Prayer in the Cave: Discover a 100% effective prayer strategy!
This article is taken from John Burton’s book Revelation Driven Prayer.
STOP! YOU’RE PRAYING WRONG!
That’s what God told me one day as I was in some deep prayer. I was currently working part-time at a call center. I had been fairly frustrated that I wasn’t able to leave that job so I could work full-time in the church.
That day, I was praying from a place of frustration. “God, oh God, please grow the church! Let the finances increase! Please God!”
That was when, as clear as a bell, I heard God say, “Stop! You’re praying wrong!”
What? How could that be? I was praying so hard. As I walked around the 1000 square feet of sanctuary space in the early days of Revolution I really felt like I was doing well. Didn’t God want the church to grow? Didn’t He want to provide for our needs?
Then God said something I’ll never forget. “You are praying as if I’m resisting you. Don’t you realize I put those desires in your heart? Why are you begging me for a desire that I initiated? I gave you the desire in the first place!”
Wow! That ruined my whole perception of what prayer was! I had to think differently.
God then said, “There is one who IS resisting you though. The enemy doesn’t want these desires I placed in your heart to come to pass. It is the enemy whom you must fight.”
So, I launched into a new dimension of faith filled and violent prayer!
I felt impressed that God wanted me to practice this new revelation he gave me. He told me He wanted me to have more time to pray and initiate revival in the city. He wanted me to quit my job at the call center. I had captured the heart of God and I knew it was my turn to enforce His will. The enemy must move!
“In the powerful name of Jesus Christ, I command you devil to release! Get off of my schedule! I declare the heart of God is for me to quit my job and to advance His Kingdom full time in Manitou Springs! How dare you touch the plans of God!”
1 John 5:14-15 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
I prayed according to His will. He wanted me to work full-time in the ministry. One week later, as a church of about 35 people, we received a check in the Sunday offering for $50,000. The following week we received $25,000.
I was full time two weeks later.
That money was “more than enough” for me to go full-time at the church. We also used it to get into a 27,000 square foot building. God wanted us to have that all along. The enemy didn’t. I was praying wrong. I was praying as if the provision had to be coaxed away from God. In reality, God had already released it and I just had to go get it–and blast through the enemy’s resistance on the way.
That’s why it’s critical to be people of prayer. How else can we know what God wants us to pray for? What to stand on. What not to focus on. What to delay? We must hear Him!
Of course, the primary thrust of this message is hearing the ever-present voice of God. Let me at this point also emphasize the seemingly obvious power of the written Word of God. The revelation of Revelation Driven Prayer has literally changed my life in many realms and dimensions. The above story revealed a process I went through with regard to God’s will for that moment of my life. He spoke specifically to me regarding His desires.
Another story, though very short, had an equal impact upon my life. I was once again in a place of ‘frustration prayer’. I was crying out for my needs to be met. I was banging on the doors of heaven in passionate prayer for finances, among other things. Once again I heard the voice of God deep within my spirit, “Your prayer is hindering you.” What? Did I hear what I thought I heard? God told me that my prayer in that moment was doing more damage than good. I should stop if I planned on continuing in that vein.
He then said, “Without faith it is impossible to please me.” He added, “Doubt in prayer will ensure that prayer goes unanswered.” Ok, He had my attention. I pondered this, and wrestled with these issues. I didn’t want to doubt. I wanted more than anything to be a man of faith. I wanted these pieces to fit together so I could arrive at some conclusion. God was telling me not to pray! Yet, I still had unresolved issues that demanded a miracle. Oh how alone I felt!
Then the answer came. God asked me why I was praying for something that was already promised in His Word. He has promised to supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory. The very act of asking God for my needs to be met revealed my lack of faith that it has already been done! Wow! I was attempting to convince God to do something that He already had resolved! My prayer evidenced my doubt which resulted in my prayer being unanswered!
The Bible reveals, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Doubt was in my heart. It also reveals that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. I was speaking unbelief. Finally, the Bible reveals that the power of life and death are in the tongue. The unbelief in my heart was manifesting as decrees of death over my finances! It would have been better if I didn’t pray at all!
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
No begging, no coercing, no convincing, no doubting allowed in prayer!
James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Now, when I pray, I simply remember that prayer rhymes with declare. I don’t have an addiction to petition. I hear God and then declare to the atmosphere and my situations how they must conform to His will. It turns us from a position of defeat and passivity to a position of victory and spiritual violence and powerful faith! We change from the afflicted to the afflictor!
REVELATION DRIVEN PRAYER MODEL
We had a team of college aged young men and women come to Revolution Church for Mission Manitou–a spiritual warfare missions experience. It was an amazing week. The highlight of the week was ‘prayer in a cave’. From time to time we’ll have prayer teams join us for four hours of non-stop worship, prayer, prophecy, intercession and passion. We are literally in a large cave, in perfect darkness with no sense of time. It’s an experiment in Revelation Driven Prayer, or 100% Effective Prayer. This particular night was a night I’ll never forget. For nearly a year I had suffered from a severe pinched nerve in my right shoulder. My right arm and fingers would either tingle or go numb continually. My shoulder, at times, hurt so badly I could barely stand it. I had been to a chiropractor and a massage therapist. Neither worked.
Prior to entering the cave, we had a powerful prayer and worship event at the church. Near the end of that service, I had asked one of the prayer missionaries from Michigan to pray for my shoulder. This particular girl had been pressing so hard the entire week as God was healing her, touching her and shaking her. She craved breakthrough in her life. She prayed for me for quite some time, and then it was time for all of us to enter the cave. I didn’t experience a healing, though I was blessed that she took the time to pray for me.
In the cave, we experienced four seasons that the Lord established as a part of the Revelation Driven Prayer training program.
REVELATION DRIVEN PRAYER STEP ONE:
First, we repented. We eliminated everything from the depths of our heart. Complete surrender. Remember, it’s perfectly dark in the cave. You can’t see your hand in front of your face. People’s cries were echoing thorough the cavern. People who never had the confidence to cry out or to pray out in public were wonderfully released to do so. There was such a presence of the Holy Spirit as people wept and repented and released past hurts.
The stronger the Holy Spirit stirs the more we crave to eliminate and repent deeply. The groanings of a broken and humbled person simply overwhelm people who are pressing intentionally and passionately into the place where God is moving.
2 Chronicles 7:13-15 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.
This season is often difficult for some to press through, but it’s the most critical time we’ll spend. The reason many people’s prayer life is so frustrating is because the necessary sacrifice of time hasn’t been made. Pressing into a place of repentance results in a lot of time being made undone before our Father. If we humble ourselves, pray and seek we’ll discover God’s favor. Seeking takes time. Lengthy prayer simply must be a normal reality on a continual basis if we desire to break through to the heart of God.
Psalms 34:17-18 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
This is what we found in the cave–people crying out! If we go to a deeply expressive place of repentance, desperation, desire and longing for our Lover, our Lover will hear us! If our heart is broken, He is near to us! That is one amazing Scripture!
However, so often our prayers are thrown up to heaven almost in passing without any brokenness at all, and we wonder why God isn’t responsive to us in the way the Word of God describes.
We’ll often hear people yelling at the top of their lungs, “God I need You! Jesus, come into my life like never before! Please, fire of God, burn my flesh!”
We’ll also hear people repenting of anything from apathy to mocking to abuse. People want to be free from their unwitting alliance with the enemy. They don’t want to be lukewarm, arrogant, insecure, suspicious or defeated in any way. This season of elimination causes us all to be emptied. Deliverance happens at times in this phase. People of all types, ages and maturity find themselves craving to have every hindrance removed from their lives so they can actually see God, right there in a place of perfect darkness,
On this particular cave experience, after an hour or so of pouring our hearts out to God we moved into the next phase–Consecration.
REVELATION DRIVEN PRAYER STEP TWO:
This is a time of adoration, worship and becoming aligned as perfectly as possible with Christ Jesus. It was beautiful to hear the raw worship sounding off the walls of the cavern. After finding themselves empty after the previous season, people were longing to be full of a supernatural fire. God was closer than ever!
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
This second season is critical if we are to clearly hear God in the next season. As we find ourselves emptied of past sins, issues and mind-sets, we can now simply say, “Father, here am I, send me!”
Instead of desiring to warm our flesh by the fire of God’s presence, we lay our bodies, as living sacrifices, directly on the fire and cry out, “Consume us God!”
We tell God that our lives are in His hands. If He desires for us to be martyred for His cause, then that’s what we want. If He wants us to step into a certain mission, that’s what we will do. Our lives are no longer our own, but we are surrendered to God. We are consecrated to Him. We’re excited about what God can do through a completely yielded vessel.
This season is marked by a lot of excitement and wonderful freedom. The result of eliminating all of our baggage is a bunch of extra room for God to operate in our lives. The Spirit of God literally fills us up to overflowing, and we are suddenly putty in His hands.
We may go on for a couple of hours in this season. We’ll worship, weep, experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit, pray boldly in tongues, continually break in His presence and fall deeply in love with Him. It’s simply amazing. Now, with the old man crucified and the Spirit of God blowing like a wind in and through us, it becomes very easy to hear His voice. We capture His dreams and desires for our lives.
This next season is critical to the process of Revelation Driven Prayer–hearing God. Revelation.
REVELATION DRIVEN PRAYER STEP THREE:
With this team from Michigan, I encouraged people, most of whom have never prophesied, to listen to the voice of God and share it with us. One by one people would share pictures, impressions, Scriptures and other words from heaven. I explained that God desires to speak clearly and continually to every man, woman and child of His on the planet.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
To prophesy is simply to hear God and to repeat what He says. Share with others the heartbeat of God in any given situation. Hearing God is one of the most exciting parts of one’s personal experience as a Christian. We are all to have spiritual dreams and visions, to walk in the Spirit and hear in the Spirit. God is continually sharing His heart with us and to receive that data from the invisible realm is amazing!
Not only does it make life exciting, it makes it survivable. The only way we can obey God is if we hear Him! So, as we hear His voice, we can know what is required of us. We can see into the spirit realm and understand how to battle the enemy. This is how it unfolded in this particular situation:
We were about to move into the fourth and last season called execution–declaring and enforcing the will of God that was just revealed in this season of prophetic revelation. All of a sudden, I heard this sweet voice from on the other side of the cavern call out, “John?” I said, “Yes?” She said, “I just can’t go on until I share something with you.” It was the same girl who had prayed for my shoulder back at the church. “God is squeezing my heart. It’s so strong and I have to share it with you.” “It’s not good though.” Oh boy! Here we go. One of those moments that every leader has to deal with at one time or another–a crazy prophetic word!
I told her, “Ok, go ahead and share it. Let’s see what God has to tell us.” It was important to me to encourage her in this as it was obviously a critical moment for her. She was hearing God, and I was excited about that. She went on to tell me that she saw a vision when she was praying for me back at Revolution, but she didn’t know how to share it. That same vision intensified extensively during the season of prophecy and hearing God there in the cave. She saw someone holding a voodoo doll of me and they were poking me in the shoulder over and over again.
Now, what she didn’t know was that I was there in the dark on the other side of the room wincing in extreme pain for the previous four hours. I was contorting my body every which way I could in an attempt to relieve the pressure in my shoulder. I was almost in tears much of the night.
I then announced to everybody there that we were a living experiment. God was taking us by the hand and teaching us about Revelation Driven Prayer. I told everybody that God has revealed His desire–He wanted me healed that very moment. It was now time to move into our last season–execution.
REVELATION DRIVEN PRAYER STEP FOUR:
I asked that girl if she would pray for me. Wow! Something happened to this girl–the fire of God was on her! She prayed down the heavens while the rest of the people in that cave warred in the Spirit and interceded with passion. The noise was astounding.
All of a sudden my shoulder started to burn intensely! It was like someone poured hot oil on my shoulder and was rubbing it in. It went down my arm all the way to the tips of my fingers. God was instantly healing me. I went through every movement I could think of, I pressed my fingers deep into the spot that had previously hurt so badly. My fingers which were previously partially numb were now highly sensitive. It was really happening–I was healed! My arm was on fire. I told everybody what was going on as it was happening. I half-way jokingly asked them if they could see my arm glowing there in the dark cave! It was so hot I thought people around me could feel the warmth!
To this very day my arm has been healed. God was waiting to heal me so all of those people in that dark cave would experience the glory of God.
John 9:1-3 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.
This last season of execution is simply that–we execute the instructions of God as He reveals them to us. He didn’t have anything else for us to do at that moment, and our ability to hear Him clearly kept us from praying amiss. We came into perfect agreement with God, looked at the spirit of Infirmity with fire in our eyes and a supernatural confidence and cast it out. The attack of witchcraft was annihilated in a place of agreed prayer. We executed God’s instructions that were revealed to a repentant and consecrated people who were filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Revelation Driven Prayer works. We pour ourselves out, spend hours in the presence of God, hear His voice and then war in the Spirit. Miracles are then the expected, and very regular, result.
John 15:7-8 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
I want to encourage you to pattern your own prayer life in this way. Every day, present yourself to the Lord and go through these four seasons. If Christians will eagerly step up to a place of two or three hours of intentional prayer every day, we will experience an outpouring of God within weeks if not sooner!
I find myself exhilarated when my time in the prayer room is dosed with waves of insight into God’s heart. It’s becomes easy to hit my face, cry out in pursuit of the Living God and then to press on into hours of prayer–when it’s fueled by revelation.
When the cry of our heart is to discover the cry of God’s heart, life in the invisible realm of prayer ramps up powerfully.
I believe the prayer movement will become the thrill ride that it’s meant to be when it becomes predominantly a prophetic movement. Praying prayers into the nether regions without at least a low level of supernatural insight is a frustrating activity. It’s a prime reason many people are resistant to a life of prayer.
Ephesians 5:15-17 Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
REVELATION DRIVEN PRAYER IN ACTION
The Holy Spirit schooled me in the important concept of effective and efficient prayer one day when I was alone in prayer at Revolution Church at the base of Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Keep in mind that I have always been a ‘prayer guy’. I caught the fire of love for Jesus in my early years when I was in the place of prayer and that hunger for intimacy with God has never ceased. This particular day I found myself praying very good prayers… but these particular prayers weren’t on God’s agenda for me that day. I was praying for church growth, for people that came to mind, for strategic ideas and other good and important topics. However, they were topics that came to mind based on human insight and yesterday’s revelation. I had no leading that those focuses were also God’s focus for me in that moment. I was praying blindly.
Ephesians 1:15-18 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…
Understand, blind prayers aren’t bad. It’s a very good thing to intercede for any number of pressing issues. However, I was learning that prayers based on human insight alone were simply not efficient. This particular day something else was on God’s heart and he was instructing me to avoid distraction–even honorable distraction such as praying for people in the church–and to have laser precision by praying what was on God’s heart. Prayer is all about agreement. If God’s calling us to stand in the gap for one thing and we’re focusing on another thing we are actually misaligned. Again, let me make it clear so people don’t fall into guilt or false ideas. To pray is good and beneficial. However, we should crave the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness as possible. That’s certainly God’s desire.
A quick way to become disillusioned and discouraged in the place of prayer is to become plagued with what I call petitionitis or to discover addiction to petition. The thought that God is simply waiting for us to ask him for something so he can perform it for us is exceedingly short sighted. We should discuss our desires with God, but the idea that this is the limit of prayer is tragically flawed. Yes, we can ask God for things, but the adventure begins when we allow God to reveal his requests to us.
It simply makes sense to fuel our prayers with the revelation of what God is working on with us at that moment. One of the most exciting questions we can ask God is, “What are you thinking about right now?” If God revealed that a terrorist attack is scheduled to be carried out in our city within the next twelve hours, and he is attempting to reveal instructions for intercession on that issue it wouldn’t make sense to spend precious time praying for other things.
This lesson was drilled home by the Holy Spirit this particular day at Revolution a few years ago. God said, “Don’t pray about anything until I reveal my agenda. Spend time preparing your heart to receive and to be an instrument of intercession and authority in my hands.”
This was one of the most important instructions I have ever received. The reality that God has such an expansive perspective that goes far beyond our own viewpoint should grip us.
Job 11:7 “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?”
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
So, I walked around Revolution Church with no list of petitions. I worshiped, humbled my heart, prayed in tongues and waited.
God then spoke (this is always the starting point of effective prayer). “John, I don’t want you to pray for anything else except for this property. It’s strategic and I want you to advance. It’s time to take new ground.”
The faith, anointing and presence of God increased immediately in such measure that it literally felt like the room was flooded to the ceiling. Immediately after, my staff started to arrive for our weekly staff meeting and one of them walked right up to me after he came through the front door and said, “What’s going on? The faith is so high in this room that you could cut it with a knife.”
He felt it as he walked through the door.
I shared with the team what God had instructed us to do. We all spread out, prayed and anointed the property from room to room. The city of Manitou Springs and this particular property has a very dark history. Many call Manitou Springs the darkest and most strategically demonic city in the nation. This particular property was over 100 years old and was once a brothel. Revolution Church (now Revolution House of Prayer) occupied about 2/3rds of the property and the owner had his Moroccan restaurant in the other 1/3rd. A single wall divided the two sides.
When the church first moved in to this location I found it very hard to physically breathe. The demonic stronghold there was unusually heavy. We did a good job of cleaning things up on our side of the wall and enjoyed the presence of God in freedom to a wonderful degree. However, this very day God was calling us to advance beyond the wall.
After we spent some time praying throughout the rooms of the building on our side, I called everybody together and told them we were to lay hands on the wall that divided the two sides and to pray from the perspective of authority and with great faith and confidence based on the revelation that God had given us.
Now, I hadn’t spoken to my landlord for quite some time. We didn’t cross paths very often, so what was about to happen was very much out of the ordinary.
As we were all praying, my cell phone rang. I just let it go to voicemail as we continued on. Then, something snapped. One of my elders looked at me and said, “It’s done. There’s no reason to keep praying.”
I felt it too. It was awesome. We all went outside and walked around the perimeter of the building and thanked God for what was accomplished. At that point I remembered that I missed a phone call when I was inside praying at the wall, so I checked my voicemail. It was my landlord. He wanted to talk with me. Immediately the anointing around me started to burn even hotter.
I went to meet him and he asked, “I was wondering if your church would you like to move in to the other side of the property?”
I’m sure my face was white. The swirl of God was so strong on me that I had to intentionally maintain my composure. I said, “Yes.”
I often joke that many people simply want God to call them on the phone with answers to their prayer… and for us, it kind of happened like that! Right in the middle of a powerfully unified and faith-filled moment of prayer my phone rang with the answer I was seeking!
That next month we moved into the very room that was on the other side of the wall where we were praying. Plus, our monthly rent was decreased from $8000 to $6000! We took ground and prospered financially all because I laid down my agenda, waited, received precise revelation and came into active agreement with it.
1 Cor 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
I am actively contending that the dry seasons of struggle in the prayer room that has weighed on so many will not remain the norm. The cry is for regular, perpetual revelation to rain down from heaven on a continual basis. If we are to walk in the Spirit, we must have the ability to see and hear and discern in the Spirit.
Instead of simply praying along with the prayer leader in the room for the nation of Egypt, for example, we’ll receive, on both a personal and a corporate level, clear and active revelation about Egypt or whatever is on God’s agenda for that session. The more people that receive a strong ‘yes’ in their spirit as intercession is being led, the more agreed they are and the more effective it is.
It’s good to pray for what seems obvious any time of the day. It’s better to pray in a specific moment for whatever issue God’s calling us to focus on. The goal is to lay the list aside as much as possible and wait until God tells us exactly what to agree on. We’ll find ourselves more alive, refreshed and strengthened as we ride on that wave instead of pressing ahead without it.
As we minimize our agendas and expect God to give us precise instructions for prayer we’ll see the testimonies sky rocket around the world.