**UPDATE: We are just so happy to have all of you 20-somethings flock to requesting prayer! Our faithful God surely hears, and cares to His core! If you do not see a specific partner reply to your request, know that the LPM Staff have adopted you. We will pray for each of you, joyfully!
One of my favorite things about Twitter is that we can come to really love someone we wouldn’t have even known to like. Someone from an entirely different part of the country or the planet. Someone from a totally different tradition of our faith. Someone in another generation who serves God in a way that is fresh and exhilarating to us. I have a whole mental list of those and just this morning prayed for a number of young women that I’ve gotten to “know” there on that ridiculous stream of social media that I love. It is a young man that I’ve come to appreciate so much, however, that prompted this post. His name is Jefferson Bethke. I didn’t know anything about him until 6 months ago when Melissa, my youngest daughter, told me she enjoyed following him on Twitter. He is a great communicator God clearly has His hand upon and a poet who creates fantastic thought-provoking videos. I’m glad to have the privilege to tell you about him but that’s not why I’m bringing him up today. A week or so ago on Twitter he mentioned sitting on the airplane, moved with emotion over various testimonies he’d been reading of lives dramatically changed by Jesus Christ. It hit me right then that one of the things I loved best about him is that the young man simply has a pure heart. He just flat-out loves Jesus and loves people. It’s consistent in everything he says and writes. I felt an urgency right that moment to ask God to protect that holy passion and sustain it the length of his days.
And that’s when I thought of all of you in his same generation who really do want to honor God and fulfill the purpose for which He planted your feet on this earth.
Here’s what I want to say to you: you really can maintain a pure and fiery heart toward Christ and His mission on earth but make no mistake: you will not do it by accident.
If you want a pure heart, you better be willing to fight for it. You will not keep it any other way.
The first big relief is that we can’t conjure one up on our own. God alone can create in us a pure heart and renew a right spirit within us. (Psalm 51:10) He alone can set it ablaze with holy passion. But out of God’s sovereign wisdom, He determined that guarding the heart He formed and lit within us would, in many ways, fall to us. We’re to own part of that job.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Our second huge relief is that we can have a pure heart whether or not we have a pure past. Thank You, Jesus. If not, I and many others would be stuck for a lifetime with dark distorted hearts and deformed desires.
There are many other things more effective voices could tell you about guarding your heart toward Christ, toward people He’s sent you to serve and toward His mission on this planet. Ask them and learn from them. My purpose today is to pitch into the mix a couple of things that I’ve learned – and keep learning – in case any of it resonates with you. I also want to pray for you and call others to do the same. Here goes:
*Your heart will cool off if you do nothing to guard it. Jesus warned us in the 24th chapter of Matthew that “because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” (V.12) We’re exposed to so much suffering and violence, pain, pretense, and wrongdoing in the world that, even as a defense against feeling so much, we’ll naturally thicken up. I’m certainly not suggesting we be less informed. Uninformed Christians can be a waste of light in the darkness. What I’m suggesting is that, if you want to keep a warm, feeling heart, you better be prepared to fight like mad for it.
*Over time, you can get really cynical. For one thing, cynicism can be really funny so we get drawn to it. It also tends to be cooler. You have to be willing to be one of those that the cynics could make fun of.
*You have to realize that guarding your heart means guarding its willingness to love and be exposed out there where it can get wronged or wounded. A couple of years ago I was researching God’s self-disclosure in Exodus 34:5-7 and stumbled onto something that totally changed the way I looked at guarding my heart. Here’s the segment so you can see it for yourself:
5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love…
See that word “maintaining”? It is a form of the same Hebrew term used in Proverbs 4:23 for “guarding” our hearts. In other words, a huge part of guarding my heart is maintaining love. It was a total game changer for me because somehow I had associated guarding my heart with keeping it sheltered. Try to fathom that God actively maintains His love toward us. He guards it. Using that same concept, He calls us to maintain our love toward other people. If I want to stay in love with my husband, for instance, I better actively practice maintaining it because, left to its nature, it will grow cold.
One of the things that God keeps teaching me to do is pray with everything in me and on an ongoing basis to love Jesus more than anything I can see or touch in this human realm. He promises in Scripture to grant us everything we pray in His will and in His name. (1 John 5:14-15) Since His greatest command was that we love (Mark 12:30-31), you can pray for it with absolute confidence that He’s going to do it. In fact, every time you ask God for it, go ahead and thank Him in advance that He’s going to accomplish it. He will. Then when He starts doing it, you start guarding it with all your might.
Ask Him continually to stir fire in your bones for His Word and for His mission. Ask Him to sustain it in you and teach you how to guard it through every inch of your lifespan. Only put up with a sense of spiritual flatness for a matter of days. That’s completely normal. But when it begins to turn into weeks, go face-down on that floor and ask God to give you insight into what seems off and to revive your heart. Don’t just accept coldness. Fight for love.
What is it you want from God? Pray for it feverishly! “Pursue love and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts.” That’s what 1 Corinthians 14:1 says.
Also ask others to pray these things over you. That’s what I am hoping this blog post will be about today.
Here’s what I’m asking all of you to do if you’re willing:
*Those of you in your 20’s, tell us at least your first name, where you’re from, and a little bit about you in a comment so that we can personalize our intercessions for you.
*The rest of you choose one of them to pray for (or two, if you have the time), let them know in a reply under their comment that you are adopting them for intercession for the next 14 days. Tell them where you’re from as well. I think they’ll like knowing that, too. As long as every 20-something gets signed-up for, it doesn’t matter if a number of you are praying for the same individual. If they’re like us, they’d be ecstatic to have the extra prayer covering. Pray as you feel led by God but, within that intercession, pray particularly for God to stir up and sustain a holy passion in them for Himself, His mission, and for people on this planet, and that they will be alert and proactive in guarding their hearts to last a lifetime. Ask God forthrightly to deliver them from any area of bondage, strengthen them in temptation, and deliver them from evil. Love them with all your might through prayer.
Let’s partner with this generation and intercede powerfully for them. They are the rising future of the church of Jesus Christ at this tumultuous time on the Kingdom calendar. Let’s pray them out there.
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 ESV
PS. To our regular blog community: I put this in a comment but I’m afraid many of you may not see it.
I am grateful beyond expression for your participation on this post. Please move at the same pace that you see our 20-somethings sign up. In other words, if at our first moderation there are 15 of them, see that all 15 are spoken for then, instead of doubling and tripling up on the same small group, watch for others to be posted and claim those. Assume in about 48 hours that we’ll probably have around 80% of the 20-somethings that will end up participating. Still, check every couple of days for about a week to make sure everybody gets covered if you don’t mind. Sisters, this woman right here KNOWS how powerfully you pray. I’ve seen it. I’ve felt it. You are solid gold in the Kingdom of God! Pray for these young people like you’d want somebody to pray for your own children, whether or not you have any. Take them on as blood. Pray with faith and holy fire. Pray like the near future of the church depends on Jesus revealing Himself through them. They are so worth it. JESUS is so worth it.
I love you guys madly.