This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are leaerning how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?
If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can find them here.
If I were your enemy, I’d magnify your fears, making them appear insurmountable, intimidating you with enough worries until avoiding them becomes your driving motivation. I would use anxiety to cripple you, to paralyze you, leaving you indecisive, clinging to safety and sameness, always on the defensive because of what might happen. When you hear the word faith, all I’d want you to hear is “unnecessary risk”.
Your Fears. Confronting Your Worries, Claiming Your Calling
That fact is this: fear is one of Satan’s primary schemes for crippling God’s people. I’m not talking about legitimate concern. I’m not talking about protective warnings of wisdom and godly counsel. I’m talking about fear. Incessant worry. Up-all-night anxiety. Worst-case scenario becoming the only probabilities you can think about. Fears like these, instead of simply raising our blood pressure, out to set off some fire alarms. Why am I feeling so paralyzed like this?
We clearly know from scripture that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). So whenever you sense a “spirit of fear” invading any particular area of your life, you can know by process of elimination that it’s not coming from God… which only leaves one other spiritual place it could be orginating from… which ought to make you wonder why it’s there. Aren’t you at least a little bit curious what he’s trying to keep you from experiencing?
I’m sure you’re familiar with the story of Moses and the children of Israel, pinned up against the waters of the Red Sea while the Egyptian pharaoh and his armies were bearing down hard from behind. Israel was fast in the process of being surrounded by people whose nation had brutalized them and their ancestors for four, long horrendous centuries. No escape. And the only direction that wasn’t swarming with enemy hordes, the one path God was directing His people to go, lay straight through the sea.
So these two million Hebrews had every reason to be terrified. Mortified really. There was no swimming out of this one.
Any yet, in the face of such impossible circumstances, with the odds so heavily stacked against them, and with no indicator of the miracle that God had planned, Moses said to the people, “Do not fear!” (Exodus 14:13). His very first instruction to them was to not be afraid.
Notice that Moses wasn’t telling them not to feel fear. The prospect of looming death will just kind of do that. On its own. Fear is a natural human response to a lot of things, a Red Sea moment being one of them. So he knew they would feel fear, but he was telling them not to wallow in it. Not to choose it. Not to make friends with it. Not entertain it, engage it. Because if they did, they risked not sticking around long enough to experience the stunning miracle their God was about to perform. And even more, they risked not getting to the other side. To the Promised Land. To the land of milk and to the honey. To destiny.
Oh, so that’s what the enemy wanted fear to keep them from obtaining. And that’s what he hopes fear will keep you from obtaining too. Your destiny.
But whether you need a gentle hand today reaching out to hold yours, or you could use a little tough love right now to shake yourself awake from the stupor of all those excuses, the prescription is still the same…
Do. Not. Be. Afraid.
The issue of fear is so well-known and important to God that more than three hundred times in Scripture He tells his people – in one form or another – not to be afraid. “Fear not.” “Be ye not afraid.” “Do not fear.” Look it up. It’s everywhere. You know those times when you’re searching high and low for just one verse to tell you what God wants you to do? Well, there’s three hundred of them. And they’re all saying the same thing, “Don’t be afraid.”
It’s the enemy telling you, “Be very afraid.” Is that the kind of junk he’s been feeding you lately? Twenty million reasons why you can’t? Can’t kick the habit? Can’t stand up and lead a Bible Study? Can’t help start that inner-city ministry? Not qualified enough for that job? Can’t do this, could never do that, be crazy to even think about doing that other thing?
Why not? Might take too much time? Not to mention the pressure? The germs? Do I really want to risk the rejection of being told no? Don’t I realize what I’d be giving up in terms of security and salary and insurance benefits? What would people think if I did something so audacious, something out of my normal routine and pattern? Wouldn’t I just be opening myself up to criticism and catty comments? What about all my food allergies, my fear of flying, all my other various intolerances?
Are those the kind of speed bumps and roadblocks he’s been laying in front of you, seemingly all your life? He’s just full of it. Full of excuses. Invesed in cramming you full of fear. Why? Because fear is the antithesis of faith. And faith is what allows you to step foot on the soil of your destiny.
Hear me out, and hear me good: I’m about to write a long, run-on sentence, but I want you hanging on every word:
If God has given you clear direction, like He gave the children of Israel – direction He’s confirmed by his written Word and by the sounding board of wise, godly counsel – and your only real reason for resisting Him is because you’re afraid of what following Him down his path might mean or cost or entail, then you’re not only on the threshold of being disobedient, you’re about to miss an opportunity to give God some fresh, new glory by doing what He’s wanting to do through you, which is the true impetus behind His invitation for you to join Him on this scary adventure in the first place.
In fervent prayer, we discover something: Our God is fearless. And because He is fearless, we can be fearless too. When His presence is with us and going before us, no Red Sea should faze us or give us pause. So despite your hesitation, say yes. Walk on. Have faith. Fear not.
God wouldn’t tell us to not be afraid – or tell it to us so often – if He didn’t fully realize that fear, worry, anxiety, queasiness, cold feet, sweaty palms, dry mouth, and racing heartbeats are our first, natural reaction to some of the challenges of following Him, especially those (like most) that don’t come with clear, step-by-step instructions on how to handle every possible hiccup or contingency.
Prayer is the difference maker. An invitation for honesty, yes, for telling Him how you feel – infused with the assurance and fearless confidence that comes from God’s promises.
Remember those worries of yours? They’re not just stray thoughts; they’re deliberate strategies. Strategies to derail you from your destiny and calling. And the way to fight them is with a deliberate prayer strategy of your own.
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. In God whose Word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Psalm 56:3-4
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
The word of the Lord came to me: I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. But I protested, “Oh no, Lord, God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.” Then the Lord said to me: Do not say, “I am only a youth,” for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you. Jeremiah 1:4-8
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or fefute you! Luke 21:15
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. John 10:27-29
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us… let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:19-20, 23
I am praying for you today, as you read this. I am praying for any areas that you are experiencing fear or worry or anxiety – any of those feelings that are trying to hold you down and cripple you. I feel them too. There are thoughts that always try to creep in, and I have to take them captive – knowing that they are not of God. I’m praying for the areas where fear is the main thing stopping you from doing what God is clearly calling you to do. That is exactly what happened with me before I started this blog. I had a story that I felt called to share, but I was afraid to do it. I didn’t want people to know that story or the insecurities that I dealt with. It was months of feeling this calling to write before I decided to obey. I waited for all the answers – I wanted to know exactly how to do it before I took the first step. But as I started writing, it became clearer to me. I just took the first step, and then He showed me the next. I’m thankful that I decided to obey and that He is using my story to help others. What is it that He’s asking you to do? What is it that He wants to do through you that you have been to afraid to do? Take the first step of obedience, and He’ll show you the next.