The work of Spirit-led prayer.

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A vision of prayer.

One way God calls me to shine for Him is through leading group prayer. I’ve been leading small groups in prayer for close to twenty years.

Most recently I felt the call to step up and lead prayer in a short weekly Praise and Prayer service where I attend church. It consists of contemporary praise songs, a devotional time where God’s Word is shared, and prayer.

The vision I was given of this role as prayer leader was to pray at the Spirit’s leading. Whenever. During a song, between songs, or ask to insert a prayer during the practice wherever the Spirit seemed to be directing.

‘…The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8 NRSV

A harrowing work.

As I began working out this call, a word came to mind in preparation for each service: Harrowing.

Not a word I use daily. Not a word heard much in everyday ordinary conversations. So it was odd to have it come to mind. But there it was, week after week: Harrowing. This is harrowing.

I had a rough idea of the definition of this adjective — harrowing — and it felt unsuitable as a word to characterize this work of prayer in church.

With a search online, I set out to confirm the definition.

acutely distressing.


Well, yes. That is exactly what I felt: acutely distressed.
Microphone in hand.
Listening for the Spirit.
Finding the faith to open my mouth at His prompting and pray.
Pray as He led — unscripted prayers.

These worship services are also recorded via Facebook live. Yikes!

As the weeks passed and the word kept recurring I noticed, with the -ing ending, harrow just might be a verb. Now, harrow was not a term I was familiar with. So I opened up Merriam-Webster’s in my Logos library.

harrow verb trans. … 1. to cultivate with a harrow 2. torment, vex

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.)

Yes, there it was: to cultivate with a harrow, but I didn’t know what a harrow looked like or its function.

harrow noun… a cultivating implement set with spikes, spring teeth, or disks and used primarily for pulverizing and smoothing soil

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.)

A completely new and suitable picture came to mind of this harrowing work of Spirit-led prayer: preparation of hearts for His Word to be planted.

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Preparation of my own heart — a breaking up of self-consciousness, fear of man, fear of failure — as I step into a new call, in a different venue, for leading others in prayer at the Spirit’s direction.

Congregational harrowing of hearts by modeling and encouraging others to engage in deeper worship through song. Reminding them songs of praise are to be sung as prayers to God.

And, of course, working a harrow, any soil prep for planting, can be hard… distressing… vexing… work.

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A rocky road.

Shining for Him is a work that will always be opposed in this world of darkness where an enemy has temporary reign. So do not be surprised when great distress — physical, emotional, spiritual, mental — comes upon you when you answer His call to shine for Him.

It is a harrowing work, for your good and the good of His people.
Take courage!
Step out.
Do the work He calls you to with fear, trembling, and great boldness.

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.
Hosea 10:12 NIV

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And remember, with any Holy Spirit-led endeavor, the enemy will be more vexed than you!

Where is He calling you to a harrowing work?

Are you willing to do the uncomfortable spiritual work He calls you to? in your life? for His Kingdom? What might be holding you back?

Ask God to free you for joy-full obedience to whatever Spirit-led work He calls you to do.

[Feature Image Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash]

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