It is imperative that we discern seasons and times – the Lord expects us to. Cue how the Lord slated the religious leaders of His time for not doing so in Luke 12:56 – You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
Discernment is a corporate exercise of the Church community – it is designed to be exercised corporately and it is this corporate exercise of the Church we are here discussing and not its individual form.
Whenever there is a renewed emphasis on prayer that is brought on by God’s Spirit, there is something significant ahead, or just round the corner that God is about to birth and for which He is preparing His people. No meaningful move of God has ever occurred without earnest prayer. It has always been preceded by, albeit a handful of people, committing to prayer.
And, as is usually the case, the enemy is also always on hand to resist and oppose, to undermine what God is doing in any way he possibly can.
Ahead of His crucifixion, The Lord was moved into a time of agonising prayer for Himself and prior to that for Peter and the disciples too. As the time of His crucifixion drew near and he was about to be betrayed, the Lord informed Peter of the devil’s request regarding him. Luke 22:31–32, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
The occasion of Satan’s demand was Christ’s betrayal by Judas that would subsequently lead to His crucifixion. The Lord’s response to Satan’s demand was to immediately employ and utilise the power of prayer at this critical time and season. Note that there was no bravado or misplaced trust or confidence in self but in God alone.
Yet Peter was instinctively defensive and full of self-confidence protesting his undying allegiance to Christ even to the point of death itself blissfully unaware of what lied just around the corner. Luke 22:33–34, Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
Our adversary the devil is always an opportunist, always on the look out for those opportunities to subvert and abort what God is doing – ever ready to pounce in those sensitive times of transition and seasons when God is advancing His purposes and pushing His plans. Luke gives us an insight into the enemy’s thinking patterns at the conclusion of his unsuccessful attempts at tempting Jesus. Luke 4:13 –And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Always lying low waiting for an opportune time.
Peter most probably learnt this truth first hand when alerting his readers to the devil’s tactics in 1 Peter 5:8 by saying, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”. And this sober mindedness, Peter reminds his readers, is a requirement for diligence in prayer – 1 Peter 4:7, The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
A little later The Lord is seen praying in the garden this time for Himself – that He would not miss God’s will and purpose at this critical point in time. This is one of the main goals and purposes of prayer – to bring ourselves to align with God’s will and purposes for us even when it seems burdensome and impossible. Prayer changes and empowers us to successfully carry God’s will in our lives and in our generations. It is not without reason that God saturates these times of transition and seasons prior to the enemy’s increased activities with prayer, in order to protect and successfully deliver His purposes despite the enemy’s opposition and resistance.
When the Spirit brings a renewed emphasis on prayer among us, let us defer to His wisdom and knowledge and always respond in humility – ever conscious of our need for God’s grace and mercy. Those who are aware of their weaknesses and inadequacies never stray far from but remain close to the throne room of God in a lifestyle of prayer, demonstrating their constant need for Him and His empowering in their lives.
Let us demonstrate dependence on God and overcome the enemy with a lifestyle of prayer – God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph 3:19) because He IS Himself immeasurably more than we can ask for or even imagine. He is always and forever immeasurably more and far far greater than we can ever imagine or ask of Him.
Our faith has to stretch and reach that point if we are to receive “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph 3:19). Take the day of Pentecost for instance. The Day was not in the script for the disciples in that they were not made aware of how the the drama that unfolded on the day was going to unfold as it did. They never were. They simply believed what they were told and trusting Christ who had promised them, obediently stayed in Jerusalem waiting on God expecting something – but not quite sure what and how. What happened on the day was nothing less than immeasurably more than what they had ever imagined or asked for.
They experienced the supernatural on another level. I mean, there is the supernatural and then there is another level of the supernatural. They not only got to see and hear and feel the might of God’s Spirit as He came like a rushing wind, appeared in the form of tongues of fire landing on each one of them but also experienced His spectacular enabling in languages they had never learnt or spoken in before!
Their varying natural capabilities and intellectual levels were overruled and bypassed – smashed by the Spirit – to instantaneously infuse them with knowledge of languages that would otherwise have taken years to learn. This was divine enablement being demonstrated in action in view of and for the benefit of all.
The disciples simply had no idea what was about to come but what did come knocked their socks off – it was way more, immeasurably more, than they could imagine or ask for. The Spirit of God came in His own way and blew them away. What took place, how He came, was not within the realm of their expectations – it was way beyond, it was immeasurably more. That is God for you.
There is no predicting or even knowing how God is going to turn up – the only sure thing is that He routinely does “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (Eph 3:20). The transliteration of the Greek word translated “immeasurably” in Eph. 3:20 (“hyperekperissou”) is “superabundantly”, “over abundantly”, “far more abundantly” and “beyond all measure”.
Let’s be encouraged to wait on God in the knowledge and trust of who He is and His ability to do immeasurably more “than all we ask or imagine.” We wait on the God who is and does immeasurably greater and more than we could ask for or imagine. We need to remind ourselves of this truth as we wait on Him together and come in faith and expectation of immeasurably more than we could ask or think.
There is no predicting or even knowing what God is going to do because He is way beyond the realm and possibility of our imagination and expectations.