Pressing in Closer in 2021
In January 2011 the Lord spoke to me in as clear a directive as I have ever heard Him speak:
“Press in closer to know Me better. What you’ve had in the past isn’t enough for what lies ahead. What you’ve had in the past isn’t enough to say yes to my invitations and opportunities.
“Press in closer to know Me better.What you’ve had in the past isn’t enough to withstand and triumph over the assaults and temptations the enemy will bring.
“Press in closer.”
Within days and throughout the year, unusual ministry invitations and opportunities came. But along with those opportunities,our church and familywere slammed with difficulties and unexpected hardships. It still stands in my mind as the most difficult year in ministry we have ever faced.
I began to understand that this message was not just for 2011, but for my lifetime. Nineteen years later, COVID-19has renewed the clarion call of that unique God-message.
In April 2020, God reminded me of the breadth of that message. Along with that word, the Holy Spirit used Jesus’ example to speak to me in the challenging days of the pandemic.
In chapter 26 ofMatthew’s account of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane, we see what Jesus did in His most difficult time:
1) Jesus “went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane” (verse 36, NIV)to pray.He went. He physically went someplace to bewith the Father.
Jesus always did whatever He could to spend time with the Father. In His greatest testing, He pressed in close to the Father and prayed. I love the quote attributed to D.L. Moody, “Jesus Christ never taught his disciples how to preach, but only how to pray.”
Jesus always pressed in close to the Father, praying faithfully and fervently.
2) Jesus shared His burden with friends: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (verse 38, NIV).
Jesus was shaken and needed strength for the assignment.
Even the Son of God wanted the support of friends praying for Him in His darkest time. The enemy does some of his most effective work in darkness. Sharing with others brings our situation to the light, fortifying us and weakening the enemy’s plan.When we are overwhelmed and troubled, we can follow Jesus’ lead and reach out to those we trust for prayer.
3) Jesus fell face down and cried out, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as You will(verse 39, NIV).He had to triumph over His agony and grief to do what the Father asked. Jesus struggled to say yes to His assignment. The Father strengthened Him for all He faced.
Friend, are you struggling today? We can pour out our desperation to God and He will strengthen us. Like Jesus, we must win the battle within to win the war that lies ahead.
Leaders, I don’t believewe are going to “leadership”our way out of this pandemic or any other crisis. I believe God is calling us to follow Him through it.
Let’s follow Christ’s example of pressing in closer to the Father through prayer and surrender. We were created and called for this moment!