Prayer Energized by Intimacy with God

CALLED TO ENCOUNTER INTIMACY WITH GOD

The Spirit is calling the Church into deep intimacy with God. My early ministry was focused only on evangelism. I had no theology for praying for revival or for focusing on intimacy with God. In May 1983, during a corporate 21-day fast, the Lord spoke audibly in the context of Psalm 27:4, saying: “I will release 24-hour prayer in the spirit of the tabernacle of David.”

4 One thing I have desired of the LORD…that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. (Ps. 27:4)

In July 1988 while I was reading Song 8:6, Bob Jones called to tell me that the Lord had spoken audibly to Him, promising to release grace across the Body of Christ worldwide to walk in Song 8:6-7 and that I was to focus on this theme throughout my ministry. Jesus putting a “seal of fire” on our hearts speaks of progressively receiving grace to experience more of the love of God.

6 Set Me [Jesus] as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, [God’s] jealousy as cruel [demanding] as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. 7 Many waters [sins, pressures] cannot quench love… (Song 8:6-7)

3.Royal seal: A wax seal stamped by a king’s signet ring was placed on important documents in the ancient world to protect them. The royal seal was protected by all the king’s resources.

Physical death is strong or comprehensive. Nothing in the natural realm escapes its power. God’s love in us is as strong or as comprehensive as death. Nothing in our life evades its power. God’s jealous love will not allow any areas of compromise to escape its grasp. God’s love poured in our hearts, when continually yielded to, is more powerful than the flood of temptation.

5 The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit… (Rom. 5:5)

Water always puts out fire, unless it is God’s supernatural fire. The enemy will send the floods of persecution, temptation, disappointment, and pain to put this fire out (Rev. 12:15; Isa. 43:1-2).

We set, or put, Jesus on our heart simply by asking Him to touch our heart with His presence. To set Him on our heart is to call on Him to impart more grace to touch our mind and emotions.

14 Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh… (Rom. 13:14)

Prayer, fasting, meditation on the Word position our heart before God to freely receive.

The Song is an 8-chapter love song. It is interpreted two ways:

1) Natural interpretation: describes the relationship between King Solomon and his bride, the Shulamite. It emphasizes biblical principles that honor the beauty of married love.

2)Spiritual interpretation: the relationship between King Solomon and his bride symbolizes the spiritual truths in the relationship between King Jesus and His Church. Marriage will cease but the Scripture (including the Song) remains forever (Mt. 22:30).

THE END-TIME CHURCH WITH A BRIDAL IDENTIFY

The end-time Church will be in deep unity with the Holy Spirit in saying and doing what the Spirit is saying and doing. What is the Spirit doing? He is interceding for Jesus to come in power. What is the Spirit saying? He is revealing the Church’s bridal identity as Jesus’ Bride.

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” (Rev. 22:17)

Rev. 22:17 prophesies about the function of the end-time Church as 1) anointed with the Spirit, 2) engaged in intercession, 3) established in our bridal identity, and 4) effective in the harvest.

The threefold prayer of the end-time Church for Jesus to come:

1.Come NEAR US in intimacy (individual breakthrough of my heart in God)
2.Come TO US in revival (regional or national breakthrough of the Spirit in revival)
3.Come FOR US in the sky (historical breakthrough by the second coming of Jesus)

The Bridegroom message is a call to intimacy with God. It is an invitation to experience the deep things of His heart (emotions, affections). We are not to see Jesus as our lover/boyfriend.
10The Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God…12 we have received…the Spirit…that we might know [experience] the things freely given… (1 Cor. 2:10-12)

As sons of God, we are in the position to experience God’s throne as heirs of His power (Rev. 3:21; Rom. 8:17). As the Bride, we are in the position to experience God’s heart (emotions for us). Both describe our position of privilege before God. Foundational to understanding the Bridegroom message is the fatherhood of God message.

Most Christian women do not struggle with the idea of being sons of God because they do not see it as a call to be less feminine. However, men often struggle with being the Bride of Christ because they wrongly conclude that it is a call to become less masculine. Experiencing the reality of the Bride of Christ message does not undermine one’s masculinity, but strengthens it.

Some of the greatest men of God experienced the essential reality of the bridal message.

King David was Israel’s greatest warrior king, yet he was a lovesick worshiper. John the apostle was called the Son of Thunder and he described himself five times as the one whom Jesus loved (Jn. 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). John the Baptist was a prophet whom Jesus called the “greatest man” (Mt. 11:11). He understood Jesus as the Bridegroom God (Jn. 3:29).

The Bridegroom message includes the revelation of Jesus’ emotions for us as a Bridegroom God. Jesus the Bridegroom is filled with tender mercy. He is gentle with our weakness. Some confuse rebellion and immaturity. God is angry at rebellion, but He is tender towards sincere immature believers who seek to obey Him. He enjoys us even in our weakness (Ps. 18:19, 35; 130:3-4).

Jesus the Bridegroom has a heart of gladness (happy heart). Jesus had more gladness than any man in history (Heb. 1:9). Most of church history has viewed God as mostly mad or mostly sad when He relates to us. Jesus the Bridegroom has fiery affections, or has burning desire, for us. The Church will be cleansed by experiencing the cherishing heart of Jesus (Eph. 5:26-29). To understand Jesus as a passionate Bridegroom is to soon see ourselves as a cherished Bride.

The Church sings the love songs of God’s heart back to Him. The war cry of the Church’s intercession will come forth from love songs the Spirit will give us.

In November 1995, I had a prophetic dream exhorting me to call God’s people “Hephzibah.”

4 You shall be called Hephzibah…for the LORD delights in you…5 For as the bridegroom rejoices [enjoys] over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. 6 I have set watchmen on your walls…they shall never hold their peace [be silent, NAS] day or night…7 give Him no rest till He establishes…Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isa. 62:4-7)

The “Hephzibah message” is that God delights in us and rejoices over us as a Bridegroom rejoices over a bride. It is the same as the Song of Solomon message. For years, I prayed for revival without experiencing the “Hephzibah” message. One reason that intercessors get burned out is the lack of encountering Jesus during the years of waiting for the breakthrough of revival. The bridal revelation of Isaiah 62:4-5 is essential to sustaining the 24/7 prayer of Isaiah 62:6-7.

CULTIVATING THE OIL OF INTIMACY WITH JESUS (MT. 25:1-13)

In Mt. 24-25, Jesus taught on the end times (Mt. 24:3-44) then applied it in 3 parables to those He called to leadership (Mt. 24:45- 25:30) before describing His final judgment (Mt. 25:31-46). These two chapters are “one teaching” that is focused on preparing leaders for the end times.

Jesus highlights these three aspects of His ministry in Mt. 24-25 as Bridegroom, King, and Judge. In the end times the Spirit will emphasize these three aspects of His personality (Mt. 24-25, Rev. 19; Isa. 61-63; Ps. 45). As Bridegroom, we encounter His desire for us, as King, we encounter His power, and as Judge, His zeal to remove all that hinders love. There is no contradiction between Jesus as Bridegroom and Judge. His love is expressed by His judgments that confront and remove the oppressors who hate His leadership and His people.

Jesus’ main exhortation to be prepared for the end times is by watching or developing a heart connection with the Spirit. (Mt. 24:36, 42-44, 50; 25:13; Mk. 13:33-38; Lk 21:36; Rev. 16:15).

13 Watch…for you know neither the day nor hour…the Son of Man is coming. (Mt. 25:13)

Ten times we are exhorted to watch and pray, related to the end times (Mt. 24:42; 25:13; Mk. 13:9, 33, 34, 35, 37; Lk. 21:36; 1 Thes. 5:6; Rev. 16:15). To watch is to position ourselves to receive the Spirit’s strength to love God and people. It is the place we are empowered to obey Jesus and impact people and society. I compare it to taking time to put fuel in our car instead of pushing it. It is presumptuous to seek to walk in love without being connected to the Spirit.

KINGDOM LEADERSHIP AT THE END OF THE AGE: DEFINING WISE LEADERSHIP

1 Then the Kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the Bridegroom. 2 Five of them were wise, and five were foolish. (Mt. 25:1-2)

Virgins: All believers are as virgins before God because of Jesus’ righteousness (2 Cor. 5:17).

2I betrothed you to one husband…I present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (2 Cor. 11:2)

Lamp: Each of these virgins had a lamp that speaks of a ministry that brought God’s light to others (Mt. 5:15-16; Rev. 1:20; 2:5; 11:3-6; Zech. 4:2; Is. 62:1; Jn. 5:35).

Bridegroom: All these ministries had revelation of Jesus as the Bridegroom God. These are ministries who went out to meet, or who encountered, Jesus as the Bridegroom God.

Then: We ask, “When is then?” The word “then” points back to the end-of-the-age theme just emphasized in Mt. 24. This is when the kingdom functions like virgins meeting the Bridegroom.

FIVE WISE VIRGINS: ACQUIRED OIL AS THEIR MINISTRY LAMPS SHINED

2 Five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. (Mt. 25:2-4)

The “oil” speaks of the presence of the Spirit tenderizing our heart as we spend time with God (2 Cor 1:21; 1 Jn. 2:20, 27). The oil of the Holy Spirit touches our hearts in different ways.

The foolish took their lamps (ministry), but took no oil. In other words, they pursued ministry as their first priority over getting oil in their relationship with Jesus.

The wise ministries took oil in their vessels with their lamps. In other words, they pursued acquiring oil as their first priority before seeking to expand and network their ministry. Our relationship with Jesus is our most important “dream,” not our ministry assignment. The two witnesses are “sons of oil” (Zech 4:14).

The foolish ministries recognize their mistake in neglecting oil. Many “ministry lamps” will go out because they will lack the spiritual vitality of the Spirit’s oil. The wise understand their limitation knowing that spiritual preparedness is not transferrable.
8The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” 9 The wise answered, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” (Mt. 25:8-9)

Jesus exhorts us to “buy oil” or to engage in the God-ordained process of acquiring intimacy with God. We do not earn this, but invest ourselves in a costly way to receive it.

18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich… (Rev. 3:18)

BEING PREPARED FOR THE NEXT WAVE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

10 While they went to buy, the Bridegroom came [progressive seasons of revival], and those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding; and the door [of opportunity for usefulness] was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” 12 He answered, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” (Mt. 25:10-12)

This passage is not a warning about losing salvation. Jesus did not know (recognize) them as those who engaged with Him as the Bridegroom. “I do not know you,” describes their lack of intimacy with Jesus, not their lack of salvation. He does not call them evil (Mt. 24:48); wicked and lazy, or cursed (Mt. 25:26, 41); nor does He say He never knew them (Mt. 7:23).

23 I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me…!” (Mt. 7:23)

The ancient Jewish custom of that day involved celebrating a wedding over the course of several nights (ideally seven nights, for a wealthy family). Those who were closest to the couple to be married were invited on the first night and subsequently each of the following nights.

As the Jewish wedding celebration continued for seven days with each evening highlighting something different, so God is releasing different “waves of the Spirit” that are building up to the fullness of the end-time revival, culminating at the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9).

Only those who were ready by being close to the Bridegroom went in to the celebration. This speaks of those who will be prepared to be powerfully used by God in the end-time revival.

Only those who were ready went in to celebrate on the first night and, therefore, the nights that followed. The others cried out, “Open to us!’ – give us a place of usefulness in end-time revival.

Jesus’ advice is to watch, or to open our heart to develop intimacy with Him as the Bridegroom. Many will miss future opportunities to be used in their fullest way.

13 Watch…for you know neither the day nor hour…the Son of Man is coming. (Mt. 25:13)

In this parable, Jesus’ warning is that the wise can become foolish if they neglect to continue to cultivate intimacy with Jesus by going out to meet the Bridegroom (Mt. 25:1) Jesus

The most substantial way to acquire oil is by regularly feeding on God’s Word. This positions our heart before God to freely receive. These activities do not earn us God’s favor.




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