A Storm is ComingWith a storm on the way, it is more important than ever to find the center of God will. That place is the safest place. It is the place where chaos turns to adventure; where fear has no place; where our houses will stand as a refuge for others. This is the place we want to be; so how do we find it?

God’s eternal will is for the restoration of the three things that He lost in man’s rebellion: His reign over our hearts, His intimacy with us, and His habitation in us. I believe that our pursuit of His purpose in these three areas will supernaturally propel us into His will for this strategic season.

This article relates to the restoration of our intimacy with God. The articles and assessments for the remainder of this series can be found at the following locations:

Our Preparation as His Habitation

Our Preparation under His Reign

Many in the body of Christ are recognizing the inevitability of the storm. That recognition has created urgency for preparation; and a desire to know how we are doing in that preparation. Assessing our preparation for intimacy with Him is critically important.

Is there a biblical way to assess our preparedness, and receive wisdom and revelation in the ways God would have us strengthen our house? I believe so. In fact, we are encouraged and commanded to do exactly that:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord;
Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.
Lamentations 3:40-41

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.  For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 1Corinthians 11:28-32

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 2Corinthians 13:5

For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  For each one shall bear his own load. Galatians 6:3-5

These passages are clear on a few points: First, we are encouraged to seek God’s assessment; second, we are commanded to assess ourselves (both personally and in community); and third, this assessment is for our good and for the good of His kingdom.

We Must Know Him to Love Him

It is impossible to love someone you do not know. It is no coincidence that our primary desire toward God – eternal life – is to know Him and His Son in the most intimate way possible.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3

The Greek word that is translated “know” in this verse is used to describe the deepest relationship between two people.

Know (ginōskō): Learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of, perceive, feel; to become known; Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Outline of Biblical Usage, BlueLetterBible.org

This is much different from the knowing associated with intellectual and moral understanding (gnōsis).

The normal Christian life is a life of growing in relational knowledge of God. How awesome it is to know from the start that the One who has identified Himself as the Truth is encouraging us to an intimate relationship with Himself, and with our Father in heaven!

As we begin this assessment, let us commit ourselves to be motivated, sustained and completed by the chief desire of God’s heart for us: That we would love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). Let us commit ourselves to fight for what has been given to us: To know God; that we might love Him more.

Thwarting the Strategy of Satan

There has never been a more critical time for the followers of Christ to search out this matter of intimacy with their Maker.

Call my people to repentance. Yea, call them to their knees for prayer and fasting, for confession and vigilance. For this is a strategic hour. The enemy is rejoicing already over his anticipated victories. Ye can disappoint him and thwart his evil designs if ye lay hold upon the throne of God in steadfast, believing prayer. Come Away My Beloved, Francis Roberts

This is a strategic hour – perhaps the most strategic hour in the history of the church. Something must be done. But what? “Only God knows” may have jumped into your mind. So why don’t we ask Him? That is exactly what He desires for us.

Every Christian knows that the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). Prayer is powerful (at least it’s supposed to be), and nothing of heavenly value is possible without prayer. So why do we struggle to pray, both individually and corporately?

Why are we so unsure about the effectiveness of our prayers? Why does it seem that so many of our prayers go unanswered? Why is our prayer life so ineffective, difficult and dissatisfying?

The first strategic move in every war is to cut off communications between the forces on the ground and the central command center. Consequently, much energy and intelligence is focused on keeping the lines of communication open. The situation is no different in the war we are fighting against our greatest enemy, Satan. We must be fiercely diligent to defend what we have been given: The means for effective communication – and relationship – with God.

It is no coincidence that God has made prayer man’s most powerful weapon in the battle for the kingdom. This is the place where God is most intimate in revealing His plans and encouraging His children. As we battle with Him through prayer, He establishes His relationship with us. There is no more important thing we can do in our preparation for the coming storm.

Prayer (deēsis): Need, indigence, want, privation, extreme poverty; a seeking, asking, entreating, entreaty to God or to man. From deomai: to want, lack; to desire, long for; to ask, beg; the thing asked for; to pray, make supplications. Outline of Biblical Usage, BlueLetterBible.org

There are three things to notice about the definition of prayer. First, it is more about need than want. Second, that need is out of an extreme sense of poverty (i.e., it is humble). Third, prayer includes seeking and desiring – its relational aspects.

Changing the Way We Pray

Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself. It is the only way we can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature. My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

Prayer is difficult because our enemies do not want us communicating with God. Satan is a powerful being. An opposing power is needed – God’s power. Is it possible that our prayer life lacks God’s power because we do not pray in the way God has designed? Have we chosen our own way in prayer?

In his book, The PAPA Prayer, Larry Crabb discusses how many in the church turn to God in prayer as if He were Santa Claus sitting behind a vending machine. If we just put in the right change (our time) and push the right buttons (our requests), He will give us what we want. As Crabb laments, this approach has drawn us far from God’s intention in our prayer time with Him: To establish and nurture an intimate relationship.

Practicing the PAPA Prayer

As Larry Crabb says, “Once you get a feel for it, praying relationally comes as naturally as breathing. Relating to God is what we were destined and designed to do. The most important thing is to be honest with God in each of the following areas.”

Present yourself to God: With authentic transparency, present whatever you discover in yourself – good or bad. Are you happy, sad, or mad? Disappointed or depressed? Be who you are, where you are.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Have you ever considered that “in time of need” just might be in our prayer time? Humble children come as they are; and they trust their Father to receive them. Pretending can actually be a sign of pride.

Attend to how you are thinking of God: Focus on who God really is versus who you think God is, or who you want Him to be. Meditate on His name: El Elyon (Most High God), Adonai (Master), El Shaddai (God Almighty), Elohim (Eternal Creator).

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Matthew 6:9

yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God: Eliminate whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging, without excuse or explanation, the self-obsession that the Spirit chooses to reveal. Begin by surrendering to His reign, followed by confession and repentance.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9

God as the “first thing” in your life: Lay aside everything but God. Focus on Him as the only provider of truly good things. As you put Him first, you can then approach Him with the confidence that what He loves to give you is what you need the most.

For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:32-33

The Continuous Presence of God

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1Thessalonians 5:16-18

To “pray without ceasing” has also been called “practicing the presence of God”. It is the blessing of a continual, conversational relationship with the One that has all the answers. For most followers of Jesus, this seems like an unobtainable goal; but nothing could be further from the truth. The key to enjoying the continuous presence of God is relational prayer.

As we lay down our agenda – even our prayer list – and focus on Christ, a new dimension and opportunity for spiritual growth opens up to us.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.  2Corinthians 3:18

As we behold the Lord’s glory, the Holy Spirit works to renew our mind and open our mind’s eye to see what we have been created and commanded to pursue.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

Jesus said that it was the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom of God (Luke 12:32). We are to seek the very thing He intends to give. He is eager to give it.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

The relational approach to prayer is not a burden. If it seems to be, then back up and ask God to expose why this is so with you. Most likely, you are still seeing Him as something He is not, or you are not praying out of a motivation to know Him.

Taking Every Thought Captive

It is quite common for potentially distracting thoughts to fight for our attention during prayer. Rather than immediately pushing these out of your mind, take them captive to the obedience of Christ.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2Corinthians 10:4-6

Ask the Lord what He would have you do with each of the thoughts you capture. He may tell you to put it aside. He may just as well tell you something He would like for you to do with it. For example, if it is about a meeting you have that day, He may want you to pray for the anticipated attendees. Or, the “distracting thought” may be an issue for which He wants to give you wisdom.

Whatever the case may be, our dedicated time of prayer is the perfect training ground for practicing His presence. As our conditioned response to distractions in prayer is transformed and we begin to turn to Him with them, it becomes easier to do the same when confronted with events and distractions during the day. Consequently, we are drawn further into the abiding life.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7

This verse highlights the relationship of the abiding life and the life of relational prayer. The prayer that discovers and accomplishes the desires of our hearts must begin in this abiding relationship. Our abiding in Him, and Him in us, is the relationship He desires.

Assessing Our Preparation

During my time in the corporate world, I received a performance review at least one time each year. Invariably, my review was precluded and supplemented by a self-assessment and, every once in a while, it included a peer review. This process was a great benefit for both me and the company.

It has occurred to me that my reviews were not only about my performance – a view into the past. They were also about opportunity; for me, the opportunity for monetary reward, advancement, continuing education, etc.; for the company, the opportunity to advance their vision, purposes and plans.

Similarly, our good King only wants the best for us. He wants us to prosper in His Father’s kingdom. His requirements are more about opportunity than correction. As we examine ourselves, it is important to keep this notion of opportunity in the forefront of our minds.

So, consider for a moment that you are one of a company of believers, all attempting to follow the Boss – the Lord, Jesus Christ – as He works diligently to bring all His followers into intimate relationship with His Father. How would you know you are making progress in your alignment with His purpose and objectives? How would you self-assess and peer-assess your progress?

Recognizing that our motivation for improvement is for the pleasure of our Lord, rate yourself on each of the following review statements. Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 5, with 0 being no evidence of attainment and 5 being a level you feel is pleasing to the Lord.

How strong is your prayer life relative to each of the following categories?

  1. Disciplined (time and energy set aside for developing relationship with God)
  2. Relational (practicing the PAPA Prayer, or something like it)
  3. Fervent (urgent, passionate, with great need)
  4. Expectant (full of faith in God’s purposes, plans and power)
  5. Transformational (changing you and your spheres of influence)
  6. Effective (changing the world around you)
  7. Obedient (taking every thought captive)
  8. Persistent (practicing His presence throughout the day)

As you can see, there is much we can discover about ourselves through a healthy Spirit-led assessment. Our pursuit of relationship with God in prayer is critical for the days ahead. The Spirit may bring other areas of opportunity to your mind. Give them your attention.

Maturing in Intimate Relationship with God

In regards to the assessment question above, identify some immediate steps you can take to improve your prayer life. From this prayer plan, develop a written covenant with God. Review it regularly with Him. Don’t skip this step. Our God is a covenant keeping God. He will keep His promise to give you the desires of your heart; and He will lead you into the center of His will for this strategic season.

To receive the full blessing of the PAPA Prayer, use it to begin your prayer time, each morning, for at least 30 days. Initially, you should go through each step multiple times during your daily prayer time, and as many times as possible during the day. In this way, you will renew your mind to pray more relationally.

Each step in the PAPA Prayer may expose a need for confession and repentance: For trying to hide your true feelings, for presuming Him to be something less than He is, for allowing things or people to come between you, or for making Him anything less than first. The conversation you have with Him in these areas will deepen and strengthen your relationship. As Larry Crabb effectively argues, once we have found this place of intimacy with God, we are perfectly positioned to offer pure worship and thanksgiving, and to hear His voice in our intercession for others and in petition for ourselves.


So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Romans 14:12

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. Matthew 25:19

The Parable of the Talents is a most sobering passage. From it, we discover that there will come a day when we must give an account of what we have done with the “talents” of our stewardship. We do not know when that day will come, but we do know that when it comes the time of preparation will be over. It is a grace of God that we know these things are true; and that they are for our good.

Our King is a good king. He desires to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I believe He has made Himself available – right now – to help us assess our level of preparedness. I believe He is looking to show Himself strong on behalf of those that are loyal to Him and His Father. I believe it will be good thing to receive His gracious correction and His wise counsel regarding our preparation for the coming storm.

Humbly yours and forever His,