“When we get a breakthrough in prayer, we need to continue to pray to sustain it.”
It was a line in my pastor’s sermon, and it brought new understanding to me of something I had often done and yet had questioned up until then. There had been times I had prayed strenuously until God clearly spoke to me that the battle had been won. He then instructed me to move on and pray for other things, but I still sometimes felt the need to pray here and there into the victories I had won — just to make sure they stayed taken care of. I often wondered if it was all right with God if I still prayed about them, or if it proved a lack of faith in me. But when I heard that sentence in the sermon, I understood that I had been doing my intercessory job all along. I had been sustaining the victory.
Maintaining our breakthrough is like what a conqueror does after taking new territory. Once an area is subdued, the conqueror moves on to take more land, but he never abandons or leaves vacant what he has already won. If he did, a usurper would move in. The conqueror always, always establishes government in his newly conquered territory.
In past history, world empires usually fell because more territory had been taken than they could provide ongoing government for. This is one reason why the Roman Empire crumbled — the Romans could not adequately police the vast area they had conquered.
God’s government is established in the earth through prayer that agrees with His already decreed will. But God’s government must also be continually enforced through vigilance in prayer. Our prayers are like guards stationed around the borders of conquered territory. They keep the enemy from coming back in.
Our natural tendency is to stop praying once the desired end appears on the surface to have been accomplished, but many times we forfeit victories we have won through neglecting to sustain them in prayer. It is a mistake we Christians have often committed — a mistake we must not continue to repeat.
How does this work out in the intercessor’s life? Some breakthroughs are a one-time, forever-done experience, but there are other breakthroughs which we must not be lax about maintaining, if we are to keep them. Did we pray in someone’s salvation? We need to continue to pray for the new convert that he will grow in the Lord and not fall away. Did we pray for someone’s healing to take place? When the healing has come, sometimes it must be maintained through vigilant prayer. Did we intercede for godly government and saw the fruits of our prayers on election day? If we don’t continue to pray for those government leaders, we will most certainly lose that territory!
How do we know when we should continue to pray after our breakthrough has come? We stay tuned in to the Holy Spirit. He will prompt us to sustain our victory by continuing to pray into it. I have had breakthroughs where God clearly spoke to me that I had prayed enough. They were not my problem anymore. I have had some where He said it was enough, and then He prompted me to pray again into them a few months down the road. I prayed until I felt all was secure again, only to find that several more months later, further prayer maintenance was needed.
If we are careful to listen to the Holy Spirit, we will find that there is no longer an earnestness to pray anymore about some things. This is because the need is not there, and the Spirit is not fueling those prayers. But there will be times when we start to feel an unrest about a past prayer burden, a disquietude, or a sense that more prayer is needed. We should not ignore such promptings. If we do, we may find that a hard-won territory has once again fallen to the enemy.
It is easier to maintain a breakthrough than it is to retake that ground again.
Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual