayer. We change our mind, then God changes our hearts. We change our mind(understanding about God), then God changes our emotions (unlocks our hearts). These activitiesdo not earn us God’s favor. The power is in the “bonfire of God’s presence” not in our coldhearts that are positioned before it.
H. God gives to our heart on the basis of how much we hunger for relationship with Him not on how much He loves us (Mt. 5:6). God honors the value we put on the relationship by giving us more according to our spiritual hunger but He does not love us more. Jesus discloses Himself to us based on our responses of love and desire for Him (Jn. 14:21-23).
I. It takes focus and effort to go deep in God. There is a captivity of activity in working for God without acquiring the ‘oil of intimacy.’ The battle in the natural and in the Spirit is for oil. In the natural, we must drill for oil and mine for gold and diamonds because they do not usually lay on the ground. It is the same in the Spirit, we must drill for the ‘oil of intimacy’ and dig for gold.
- SPIRITUAL GROUND
- There is no neutral ground in the Spirit, we are either gaining ground or losing ground, in stagnation each day. We are getting more oil in our ‘lamps’ or we are burning it, we are getting closer to God or farther away. Walking in the Spirit by talking with the Spirit helps sustain our oil. Talking about/praying Scripture is anointed for this.
- “Take care what you heed, for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” Mark 4:25. This is a Spiritual law is yet another reason we must be resolute in scheduling time each day to grow our hearts in love for God. There is so much temptation with media and such to spend our time so many other ways, but the reward of choosing to build our relationship with God, and experience more of the Holy Spirit is so worth it. It’s like doing 50 pushups everyday, you may not notice the impact the first day, but three months later and there’s a marked difference. Mike Bickle says not to give up on this experience unless you have tried it for a few months. I have found that the deeper experiences of the Spirit have happened after a period of regular focused seeking.
OTHER VALUES OF CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER
A. He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; (1 Cor 14:4). What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. (1 Cor 14:15) Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Eph 5:18). I am convinced God has ordained singing the Word to Him, Singing in tounges to Him, and praying in toungues privately, as ‘ways into’ being filled with the Spirit and edified by the Spirit. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than all of you all (1 Cor 14:18). Many who write of deep encounter in the Spirit, speak of this discipline. The Ihop prayer “harp and bowl” model features these elements. He has created the human frame in such a way that singing to Him is a way into opening our hearts and receiving like nothing else can. Our creative God loves singing.
WALKING IN THE SPIRIT
16 I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust (sinful desires) of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts (wars) against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh… (Gal. 5:16–17).
A. The “flesh” in Paul’s theology includes sinful physical pleasures (sensuality, gluttony, alcoholism, etc.) as well as sinful emotions (pride, bitterness, anger, defensiveness, etc).
B. We will walk in the Spirit to the degree that we “fellowship with Him.” One of the great benefits of the New Covenant is that at our new birth, the Holy Spirit begins to live inside us to empower our hearts (Jn. 3:3-5). We experience His power most in our heart as we fellowship with Him.
14 …The love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14, NAS)
C. Principle: we walk in the Spirit by talking with the Spirit. The fundamental and introductory way to walk in the Spirit is by maintaining an active dialogue with the indwelling Spirit. This is key to our transformation and renewal. It is so simple that it causes many to miss it. Words quench or release (activate) the Spirit in us more than anything else. (Quench not the Spirit. 1 thes 5:19)
D. If we just talk to Him, He will talk back. He will speak to us once He gets us in the conversation. He speaks to us by giving us subtle impressions that release power on our mind and heart if we respond to them. He will talk us out of sinning and quitting.
E. We will not walk in the Spirit more than we talk to the Spirit. He will help us to the degree that we talk to Him. We will not obey Him more than we talk to Him. The moments that we dialogue with Him are the moments in which we are most aware of His power in our inner man.
F. We talk to the Holy Spirit as the way to experience the release of His power in our inner man. He releases small measures of power on our mind and heart, but the power is real.
G. To be “led” by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18; Rom. 8:14) is to follow His leadership by being watchful of the Spirit’s promptings, especially in our spiritual life (thoughts, words and deeds). We honor (instead of ignore) the Spirit’s leadership in the small decisions of our spiritual life. We walk out the Spirit’s values in our daily life choices (v. 19-22). We cultivate an awareness of the Spirit’s leadership in what we say (speech), what we look at (eyes), how much time we give to feed our spirit (schedule) and how we spend our finances (money). We must refuse the lie that the Holy Spirit is not Lord, and thus, viewing His promptings as optional.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Cor. 3:17)
H. To “live” in or by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25) is to be empowered with the Spirit’s life as we are fed by the Spirit’s food which is the Word of God. One with an under-nourished spirit will walk in lust. -Our words quench or release the Spirit in us more than anything else. When speaking to the Holy Spirit speak slowly, tenderly (I usually do not articulate my words out loud) and sparsely. Remember that “less is more” when speaking to the Holy Spirit.
I. Our dialogue with the Spirit is greatly enriched by pray-reading the Word. We will fill our heart with God’s Word because the “voice of the Spirit and the Word” is much stronger than the “voice of sinful lust.” Bible study must create an active dialogue in our heart with God.
TRANSFORMED BY ENCOUNTERING THE AFFECTIONS OF GOD
A. To know the love of Christ means to know by experience His affections. God wants us to feel His affection for us. It has significant implications in the way it impacts our hearts.
That you…may be able to comprehend…what is the width and length and depth and height– 19 to know (experience) the love (affections) of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:18-19)
1. Feeling God’s affection brings pleasure and exhilaration to our hearts. This is a part of our inheritance.
2. Feeling God’s affection equips us for our full destiny by anchoring our soul in God. The breakthrough of the anointing of power and divine favor brings with it added the pressures of temptation, pride and criticism. When we are anchored in the experience of God’s love, then we are equipped to resist compromise in times of temptation, to walk in humility in times of exaltation and to not yield to the fear of man when criticized.
3. It is the foundation that empowers us to run to God instead of from God as we so often encounter our sin and weakness during our journey in this life.
B. Paul said that God’s love passes knowledge. In other words, we cannot comprehend it without the help of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be comprehended with only our natural ability.
C. There is a paradox today in the Church. Many talk about the love of God while being content to not press into it to actually experience its power. In a spiritual culture of compromise and permissiveness, some are falsely comforted by references to God’s love without understanding the glorious reality of it.
D. The genuine experience of God’s affection makes us ravenously hungry for more. In other words, for holiness. We go hard after God’s heart to experience more of His affection. Holy diligence is not an attempt to earn us God’s love but positions us to experience more of it.
E. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin (1Jn 1:7). The church cannot have true fellowship without walking in the light. Many ‘community-focused’ churches do not have the unity that can only come from communion with the Spirit (1Jn1:3).
BEHOLDING AND BECOMING
A. Principle: whatever we encounter about God’s heart (His passion) for us becomes awakened in our heart back to God. Encounter (meditation unto revelation) results in transformation. What we understand about God’s heart is essential to transforming our emotions. God is love. God is emotional and His emotions relate to firey love ‘personified’.
B. When God wants to empower us to love Him, He reveals Himself as a lover to us.
We love Him because (we understand that) He first loved us. (1 Jn. 4:19). Many say I need to love Jesus more. I want to. The only real way into that is to become a student of His love for you. The number one thing I call people to do is ‘feed your heart on His affections for you.’ (Jn15:9 is key). It will awaken love for Him deeper in your heart and make you firey and passionate in a way nothing else will. The Sos 1:2 Kisses of the Word are the way Eph 5:27,29 says He brings us to blamelessness and spotlessness, by the nourishing and cherishing of God. But we must feed ourselves, the Spirit will do the rest.
C. We love Him because we understand that He first loved us. We enjoy or pursue Jesus because we understand that He first enjoyed or pursued us. God wants our identity and sense of value to be rooted and grounded in the knowledge of His affections for us (Eph. 3:17-18). This is where our hearts come alive! Many of us do not value ourselves or get our value from man. When we see the value that God’s sees in us, it changes everything to our core. We are the apple of His eye, He gave His son to bring us near, each of us can say we are His favorite one!
D. Eph 3 has Paul praying that we would be rooted and grounded in the love of the Father. This is an agriculteral and architectural metaphor, that the American church has neglected. We have been seeking to reach the nations without first seeking to get a fire burning in our hearts through prayer.
D. The church has sought to love others without fully getting God’s burning heart for them. So they do not love themselves well. Many are in struggling with rejection, seeking praise of man so they feel loved. And yet Jesus declared we will love others the way we love ourselves. And so we witness without the love of Christ burning in us.
E. The great commandment is to love God with all our heart. This is God’s first priority in our life.
The Spirit will restore the first commandment to first place in the generation Jesus returns. So many ‘sign up’ for a task in the harvest. He wants us to sign up for firey love and to walk in the fruit that that produces.
37 Jesus said to him, “You shall seek to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38 This is the first and greatest priority. (Mt. 22:37-38 paraphrase)
The Song of Songs is valuable for intimacy and contemplative prayer
A. We must engage in long and loving meditation on the Song with a hungry and honest heart before God. A contemplative pray-reading application is key to receiving the song’s anointing. One of the Spirit’s purposes in the Song is to fill us with the Father’s love for Jesus.
26 I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved me may be in them, and I in them. (Jn. 17:26)
These four distinctives are found in many places in Scripture. The uniqueness of the Song of Solomon is not the fact that it contains these truths. Rather, it is in the focused concentration of them.
1. First, is the revelation of Jesus’ passionate affections and enjoyment of His people.
2. Second, is the revelation of the beauty of Jesus, especially as a Bridegroom King.
3. Third, is the revelation of the beauty of the individual believer to Jesus, even in our weakness. If you want to know what you look like to God then study the Song.
4. Fourth, are the principles needed to grow in love and mature partnership with Jesus.
C. If we are to receive the full benefit of the Song, we must turn it into an on-going affectionate prayerful dialogue with Jesus. It is not enough to only study the Song without going to the next step of turning it into a prayer dialogue. The language of the Song must get into our prayer life and thought life before it will transform our emotions.
We tend to approach the Song as more than an academic exercise as seen in Bible research. Informing our intellect is significant but it is only a starting point. No one would go to a famous restaurant to merely study the menu. The menu is there to help them obtain a good meal. It is not enough to be a connoisseur of the Song of Solomon, we must allow this book to fill our heart.
D. I have about 10 phrases that have become deeply personal to me. I write them on notecards to use when I drive or take a walk. I slowly whisper them to Jesus. For example, “Father, let Him kiss me with His Word” or “Spirit, sustain me, refresh me” (Song 1:2; 2:5).
- It’s such a wonderful thing to see people around us get ahold of this, where they are saying ‘I feel so loved and delighted in by God. He enjoys me even in my weakness and I must have more!” The Holy agape love of the Bridegroom is addicting.
- In Song of Solomon 4:9, we behold Jesus’ heart is ravished for His people. He says, “You have ravished My heart, My sister My bride. You have ravished My heart even with one look of your eyes.” This verse summarizes Song of Solomon, as it is the high point of the Song. You have ravished My heart—this is God speaking to His people individually. Many believers who are very sincere, they have no grid with the idea that God is filled with desire for them. With just one glance, one ‘yes’ to Him, He is moved.
F. This will be a significant foundation for the end-time church, because the Rev 22:17 endtime church who cries, “Come, Lord Jesus,” cries in worship and intercession for His return.” But, John saw that we cry in our bridal identity. We cry out as people who understand that we are a cherished Bride before a passionate Bridegroom. When we are raptured we won’t suddenly understand we are a bride and then go to the wedding supper, the wine of this revelation has been ultimately saved for the last generation, and the church starting to be established in it now. The working definition of the word “ravished” from the Webster’s dictionary: to be filled with emotions of joy, or to be filled with emotions of delight because of one who is unusually attractive.
G. God is filled with emotions of joy and delight because He sees unusual beauty in His people. He sees beauty in His people like He sees in no other place in creation. Now, we do not see it because we do not have the mind of the Spirit. The more that we see through God’s eyes—the more that we see that beauty in our lives, and in the lives of others, even while they are maturing in the things of the Spirit. The ravished heart of God, this revelation equips us for one hundredfold obedience.
A person who feels rejected and filled with shame does not press in with the kind of resolve; fearlessness, courage and confidence that is required to go deep in God in one hundred fold obedience. So many believers are just so afraid that they are going to miss out on pleasure and joy, if they say “no” to the spirit of the world. The person, the man or the woman that is confident in their spirit about the love of God and His feeling for them, something is so different is so different in their spirit. They feel a satisfaction; they feel a delight, a pleasure that gives them the courage to move on, even in their brokenness and their shame. They feel excitement and courage to go deeper in God, to run towards Him with an open spirit instead of drawing back from Him in fear of rejection from God or fear of missing out from something in this world.
Examples: MEDITATING ON THE WORD
1. Our Inheritance: God’s Power on Our Heart and Mind
16 “This is the covenant (promise) that I will make with them… “I will put My laws (Word) into their hearts (emotions) and in their minds (understanding) I will write them…” (Heb. 10:16)
A. Mind: God promises to release the spirit of revelation to our mind until we progressively gain living understanding of His Word. We are promised enough insight to succeed in the assignment that God has given us in this life. Heart: God promises to empower our emotions until we feel the power of His Word with new holy desires. God promises to write His Word on our heart and mind (2 Cor 3:3) as He wrote the ten commandments on tablets of stone (Ex. 31:18).
32 Did not our heart burn (with desire) within us…while He opened the Scriptures to us?…45 He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. (Lk. 24:32, 45)
B. God writes His Word on our heart as we live by it. We are to live by or be spiritually healthy in our heart by feeding on God’s Word which is the holy transcript of His heart. Our heart lives and becomes strong and healthy by feeding on God’s Word in spirit and truth. The opposite is also true. Our heart dies and becomes weak and sick without feeding on God’s Word. The most substantial way in which we feed our spirit and bolster our spiritual strength is by feeding on God’s Word in spirit and truth (each applies this differently). Many are spiritually in the ICU with a sick heart and a diminished spiritual appetite. The “voice of the Spirit and the Word” is stronger than the “voice of sinful lust.”
4 He (Jesus) said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Mt. 4:4)
C. Prayer, fasting, meditation on the Word, and obedience positions our heart before God to freely receive. These activities do not earn us God’s favor. Analogy: we put our cold heart before the bonfire of God’s presence by seeking Him in the Word in spirit and truth. God opens His Word to us progressively (little portions) and in accordance to the time we feed our spirit on His Word.
Encountering God: Pray-Reading the Word (Communing with the Word)
39 You search the Scriptures (Bible study), for in them you think you have…life; these are they which testify of Me. 40 You are not willing to come to Me (dialogue) that you may have life. (Jn. 5:39-40)
39 Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard (encountered) His word. (Lk. 10:39)
D. It is not enough to study the Word, we must give our heart to God and receive from Him as we read it. Bible study must create an active dialogue in our heart with God. Scripture gives us the “conversational material” in our prayer life. It creates the language of our heart with God. Using the Word in our prayer language with God makes prayer easy and enjoyable. We must actually speak the Word back to God and against Satan’s attack on our lives. Many do not speak the Word back to God or against Satan (they only speak it to others). The power of God’s love touches us as we declare back it to God. We thank Him for the love that He declares over us.
E. Two broad categories of truth related to pray-reading the Word (meditating on Scripture):
1. Scriptures that focus on promises “to believe” in God’s Word. For example, use Scriptures that declare that God loves, forgives, leads, protects, or provides for us, etc.
2. Scriptures that focus on exhorting us “to obey” God’s Word. For example, use Scriptures that command us to bridle our tongue, serve others and give time and money to God, etc.
F. We actively dialogue with God by praying promises that we are “to believe” from His Word. Spiritual warfare: we speak these truths against Satan’s attack on our lives.
1. First, we thank God for a particular truth. We turn these truths into simple declarations of thanksgiving or trust. For example, declare, “Thank you that You love me or have forgiven me. I trust that You will lead, provide and protect me.”
8 God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Lk. 6:38)
2. Second, we ask God to reveal (release) particular truths to us. Ask God to release a spirit of revelation (Eph. 1:17). For example, pray, “Father, reveal to me the certainty of Your provision, or how much You love me, forgive me, or how I have ravished Your heart.” Or, “Father, release Your promised guidance, provision, and protection, etc.”
G. We actively dialogue with God by praying truths back to Him that exhort us “to obey” His Word. Spiritual warfare: we speak these truths against Satan’s attack on our lives.
1. First, we commit ourselves to obey God in the specific way set forth in a biblical person or passage. Make simple declarations of your resolve to obey the Word or imitate the faith of the godly.
37 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart… (Mt. 22:37)
2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. (Jas 3:2)
3. For example declare:
a. “I set my heart to love You and obey You with my speech, time and money, etc.”
b. “I set my heart to love you like David or to endure hardship like Paul.”
c. “I set my heart to pray like Daniel or do miracles like Paul in the Book of Acts.”
4. Second, we ask God to empower us to obey a particular truth or to imitate godly examples of people in Scripture. Ask God for help to give you wisdom, motivation and power to obey in specific areas.
5. For example pray:
a. “Father help me to love You, to bridle my speech, or use my time and money in full obedience.”
b. “Father, I resolve to love You more, give me power to love you like David
c. “Father, lead me away from temptation” (Mt. 6:13), or “deliver me from the works of the evil one” (Jn. 17:15).
H. Two ways to focus our mind in seeking God: God on His Throne (Rev. 4) and God in our spirit
14 …The love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14, NAS)
38 Out of his heart (belly, KJV) will flow rivers of living water… (Jn. 7:38)
I. Linger in God’s presence: in dialoging with God in the Word. Take time to linger as you speak slowly to God (include declaring your love and praise, praying with your spirit and being quiet).
J. Journaling: take time to record thoughts and prayers as you “pray-read” through Scripture. This helps us capture the truths that the Spirit gives us and to grow in our prayer dialogue with God. The anointing of the Spirit in you is your best teacher. When you pray the Word in spirit and truth, you and the Spirit work together to provide you with a tailor made teaching in the Word.
27 The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things… (1 Jn. 2:27)
III. Examples of Pray-Reading the Word
A. Jesus promises to reveal the Father’s personality to us as the way to impart love in us for God.
26 I (Jesus) have declared to them Your name (Father’s), and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (Jn. 17:26)
1. Pray: “I thank You for Your commitment to declare (reveal) the Father’s heart to me, release more.
2. Pray: “I thank You for imparting Your love to my heart, please release more.
B. God promises to show His power to those who are loyal to Him. Pray: “I thank You for committing to show Yourself strong in me, release it. I set my heart to be loyal to the Spirit’s leadership in all that I do with my speech, eyes, actions, time and money. Help me to walk this out.”
9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chr. 16:9)
C. Jesus promises to manifest His presence to those who obey His commandments.
21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him… (Jn. 14:21)
1. Pray: “I thank You for committing to manifest Your presence to my heart, release it more. I set my heart to keep (obey) Your Word in my speech, time, money, etc. Holy Spirit, help me to do this.”
2. Note: the Father loves everyone in the sense of valuing, caring for and pursuing them. However, He only loves the lifestyle, choices, sacrifices and fruit of those who pursue 100-fold obedience.
D. We are called to obey the Holy Spirit’s leadership in what we look at. Pray: I set my heart to not look on anything that quenches the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, help me to do this with consistency.
1 I have made a covenant with my eyes; why should I look upon a young woman? (Job 31:1)
3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes… (Ps. 101:3)
E. We are called to obey the Holy Spirit’s leadership in our speech. God promises that our whole body (our human passions) will be bridled as we obey the Spirit in our speech. Pray: “I set my heart to keep (obey) Your Word in my speech. Holy Spirit, help me to do this with consistency.”
3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Ps. 141:3)
29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit…. (Eph. 4:29-30)
2 If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body (human passions)…6. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. (Jas 3:2-6)
14 Let the words of my mouth…meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight (Ps. 19:14)
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may be blameless. (Phil. 2:14)
18 In everything give thanks…19 Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thes. 5:18-19)
F. God promises to save or deliver those who lay aside filthiness as they meditate on His Word. Pray: “I thank You for desiring to deliver my soul from filthiness in me, please release it. I set my heart to lay aside all filthiness and to implant your Word in my heart with meditation and meekness. Please help me to do this with consistency.”
21 Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save (liberate, deliver) your souls. (Jas 1:21)
G. God promised that we are a new creation based on giving us the gift of God’s righteousness. Pray: “I thank You and declaration my trust that you have given me the righteousness of God, please reveal it to me more by the spirit of revelation. I declare, that all things are new and the old things of my guilt has passed away in Your sight.”
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new…21 For He (Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)
IV. The Power of God’s Word in Spiritual Warfare
A. The principle is that the Holy Spirit hovers and waits to move in power wherever the Word is spoken by those in covenant with the Father.
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good… (Gen. 1:2-4)
B. Jesus creates, sustains and governs everything under the Father’s authority by speaking God’s Word (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17). Jesus was the One who spoke God’s Word to create in Gen. 1. We find the phrase “And God said” 10 times (vv 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29) along with “Let there be…” 8 times (vv 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). We see the Spirit’s work in the phrase, “It was so” 7 times (vv 3, 7, 9, 11, 15, 24, 30) and “God made” 7 times (vv 4, 7, 12, 16, 21, 25, 27).
C. Jesus gave us a model of how to do spiritual warfare as He spoke the Word in power to drive Satan back. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He used the Word to strike like a sword cutting into Satan’s domain. This was a clash of powers that sent Satan reeling into retreat. Satan had never confronted a Man saturated in God’s Word and moving in such authority (Mt. 4:3-11). When we speak the Word to Satan, then it strikes him as a sharp sword that injures his kingdom.
13 Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day….17 take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God… (Eph. 6:13-17)
D. We must fill our hearts with the Word as a lifestyle as well as use the Word in an intentional way during a time of temptation and/or oppression. We fill our heart for strength and then use the Word like bullets in a gun. “God will not do our part, and we can not do God’s part.” The War is over at the cross, but we must battle to recover the territories that are now again rightfully ours.