By Aaron E. Ziebarth, Executive Director
On Friday, I spent a day away in prayer. During the twelve-plus years that I have been at Joy El this is something I have endeavored to do every month. It’s a time for seeking the Lord for fresh wisdom, insight and direction. I remove myself from the daily distractions and seek to focus on Him.
I never know what to expect because every day of prayer is different. Often the Lord impresses upon me a portion of scripture early in the morning that I will focus on throughout the day.
This Friday as I began my time, I quickly realized I was exhausted—physically, mentally and emotionally. I began considering the verses the Lord impressed upon me earlier in the morning.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).
As I meditated on these verses I became very aware that as in the life of Job and Simon Peter, the evil one is regularly demanding permission to sift the followers of the Lord like wheat. During the past week I had experienced that sifting through some grueling experiences in my life, the lives of several close friends and also in staff members at Joy El.
But as Jesus prayed for Simon Peter, I felt His prayers for me. He is praying that our faith would not fail.
Over the years I have seen people lose faith. Many have given up on the Lord because they don’t believe He came through for them.
Throughout the day I felt God’s presence ministering to me and nurturing to me as I wrestled through my disappointments with Him. He kept sharing, “I am praying your faith will not fail.”
As I concluded my time I received a text from a friend asking me, “Do you feel refreshed and renewed?” My response was, “I don’t know yet.”
Just a few minutes after that, I received a call from Gary Hornbaker, our Director of Released Time Ministries. Gary began sharing with me two major answers to prayer. These were things that had weighed heavily on us the last week. God is good. That night a friend unexpectedly came over for supper and we spent the following three hours talking deeply and crying. It was a refreshing and renewing time.
During our time, I received word from Michael John that a large group (for which we had been praying hard all week) would be coming to Joy El next summer. We are thrilled about the opportunity to minister to them and the opportunity this gives us to steward our facility.
Shortly after, I had the last-minute opportunity to spend 30 minutes with a high school student that I mentor. I saw significant breakthroughs in his life, things for which I have been praying for a long time.
Rarely do we see answers to prayer right away. Some of these requests I prayed specifically for months, others weeks or days. Often there’s significant wrestling that we must go through. Within five minutes of concluding this day I began seeing answers—five big ones. When we persevere we can see God work mightily.
What great assurance to know that Jesus is interceding for us that our faith will not fail. Please trust Him with me.
If you would like some resources on how to spend extended time in prayer, please e-mail me at [email protected] and I would be glad to send them to you.