A LIVING SACRIFICE
When school shootings are commonplace, how do we live for God?
What does faith look like now?
When Faith Feels Different
Can you feel it? An attack on our best and brightest makes us feel despair.
Relentless attacks make us feel forsaken.
Faith feels different when you see fear in the face of a child. An attack on our society's most vulnerable can plant feelings of being forsaken in the hearts and minds of even the most seasoned of saints.
Demonic strategies like school shootings and our society's response to them creates tremendous uncertainty about the future. It is the weariness from what seems to have no solution that depletes us. It is the call for protection and safety with no meaningful response that makes our skin paper thin.
Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. ~Isaiah 62:1, New Living Translation
Isaiah the prophet was an influencer on a whole other level. He had the heart of the people and the ears of kings. Once young and insecure, now wise and immersed in his prophetic giftings, we see the seer get personal in chapter 62.
Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying...
This personal declaration from a relevant and effective intermediary used by God to instruct leaders and inspire people. Yet, with all the access and capacity he had, Isaiah was adamant about what he would do to usher in change:
I will not keep still.
I will not remain silent.
I will not stop praying.
His first line of defense in the restoration of Jerusalem was not to schedule a meeting, take a phone call, hold a press conference or even plan a protest.
It was to pray.
Without decline and with tears.
Without pleasure and in the face of pain.
And throughout the chapter we see Isaiah not only in the posture of prayer, but changing the dynamics of his prayer work from obscurity to action.
As I sit here pecking on this keyboard, I have to ask myself...
What is the status of my own prayer work?
Has my faith been hardwired for the challenges that come?
A Hardwired Faith
All the years I have studied this chapter, I have never viewed it through the eyes of Isaiah as a prayer warrior. I can think of no better way to close out the Living Sacrifice series than to follow his lead and unpack how we can hardwire our faith and live sacrificially through fervent prayer:
INFUSE PRAYER WITH YOUR PASSION
O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth. The Lord has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength: “I will never again hand you over to your enemies. Never again will foreign warriors come and take away your grain and new wine. Isaiah 62:6-8, NLT
God gives us the desires of our hearts. That includes the desire for change. What agonizes you should activate a relentless prayer life.
EXPAND YOUR COURAGE ZONE
Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. ~Isaiah 62:10 NLT
A life of spiritual sacrifice is embedded in consistent and courageous prayer work on our knees and in our actions. Get out of your comfort zone and embrace your courage zone.
EXPECT CHRIST TO COME
The Lord has sent this message to every land: “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’” They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the Lord.” ~Isaiah 62:11-12 NLT
Even when it feels like your hope is hanging on the Cross, be encouraged. It's in good hands. Greater is coming.
Almighty and righteous God, God of Isaiah, God of our hearts, we call on you today for change. Change us. Ignite the power of the Holy Spirit to work through us in prayer and advocacy. Change systems. Like the broken walls of Jerusalem, repair what continues to leave us vulnerable to the enemy. Change communities. Bring us together in prayer, supplication, and action for the protection of our children and future. Change leadership. Convict the hearts, minds and hands of authorities to make the hard choices and see through the process of a better life for our children and future.
Like Isaiah, we pray for change. Hardwire our faith. Give each of us the courage to carry our own prayer mantle. Ignite within us the fortitude to continue on our knees and in our actions the prayer work we have been appointed.
We will not let go until you bless us.
In Jesus' name. Amen.