The Bare Soul - April 21, 2013
Clouded Prayer

Lamentations 3:44 - You have covered Yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.

Drive or hike mountain roads or trails and eventually a person will encounter clouds. Interestingly, clouds often look thicker and more impenetrable from a distance. Once the cloud envelopes us on an alpine highway or a mountain path, we can often see our immediate surroundings regardless of how thick the cloud appears. Our relative proximity does matter regarding our perspective. However, how good is our visibility in actuality? For instance, a large blanket of clouds will often make the ground impossible to see from an airline window. Nonetheless, the ground is still there and the descent through the clouds soon makes that apparent.

Throughout God's word, the Lord identifies Himself with clouds. As our lead scripture states, He wraps Himself in a cloud in a covert manner, disallowing prayer to come before Him. Similarly, Job tells us how God uses clouds as a place of refuge, so that he creates a separation between sinful man and Himself (Job 22:14). David confirms this in Psalm 18:11 stating, "He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies." However, there will be that day when He is no longer using clouds for a covering but will use them as a means to herald His coming. Revelation 1:7 tells us "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen." In the meantime, God gives us clouds as reminders. We must understand the significance of clouds, both physically and spiritually.

Spiritual clouds for a believer imply lack of vision and clarity. As the aforementioned example, we may be able to see "immediate surroundings" in the midst of a cloud, but we really don't have the complete scope of the reality around us. For example, we may believe we are praying correctly for someone or something, but are we in the midst of a cloud created from unresolved sin in our lives? If so, then we are the one who has created a separation from the Divine by our unrepented  transgressions. We have allowed sin to cloud our understanding where we cannot hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, many of our prayers go unanswered because we neither have the faith to pray through for an answer, and God is not inclined to grant us our plea on the basis of unbelief. Then, there are situations where we may be full of faith and walking uprightly before God. Yet, God has covered Himself in a cloud because of His divine wisdom and will not hear our prayers -- or at least the way we desire to be heard. God told the prophet Ezekiel that even if "Noah, Daniel and Job" were in the midst of wicked Jerusalem, they would not be able to stay His hand from destruction of the entire land of Judah (Ezekiel 14:20). No matter if Daniel had prayed for an open heaven against the demonic strongholds that held Jerusalem in their grip, the Lord would not intervene on His chosen's behalf before the appointed time. Sometimes justice is necessary to experience mercy. God had wrapped Himself in clouds of judgment. It would be seventy years before He parted the clouds and allowed Himself to show mercy once again by restoring their captivity. This became a reality through the prayers of the righteous such as the prophet Daniel.

There are generally two reasons why prayer remains unanswered. One is certainly demonic strongholds that block answered prayer. We see this when Daniel fought with principalities to secure an open heaven for answered prayer (Daniel 10:10-14). However, possibly the one we desire least to recognize is either individual or corporate (national and/or global) sin. Often, the demonic strongholds over a person, church, city, or region are in direct relation to sin and allowing these spirits to grow in power and influence. Heaven's door has been bolted shut and cannot hear revival prayer because of the spiritual wickedness that man has allowed to exist in the heavenlies. And, as stated, this is largely due to sin.

As previously mentioned, God always comes in clouds. However, if we are waiting for Jesus to appear on the clouds and bring retribution to the nations, we may first want to examine if He has covered Himself in a cloud because of our disobedience. As Isaiah states, our sin has made a separation between us and God so that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2). We should all desire to be a man like righteous Elijah, a man not unlike us, who was effectual and fervent in prayer for an entire nation (James 5:16-18). However, Elijah was not hidden in a cloud nor did he deal with a God who hid Himself likewise. There was transparency and full, expressive communication with divine results. May we all take a lesson from those who have gone before us. Let us live with a clear conscience before God, knowing clouds are not meant to hide, but rather to ride in victory on that final day when Christ descends with the sound of the Last Trumpet.

Heavenly Father, help us to long for the clouds of Your return, but not to hide in the clouds of sin and collusion. Grant us hearts that despise wickedness and that give us clear vision regarding Your will and desire. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

 

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