Even before temperatures were consistently warm, the tiny purple or white bell-shaped flowers peeked up between spring green blades of grass in our front yard. The German word for these blooms is beautifully descriptive: schneeglocken, or snow bells. Because we were only renters in the house, I had no idea who originally planted the small bulbs which every year cheered both us and passersby after the grim winter days.
But another phenomenon also occurred annually: a late spring snowstorm! That first year I feared that my tiny harbingers of spring would be destroyed, but as the sun melted the top layer of icy flakes, the snow bells bravely lifted their heads toward the warmth.
New and beautiful life is planted within us when we personally receive Jesus Christ as Savior. In a very real sense, we “bloom” as God causes growth. But invariably storms come—disappointments overwhelm, grief crushes, expectations are frustrated. We wonder if our new life has disappeared. Will the beauty of Christ within us ever again bring hope to us and encouragement to others?
And then slowly, but very surely, the warmth of God’s love begins to melt the cold realities threatening to overwhelm. Perhaps a small answered prayer. Or a Bible verse flashes like a neon sign. A friend offers unexpected support. And we are reminded that what God plants and nourishes can never die.
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Once my heart cried with a friend for her wayward young prodigal. My friend said, “We were in a new place of desperation of soul that could only squeak ‘Jesus‘ or ‘God, help me‘ or ‘God, do something.’ These are incredibly powerful squeaks because of the desperation that throws itself entirely on God.” This is the cry from a parent’s desperate heart for God to do what only God can do.
God gave the vision of the valley of dry bones to his prophet Jeremiah because his heart weeps over the dry bones of his people, as Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. The Spirit of God wants to breathe new life into vast areas of spiritual dryness, barrenness, and deadness. I identified with the need of that family and prayed for the barrenness in that young life through Ezekiel’s word picture in Ezekiel 37.
This passage can be intensely personal. Take strength and comfort from these prayers. Re-center yourself on God’s purposes and promises, and take up new prayer weapons to fight the real enemy, not the person. Ask for a weeping heart of mercy, not judgment, to carry the gift of discernment for repentance. Until you can put your tears and your life on the line for the person, marriage, family, church, city, or nation that needs God, you are not in the position of having the heart and mind of Jesus for them. Open your Bible to Ezekiel 37 and read the verses, crying out to God for your own “dry bones” situations in your family.
37:1 Father, your hand is upon us in Spirit-led intercession for _______. Purify our hearts by your Spirit and deposit your burden of prayer in us, unmixed with unsanctified sympathies, anger, bitterness, or human judgments. We are trusting you to bring us through the valley of the shadow of death, as you promised. Lead us to pray as large, deep, and wide as your providence in this situation. Give us a heart of wisdom and mercy that rejoices against judgment for ________.
37:2 We trust that you have gone before and are working, even when we don’t see your purposes. Spirit of the Lord, lead us to rightly discern the real condition of _________, not just react to what we think or have been told. You see the dry bones of barrenness and desolation. You know the entrances that ______ has given the kingdom of evil. _______ is oppressed, fragmented, miserable and unhappy, alienated from your blessing, morally compromised with sin and deception, rebelling against their parents and your Word, and in great danger. Their present condition is not hopeless to you. In darkness, you are light.
37:3 Spirit of counsel, you know everything. You don’t need us to inform you. You want from us restful, trusting communion and absolute surrender to your will, your ways, and your timing. We humbly acknowledge our total dependence on you for faith to stand, for knowledge and counsel, for comfort and security, for direction and outcome. Let us speak only your prayers. Let us not accept as final the circumstances of wickedness and iniquity that our eyes see. You alone know the end from the beginning, and you are the God of the impossible.
37:4 Say to deaf ears, “Hear the word of the Lord!” At your direction, let us discern and pray your purposes for ______ and the entire family. Speak your words to them and cause them to respond obediently to you. Enable us to pray your prayers for the dry bones of ______’s body and soul (heart, mind, will, and emotions). Holy Spirit, call forth your purposes and the future and hope that you have planned for _________.
37:5-6 Sovereign Lord, speak your creative and restoring miracle to the barrenness in ________’s life with the same resurrection power that brought Jesus to life from the dead. Breathe new life into them by your Spirit. Set everything in place in working order in their life, so that ________ will know that you are Lord, Sovereign Ruler, rightfully due their loyalty and obedient service.
37:7 By faith, we believe you, obey you, and pray as you command. Answer by your Spirit and open a way where there seems to be no way. You go before, for you are the God of break-through. Give us a sign of encouragement. Let us hear the “rattling bones” coming together as you make ______ who you intend them to be: healthy, whole, functioning, life-giving. By your blood, Lord Jesus, regenerate life in them and cause the marrow of their inner being to begin to sustain life.
37:8 Thank you for every sign of Your goodness we see, no matter how small. You are answering, and we ask You to do it thoroughly. Superficial answers, cleaning up their act, and looking functional are not enough! Stop short of nothing less than a new heart, a new spirit, a new life. Enable us to reach deeper into Your heart to pray Your promises until Your full purposes are accomplished in all the family.
37:9 Sovereign Lord, call forth from the north, the south, the east, and the west the breath of life for ________. You formed them in their mother’s womb, and as you breathed in them the first breath of their life, breathe into them the new life of the Spirit in all your favor and purpose. Restore them to wholeness. Speak to them, “Choose wisdom, choose righteousness, choose freedom, choose life!”
37:10-11 No situation is hopeless to you. Sovereign Lord, break off the shackles of captivity. Cause _______ to stand up in all the fullness of your redeeming power. Make _______ mighty in your Spirit. Deliver them as an effectual weapon in your hand. Set into them your spiritual gifts and calling among their generation of yet-to-be evangelists, preachers, disciplers, and world-changers that Satan is working overtime to annihilate. Let us see your glory in these things that were intended for evil.
37:12 You have the keys to open the prison doors of sin, bondage, and the pit of destruction. Bring this captive out into all their true inheritance in you. Restore them to the family and the family of God.
37:13-14 Father, act in such a way that ________’s transformation will be a testimony to your redemptive power. What you are doing, do quickly. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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