Intercessors are vital to our lives and our walk with God. We hear stories of generations, who went before us and prayed for those yet to come. God is not contained by time, and neither are our prayers. James 5:16 tells us that the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective, scripture never puts an expiration date on prayer!
My mother-in-law was a closet intercessor. She loved the Lord but never understood the vastness of God. To the best of my knowledge, she didn’t necessarily know the “voice” of God nor had what we call an intimate relationship with her Creator. I do not doubt that she loved God with everything in her and was diligent in learning the Word of God.
Maxine grew up during the depression. Her father was a milk tester for Sealtest Dairies, so they always had some income and didn’t struggle to the degree that many people did during those difficult years. However, somewhere in the midst, she came to believe that she only needed “just enough” to get by in life. Nothing more.
Faithfully, over the years, she would let us know that she was praying for us. I cannot tell you how much we appreciated that. However, the kicker was that she always prayed that we would have “just enough to meet the bills.” Although we were thankful for the prayer, it also drove us absolutely crazy. As much as we tried to explain the lavishness of God she prayed for just enough.
The thing I want to explicitly state before moving on is that Maxine was very content. Philippians 4:12 Paul makes a statement that communicates that he has lived life! He states that he knows how to make do with a little or with abundance, Paul is saying that he can be content in either situation. This ability is key to being able to flow with the seasons we encounter in life.
Often when we talk about abundance, we are talking about money. When Maxine would pray for us, she’d pray for our finances specifically. Mark and I would joke between us that her prayers were being answered because we had “just enough.” However, abundance is meant to carry over into every area of our life. It is so much more than money.
A Widow at Zarephath
In 1 Kings 17:8-16 we meet a widow at Zarephath. There is a famine in the land, and God instructs Elijah to go to Zarephath and assures Elijah that he has instructed a widow to feed him. Often we figure that God has all the bases covered and we will slide right in when we are obedient. Funny thing is that God forgot to tell the widow ahead of time!
The widow believes that she has “just enough” for one more meal. No more and no less. She sees herself preparing the last meal for her and her son before they die of starvation. Here comes this man asking first for water but then deciding he was hungry also. I don’t know if this woman knew that she was talking to a prophet or not but I find her response interesting as she swears “by the Lord your God.” (verse 12) which gives the idea that Elijah has the relationship with God, not the widow. I have to believe that she was frustrated and discouraged, after all, what mother wants to see her child die and that is all she could see at the moment.
Maxine lived long enough to bury her husband and two of her three sons. As her days on the earth wound to an end, we knew that she had lost her will to live and cancer would win the battle. She had reached a point in her life that although she still trusted in God she didn’t see his provision this side of Heaven.
Change Takes Risk
Heidi Baker makes a great statement “In all things, we can rejoice. In every situation, He will provide. He will not leave us burned out or discouraged, tired or overcome. His grace is sufficient, and we can do all things – working and resting – through Him, through His strength. Trust that your heavenly Father knows what He is doing when He guides you and directs your life. Be thankful for every provision. Don’t forget to rest in the kindnesses He pours out on you – whether you feel deserving or not. You are His child. He loves you.”
As we return to our Widow in Zarephath, it is vital to know that Zarephath means “A place of refining.” There is more than the provision for Elijah going on here. God is refining the widow’s viewpoint, and that refining process wasn’t going to be easy!
Elijah prophesies that there will be enough flour and olive oil and there is. Just like Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding (John 2) God was making sure that the little provision, in her containers, would last until God again would send rain and the crops would grow. She was walking in this miracle provision at the point her son became sick and died.
The Strongholds in our Belief System
Remember, she already had death “scheduled’ due to starvation when Elijah showed up. Now here is her son dead from sickness. Immediately she begins to blame Elijah rather than trust in the faithfulness of God.
Often we struggle to equate the miracles and wonders of our past, or that exist in the present and pull them into the future. Paul was able to do this – which again is why he stated that he had learned to be content.
You and I have to learn to be content in all situations. However, I also am struck that there is a difference between situations that we are to be “content” in and those that we are to “battle” and take ground.
With both Mark and I coming from families that did not have any excess financially we had unknowingly set our expectations on having just enough. I’m not a wealth and prosperity preacher, but I do understand that I am a daughter of the King.
We were driving along Route 80 in Pennsylvania headed back to New Jersey after handling some aspects of Maxine’s estate. We were talking about the way that this dear woman prayed. In the midst of that conversation, we both had a moment of revelation. We had unknowingly developed what is known as a “poverty mindset.” In other words, there is a constant belief that “I can’t have this” or “I can’t afford this.” Now, in particular situations that may be true, however, there are also situations where that it is not true, but the individual believes it anyway. The issue is that the individual seems to make decisions based on a possible adverse outcome rather than the potential benefits. As we talked, we began to realize that some decisions we had made, over the years, were from this belief system. We were not trusting in the goodness of God.
Although the widow was living in the abundance of God as soon as she was caught off guard, she reverted to her fear of losing her son and that fear became a reality – for a moment.
If we are honest with ourselves, I’m pretty sure we can relate to the fear, hurt and disappointment galloping into our lives and taking over.
At the moment of pain, the widow forgot that she was alive, and her son had lived longer than she expected, because of the provision of God. Her life had radically changed because God sent a prophet for her to care for. In that obedience, she was sustained. Although the widow had forgotten Elijah hadn’t!
Changing Our Perspective
In the moment of crisis, we often need someone to help us re-position. Elijah did this for the widow as he so gently took the son and began to pray. God heard Elijah’s prayer and breathed life back into the boy. And, the woman remembered that Elijah was a man of God and that the Lord truly spoke through him (vs. 24).
For Mark and I, there was a price-tag that we had to pay as we realized the bondage that we had walked in. The mindset “for just enough” couldn’t be what controlled our lives. The widow had “just enough” that carried her for an extended season which made it abundance rather than lack. I believe as Elijah entered her home God was providing her with an opportunity to see things differently. As Mark and I drove home that day, God was providing us with a chance to see things differently.
When we are aligned with God’s perspective, in all areas of our lives, everything changes.