IN THE BEGINNING
Growing up in a Christian home where there was much sickness, I had many opportunities to see the results of prayer in our daily lives. Sometimes, we lived on prayer. Yet, I never really learned to pray. It was always other people’s prayer and faith, not my own. When I left home, I could say The L-rd’s Prayer and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. But as a very shy child when asked to pray in public, I would stumble around and try to sound like the adults, but I did not really have a clue about how to pray.
In 1978, I met my friend Lee J. who took me under her wing and began to disciple me. For years she poured into my life whatever she could. I was not a very cooperative student, but along the way, she gave me some books on intercessory prayer. Although I initially ignored them for quite a while, eventually I picked them up and began to read. Reluctant is a very inadequate word to describe how I felt.
Life became life. In 1980, my marriage of eight years failed. I had no place to live, no food, no skills to make a living, and no family to help. Or so I thought. G-d sent people into my path to help lead me through years of difficult circumstances. I learned different definitions of prayer in the crucible that had me fighting for my life. All that I needed was provided.
Then in August 1993, I took the first of two missions trips to Miami, Florida to follow-up on a shipment of goods my company had sent in response to the call in the Hurricane Andrew relief efforts. It would change my life.
It was one thing to sit in my nice, comfortable, air-conditioned living room and watch the news. It was something else entirely to be on the ground for 17 days in a place where I was constantly in serious danger. The presence of Satan in that place was so strong it was palpable. He wasted no time telling me and showing me that he could do anything he wanted to, he could totally shut me down, and I was powerless to stop him. After nine days, when my entire afternoon of work in the migrant camps had been thwarted, I got mad.
I was seemingly trapped in the mission compound where I was staying and could not leave due to the danger on the street. Then the light dawned. If I couldn’t get out, nobody could get in, either. So I took my boom box and my music, locked myself in the church, which faced the street, and set up to do a concert. I was in a building that had survived the worst that Hurricane Andrew had thrown at it and still stood. I had floor to ceiling burglar bars at the open doors between me and the street. The walls were about a foot thick. I cranked up the music and sang at the top of my lungs until my voice gave out. It felt good. Although Satan could keep me out of the migrant camp, he could not keep me from literally putting the Word out on the street. It was one of many turning points while I was in Miami.
In Romans 4:17, we are told that:
“G-d . . . calls those things which do not exist as though they did; . . . .” (NKJV)
Just as in Creation, when G-d said in Genesis 1:3:
“‘Let there be light;’ and there was light.” (NKJV)
When we bring something to G-d in prayer, He literally speaks His answer into existence and though we may not be able to see what He is doing, it is there.
Daniel 10:12 tells us:
“Do not fear, . . . for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.” (NKJV)
When Elijah prayed for rain in 1 Kings 18:41 — 46, he sent his servant back seven times to look for G-d’s answer.
41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees,
43 and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.”
44Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’”
45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. (NKJV – emphasis added)
When Yeshua gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28, He told us in verse 18 that all authority was given to Him:
And Yeshua came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”(NKJV)
Based on that authority, we are told in 1 John 5:14 – 15 that whatever we ask according to His will will be granted.
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (NKJV)
In John 14:12 – 14, Yeshua says:
12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (NKJV)
In Isaiah 45: 11, Cyrus was told to command G-d concerning the work of His hands.
“ Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.” (KJV)
HOW TO EXECUTE A WAR
There is no getting around the fact that we are at war. However much we may want to rest on the assurances of an easy life, it does not come on this side of the Jordan. This is an all out war of the highest magnitude and what we are seeing now, not just in the Middle East and North Africa, but throughout the Earth is unprecedented in our history. Everyone, believer and non-believer alike, understands that we are living in historic, profoundly powerful times. The future is unfolding rapidly before our eyes. We can either run from it or run to it.
Two of my favourite quotes come from Dr. John Henry Jowett, formerly of Westminster Chapel in London, and C. T. Studd, also from England, who was a missionary to China, India, and Africa.
We are not “born again” into soft and protected nurseries, but in the open country where we suck strength from the very terror of the tempest. – Dr. J. H. Jowett
Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell. – C. T. Studd
Such descriptions are daunting. In ourselves, we are not able to to meet these challenges and the desire to run and hide is sometimes very strong. But we can stand with boldness in this war, if we go where G-d sends us and do what He has shown us in Scripture.
So, how do we execute this war? Put more simply, how do we fight? More importantly, how do we win?
In spite of anything it may look like to the contrary, the people around us are not the true enemies, they are pawns. The true enemies are described in Ephesians 6:12:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (NKJV)
In the US, we generally do not have a good working understanding of what a principality is. While there used to be many more than there are today, Monaco and Liechtenstein are examples of principalities. A principality is a sovereign or independent state in a monarchy.
In the Kingdom of G-d, Satan (or the Accuser) is the prince of the darkness of this age. We know from Daniel 10 that the Earth is divided into different principalities (prince of the kingdom of Persia, prince of Greece). Our enemy, Satan and his minions, are spiritual beings who use the things of this earth to try to win the war against G-d and His righteousness. The people around us are tools which are used to accomplish Satan’s goals, like Ahab and Jezebel were in 1 Kings and Haman in the book of Esther.
In order to fight this war, we need equipment and a strategy. We can find each of these in well-known passages of Scripture. For me, a lot of my handbook on warfare is found in 2 Chronicles 20:1 — 29, Joshua ( especially chapters 1 — 8), and Ephesians 6:10 — 20.
A list of our primary equipment can be found in Ephesians 6:10 — 20.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (NKJV)
In 2 Chronicles 20:1 — 29, we learn that the battle belongs to the L-rd and how they were taught to stand. Standing is not as easy as it sounds. There can be a lot of forces which buffet us back and forth. Sometimes it feels like we are going to lose our grip on where we are to stand, but it is possible to stand our ground.
1It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.
2Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.
3And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
4And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
5And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
6And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
7Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?
8And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,
9If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.
10And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;
11Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
12O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
13And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
14Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;
15And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
16To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.
17Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.
18And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.
19And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.
20And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
21And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.
22And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
23For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
24And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.
25And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.
26And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.
27Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.
28And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD.
29And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel.
Joshua 1:1 — 9 tells us G-d’s promise to Israel, how He would give them all of the ground would walk on. From this, we learn that G-d will give us whatever we need to win the battle.
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying:
2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.
3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.
4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.
5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.
6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.
8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
The biggest challenge we have in fighting this war is our frequent misunderstanding of what “win” means. In order to understand what it does mean, we must first understand what it does not mean. Winning does not mean that it turns out however we want or think is right in a given situation. It means that it turns out how G-d needs it to turn out in order to win the souls of men and accomplish His purposes. For many years, I did not understand why I had to go through unjust, sometimes tremendously painful experiences in life, . . . until I met the people who needed me to have those experiences. This is explained in 2 Corinthians 1: 3 — 7.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement),
4Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.
5For just as Christ’s [own] sufferings fall to our lot [as they overflow upon His disciples, and we share and experience them] abundantly, so through Christ comfort (consolation and encouragement) is also [shared and experienced] abundantly by us.
6But if we are troubled (afflicted and distressed), it is for your comfort (consolation and encouragement) and [for your] salvation; and if we are comforted (consoled and encouraged), it is for your comfort (consolation and encouragement), which works [in you] when you patiently endure the same evils (misfortunes and calamities) that we also suffer and undergo.
7And our hope for you [our joyful and confident expectation of good for you] is ever unwavering (assured and unshaken); for we know that just as you share and are partners in [our] sufferings and calamities, you also share and are partners in [our] comfort (consolation and encouragement). (Amplified)
STANDING IN THE GAP
We live in momentous times, some say end times. G-d has not gifted me with understanding and discernment of this kind to be able to know where we stand in time. What I do know is that I was made to fight. There was no encounter at a burning bush where I was told that this was my purpose, my destiny. But I think every breath I have ever taken has been in the fight for justice, even when I went about things in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. I don’t know how to not fight, to not defend.
As believers, we are the army of G-d here on earth. To use military terminology, each of us have a special skill set that has been nurtured and developed by G-d so that we can be deployed to different locations and do the different jobs He has assigned us. I think of us as a type of national guard. We are trained and work in the general population most of the time, until we are sent to take part in special maneuvers. Then we are trained fighters.
“But, I’m just a working stiff!” you might say. “I am not a soldier and I don’t like violence.”
Anything and everything we do, learn, see, and experience is training for the places G-d is taking us in life. Everything. And while it might seem like it is not important and doesn’t have anything to do with fighting, it does, if for no other reason than to be common ground with another person who may need help or who may be in a position to help us.
Nate Saint, missionary to the Waodani people of Ecuador who was martyred in 1956, has said:
I believe every man is either a missionary or a mission field.
One act can make all the difference in the world. When G-d puts a burden on a person’s heart, it affects not just them, but everyone they touch.
Many years ago, I became acquainted with a marvelous Messianic Jewish woman named Betty Kingsbury. She was an active member of her congregation in Bethesda, Maryland and strong woman of faith. One day, G-d touched her heart about the babies who were dying every day from abortion. And she got angry. She went to her congregation and shared the burden she had with them, asking for their support. She felt led to open a home for mothers, which she did. In speaking to her congregation, she said that we are in an all out war with Satan and for the rest of her life she was going to wear battle fatigues to remind herself of that. And she did.
I might have been able to listen to her story and walk away without it being the catalyst for me that it has become. Except for the image of this gray-haired grandmother dressed in battle fatigues and combat boots.
I tried to shake the picture out of my mind. I thought she had a point and I admired what she was doing, but I thought she was being overly dramatic with the military uniform. But G-d would not let me shake that image. Every once in a while, her name would flash through my mind and I would turn it over again and again trying to understand what made her do what she did.
Years passed. I went from my 30s into my 40s and 50s. When I got into my 50s, it was like Somebody turned on a light switch. I had lived long enough and experienced enough that I was beginning to understand not being afraid. G-d had taken me through countless crises, brushes with death, financial ruin, lost careers and jobs, broken relationships, disability, yet I was still here. I was becoming seasoned.
We don’t have to be older adults to be good warriors, to be equipped to take on the battle. People do it every day. Every single time we stand for what is right, we are joining with G-d in driving back the power of Satan from this earth. Every time we teach our children the difference between what is right or wrong; every time we do the right thing in our jobs and refuse to compromise; every time we return the extra change we were given by mistake; every time we check our restaurant tab and tell the waiter that we weren’t charged for an item; every time we lend a hand to someone who needs it; every time we stand against hatred and bigotry, . . . we are standing in the gap. In real time. Now.
It doesn’t make any difference what anybody else does or what our culture tells us is smart, wise or acceptable. All that matters is if we life lives where our actions and decisions follow the instructions, the Torah, that G-d gave us, telling us how to live. Do we do what G-d tells us to do? If we do, we are not only following after righteousness, but we are also standing in the gap.
Sometimes in life, G-d brings us to a place where He asks us to be His man or woman in a particular set of circumstances which are above and beyond anywhere we have been before. He is asking us to step out, maybe for a time or season, maybe He is changing the direction of our lives. I have experienced both and I always have the same reaction, “Are You talking to me? You’ve got to be kidding!” No, He wasn’t.
I stepped into intercessory prayer in 1979 when my friend Nancy F. moved to another state. She had been on our congregational prayer chain and they needed someone to take her place. I felt G-d telling me that I should replace her , so I told the leader of the prayer chain to sign me up. I was twenty-five years old. I did not have the slightest idea what I was supposed to do except pray when somebody had a need. It was the beginning of a very eventful road that has shown me much and been paved with experiences that could not have come any other way.
HOW DO WE THEN PRAY?
The short answer is we pray however G-d is directing us to pray. Go to the Scriptures and pray Scripture. Using Psalm 1:1 — 3 as an example, it could look like this:
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. (NKJV)
“Thank You, Father, that I am blessed, that I don’t walk in the counsel of the ungodly, that I don’t stand in the path of sinners, nor do I sit in the seat of the scornful. Thank You that my delight is in Your law and You give me the ability to meditate on it day and night. Thank You that I am like the tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth my fruit in its season, that my leaf shall not wither, and that whatever I do shall prosper.”
My friend Lee J. directed me toward several authors who write on prayer:
- Germaine Copeland at Prayer.org
- Stormie Omartian
- The Power of a Praying Wife
- The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children
- The Power of a Praying Parent
- The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage
- The Power of Praying Through the Bible
- The Power of a Praying Teen
- The Power of a Praying Husband
- The Power of a Praying Life
- Prayers for Emotional Wholeness
- The Power of a Praying Woman
- Praying God’s Will for Your Life
- The Prayer That Changes Everything
- The Power of a Praying Kid
- The Power of Praying: Help for a Woman’s Journey Through Life
- The Power of a Praying Nation
- The Power of a Praying Church
- Prayers of the Heart
- Praying Through the Deeper Issues of Marriage
- Quin Sherrer
- A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare
- Grandma, I Need Your Prayers
- The Making of a Spiritual Warrior
- The Spiritual Warrior’s Prayer Guide
- Praying Prodigals Home
- How to Pray for Your Children
- God Be with Us: A Daily Guide to Praying for Our Nation
- Prayers Women Pray: Intimate Moments with God
- Lord I Need to Pray with Power
- Prayer Partnerships: The Power of Agreement
- A Mother’s Guide to Praying for Your Children
- How to Pray for Your Family and Friends
- Prayers from a Grandma’s Heart
- A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare
Other resources which have been helpful to me are:
- Dr. Henry Blackaby
- Experiencing God
- Oswald Chambers
- My Utmost for His Highest
- Still Higher for His Highest
- The biography of Hudson Taylora
- The biography of Adoniram Judson
- The biography of George Mueller
Other authors and references are:
- E. M. Bounds – available online
- Christian Classics Ethereal Library
- Lou Engle
- John Goll
- Madame Guyon
- Andrew Murray
- John Piper
- Arthur Wallis
- God’s Chosen Fast
- Alexander Whyte
- Philip Yancey
- Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?
All of these are men and women of prayer whose lives have shown how G-d has worked through them to accomplish great works and drive back Satan. They have taken the ground where their feet have fallen, as promised in Scripture.
While these resources are a good place to start, there are many others available. Find a man or woman of faith who is known as a prayer warrior and ask them to teach you, ask them what they would recommend for you to do. If you do not know of any, ask G-d to lead you to someone or lead someone to you. He will do it.
AREAS OF INTERCESSION
One of the most important lessons I learned in missions work is that we cannot give what we do not have.
Read that again: We cannot give what we do not have.
In order to be an effective prayer warrior, we must start with ourselves.
When I was a child, one of my favourite things to was to help my father clean his gun. When he would shoot, the residue from the bullets would foul the barrel of the gun. If it was not regularly cleaned and aligned, it would not shoot straight or well. Eventually, the gunk inside would get severe enough that the gun would not have shot at all.
We are like that. We get gunked up by the dirt in our lives and we can’t be effective, not just in prayer, but also in life. So the first thing we need to do is to come to G-d in repentance and ask His help in cleaning up the gunk that is stopping us from being an efficient tool that He can use to do His will, to do His work.
I am always torn between wanting to be clean, wanting to be dirty with the counterfeit life while understanding its rebellion and futility, and hating the process of being cleansed. It’s ugly, but necessary. We wouldn’t let our children come in filthy from playing outside and run around depositing that dirt on everything they touch. Neither will G-d.
Isaiah 11:44, G-d tells us:
For I am the L-RD your G-d. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.
Before we can begin, we need to become holy and we do that through submission to G-d’s will in our lives.
To be continued . . .
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