Following Jesus
Back Home Up Next


XI. What It Means to Follow the Lord

It was the spring of 1981. I was a young mother at home with four children, the youngest just barely a year old. That morning I was cleaning up the kitchen when I felt an urgency in my spirit to pray. Something was wrong. I couldn’t understand it, so I just pushed it aside and went on with my tasks. Finally after several more minutes I knew I couldn’t wait. I went to my bedroom, closed the door and kneeled to pray.

I had been praying just a few minutes when I knew I was praying for President Ronald Reagan. I kept on praying. Whatever it was, it was urgent. Prayer was needed, now. The phone in my bedroom rang. I hesitated to answer, but felt I should. It was my husband. “I just wanted you to know that the President has just been shot,” he said.

Years later, I wondered whether if I had been more obedient and prayed sooner, would that horrible shooting have been avoided altogether? Of course we can’t think that we are the only ones who could make a difference. Doesn’t God have other children? And yet, when it comes to prayer, I’ve found that we should pray as if we are the only ones who could make a difference. Because sometimes we may be, as incredible as that seems.

In 1989, my husband and I were on a plane about to land in Houston. Suddenly, I had an urgency to pray. I knew--finally--what that urgency meant, and I had learned not to put it off. I told my husband, "We need to pray--now!” We held hands and began quietly but earnestly to seek the Lord. The plane was already approaching the runway. It touched down slightly and then suddenly ascended again, doing a “touch and go.” “Sorry about that,” the pilot explained a few minutes later. He then went on to tell us that as we were landing, he suddenly saw a small aircraft heading on a collision course toward us. He had averted a tragedy by taking the plane up immediately.

Here is another example. On Saturday, June 2nd, 2007, I was running errands, and just pulling out of the garage to go to the hardware store. Suddenly I knew I needed to pray for my family. I didn’t know who in my family, I just knew I needed to pray. So I prayed, just as I’ve taught on this thread, asking for the blood of Jesus to cover all of us, and breaking curses against us.

A few hours later we got a call from a hospital that my daughter, her husband and three small children had been in a terrible car accident. A large SUV going 70 mph had broadsided the passenger side of their little Ford Focus, totaling their car completely.

My daughter was hurt. She had three broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung, a lacerated liver, and her pelvis was fractured in three places. My daughter’s husband had a broken rib. The four-year-old lost two baby teeth. Her two-month old baby and two-year old were completely unharmed.

Here is the miracle: they shouldn’t have lived at all. They were crossing an Interstate on a stretch of highway that has a reputation for being incredibly dangerous. They were broadsided, and their car was slammed sideways more than 30 feet. Yet they are still alive. My daughter did not need surgery. There is no head injury or spinal injury. She will be well again.

It had to be God. It could have only been God. God intervened.

What does it mean to follow the Lord? It means obeying Him, and obeying Him instantly. This is hard sometimes! I remember the Lord admonishing me one time, telling me that when I know that it is God who is speaking to me, obedience means obeying Him without hesitating, without questioning, and without looking back.

It is important to know that it is God who is speaking to you. Remember the earlier notes in this series, every word must be tested. But if the tests are met, including the tests of consistency with the Word of God and with His character, peace, and an inner witness, and one knows God is speaking, then obey--without hesitating, without questioning, and without looking back.

Sometimes this doesn’t make sense! But should God always say something that makes sense? Aren’t there are many incidences in the Bible where something didn’t make sense?

For example, Abraham was told to leave his father’s house and his land, and go to a place he had never heard of before. Did this make sense? It didn’t, yet he went. Gen. 12:1, 4.

And consider Moses. He and Jacob’s descendants had left Egypt, only to be pursued by Pharaoh’s army. Did it make sense when he was told to lift his rod over the sea and divide it? He held that rod over the sea through the night. The next day, the children of Israel crossed over on dry ground. Pharaoh’s army was beleaguered by the same sea bottom, and ultimately drowned in a sea that had been held for Israel by the Lord as a wall, “on their right hand, and on their left,” Exodus 14:5-31.

Joash in 2 Kings 13:14-19 was King of Israel, and had come to visit Elisha as he lay dying. When the king remonstrated his concern for Israel, Elisha told Joash to take a bow and some arrows, first shoot an arrow, and then take the arrows and strike the ground. Joash shot, then struck the ground with arrows three times and stopped. Elisha was angry. “You must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them,” he had told Joash. When Joash only struck three times, Elisha went on, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it!” Does any of this make sense? But Elisha was right, and that example still teaches us today to pray until we know that something is done.

In 1 Kings 17:9-16, Elijah was sent during a terrible famine to a widow of Zarephath, a Gentile. She said she didn’t have much in the house, but a bit of flour and oil which she was going to prepare for herself and her son, and then die. Don’t be afraid, Elijah told her, but prepare it and bring me a cake first, and then prepare some for your son and yourself. The widow did as she was asked, even though that bit of flour and oil was all she had. But after that, the bin of flour was not used up, and the jar of oil did not run dry until there was rain again. Today we read that passage and see God’s goodness to that widow and her son, for they did not die. But would we be able to do the same thing--to give to God all we have first, and trust Him with our lives?

Naaman, a commander of the army of the king of Syria, almost missed his miracle completely, because what he was asked to do didn’t make sense. He had leprosy, and he had been told by Elisha to go wash in the Jordan seven times, 2 Kings 5:1-14. But Naaman was furious, first of all, that the prophet had not come out to greet him himself, and second, that the man of God had not done the miracle as he, Commander Naaman, thought it should be done, with a little hand waving. Why bathe in the Jordan? Weren’t the rivers of Damascus so much better? Naaman’s servants saved him when they reasoned with him, wouldn’t he have obeyed if he had been told to do something great? Washing in the Jordan was such a little thing. So Naaman washed, and was healed.

The children of Israel at Jericho, Joshua 6:1-21, were told to circle the city one time each day for six days. The seventh day, they were to circle it seven times, and then shout. Until then, they were told to hold their peace, with the only sound coming from the trumpets. So they obeyed. And Jericho’s walls, I believe, were not pushed over, but pushed down, for Rahab and her family were in a house on top of the wall, and they were not harmed, and Scripture says that each man went “straight before him” into the city, v. 20. Again, another amazing miracle that came to pass after obeying God, even though what God told them to do did not make sense.

What can we learn from these examples? Obey God! When you know that God is speaking to you, when you have tested that word against Scripture, considered it in light of His character, when you have an inner peace, and a witness in your spirit that this is God, then obey Him. Sometimes God will ask you to things that don’t make sense. If you know you are being prompted by Him, obey anyway.

The principle: Follow the Lord. Obey Him. Pray what He asks you to pray. Do what He asks you to do.

The leading of the Lord in prayer can be incredible! More to the point, the results can be astounding (e.g., Naaman the leper). While the Lord may not ask us to use literal arrows or a spear, more than likely He will ask us to use the Word of God--the sword of the Spirit. We have not seen Jericho go down with our own eyes--but God may give us a vision and the faith to believe the demise of an even greater stronghold than Jericho. We may not believe we have all the supply we need for an endeavor--but God can give us the faith and the detailed direction to obtain and maintain that supply. Even when our faith seems to fail, He can help our cruise--our spirit--never run out. He is. He can direct us in prayer just as surely as He did Moses when that man of God raised his rod and saw the sea parted. The important point is not to make the mistake that Naaman almost did. We must humble ourselves and be willing to listen.

Jesus said it so well when He told us, “Follow Me,” John 12:26. This, I have found, is key to effective prayer. If we are willing to ask God how to pray, we will pray more effectively.

The most powerful intercession I know of does not start with man, but God. Listen to Him. Follow Him. Pray as He asks you to pray.

Be blessed!

Diana Clancy
Copyright November 2007