What I’m Praying: Refreshing

Continuing my What I’m Praying series…

The past few weeks, TPR has been focussed on praying for a time of deep refreshing to come to our community. This has been our rapid fire topic at the end of every set. To be honest, it’s been an exhausting year. Many people feel a bit dry and dull and just soul-weary. We need a good strong “time of refreshing” (Acts 3:20) from the Lord to revive our hearts. Living dry is no fun.

It’s true that most of life is lived in the mundane. Most of the time, we’re neither on the mountaintop nor in the depths of despair; rather, we’re sort of on the plateau of daily walking out life with God, trying to stay obedient and faithful no matter how we’re feeling.

But we don’t want to just be okay with not encountering God.

We’re asking God for a season of refreshing, that as individuals and as a community we would receive an increased touch of the Holy Spirit.

This past week, I believe we’ve started to see glimpses of that. On Saturday night, Brad was called last minute to attend a meeting, so instead of him continuing our teaching series, our weekly Encounter service became a prayer meeting with extended worship for exactly this topic of refreshing. We asked God to move in signs and wonders and to refresh us with an increased manifestation of His presence. The corporate nature of that prayer meeting, with all of us in the room joined with fervor and unity, and the worship team’s excellent prophetic leadership, definitely brought refreshing to our hearts. With the leanness of our 18/7 schedule right now, we’re not able to have those experiences together very often.

Also, on Sunday night a prayer group from a local Messianic congregation visited the prayer room. Almost 30 ladies joined us for an hour or so, and God really moved among them. Our worship leader felt a strong prophetic nudge to spontaneously lead a ministry time from the prayer mic (don’t worry, the usher took his seat so the stage wasn’t empty) and give a call for anyone who felt called to missions. The room was deeply touched and many responded. That kind of move of the Spirit is the kind of thing we’re praying to see more of.

Please join us in praying that God would refresh us with a fresh wave of His Spirit!

God, thank You for Your presence here – please increase our experience of Your presence. Open the heavens and send another wave of Your Spirit to refresh, awaken, and revive us. We’re crying out for fresh fire. Meet us in our hunger as You’ve promised.

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What I’m Praying: Global Bridegroom Fast

I’ve never blogged on fasting before, because I’ve wanted to be careful about the way I’m honoring Matthew 5:16-18. But this is important, and it is something that’s currently happening in our community, so if it can be an encouragement to anyone, here you go.

When I was at IHOPKC, I was introduced to something called the Global Bridegroom Fast. The Global Bridegroom Fast is a monthly three-day fast, the first Monday through Wednesday of every month, that the house of prayer sets aside as a community to pursue Jesus through fasting. I remember there being a real sense of unity and spiritual hunger as we intentionally refocussed on what this is all about.

We call it a “bridegroom” fast because of what Jesus told the disciples of John the Baptist when they asked why He and his disciples weren’t fasting:

And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15)

Jesus tied fasting to longing for His presence and for His return. In this type of fast, we’re primarily asking God to renew and stir up love for Jesus in our hearts and to refocus our hearts on longing for His return, what Titus 2:13 calls our “blessed hope”.

At The Prayer Room, we also value a lifestyle of fasting, since it was one of the primary aspects of godly life that Jesus identified in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:16-18) as well as being a key component of seeking God’s mercy on a people (eg Joel 2:12). For years, we’ve devoted ourselves to weekly fasting, and many of us made Thursday our staff fasting day. Recently, however, we’ve felt God leading us to switch it up and join in with IHOPKC, and in fact hundreds of other houses of prayer and communities around the world, in the monthly Global Bridegroom Fast. So from now on, rather that encouraging our community to participate in a weekly fasting day, we’re encouraging everyone to join in this monthly Global Bridegroom Fast!

Personally, I hate fasting. I can preach a good sermon on why it’s important, and I really do believe it, but in my flesh I can make a thousand excuses to deny myself as little as possible. (“Maybe I just won’t eat meat…between the hours of 12pm and 4pm…”) Having the whole community going hard together, and knowing that it’s only once a month, has so far been very helpful to me. And even though my flesh hates it, every single time I fast, God gives me grace to go without food longer than my metabolism could ordinarily bear.

I find that the hunger pains of fasting serve as a constant reminder to refocus on God. Every time I feel a pinch and fantasize about a big sandwich or plate of pasta, it’s an opportunity to say NO to my flesh and YES to God. It doesn’t earn anything from God, but it positions me to encounter Him because I am forcing myself to be serious about reaching for Him. It trains my flesh in the art of self-denial, which is a necessary discipline in every aspect of Christian life. And somehow, in the economy of the Kingdom, God really does respond to fasting. I can’t fully explain how or why, but He does.

For myself, I have a few rules about fasting:

  1. I must set the parameters of the fast at least the day before. If I try to decide when I wake up how I’m going to fast, my flesh will be way louder than my spirit.
  2. I’m not allowed to alter the parameters in the middle of a fast unless I’m actually close to passing out or throwing up and I feel God giving me permission. Even then, a small snack is enough.
  3. The other exception is if fasting would disrupt an important social event, like the time my mom wanted to celebrate a family birthday on my fasting day and saying no would have been hurtful. Also, when I used to choose my weekly fasting day, I would make sure to schedule it on a day I didn’t expect eating to be a social event (ie, weekly small group).
  4. I do try not to make a big deal of it and carry on my life as usual, but especially since we’re in a community where fasting is normal, talking about it isn’t exactly taboo.
  5. Most importantly, I have to actually spend focussed time in prayer that day.

It’s important to remember that fasting is NOT meant to be a vehicle for condemnation and guilt. Fasting is spiritual violence, and it’s hard, and we all fail from time to time. BUT we find that we’re able to stay steadier the more months and years we make this a lifestyle! When we fail, we immediately sign back up and keep going. Just like one sexual mistake isn’t permission to consider your purity ruined and dive headfirst into more sexual sin, eating during a fast doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible person and trying to fast is a waste. Just sign back up and keep going!

Also, it’s helpful to know that although a lifestyle of fasting WILL lead you into more encounter with God than never fasting, there is no timeline or measuring stick for what that looks like. Many people don’t experience anything extraordinary during a fast, but they will right after. Often it’s hard to discern any fruit even after months. My advice is not to evaluate the fruit of fasting for at least a year. Some people say five or ten years. Make it a lifestyle, and eventually, in small ways or big ways, God WILL respond in greater measure than He would have otherwise.

Fasting gets our flesh involved in our spiritual longing for God. It positions us to receive more from Him by clearing out some of the cobwebs in our hearts. By becoming more in tune with our longing for God, we catch a glimpse into His longing for us! Jesus has been waiting 2000 years, or really since the Garden, to come be fully, finally united with us. It’s His great consuming desire. If He carries that ache, then I want to carry it too, and fasting helps me do that.

I invite you to join us in this monthly Global Bridegroom Fast! If you think this sounds like a good idea, set a reminder on your phone right now. You could instead (or also!) choose a weekly personal fasting day. (IHOPKC staff fasts on Tuesdays in addition to the monthly three-day fast.)

As you embark on the adventure of fasting, know that even though your flesh will hate you for it, Jesus is so delighted! He is smiling on us as we choose to seek Him. And He doesn’t stop smiling when we mess up… He LOVES when we keep stumbling toward Him, though we fall a thousand times. So let’s keep stumbling forward in confidence in His love, believing that He is the prize worth any cost.

LIVE Worship Video from The Prayer Room – “Beautiful”

The past few months, there’s been a trend of worship leaders at The Prayer Room making a Facebook Live video as they play. I was super nervous at first, but I finally did a few myself. (If you’re my Facebook friend, feel free to look them up!) One day we hope to be able to stream all our prayer room hours on our website, but in the meantime, Facebook Live is a really fun way to share a glimpse into the atmosphere of prayer and worship we’re cultivating.

I’d like to share a video with you, but I need to tell you a little bit about it first.

This video has a special place in my heart because the song I’m playing, “Beautiful” by Sam Lane, was introduced to me by Ted Dekker. He used the chorus of it in his book Green, the fourth book released in the Circle Series. In this scene, the spiritual community called The Circle is ceremonially reenacting our “Great Wedding” with Elyon — God.

Six maidens in white faced Thomas and Chelise on their knees and sang the Great Wedding’s song. Their sweet, yearning voices filled the valley as they cried the refrain in melodic unison, faces bright with an eager desperation.

You are beautiful… so Beautiful… Beautiful… Beautiful…

…And in many ways they were all perfectly beautiful as Elyon was beautiful. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful.

-Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson 2009

Shortly before Green was released in 2009, I attended a Ted Dekker fan event near Nashville at which Ted went all out to bring us into the world of his stories. He gave us an exclusive cd which included the original recording of the song (you can find it on youtube) as well as a message from himself describing his heart for Green and this song. In Ted’s own words:

“I have to say that this song has always exemplified the heart of the Circle Series, of God’s creation calling out to Him, ‘You are beautiful,’ but also God, Elyon, saying to his creation ‘You are beautiful’–the Lover and the Beloved crying to each other, singing to each other, ‘You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.’ When I first heard this song many years ago, you know, it brought me to tears. It was an incredible touching experience, where I thought, ‘This is what it’s really all about.’ In the end, everything distills down to this moment, this song, a song like this. And I knew I had to write about it…

“Really, at the heart of this whole series is this song, ‘You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.’… think of the people on the edge of the lake singing this song to Elyon over and over and over again… It’s all about this yearning that we have to be reunited once again–on the lake, on the shores of the lake, in the bowels of the lake, deep in the lake–to go back and be with God, with Elyon (in this story), in the same way we once were. It’s an irresistible calling to us. My hope and prayer is that this song would work its way into your spirit.”

-Ted Dekker, The Gathering 2009 cd

This is what it’s all about. This is actually my third time this week blogging about the beauty of Jesus, and I didn’t even plan it that way. The purpose of all existence is anchored in the beauty of Jesus. He is so deserving of all of our obsession and adoration, and this is our truest and deepest life’s calling–to sing this song to Him and to hear Him singing back to us. To love and to be loved.

In this recording, in between choruses of the song, I also started singing spontaneously some scriptural phrases from Song of Solomon and other passages about His beauty to us and our beauty to Him. Below you can listen to the song on Youtube (it’s unlisted, so you won’t find it if you try searching Youtube itself), and below that you can read the verses that I was singing from. (The song “Beautiful” in the video is only about the first 11 minutes, and the rest of the video segues into “Jesus, You’re Beautiful” by Jon Thurlow.)

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

 

“Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”
Song of Solomon 2:14

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.”
Song of Solomon 1:15, also 4:1

“Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me.”
Song of Solomon 6:5

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you… You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”
Song of Solomon 4:7, 9

 

You are fairer than the sons of men”
Psalm 45:2 NKJV

My beloved is white and ruddy, chief among ten thousand.”
Song of Solomon 5:10 NKJV

“In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious,”
Isaiah 4:2

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Psalm 29:2, also 69:9 NKJV

“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you;”
1 Samuel 2:2

“…so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.”
Exodus 8:10

“The LORD is my light and my salvation;”
Psalm 27:1

“even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
Psalm 39:12

Why the Beauty of Jesus is My Life Message

A few years ago, someone asked me what my “life message” is. I don’t remember what my answer was at the time, but having taken some time to think about it, I think I know. My life message is the beauty of Jesus.

As I put it on my teaching resources page:

I want people to see the supremacy of the beauty of Jesus in a way that makes their hearts come alive with love for Him and catches them up into the Story of what He’s doing in our generation.

First, here’s what I mean by the beauty of Jesus. The Bible repeatedly refers to this idea, and here are a taste of my favourite references:

“One thing I have desired of the LORD…to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD…” (Psalm 27:4)

“You are fairer than the sons of men…” (Psalm 45:2)

“My beloved is white [radiant, ESV] and ruddy, chief among ten thousand…” (Song of Songs 5:10)

“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty…” (Isaiah 33:17)

The beauty of Jesus is mostly the beauty–the excellence–of His personality. I used to think of Jesus’ beauty as only the visual aspects of light and glory described in passages such as Revelation 4 and 5. While those are certainly a part of Jesus’ beauty, the full truth is so much deeper than that. Jesus is beautiful because of who He is. Every single facet of His character is gloriously beautiful. His love, joy, playfulness, fierceness, humility, honesty, cleverness, justice, dedication, wisdom, faithfulness, and a thousand other traits are what make Him stunning. As mere humans, we can never be all of these things as fully as we wish we could be, and no person in our lives could fulfill all of these needs for us, but Jesus possesses all of these characteristics to their fullest possible extreme, all at once!

I’m going to say that the beauty of Jesus draws us into four things: 1) Worship, 2) Relationship, 3) Discipleship, and 4) Partnership.

1. Worship

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

Jesus’ beauty is directly tied to His holiness, which is His complete OTHERness. Part of what this means is that His every characteristic is higher and more pure and perfect than its earthly equivalent.

Jesus is beautiful in every single facet of his character, in His love and mercy as well as His wrath and justice. Think about that. Every justice system on earth is guaranteed to screw up. Human justice will always be imperfect, no matter how hard we try to refine the system, because no man can really see into the heart of another. But Jesus’ justice is completely perfect. Every single time.

That moves me to awe. Everything He is and does is absolute perfection, and not just harsh, to-the-standard perfection, like a starched white cleanroom. No, this is vibrant, colourful perfection, like an overwhelming symphony of music and movement and colour in wild extravagance and perfect harmony. There is a fullness and a richness to His personality that is completely unique and stunning.

How can I not give myself over in awe and worship before such a God?

2. Relationship

My favourite quote about the beauty of Jesus is from the book Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge:

We all know brilliant minds who could do with a touch of humility, humble folk who ought to stand up for themselves, driven types who need to lighten up, jokesters who should grow up, and gracious souls who really ought to get good and mad once in a while…

But imagine if you found it all in on person—superb before a jury, terrific taste in movies, ready at the drop of a hat for a riot of a vacation, and also able to handle your deepest, darkest secrets. Wouldn’t you want that person to be your friend?!…

He is not glistening white marble. He is the playfulness of creation, scandal and utter goodness, the generosity of the ocean and the ferocity of a thunderstorm; he is cunning as a snake and gentle as a whisper; the gladness of sunshine and the humility of a thirty-mile walk by foot on a dirt road. Reclining at a meal, laughing with friends, and then going to the cross.

This is what we mean when we say Jesus is beautiful. (Beautiful Outlaw, page 136-137)

Isn’t that a Person you want to know?

This is someone I would never get tired of spending time with. This is someone I would never get bored of discovering more about. He is fun, and fascinating, and brilliant. He’s infinitely gentle and wise and also knows how to kick my butt when I need it.

And He wants to know me. He deeply, achingly desires relationship with me. Knowing who He is, knowing how perfect and amazing His love is, how could I not fall in love in return?

3. Discipleship

“What a beautiful example You are to me, Jesus”
Caleb Andrews, “Beautiful Example” [click for youtube]

The more I see of the beauty of Jesus’ character, the more I want to be like Him. Just being told to do things doesn’t change my heart. Moralism isn’t enough. My heart changes when I become captivated by the beauty of those charactersistics in Him.

Growing up, I always knew that being humble was a good thing, but my attempts to “be more humble” were almost completely without vision until I caught sight of the remarkable humility of Jesus… how He came so low to take the form of a servant and become obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:6-11), and even when He comes back as a warrior He’s coming to fight for truth, meekness, and righteousness (Psalm 45:4).

There’s a principle in Scripture often stated as “what we behold is what we become,” taken from 1 John 3:2, which says “when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see him as He is.” That’s true of our physical bodies on the day of His return, and it’s also true to a lesser degree of our hearts now. The more clearly we see Jesus, the more we are empowered to become like Him–and in fact, the more we want to become like Him.

4. Partnership

Part of being friends with Jesus is caring about what He cares about and doing what we see Him doing. We want Him to have the dreams of His heart come to pass, and we want to be part of making those things happen, because of love. Falling in love with Jesus drives everything else I do in my life. Intercession, discipleship, evangelism, social justice–they’re all about Him. I want Him to have what He so deeply desires, because I know that He is beautiful and worthy, and because I know the things He wants are beautiful and worthy. His desires are perfectly pure and holy. The more clearly I see His sense of justice and fall in love with that quality in Him, the more I want to see justice done in the earth–because I have connected with the beauty of true justice in the heart of Jesus.

 

There is truly no one like Jesus. He really is “fairer than the sons of men” and “chief among ten thousand.” He is worthy of all of our worship and all of our trust and all of our lives lived completely for His glory– because the extravagant beauty of His character actually deserves such an extravagant response.

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.

The Miracle Internship That Almost Didn’t Happen


Ever since the conclusion of our spring Immerse internship, we’ve been hard at work laying plans for our summer Immerse internship. At last, it’s time and WE HAVE AN INTERNSHIP! That in and of itself is such a miracle. The past few weeks have been a figurative roller coaster…

Up to about three weeks ago, we were seriously questioning whether Immerse would even happen. At that time, we only had two interns, and were asking the question of what our minimum would have to be. The senior staff settled on five — if we didn’t get five interns, we would cancel Immerse.

Over the next few days we did get two different people signed up! So we had four… and we still had four the day before orientation, which would be Sunday, May 28. We had some generous partners help make two full scholarships available, and we were still actively personally recruiting as hard as we could, but no luck was to be had.

I was praying hard, and I still felt like I was supposed to keep working on preparing. So even while the internship was probably going to be cancelled, I was editing curriculum and finalising the schedule and assignments.

On Saturday afternoon, senior staff put their heads together and eventually decided to go ahead and do the internship even with four. I was at the base that night till 2:30am after Encounter service printing orientation papers and assembling intern binders.

The next morning, I got two texts about new interns who wanted to come to orientation! I quickly assembled binders for them, and at orientation, we had six Immerse interns!

The roller coaster wasn’t over, however. Since then, we’ve lost one, gained one, and gained-and-lost one. We had seven for a hot minute, but our total seems settled at six now.

We’re already in our second week of classes, and I will be teaching session two of Intro to the End Times tomorrow. Most of our classes are taught by a small band of staff on rotation, but the End Times class on Saturday is all mine to teach every week. I’m excited! Our interns are really great, and I’d so excited to get to know them better and watch them grow over the next 12 weeks.

New Rapid Fire Prayer Topic

At the end of every set, everyone in the room lines up at the mic to pray short “rapid fire” prayers on a certain topic, usually related to something happening within the ministry. Right now, our topic is:

For 100 new people to sign up for a weekly prayer meeting here at the base (we call this our Sacred Trust) in order to help us continue to contend for revival in DFW.

This is how we build and grow, by inviting people to commit to come pray with us at the same time each week for a two-hour prayer meeting. The name Sacred Trust reflects how seriously we take this time as priests before God. We’re especially asking for people who can serve in specific roles as worship leaders, prayer leaders, ushers and section leaders. Also, in order to properly grow, we REALLY need some more full- and part-time missionaries!

God, set watchmen on the walls here at The Prayer Room. Build Your house of prayer — bring us a hundred new people to join Sacred Trust!

Revive Texas Soft Launch & Other Updates

I’m a little late with getting this post out, but things have been super busy and exciting around here the past few weeks!

As I’ve shared beforeRevive Texas is an unprecedented movement of unity within the Church in DFW to put on 50 days of evangelism, with daily gatherings for prayer, worship, testimonies, fellowship, etc. The Prayer Room is serving as a central 24/7 prayer hub for these 50 days, and our director Brad Stroup has been working closely with Time to Revive‘s director Kyle Martin. This means that The Prayer Room is getting a HUGE spike in exposure as Brad has had numerous opportunities, in partnership with Time to Revive, to speak to congregations and leaders about our involvement with Revive Texas and what we do as a house of prayer. (Years ago, God gave TPR a clear prophetic word that we would one day be “launched to the region” and our influence would suddenly increase dramatically, and we’re starting to see how Revive Texas might be a big part of that word’s fulfillment!)

Since we’ve been praying for more church involvement, over 300 local churches are now on board with Revive Texas, including ALL of the host locations we needed! Praise the Lord!

Last Saturday, Time to Revive did a soft launch of what the 50 days of outreaches will look like. All ten of our regional host churches opened their doors early in the morning for a time of worship, encouragement, prayer, and training before 500+ believers hit the streets to share the gospel. This is the biggest movement of unity in the church of DFW for the sake of the gospel that has EVER happened. Words like “historic” and “unprecedented” are not exaggeration. And this was only the trial run! Once the 50 days starts, 500 is going to seem like a very small number. We’ll soon be gathering and going out by the thousands.

The Prayer Room had a very unique part to play on Saturday. Time to Revive asked Brad to lead the time of worship, encouragement, and prayer from our prayer room via live internet video streaming to all ten churches. This is a HUGE honour and responsibility. A few weeks ago, they donated thousands of dollars worth of cameras, lights, computers, and software to make streaming possible in our little prayer room. On Saturday’s live stream at 8am, a few worship leaders led a few familiar songs, Brad preached with 150% of his usual energy for about 15 minutes to the camera in an empty room, and then he talked the viewers through a few prayer topics and gave them time to gather in small groups to pray. The entire live stream took 45 minutes, and then at all ten of the locations people received a bit of further training and gathered in groups of 4 to hit the streets to share the gospel. This is going to be happening several days a week for the entire 50 days of Revive Texas.

You can watch the entire video at the link below. The first 30 minutes are set-up, so start around the 31 minute mark after the countdown.

Saturday morning devo/prayer for Revive Texas


Later that morning, while all 141 outreach teams were sharing the gospel all over DFW, some of the TPR staff gathered in the prayer room to pray through LIVE updates from the outreach as we received them. We were praying by name for people on the streets who were receiving prayer and hearing the gospel. Several of us felt that it was the most powerful and exciting prayer meeting we had ever been in! I had the privilege of leading worship for some of it while Luke and Lisa took turns praying through the live updates.

The stories we started hearing were incredible. One couple a team met in a parking lot said they were believers but got so excited hearing the gospel shared so clearly, and they were spontaneously convicted by the Holy Spirit of immorality and decided on the spot to get married. That’s revival. Teams shared the gospel with a father and son fishing, an entire Buddhist sports team, single moms out grocery shopping, and hundreds more. The night before the outreach, the Spanish translator at a church for the pre-launch rally got saved while translating!!

Here are some of the numbers Revive Texas reported in their recent email:

  • 549 people went out on Saturday morning throughout the 10 regions.
  • 141 teams went out to share the love of Jesus.
  • 37 people requested discipleship.
  • 12 people said YES to JESUS! 

Revive Texas made a video of the outreach that day. The video is 8 minutes long, but it’s SO worth it. Watching Kyle share the gospel in such a simple, biblical, relational way and watching people say YES to Jesus for the first time… that’s my favourite kind of thrill. Click HERE or on the picture below to see it on Revive Texas’ website.

We’re only at the beginning of hearing these testimonies. God is doing something huge in DFW, and I encourage you to pray with us for people to get involved and lives to be transformed.

One more thing: On Sunday night, Brad had the opportunity to be on an hour-long radio program for The Word 100.7 FM along with Kyle Martin talking about Revive Texas. I recorded the whole thing and you can click HERE to download and listen.

What I’m Praying: Lift Up Your Heads, O Gates

Continuing my semi-regular/whenever-I-get-around-to-it series on What I’m Praying: the past few weeks, I’ve been singing through Psalm 24:7-10. A couple of months ago I was praying this chapter from a different angle, focussing mostly on verse 1, “The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof,” and the reign of the King of glory in supersession of the kings of the earth, in conjunction with Psalm 2:6’s proclamation “I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” While I was singing that, a part of me kept getting distracted by this theme of opening the gates in Psalm 24:7-10.

Lift up your heads, O gates!

    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,

    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?

    The Lord, strong and mighty,

    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!

    And lift them up, O ancient doors,

    that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?

    The Lord of hosts,

    he is the King of glory!
(Psalm 24:7-10)

One of my favourite things about studying the Bible is getting a little bit familiar with the whole story so when I read a passage, my brain can automatically fill in imagery from other passages and I get a bigger picture of what’s happening. So when I read this passage, I immediately think of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem when He returns to earth and comes to claim His throne.

I’m not going to cite all the references for this, but here’s the scenario in my head: Jesus has come in the clouds at the 7th trumpet and “raptured” the saints, then marched through the land setting captives free (mostly unsaved Jews who were being persecuted by the antichrist) and releasing the final bowl judgments of Revelation 15-16. (Isaiah 63:1-6, Revelation 19:11-16, Habakkuk 3:3-16) He comes to the eastern gate of Jerusalem with an army of resurrected saints behind Him, at which point the remaining Jewish leaders in Jerusalem actually recognise who He is and welcome Him in as King. That’s the moment that Psalm 24 finds us in.

So as I’ve been singing this in my sets, I’ve been meditating on the glory of Jesus as the conquering King, and also on the prophecy that Israel WILL welcome Him as King.

Jesus Himself prophesied that He would not return to Jerusalem until its leaders recognised and welcomed Him. Every time I read it, I can feel the yearning in Jesus’ heart for His people to know Him:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
(Matthew 23:37-39)

This same longing in Jesus’ heart is so clear also in Zechariah:

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.
(Zechariah 2:10-12)

That phrase “and you shall know” gets me every time. “At last, you’ll believe. At last, you’ll accept Me.”

Later, Zechariah prophesies of the repentance that will grip Israel when they see Jesus on that Day:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
(Zechariah 12:10)

That Day when Israel–and specifically Jerusalem, the Holy City, the City of the Great King– finally, FINALLY accepts Him as their own Messiah is so near and dear to Jesus’ heart. Every time I sing these verses I feel my heart get so tender and I end up just prophesying over Jerusalem and praying for them to recieve their Messiah.

Jerusalem, open up your gates, and welcome your King! Who is this King of glory? Who is this warrior coming up with bloodstained garments? He is YHWH, your Messiah, the Son of David. Welcome Him as a firstborn son. Weep over the wounds in His hands and feet. He’s here to establish His kingdom and fulfill every promise. Invite Him in.

Jesus, thank You for Your faithfulness to all of Your promises. Come quickly and establish Your kingdom from Jerusalem. Save Your people Israel. Let them know You. Even now, would You bring many Jewish people to repentance. Remove the veil from their hearts and let them see You as You are– their King, their Messiah, their God. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, and do everything You want to do.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they [Israel] may be saved.
(Romans 10:1)

Rapid Fire Prayer Topic

At the end of every set, everyone in the room lines up at the mic to pray short “rapid fire” prayers on a certain topic, usually related to something happening within the ministry. Right now, our topic is:

For Revive Texas to get $290,000 to pay for all the volunteers’ meals during the 50 days of outreach.

Every day for 50 days, tens of thousands of believers across DFW are going to gather at ten host churches to get equipped and fellowship together, and from there they will go out to the streets to share the gospel. Revive Texas plans to feed everyone at these host locations every day, but they need financial breakthrough to make that happen. We’ve been praying that God would in a moment put it on someone’s heart to write a check for $290,000!

God, provide for Revive Texas. You’ve been so faithful to meet every need thus far– do it again! Break in and give us this $290,000 for the meals.

Awakening the Dawn at 5:00 am

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Every Saturday night after service as I’m getting into bed at about 11:00 pm, I set my alarm for 3:45 am. The goal is to be out the door by 4:25, backpack and tea (earl grey, hot) in hand. It takes me about five minutes to drive to my destination. I rarely see more than three or four cars on the road. The Starbucks I pass isn’t even open that early.

But I have a fire to start.

The Prayer Room is open 18 hours a day, 5:00 am to 11:00 pm, every day, no matter what. Literally. We’ve NEVER missed a day since we started 11 years ago, and only two or three times have we ever missed so much as a single minute.

Every Sunday I have the privilege of serving as the morning section leader and opening The Prayer Room at 5:00 am with (usually) two other people. Sometimes it’s just me and my worship leader. He always starts playing his guitar a minute or two before 5:00, so that when the clock shows those zeroes the fire is already on the altar. At 5:00, I pray an opening prayer over the room, which usually goes something like this:

“Good morning, Jesus. We love You. Thank You for another day we get to sing love songs to You for 18 hours straight. We ask that Your presence would fill this place today, that You would speak and move however You want… You are so, so worthy of all of this and more.”

And then I get to sit and pace and sing and pray in that room for the next six hours (I do spend a bit of that time in the lobby as I’m ushering) overseeing the fire on the altar until 11:00 when the afternoon section leader takes over.

5:00 am prayer meeting this morning

5:00 am prayer meeting this morning

I am very much not a morning person. When I have no schedule at all, I’m likely to be awake 10:00 am to 2:00 am every day. I knew this section leader assignment was going to be a stretch for me. But even though it’s dang early, there’s something really, really precious about giving God the sacrifice of love songs at dawn.

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Psalm 5:3

I believe dawn is a really special time to God. Even though nightime is also beautiful and holy, there’s something truly remarkable about the freshness of a new day.

The light breaking over the horizon, chasing away the shadows.

The fragrance of dew on the grass.

The quietness of a world just waking up.

His mercies are new every morning. (Lam 3:22-23)

Scripture likes to use the image of dawn to describe Jesus’ return. Revelation twice calls Jesus the “Morning Star”. (Rev 2:28, 22:16) The same phrase is in 2 Peter 1:19, where Peter instructs the church to stay faithful to the prophecies of Scripture “until the day dawns and the morning star shines in your hearts.” The Old Testament, too, is filled with prophecies of God delivering Jerusalem and filling her with the light of His glory at dawn. (Psalm 46:5, Isaiah 58:8, Isaiah 60:1)

Will Jesus literally appear in the sky one day just as the sun peeks over the Mount of Olives on the eastern horizon in Jerusalem? I don’t know… but knowing His penchant for fulfilling things more literally than we expect, maybe! At the very least, it’s going to be the darkest hour of human history, and Jesus’ sudden return to make all things new will feel very much like morning light breaking through the black of night.

And in the midst of these prophecies, we have prophecies of songs of worship breaking out with the dawn. In the midst of a dramatic prophecy of end-time judgment on the whole earth, Isaiah prophesies:

Therefore glorify the Lord in the dawning light…
From the ends of the earth we have heard songs:
“Glory to the righteous!”
Isaiah 24:15-16a NKJV

And to bring it full circle, we come back to Psalm 57:8 (and identical phrasing in Psalm 108:2):

Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8

When I think of my 5:00 am prayer meetings, I think of the preciousness of giving Jesus that morning offering of love, that He is being glorified at the very beginning of the day. But I also think of the big picture of “awakening the dawn” of His appearing. Our worship is actually paving the way for His coming. 2 Peter 2:12 says we can “hasten the coming of the day” of His return, and every sleepy little 5:00 am prayer is filling up the bowls of incense before His throne. One day, the prayers of the Bride will reach a crescendo, and everything will be in place for Him to split the sky and stand on earth again.

There will come a day when the dawn will break over the horizon; just when it looks like things couldn’t get darker, the Morning Star will appear to make all things new.

As Aslan himself says it,

“The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
(C. S. Lewis, “The Last Battle.”)

Come, Lord Jesus.

 

What I’m Praying: Psalm 37

I’d like to kick off a regular series on my blog called What I’m Praying. I spend 30 hours a week in the prayer room, and most of the daily testimonies I’m experiencing are prayer-related. I want to bring you into the journey of what God is speaking to me and putting on my heart to speak back to Him, as well as the intercessory burdens that we’re carrying corporately as a ministry.

This week, I’ve often been singing through Psalm 37:4-6 when I lead my devotional worship sets.

.     Delight yourself in the Lord,
.          and he will give you the desires of your heart.
.     Commit your way to the Lord;
.          trust in him, and he will act.
.     He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
.          and your justice as the noonday.

The context of this passage is basically the frustration of the righteous living in a generation of the wicked, and the psalmist’s encouragement to trust in God because He will one day turn the tables and set everything right. There’s a lot to be said eschatologically about promises like “The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever” (v 29) when the wicked are permanently cut off (both ideas are repeated several times in this one passage), but for the purpose of my devos I’ve been singing these verses with a much more personal application.

God, I choose to delight myself in You. I choose to make You my joy. You are my greatest treasure and highest pleasure. I intentionally turn my gaze and choose to rejoice in You and simply enjoy You.

I believe You will fulfill the desires of my heart that You’ve placed in me. If You’ve put them there, You care about them even more than I do. You are always faithful to Your promises, no matter how long it takes.

I commit my way to You; I acknowledge You in all my ways. (Prov 3:6) I surrender the right to control my own life. I want You to direct my steps. I trust that You will act. Your plans and Your timing are always work out better than me trying to make things happen on my own, anyway.

As I wait, as I stay in the tension of trusting You even when I can’t see what You’re doing, You’re making my righteousness shine. You’re making me look like You. Even as Jerusalem’s righteousness will one day shine with Your glory, (Is 62:1) You are literally preparing me for an eternal weight of glory (2 Cor 4:17) in a resurrected body that will shine like the stars to one degree or another depending on how I live in this age. (Dan 12:3, Matt 13:43, 1 Cor 15:35-49) Every little moment by moment choice I make to trust You and delight myself in You will be rewarded, and I will shine.

Rapid Fire Prayer Topic

At the end of every set, everyone in the room lines up at the mic to pray short “rapid fire” prayers on a certain topic, usually related to something happening within the ministry. Right now, our topic is:

For the Lord to move on people’s hearts to join Sacred Trust and that it would grow back to 100 before Revive Texas.

Our Sacred Trust is the commitment that people make to join at least one two-hour prayer meeting a week. We’re asking God that more people would make such a commitment, so that when we’re doing 24/7 prayer and worship for the 50 days of Revive Texas, we would have enough people to sustain that schedule. We currently have just over 75 people on the Sacred Trust, so we’re praying for at least around 25 more over the next few months!

God, bring people who would commit to pray with us weekly! Put the vision for 24/7 prayer on many hearts and strengthen Your house of prayer.

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