1st 7 Days
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1st 7 Days

1st 7 Days

Welcome to The Unleash The Power Of God course. Click here to read book.

Book Reading: 1st 7 Days

Day 1: Experience the Real Thing +

The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

1  Corinthians  4:20

A freight train full of roaring lions. At a distance but closing in fast.

That’s what it sounded like. Then the floor beneath me started shaking. The room began swaying from side to side. As I stood on the eighteenth floor of the Ala Moana Hotel on Oahu, my first thought was that I was imagining things. It occurred to me that I might be physically ill and about to pass out. But as my ten-year-old daughter sat up in the bed, looking equally alarmed, I realized we were in the midst of an earthquake. Six point seven on the Richter scale, I later learned—the largest to hit the Hawaiian Islands in more than fifty years.

Miraculously, God enabled me to remain uncharacteristically calm. Tara and I quickly dressed and headed out into the hallway. Before we made it to the stairwell, all the lights went out and we were engulfed in darkness. Feeling our way down the stairs, we soon encountered a growing throng of frightened hotel guests. I missed a step, twisting my ankle,

but we pressed onward, inching our way through the dark, finally making it down to the street below. Just when we didn’t think matters could get any worse, we stepped outside into pouring rain.

I struck up a crisis-driven friendship with a doctor and her husband who agreed to let us hop in their car, and we drove away from the towering buildings. We wanted to be as far from concrete and glass as we could possibly get if any strong aftershocks hit. After about thirty minutes, I looked at my watch and announced, “I’m scheduled to speak at the hotel in five minutes!” We decided the worst was behind us, and the couple agreed to drive me back to the Ala Moana where, sure enough, many of the retreat attendees were standing outside, wondering what to do.

I had previously been in several conferences that had been disrupted by fire alarms, but in every case, it turned out to be a false alarm. That was distressing enough. This was the real thing. A real-life disaster. Calling it an act of nature or an act of God, people were reminded once again that life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. We had all been shaken with a fresh realization that there are forces at work more powerful than any human being.

I think That’s a good thing. It’s so easy to deceive ourselves into thinking we’ve got the world figured out and under control. But in life, as in earthquake-prone regions, every once in a while, God lets everything that can shake, shake. Whatever is left standing is a foundation worth building on.

The hotel staff set votive candles along the floor, creating a path through the lobby and up the stalled escalators, guiding the way to our second-floor conference room. Here, a continental breakfast awaited those of us attending the Salvation Army Pacific Region women’s retreat. The candles also lit the way for everyone else who was frightened, hungry, and desperate for that first cup of coffee. People began streaming in. Pandemonium doesn’t begin to describe it. Unfazed, the conference director,

Major Jonette Mulch, simply smiled and said, “We’re the Salvation Army. This is what we do. We feed people.” Then she started singing. And she kept on singing. And the women sang. And they kept on singing.

We sang “This Little Light of Mine” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” We sang “Shout to the Lord” and dozens of old praise choruses. I delivered a short message on what it means for Christians to be a light in the darkness. Ironically, that was my planned message, even though I hadn’t planned to deliver it by candlelight! A woman pulled out her ukulele, and we sang some more. A hotel guest walked up and started drumming along, then shared how much our impromptu church service meant to him. Other guests expressed the same sentiment.

We welcomed everyone who entered in, offering them breakfast and a word of encouragement. We laughed, we cried, we prayed, we hugged, and we sang. My daughter went around the room, hugging people who looked as if they needed hugs. Later she passed out handmade bookmarks that she had made by candlelight. She even did cartwheels in order to entertain some small children whose parents had come into the room, wondering what all the singing and laughing was about.

A group of Polynesian women from a homeless shelter on Maui performed a hula dance as they sang praise to God. Micronesian women from the Marshall Islands, many of whom never have electricity anyway, worshiped God in their own language and with their own form of dance. An African American woman belted out “Amazing Grace” as if she meant it with all her heart. And she did. We all did. We knew we served an amazing God and that we were part of something amazing. We had witnessed God’s power. We knew it. Everyone in the room knew it, even those who did not yet know God personally.

We had experienced the power of God. Not in the earthquake, but in its aftermath. Not in what shook, but in what had not been shaken: our faith, our hope, and our love. Those three things remained. Later that day,

many of these same women found themselves stranded at the airport. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, they continued singing and helped serve more than three thousand free meals (compliments of the Salvation Army) to fellow travelers.

The electrical power in the hotel remained off all day, giving me ample time to ponder the power of God—the power I had seen demonstrated after the earthquake. I couldn’t help thinking about Elijah. Shortly after seeing God send fire from heaven in response to his prayers, Elijah was so discouraged that he hid out in a cave. God came and gave him these instructions: “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by” (1 Kings 19:11). No doubt Elijah expected to witness the power of God in yet another dramatic fashion. But That’s not what happened. “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:11–12).

Finally, I understood. God’s power isn’t always where we expect to find it.

For many months leading up to the earthquake, I had been thinking, praying, and attempting to write about the power of God. It seemed to be the missing ingredient in the lives of many Christians. Unfortunately, I spent much of my so-called writing time staring at my blank computer screen. Hours turned into days and days turned into months as I sat with motionless fingers, wondering if I was the only one agonizing over the lack of power in the lives of so many Christians, myself included. The blank computer screen stared back at me, defying me to write something worth reading. A contemptuous voice kept whispering in my ear, This is a stupid waste of time; you’re just obsessed with something no one else cares about.

The blank screen prevailed until one Sunday morning. Waiting for the worship service to begin, I thumbed casually through the church bulletin. The day’s sermon topic? You guessed it: the power of God. My pastor preached with tremendous passion and urgency. Every word he spoke confirmed everything God had been showing me about the need for Christ’s followers to begin walking in the power of God. At the end of the service, my pastor did something I’ve never seen him do. Before asking for new believers to come forward, he invited anyone who wanted to experience more of God’s power to come to the altar. Hundreds, including me, poured forward, tears streaming, hands lifted, hearts crying out to God in desperation. It was a dramatic display of emotion rarely seen at our fairly subdued, suburban megachurch. By taking the socially risky step of getting up out of their pews, they made a bold statement for all to see: I want to experience the power of God, and I don’t care who knows it. What I have is not enough, and I’m willing to admit it. In that moment, I knew I wasn’t alone. I believe millions of Christians are yearning to experience the power of God. We want to taste it, not just read about it in the Bible or church history books, not just hear what’s taking place in Uganda or China. We want to see God’s power in our own lives, in our families, in our churches, and in our nation.

We want a clear, dramatic, immediate, unmistakable, life-altering encounter with the transforming power of God. Throughout the Bible, when God showed up, everyone knew it. Joseph went from a prison to a palace overnight. Peter led three thousand to Christ with one sermon. The walls of Jericho fell with a shout. The waters of the Jordan parted while the Israelites slept. When that fire fell from heaven on Elijah’s sacrifice, it didn’t start as a spark to get a fire going. It fell in a consuming fire, demonstrating the overwhelming power of God. But God also demonstrated his power when he cared enough to track Elijah down and speak to him in a whisper. Sometimes God’s power is revealed in powerful circumstances;

sometimes it manifests in powerful demonstrations of his personal care for his children.

The world needs to see both, just as the hotel guests did when they wandered into our post earthquake worship service. Today, people around the world look at Christians in frustration and say, “Show us the power! If your God is real, if your faith is true, why isn’t it working?” Good question. Wimpy excuses just won’t do anymore. Our lives need to be distinctively different. Not only do our actions need to be different, but so do our reactions to the earthquakes of life. We need to leave people scratching their heads in wonder. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, our faith needs to be so power packed that it enables us to boldly say, “We’d rather make fools of ourselves expecting God to do something dramatic and lifesaving than meander through life, claiming to believe something we don’t really believe. In fact, we’re so sure of God’s power, we’re willing to stake our lives on it.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked straight into a fiery furnace. God didn’t snuff out the flames; instead, he walked through the fire with them and enabled them to come through unscathed and unbowed (see Daniel 3).

God did not spare Christians from experiencing the earthquake in Hawaii. He didn’t demonstrate his power by holding our hotel steady while the rest of the island shook. Instead, he held us and enabled us to smile and sing—he granted us the power to shake without being shaken. Do you long to experience the power of God—and not just experience it for yourself, but to demonstrate it to a watching world? Is it the cry

of your heart as well? If so, you’ve picked up the right book.

One lesson God has determinedly taught me, over and over again, is this: the world doesn’t need to see what we can do for God; the world needs to see something only God can do. Only the power of God can transform a heart, a family, a city, or a nation. Only the power of God can bring about lasting change in people and circumstances. We cannot manufacture the power of God. Yes, we can create religious programs and activities, but they’ll never take the place of the power of God. And because programs lack true power, the minute they end, their impact on people’s lives declines. That’s why too many churches have become Activity Generating Stations rather than conduits for God’s power, and That’s why so many Christians are trapped on the treadmill of church busyness rather than living the Great Adventure that God has ordained for us.

When I knelt down, alone beside a quiet riverbank, and surrendered my life to God in 1980, my heart longed for two things: to be different and to make a difference in the world. I believed God could transform my life and use me to help transform the world—well, at least a small corner of it. Although I’ve taken many missteps and endured some painful misadventures along the way, those two dreams have remained foremost in my mind. As a result, I’ve spent more than twenty-five years studying the power of God, determined to discover how God radically transforms a person and how one individual can touch the world in a significant way. This book is the fruit of that ongoing quest.

I want to help you understand what we can do to allow God to change us into conduits for his power. In Becoming a Vessel of God’s Power you’ll discover:

Power through purification. God’s power flows most consistently through a pure vessel, so you’ll learn some practical ways you can experience ongoing spiritual purity.

The power of the Word. You’ll see how to tap into the power of God’s Word with a fresh approach to reading, memorization, meditation, and usage.

The power of prayer. You’ll find some practical tools for unlocking the power of praying Scripture for yourself, plus the effectiveness of God-directed prayer, corporate prayer, and praying with authority.

God’s provision for power. You’ll learn to make the most of everything God has provided for you to walk in his power, including the support of prayer warriors, insightful counselors, and gifted teachers.

The power of balancing solitude and service. You’ll be challenged to balance rest and service, in order to strengthen both the internal reality of God’s Spirit at work within you and the external expression of the Holy Spirit’s power upon you, enabling you to impact people and situations.

Power in practice. You’ll discover that as you walk in obedience and listen to God’s Spirit, he directs you to situations where his power is already at work. You simply get the joy of being part of it.

If that sounds like what you’re looking for, I challenge you to make a serious commitment. Right now. Make the decision. For the next thirty days open your mind, your heart, and your life to the power of God. Give God thirty days—and see what he will do! Each day along your journey to becoming a vessel of God’s power includes a Scripture verse to meditate on, a prayer to pray aloud, a truth to affirm, five questions for reflection, an action assignment, and an opportunity for you to write out your own prayer to God. (If you would like to do this study with a group, there’s a free Leader’s Guide available at www.donnapartow.com/power.)

I pray that before you’ve finished this book, you will see a powerful move of God in and through your life. That’s a bold prayer, but we have a bold God and a bold book (the Bible) filled with bold promises. Don’t settle for cheap substitutes; God wants you to experience his power in you and through you. Are you ready to experience the real thing? If so, let’s go!

Dear heavenly Father, I want to experience your power. I want to know, not just believe, that you are awesome in power and mighty in deeds! I’m willing to openly admit that I need more of you in my life. I invite you, Holy Spirit, to be my Teacher and Coach for the next thirty days. My heart is open to whatever you want to do in and through my life. Amen.

I can experience the power of God.

When you think of the power of God, what’s the first biblical example that comes to mind?

Do you believe God can still demonstrate his power in similar ways? Why or why not?

What is the most dramatic example of the power of God you know of? (Perhaps someone you know was miraculously healed, or you heard about a miracle from a missionary, and so on.)

How have you witnessed the power of God at work in your own


What are your hopes for this thirty-day journey?

Purchase a spiral-bound notebook of 3 x 5–inch white or multicolored index cards (widely available wherever office supplies are sold). If you like, decorate and even laminate the cover.

Each day, record the daily Affirm statement (for example: “I can experience the power of God”) along with the day’s Scripture verse. Use the reverse side to record key points from this book and other sources, such as songs, sermons, radio programs, poems, and so on.

As you ask the Holy Spirit to teach you about the power of God, he will answer that prayer with insights that go well beyond this book. Record those insights in your index-card notebook. Carry it with you wherever you go. Jot down thoughts, Scripture, and God-ordained experiences.

I have dozens of such index-card notebooks, and each one is a special treasure, reminding me of the power of God operating in my own life.

Write out today’s affirmation and scripture on the first index card.

Write out your own prayer, expressing what God has shown you today about his mighty power.

Day 2: Believe God Is Still a God of Power +

You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.

Psalm 77:14

The year was 1979. James and Cynthia were collecting welfare and living in a housing project in Nashville, Tennessee. Although unmarried, they had five children, including a son James had fathered during a previous marriage. Once upon a time, both James and Cynthia had heard the claims of Christ and mentally assented to the truth of the gospel. But they weren’t walking with God, which meant they were a long way from experiencing power-packed faith.
All that was about to change.
When Cynthia went to the doctor for her six-week checkup after the birth of their fifth child, she learned she was pregnant, again. The couple couldn’t afford another mouth to feed, so they quickly found a place that offered free abortions. On the morning of the scheduled abortion, James and Cynthia discovered that the batteries had been stolen from both of their vehicles, even though their cars were parked on opposite sides of a huge parking lot. Strangely enough, no other batteries in the area had been stolen that night.
James borrowed money from a relative and replaced the batteries, while Cynthia rescheduled the abortion for the following week. However, when they woke up on the appointed day, they again discovered that their vehicles had been deliberately targeted. This time all four tires on both cars were flattened. Amazingly enough, they still didn’t take the hint! All they could think about was the impossibility of their financial situation and that the only solution was for Cynthia to have an abortion. So they rescheduled again and contacted a relative who agreed to drive them to the clinic.
Cynthia went through the paperwork and was taken into a back room. As she sat waiting for the doctor, she heard a commanding voice say, Get off the table. She got up, shaken to the depths of her being, and rushed out of the building. She had heard the voice of God—and she knew it. Suddenly, she realized that God had been trying to block the abortion all along. When she and James refused to listen to what God was saying to them through their circumstances, God powerfully intervened just moments before it would have been too late. God had Cynthia’s undivided attention. He had more in store for her husband.
Cynthia gave birth to a son on April 28, 1980. It “just so happened” to be the same date that James’s oldest son had been born six years earlier; the son from whom James was estranged. God spoke to James, warning him, If you don’t make drastic changes in your life, and begin to follow me, you will lose all your children just as you feel you’ve lost your oldest son.

The couple got involved in a local church and were married
in October of that same year. In time, James became an elder in their church. In June of 1995, he became an ordained minister and now serves as the senior pastor at Bride of Christ Church in Nashville.

In case you have been wondering if God still intervenes in the world today, I trust this story puts your doubts to rest. God is still a God of power; he still forcefully advances his purposes in this world and in our lives. Lest you think this tale is fresh from Internet urban legendville, let me tell you how I know it is true. The child rescued from that abortion helps lead worship at my home church, a five-thousand-member congregation in Mesa, Arizona. Nick Oldham is truly a gift from God whose tremendous voice, contagious smile, and passion for God are a blessing to every life he touches.
Nick’s parents told him about the near abortion when he was thirteen years old. He had always had a profound sense of purpose and demonstrated leadership ability from a young age, but when he heard how God had intervened to save his life, he felt overwhelmed with the love of God. Since then, he has devoted himself to studying God’s Word—and it shows. Nick is a living, breathing miracle.
Throughout Scripture, God’s power is often (although not always) equated with miraculous events: the creation of the world, the plagues upon Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the floating of the axhead, the ushering of Elijah into heaven in a whirlwind, the defeat of Sennacherib’s vast army, the impregnation of Mary, the works and resurrection of Jesus. I’ve heard many people wonder aloud if God still works miracles today. Some Christians believe that miracles ended with the New Testament era. Many have asked me why I believe otherwise. That’s an important question that can’t be answered in a day, but we shall make a beginning.
God has demonstrated his mighty power in and through the lives of his people in every century since the Holy Spirit descended on the Day of Pentecost. I’ve listened to countless people around the world testify that they have personally experienced the power of God. Although some Christians greet all such reports with skepticism, we are supposed to be believers, not doubters.
Of course, people doubted Jesus when he walked the earth, performing miracles before their very eyes. We should not be surprised when people today have doubts. Nevertheless, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their doubt: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). These men devoted themselves to studying the Old Testament, yet Jesus said they were in error because they didn’t truly know God’s Word. They knew about the Bible, but theirs was a dry, dead religion because they lacked the power of God.
Are sincere Christians today sometimes guilty of knowing about God without experiencing his power? Do some of us have powerless faith, rather than power-packed faith? I believe the answer is yes. The good news is: God’s power is available. Since you’ve read this far, I know you believe that. Rest assured that God will honor you for seeking more of him, just as he has honored others throughout the ages. God made it a priority to point out that he is the same from generation to generation: “I change not” (Malachi 3:6, KJV). Whatever God has done in generations past, he can do today. If you question whether Christians can still experience the power of God, please open your heart as you meditate on the following passages:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). If Jesus lives in us, and he is still the same as he was when he walked the earth, then he is still in the miracle-working business. The only difference is that now he desires to work miracles through us.
“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—
his eternal
power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). God’s power is eternal. That means he can re-create us—with the same power he unleashed to create the earth—into people who unleash the kingdom of God upon the earth. He can clearly and convincingly answer our prayers when we ask that his kingdom come and his will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.
“O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you” (2 Chronicles 20:6). No one has snatched power and might away from God! He still holds power in his hands, and he still extends his hands to and through us.
“You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people” (Psalm 68:35). We still serve a God who gives power and strength to his people. In addition to the oft-uttered prayer, God, give me strength, we can also pray, God, give me power. Make me a vessel of your power.
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power
are his” (Daniel 2:20). Daniel goes on to write: “I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power” (verse 23). The same God who imparted those attributes to Daniel will make them available to us today. Just as Christians don’t hesitate to ask God for wisdom, we can ask for power, expecting God to answer affirmatively.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Christians proclaim all the time, “I’m not perfect; I’m just a jar of clay.” We acknowledge that the first half of the verse applies to contemporary believers. Well, the second half applies as well. The reason God created us as “jars of clay” was not to help us make excuses for bad behavior, but so that we could display the power of God. The Bible not only says we can display the power of God, it commands us to do so: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10).
As we study the Bible and church history, we must conclude that God was, is, and always will be a God who displays his power. Quite frankly, God is a bit of a show-off! He loves to make “a public spectacle” of “the powers and authorities,” as he did on the cross (Colossians 2:15).
God is, always has been, and always will be, a God of power. God always has and always will demonstrate his power in and through his people. He can and will enable you to experience that power. No doubt about it.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for making your intentions plain. From the beginning of time, from the moment of creation, you have shown your power. Throughout Scripture, you’ve demonstrated that power through frail human beings. Forgive me for ignoring your command to be strong in your mighty power. Help me to open my eyes to the truth of your Word and open my heart to experiencing your power. I’m so thankful that you are a God who performs miracles, a God who delights in displaying power. Make me your vessel. Amen.

I remain confident that God is still a God of power.

Describe a time when you needed wisdom and God supplied it.

Describe a time or situation when you needed God’s special strength and he imparted it to you.

If God still imparts wisdom and strength to his people, why would he stop imparting power? If he does impart power, should we pray for it? Why or why not?

Can you list other scriptures that give evidence that God still exercises power today? Or, can you give contemporary examples of God’s power at work?

Describe the most powerful spiritual experience you’ve ever had.

List several areas where you need to experience the power of God in your life right now. Commit to pray over these daily.
Write out today’s affirmation and scripture in your index-card notebook.
Write out your own prayer, expressing what God has shown you today about his mighty power.

Day 3: Remember What God Has Done +

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.

Psalm 77:11–12

I just witnessed the power of God in a parking lot. I have been listening to stories of power-packed faith all weekend long while eavesdropping on casual conversations among a group of men on their annual guys-only retreat.1 Some recalled how God had transformed their marriages; others remembered how they came to know Jesus in the first place.
Some recounted tales of instant deliverance from drugs and alcohol, while others encouraged a young man to “keep believing” for his deliverance.
But what touched me most was the living testimony I saw with my own eyes. Men from every conceivable background, walking shoulder to shoulder, exchanging bear hugs and robust pats on the back. Young men covered in tattoos, old men crowned with gray hair. Native Americans,

African Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians—I think every tribe and tongue was represented. As they bid their farewells to one another, I stood on the edge of the parking lot and cried. These men had such genuine love for God and one another that if I could have bottled it, I’d be an overnight millionaire.
The world needs to see and hear much more of such testimonies from the church. It needs to encounter living examples of what the power of God can do and what he has already done. One of the most unfortunate trends in churches today is that one person often does all the speaking. Gone are the days of the old congregational church when anyone and everyone in the congregation could (and often would!) stand to share a testimony of what God had done in his or her life.
One of the greatest gifts God has given—and one of the most powerful tools for strengthening our faith—is the testimony of the saints, past and present. In this rationalistic age we tend to minimize the significance of personal testimony. We want incontrovertible, scientific fact. We want DNA evidence. But the truth remains: God says human testimony is a powerful force. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). If the word of our testimony is enough to overcome the Evil One, imagine its power in the lives of people we encounter. As I often say, people can argue with your politics, they can argue with your theology, but no one can argue with your testimony. Your story of God’s faithfulness, backed up by a life lived out of gratitude for what he has done, is a powerful weapon of spiritual warfare.
Every Christian has a testimony of God’s power. Mine is that God instantly delivered me from drug addiction. Yours may be that God loved you enough to place you in a wonderful Christian home, with parents who taught you the truth of God’s Word from an early age. Your testimony may be that God saved you from the mess you had made of your life or that your family has walked with God for countless generations. Whatever it is, your story is your story. No one can take it from you. But they do need to hear it from you!
Of course, some people respond to testimonies of God’s power with skepticism, “We’re just trying to be levelheaded. Those claims fly in the face of scientific evidence, so they couldn’t possibly be true.” Well, the last time I checked, That’s precisely what a miracle is. Something that flies in the face of scientific evidence and couldn’t possibly happen apart from supernatural intervention. Did Jesus say, “When I return, will I find levelheadedness on the earth?” No, he said, “Will I find faith?” (see Luke 18:8).
Honestly, levelheadedness doesn’t impress God. Faith impresses God. So don’t worry about the skeptics. Continue to give your testimony, confident that some will believe that what God has done for you, he can do for them. Take time, even now, to reflect upon the story of God’s working in your life and the story of his work throughout your family’s history. I would encourage you to not only reflect, but to write it down. Record it so that future generations will be blessed. Write down examples of God’s faithfulness daily in a spiritual journal. When my friend Susan’s mother died, the family uncovered a mountain of spiritual journals (including prayers, sermon notes, and quotes from Christian books) and a well-worn Bible filled with margin notes of what God was teaching her, how she was praying, and the promises she was clinging to. What a rich, spiritual treasury she left behind for her family! It makes me ask, when I’m gone, what will my children uncover? Am I leaving behind a record of God’s blessing—or just a litany of my own complaints? Uh-oh!
We humans are a forgetful people. We focus on what we need right now, forgetting how God has met our needs in the past. That’s why he commands us, over and over, to remember. The word remember occurs 162 times in the Bible, including:

“Remember well what the LORD your God did” (Deuteronomy 7:18).
“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way” (8:2).
“Remember that you were slaves” (16:12).
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:11–12).

If we want to become vessels of God’s power, we need to make a conscious decision: I will remember. I will remember the deeds and the miracles God has performed, yes, even those performed long ago. Remembering what God has done is a choice. He doesn’t want us to remember for remembering’s sake, but so we’ll have the faith to believe that what he has done before, he can do right now.
Ask your parents (or other mature Christians) to recall stories of God’s intervention, and then tell these to your children. And don’t just tell these stories once, but tell them over and over again. I live in a neighborhood that is 80 percent Mormon. I can’t help but admire their commitment to preserving family history. One neighbor, Beth, is always telling me tales of how her ancestors set out from the East Coast with all their possessions in a wheelbarrow, heading for the promised land of Salt Lake City. Shouldn’t we be telling our children stories of our faith?
Our faith begins with the faith of our fathers, from
Abraham to the apostles.
God preserved his Word for our sake: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). That’s why it’s so important to study the Bible and read the testimonies of God’s people. We cannot remember something we don’t take time to learn in the first place.
Shortly after Moses died, Joshua assumed command and led the people of Israel across the miraculously parted Jordan River and on to the

Promised Land. But before they rushed off to settle into homes they hadn’t built to work in fields they hadn’t planted, God told them to stop and set up “stones of remembrance.” Joshua appointed twelve men, instructing each to select a large stone from the middle of the Jordan riverbed. These would serve as constant reminders of the miracle God had performed. They were also a great conversation starter: “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:6–7).
God wants us to remember who he is, what he’s done, and what he’s capable of doing. That way when we face obstacles, as we surely will, our hearts won’t faint. Our “stones of remembrance” will also be a witness to our children that our faith is real. Why not set up your own stones of remembrance? Remember all that God has done for you: the times he has spoken clearly, the prayers he has answered, the miracles he has performed. I know it’s hard to remember the details, but That’s exactly why it’s so important to write them down. Once you’ve written your list, copy it into the front of your Bible and keep it up to date as God continues to work miracles in your life.
In the front of my Bible I’ve written:
Fifth grade: Camp Lebanon (a Baptist youth camp in Pennsylvania). God gave me seeds of faith and a vision of a better future.
March 1980: heard and believed the gospel at Sandy Cove youth conference, although I did not begin to live as a Christian.
July 1980: received Christ as Savior and Lord at Tuscarora Conference Center. God told me, in a very personal way, that he would use my life to make a difference in this world. My spiritual pilgrimage began in earnest.

August 1990: God confirmed the call to writing. My first book contract with Focus on the Family.
July 1993: spiritual gifts class. Understood why I see the world the way I do; understood the nature of my call to ministry.
March 1996: Women of Virtue conference, Tucson, Arizona. God confirmed the call to speaking ministry.
February 2000: overwhelmed with the love of God while sitting in my prayer room in Payson, Arizona.
October 2004: Papua New Guinea. Received God’s call to be a prophet to the nations.
November 2005: life-altering pilgrimage to the Middle East.
We not only have biblical testimonies and our own stones of remembrance, but we also have the testimonies from all of church history. Few things have done more to bolster my faith than reading the biographies of great heroes of the faith. Their example convinces me that I too can experience the power of God. One of my favorites is The Autobiography of George Müller, which is his spiritual journal—his stones of remembrance—printed for all the world to read. What a blessing!
Of course, it’s tempting to feel spiritually inferior when we read about the giants of church history. We think: I wish I had lived during the days of John Wesley or the Welsh Revival. Too bad great revivals don’t happen anymore. However, God wants our remembering to strengthen and encourage us, not make us envious of days gone by. Besides, some of the most amazing revivals in church history are unfolding right now in places such as Columbia, Uganda, and China. Churches throughout Africa and Asia routinely report miracles similar to those recorded in the book of Acts: the lame walk, the blind see, the dead are raised back to life. You and I haven’t missed out! Whatever God has done in ages past, he can and will do in our day. He can and will do in your life. You can experience his power.


Dear heavenly Father, thank you for prompting saints of old to record your faithful acts, so that we can learn and remember. Holy Spirit, help me to study and remember the testimonies of those people, then and now, who had the courage to believe you could do mighty things. Also bring to mind all the wonderful things you have done for me and those I love. Today, I raise stones of remembrance as a testimony to your faithfulness. Amen.

I choose to remember the works of God.

What does God want us to remember?

Why does he want us to remember?

Recount a testimony someone shared with you that had a powerful impact on your life.

Recap one or more of your most significant stones of remembrance.

Who are some people who might be either encouraged or challenged by your testimony? Write the names and which aspect of your story you want to share with them.

Raise up some stones of remembrance. If you are willing, record these in the front of your Bible (or use a spiritual journal).
Spend time researching church history at www.chi.gospelcom.net. Consider purchasing some of their documentaries, films, and other materials. You can also learn what God is doing around the world today by ordering the Transformation Videos (about past and present revivals around the world). Visit www.sentinelgroup.org.
Ask Christians you meet to tell you about the power of God in their lives. Discover firsthand how such testimonies help build power-packed faith!
Write out today’s affirmation and scripture in your index-card notebook.
Write out your own prayer, expressing what God has shown you today about his mighty power.

Day 4: Align Yourself with God’s Purposes +

I do nothing on my own.

John 8:28

If we want to experience the power of God in our lives, we need to be like Jesus, who always lived in alignment with the Father’s purposes.
We know little about Jesus’s childhood other than he was born in a humble stable, lived in Egypt for a while (see Matthew 2:13–19), and taught some religious leaders in the temple when he was twelve years old (see Luke 2:41–50). We can assume these years were filled with preparation for his public ministry, because, as the gospel of Luke tells us, by age twelve, “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (2:47) and “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (2:52). We are told nothing more until Jesus, age thirty, turns up at the Jordan River to be baptized by John (see 3:21–23). We know he was studying Scripture, obeying his parents, learning carpentry, becoming wise, and enjoying favor.
After Jesus’s baptism, “heaven was opened and the
Holy Spirit

descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’” (3:21–22). The Holy Spirit immediately led Jesus into the desert, where he fasted forty days and endured a time of intense spiritual opposition. Luke explains what happened afterward: “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside” (4:14).
If Jesus had already actively demonstrated the power of God, it would not have been news when he “returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.” Of course, the Bible doesn’t tell us many things, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t true or didn’t happen. However, there’s no evidence that he exercised supernatural power prior to the launch of his public ministry. Instead, his first thirty years appear to have been a season of quiet preparation. Jesus stayed in alignment with the Father’s wishes, whether that meant demonstrating or refraining from demonstrating power. Note, for example, that Jesus tells his mother (who was pressuring him to demonstrate power) that the timing wasn’t right. If Jesus thought it essential that his demonstration of divine power be in alignment with the Father’s purposes, how much more critical is knowing and embracing God’s purposes for us?
I’ve often marveled at Jesus’s remark, “I do nothing on my own” (John 8:28). The Son of God did nothing on his own, apart from the Father, yet we somehow think we can manufacture something spiritually powerful or eternally worthwhile on our own. Impossible! If Christ—the incarnate power of God—relied on the Father to tell him what to do, how much more do we need to walk in humble reliance? Like Jesus, we can only do what we see the Father doing. We must be in alignment with Father God—his purposes, priorities, and timing. We can’t just go out into the world with our own agendas and ask God to bless whatever we feel like doing. In general, we shouldn’t ask God to bless what we are doing; we should find out what God is doing and join him, because that activity or ministry is already blessed.
In the book of Acts, Peter and John heal a man at the Beautiful Gate (see 3:2–10). The man had been sitting at the gate for years. We can well imagine that Jesus walked right past him dozens, if not hundreds of times, but the man didn’t experience the power of God until the time was right. The word rendered “Beautiful,” horaios, means “the right hour.” The power of God will only flow when a servant of God operates in alignment with God’s purposes, priorities, and timing. This is extremely important to remember.
Let me give you a personal example that illustrates the importance of being in alignment with God’s purposes. Right now, I’m experiencing tremendous neck pain. Of course, it’s no mystery why my neck hurts. I’ve been slumping over typewriters and computer keyboards for almost thirty years. I’ve written twenty-two books, not to mention countless articles, a mountain of Internet content, and thousands of e-mails. My neck hurts as a direct result of my choices.
By contrast, my back doesn’t hurt at all, and that is a miracle. Just hours ago, I left home to drive two hours to a retreat center to finish writing this book. Within minutes, a reckless driver cut me off on the freeway. In trying to avert an accident, I pulled so hard on the wheel that I pulled a muscle in my back.2 Suddenly, the pain in my neck was nothing compared to the excruciating, searing pain in my back. I was literally screaming out in pain. Then panic gripped me: How can I possibly keep driving, let alone meet my pressing deadline? I called my ten-year-old daughter, Tara, and told her mommy urgently needed prayer.
By the time I arrived at my destination, the pain in my back had vanished. But my neck was still throbbing. God miraculously healed my back

in response to prayer…so why hasn’t he healed my neck? In general, why does God heal some illnesses and not others? Why do we sometimes see God’s miraculous intervention and sometimes not? That’s a huge question, one we’ll never entirely be able to answer this side of heaven. However, one thing is certain: God will do whatever advances his kingdom purposes. If that means healing—and in many cases it does—then he will bring healing, with or without a doctor’s help.
But sometimes God withholds healing until we address the underlying causes of the problem. I’ve been in healing services and, at the risk of offending someone, it was obvious to me that even if God miraculously healed their current problems, some of the people standing around the altar clearly needed to take better care of themselves, or they’d soon have another ailment requiring healing. Obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise, untamed emotions, and stress-dominated lifestyles are at the root of almost all degenerative diseases. While people who are significantly overweight may need to exercise their faith, what they really need is physical exercise.
God is not going to follow us around with a magic wand, waving away the consequences of our behavior. He won’t routinely suspend the laws of sowing and reaping for our benefit. Yes, sometimes he intervenes, and we witness a dramatic healing, but he’s also given us words of wisdom and exhortation. Imagine what kind of people we would become if we could disobey God’s direct commandments (including his command to purify ourselves of everything that contaminates body and spirit) and never suffer any negative results. After all, behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. I would live on curly fries and Oreo milkshakes from Jack in the Box, and I’d never forgive anyone ever!
God can do whatever he wants. However, his miraculous
power is most often demonstrated when we align
ourselves with his purposes,

walking in obedience. In averting that car accident, I was in alignment with God’s will for me. My injury was not due to my own foolish choices; it occurred in a moment of wisdom as I veered away from oncoming traffic. So, in choosing to grant divine healing, God was not rewarding disobedience or foolishness.
By contrast, I believe he hasn’t healed my neck because, in that area of my life, I am not in alignment with his purposes. I spend too many hours at the computer, neglecting other vital responsibilities, and I have failed to properly care for my body. My neck is a warning sign: if I want to be used by God for decades to come—and I do—then I better start walking in obedience, taking care of myself in spirit, soul, and body. I need to faithfully perform the stretching exercises my doctor has assigned, give heed to my office ergonomics, set reasonable working hours, and schedule routine physical therapy.
God’s purposes included motivating me to take a long-term view of ministry, realizing the need to stay productive over the long haul, while at the same time teaching Tara that if she prays for the sick (or injured), they may be healed. By healing my back, but not my neck, God accomplished both his purposes. Sometimes God empowers us to heal or be healed; other times he empowers us to walk in wisdom. Sometimes he gives us power enough for both. Whatever the case, his power is expressed as we align ourselves with his purposes. His power is expressed when we are obedient.
Although God didn’t grant healing for my neck, he did demonstrate mercy. Within two minutes of arriving at the conference center, I met one of the other guests who was checking in at the same time. She mentioned that she was a massage therapist, and as we talked, she said, “God has just laid it on my heart to give you a massage tonight. What time would work for you?” I wrote for a few hours then experienced the most wonderful ninety-minute therapeutic massage in the comfort of my room. The therapist refused to let me pay, saying it was a gift from God through her.
Let’s return to the Bible, where we see God’s power in the life of Moses during those times when he was aligned with God’s purposes. When he held up his staff and parted the Red Sea, he was exercising supernatural power to lead the Israelites to freedom. But when he tried to access that same supernatural power to settle all their disputes, God sent his father-in-law, Jethro, to say, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus18:17–18). In the first instance, Moses was in alignment with God’s stated purpose of bringing the people out of Egypt. In the second case, Moses needed to get into alignment with God’s desire for him to lead with wisdom. Although God didn’t solve Moses’s problem, he did in his mercy send someone who could help.
Experiencing God’s power is not about getting God to align with our agendas; it is about getting in alignment with him. It is about walking in obedience.


Dear heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus, not only to bring salvation to the world, but to show us how we might join our Triune God in the vital work of bringing that salvation into
all the earth. I stand amazed that, because Christ Jesus lives in me, I can also experience the power of God flowing in and through my life. Holy Spirit, teach me to be sensitive to your leading
so that I can perceive and join in your work. Amen.

If I want to experience God’s power, I must align myself with his purposes.

Can you think of an area in your life where you have not experienced God’s power? Describe.

Reflect upon your answer to #1. Is it possible that God hasn’t intervened in your situation because you are out of alignment with his purposes?

Ask God to reveal his purposes in your situation. What are some practical steps you can take to get into alignment with God?

Describe a time when you saw God’s power demonstrated, and note how you were in alignment with his purposes at that time or in that situation.

If it was important for Jesus to be in alignment with the Father’s will and timing, what does that mean for you personally as you seek to experience the power of God?

Drawing upon your answer to #3 above, create an action plan that will enable you to get back into alignment with the purposes of God.
Write out today’s affirmation and scripture in your index-card notebook.

Write out your own prayer, expressing what God has shown you today about his mighty power.

Day 5: Cherish God’s Power More Than Your Pet Sins +

I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.

Psalm 66:17–19

Although this is painful for me, I feel it’s important to tell a cautionary tale from my own life. A number of years ago, I completed a
forty-day fast, which was the most powerful experience of my life. I have never felt better physically, never been sharper mentally or stronger spiritually. My relationships overflowed with love and peace. I prayed for and with almost everyone, everywhere I went.
My impetus for fasting was the news that a friend, the mother of three small children, had been diagnosed with cancer—multiple ovarian tumors and a brain tumor. Like everyone else, I promised to pray for her. But I felt so powerless. The Bible says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16), but my prayers were not powerful or effective. Of course, my powerless prayers had long been a source of frustration, but now the stakes were high enough that powerless prayers just weren’t tolerable anymore.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever faced an impossible situation in which you thought, If only I could pray for this person with confidence that my prayers will be answered. Have you ever come face to face with a situation where nothing but the power of God could help—yet that power eluded you? Maybe That’s where you are today, and it’s why you picked up this book.
In desperation, I dropped to my knees and cried out to God, “I’ll do whatever you ask of me, whatever it takes, but I’ve got to see your power at work.” I had thought about completing a forty-day fast for many years; now, finally, I had the motivation to do it. Never have I prayed with such passion; never have I knocked so relentlessly on heaven’s door—and never had I seen God move so dramatically. He healed my friend completely. I also saw him work on behalf of two other women. One was told she probably had cervical cancer. After prayer, subsequent tests delivered a clean bill of health. The other woman was told she had something suspicious looking in her breast. I prayed for her, and soon afterward the radiologist dubbed the mammogram results a “mistake.” While a skeptic may say these women never had cancer to begin with, I believe God intervened in their lives in answer to prayer.
God also showed up powerfully at events where I was speaking during this forty-day period. In several cities, pockets of revival broke out. When I prayed for people, God seemed to give me precisely the right words. Women were instantly set free from drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and sexual addictions. It’s been encouraging to hear reports from these women and from their ministry leaders that years later they continue to walk in

freedom. One woman launched a ministry to others struggling with homosexuality; another is actively ministering to pregnant teens.
In addition, a summer-evening teaching series at my home church in Phoenix attracted nearly two thousand people. (Unless you’ve been to the desert in the summer, you have no idea how miraculous that is, as half the population disappears!) Throughout the series, God was speaking to me and through me. Everyone marveled at the powerful presence of God in the sanctuary, and I even felt his power flowing through my hands as I laid them on people, praying for them.
Then right around that time, someone profoundly wounded me. The details are unimportant. What’s important to tell you is that I handled the situation very, very badly. My heart and mind were overcome with pain. No matter how many times I tried to forgive the person, somehow I would always crawl back to nursing and rehearsing the wrong done to me. Not an hour went by that I didn’t think about my wounds. I couldn’t sleep at night, tormented by bitterness. I struggled to function, but my work suffered. No one could get within a mile of me without hearing about how I’d been hurt. Friends, family, and spiritual leaders kept warning me to let it go, but somehow I just couldn’t. Or should I say wouldn’t?
I didn’t realize how much it was costing me until my whole life came crashing down around me. No words can describe the spiritual, emotional, and financial devastation my family and I experienced as a result. For a long time, I told myself that one woman was the cause of these problems. But time at the feet of Jesus has shown me I was wrong. She had not stopped the flow of the power of God in my life; my sinful reaction to her had robbed me of the power of God.
My hurt, anger, bitterness, and resentment had defiled me—not to mention everyone around me who had to listen to me. I had grieved the

Holy Spirit, so the power of God stopped flowing through my life. The anointing left. The joy and peace left. Just like that. My prayers no longer had the power to move God. My heart broke. I slipped into depression and began running to food for comfort. I gained thirty pounds and, after having proclaimed worldwide how the power of God had delivered me from being an emotional wreck, I went back on antidepressants, because I despaired of life.
Even now, my heart aches as I share this story. But you need to know that the power of God is not like a magic wand. It’s not a permanent gift or, as they used to say on Wheel of Fortune, “Once you buy a prize, it’s yours to keep.” It flows from our relationship with God. Even if we have aligned ourselves with God’s purposes, if we choose to wallow in sin, God steps back and says, “If That’s what you truly want, have at it. But you can’t have your sin and my power at the same time.” Or as King David put it: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18).
David knew all about cherishing sin. This man after God’s own heart cherished his sin with Bathsheba so much that he had her husband killed in order to keep his little secret. It wasn’t until the prophet Nathan confronted David about his adultery that he was finally willing to repent. David also knew the joy of forgiveness and restoration That’s available when a person is willing to come clean before God. He wrote:

Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD”— and you forgave
the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:1–5)

God wants to work in and through our lives. He wants us to know the joy of winning victories in exciting spiritual battles as we experience his power. However, God will put us on the sidelines when we become contaminated by sin. That was true for me in the above situation. God eventually arranged circumstances, during which I had no choice but to come face to face with my sinful reactions to the hurt done to me. I began as an innocent victim but ended up someone who was victimizing others by subjecting them to my bitterness.
If you aren’t experiencing God’s power, something similar may have happened to you. Maybe someone hurt you. Maybe you’ve been hurt, over and over again, by a long succession of people. You haven’t committed some grievous sin, but you have held on to your hurt and become bitter or angry or jealous or full of self-pity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. If you’re like most people, anyone who gets within a mile of you will be contaminated too, as your anger, bitterness, or jealousy rubs off on everyone you touch.

The good news is that God offers restoration if we are willing to humble ourselves. For me, it has been a long, painful process. I pray that I will never again cherish my sin more than I cherish the presence and power of God. At any point, we can throw up our hands and say, “My way isn’t working. As much as I love my pet sins, it’s just not worth it. I’d rather experience the power of God.” At that moment of repentance, God will immediately set to work, purifying our hearts so that we can once again be vessels fit for his use.
Dear heavenly Father, please forgive me for cherishing my sin more than I cherish your presence and power. Please show me those things in my life that are preventing me from experiencing all the blessings you intend. My sincere desire is to be cleansed and fit for any good work. I invite you, Holy Spirit, to show me any area of my life that requires realignment. Amen.

The power of God flows most consistently through pure vessels.

Have you ever been confronted with a situation where the only possible solution required the power of God? Describe the situation.

How did you respond?

What was the final outcome of that situation? (If you are facing
it right now, what is the current outcome?)

Is there something you cherish more than the power of God?

What would it take to drive you to your knees, declaring, “Whatever it takes, I need to experience the power of God?” If you are there right now, describe what has brought you to this place.

Take specific steps to resolve anything that may be hindering the power of God in your life. If it’s sin, confess it. If you’ve hurt someone, write a note, pick up the phone, schedule an appointment, and make it right. If you’ve been hurt, walk the painful path to forgiveness.
Write out today’s affirmation and scripture in your index-card notebook.
Write out your own prayer, expressing what God has shown you today about his mighty power.

Day 6: Don’t Let a Guilty +

Conscience Hold You Back

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Rachel had dropped out of sight again.
You couldn’t help but notice her absence, even in a one-thousand member congregation. Beautiful, vivacious, talented beyond reason. No one could decide if Rachel was more gifted as a worship leader, soloist, or Bible teacher. She had it all and could do it all. She ministered to teens, seniors, and prisoners with equal ease.
But now she was gone, and the void she left was palpable. This had been a pattern all her adult life—this appearing-disappearing-reappearing act. Rachel had a secret: prescription drugs. The habit started right after a car accident in college, when the doctor gave her a pain killer. She noticed it killed more than the physical pain; it covered the emotional hurt inflicted by her verbally abusive mother. Through the years, Rachel had

visited many doctors for a variety of ailments, and each time she walked away with more prescriptions. Some pills calmed her down; others picked her up. Soon, she had a smorgasbord of medications to choose from and enough different doctors and pharmacists that no one knew what Rachel was up to. Except Rachel.
Depending upon which pills she decided to take, Rachel could keep up the happy front. But only for a while. She’d learned through the years that what goes up must come down. No matter how hard she tried, how many prayers she prayed or tears she shed, she eventually always came crashing down. The guilt and self-condemnation would become all consuming. A hate-filled inner voice would accuse: How dare you show your face at church? Then she’d crawl into what she called her cave—buried under the covers in her darkened bedroom, unable to get up even to drink a glass of water. The pattern had cost her more than one marriage.
Things had been bad before, but never this bad and for this long. Rachel had always managed to control her addiction—or so she thought. Her countless years spent self-medicating and managing her own biochemistry could have qualified her for a PhD. But her methods weren’t working anymore. She was out of control. How could she ever face all those people at church who looked up to her? She felt so guilty.
Finally, Rachel knew the time had come. Week after week, she had seen the bulletin announcement for Celebrate Recovery,3 the twelve-step program offered at the church on Monday nights. Until now, attending had never been an option. Not for Rachel. Beautiful, gifted, in-charge Rachel. Celebrate Recovery was for all those weak people, and she wasn’t one of them. No way. She wasn’t about to lower herself to that level. She didn’t have to. The drugs did it for her. She had hit the infamous rock bottom.
“Walking into that room was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she recalls. “I had walked past that door a million times, on my way to teach, to lead, to show the world how far I’d come. I had been a powerhouse in

that church; now I had to admit just how powerless I really was. But when I finally confessed my sin, finally stopped trying to hide the truth, I felt liberated. I didn’t have to run and hide in shame anymore. I could move forward with God, knowing he had forgiven me completely—not just for the mistakes I’d made long ago, but for the addiction that haunted my steps.”
Once Rachel confessed her powerlessness, she opened her life to the power of God, and he delivered her from a twenty-year addiction to prescription drugs. That was years ago. Today, Rachel leads Celebrate Recovery in her church.
Like Rachel, if we want God’s power to flow in us and through us, we have to come clean before God—and others. The Bible says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). If we want our lives to be powerful and effective, we have to confess those sins we’ve committed once and those sins we battle daily. We’ll never experience God’s power while we are held captive to the power of something else: drugs, alcohol, the Internet, food, pride, bitterness, whatever.
One of the first Bible verses I memorized was 1 John 1:9. I knew I had a lot of sins to confess, having been picked up by the police on numerous occasions for everything from shoplifting to indecent exposure. Although I recited the verse many times, it took a long time before it dawned on me that it contains the word and, because it’s talking about two distinct things God does when we confess our sins:
Forgives us our sins. That’s one thing, and…
Purifies us from all unrighteousness.
It’s important to understand the difference between forgiveness and purification. In the Old Testament, two different types of rituals prepared

the Israelites to enter into the presence of God: sacrifices, which brought forgiveness, and ritual bathing or cleansing, which brought purification. Sacrifices dealt with the fact of sin; purifications dealt with the aftereffects of sin. A sacrifice was offered on behalf of sinners by the priest; purification was offered to sinners so they could feel clean again.
In the same way Christ offered himself as a sacrifice on behalf of sinners to deal with the fact of sin. He also made the Holy Spirit available to sinners so that we could experience the joy of spiritual purification. This purifying makes us feel clean again, addressing the aftermath of sin. We need both forgiveness and purification in order to live in freedom. If you are a Christian, you have been declared “not guilty” in God’s sight. Therefore, you shouldn’t feel guilty: “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences” (Hebrews 9:13–14).
Unfortunately, many Christians whom God has declared “not guilty” live beaten-down lives, heads hung in shame, believing a pack of lies about how God can’t use them anymore. But Jesus died so we could live free from a guilty conscience (see Hebrews 10:22). Do you know why priests in the Old Testament were sprinkled with blood? So that they could serve God in the temple. We are supposed to serve God here on earth in this temple, in this earthen vessel—ourselves. Hebrews 9:14 tells us the reason it’s so important to have our consciences cleansed: “so that we may serve the living God!” (emphasis added).
Think about it for a minute: Why don’t people serve God? Why don’t they step out in ministry? Often because they don’t think they’re good enough. There’s a little CD playing in their heads, reciting a never-ending

litany of sins and shortcomings. Although the slate has been washed clean in heaven, it hasn’t been washed clean in their heads. God wants us to be free of guilt and to feel free of guilt so we can serve him.
But that can be a difficult thing to receive for many of us. It certainly was for Naaman, and his story can give us some insight into how we can become vessels that God can use. We find the story in 2 Kings 5.
Naaman, a commander in the army of Aram, was sidelined because the disease of leprosy had contaminated him. Although he’d had many military victories, Naaman couldn’t be on active duty for his king because he might contaminate others who came in contact with him.
A servant, who was a captive from Israel, told Naaman’s wife that Elisha could heal Naaman of his leprosy. “So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, ‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed’” (verses 9–10). When Naaman heard what Elisha had said, he was furious. He said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?”
(verses 11–12).
Naaman was angry for many reasons:
He had his own ideas about what it would take and what it would look like to experience the power of God. Notice he says, “I thought…,” and describes in specific detail how he expected everything to unfold. That same attitude gets us all in trouble! We think we know better than God.
He was looking for something dramatic; God was looking for humble obedience.

Naaman wanted someone else (namely Elisha) to do something that would enable him to experience God’s power (for example, call on God or wave his hand); he didn’t want to have to take action himself. This is a common mistake we all make. People want to attend a big conference with a famous Christian and have that person do something, whether it’s praying for them or anointing them with oil. God wanted Naaman to take a step of faith for himself so he could experience the power of God directly. The same is true for us.
Fortunately, Naaman’s story has a happy ending. He was cleansed and restored when he took a step of faith in obedience to God’s command to wash and be cleansed. We can follow in his footsteps by taking the steps outlined in 1 John 1:9, believing by faith that God will do as he says— forgive us and purify us.
God wants us, like Naaman, to experience that glorious moment when we lift up our purified hands and say, “I’m ready to get back to work in service to my king. I’m ready to see God’s power flowing through my life again.”
God created us to walk with joy and a healthy God-confidence. Although he never promised that the circumstances of life would always go our way, he has placed within us the power to rise above life’s challenges rather than be constantly defeated, discouraged, and frustrated. He has given us an ever-present solution for those times when we aren’t experiencing his power in our lives because of a guilty conscience: confession, which brings about our purification. Once we confess our sins, we are forgiven and cleansed, and his power can flow in and through us once again. Just a trickle at first, but as we continue to abide in him, eventually we will have a mighty rushing river. That’s his promise.


Dear heavenly Father, thank you for understanding me so well, far better than I understand myself. I want to be used by you, to demonstrate your power to hurting people. But I just don’t feel good enough. The weight of my sins and shortcomings holds me back.
Thank you for providing purification as a gift to set me free from the burden of my guilty conscience. Holy Spirit, teach me how to lead a life of continual confession and cleansing, so that I’m always ready to be of service to my King. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Confession and cleansing set me free to serve God.

What has God provided to deal with the sin in your life?

What has God provided to deal with the guilty feelings associated with sin?

Describe a time when you were held back from serving God because of a guilty conscience.

As you allow God to cleanse you from sin, express how the purifying power of the Holy Spirit impacts both your emotions and your willingness to serve God.

What was the most significant lesson you learned from the life of Naaman?

Set aside time to wash and be cleansed. You can do this alone, with your family, or with a small group. (Notice that Naaman was cleansed publicly, so please pray about doing this ceremony with at least a few others.) Obtain a pitcher of water, an empty basin, and a hand towel. Kneel quietly, asking God to bring to mind anything that might be contaminating you, whether it’s your own sins or your sinful response to people and/or circumstances. Confess these aloud, asking God to both forgive you and purify you. Wash your hands, then lift them up, offering them again in service to your God and king.
Of course, there is nothing mystical about this cleansing ceremony. It does not make you spiritually clean. Instead, it is intended to give you a tangible encounter with a spiritual reality: you are cleansed through confession. I have conducted this ceremony all over the world, always with powerful results. I believe it will be a blessing to you.
Write out today’s affirmation and scripture in your index-card notebook.
Write out your own prayer, expressing what God has shown you today about his mighty power.

Day 7: Commit to Daily Confession and Repentance +

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

John 7:37–38

My prayer is that yesterday’s cleansing ceremony was a powerfully healing time for you. However, purification is not a one-time
event. It’s a way of life. It must be daily. Cleansing must precede service, even if that service is something as simple as praying for a friend. Before praying for anyone, I bow my head and quietly ask God if anything in my life needs to be washed away that would hinder my ability to be a conduit for God’s power.
Every day junk comes into our lives that can pollute our spirits, stopping the flow of those “streams of living water” that Jesus spoke about. In Old Testament times, people deliberately polluted water and stopped up wells as an act of warfare. For example, the book of Genesis tells us

that “[Isaac] had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth” (Genesis 26:14–15). To this day, the devil uses a similar tactic in his war against us. He works overtime to contaminate us and stop the flow of God’s power in us. While he might tempt us with drugs, alcohol, gambling, or sexual addictions in his efforts to pollute us, he’s just as likely to tempt us to gossip, complain, criticize, and condemn others— and all the while we’re congratulating ourselves for being such good Christians.
If we want to be fit and ready for God to work through us, we must remain alert to the devil’s attempts to stop the flow of God’s power in our lives. The Bible tells us what a “flowing” life looks like: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). The simplest way to know whether we’re flowing or stopped up is to listen in on our own conversations, because “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Listen to the silent conversation that runs through your mind. Do love, joy, and all those wonderful attributes characterize your thoughts and conversations…or are you constantly finding fault with everyone and everything, while adamantly defending yourself?
If we want to unleash God’s power in our lives, we must be aware of those people or situations that tempt us to abandon love, joy, peace, and the other fruit of the Spirit—those times when someone hurts our feelings, does us wrong, or drags us into an interpersonal conflict.4 We need to be watchful of such people and situations, because they can effectively block the flow of God’s power if we are not careful to maintain a pure heart. It helps to remind ourselves: people aren’t the real enemy; often, they are just tools in the hands of our true Enemy. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,

against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
We shouldn’t limit our vigilance to those times when things aren’t going our way. We need to be careful that the power is flowing even when things are going our way. Notice that according to Genesis, the Philistines stopped up Isaac’s well when his life was at its best. He was prospering in every way, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of his father, Abraham. When things come easily for us, when we’re flowing along, serving in the church, our pride can stop the flow of God’s power. We may be too hard on others, wondering why they can’t live the “victorious Christian life” as well as we do. Or we may get complacent, thinking we’ve arrived spiritually. Or it might happen that when others see us believing our own press, they make it their business to take us down a notch or two. And maybe That’s for the best.
In his outstanding book Returning to Holiness, Dr. Gregory Frizzell notes, “Unfortunately, in today’s highly programmed church, deep spiritual cleansing is either ignored entirely or quickly glossed over in a surface manner. As a result, God’s people are largely unaware of the subtle, unconfessed sins that daily quench Christ’s full power in their lives.… An uncleansed heart is certainly why many believers battle spiritual weariness and lack God’s mountain-moving power.”5
God is both able and eager to work through our lives in powerful ways, but our sin separates us from him:

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1–2)

If our prayers aren’t answered, the problem is never with God. Bottom line: God can’t answer prayers that he can’t hear. A life of unanswered prayer is a powerless life. It’s just that simple. If you want to become a vessel of God’s power, daily confession and repentance is absolutely essential. Don’t be afraid of the process. God only reveals what he is ready to heal, and since he created you, he knows when you’re ready to take the next step on your own journey to holiness. So invite the Holy Spirit to show you the truth about your heart’s condition. Set aside time at the end of each day to reflect.
Dr. Frizzell6 offers these very practical areas to consider.

Sins of Thought
Reflect on what you’ve been thinking about. Do your thoughts line up with Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”? Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to remembrance any thoughts that were untrue, ignoble, wrong, impure, unlovely, negative, or destructive. You will probably notice sinful thought patterns. It’s tempting to dismiss our sinful thoughts as no big deal. To say, “It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong.” But That’s not the biblical perspective. Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (KJV). Thoughts inevitably lead to actions, as surely as night follows day. Let God cleanse those thoughts before they come to fruition.
Also consider this helpful exercise. For one twenty-four-hour period make a note, every hour, about how you’ve occupied your mind. Were you thinking about the things of God? Or at the very least, were you thinking positive, constructive thoughts? Many of us constantly think about ourselves, especially what’s wrong with us, then wonder why our lives aren’t power-packed. If they remain unconfessed, sins of thought block God’s power in our lives.

Sins of Attitude
Do you have an attitude problem? The Bible says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3–5). Given that definition, we all have an attitude problem. Are you routinely frustrated with or impatient toward others? If so, you have an underlying attitude problem. It’s the insidious problem of pride. You think you’re better, smarter, faster, more insightful, whatever. God warns us that he “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). Something tells me Peter, in particular, knew what it meant for God to oppose him. I wonder how often Christians tell themselves, “The devil is opposing me,” when it’s God himself who is opposing them because of their pride—their crummy, self-centered attitude.
Another attitude to guard against is unforgiveness. It’s possible to have an ongoing tendency not to forgive but, instead, to hold on to hurts, keeping a record of wrongs. Our attitude needs to be loving, because love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Rather than let hurts and hard feelings pile up, clean the slate daily.

Sins of Speech
This is the hardest area for me. Speaking is my gift, but my mouth also gets me into more trouble than you can imagine! How different our lives would be if we could live up to this one sentence in the Bible: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). This verse speaks to us in black and white, not gray, terms. It’s absolute: no unwholesome talk. Who is equal to the task? Only perfect people: “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:2). Jesus was the only perfect man who ever lived. So the rest of us had better check what comes off our tongues—daily.
Areas to reflect upon at the end of each day include: arguing, complaining, gossiping, criticizing, judging, slandering, lying, exaggerating, cursing, and making off-color comments. Pray over each person you encountered and the conversations you had throughout the day. Is there anything you need to confess to God? Do you need to ask anyone’s forgiveness? As you take time to confess sins of speech, you may grow to the point that you check your words before they leave your mouth. Wouldn’t that be ideal? As you confess sins of speech, ask God to empower you for the days to come: “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). That’s a prayer request God is eager to answer. It would also be helpful to routinely meditate upon James 3:1–12, which reminds us to tame our tongues.

Sins of Relationships
No one can make you sin; but other people certainly have a way of bringing our sin to the surface, don’t they! I often say, “I can get along fine when it’s just me and God. It’s only when people come around that I get into trouble!” The toughest command of all is to love our neighbors—including those we consider enemies—as we love ourselves. Again, from a purely human perspective, this is impossible. However, last night I was reading about Coptic Christians living in Egypt under the rule of the Roman Empire. As these believers were being tortured to death, they forgave their executioners. I also read about a Ugandan pastor targeted for death by former dictator Idi Amin. The pastor asked his killers if he could pray before he died—not for himself (after all, he knew he’d be with Jesus in a few minutes) but for them.
Like it or not, God says how we treat people matters
to him. He
says, in essence, don’t bother talking to me until you can get along with one another. As the apostle John put it, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20–21). We’re just fooling ourselves if we ignore this, but God is not fooled, and he will not unleash his power in us if we persist in our unloving ways. That’s why Jesus said, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23–24).
Do you need to be reconciled with anyone? Maybe you’re holding on to an old, old injury, and you have to track that person down to ask forgiveness. One of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen was The Straight Story, which chronicles a trip made by seventy-three-year-old Alvin Straight from Laurens, Iowa, to Mount Zion, Wisconsin, in 1994. He had lost his driver’s license due to failing eyesight, so he rode a 1966 John Deere lawn mower 260 miles, through rain and every conceivable obstacle. His mission? To be reconciled to his estranged seventy-five-year old brother, Lyle, who had suffered a stroke. If you are lacking God’s power in your life—and you know you have a significant issue with someone—look no further for an explanation to the mystery. “First go and be reconciled to your brother.” Even if it means riding 260 miles on a lawn mower. Do it.
It’s also a good policy to make sure you are reconciled to everyone in your immediate family before going to bed each night. Take seriously the biblical admonition: “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26). Visit each bedroom before you sleep and clear the air. You’ll not only sleep better, you’ll also unleash the power of God in your life.

Sins of Commission and Sins of Omission
Everyone can relate to the apostle Paul’s frustration when he cried out, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). We all struggle with sins of commission— things we do that we know we shouldn’t do, and sins of omission—things we fail to do even though we know we should. As a child growing up in the Catholic Church, I learned a prayer of confession that has stayed with me all my life. Perhaps it will help you as well:

Act of Contrition

O my God, I am heartily sorry For having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because of thy just punishments
but most all because they offend Thee, my God Who art all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace
to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.7

Most of us have a good idea of what we’re doing—or failing to do— that grieves the heart of God. Perhaps we don’t pray, or maybe we are withholding our tithe, neglecting God’s Word, or abusing our bodies by failing to eat right and exercise. If you are grieving God’s heart, the Holy Spirit will reveal it to you. Bring whatever he shows you before your gracious Father, asking him to cleanse your heart and give you a fresh start the next morning.

Unleashing God’s power in your life requires a commitment to daily confession and repentance. Set aside time each evening to examine yourself using Dr. Frizzell’s guidelines. If the power of God is not flowing through your life, if you are not routinely seeing answers to prayer, you probably need to confess your sins and be cleansed. Make it a daily habit.

Dear heavenly Father, I’m so thankful your power is available both to me and through me. I stand in awe at the realization that you’ve commissioned me to play a vital part in seeing your kingdom come and your will done on this earth. I want
your streams of living water to flow through my life. Holy Spirit, teach me to be alert to those things that stop up my well. Make me teachable—quick to repent and quick to forgive. I confess that, in the past, I’ve blamed you for the lack of power in my life.
I want to live a life of continual confession, so that nothing will hinder you from working in and through me. Amen.

The power of God will keep flowing as long as I am purified daily.

What evidence is there that something is blocking God’s power in your life?

What types of people or situations tend to fill your well with mud and rocks?

How can you be more alert to the types of things that stop up the flow of God in your life? Be as practical as possible.

Describe a time when your well was stopped up and/or a time when you were purified and noted a dramatic change in the flow of God’s power.

How will you incorporate a time of daily cleansing into your routine?

Consider using your daily shower or bath as a time to cleanse spirit, soul, and body, confessing your sins and forgiving those who have sinned against you. Another great time to clean the slate is as you say good night to each of your loved ones.

Take some extended time today to pray over each area of sin.
Write out today’s affirmation and scripture in your index-card notebook.
Write out your own prayer, expressing what God has shown you today about his mighty power.