The Prayer God Always Answers

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Much as I love Joshua 1:3, time was I was overawed by the promise it contains. It’s pretty much a blank check — especially when taken out of context. I may talk about taking verses out of context some other time, but for now let me just say that even when I was saying this verse in prayer, I knew I didn’t have the kind of faith it takes. And then some years ago the Holy Spirit said something that was both liberating and motivating.

One day as I was meditating on Joshua 1, the Holy Spirit said: “Every place you tread IN INTERCESSION I will give you.”

In intercession! 

That was the key! It was liberating because I already knew that in intercession, the onus is on God’s desire to fulfill His will. Our faith is always important, of course, but God’s desire to fulfill His will is far more important.

And what the Holy Spirit said was motivating because God was promising to answer intercession. That meant I could intercede with full confidence!

WHAT IS INTERCESSION?

Not all prayer is based on a knowledge of God’s will. Some prayer is simply telling God what we want and asking Him to give it to us if it is His will. We might say, “Lord, I’d like a new car. Is this Your will for me?” And He will respond in  in one of three ways: Yes, No, or Wait.

As an important aside, God’s silence usually means “Wait.” Don’t take it as a yes or a no until He makes that clear, but do wait in faith.

Sometimes we don’t even have to add “if it is Your will.” For instance, Jesus taught us to ask to our daily bread, for the forgiveness of sins, and for deliverance from evil without qualifying it with “if it is Your will” (Matthew 6:11-13).

Similar to this is the prayer of inquiry, the prayer that is the precursor to intercession. The inquiry goes something like this: “Lord, what is Your will in this situation?”

When we find out God’s will — bingo! We’ve found what God will say yes to, and that becomes the subject of our intercession.

Many times we stop once we find out God’s will. We tend to think our task is over, but only step one is over. Step two is to then pray God’s will to be done.

Yes, we are to pray for God’s will to be done. Jesus Himself taught us to pray saying “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NKJV). We are to pray this even when we don’t know what God’s will is. But when we do know what God’s will is, we are required to pray that it is done.

That, in a nutshell, is intercession: praying into the earth realm what God has always said yes to in the heaven realm. After that will is done, we thank God and move the next item.

And don’t worry, your list will never run out. If you want to intercede, God will always have an intercession assignment for you.

WHY INTERCEDE?

I believe there are three primary reasons to engage in intercession:

1. There is a need. People have needs and God is looking for those who will step in and pray. Apart from Jesus’ teaching and modeling while He walked this earth, on numerous occasions the apostle Paul also urges us to pray. For instance, in 1 Timothy 2:1 he says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people” (NIV).

2. Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are engaged in intercession. We know this from Romans 8:26, Romans 8:34, and Hebrews 7:25.

3. Intercession enables us to hear and know God better. We can only truly intercede for a situation once we have already found out God’s will concerning it. Finding out God’s will is all about hearing Him, and hearing Him is all about knowing Him. And knowing Him is what it’s all about.

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Immeasurably More

This morning I was driving to one of my favorite stores when the Lord prompted me to look at my gas gauge. I didn’t really want to stop for gas (because I really wanted to get to Best Buy), but the gauge was on the low end and I was passing a gas station. It was a cue I couldn’t miss. I pulled in.

When I went inside to pay, the young man ahead of me politely thanked the attendant and said, “And happy Memorial Day.” As soon as I heard that the Holy Spirit said, “Go encourage that young man.”

So I went up to him and told him that I appreciated what he had just said. Then I asked if he knew the Lord Jesus.

His face lit up. “I do,” he said. “He’s my personal Savior!”

Nothing thrills me more than hearing someone say that. I beamed as I always do when I meet a brother or sister in Christ, and that’s when the Holy Spirit gave me Ephesians 3:20 for him. I shared a few more words (okay, a few more sentences), and as we were walking out he said, “Thanks, I needed to hear that today.”

That would have been enough of a reward, but then the Lord gave me another blessing. The young man had a friend who also loves the Lord Jesus! I had a different word for this second young man, which felt like those BOGO deals we love. Two for the price of one!

If you need a word of encouragement today, why not receive Ephesians 3:20 by faith? And if your faith is on the low end, like my gas gauge was, read these words aloud. Repeat them over and over until you find yourself believing them.

You can never go wrong believing God’s words!

”Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
—Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

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A Time to Remember

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Memorial Day is the first American holiday I celebrated as a US citizen, and fourteen years later it remains my favorite American holiday. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). It’s an honor to remember those who laid down their lives for others.

It’s also an honor to celebrate those who were willing to lay down their lives and who, happily, lived to tell the tale. One such person is Carl Harstine, the World War II veteran I had the privilege of meeting last week.

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Corporal Harstine, 92, served in the United States Marine Corps in the early 1940s, facing combat for the first time in the Battle of Guadalcanal, at the tender age of 18. He was a guest of honor at an event at work, and since I was covering the event, I had the privilege of interviewing him.

It was a one-sided affair. He did the talking, I the listening. It was also one-sided because one of us fell in love with th’other.

As a lover of history, which was one of my minors at college, World War stories never fail to move me. As I knelt beside Corporal Harstine, I was aware that I was in the presence of a legend—and alas, instead of keeping calm and carrying on, I collapsed into a blubbering mess on my knees. (I’ve been telling myself for twenty years that someday I’ll be a cool American, and maybe someday I will. But for now the jury is out.)

I thanked Corporal Harstine for his service—twice. Both times he touched his hearing aid and said he couldn’t hear me. So the third time I wrote in my notepad, “I am an immigrant from India. It’s an honor to meet you. Thank you for your service.

He smiled and looked away. It was clear from his expression that he was remembering something. I thought it might be a trip he’d made to India or some Indian friend he had. When he spoke again I realized it had nothing to do with the land of my birth.

“The flag they raised in Iwo Jima,” he whispered. “It’s in the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington.”

Now this was interesting. I’d rather have a World War II vet tell me about Iwo Jima than reminisce about a trip to India or some long-lost Indian friend.

“Were you in Iwo Jima?” I scribbled in my notepad.

He shook his head.

“I was saved by the Voice.”

I’m guessing my expression asked the question for me (“What did the Voice say?”), because he added, “I’ve heard it only three times in my life.”

On this occasion, the Voice told the young corporal, who was to be sent to Iwo Jima, “Get out if you can.” He was somehow able to obey the Voice, so he was also able to get out of the war alive.

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It was time to say goodbye. That’s when I noticed an elderly lady leaning on a cane, waiting by the door. I introduced myself to her and asked if she’d come with Mr. Harstine.

”I’m his daughter,” she replied. “I drove him here.”

“Your dad’s a hero!” I cried. “I’ve fallen in love with him!”

We walked out to the parking lot. Two of my coworkers led Corporal Harstine, and I took Judy’s hand. I noticed that it was badly bruised and that she took deep, labored breaths with each step.

I waited on the sidewalk as they buckled up. As Judy was preparing to back out, her father asked her something. I’m not known for my lip-reading skills, but this one was easy. Judy said, “She has fallen in love with you.”

He blew me a kiss, raised his hand in a jaunty salute, and off they went.

I found out two days later that Judy passed away the following day. In memory of her, and of all those who lost their lives in World War II, I close with the Vera Lynn song that inspired “Some Sunny Day,” the eighth story in my first book, Pioneer Boulevard.

In a City Called Bombay

Unlike my previous videos, which open with the statement “Hi everyone, this is Sharon Arpana,” my latest begins, One night 28 years ago.”

28 Years tells the story of one of the momentous experiences of my life, which took place in a city then known as Bombay. In this video I also share seven benefits of being baptized in the Holy Spirit and one really anointed song.

Links to my prophetic words can be found on the Videos page or on my YouTube channel.