LET US PRAY!
By Steven Lambert
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Early one morning many years ago now, I was driving toward a particular intersection on my way to the Post Office. On the right at that intersection was a particular church whose services I had attended a few times, and the pastor of which with whom I had enjoyed some fellowship. Until that moment, my only intention in my mind was going to the Post Office; nothing else. But, about a block from the intersection, the inner voice of the Spirit of the Lord said, “The light ahead will turn red, when it turns green, turn right, and then turn into the church!” It’s probably also a good thing that I had only a few seconds to either obey or keep driving.
I turned right and turned into the driveway of the church property. Then, I remember saying to the Lord, “Lord, what in the world is this all about; I was going to the Post Office?” He answered, “Get out!” To which I responded with the highly intelligent and spiritual reply that one is often inclined to speak at 7:20 in the morning, “Huh?” I thought, “Get out? Wow, that’s kinda harsh, Lord, what did I do wrong now?” He said, “Get out of the car, and go walk over there in the trees, on the corner.” There was a portion on the corner of the church property that had remained undeveloped because it actually was not the church property but, the pastor later told me, was a zoned “easement” of sorts that belonged to the owners of another piece of property—a long story.
Anyway, I got out of the car and began walking in amongst the stand of trees on the property. I remember when I was still driving thinking, “Wow, what a gorgeous day, so still and peaceful.” Then, all of a sudden as I stood in the trees, a strong gust of wind came out of nowhere and began whipping through the tops of the trees that was so strong that I thought I better get out from under all those trees, lest the wind break a branch and it fall on me. I crouched down a bit so I could looked across the street to see if the wind was blowing there, and it looked as calm and peaceful as a mid-day in July on a Florida beach. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck and gave me Goosebumps from head to toe.
Then, I heard the inner voice of the Spirit say, “Listen carefully, I have some things to tell you that I want you to tell the pastor when he comes in a few minutes.” I said, “The pastor is coming in a few minutes? Are you sure, it’s awfully early; he doesn’t usually come in that early? Besides, I don’t have an appointment, he may not want to talk to me.” “He’s on his way and I’ve prepared him to hear what I want to tell him through you; now listen,” the Lord said.
When I shut up and began listening, the Spirit began giving me a vision concerning this church, the future plans God had for it, its pastor, and how parts of the vision also pertained to the Church at-large that Jesus is building. For the sake of time and space, I will omit from this article the details, meaning, and significance of the vision that God showed me, part instantly, and part over the course of several months.
I was so caught up in this vision, I have no idea how long I was there and have no recollection of the hundreds of cars whizzing all around me traversing through that intersection. But, then, the Spirit said, “The pastor is here now and he is looking for you; tell him the part of what I just showed you that I will tell you to tell him about the church and him.”
But, hurriedly, I inquired of the Lord, “Does he already know all this?”
“Some of it; I’ve been trying to speak and show it to him for over two years now, but I’ve brought you here to confirm what he’s been able to receive and has not yet obeyed and remind him of it, as well as to tell him some parts that he’s been resistant to hearing and receiving because of certain mindsets.”
Then, I said, “But, Lord, he’ll think I’m nuts or some kind of weirdo mystic, if I come marching out of the woods and tell him everything I just saw!” The Lord replied, “I will lead you in what you are to say to him.”
So, somehow, I “came out of it,” and walked out of the trees and toward the church building, and sure enough, there was the pastor walking toward me and saying something that I was not yet able to get myself to understand through my normal human faculties. Saying to myself repeatedly, “He’s going to think I’m nuts! He’s going to think I’m nuts!” I walked toward him and just plastered the biggest grin on my face I could muster up, waved the biggest one-hand round-house wave I’ve ever waved in my life, and hollered, “Morning, Pastor!”
“How ya doing?” he asked, “Didn’t know I’d be seeing you here this morning.” Sounding to myself like Hank Hill on the TV program, King of the Hill, I muttered, “Uhhh, well…uhhh…neither did I…(ha ha)…but…well…just thought I’d drop by…uhhh…you know, and…uhhh…just say hello.” “Oh, okay, well, whatcha got on your mind?” he queried graciously (but probably thinking to himself “what the heck does this guy want, he’s going to mess up my schedule right off the bat this morning”). All the while I’m sending up a major HELP! kind of prayer to God inside, and asking, “What am I supposed to say now???”
Then, feeling sorry for me, I’m sure, the Lord said, “Ask him if the church’s plans have ever included a pre-school, after-care, day-care, and elementary school.” With that, he seemed to freeze, his face flushed, and he just stared at me for what seemed to be an eternity, but in reality was only a second or two, then he responded with one of the most classic responses I’ve ever gotten in almost thirty years (at that time) of prophetic ministry, “Do you HAVE to be so PROPHETIC?!”
We both laughed nervously, and, thank God, he invited me in for a cup of coffee and we talked, and I shared with him some of what the Lord had shown me in the vision (mainly only the parts I thought he might be receptive to, honestly).
After I had taken up the man’s entire morning, probably just to get rid of me (I’m joking…I think), he asked, “Would you be willing to come tonight to the mid-week service and share some of what we’ve been talking about this morning with our congregation? They need to hear what you’ve been sharing with me. I’ve been trying to tell them some of these things, but I think it will help for them to hear it coming from someone other than me who knew nothing in the natural, as a confirmation.”
“Sure, I’d be happy to,” I said, before I could even think about what I was saying.
That night we had a powerful visitation from the Lord in that church that had no idea when they came to church what they were in for. The Presence of the Lord charged the atmosphere like electricity. People who had never been slain in the spirit in their life, and some who were staunchly opposed to such crazy fanaticism, “fell as dead men” when the Lord’s hand came upon them, from wary, wise adults to unassuming children and adolescence, some of whom had never seen or heard of anyone being slain in the spirit before. Words of knowledge, discerning of spirits, prophetic utterance, healing, and miracles flowed like Niagara Falls. Demons were cast out, captives were set free, healings and miracles were reported, and we had a glorious time in the Lord, as the Lord put His seal of authenticity and affirmation on the prophetic word I shared with the congregation concerning what the Lord had shown me in the vision.
All of that happened—from God sending me there to speak to the pastor to all that transpired in the service that night—as a result of a number of prayer seasons the Lord had called the church into prior to that day over a number of months, and which they had humbled themselves and obeyed! Prayer changes things! Prayer brings about change! Prayer prepares the hearts of God’s people for the manifestation and fulfillment of His purpose and plans!
No Substitute For Prayer
There is no substitute for prayer. One great preacher on the subject of prayer once wrote, “It is as if God can do nothing unless and until someone first asks Him.” Ask, seek, knock—this is the process the Lord has decreed that allows His intervention into the affairs of men (Mat. 7:7). He has established forever the principle of free will, and it governs everything upon the Earth. He will not violate it, no matter what; He simply cannot. But, when we ask, He will! “ALL things, WHATSOEVER things you ask IN PRAYER believing, you SHALL receive.” That’s as close to carte blanche as it gets, Folks! Our asking gives Him the “permission” or the “opportunity” to do it! But, He cannot do it until and unless we ask!
A very detrimental mindset that besets us all at times is the presumption that whatever God wants to do He CAN and therefore, we presume, WILL do! After all, He can do whatever He wants, He’s God!, right? Wrong! Bad theology! He can only do what WE want and ASK Him to do! “The HEAVENS are the heavens of the Lord; But the EARTH He has given to the SONS OF MEN!” (Psa. 115:16). Human governmental authority in the affairs of men on this planet is sacrosanct! Even His WORD believers must announce, apply, and assert, over the affairs of men, and everything that transpires on this planet that is not otherwise governed by a God-set and immutable law.
Most Powerful Weapon
Prayer is the most powerful weapon believers possess, yet the enemy makes it seem like the most difficult to wield, and even the most ineffectual. But, that is deception. God’s word says, “The effectual and fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much!” Interpretation? Prayer works! Is it difficult? About as difficult as thinking the next thought that wistfully and effortlessly flutters through your mind. The only thing difficult about prayer is overriding one’s flesh that resists us doing it with all it’s got!
Though thousands of books have been written on the topic, the matter of prayer boils down to this: Prayer is two-way communication between people and God. Prayer is conversation with God. But, beyond that, God’s highest intent is that prayer would be communion or fellowship with God. Like the old gospel song says, “Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right!”
Anyone can pray. And, anyone can pray effectively, if he/she prays in faith believing. It is impossible to have faith for and believe for what is wrong and ungodly. Neither will you have true faith (for faith is a gift from God) and believe for those things that are not from, of, or inspired by God. That’s why it was not as big a deal as some critics of the Gospel make it out to be that God said, “ALL things, WHATSOEVER things you ask for in faith believing, you shall receive.” He could not have possibly meant for that to be taken literally, they allege. But, He meant exactly what He said, and said exactly what He meant. He always does!
Eighteenth Century English poet and hymnodist, William Cowper, wrote: “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees.” Jailed Paul and Silas praying and singing at midnight caused Hell and earth to shake to break open prison-cell door, setting the two abused prisoners free (Acts 16:25)!
Renowned revivalist and primary founder of Methodism, John Wesley said, “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” “Prayer is where the action is.”
A.J. Gordon, founder of Gordon College and Cornwell Theological Seminary, speaking of the utter requirement of prayer, stated: “You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.”
Synchronization with God and His Will
Martin Luther profoundly quipped, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” When you believe prayer is your fleshly (and futile) warring to try to overcome God’s reluctance in a matter, prayer becomes a laborious and loathsome thing you force yourself to do with reluctance, as opposed to understanding prayer is two-way communication in communion with God to determine what HIS will is in the matter, and then praying in accordance with His will. Those are the prayers that He always answers:
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 Jn. 5:14-15)
So many people take out of context God’s promise to “give you the desires of your heart,” passing over the condition that precedes that portion of the verse—“Delight yourself in the Lord!” God will give you the desires of your heart, but He will also take you through some processes that will dramatically and forever change YOUR desires to make them coincide with HIS desires. When our desires are synced up with His desires, we can, indeed, ask what we want, and it shall be granted us. Effective prayer essentially is asking, petitioning, requesting, for God to perform what He has already promised! We essentially speak forth His Word! His Word IS His WILL, and His Will is His Word. When we speak His Will it comes into being or comes to pass. That’s why both Joshua and David declared that not one word of all God’s good promises have ever failed (1 Kgs. 8:56; Josh. 21:45)! God’s Word is fail-safe. When we have determined God’s Word on a matter, we have determined His Will on the matter as well, and when we speak forth that Word declaring or announcing His Word or even merely repeating His Word back to Him in prayer—two-way conversation with Him—we are inviting His intervention and the application of His promises! That kind of prayer is a sure thing!
Today, too many professing believers petition God to fill them up with everything He’s got before they’ve agonized in prayer to empty themselves out of all they’ve got!
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Plp. 2:5-7)
Before the Son of God was manifest in the form of a human, wonder of all wonders, He EMPTIED HIMSELF (one of the great mysteries of God) of His deity for the duration of His existence in the form of a “Man.” But, after being baptized in water by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and then Baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Word of God says,
“And Jesus being FULL OF THE HOLY GHOST returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” (Lk. 4:1)
Everyone is full of something…usually themselves more than anything else! The burden of every believer must be to EMPTY him/herself and implore God to FILL him/her with the Holy Ghost so that he/she will be “FULL OF THE HOLY GHOST!”
Many people’s problem is they are too full of themselves to be full of the Holy Spirit! Regular sessions in the “prayer closet” until you “pray through” sincerely petitioning the Lord to show you some of the junk inside that you need to be emptied of will result in much purging over time.
Agonizers in Prayer
The genuinely anointed and appointed Man of God receives the fire-fraught messages that burn the ears of the nominally-believing and the hearts of the unrepentent out of hours spent agonizing prostrate at the altar long before he stands behind any form of pulpit. To paraphrase Leonard Ravenhill, the ecclesiastical realm today is filled with myriad of organizers but few agonizers!
Eventually and inevitably at some juncture in your personal Christian sojourney with God, you will experience and thenceforth experientially identify with the Son of God’s most intense period of agonizing in prayer, Gethsemane. The word literally means “oil-press,” referring to the final destiny and destination of olives judged worthy to make the grade for pressing out to produce what to this day is considered the finest and best oil known, Olive Oil.
Gethsemane was an olive-tree orchard populated also with various varieties of wild flowers that contemporary locals called a garden, located fittingly at the foot of the Mount of Olives, or Mt. Olivet, the very place where Jesus will return and literally stand at His physical return to Earth, to establish and commence His thousand-year Millennial Reign upon the Earth with the Saints! The Mount of Olives is the place from which the risen Lord ascended on a cloud of innumerable angels into Heaven in the actual eye-sight of the Apostles of the Lamb.
But, before the Messiah’s agonizing purchase of mankind’s salvation on Golgotha, before His triumphant resurrection from the dead, three days later, before His bedazzling and awesome Ascension into Heaven to sit down on His Throne of Rulership, preceeding all of that on the eve before His “Passion,” as some call it, there was Gethsemane, the place where our Lord and Savior literally agonized in prayer to such an extent that great drops of blood, a medical condition known clinically as, hematohidrosis, in which extreme anxiety causes the blood vessels to constrict to the point of rupture, passing blood into the sweat glands, resulting in sweat mixed with blood pressing through the skin.
Gethsemane is where the battle was won, where the choicest of all Olives met its glorious destiny, where the Son of God, knowing the trauma and ultimate tumult He was about to suffer as our Kinsmen Redeemer to purchase our redemption by paying the ransom for sin, thrice declared resolutely to His Father, “Nevertheless, not My Will, but thine be done.”
Gethsemane is the Place Where the Battle of Flesh vs. Spirit is Waged
Yet, during that indescribable all out war for the souls of men our Lord Jesus single-handedly waged in that garden, the three men He had hand-picked to accompany Him to this place of agony, slept through it all, unable to crucify their flesh long enough to intercede with the Lord, “even for one hour,” the Lord said, though He had come out of the garden a total of three times to each time find them fast asleep and too groggy to even respond to His sorrowful laments of utter bewilderment and disappointment. Sometimes it will be in the hours we are facing the most horrendous struggles of our lives, that we will find our own professed closest friends, loved ones, and colleagues fast asleep on the careless cushions of their own self-centeredness outside our Garden of Gethsemane, unable to defeat their flesh long enough to “bear (our) burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ [Love]
” (Gal. 6:2), as Scripture commands, in prayer with us. In our Gethsemane crisis in life, we will find it to be the most lonely and alone moments of solitude with the Lord.
Maybe this painful abandonment by others is by divine design, because being alone with the Lord, and with only the Lord at and on our side, is when we discover that the Lord at and on our side is enough, and more than enough, because He is El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough, who abundantly supplies our every need, even at the neediest, most agonizing precipices of our life! Gethsemane, the birthing room, the “valley of Baca”1, the place of sheer agony, is the place where we come to total reliance on the Lord, plus no one else, and we resign our present and future to His Will, and not our own. Gethsemane is the place where we truly come to know our God in the sweetest fellowship and communion of all!
If more of God’s people—”those who are called by (His) name”—fervently pursued a degree in “Knee-ology” fewer of any other kinds of degrees would be needed, and the Church would be more empowered and in every way more powerful on the Earth!
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)
The world is FILLED with needs, but God never responds to needs; He responds to the petitions of believing saints! God is not an interloper and never intervenes uninvited and unsolicited in the affairs of men; He only responds and acts when believers ask Him in audacious and believing prayer!
“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers,” said Sidlow Baxter.
The great preacher and seminary professor, Charles Spurgeon, said it all when he said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”
Vocalization of God’s Will
So prayer is a vital key to implementing everything that God desires to do on this planet, whether in or out of the Church. Knowing God’s will is not enough to implement it. His will must also be vocalized! Effective prayer is the vocalization of God’s Word/Will. We ask; He moves! We ask; He moves! That’s the process! That is fervent and effectual prayer of righteous people! People who know their God!
Moreover, all that must be applied to the “new thing” that God is taking the Church into—the new paradigm, the new dimension of the Spirit. It is not enough for prophets to reveal the “secret counsel” of God. It is not enough for teachers to teach about it! It’s not enough for apostles to be sent with the apostolic dimension and measure of the Spirit to bring these things into existence. The people of God must also PRAY IT! PRAY IT INTO EXISTENCE! There is no substitute for prayer!
Pray What the Prophets Say
What the prophets are foretelling and forthtelling will not come about apart from the praying of the saints! What the Apostle Paul spoke from his heart as a spiritual father to Timothy, his protégée in the Lord, and is now canonized as part of Scripture, is God-breathed admonition to every believer, including every Pentecostal/Neo-Pentecostal believer:
“This COMMAND I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECIES previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight….” (1 Tim. 1:18).
Prophesied events do not just happen on their own, automatically, just because it has been prophesied. Prophecy, above all else, is a revelation of the will, the desires, of God. We must take what has been prophesied and steep it in intense and continuous prayer, if we are to see it come into being in the natural! The prophesying is only the first, and really the easiest, step in a two-step process. The next step is the nurturing, the watering, the de-weeding, the cultivating of the word—that comes through warfare in prayer. When God uses one of His surrogate spokesmen to SAY it, then the saints of God must PRAY it, for it to come to pass!
As in the case of the church mentioned at the beginning of this article that had been prepared by weeks of prayer for the manifestation and fulfillment of God’s purposes and plans that occurred in an impromptu meeting, fervent and sincere prayer moves God to action and produces a manifestation of the supernatural power of God in miraculous signs and wonders. Desperately needed answers to the petitions of God’s people come when God’s people simply pray and ASK!
Prayer is one of the most vital keys to the Church moving into the dimension of the Spirit that God is calling Her into! Unless we PRAY, we’re going to STAY where we’ve been! So, Saints of God, for this cause, LET US PRAY!
“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Pet. 3:12 )
The righteous have available to them more power—through genuine faith-based prayer—than all the evil-intentioned politicians and political demonstrators in the world combined! For this cause, LET US PRAY!
1 The valley of Baca: “How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion.” (Ps. 84:5-7) “The Valley of Baca” is only mentioned this one time in the Bible. In Hebrew, Baca means bewailing, weeping, mourning, agonizing lamentation. Though it was an actual physical place located in Palestine, it is evoked by the Psalmist as a symbol for a once-in-a-lifetime “crisis-valley” that many people pass through sometime in their life relative to an agonizingly painful experience they have suffered, usually an unspeakably painful loss. But, thankfully, we can draw from the verse that we pass through this valley of weeping and mourning, and its sorrows may last for “the night,” however long that night of darkness might be, once we have passed through it, it will yield uncommon strengthening and blessing and renewal because we drew our strength from the Lord in whom was our strength, and not ourselves to make it through, and the conclusion of the matter is communion with the Lord Himself.###