Category Archives: apostolic intercession

Praying into Current Events

“Preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” It was a popular saying years ago, which eventually morphed into, “Pray with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other,” among intercessors. Pray the news is one of the methods intercessors are still frequently encouraged to use. It has its place. We should be aware of what is going on in the world around us.

However, intercessors can wear out fast, praying about every current event (or supposed current event) that they see in the news and on social media. CNN, MSNBC, CBS, Fox, etc. all thrive on the next big story, and if they can’t find one happening on its own, they manufacture something sensational out of what little material they have. The enemy of our souls uses these things to distract prayer warriors into engaging in lots of anxious prayer scattered in a bazillion directions … for things which are really nonissues from God’s perspective.

We’ve probably all heard that it’s important to choose our battles. If we fight on too many fronts, we lose. So, when there are apparent causes for concern, our first question should be, “What do You say about this, Lord?” He may tell us, even in the face of something which looks like a big deal, not to trouble ourselves about it at all — that He’s already taken care of it. If we ask Him first, and wait for His answer, it will save us a lot of useless care and wasted energy.

Part of the enemy’s spiritual warfare strategy is a smoke and mirrors deception. “Smoke and mirrors” is an idiom derived from the magic tricks illusionists pull off, where things seem to appear or disappear through the clever use of mirrors and sudden puffs of smoke intended to distract the audience. The expression has come to mean that reality is hidden, blurred, or blown out of proportion through half-truths or irrelevant information.

That’s exactly what Satan does. He uses partial, inaccurate, or overblown information, often dispersed through news and social media, to divert intercessors from the truly vital conflicts. He presents numerous false battlefronts to our eyes, attempting to convince us of their urgency. That way, he keeps us from mobilizing where our prayers are genuinely needed. He’s been pretty effective in using this tactic, too! Because we are constantly running in this, that, and the other direction, putting out fires, we are exhausted before we even get to the real deal!

God does not want us to be in a distracted tizzy all the time. It’s easy to go there, based on the mountains of natural information available all around us, but we must resist the urge to pray mainly by what our natural senses are presented with. Instead, the Lord wants us to calm down and listen for His marching orders. If we do that, we’ll be ready and available for the strategic prayer locations where we are actually needed. We’ll do the damage and gain the major victories we’re supposed to have.

Praying in the Dark

A concept I love and teach is that intercessors should endeavor to be sharpshooters in prayer. That’s why Annie Oakley graces the cover of my book, The Intercessor Manual.

The idea is that, rather than forging ahead in prayer according to our own limited thinking, we should listen to the Holy Spirit for how to pray. We pray from the details He gives us, rather than plowing ahead without His counsel and dancing all around and over a prayer topic, without a clue as to what God’s take is on the situation. Specific prayers inspired by the Spirit hit the target and get specific answers.

Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but what happens when we wait upon the Lord, and He still doesn’t seem to give us any light on the subject? You know, that happens to me a lot. A lot!

I’d like to share a few thoughts with you on how to handle praying when the light is dim or nonexistent.

Be faithful in waiting upon God and inquiring of Him. God honors our sincere attempts to hear Him. If He’s not speaking, it’s not necessarily your fault. People have sometimes chastised me for not hearing God on given subjects. The accusation is that, if you’re not hearing and other people are (or supposedly are), that means you are just not listening, or are refusing what God is surely saying. Maybe … maybe not!

We don’t all have the same realm of prayer influence. God shares one secret with a few, and still another secret with a different set of people. That is the way He works.

Don’t let anybody guilt you for not hearing from God on any given subject. It’s good to ask the Lord, “Am I resisting what You want to speak? If so, please reveal to me where my attitude is wrong.” But if you are truly seeking Him, that’s all you can or need to do. You can’t make God speak.

Keep on waiting upon the Lord with the questions you have. It takes time to hear Him. He may not be ready to speak. He may want to see how badly you want His counsel. He may simply treasure your diligent waiting upon Him.

Take tentative prayer steps and then expect Him to lead. Sometimes I have to confess to the Lord, “I don’t have the foggiest idea how to pray into this. It is too big for me! Please lead me as I go.” Then I take the first step in prayer, often in my prayer language. Many times, within moments, He takes over and leads me into prayer paths I never would have expected to go down. It doesn’t always happen that quickly. I could spend weeks or even months feeling my way along, praying in tongues a lot, and praying in English only tiny tidbits of understanding I receive.

Don’t try to sharpshoot based on your opinions. A lot of folks are doing this, and they are not praying God’s will. Don’t assume that your strong opinion must be God’s perspective too. It might not even be close. If it’s not from Him, it’s not going to hit the target, no matter how hard you try, and you will end up disappointed because the Lord didn’t come through for you.

If you desire to pray God’s counsel, He will get you there. Have confidence that, if you are doing your best to hear Him, He will adjust your understanding along the way. Stay sensitive for any uneasy checks in your spirit about how you are praying. If you do, He will steer any mistaken prayers back on course.

At times we have to pray immediately, because there is no time to wait. Just do it, calling on the name of Jesus, having faith that He will assist you and make up for any inadequacies in your understanding. God is not fussy about whether we use the right words. He sees the intent of the heart, and He has compassion on our limitations.

Don’t be surprised if the Spirit leads you down a side trail. This is common for me. I start out praying into a specific topic, and the Lord shows me side issues — still connected with the original matter — that are important to Him (but definitely not the same focus I started out praying into). It’s OK, if that happens to you. Have faith that these tangents are important to the Lord, and that’s why you end up praying about them.

Prayer in tongues will always get you through. You can have confidence that you are breaking things open and changing circumstances, even if you aren’t completely sure how to pray or what the outcome should be. The Holy Spirit knows what is needed.

Don’t use tongues, however, as your lazy man’s way out of hearing the Lord. We should still ask for understanding and expect to receive it. The same Paul who said, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all” (1 Corinthians 14:18) also said, “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also …” (1 Corinthians 14:14, 15).

There is a time for sharpshooting and a time to throw grenade-like prayers. Different situations require different kinds of prayer volleys. This type of intercession won’t be nearly as specific in details as the sharpshooting prayer. We still want to make sure we aim it in the right direction, though! Both types of prayer should involve using Scripture as the firepower. This one may utilize larger doses of that firepower.

I hope the ideas I have shared here will encourage you and help you persevere in going after the answers you seek.

 

The Intercessor Manual

Grace for America

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“The Chase” by Paul Walsh, via Flickr.com. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

As we look around our nation and the world, things are getting darker. Behavior which was once universally thought of as evil is now labeled healthy and good. Those who stand for what the Bible defines as goodness are now called narrow-minded bigots. As a result, many Christians are giving up hope for America. Instead of continuing to steadily pray, they are focusing exclusively on building up their survivalist supplies. Others have adopted an “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” mentality.

While resting in what I fondly call my prayer chair, I dozed off and had a dream. I saw on the wall in front of me five framed pictures, all colored photos of racehorses running. In the dream, I immediately knew it was a message of grace to America. I felt as if I had dreamed this dream before, at another time when I had been sleeping in my chair, but had not recorded it.

I awoke and went back to sleep, and I dreamed that I saw the pictures again, but this time, they were not on the wall. They were either in my hands or laid out in front of me. They seemed to be black and white photos this time, which I did not get a good look at, but I knew they were close-ups with details of the earlier racehorse pictures on the wall.

I then heard, “Thus saith the Lord,  ‘With grace will I restore America.'”


Here is my interpretation:

Both in this dream and in the recollection of having the same dream before, I had been in my prayer chair — my place of prayer authority. God gives intercessors authority to receive answers to prayer according to things which He reveals to us.

The sense that I had dreamed this scene twice means it is confirmed. (Joseph said Pharaoh’s dream was “doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.” — Genesis 41:32)

As I prayed about the dream, I felt that I knew the racehorses running in a race meant that this grace was coming quickly.

Five pictures — Many prophets agree that “five” usually symbolizes grace. (See Ephesians 4:7-12, where God is giving grace to the Church in connection with the five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, who equip and bring the saints to maturity for the work of ministry).

Holding the black and white pictures in my hands or laid out in front of me — In the dream, as an intercessor, I symbolized intercessors in general. It is the job laid out before intercessors, and it is in our hands, to pray in the grace of the Lord upon America.

The detailed pictures were black and white, because it is a black and white promise that if we will do our part in praying it in, God will do His part in restoring America through His grace.

The black and white pictures were close-ups, with details which I had not seen in the pictures hanging on the wall.  This indicates praying out the details, specific things God shows intercessors to pray, as we listen to the Spirit and flow with Him in prayer.


Some additional thoughts:

Some of you may think it is strange that the words I heard at the end of the dream were in King James English. I thought that was odd, too. I don’t normally hear God speak in King James — but if He wants to do it that way, He can.  🙂

You might ask, “What does that mean, that with grace He will restore America?” I don’t know exactly. We’ll have to let Him work out how He does it, and listen along the way for details He gives each of us as to how we should pray into it. I’m not going to assume that He has to do it a certain way.

I believe this dream is an invitation, not just for me, but for anyone who is willing, to participate in God’s desire to restore America. Its fulfillment may be conditioned upon our responding to it with fervent intercession. He is willing. Are we?

In closing, I’d like to remind you of one of our time-honored national songs, America the Beautiful.  It has a line in it which is sung as a prayer, “America, America, God shed His grace on thee.”

Let’s not give up hope. Let’s pray in faith for God to restore America by a work of His grace upon our land.

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Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 4)

NOAA Lightning Strike 2In recent weeks, some fairly well-known Christian leaders have urged the Church to pray for judgment to come to America. A few seem to feel that they are partnering with God’s righteous indignation by taking this position. Some have reasoned that only severe judgment will cause the people of our nation to repent and return to the Lord. I think such a viewpoint might end up as a “You know not what you ask for” kind of prayer philosophy.

One problem with the “pray for judgment” approach is the assumption that what worked to get people’s attention in Old Testament times will still work exactly the same today. It is argued that when catastrophes struck ancient Israel, or when their enemies invaded, it caused the Israelites to repent. Among the people of that time, not just the Israelites, the common understanding was that bad things happening meant God (or a god) was not pleased, and that to regain His favor, they had to change their ways. In our day, with humanism and intellectualism having made such inroads, people are more likely to attribute weather or geologic catastrophes to scientific explanations.

The people of ancient Israel had a biblical framework ingrained in them. They understood that there was a direct correlation between being obedient to God and being blessed, while disobedience brought a curse. The Scriptures laid this out for them quite clearly. In our secular society, a biblical framework has not been a part of many, many people’s background for several decades.

Between the  prevailing intellectual, scientific mindset and the lack of scriptural understanding, I doubt if most people in our nation, outside of devout Christians, would connect hurricanes, earthquakes, economic collapse, terrorists, or even an out-and-out enemy invasion with a need to repent and turn to God. Hence, catastrophic events are not likely to bring them to a desire to repent and embrace the Lord.

Another problem with the “pray for judgment” reasoning is that the people encouraging it are trying to apply Old Testament principles, based upon the Law, not recognizing that God’s methods of interacting with mankind have shifted since Jesus died, rose, and sent the Holy Spirit to be actively at work in the earth.

Let’s be clear that God’s nature never changes. But His methods do. He has always been completely just, but He has also always been merciful, bearing long with the wicked and holding back judgment to give people time to repent. He says in James 2:13 that “mercy rejoices against judgment” and in 2 Peter 3:9 that He is “long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

In the Psalms and other Old Testament books,  the writers sometimes prayed what are called “prayers of imprecation” — prayers which curse or call down judgment on others. However, when Jesus came, He began to shift people’s thinking to align with a new and better covenant. When James and John wished to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village which had slighted Jesus, He rebuked them, saying, “You do not realize what manner of spirit you are of, for the Son of man has not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:51-56).

Old Testament believers depended on the rigid code of the Law to guide them. The Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out upon the general population. They heard God speak to them through the Scriptures and through the prophets, but most were not able to hear Him speak clearly into their own hearts. But when Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be at work among men. In John 16:8, Jesus said of the Spirit, “When He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” We can now depend on the Holy Spirit not only to guide believers, but also to be poured out wholesale, according to Joel’s prophecy of the end times: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28).

Rather than praying for judgment to fall, I believe we should diligently intercede for the Holy Spirit to be shed abroad across our land. We can pray for Him to prick consciences, soften hearts, remove deception from people’s thinking, and bring awakening to them. All of these changes can only come about by people embracing Jesus — but they can only receive Him as the Holy Spirit enables them to do so. Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to come down in a fresh Pentecost upon America.

Do I think that some of the bad things already happening are due to rejection of the Lord? Yes. When a nation turns from honoring God, His protection and blessings begin to be pulled back. Do I think greater judgment will come? Yes, the Scriptures assure us that in the last days it will inevitably happen. But our position should not be to pray in that judgment before its time, but to pray in a huge harvest of souls before that final day.

Next time, I will share with you a dream I had, which gives me a great deal of hope for America’s future.

Previous: Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 3)

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The Intercessor Manual

Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 3)

NOAA Lightning Strike 2

In our previous two posts, we talked about interceding for God’s mercy upon our nation. We can plead for delay, minimizing, and even averting of judgment. I listed some Bible principles  for why and how we can go about this. Now let’s talk about some specific, scriptural ways we can pray for our America.

1.) We can start by heeding what the apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:1-4:  “I exhort, therefore that … supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and for all who are in authority, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who wills for all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Paul’s statement may not be to our liking when things aren’t going the way we think they should. However, it is still a command of the Lord to pray positively for those who are in authority. Paul wrote these words while Nero, the most evil of all the Roman emperors, was in power.

2.) Pray for America to return to a place of supporting and blessing Israel. This is important because of God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham — a covenant which biblically follows through the family line of Isaac and Jacob (Israel). “I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Pray for a shift back to favoring Israel at a governmental level and also for increased grassroots support of them.

3.) Pray for righteous government to be restored. Righteous government would be defined as people in public office who adhere to and promote behavior which aligns with the Bible. Proverbs 29:2 states, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn.”

Ask the Lord to either change the hearts of those who currently hold government office or to replace them with people who are more worthy of the responsibility. Pray for the Lord to expose hidden corruption as one means of removing wicked men and women from their positions. When God exposes wrongdoing, it is for the purpose of mercy — to alleviate the general population, but also to give the person who has done wrong another opportunity for repentance.

I believe we should lean more toward interceding for change of hearts than for removal from office.  We should also avoid praying for the removal and exposure of specific leaders.  Instead, pray in a general way for leaders to repent or be removed. Never pray for evil to come upon anyone. Leave the details of how to deal with them up to the Lord.

4.) Repent on behalf of the Church for not having better influenced our nation. Overall, we have abdicated our place of authority in prayer, our responsibility to be a voice for truth, and our ability to effect righteous government via the voting booth. Our complacency has had a lot to do with why wickedness now abounds.

5.) Pray for conviction of sin to be shed abroad in our country, for truth to prevail, and the veil of deception to be removed from individuals. God will eventually no longer hold back strong delusion, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:8-11. But at this time, we are still in an age when the Holy Spirit is carrying out His work of “reproving the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). We can cooperate with how the Spirit of Truth already delights to function, by interceding for Him to do exactly what the Scriptures say He has been sent to do!

6.) Pray for a great ingathering of souls into the family of God. 2 Peter 3:8-9 explains that Jesus has not yet returned because God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

7.) Pray for people within the Church who will evangelize and disciple that incoming harvest. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2). This is a command, and we should not ignore it.

8.) Beseech the Lord to quell the rampant violence all around us. Two years ago in our prayer group, we heard by revelation that a spirit of murder had been unleashed upon the land. We have certainly seen that word bear out. It is time to ask the Lord to take away or minimize this evil spirit’s ability to destroy the innocent.

It is not a simple matter to tackle, and we must seek the Lord for further instruction on how to pray it out carefully and wisely. Repentance for the acceptance of violent movies and video games, and for compromise with the occult is part of the solution.

One of the ladies in our group felt the Lord was revealing to her that the tolerance of abortion had opened the door to this evil spirit, which now moves in ever greater demonstrations of murder. Prayer for the reversal of legalized abortion, and repentance for the deaths of the millions of babies, has been part of our intercession strategy.

____________

A few well-known Christian leaders are currently exhorting the Body of Christ to pray for judgment to come upon our nation. In the next post, I will share in greater detail why I do not think we should pray that way.

Previous: Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 2)
Next: Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 4)   

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The Intercessor Manual

Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 2)

NOAA Lightning Strike 2Last time, we began talking about principles of intercession for times when judgment is imminent.

Our first three points were:
1.)  God gives revelation of coming judgment so that we will intercede for it not to happen.
2.)  We can intercede for judgment to be averted or minimized “for the sake of the righteous.”
3.)  Your individual prayers make a difference.

Here are two more principles:

4.)  It can be late in the game and look entirely hopeless, yet God can change everything overnight. Pray for miraculous intervention. Another story of deliverance which came because of intercession can be found in 2 Kings, 18 and 19, with parallel accounts in 2 Chronicles 32, and  Isaiah 36 and 37. The king of Assyria had conquered all the other nations around Judah. Furthermore, Hezekiah had gotten into the flesh, panicked, and tried to ally himself with Egypt for protection — which Isaiah had clearly warned him by the word of the Lord not to do (Isaiah 30 and 31). Egypt failed to help, and nearly all the cities of Judah had fallen into the Assyrians’ hands. Now Jerusalem itself was under siege.

It couldn’t have gotten much bleaker than this. The Assyrian king’s envoys taunted the people, “Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you into believing God will help you. God won’t deliver you! In fact, the LORD is backing me up. He’s the one who said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it!'” (2 Kings 18:25, 30, 32).

But Hezekiah still trusted God for deliverance. He humbled his heart, and as he and Isaiah interceded together, the Lord intervened in a way no one would have thought possible. He destroyed the Assyrian army overnight.

Although the intervention came suddenly, Jerusalem had been under siege for some time, possibly as long as two years (Isaiah 37:30). It was during this same time when Hezekiah became deathly ill.

When things go from bad to worse, don’t give up. Persist in prayer. Intercede for God’s miraculous intervention. Keep your eyes on the Lord as you pray. Eventually, God’s “suddenly” moment will arrive.

5.) We can repent on behalf of our nation and receive results. In Daniel 9, we have a model prayer for how to intercede on behalf of our country. Daniel set himself to intercede for Israel’s return to their homeland.

  • He used Scripture as his foundation (Jeremiah’s prophecy that the exile would be over in seventy years).
  • He fasted and humbled himself.
  • He reminded God of His mercy.
  • And he repented for the sins of his people.

Daniel was a righteous man, yet he prayed, “God forgive us. We have sinned.” He identified with the sin of the nation as a whole. When we pray about “their” sin, thinking in terms of the wickedness going on around us as something apart from ourselves, we tend to feel self-righteous, much as the Pharisee did in relation to the publican in Jesus’ parable found in Luke 18:9-14. When we identify with the collective sin of our country, however, we tend to have a great deal more compassion and unselfish fervency in prayer. An attitude of “we’re all in this together” builds a more effective prayer.

Next time, we’ll talk about specific ways we can pray for our nation and also some ways we should not pray.

Previous: Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 1)
Next: Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 3)

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The Intercessor Manual