3 Truths That Keep Me Coming Back to the Prayer Room

…And None of Them Are Actually About Me.

I’m five years into this prayer room lifestyle now. And to be honest, every day is not sunshine and rainbows and oceans of glory. Motivation is sorely lacking sometimes. So when I’m not feeling it, here are the core truths that keep me coming back. (You’ll notice that none of them are really about me. That’s because the house of prayer is primarily something GOD established for GOD, and any blessing I get is just a bonus.)

1. Jesus is worthy.

No matter how I feel, Jesus is still the name above every other name and the angels are still singing “Holy, holy, holy… Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” (Revelation 4:8, 5:12). I actually believe that the greatest injustice in the earth is that Jesus does not get the worship that He is due from every heart worldwide. I can’t change that singlehandedly overnight, but I can do my best to make sure He gets everything He deserves from my life.

2. Jesus wants to talk to me more than I want to talk to Him.

I am so dull of heart sometimes. Like, a lot of times. My flesh can so easily convince me on that I’m okay without having a real conversation with God that day. That’s probably the biggest lie my flesh tells me: “You’re fine. It’s okay. It doesn’t matter.” And so I zone out in the prayer room, or choose to endlessly scroll through Facebook at home. But the truth is that Jesus wants to talk to me way more than I want to talk to Him. Some days the only thing that can get me out of bed to go to the prayer room is the fact that Jesus says “Let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice.” (Song of Solomon 2:14) He really wants to talk with me, and He misses that connection time when I’m not there. I may feel like I’m fine if I miss out for a day, but how dare I deprive Jesus of something He so earnestly desires.

3. This is part of a big, big story.

The house of prayer — corporate, sustained gatherings specifically focussed on worship and intercession, especially 24/7 — has been on God’s heart for a long, long time, to the point that the first thing He did in establishing a nation for himself was to establish the house of prayer (the tabernacle of Moses). David took this idea even further in his tabernacle model, and God promised to reestablish David’s tabernacle in the final generation. (Amos 9:11) The Church will be a praying, singing, lovesick Bride that functions as a house of prayer and partners with God to push back the darkness, bring forth revival, and usher in the return of Jesus. My getting out of bed to go to the prayer room is literally part of God’s strategy to prepare the earth for the second coming. It doesn’t get much more epic than that.

Loving God Through the Trials

I’m going to be really honest right now. Much of this past year has been really difficult for me. I’ve had a lot of disappointment and confusion and hurt to work through, and I’ve cried more this year than I ever have in one concentrated period in my life.

God has been so, so generous and faithful to my heart through it all. He hasn’t given very many specific answers to my questions, but sometimes, when I get really quiet, He will share with me how He feels about how I’m handling this season.

Today, as I was once again reflecting with Him about how I’ve grown through all of this, I said, “At least I love You more now… I think. Do I really? I don’t even know how to measure that, but that’s all I really want. Do I really love You more now?”

In the next few moments of quiet, as I offered Him that question and listened, He began quoting to me the words of a scene I wrote last year sometime, before any of this happened. It’s a story about Miriam of Bethany and Yeshua of Nazareth, and this conversation takes place soon after Yeshua raises Miriam’s brother from the dead.

“Do you understand now why I had to wait?”

I nodded. “Some. You said it was for the glory of God, that the Son of God would be glorified.”

Yeshua nodded. “Yes. God was glorified today, and he will be glorified so much more because of this. I’m only sorry it caused you so much pain in the waiting. But Miriam—I am so proud of the way you refused to stay offended! You felt the doubt and fear and anger, but time and time again during those four days you pressed through and chose trust over offence. That delights my Father and me so much.

My stomach fluttered, and I looked down, then back up at Yeshua’s twinkling eyes. “I would have given up so many times, but I guess I’m just too stubborn.”

Yeshua threw back his head and laughed. “That’s okay,” he said. “Stubborn love is my favourite kind, because that’s what it becomes when it has an obstacle to overcome. The obstacles prove your love is real.”

“They prove my love to God? Doesn’t he know all things?”

“Yes, of course. But don’t you love me more now than you did before? Your love has been tested and strengthened and refined because we’ve been through something together. So it proves your love to you, and also to the world, because loving God through the trials is declaring that he is worthy of it.”

“And God is glorified.”

“And God is glorified.”

In the midst of the trial, when every circumstance is screaming that God let you down and that He doesn’t know what He’s doing, your stubborn, weak prayers of “God, I love You and I trust You,” are so powerful. They declare to you and to the world that even this valley cannot make God less than who He is.

Love in the midst of hardship carries a very unique kind of fragrance to God. I believe that’s why the blood of the martyrs is so precious to Him. What else can bring Him glory and touch His heart like one who chooses to love Him in a moment when they are given every reason not to?

I discovered that I do love Him more now, because my love has been tested and strengthened. I have walked through the wilderness and I have come up leaning on Him. (Song 8:5)

And God is glorified.

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
Psalm 13:5-6

Worthy in the wilderness

Merry Christmas From California!

Merry Christmas, friends! I do deeply apologise for the recent lack of posts. I shall definitely try to do better at that.

This past quarter has been… a lot. I took Song of Solomon and Old Testament Survey, and although it was a lot of work, I fell more deeply in love with the Song than I ever have before. Check out my teaching notes HERE for the fruit of my study and meditation on that. I know I used to blog about these verses… but I really was only touching the tip of the iceberg. I’m still only touching the tip of the iceberg. Isn’t it amazing to think that never for all of eternity will we be able to fully plumb the depths of these verses?

The semester ended officially on December 13, and I spent that weekend in Tulsa celebrating the wedding of two very dear friends with whom you may remember I stayed on my drive out to KC in August. It was an absolutely perfect wedding, full of so much joy and friendship and geekery, and of course, twoo wuv… I feel deeply honoured to have been a part of it.

I flew home on December 17, and my time here with family has been absolutely delightful. I could not have asked for a more loving, funny, ridiculous, beautiful family. (The weather here was indeed in the high 70s most of the time… Kansas City, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.)

I also had the opportunity to visit all three of the churches I call home in SoCal– the megachurch I grew up in and the two smaller churches that have become family the past few years. The two smaller churches both invited me to share about my time at IHOPU, so I had the opportunity to  spend a few minutes after worship talking about the vision for the incense of prayer and worship arising before God from around the world. I loved it. (They gave me a mic and told me to talk about Jesus and prayer. HA.) They all prayed for me afterwards, and it was such a huge blessing. The support of these precious people means so much to me.

Christmas today was much the same as it has been nearly every Christmas I can remember. Church the night before, then stockings and family gifts in the morning, then breakfast with Dad’s family up the street, then devotions, gifts, lunch, games, and movies with Mom’s family at our house. I love family traditions.

Another tradition I followed this year was rereading my Diary of a Pregnant Virgin story. I wrote it during my final year of college and published it in installments on my blog during Advent. Writing it pushed me deep into the heart of Christmas, and every time I read it I relive those explorations. Mary’s journey of being swept up into a high and miraculous calling, yet still having to learn to trust God along the way, echoes my own life’s journey. Maybe it echoes yours, too. He is faithful to finish what He started. I find myself needing to to trust in that every day. He takes His own time, but His leadership is perfect. In Him is everything I need, and He will never, ever leave me dry.

Merry Christmas, my friends. May Immanuel, God With Us, surround your heart with His love and peace today and every day.

Rightly Do They Love You (Song of Songs 1:4 part 2)

I haven’t blogged about Song of Songs since October, but I’ve still been reading and meditating on it, of course. And it is high time I continue my journey through it with all of you.

“We will exult and rejoice in you;” Song of Songs 1:4d

The speakers here are the “others,” the daughters of Jerusalem, the community of believers. Of course, since the speaker attributions aren’t actually in the original text, different translations interpret who says what slightly differently at times. I think, though, that the content of what is said is in this case more important than who technically says it.

I love this rejoicing in Jesus. HE is our celebration. It’s not even rejoicing in his blessings; it’s just simply celebrating who he is, though of course who he is is expressed and displayed in what he does. But like lovers enjoy one another’s personalities and not only actions, so our purest worship and joy is centred solely on Jesus’ heart.

I will rejoice in you, in your character, in the very essence of your personality. I celebrate who you are–who you have always been, who you will always be.

“Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:18
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10 (Dang, now there’s a verse that deserves a blog post unto itself!)

“We will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.” Song of Songs 1:4e

Here’s the wine motif again. And I love that word “extol.” To me, this sounds like “I can’t stop talking about your love, more than any other thing or pleasure.”

I extol a lot of stuff. A friend asked me yesterday what Doctor Who was all about, anyway. I talked for ten minutes, and I daresay she understood about half of what I said. I would have gone on longer if I hadn’t ought to get back to work. I love Doctor Who; give me half a chance and my praise of it just bubbles out.

But Jesus is the ultimate one worthy of our extolment. (Yes, that’s a word, I looked it up.) He is so, so worthy. Rightly do we love him. He actually deserves every ounce of adoration I could ever give and infinitely more. Not just because he’s God– many “gods” throughout mythology have proven themselves so unworthy of worship by their character alone. He deserves love because of his deep love. He is good, he is holy, he is so completely humble and sacrificial. This is the God who is worth extolling above everything else.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

As a matter of fact, the New King James Version says, “We will remember your love more than wine.” The word translated either remember or extol is the Hebrew זכר, zakar, means “to mark (so as to be recognized), that is, to remember; by implication to mention” and is variously translated in the NASB as be mindful, boast, celebrate, mention, and remind. (Strong) It’s a public remembering, not only private, telling the story again and again so that everyone can honour the subject together.

And what is the story we tell? Why is it right and fitting for us to love him? What is the ultimate expression of his worth?

“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.'” Revelation 5:9-10

He is worthy because of the love expressed on the cross. He didn’t stop short of that, but gave everything. That’s what we love him for.

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” Philippians 2:8-9

Let Us Run (Song 1:4)

This should have been posted yesterday, but I instead spent the afternoon reading Mortal by Ted Dekker and the evening reading The Host by Stephanie Meyer. I do not see any contradiction in this, nor am I ashamed of my use of time yesterday. Except that I neglected to post a blog. Boo me.

So back into the game–here’s another taste of my thoughts on the Song of Songs!

“Draw me after you;” Song of Songs 1:4a

This verse is my absolute favourite of chapter one. I love the yearning in it, the longing for intimacy, partnership, adventure. Draw me after you, Jesus. Seduce me. Woo my heart.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14

He draws me away into the secret place by revealing his beauty and whispering his love for me until my faze is completely captured and my heart is overwhelmed with love. All the world is so still there; nothing else exists. Everything else fades away and it’s just the two of us, gazing at each other, whispering tenderly to each other’s hearts. When he begins to open my eyes to who he is, who I am, and the glorious destiny he has planned for us together, every fear and doubt fades away and my only desire is to follow him forever.

“Let us run.” Song of Songs 1:4b

Then comes the running. Let us run, Jesus. I want to run with you.

I picture Jesus taking my hand, winking at me, and whispering, “Run.” And then off we go, leaping over mountains together. Oh, the running. Seriously, there’s an outrageous amount of running involved.

Okay, Whovians, I know you know (I know you know) exactly where I’m going with this. Think of that first moment when the Doctor took Rose’s hand in the dark when she was about to be attacked. She had never seen him before, but in that moment he became her saviour. He said only one word: “Run.” And they ran together through all of time and space. For the Doctor and his companions, it’s always the running–to danger, from danger, always together, always running.

That’s me and Jesus.

What does running with Jesus actually look like on this planet? What sort of adventures are in Jesus’ heart? I think running with him is partnering with the passions of his heart. It’s Isaiah 61:1-3, for starters:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

Running with Jesus means running to the battle, whether that’s in intercession, justice, evangelism, whatever. It’s all of these and more, maybe in the nations of the world, maybe in your corner grocery store. It’s bringing hope, freedom, joy, and beauty. It’s proclaiming the favour of the Lord, and also his righteous judgment. It’s seeing what he’s doing in the world around you, and acting with him to bring his Kingdom. There is a massively glorious partnership here. We do all of this with his hand in ours, having been drawn away in intimacy so that our heart beats in unison with his. We know his  voice and we move when he moves.

And then the most glorious phrase of all–

“The king has brought me into his chambers.” Song of Songs 1:4c

The King of Kings, my King, has drawn me into the place of deepest intimacy. This is the place of encounter. This is the Holy of Holies.

I don’t even know how to write about this. A deep, warm silence falls on me every time I think of it.

The King has brought me into his chambers.

I’ll leave you with that, then. Go meditate. Ask the King to draw you away into the most secret places of his heart.

And then you’ve got an awful lot of running to do.

Better Than Wine (Song 1:1-3)

One thing IHOPKC is really big on is the Song of Solomon. That’s perfect for me, because I am too. It’s been my favourite book for years. I’ve savoured all of it, even though I’ve only understood pieces of it. It’s so great to finally get some good solid teaching on it verse by verse as a spiritual allegory. If you like, you can get the whole series free HERE from mikebickle.org. I’m just going to share the first little bit of the Song today, because there’s sooooo much good stuff but these first few verses are what I’ve spent the most time with. And I’m just going to summarise a few highlights; there are like three or four bombshells per verse you can get from Mike’s notes. Do it.

The Song of Solomon, also called the Song of Songs (my preferred title), has two main ways to interpret it: the natural interpretation, which celebrates romantic love between a man and a woman leading to marriage, and the allegorical interpretation, which celebrates the love between Jesus and his Bride. This can certainly be taken for the Church as a whole, but it also works beautifully to see it as an individual journey between you and Jesus.

“The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.” Song 1:1

The best song ever, the ultimate. It’s like what we mean when we say “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” Song 1:2a 

This is the woman, the Bride, speaking. Notice that she’s not talking to her beloved; the first sentence is to a third party. In the allegorical interpretation, that would be the Father. She is asking the Father to let Jesus kiss her. What does it mean to have Jesus kiss you with the kisses of his mouth? What proceeds from God’s mouth? It’s his Word. “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) So really what she’s saying is this: “Father, let Jesus kiss me with the kisses of his Word!” She longs for that tender caress of hearing Jesus’ words spoken to her heart. (Insert all of Psalm 119 here.)

This has become one of my favourite things to pray. I long for that touch, that intimacy. And I love that it comes through his Word! Logos and rhema, Greek scholars– the written word and the word spoken by the Spirit to my heart. That’s where my life comes from.

“For your love is better than wine.” Song 1:2b

The second part of verse two is spoken to Jesus. “Jesus, your love is better than wine.”  She’s declaring her priorities, and saying that more pleasure can be found in his love than in any other kind of pleasure available anywhere. Nothing can satisfy like his love can. We were given the capacity to experience love and pleasure because HE is the ultimate love and pleasure! Why do we run to so many other things when his love is better than all of it?

And it’s not just the sinful or even the neutral pleasures of this world, either. His love is even better than his blessings. He gives so many good things, but his raw LOVE is better than them all.

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7
“…In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! …” Psalm 34:8

“Your anointing oils are fragrant” Song 1:3a

Guys, what does Jesus smell like? What scents surround his throne? Can you even imagine? It must be so sweet, heavy, wild, intoxicating.

Paul talked about the “fragrance of the knowledge of [God.]” (2 Corinthians 2:14) I like that idea, but I also think it has to do with the fragrance of sacrifice. “…as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

How do you release the fragrance from a plant? You crush it. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) His crushing released the fragrance.

I want to take in Jesus’ wild, sweet fragrance. I want the scent of heaven to saturate me.

“Your name is oil poured out” Song 1:3b

His name is the essence of his character; it encompasses all of who he is. He is like oil poured out… Mike talks about his name being poured out over all the nations, his fame spreading and his glory covering the earth. I like that, but continuing the sacrifice theme makes it more personal to me.

“And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.'” Mark 14:24

Paul talked about being “poured out as a drink offering.” (Philippians 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:6) How much more was Jesus poured out for us? He poured out his blood like wine, like oil, flowing down that cross and covering us.

“Therefore virgins love you.” Song 1:3c

“We love him because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

His love draws us in. His love seduces us. Even those who only know him a little bit, ie new believers, can’t help but love him. Our love is a response to the revelation of his love. You want to love Jesus more? Get a revelation of his love for you.

And I think I’ll stop there for today. I’ll save my favourite verse of chapter 1 for next time. 🙂