DEHYDRATION - RUNNING DRY
Part two of Part One
by Devon Blackwood
When we talk about spiritual dehydration we are really talking
about dying in the spirit. And when the spirit man lags behind,
the enemy soon poisons him with worldly gratification. He begins
to expose himself to the enemy's ploys and plans, and that is why
fasting, prayer and meditation are essential ingredients in the
race of life. Without these essentials, the Christian finds that
his mission is not accomplished. Pretty soon, he is too apathetic
to achieve his inheritance. He gets tired along the way and gives
up the race. The key concepts of an effective prayer life must
not be overlooked. Practice these foundational principles.
Pray always. Jesus told his disciples that they must always pray
and Paul instructed the saints in Thessalonica to "pray without
ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17).
Don't try to impress. We don't need to catch God's attention by
sounding smart or cool. God already knows what people think and
feel so He cannot be manipulated Prayers should be genuine and
sincere, coming deeply from the heart.
As we communicate more and more with the living God, our desires
will line up more and more with His will. He will not only grant
us the desires of our heart, but He will place desires in our
heart that He delights in fulfilling.
When we pray in faith, it is God's desire that we receive
everything we ask for, but we must ask in confidence and not
waver or doubt. We must be fully persuaded that the Master has
just what we need in store.
Give Him your undivided attention
When we share secrets or something intimate with a close friend,
we don't shout it out in public. We reveal it in a private or
secluded setting to avoid violating ourselves. When we take time
to pray, it is time for God and we are saying, "God, we desire
your undivided attention." In doing so, we must recognize that
God deserves the courtesy of having our undivided attention too.
Remember, if we expect His response, the setting and our mindset
must also be right.
You might have heard the phrase "Practice makes perfect." Prayer
isn't any different. Think about how you've grown and matured in
the Word. Remember the first testimony you gave, the very first
time you witnessed, or the first time you were called upon to
pray at a church meeting or service? Were you a little anxious or
unsure of yourself? As you pray more and more in your daily life,
you start to become more comfortable and you find yourself
growing. You go on to be a prayer warrior and an intercessor for
others. Reject the notion that only people with prayer gifts can
Avoid prayer sermons
Prayer is communicating with God, an expression of your heart,
supplication to God in times of hurt, gratitude in times of joy,
and the search for direction and guidance. It is also a vehicle
through which God's voice is heard through His Spirit. When we
begin to preach and use vain repetitions in our prayers, it's a
turnoff to God. He already knows the words. He is the Word! He
wants to hear your heart.
An effective prayer life consists of worship and adoration for
God's goodness. Glorifying God and giving Him praise opens the
doer to greater blessings. But don't just praise Him when things
are going well. Develop the habit of praising Him even in the
midst of pain.
Get prayer support
Don't attempt to do everything alone. When you feel weak,
frustrated, or hurt. ask a trustworthy friend to help you and to
pray for you. Even the strongest prayer warriors feel weak at
times. You need the prayer of caring people to carry you through
rough times. Having an identified prayer partner will also help
you develop a regular prayer life and develop discipline and
confidence. That way you won't focus solely on your own needs but
will find the time to focus on the needs of others.
You can tell someone who has grown up in church. He punctuates
every sentence of his prayers with "Lord" and he prays in
"justs": "Lord, we just ask you...," "Lord, we just want to
praise You...." Christian cliches are notorious for popping up
suddenly and before you know it, you are saying them too. If that
is how you are comfortable praying, that's fine. But never let
prayer become a series of things you've heard other people say.
Just pray to God from your own heart with your own understanding.
Just because God hasn't spoken to you concerning a particular
situation, don't be discouraged. He knows your thoughts and fully
understands the desires of your heart. There are situations in
all our lives that the good Lord might not reveal fully or make
clear to us for reasons He chooses to keep. Unanswered prayers do
not mean that God has a disdain for you, that He is punishing you
for shortcomings, or that your life is not a channel of blessing.
Prayer is essential to victorious living. We can see how Jesus
used prayer in every possible scenario during His ministry here
on earth. In Matthew, Jesus conveyed to His disciples the
sanctity of prayer and gave a very practical example for them to
follow when He taught them the Lord's Prayer.
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed
be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it
is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us
our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into
temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the
kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV
Knowing that Jesus took specific time out to teach His disciples
to pray reminds us how important prayer is. It is an activity
that believers cannot survive without, for it guides us in
Spirit-filled living; victory over sin and shame; power over
temptations and lust; growth in faith, patience, and discernment;
destruction of strongholds; and construction of strong defenses
against those that make war on our soul. It is prayer that
revives us when we are weak and frail and gives us hope when we
are in doubt. It heals us when we hurt.
With all the hustles and bustles of daily obligations in today's
world, it is so easy to neglect our prayer life. We may try to
convince ourselves that humming a praise song on the way into
work or merely listening to songs on the family radio will do the
trick, have it serve as a substitution for real relationship, but
it won't pay off like that. Clearly, we must make a commitment to
true communication with God. No relationship is developed
overnight. Couples with successful relationships will confirm
that talking things out and taking a proactive approach to
building healthy communication is critical. Relationship can
never be founded on physical attractiveness or sex appeal. It is
based on communication.
Scripture gives us keys to the kind of prayer that connects us to
God, taking us into His very presence.
Prayer comforts us and lifts us up
Jesus faced despondent times, and He always faced them with
prayer. The night when Jesus came to Gethsemane, knowing He was
about to be betrayed, He sought solace in prayer. It didn't
matter how much "Spirit" Jesus had in Him; He was still flesh and
blood like we are. He had the same emotions and strain and
evidently had some symptoms of fear and anxiety. It must have
been very discouraging for Him when He could not find a person to
hold up His spirit, to stay up and share His grief.
Sometimes when we are hurting, no one knows the weight of our
burden. Even our best friends might not understand what we are
going through. They try to comfort us with words like, "You'll be
all right," but they do not comprehend the hurt that eats us
quietly inside. In the midst of uncertainty, conflicts, and
chaos, we seek solace where Jesus did. Prayer offers guidance and
consolation in our times of greatest need.
Prayer is the key that comforts the heart and it gives renewed
strength to endure the challenge ahead of us.
Prayer keeps us immunized from Satan's destructive plans
In Eden, the beautiful and pure sanctuary God prepared for them,
Adam and Eve took their eyes off the prize and opened their
imaginations to the enemy. They were tricked by the deceiver who
did just that: found a way to deceive them. After the deception
came rejection and separation from their creator, God.
A strong Christian must be especially careful. Pride can tempt us
to think that we are out of reach of Satan's devices. But a solid
walk with God is no guarantee; after all, Adam and his wife, in
their state of sin-free living, fell from grace. The devil knows
where our weaknesses lie and he uses even gifts from the Almighty
God to work against us. Our very senses-sight, hearing, taste-can
be turned against us. Beware! The devil often hits us from an
angle where we least expect it. He comes in a very subtle manner
and eases himself cunningly into our lives. When the devil
entered into Judas' heart to betray Jesus, Judas had just sat
with the Lord hours before. And that's what the devil does
sometimes. He sits patiently at our table waiting to strike.
But the devil doesn't have to win. When Jesus came back from
fasting for forty days and forty nights, He was all prayed up.
When Satan tempted Him, he couldn't succeed because Jesus was
ready. In John 17, Jesus prays for His disciples that His Father
would keep them in the world, free from trouble and sin. Prayer
immunizes us from sin, and keeps the enemy from achieving
Prayer brings healing and rejuvenation
Whether it is freeing us of wrongs, resentments, or an offense by
another person, prayer plays a major part in healing and
restoration. Since we live in a world that is imperfect and
because we form bonds and interpersonal relations with humans, we
should expect some degree of betrayal or hurt. We cannot expect
to be totally hurt free. However, we must heal if we expect to go
on to a deeper relationship in Christ, for our connection with
Him will become artificial if we internalize grudges. Hurt is
notorious for eating away at us and pretty soon we become
consumed and vindictive to the point where hate and revenge sets
in. We become apathetic and unmotivated to move forward and our
love for God fades. To break this unfruitful cycle, fervent and
sincere prayer helps. It allows us to seek God's counsel and
comfort in hurtful times.
Job, a devout man of God who lost all his material possessions,
praised God and found new strength. His spirit was renewed as he
pur posely chose not to focus on his misfortunes or their cause,
but to focus his attention on God who provided him with these
goods in the first place. Job recognized that the same God who
gives, is the one who takes away.
Prayer is a call to glory (direct contact with God)
Is there a person in your circle who is said to be
"non-communicative"? Someone who speaks very little, or perhaps
doesn't communicate at all with people around him? It might not
mean that his communication with God is stagnant. He might be the
quietest person in the corner but as strong as a lion in prayer
life. These quiet prayer warriors are filled with power from on
high and they live their lives being a channel of blessing to
those who know them.
Perhaps the most gratifying concept when we pray is that we are
completely free to say what we want to say and to express our
thoughts and feelings. We are sure that God won't condemn us but
waits patiently to hear us, and He always listens. But if God
does not talk with you and you with Him, you become a missing
link, and you will miss the glory.
Prayer helps us to mature
When a seed is first tucked in place in a garden bed or
flowerpot, it will need water, moist soil, sunlight, and the
right environment in which to thrive. Soon the little seed will
spread roots in all directions, sprouting in strength and
maturity. So it is when Christians grow. We need prayer as a core
ingredient to avoid stagnation and withering away. A good prayer
life promotes self-control and self-discipline. Effective prayer
can produce character that is admirable and patterned after the
Effective prayer involves sacrifice
It is a notable thing, when we look back at history, to discover
that persecution has always strengthened the Church. Certainly,
the number of those who call themselves Christians may grow
fastest when there is no danger in confessing Christ, but the
Church is stronger overall when every member would willingly die
rather than deny his or her Lord. Most Christians in our modern
world face only mild inconveniences: loss of popularity, or
promotions, or possibly jobs. They have not had to lay down their
lives. They hardly even have to skip a meal. For some,
"sacrifice" involves giving ten or fifteen minutes a day to the
Lord in prayer and devotions, and others can't find time to meet
with Him at all.
Christians in other lands and other centuries have faced far
worse, and given far more, and their faith has been tested and
has grown as a result. But how can we experience that kind of
growth? The secret is choosing to remember that every breath we
take, every movement we make, every morsel of food or water we
consume, is all His. When we submit them to Him in prayer, we are
less consumed by the world, less bound by our flesh, and much
more open to His Voice.
Read the completion of Dehydration-Running Dry in
Dehydration-Running Dry Part Two-in our next issue.
To be continued
Taken from "Acts" magazine - April 2010 - a publication of the
General Council of the Churches of God, Seventh Day, Meridian,
Devon A. Blackwood is the author of the eagerly anticipated new
Christian guide "Planted By Water" (Cold Tree Press). He has
counseled in the Psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins Hospital
and is President & CEO of B.W. Affiliates LLC a mental health and
consulting firm. Mr. Blackwood earned a psychology degree from
the University of Baltimore and is currently writing his third
book "The 9 Minute Marriage." Both "Planted By Water" (2006) and
his first book - "Beyond The Lingo: Working Through Recovery
Concepts (A Guide For Addicted Persons & Their Families)"
published in 2004 by Cold Tree Press - are available through
major bookstores and online book retailers including
"Planted by Water" explores the often over-looked lessons from
Psalm I. People who are continually nourished by the Word and the
Holy Spirit remain fresh in their relationship with God, bear
wonderful fruit, and learn how to prosper spiritually through
good times and bad alike. When God called us to new life in Him,
He never meant for us to wither and fade. But it happens all too
often. The new Christian may get casual and careless. The more
seasoned Christian may get stale and stagnant. We are called to
something greater' We are meant for a relationship brimming with
freshness and life. If we are drying up, we need water... and the
sooner, the better.
All Scriptures are from the New King James Version.