Raising Heaven

Until I was about 12, my parents didn’t go to church. On Sunday mornings, my mom’s mom, Mamaw Deloney, insisted that they bring me, my sister, and my brother to her house, which was six miles away. She and Granddad took us to services.

Mama and daddy would come to pick us up and eat lunch. Often I stayed over and went to church with my grandparents on Sunday evening. That led to a memory that branded my childhood.

Granddad would often go outside to stretch his legs after the Sunday afternoon football game on television (one game for the whole day!) Mamaw took advantage of the quiet to slip away to her fortress of solitude, her bedroom. There she prayed and prepared her heart for the Sunday evening service.

Often I would still be in the living room as I heard Mamaw “raising heaven” in the back bedroom. If I get still, I can still feel the power and urgency of those prayers as my grandmother spoke with the One she loved so fervently. Her prayers not only touched heaven, they also touched and changed me.

I have hundreds of memories of this remarkable little country lady—apple pie, fried chicken, stories, hugs, etc—but those prayers hover near the top of the list.

I wonder what my grandchildren will remember about me.

Heaven-raising Prayers

Mamaw’s prayers were fervent, not just loud. I’ve heard people thunder prayers that shook the dust out of the rafters, but I’m not sure heaven listened. Samuel’s mother prayed and only her lips moved (1 Samuel 1:13). Still, a remarkable son resulted from her praying. Loud or quiet, the prayer that moves heaven is full of heart, heat, and faith.

“The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].” (James 5:16 AMPC)

Prayers that raise heaven ache for what they ask for. If you’ve got an answer figured out or you don’t really care if God answers your prayer or not, why should He care? This poses a problem because we’re asked to pray for a ton of people and situations and many of them we don’t know. How can you feel your prayers in that case?

Sometimes I try to put myself in the person’s place asking prayer. What if that was my son or daughter? What if I faced death?

The other secret weapon that God gives to help us care is the Holy Spirit. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom. 8:26-28, ESV)

A third principle of prayer that succeeds is an “I’m-going-to-have-this-or-else” attitude. I love Jesus’ story of the little lady dealing with the crooked judge. She had faith that this scoundrel was going to help her or he would wish he had. And he did.

Now, God wants to answer your prayer, but he also wants to develop an attitude of faith and persistence in you. That attitude will serve you as well as an answered prayer, because you learn not to quit. Here’s how faith prays:

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭7, 8‬ ‭NLT)

Do Your Prayers Raise Heaven?

When your kids and grandkids think back on you, what will they remember? Will they remember you raising heaven or raising something else?

Get busy making memories for the generations who follow you. And get some prayer results yourself while you are at it.

Image: Bing AI

Pray Like This?

Ministries morph and shift as the years go by. One which has taken a big part of my time recently has been responding to people who write the French ministry of Network 211, Reponses pour ta vie.com

We get all sorts of requests. Sometimes men will write, saying, “I want a woman.” Women might search for the perfect man. I’m tempted to write back to inform them that God doesn’t make perfect men anymore. My wife got the last one.

Most of the emails touch my heart. Here is a small sample of what I’ve been answering lately.

From France, “I would like Jesus to be with me. I only have bad things happening to me at the moment and I would like someone to be with me. I need to pray and someone to hear it. I am baptized but I have never participated in a mass, I would like to believe in God.

Also from France, “Hello, I am baptized and I never really asked myself questions about religion, but I want to know more, and why not? Practice it 🙂

A lady from Ukraine chimes in, “ I feel far from God. I want to be forgiven. I have sinned a lot. I also want to repent. I don’t know how. Help me, please.”

This from Congo, “For some time I have had a strong desire to be in a personal relationship with Jesus, to experience happiness with Him. But I haven’t succeeded yet. Through you, I hope to discover a very sure way (orientations).

From France—“Hello, I need to regain my intimacy with God. I let a lot of things destroy everything I started with God. Today I just want to come back to him and have that peace of heart that I had before times. I need help!”

These are a joy to answer.

Repeated Question

One question I get over and over concerns prayer. “How do you pray? Can you send me some model prayers? Etc.” Honestly, I struggle like many others in my prayer life. I pray daily, but I often feel that I’m a man who prays more than a man of prayer.

Sometimes, I feel like I need to get my time in so God won’t be mad. And it’s tough. Just being honest. Happily, it’s not always like that. Occasionally it’s like heaven on earth. And frankly, the results are often marvelous even if I didn’t have overwhelming emotions when I prayed.

Recently, I’ve found a prayer rhythm that really builds me up. I thought I would share it with you.

I usually start with singing. I’ve got an old songbook I use, but I’ve also made my own songbook. I go online and find the lyrics of worship songs that really speak to me at the moment. I copy them into a file on my phone. So I might sing to the Lord, “Shout To the Lord,” or “I Speak Jesus,” or “Waymaker,” or whatever song helps me lift my praise to God that morning.

It doesn’t matter if my voice is angel-like or crow-like. As it passes into heavenly places, God’s Spirit changes it into audio-gold to the ears of God.

I also use the Psalms and read from one of them as a prayer to the Lord.

I’ve got a journal where I often write a prayer to the Lord expressing my praise, my needs or the cry of my heart.

And usually, during my praying, I’ll raise my voice and pray in the Spirit for a while. He knows how to praise God and He knows what to pray for when I don’t.


I still “freewheel,” praying extemporaneously, simply telling God what my needs are and asking Him to respond. Yes, and sometimes I ask for the same things over and over and over. I pester the Lord like the little widow pestered the uncaring judge.

The Amplified translation of Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.”

This version includes a note that says, “Here the use of Greek present imperatives (asking, seeking, knocking; vv 7, 8) emphasizes persistent, constant prayer.”

Asking more than once isn’t unbelief. It’s the prayer of someone who is sure that he or she is asking at the right place and they insist because they know the source of the answer is in God.

Kind of like your kids when they want something.

You may have your own prayer secrets or fruitful habits. If you want to share, I’d love for you to write and tell me your keys to fulfilling prayer.

Can You Answer This Question ?

Today, we’re going to do something together. I want you to vacuum all the dust out of your brain. You’re required to use your imagination and answer a question.

You’re sitting next to the road, the hot sun sears the top of your head and you’re in a sorry mood. Suddenly you hear the noise of a big crowd of people moving by. You’ve learned a long time ago that the make-up of the crowd determines whether they are generous or not. Those heading for a football game don’t give much.

“What’s up?” you ask those nearest you, coughing at the dust the crowd is raising.

“It’s Jesus of Nazareth. We’re walking with Him,” someone responds.

“Jesus of Nazareth! Isn’t He the One that does all those miracles?”

This is your chance; you may not get another.

You yell at the top of your voice, “Hey, Jesus of Nazareth! Hey, over here! It’s me!”

The crowd stops. “He’s calling for you!” You scramble to your feet and suddenly there He is, the fellow you’ve heard so much about. This isn’t Robin Williams voicing Aladdin’s genie. This is the fellow who does real miracles.

You approach timidly. “What can I do for you?” he asks.

There’s the question.

What would you ask the Lord if He were standing right in front of you? Do you know?

“Well, Lord. I’ve got a special unspoken request.” Nope. His Word says, “ask.” Try again.

“Um, well Lord, you said your (heavenly) Father knows what I need before I ask him.” (Matt. 5:8) So, do that.” Buzzzzz. Wrong again. He tells us to ask all the same. We need prayer more than God does. We need to ask.

What Do You Want?

I’ve struggled at times with the answer to the question, “What do you WANT!” Sure, I want a lot of things for my family and good health. But, is there a burning desire for anything inside me?

C.S. Lewis in his book, The Weight of Glory, said “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

You might observe that the Psalmist said, “I shall not want,” but I think that can be translated, “I shall not lack,” so it isn’t the same thing.

I wonder if it isn’t a sin to not want anything very much.

How To Want Correctly

You know what? If you want what God wants, your interior man hums with God’s power. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:7, 8 NKJV)

Incorrect wanting is called “coveting.” God-inspired wanting motivates our faith. When we spend time with the Lord and let Him change our heart we begin to want correctly.

Lord, help me to want rightly. It’s those who passionately desire to see God’s miracles, who receive from God what they want. So … Spend time with God consistently so that you can want right. Act on what you want. Trust Him to supply and to help you reach the goal. Continue persistently. The path towards what we desire changes us. Dig around, kick around, look around and see what you want. Then go for it. Wanting can change your life.

If the Lord asked you right now, “What do you want?” what would you say? Write me and tell me what you think. I’ll pray for your wants, too.

Hmmm …

Red Cross founder Clara Barton was reminded by a friend of a cruel thing that someone had done to her in the past. Barton seemed not to recall it, and the friend asked, “Don’t you remember?” Her reply? “No, I distinctly remember forgetting it.”

Image par Keishpixl de Pixabay

Run! Stand In the Gap!

God searches for gap-standers.

Don’t you just hate bubble busters? Or is it bursters? Anyway, hang on because I’m going to pop one. You know the story about the little Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the dike to plug a leak and save the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands?

Didn’t happen.

It wasn’t even a Dutch person who wrote the story but an American lady, Mary Mapes Dodge. Most Dutch people don’t even know the tale. There. Disappointed aren’t you? Me too.

According to genealogist Yvette Hoitink, there was a brave Dutchman whose quick thinking saved many lives when a Dutch Dike gave way in 1953. “Skipper Evergroen drove the ship parallel to the hole, and then turned it to lock it in place. The gap behind the ship was quickly filled with sand bags. The torrent slowed to a trickle and three million people kept their feet dry.”

People in Zeeland and Noord-Brabant, Holland had no Captain Evergroens or even a little Dutch (figment-of-an-American-lady’s-imagination) boy. Some 1800 of them perished in the floodwaters when the dikes broke.

Standing In the Gap

Did you know that God searches desperately for gap-fillers in our generation?

“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them …” (Ezek. 22:30, NKJV).

We’ve got lots of gripers, grumblers, and pointers-out-of-what’s-wrong. We don’t have a lot of people on their knees pleading for God to send revival and save the lost. Don’t get mad at me, but it seems there’s a lot more people excited about elections than winning the war in heavenly places on our knees.

In Ezekiel’s time, God didn’t want to pour out His wrath on that disobedient people. He looked for someone like Moses. When Moses descended from the mountain with God’s commands in his hands, he found his people in a wild orgy, cavorting around an idol.

God threatened to destroy them but Moses pleaded with God, “But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” (Exodus 32:32, ESV).

Paul’s Jewish compatriots spent quite a bit of time beating on him, threatening him, and lying about him. But, the apostle felt towards them the same way God did, “O Israel, my people! O my Jewish brothers! How I long for you to come to Christ. My heart is heavy within me, and I grieve bitterly day and night because of you. Christ knows and the Holy Spirit knows that it is no mere pretense when I say that I would be willing to be forever damned if that would save you.” (Romans 9:1-3, Living Bible)

“Standing in the gap” means you fill the breach with your body. That costs you. Maybe in fasting and time in prayer. Maybe some midnight hours of prayer. Time when you could be doing other things.

Standing in the gap means you love those behind you as much or more than yourself. Your family, your church, your friends, the lost that you don’t even know.

Standing in the gap means you’re cooperating with God’s plan and God’s love for the people. God’s mission for you is more important than your life. God didn’t want to pour out His wrath. There was war in heavenly places and He was looking for spiritual warriors to win the fight against his enemies.

It’s ironic that’s Israel’s downfall didn’t seem to only be because of the sinners in the land. It was the lack of intercessors to fill up the gaps in the wall. When there are no more gap-fillers righteous judgment falls.

How can we pray with fervor and compassion? The Holy Spirit helps us.—“ Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.” (Rom. 8:26, 27, the Message)

We Remember the things that hurt us so that we can identify with someone else’s pain.

A Changed Young Man

At the start of our ministry in Luxembourg, a young German man was invited to an evangelistic meeting in our coffee house. Albert started to come regularly but then he returned to Germany to visit his parents. They convinced him that he had fallen into a cult, so he stopped coming.

One day as I prayed for him, I felt like I was “seized” by the Holy Spirit. I found myself praying earnestly, “Lord, save him whether he wants to be saved or not.” I’m not sure that’s a good prayer, theologically speaking, but it worked.

He went through a difficult period in his life. A lady from our church saw him in town, told him the Lord about the Lord, and encouraged him to resist the work of the devil. He returned to church and God did a wonderful work in his life.

He testified on the day of his return: “I feel like I’m reborn! “

Jesus was the ultimate gap-filler. “The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. 17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.” (Isa. 59, ESV)

Let’s have the heart of Jesus. Stand up… on our knees. Seek the heart of God for lost people, lost situations, and a real move of God in our world. God is looking for gap-standers. Will you be one?

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Praying Like Mary Prayed

Mary’s prayer–a “shouting” prayer

                           Comments on Luke 1:39-56

This is the first time John the Baptist “testified” of Jesus—in his mom’s womb! Talking about doing your job! He did it from before birth until his death and his witness still speaks to us today!

Maybe Mary worried how Elisabeth would respond. After all, she was not fully married and the neighborhood gossips were probably keeping the air hot.

This moment gives birth to one of the powerful prayers of the Bible. Mary’s response to John and Elisabeth’s testimony:

Luke 1:46 (NLT)

Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.

How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

This is a shouting prayer. Mary begins by rejoicing. Our generation is so used to “diet joy” that we don’t always know how to rejoice in the Lord, which is the real thing. This is a joy that goes beyond a big promotion, winning the Super Bowl, or drug-induced joy.

Real human joy that comes from your spouse, your children and the good things of life are just a candle in the sunshine compared to this.

This is a joy that the Holy Spirit gives, one of the fruits of His living in us.

For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,

and from now on all generations will call me blessed.

Mary rejoices in what God’s work means to her. It’s not selfish to ask for yourself or rejoice in God for yourself. Jump in the water! Swim. Enjoy! I’m not sure that people were calling her “blessed” at that moment and from a human point of view it must have been extremely difficult.

But God provided a believing husband and Mary had the truth of God’s promise living in her womb. She believed and she rejoiced in some things that she hadn’t seen yet. Yet, she knew them in her heart.

The special thing about Mary wasn’t her physical beauty, but it was an incredible faith that accepted God’s promise and His calling to her. She was willing to hurt to get the blessing.

And she had a heart that pondered. She thought and meditated, mixing God into the recipe of her life and what was happening to her. Luke 2: 19, NLT says, “…but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”

For the Mighty One is holy,

and he has done great things for me.

He shows mercy from generation to generation

to all who fear him.

God’s goodness isn’t limited to certain BIG faith people in the Bible. His mercy touches all generations of those who fear Him.

His mighty arm has done tremendous things!

He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.

He has brought down princes from their thrones

and exalted the humble.

The big shots rig the system to favor themselves but when God fulfilled His Key Promise, he chose a humble peasant, someone hungry. From a human standpoint Mary must have felt herself poor and despised by “great” people. Yet, God chose her!

If we’re hungry for God and hungry to be used He will visit us. If we’re rich and have need of nothing, we’ll leave God’s presence empty-handed. Am I hungry or full as far as my relationship with God is concerned?

He has filled the hungry with good things

and sent the rich away with empty hands.

He has helped his servant Israel

and remembered to be merciful.

Mary sees this blessing for all Israel, not only herself. She grasps the significance of this baby in her womb and she’s amazed because she knows personally how miraculous His conception was.


For he made this promise to our ancestors,

to Abraham and his children forever.”

She knows that this is the Big One, the big promise of God. (Genesis 12 and also chapter 17). Finally. I’m sure even Mary didn’t understand at this time how world-shaking the promise was and how it would mean salvation for billions. But she had faith and God used her. She rejoiced in what she knew. You and I need to learn how to enter into the joy of His promise.

“Lord Jesus, I shout for joy because You’ve saved me and forgiven me from sin. You are faithful. My life has meaning because I’m in your plan until I come home to You. Help me to be a channel for your faithfulness and healing to others. I trust You Lord.”

Photo by Courtney Kammers on Unsplash