Apart from the fact that three guys from deep South Georgia would not be normally caught dead in such a thing as a Jewish prayer shawl, what makes this picture interesting is what makes everything God is doing these days interesting! Namely, He seems to be pouring out His Spirit in very unusual ways and around things that have strangely Jewish flavors to them...If someone would have ever dared suggest that something like a prayer shawl could make any difference in my prayer life, I would have laughed at them.
But you know what we are discovering... God likes to use foolish things to confound the wise, the learned, the educated, the intellectual, and the rationalist. All three of us had actually gotten a chance to minister together the night this picture was taken...John and Todd lead a few worship songs and Chris gave a message... which for him was the first time in over 2 or 3 years he had seen the back side of a pulpit. Some dear friends invited us over for dinner after church and we discovered that one had not long ago discovered she was of Jewish lineage. I am not sure if that is why they happened to have three Jewish prayer shawls hanging around their house, but nonetheless, we had all come over that night to seek breakthrough for Chris, who at the time was beginning to see God begin to put pieces of his life back together.
I can remember specifically that there was a peace of God that permeated the house, even before we put the prayer shawls on or began to pray. On top of that, our friends described some just plain old "supernatural" things that God had been doing in and through them. A thickness of the presence of God that I am not used to feeling (and thickness is the best word I can use to describe it...) entered the room as soon as we began to pray for Chris. I had brought my guitar as well and had begun to play. I have never seen the Shekinah glory of God, but I have sensed it enough to know when that kind of presence of God is in a place and when it is not. Needless to say, it soon felt as though we were standing in the throne room of heaven itself and I could see us standing before the mercy seat interceding for our brother... we began to enter into worship that I can't even really describe with words. I remember that what started out as a one chord progression (guitar players I am sure are impressed by that..) soon became a one chord song of the Spirit. What is ever so neat is that we began to sing the Aaronic Blessing... without realizing it or really planning to do it. Before it was over, John and Todd both got prayer shawls put around them with prayer and intercession as well. I remember warmth and glory... the two things that I think most describe the communion of the Holy Spirit when He comes in power on us. It was a wonderful time in the Lord that night, and one we will not soon forget.
So what did wearing a prayer shawl have to do with anything?? I am not sure myself... I know that Chris continued moving on with the Lord more and more after that night... and I know that the LORD birthed a fresh song in me and my brother to bless others with. I also know I read in the book of Acts of some very supernatural things God was doing that seemed AWFULLY weird! Come on... really.... handkerchiefs that had Peter and Paul's sweat on them causing demons to come out of people... give me a break! People in trances seeing visions and others being translated in the Spirit from one location to another... people speaking the word of God causing someone to go blind and angels striking rulers down for not giving glory to God! Come on.. get real. Our intellectual rationalist minds just can't process that kind of thing.. especially in America. We don't need that anymore... we have SCIENCE now don't we?? In fact, we don't need the supernatural even in the Church... we have the BIBLE now...
Friends, I don't understand everything God does... I don't even understand everything I read in the Bible... I just know that God has some pretty good insight on what it takes to deal with intellectual pride and seeing His kingdom come in our midst. There is nothing magical in a prayer shawl, just as there is nothing magical in a communion wafer, or nothing mystical in the water a person is baptized in. They are all symbols of something BIGGER... in particular they are symbolic of SOMEONE bigger! Someone bigger than you and I and the whole universe.. someone who condescends to live with us and come in our midst!
The prayer shawl never "clicked" with me in my mind until I heard evangelist Sid Roth, a Messianic Jew, speaking on a tape not long ago. He was speaking about his prayer shawl, and as he put his on before he began to preach his message, he made an interesting statement. He said something to the effect of "Lord, I put this on as a symbol of faith in belief that You are going to come in our midst tonight... for without faith it is impossible to please you." It began to make sense to my rational brain that we all sometimes must make a step (and even sometimes a leap) of faith in following the Lord. All the gifts of the Spirit operate by faith... the fruit of the Spirit is borne by a heart of faith that believes Jesus is alive and living to produce the fruits of righteousness in us! In particular, a shawl in a very real sense is symbolic of us PUTTING on the nature and the character of Jesus ON US when we pray and intercede and speak in His name. We must PUT ON faith every single time we pray... otherwise our prayers are not REAL prayers... they are just vain imaginations and ethereal hopes that MAYBE God will work on our behalf.
I did a teaching a while back on the TASSEL that the Lord commanded His people to wear on their garments... He gave this command for a specific reason. Specifically, it was to remind His people of His commandments because their HEARTS were prone to rebellion and fleshly destruction. Would our prayer lives be invigorated if we were reminded afresh every time we PRAY in the NAME of Jesus that we must PUT ON the FAITH and CHARACTER and NATURE of our Lord Jesus FIRST?? Why? Because our HEARTS are prone to unbelief and worry and fear and doubt and anxiety and lack of trust and lack of faith... ALL the things that KILL effective prayer. Doubt is one thing... but unbelief is doubt confronted with incontrovertible evidence that still refuses to believe!!
I don't know what your "point of contact" for faith needs to be. I know I long for more of the STIRRINGs of God the Holy Spirit in my life. I don't have a prayer shawl of my own... but I might get one if the opportunity ever affords itself. I would've laughed at an idea like this not too long ago... but I believe there is something about the power of God that seems to attract itself to the Jewish roots of the Olive Tree we are grafted into! It seems that the closer we get to the VINE, the closer we get to the POWER that will keep us abiding in the VINE as well! I want and need that in my own life! And it just so happens that we are connected to a Jewish VINE...
We are going to see a lot more stranger things in the days ahead than just Gentiles wearing Jewish prayer shawls... we are already seeing a lot of Gentile believers blowing shofars and having Seder dinners. The strangest thing the world has yet to see is Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians be ONE, especially when you consider that Arab and Palestinians all fall into the Gentile category as well! ... unity and oneness is what our Lord prayed for, that is what the Lord will do, and that is what we need to welcome as His Church. Come Lord, make us one as you are one... make us the one new MAN where the dividing wall of hostility and separation has been torn down...
SO THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE that JESUS is MESSIAH, the chosen One of God....
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