BRICK BY BRICK
Updated: Apr 6, 2019
By God’s design, I am a one-task, hands-on-learner. Sticky notes & lists are my friends as an aid to keeping my mind clear & my thinking uncluttered. And I feel the least frustration when I finish one project before starting another. When I read, I do so with a highlighter in hand, marking what I want to remember. I re-teach what I’m reading by “seeing” it a second time.
In my spiritual life, I’ve found that I retain Truth in much the same manner. I comprehend best if I have a word picture that I can practically apply to my life. According to The Bible Reference Companion, there are 340+ verses referencing prayer, a subject that is continually close to my heart. To me, prayer has become far more about relationship, than it is something I do, or check off a list. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it & is safe.” I love that picture! Who doesn’t want to know where to go to feel safe? Psalm 62 says that God is my rock, salvation, hope & stronghold. And as a result of that truth, I won’t be shaken. (Check out verses 1&2 and 5-8.) I’m invited to pour out my heart to Him. Not many humans really want to listen to, or deal with, that kind of intensity. Thankfully, God isn’t put off by my emotions.
One of my frequent prayers is based on Luke 18:1---“Lord, teach me to pray so that I don’t lose heart.” This verse says Jesus taught that lesson in a parable, which resonates with my word picture bent. In my understanding about prayer through the years, I’ve come to see each prayer offered as a brick. When I pray for others, I am figuratively, & spiritually, building a wall of protection (i.e. tower or stronghold) around their lives, brick by brick. The more I intercede, the higher their wall. And, when I pray specific scriptures over them, I am confident that I am praying God’s will. Truth doesn’t change. God isn’t fickle. He means what He says & He keeps His promises. He knows exactly what He intends by His written, & spoken, Word. His answers are perfectly timed. He is just as faithful & able now, as when Jesus physically walked the earth.
In the Old Testament, Nehemiah went to great lengths to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. The details of this enormous project are recounted in chapters 1-6. But the bottom line is, Nehemiah didn’t make a move without praying. He prayed before, during, & after every challenge. He prayed honestly, he prayed humbly, & he prayed expectantly. Nehemiah was resolved & he always acknowledged & honored God. There was no question in his mind that he desperately needed God’s help & directives. Sometimes we erroneously separate what we think we can do for ourselves, from the other obvious needs requiring Divine intervention.
The Nehemiah story drives home my brick analogy in intercessory prayer. Prayer is our greatest proactive work as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. As such, we are called to be “bricklayers,” building spiritual fortresses around people…whether they recognize their need or not. Though I am separated by conflicting schedules, miles, or circumstances from many of the people I pray for, I always pray that they are drawn into the love of Christ & that they will have an unmistakable awareness of God’s presence in their daily lives. Like the united work force in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall, we can rally together when we hear the trumpet…the call to prayer. When we pray, God fights for us. I don’t know about you, but this is a visual I can wrap by spiritual “arms” around! After God sketched this picture in my mind, my first thought was, “Ok Lord! Who can I enlist to lay bricks on behalf of my family? Who do You want me to be a bricklayer for?”
I have, in my “keep” file, a sixteen-year-old Focus on the Family pictorial newsletter, published to commemorate the ministry’s 25th anniversary in 2002. I kept it because of one inspiring picture & the caption under it. The 1930s picture was of Dr. Dobson’s great-grandfather, who “prayed from 11 a.m. to 12 noon every day for four generations of his family, both those living and those yet to be born.” WOW! Even now, I am taken aback by the vision & time commitment of a faithful Father/grandfather/great-grandfather who took God at His word. This prayer warrior made a difference in generations of his family. Some he would never meet on earth. But by faith, he believed they would walk with God & make differences for eternity. He understood that the effectual prayers of a righteous man will accomplish much. (James 5:16) In my Bible notes jotted by this verse, I wrote that an effectual pray-er is a person completely committed to God’s will for answers & not his own will. This is not a one time, once-for-all experience, but something we work at constantly, moment by moment. (see pages 54&55 in What Happens When Women Pray) As I see it, EVERYTHING in our walk of faith is moment by moment. That’s how dependency works. “Lord, continue to teach me to pray!”
When we lived in Phoenix, we belonged to a small prayer group of 4 couples. The thing that drew us together was our desire to pray for our children. Since our move to Kansas 10 years ago, these gals are still my primary go-to prayer warriors. We have history. That’s important because many things don’t need to be explained. When the enemy is pounding on the door, I text. And I know they will respond. We carry no assumptions or judgments about what’s happening in each other’s lives. At this stage in life, we readily affirm that we are needy women. We are aware of our natural reactions to lose heart in tough times. We need prayer…& lots of it!
The best news of all is that Jesus is my/your “bricklayer.” The Word gives account of the many times our Lord drew away from the crowds to be alone…to pray to His Father. How much more should we? John, chapter 17, is a beautiful, amazing, spiritually uplifting account of His heartfelt prayer for those who trust in Him for life. Even today, when I can’t adequately express my heart and can only cry “Oh God”, the Spirit intercedes for me according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26&27) When I have no words, He is on the job! Verses 33 &34 assert that Jesus is interceding from His position at God’s right hand when we are under attack. Are you participating in the building of walls, brick by brick, seeking His will for yourself & for others? The trumpet is blowing.