Perhaps the #1 reason why we pray is because we need God. We come in great need to Someone who suggests that He might meet our needs for us, something no man has ever done before. We have not seen this kind of love this side of heaven. We discover God’s amazing goodness and generosity, and we are compelled to love Him more.
But prayer is not meant to end at the meeting of our needs! We begin here, but soon realize that our needs are meant to be a gateway into greater experiences with God. It is always relationship that God seeks with us. He means to be Father, not just Provider! To focus on God as Jehovah-Jireh alone is to miss the myriad other aspects of His character and Names, to miss the greatness of Him.
The short story that follows is meant to illustrate our passage from beggars to sons and daughters. Our story unfolds like that of a weary traveler:
For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel.
~1 Corinthians 4:15, NKJV
This week, I hear the Lord speaking to us of His enduring love. In the midst of a season that seems to derive its energy from excitement, anticipation, and creating special experiences for loved ones, I feel the Lord is reminding us of a love that is constant and enduring, one that doesn't depend on emotional "highs" to validate itself. The love of God is true and sure, constant and unchanging. Listen in to what He shared with me, and let the peace of God settle in your spirit, filling you with a hope that is far more exciting than what lies under your tree!
In prayer this week, I felt the Lord's desire to know His people - really know us, intimately. Sometimes we think this isn't possible because it seems so hard to hear Him. Into this difficulty, God desires to speak hope, because from His perspective, things look VERY different! The following words are what He gave me to share with you.
"Children should be seen but not heard."
Do you remember your parents or grandparents correcting you with these words? Popular from Victorian times, this phrase is still used today to correct or silence children. I distinctly remember hearing this from adults in my childhood, especially around the dinner table! Harmless? Maybe on the surface. I highlight the phrase today because it epitomizes a deep wound between the generations that needs healing.
I know of a family whose father would not allow his children to appear downstairs until he had left for work in the morning or gone to bed at night. These children rarely ate meals together as a family, since their father and mother ate in peace - alone. It made for a peaceful home on the surface - and angry children who grew up essentially fatherless. Not one of these children ever had a decent relationship with their father, and even as adults, only a fraction of the anger with their mother has been resolved.
You might think this is a rare exception, or just a sad story I chose to illustrate my point. Older generations might even feel justified; after all, if we cater too much to a child's emotions and demands, they'll never make it in this world, right?
Actually, the opposite is true. The world is tough enough on its own, and impossible to survive without some kind of family support. In the absence of their fathers, children turn historically to their peers. Devoid of wisdom and real love, they flounder. Not because they're not tough enough - they are, in fact, much tougher than their parents - but because they lack mentors and do not trust authority. I do not have room to cite the statistics of escalating suicides, self-mutilation, alcoholism, and addiction. These are children whose behavior has been modified by rules, but whose hearts do not trust their fathers.
What Does God Think?
God has harsh words for those who ignore the brokenhearted:
"They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace. "Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time that I punish them, They shall be cast down," says the LORD.…
Today's younger generations have largely rejected God, believing that He does not want to see or hear them, either. Thankfully, He does see, and He does hear. He saw Ishmael when Abraham and Hagar abandoned him in the desert. His response was: "What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation." (Genesis 21:17-18, NKJV; see also Genesis 16:8-15).
Through Jesus, God revealed Himself as one who gladly welcomed children when adults turned them away. The healing of a daughter (Mark 5) was as important as the healing of a disciple's mother-in-law (Matthew 8). God heard a little boy who had the boldness to offer his meager lunch to Jesus. He honored the boy's generosity and sat down with him to the biggest family dinner ever prepared! (John 6).
A New Anointing of Glory Is Here
It is interesting to me that when Moses asked God to reveal His glory on Mount Sinai, God revealed the heart of a father. He stood Moses up on a rock (almost like a kid who needed to be lifted up higher), saying: "Here is a place by Me!" (Exodus 33:21). Then He covered him protectively with His hand as He passed by in all his wonderful glory. He declared Himself to be merciful, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in goodness and truth, and forgiving generational iniquities and sins.
Look at the similarities: Hagar was told to "lift up the lad, and hold him" with her hand, just as God lifted Moses up and covered him with His hand. As we reach out to the broken generations around us, this "glory" of God will envelop and heal every one we touch. We'll know the ones operating in the glory anointing when we see them taking extra children under their wings, as spiritual mothers and fathers. They'll be the ones repenting for the sins of their generation and praying for the addicts and the outcasts.
Think about it: God definitely did not exclude Moses from what He easily could have called "adult" conversation! He didn't brush him off, saying, "My ways are higher than your ways!" Instead, He entrusted the plans for an entire nation to a timid man who was once a murderer. Incredibly, He expects the under-qualified to rise up and become great!
I believe it would be impossible for God to fully release the anointing of His glory without turning the hearts of our fathers to our children. In fact, when God speaks in Malachi of turning families' hearts, He prefaces it by saying: "Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for Israel." Remember that first unveiling of My Presence! Remember the essential nature of who I Am! I am a Father who loves His children!
It is my fervent prayer today that the older generations among us be softened to hear the heart cries of the children. And that the younger, fatherless generations be restored to their Father in heaven, who sees them, hears them, and loves them unconditionally
c. Deborah Perkins, 2015
Deborah Perkins is passionate about helping others to connect with God.
She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at His Inscriptions.com.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.