Ponderings From  My Heart

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wolves Among Us

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wolves Among Us
David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)
Ginger Garrett


Ginger Garrett is the author of the Chronicles of the Scribes series (In the Shadow of Lions, In the Arms of Immortals, In the Eyes of Eternity), Dark Hour, and Beauty Secrets of the Bible. Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA.

Focusing on ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. A frequent media guest and television host, Ginger has been interviewed by Fox News, Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, The Harvest Show, 104.7 The Fish Atlanta, and many other outlets.

A graduate of Southern Methodist University with a degree in Theater, she is passionate about creating art from history. Ginger resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.


This richly imagined tale takes readers to a tiny German town in the time of “the burnings,” when pious and heretic alike became victims of witch-hunting zealots. When a double murder stirs up festering fears, the village priest sends for help. But the charismatic Inquisitor who answers the call brings a deadly mix of spiritual fervor and self-deceptive evil. Under his influence, village fear, guilt, and suspicion of women take a deadly turn. In the midst of this nightmare, a doubting priest and an unloved wife—a secret friend of the recently martyred William Tyndale—somehow manage to hear another Voice…and discover the power of love over fear.

Dinfoil, Germany, 1538. In a little town on the edge of the Black Forest, a double murder stirs up festering fears. A lonely woman despairs of pleasing her husband and wonders why other women shun her. An overworked sheriff struggles to hold the town—and himself—together. A priest begins to doubt the power of the words he shares daily with his flock. And the charismatic Inquisitor who arrives to help—with a filthy witch in a cage as an object lesson—brings his own mix of lofty ideals and treacherous evil. Under his influence, ordinary village fears and resentments take a deadly turn. Terror mounts. Dark deeds come to light. And men and women alike discover not only what they are capable of, but who they are…and what it means to grapple for grace.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Wolves Among Us, go HERE

Monday, March 28, 2011

God's Healing Words

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

God's Healing Words: Your pocket guide of Scriptures and prayers for health, healing, and recovery

Siloam (March 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


With more than four million books sold, Siloam is the undisputed leader in Christian health publishing with over two hundred published books. The combined experience of Siloam’s authors represents more than three hundred years of experience, research, and wealth of knowledge. Now we are pleased to offer you this inspirational book on healing.


This insightful little book provides you with what the Bible has to say about healing, allowing you to meditate on healing scriptures, and then pray for yourself and your loved ones to receive the precious promise of healing God has given us in the Bible.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Siloam (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781616381554
ISBN-13: 978-1616381554
ASIN: 1616381558


I am the Lord who heals you.

—Exodus 15:26

The three-year-old girl was asked by the reporter to tell him her father’s name. She looked bewildered, grasped her father’s hand more tightly, and then replied softly, “Daddy.” Her father—a five-star army general and highly decorated, powerfully influential man—smiled tenderly at his daughter upon hearing her response. To her young mind, he was not a man in her life with auspicious titles, honors, or even a first and last name. He was only a very special person she called “Daddy.” In that title resided all she needed in her young life: love, provision, protection, fun, security, and comfort. To others he might be “General” or “Sir”; to this little girl he was simply “Daddy.” What’s in a name? According to Webster’s dictionary, a name is a “designated distinction of a person or thing.” It describes the character, quality, status, location, and significance of whatever it is attached to. Names of persons in biblical cultures had much greater significance of meaning than they do in our modern culture. They reflected an aspect of the nature of the person. Often a child was named “prophetically” according to a defining characteristic, divine destiny, or a significant event surrounding his or her birth.

The better we know Jesus, the more we are convinced of the magnitude of His redemption! We have done nothing to deserve it, and we can do nothing to repay Him for it. [His redemption] was born in Love, cradled in Mercy, and imparted in Grace. It covers body, soul, and spirit! It touches every part of man. It permeates his will. It transforms his nature. It converts his disposition. So wonderful is it in its operation that not in doctrine, but in actuality, we are made new creations in Christ Jesus! —Charles S. Price

For example, Jacob, which means “supplanter or cheat,”2 characterized the deceitful nature of this son of Isaac who stole the birthright from his brother and tricked his father into giving him the patriarchal blessing that belonged to his twin. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel (“God rules” or “a prince of God”) after Jacob’s redemptive encounter with God.

A son of Phinehas the priest was born when the ark of the covenant was being stolen from backslidden Israel in their defeat at the hands of their enemies. The ark was the habitation for the glory of God’s presence to live among them. So his mother named the baby Ichabod, which means “no glory.” His name characterized the tragic event that occurred at the time of his birth.

Joseph was a follower of Christ whom the apostles nicknamed Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement or consolation” (Acts 4:36). He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles for those in need (v. 37). And he was the first to befriend Saul of Tarsus (later called Paul) when the other apostles were afraid of him.

Barnabas defended Saul and helped convince the churches that he had truly been converted and was no longer a danger to believers. Barnabas’s life reflected the meaning of his name; he was known for encouraging and consoling those in need.

In that same way, God reveals His character by the names He designates to Himself. His predominant name is Jehovah, which occurs more than six thousand times in the Bible.4 Jehovah signifies one supreme God and Lord, the one true God, the “existing One.”

When God told Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt, He instructed Moses to tell the people, “I AM has sent me to you” (Exod. 3:14). To our minds, “I AM” begs for a qualifier, a limiting description to follow the present tense of the “to be” verb: I am . . . what? Without that qualifier, we must understand that God has no limits; He is supreme over all—Creator, God, Lord, ruler of the universe, and a thousand other “qualifiers”

that reveal to us His character and nature.

Awesome is the only word that describes this great, infinite, all-powerful Lord God, Jehovah. As finite creatures we feel insignificant and powerless before such infinite greatness. Though God is the great I AM, without limitations, it may seem astounding that He prefers to be known to us as “Daddy.”

This revelation of God as our Father is the greatest insight we can receive into the nature of the loving heart of God. His entire premise for creating mankind, according to the Scriptures, was to have a family—sons and daughters who would learn to know Him as “Abba Father”:

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

—Romans 8:15–16, kjv

What caring parent does not suffer when they see their child in pain, sick, or distressed? Many have said they would rather be enduring what their child is enduring than to see their little one suffer. How much more does love Himself (“God is love”—1 John 4:8) suffer when He sees one of His children in distress? It stands to reason that the I AM would have a solution to the misery of His children. He desires to fill our hearts with His joy.

One of those wonderful qualifiers of I AM that God gave to His people Israel is Jehovah Rapha, which means “I am the Lord who heals you” (Exod. 15:26). Rapha’ means “to heal” in a broad sense and can refer to being the physician of men literally, as He meant it here when He first revealed His healing nature. It also refers to healing individual distresses, hurts of nations, restored favor, healing bitter waters, and any other situation that requires restoration to wholeness.

F. F. Bosworth explains the significance of the healing name of God: “Jehovah-Rapha is the name given to reveal to us our redemptive privilege of being healed. This privilege is purchased by the Atonement. . . . This is as sacred and binding on every church today as the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and Christian baptism. Jehovah-Rapha is one of His redemptive names, sealing the covenant of healing.”7 Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. —Corrie ten Boom 8 You cannot divorce God from His names and expect to know the living God, the I AM. He is who He says He is, or He is not God. And God never changes. This principle of His unchangeableness repudiates any false claim that He is one kind of God in the Old Testament and another in the New Testament.

Rather, we understand that God’s unfolding revelation of His person, character, and nature were partially revealed in the Old Testament. God’s nature was revealed perfectly through His Son, Jesus, in the New Testament. Jesus taught His disciples that He came to reveal the Father. He said, “If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (John 14:7).

We can only conclude that since the time God revealed Himself to Israel as Jehovah Rapha—“the Lord that heals”— He has continued to be the healer to His children. He has not changed His name. Jesus confirmed that fact by performing wonderful miracles of healing when He walked on the earth.

As our loving heavenly Father, God offers us His very nature, the divine attribute of His healing love. He cannot change His character. He declared through His prophet, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not a human, so he does not change his mind” (Num. 23:19). Today God says to you, “I AM Jehovah Rapha—the Lord, your healer.”

Smith Wigglesworth, world-renowned British evangelist known for his powerful healing ministry, is credited with raising at least fourteen people from the dead. He and his wife founded a mission in the poor part of town and reached out to needy people all their lives. Wigglesworth’s ministry took him to many nations, where the blind would see, the deaf were healed, people came out of wheelchairs, and cancers were destroyed.

As a believer, you will receive your ultimate healing in the context of being prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2). You will be fully satisfied with the greatest intimacy with your blessed Savior that is possible. —James P. Gills, MD

Wigglesworth, known as the apostle of faith, placed all his faith in the power of the name of Jesus. In his book, Smith Wigglesworth on Healing, he tells the story of a church leader who was very ill; he was bedfast and too weak to walk. The minister sent for friends to come and pray “the prayer of faith” for him (James 5:14–15). They came and anointed him with oil according to the scriptural pattern, but nothing happened. When they left, sadly, their leader’s condition was unchanged.

Once outside, one of the six said, “There is one thing we could have done. I wish you would all go back with me and try it.” They all went back and began to whisper the name of Jesus over this clergyman. At first, nothing seemed to happen. But as they continued to whisper “Jesus,” they saw that God was beginning to work. In a few minutes, the man rose from his bed and dressed himself, completely healed. Their faith grasped the power in His name. Smith Wigglesworth exclaimed, “Oh, if people would only appreciate the power in this name, there is no telling what would happen.”

As you rejoice in the fact that healing is available in the name of God and that His desire to heal is reflected in His very nature, you can live life as a recipient of God’s covenant of healing.

Principles for Your Healing

[God’s name, Jehovah Rapha, reveals His identity as the God who heals:] I am the Lord who heals you.

—Exodus 15:26

God is not a man, so he does not lie.

—Numbers 23:19

The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

—Proverbs 18:10, kjv

Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord—rejoice in his presence!

—Psalm 68:4

Promises for Your Healing

I am the Lord [Jehovah], and I do not change.

—Malachi 3:6

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

—John 14:13–14

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

—Hebrews 13:8

Prayers for Your Healing

You are my refuge, O God, and I rejoice in You. I will sing joyful praises to You forever. Protect me, so that I will be filled with joy. I will love Your name forever!

—From Psalm 5:11

Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my body is in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until You restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of Your unfailing love. Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my

body is in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until You restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of Your unfailing love.

—Psalm 6:2–4

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but I will remember the name of the Lord my God. Save me, Lord: let the king hear me when I call.

—From Psalm 20:7, 9

Blessed be the name of the Lord forever and ever. Who can be compared with the Lord my God who is enthroned on high? He lifts the poor from the dirt and the needy from the garbage dump.

—From Psalm 113:2, 5, 7

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

—Mark 10:47

Praise for Your Healing

The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake! The Lord is great in Zion, and He is exalted above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name; holy is He!

—Psalm 99:1–3, nas

I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I will praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness, for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.

—Psalm 138:1–2

Friday, March 18, 2011

Handle with Prayer

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Handle with Prayer

David C. Cook; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Charles F. Stanley, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta and founder of In Touch Ministries, demonstrates a keen awareness of people’s needs by providing practical Biblical truths for everyday life. His In Touch teaching program is broadcast worldwide in more than 50 languages. Dr. Stanley is also a New York Times best-selling author who has written more than 35 books, including: In Step with God, Landmines in the Path of the Believer, Living the Extraordinary Life, A Man’s Touch, Handle With Prayer, How to Listen to God, Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?, The Gift of Forgiveness, How to Keep Your Kids on Your Team, The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, The Source of My Strength, How to Handle Adversity, The Blessing of Brokenness, Success God’s Way, The Handbook for Christian Living, Into His Presence, and When Tragedy Strikes.

Visit the author's website.


Originally released in 2000, this book has already sold over 250,000 copies and now it features new artwork, an enhanced study guide, and updated content to connect with today’s readers. Using stories from his own life, Dr. Stanley engages readers with his insight and truthfulness. According to Dr. Stanley, “Jesus encourages us to pray. He tells us to ask, seek, and knock. We ask for things, we seek understanding, and we knock on doors of opportunity that lie before us. The Lord is saying that in every area of life we can find what we are looking for by talking to the heavenly Father.”

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404460
ISBN-13: 978-0781404464


Unveiling the Hidden

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. —Jeremiah 33:1–3

As I was praying one afternoon in 1967, I began feeling as if God had something very specific to say to me. The more I prayed, the more the burden increased. I decided to take an early vacation and spend the time seeking God’s guidance. I went to the mountains of North Carolina for two weeks, intent on finding out what God was saying to me.

I spent the majority of the time fasting and praying. I waited, expecting God to follow up the burden with an answer. To my surprise, He pointed out areas in my life that needed correcting. The entire two weeks was a period of personal cleansing and preparation for what was to come.

I returned home excited, but still unsure. It was as if there were a veil that kept me from knowing the unknown. I felt that the answer was close, but it was still out of my grasp. Then one

afternoon soon afterward, I was on my face before the Lord, and the veil lifted. God wanted me to start a school. I hesitated to commit myself to such a task, but God made it clear to me that His instructions were to be obeyed, not just considered. He unveiled the hidden to me when I called on Him to do so, and He showed me the things I did not know. God was faithful—even to the point of preparing my heart for what He had to say.

God desires to make known the unknown to His children. He desires to unveil the hidden. Yet many times we are satisfied not knowing. Either we aren’t willing to take the time to wait, or

we aren’t sure God even wants us to know. But this command to Jeremiah speaks specifically to both of these problems. We are to call, we are to expect an answer, and we are to know the unknown. Let’s look at the background of this Scripture in Jeremiah (33:1–3).

The Babylonians are coming toward Jerusalem from the feast. They have already defeated the Assyrians, so the people off Jerusalem know they don’t stand much of a chance against their superior military strength. The leaders of Jerusalem believed they should align themselves with the Egyptians, which was the logical thing to do. But Jeremiah tells them, “God says you are going into captivity. What you really ought to do is go out there and surrender.” Well, this wasn’t at all what the leaders had in mind. They threw Jeremiah in prison and refused to listen to him.

Their reaction should not surprise us. What do you think the people in my congregation would do if I stood up next Sunday and said, “God says the Canadians are going to overthrow this nation. We might as well surrender now and save ourselves some trouble”? They would run me out of town! But this was exactly the situation Jeremiah found himself in. From his experience, he gives us a passage (33:1–3) that helps us understand how to talk with God.

Encouraged to Pray

We can obtain three prayer principles from Jeremiah 33:3 by listening to what God told Jeremiah. The first is that God encourages us to pray: “Call unto me.” Since Jeremiah was in prison, he had a long time to catch up on his prayer life. We may never be put behind bars, but God will put us in circumstances and situations in order to teach us how to talk with Him.

Most of the time we pray, “Get me out of here!” We want to avoid suffering and difficulty. When we do run into a trial or difficulty, we ask God to change our circumstances so we can serve Him better and love Him more.

But we cannot fool God or bribe Him with our promises. Jeremiah didn’t even ask God to get him out of prison. Rather, he waited to see what God would say to him. And what was God’s

reply? “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jer. 33:3). What God did for Jeremiah had a far greater impact than simply getting him out of prison.

But most of us aren’t that patient. We’re more intent on getting out of our circumstances than we are on finding out what great things God wants to show us. But the Father never allows

difficulty just for the sake of difficulty—there is always a higher purpose involved. The problem is we cannot always identify God’s higher purpose in the midst of our trials. That’s when we must exercise our faith by waiting on His word to us.

A good friend of mine who was a real estate broker experienced a seven-year period of financial failure. The loss of his security devastated him. It became the constant focus of his thoughts and prayers. “Why doesn’t God do something?” he would ask me. For a while, we were both puzzled.

But after some intense soul searching, he realized that he had substituted financial security for God in his life. The Father wanted to be recognized as the Source of all things in my friend’s life. As he began renewing his mind spiritually and yielding his rights to the Lord, my friend gained a new freedom in his attitude toward finances. He started a new career and found greater financial blessing than ever before.

God had a great and mighty lesson to teach my friend—a lesson more important than keeping him comfortable. And God kept him uncomfortable until he took his eyes off his circumstances and sought God’s mind in the matter.

Waiting is not easy. We often turn away from seeking God’s counsel and seek guidance from friends and loved ones. We read books, attend seminars, and talk with others, trying to find out what God has to say to us. Usually, after we’ve exhausted all other possibilities, we turn back to the Lord and wait on Him. By doing this, it’s as if we are saying to God, “Now that I’ve tried everything else and failed, I’ve decided I need You after all.”

But God wants us to come to Him first. He wants us to stand in His counsel and wait for His word. He longs for us to come to Him as a son would to his father. But instead, we go to Him last, as if we don’t trust Him or consider His word of much value. Yet He is the only trustworthy Source of counsel we have. He is our most available and accessible Friend. He will never give us a busy signal—even if He frequently gets busy signals when He tries talking to us.

God entreats us to pray because He knows we are often caught in prisons of our own making; not prisons with bars and locks, but intellectual prisons, emotional prisons, and relational prisons. We must remember that the shortest distance between our problems and their solutions is the distance between our knees and the floor.

Answer Promised

Second, God told Jeremiah, “I will answer thee.” Sometimes we make commitments that we cannot keep. Though we may do this unintentionally, there are times when we disappoint those who are counting on us. But God never disappoints—when He says He will do something, it will be done.

God promises He will not only hear our prayers, but He will answer them. This brings up two interesting questions: Does God always answer our prayers? Or does He respond to certain kinds of prayer? Think about the requests you have made of God recently. Are they being answered? Do you really believe they will be? You see, the question is not Does God answer prayer? The real question is How does God answer prayer? Sometimes He answers yes. This is usually the only answer we hear. If God says, “Yes,” then we believe He answered. If He says, “No,” we think He ignored our request.

God’s Answers

When God answers our prayers, He either answers with yes, no, or wait. When He answers yes, we are prone to shout, “Praise the Lord!” We tell everyone what a great thing God has done for us.

But when God says no, we have a hard time finding reasons to praise Him. We look for the sin in our lives that kept Him from granting our requests, because surely if we had been living right He would have given us what we asked. But not one shred of scriptural evidence shows that God will say yes to all of our prayers just because we’re living right. God is sovereign. He has the right to say no according to His infinite wisdom, regardless of our goodness.

We try to manipulate God by our humanistic “if then” philosophy. If we live good, clean lives, then God must (we believe) grant our hearts’ desires. But such attempts to manipulate God defeat the whole purpose of Christianity, which is to glorify Him through our submissive obedience to His desires. Besides, if our goodness was the only factor God considered, where would His grace fit in? Many times His grace is what motivates Him to say no.

God only says no and wait when it is best for us (Rom. 8:28). He does it many times for our protection. Sometimes God wants to answer our prayers, but the timing is not right. For example, in the past, many couples wanting to marry came to me for counseling. Sometimes I would advise them to wait. Some would heed my advice, while others sought counsel from those who told them what they wanted to hear. You and I have the same choice over and over again. Will we wait on God for His perfect timing, or will we rush ahead?

We don’t like waiting around. Especially when it looks like a unique opportunity might slip away. We don’t like to hear God say, “No,” especially when everything in us says, “Yes, yes, yes!” We often try to find a Scripture verse and claim it while we continue our prayer, hoping somehow to change God’s mind. What we’re really saying is, “God, I didn’t like that answer. How about reconsidering my point of view?”

But deep in our hearts we really want God’s perfect will for our lives. And we must remember that God’s answer is always His ultimate best for us. Claiming Scripture will not change God’s mind because His Word cannot contradict His will. If He says no, then the answer is no. If He says wait, then we should wait. God is more interested in our character, our future, and our sanctification than He is in our momentary satisfaction. His answers are always an act of grace, motivated by His love.

Our Response

Our response to God’s answers reveals one of two things about us. It will reveal either a rebellious spirit or a submissive spirit. By accepting God’s answer, despite the fact that we may not understand, we express a submissive spirit. But by refusing His first answer and trying to get our way by manipulation, we express a rebellious spirit.

If we refuse God’s answers when they don’t fit in with our plans, then we are trying to use God for our purposes. But if we graciously accept His answers—no matter what they are—He will use us for His glory.

The Hidden Revealed

The third principle we can obtain from this verse comes from “I will … show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” All of us face decisions that leave us baffled. We are constantly bombarded with relational decisions, business decisions, household decisions, and financial decisions—and these all need immediate attention. In this verse, God promises to reveal the answer to all of life’s decisions. Yet many of God’s people spend their entire lives making decisions based on their knowledge, their understanding, and their experience—not realizing that some decisions must be based on divine wisdom and illumination from God.

Almost any preacher can prepare a sermon. He can write an outline, gather a few stories, and away he goes. But a preacher cannot get God’s message for a people until he waits in the Lord’s counsel, until he seeks God’s face, and until God gives him a word from heaven (Jer. 23:21–22).

This same principle applies to every Christian. We can pay the price required to find God’s mind on an issue, or we can make a decision based on what we think is right. Either way, a decision will eventually be made. But while one decision may have the approval of man, the other will have the eternal approval of God.

Sometimes we flip a coin (spiritually speaking) and say, “Lord, this is what I’m going to do. If it is of You, then bless it. If I’m wrong, then better luck next time.” Instead of waiting, we jump ahead and hope we have done the right thing. The point is this: As Christians, we never have to guess—we can know for sure what to do. God wants us to know His will about things, even more than we want to know it. But He cannot—and will not—bless anything we do that is not of Him.

So what does He mean when He says, “I will … show thee great and mighty things”? Every time we pray to God, seeking His will, there are two things He wants to show us: He wants to show us Himself (Phil. 3:7–8), and He wants to show us what He is able to do (John 15:16). Is there anything greater than seeking God and knowing His power?

We Are to Seek His Face

Because God wants to reveal Himself to us, and because our goal as Christians is to know Him, we should begin our time in prayer saying, “Lord, thank You that You are omnipotent. Thank You that You are omniscient and know everything I am about to tell You. Thank You that You are omnipresent, and You are not separated from me. As I come into Your presence, I humble myself before Your throne to thank You for Your holiness, Your forgiveness, and Your mercy. I acknowledge You as the great Creator, Sustainer, and Lover of mankind. Father, I am coming to You, recognizing Your greatness and Your holiness. I bow before You as Your child, knowing that You are more than sufficient to meet my needs.”

This is the spirit in which we should come into God’s presence. But instead, we come first with our needs and usually don’t have enough time for anything else. We never stop long enough to recognize that God wants to show us Himself when we pray.

He Shows Us His Power

God also wants to show us what He is able and willing to do for us. He does this through His Word. He reminds us of what He has done in the past. He gives us example after example in Scripture of how He met people’s needs and how He protected them. And the Father is willing to do the same thing for us, if we will only ask.

The word mighty in this passage means hidden things, things that are fenced in. This word is used when referring to fortified cities. God is showing us that as we pray, He will unveil insights for us that have previously been a mystery.

This also implies that some answers will be found only in prayer, not from other sources—not from books, friends, or counselors. Some things must come straight from God, who is the

Source of all wisdom. How many families would still be together today if they had sought God’s answers to their problems at home? How many sons and daughters would still be at home if their parents had taken their situation to the Lord? Too often we refuse to wait on God’s answers. We want quick solutions to our problems.

But God wants to do much more than just meet our needs and answer our questions. He wants our love. He wants our spirits— He wants our lives. Yes, He encourages us to bring our trials and our heartaches to Him in prayer, but only after we recognize who He is and what He can do. Only then do we believe He will answer our prayers. Only then are we seeking His face and not merely His hand.

As a pastor, many times I go to God for answers that can be found only in Him. Sometimes He shows me something for today, and sometimes He shows me something that will happen in the next week or month. But I’ve never been to God about anything that He did not willingly answer. He does not always answer my prayers according to my time schedule, but He always answers on time.

Back in 1969 when I was preaching a weeklong revival meeting in Virginia, I once again felt that God had something specific to say to me. Each night after the service I retired to my room early to pray. One evening, I pulled out a pad and drew a circle with five lines leading from it. At the end of each line, I wrote several things I thought God might desire to reveal to me. On the last line I drew a question mark, thinking maybe it was something I had not thought of.

The following night I came back to my room with the same burden. As I prayed and looked over the possibilities, God made it clear that He was going to move me. I asked Him when, and the month of September flashed into my mind. This happened in May of 1969, but I thought He meant September of 1970. A few months later, however, a pulpit committee from the First Baptist Church of Atlanta came to see me. On September 30, 1969, my family and I moved to Atlanta. God revealed this to me ahead of time in order to prepare my heart. He unveiled what was hidden when I called on Him to do so.

Regardless of what circumstances you are up against, there is no knowledge you will ever need that is not accessible before the throne of our living, loving, holy, righteous God. He has promised to show you the great, the hidden, and the unknown things that you will never be able to understand any other way. There are some things you will never be able to know (Deut. 29:29), but all the knowledge you will ever need is available to you if you ask God.

He desires to illuminate your mind and heart until you are conscious of Christ’s mind within you. He wants you to say no to the world on the basis of your faith in Him. It is then that you feel an extra sense of power when you share with others. You no longer depend entirely on circumstances for God to teach you lessons. Instead, you learn straight from Him through His Word. You have a new excitement in your relationship with God because you have learned to listen as He speaks to you.

Submission Required

You must be submissive to God to the point of absolute obedience— regardless of what He asks of you. Why? Because if our heavenly Father continues to answer our prayers, and we have certain conditions on which we obey, then He is nothing more than a giant Santa Claus. If He were to continue to bless us regardless of our rebellion, we would be using Him for our ends, not His. Submission is essential.

If you have been seeking God’s will for a long time and you seem to be getting nowhere, examine your heart. See if there is any area of your life that is not totally surrendered to Him. By settling this issue, you will put yourself in a position that will allow the Father to bless you. The quicker you move from your will to His will, the quicker God will show you what you need to know. Since God gives us His Word for obedience, not just consideration, He must be assured that you have submitted yourself completely before He will let you in on His secrets.

Are you facing a decision in your life that is too big for you to handle? Are you going through some difficulty that has left you confused and disheartened? God said, “Call unto me, and I will

answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” As you seek God’s face, understanding who He is and what He is willing and able to do, He will clear away all the mist that surrounds your circumstances. He will show you what to do. Are you willing to say yes to whatever He requires? If so, you have taken the first step in learning to talk with God.

Session 1

Unveiling the Hidden

Chapter 1

Session Goals

1. To assess our individual prayer lives to see if we really expect God to answer our prayers.

2. To take a long look at our ideas of what God is like, how He feels about people, and what He is willing to do for them.

3. To determine to say yes to whatever God requires of us.


1. As you read Handle with Prayer, jot down the main kernels of truth in each chapter. Then study chapter 1.

2. Plan your session time carefully to include the Bible teaching about prayer, which should lead into the practicing of prayer in the session.

3. Assemble any teaching tools: whiteboard or chalkboard, markers or chalk.


1. Help people get acquainted by asking each member to turn to the person next to him or her and to sum up his or her prayer philosophy in ten words or less. End with the question: “Do

you agree?” Partners respond with his or her own thinking on prayer. Don’t ask group members to aim for theological definitions, just responses from their personal experiences. Expect

negative as well as positive philosophies, since these sessions are expected to clear up misconceptions about prayer as well as give positive insights—all from the Word.

After this short exercise, point out that no matter what our present philosophies of prayer are, we all want to learn to pray effectively. But we won’t learn how unless we obey God’s instructions (as opposed to our own reactions, ideas, experiential knowledge) and respond to Him according to His will.

2. Ask the group to turn to Jeremiah 33:1–3. Explain: “The Babylonians were coming toward Jerusalem from the east. They had already defeated the Assyrians, so the people of Jerusalem

knew they didn’t stand much of a chance against such a superior military power. The leaders of Jerusalem believed they should align with the Egyptians. But Jeremiah told them, ‘God says you are going into captivity. What you really ought to do is believe God, go out, and surrender to the Babylonians.’”

The outraged leaders, thinking Jeremiah was a traitor, threw him in prison and refused to listen to his warning. Jeremiah probably wasn’t too surprised at the leaders’ reaction. But what would God say to him now? He had obeyed the Lord, and he

was in prison because of it—what next?

Why do you think God reaffirmed His identity to Jeremiah (v. 2)? What three prayer principles did He give Jeremiah (v. 3)?Discuss.

3. Explain that Jeremiah was in a real prison. We may be in figurative ones constructed out of circumstances or predicaments, but the bars are just as strong and the walls just as high.

When we are in our prisons, how do we usually pray? Discuss.

According to Scripture, Jeremiah didn’t ask God for anything. Rather, he waited to see what God had to say to him.

If we’re in our prisons because God needs to get our attention to teach us lessons, what is the quickest way to get out? Discuss.

Deliverance comes as we examine our hearts to find what God wants to teach us. When we learn our lessons, He will free us. Nothing is too hard for Him.

What should we do if we cannot identify God’s purpose in a particular trial? Why is waiting on God so difficult? Discuss.

4. Does God always answer our prayers? Discuss the three ways God answers: yes, no, or wait. Do you agree: “God will always answer yes, if we are living right”? God is sovereign. He answers depending on what He knows is best for us.

How do we sometimes try to manipulate Him into saying yes? Sometimes we think: If I do this, then God will do that. Or we plead a verse of Scripture that seems on target for our case and hope God will change His mind.

Why does God sometimes say no? Remind the group that the whole purpose of Christianity is to glorify God through our submissive obedience to His desires. He says no when it’s for

our best interest (Rom. 8:28). God is more interested in our character, future, and sanctification than in our momentary gratification.

When God says wait, what choice does He give us? What do our responses to God’s answers reveal about us?

5. What two things does God always want to show us when we seek to know His will? Refer to Philippians 3:7–8 and John 15:16. How does God show us what He is able and willing to

do? Answers might come through His Word, through our own experiences, and through the experiences of others.

What is the one condition God’s unveiling rests on? Why is submission necessary?

6. Explain: “If we hear these truths and don’t practice them, we become like the person who wants to learn to drive a car without ever sitting in the driver’s seat. The person reads the

training manual, learns all the rules of the road, but never actually sits behind the wheel.”

We want to move prayer into the reality of our present circumstances. During our times together, we will be using different prayer methods: silent prayers, group prayers, volunteer

prayers, written prayers, etc. Today because of the nature of the subject, we will use silent individual prayers.

7. If God has seemed silent to you about something you have prayed for a long time, examine your heart. Are you harboring unconfessed sin? If you will submit now, you will move quickly into the attitude in which God will unfold for you some of the things you need to know.

Are you facing a decision that is too big for you to handle? Have you gone through some difficulty that has left you confused and disheartened? Read Jeremiah 33:3 again. Seek God’s face, understand who He is, and believe He will clear away all the mist that surrounds your circumstances.

Are you willing to say yes to whatever He requires of you?

8. Spend time in silent prayer as individuals open up their hearts to God. Close with an appropriate prayer of submissive victory.