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
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.
Copyright November 2007