Don't be shocked when prayer doesn't work. A comprehensive strategy is required to experience a powerful and effective life of prayer.
I've met many people who have become completely disenchanted with the hopes of encountering the supernatural power of God and they have lost all hope of experiencing regularly answered prayer.
The idea of God responding to prayer is fully ridiculous to the unredeemed who regularly mock this Christian concept. You will hear them laugh when God doesn't do what the religious zealots are petitioning him to do. Of course, it's no surprise that those who don't know God wouldn't understand the power of intercession. I get it.
What is grieving is when Believers give up on the call to surrender their lives to faith-driven, fiery and determined prayer. Their prayer ritual instead becomes a whispered request that flutters out of their mouths and into the great void of time and space. They fulfill their due diligence, so they think, by making their requests known. The reality is, however, that they doubt any answers will come. Their faith is at at similar level to those who don't know God at all.
The truth is that answered prayer at it's most basic level is a simple cry of the heart. But, if it's analyzed more closely, we'll see that many synchronized factors are required to experience a powerful and vibrant life of prayer.
A CONTENDING SPIRIT
Breakthrough prayer is most often a comprehensive supernatural strategy, not a momentary petition. Our lives must be marked by the fire that can only be found in the Upper Room, in that place of Holy Spirit impact. Night and day, praying continually, we give ourselves to a lifestyle of fervent prayer.
16 …The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 (KJV)
As we live deliberately consecrated lives, we will be driven by a fervent spirit of intercession that refuses to relent no matter the cost. A casual approach will never do it. We will live well outside of the supernaturally wondrous life that God has planned for us and prayers will mostly fall to the ground.
Those who have a ferocious contending spirit will power through obstacles and shift atmospheres that result in miraculous breakthrough.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
I do not believe any person or any prayer movement can be sustained in intercession without faith being a primary attribute. Where there is no belief there will be no contending. Prayers will be weak and saturated with doubt causing them to have very little effect at all.
We are called Believers, not “Hopers.” We are know by our unwavering belief in an invisible, omnipotent, divine person we call God. He is our everything! We don't hope our way to success, we stand firm on truth and we believe!
If faith is challenged, shift your focus from the thing you were contending for in prayer to faith itself. Cry out for a mighty influx of belief that can then be the impetus of your contending intercession for breakthrough.
23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23 (ESV)
22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22 (ESV)
When you contend in faith, you better know that there are forces of wickedness that will be resisting your advance into breakthrough.
So many get mad at God for not answering prayer, and this is evidence of an immature understanding of the spiritual realm. They see prayer the same way they do ordering a hamburger in the drive-through. They put in the order and expect the powers that be to have their lunch ready for them by the time they reach the window.
The truth is, to spiritualize the analogy, that many devils are doing all they can to keep the burger from being delivered. The answer to our prayer can absolutely be hindered by unholy entities who are running interference. They know that failure or even delay in answered prayer can negatively affect our faith and our contending spirit can lose its intensity.
13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, Daniel 10:13 (ESV)
If we understand the warfare component of answered prayer, we won't lose hope, we won't lose faith and we will contend all the greater! It's from this place where we can truly engage the enemy, rebuke him and fight back with ferocity and even a greater measure of supernatural faith!
Prayer without prophetic infusion is greatly limited. The most powerful breakthroughs in my prayer life have come when God has clearly spoken to me. Whether it's a still small voice, dreams, visions or other forms of prophetic communication, you will come alive and your faith will skyrocket.
It can be very easy to be off, sometimes just by a degree or two, and miss the breakthrough entirely. When prophetic revelation becomes a part of the recipe of intercession, many of the questions and much of the confusion are eliminated. You can pray with extreme focus and with great precision.
When we pray precisely according to God's will, as revealed by his Spirit, everything changes. I'd encourage you to read an article titled Discover a 100 Percent Effective Prayer Strategy (links: part 1, part 2 & part 3) based on my book, Revelation Driven Prayer. It will help you develop a prophetic life that will lead to a legacy of non-stop answered prayer.
Intimacy with Jesus is the cornerstone of a life of revelation. If you give yourself to anything this year, let it be developing deep, intense and vulnerable intimacy with God. You will be forever undone as the lover of your soul breathes life into you, reveals his love for you and shares his heart with you.
It's extremely easy to contend for good things outside of an intimate relationship with Jesus and to quickly get off base. Being branded by love only occurs in the place of intimacy, and without that brand, our very good ideas and determined pursuit of breakthrough will be tainted. Our understanding of God's heart is mandatory if we want to pray effectively and advance in our strategy of prayer with the right motives, character and humility.
5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5 (ESV)
Agreement with God's plans is critical if we want to experience answered prayer. Equally critical is severing any alignment and agreement with the enemy. We must repent of adopting worldly mindsets, paradigms and strategies if we hope to enter the supernatural realm.
In the realm of the Spirit, our own understanding becomes laughable. We must advance with revelation that can only be found in that invisible place. We renounce our own limited, human plans in favor of God's wisdom.
It takes courage to do this, to leave behind our own common sense and to move into uncharted territory as the Holy Spirit leads. We must agree with God every step of the way. We must trust his leadership and come into an unbreakable agreement with him.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. John 9:31 (ESV)
If we aren't living holy, righteous lives, not only shouldn't we presume that God will hear our prayer, we shouldn't presume we are saved. Continuing in sin is a very serious thing.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV)
I don't know how many times I've counseled people over the last three decades regarding unanswered prayer. Flooding your soul with foul language, sexual situations and other immorality in media will most surely result in you living an extremely frustrated life of unanswered prayer.
On the contrary, if we eliminate the foul media, shut off the secular music and start living in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, listening to anointed and prophetic worship music night and day and then discover the overwhelming fear of the Lord, our prayers will be like fire!
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34:17 (ESV)
DEATH TO SELF
Selfishness in prayer is a non-starter. Period. We must die to our own desires, our own pursuits, our own dreams and even our own perceived needs. We lay down our lives. We are walking dead people. Martyrs.
When we get fully out of the way and become available for God to move any way he desires through us, watch out. Talk about a supernatural life! This is the quickest way to get there.
There are a lot of people who forget to take something extremely critical on their journey when deciding to follow Jesus: their cross.
38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38-39 (ESV)
When we lose our lives, take up our cross and surrender all, when we die, every day, the miracles begin.
PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT
If you want an explosive prayer life, there is no substitute to praying in tongues. This is an absolute non-negotiable element for every Believer if they desire prayer-driven breakthrough.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28 (ESV)
If we want all things to work together for good, we have no option but to allow the Spirit of God to intercede for us with groanings.
If we don't know what to pray, what other solution is there? There is none. We must still pray with precision, we must still contend in the Spirit. We can't just stop and wait. The intercession must continue and the supernatural battle can't cease. We truly have no other option but to, in our weakness, pray in the Spirit. We need God's wisdom to manifest. We need mysteries revealed. We need supernatural infusion. Praying in tongues accomplishes this. Refusal to pray in tongues compromises not only our prayer lives but our lives as Christians.
Many articles and books could be written on this topic alone as it relates to prayer. It's utter foolishness to pray amiss, to pray outside of the bounds of Scripture. Yet, when we do pray from the foundation of biblical truth, look out. The prayer becomes nuclear!
Reading the Word with prayer in mind makes it an absolutely thrilling experience! Read it and then cry out for what it reveals. Contend for what you have discovered, believing in faith that it's true and that it must manifest in your life.
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14 (ESV)
Confidence in prayer comes when we see God's will in Scripture. He wrote it, we believe it and we contend for it to manifest.
Related to praying from the foundation of the Word is confidently and boldly releasing decrees.
Many are addicted to petition as their primary form of prayer, and they generally live powerless lives. But, when we, as Kingdom authorities, release prophetic decrees that originate from the Word of God, and also from the Rhema messages God speaks to us, all Hell shakes!
So often people are asking for things that have already been promised in the Word. This ignorance leads to a failed prayer strategy. If it's promised, but it hasn't manifested, go through your checklist. Are you in sin? How's your faith? Are you contending for it? Are you battling the enemy? Add to that checklist bold, authoritative decrees and declarations. Don't ask the mountain to move, and don't ask God to move it. You command it to move.
When we are in the Word and when the Spirit of God speaks to us, our faith spikes and our prayer becomes a force to be reckoned with!
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 (ESV)
If I know God is already settled on a matter, you better believe I'm not wasting time asking him about it. I'm shifting my prayer from talking to God to assaulting the enemy, to speaking to the situation and to commanding a shift!
I'd like to encourage you to get excited about the thrill-ride that a fully immersed life of prayer will give you. The low-level petitions and half-hearted requests that so many identify as a “prayer life” must give way to a much greater and extremely potent life of prophetic, intimate intercession. It will shake the planet and your love for Jesus will go to places you never thought possible!
I knew there was a risk of losing everything when the call to the deep was announced.
We’ve become such a passive church society that the abrasion that’s coming will be wholeheartedly rejected by mainstream Christianity. False-humility and superficial pleasantries are masquerading as spirituality while truth is moderated to ensure it doesn’t disturb anybody.
The result is a Christian culture that celebrates the shallows and merely acknowledges the depths as optional for those who may want to venture in.
Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. Ezekiel 47:3-6
The time is coming when the deep is no longer presented as an option for the Christian, but rather, it’s the only hope for those who desire to truly follow Jesus. Prophetic awakeners will be boldly moving into deep waters and calling out those who are splashing like children in the shallow waters while presuming themselves to be normal, biblical Christians. These awakeners will be shocking an apathetic people like madmen!
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 2 Corinthians 11:23
We have fallen for the deception that we are all equal in our Christianity and any type of distinction based on maturity, passion or discipline is quickly hushed out of fear that the less committed will feel alienated. This fear is going to cease as prophetic voices will be calling all who are willing into the deep—and those who choose to splash and play will do so of their own volition.
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:1
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Ephesians 4:11-14
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, Hebrews 5:11-12
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 1 Corinthians 13:11
Grow up and get into position! That’s the call of the hour. It’s time to count the cost, get into position and run with passion as the Church worthy of the name of Jesus Christ!
Don’t think for a minute that you can’t do it. That would be an insult to the grace of Christ!
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Paul refused to shrink back. He moved in great grace and turned the world upside down! He ran. He fought. He knew his sole purpose on the Earth was to advance the Kingdom and that mission burned in him night and day.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24
Paul said to the people, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” and not to Jesus, “Hey, wait up, let’s move at the pace of the people.” God sets the pace, not us.
The fear is that others will presume we are arrogant or haughty when we call them higher—after all, if we are calling them higher, we must think we are higher already.
- First, the closer we get to Jesus, the deeper we go, the more humble and broken we become—our own depravity, weaknesses and struggles are clarified as the holiness and majesty of Jesus are magnified. The deeper we go the deeper we have to keep going. The deep is truly the point of no return.
- Second, what would the suggestion be? That we lessen our intimacy with Jesus and encourage people in their apathy so as not to offend any or invite division within the camp? No way.
And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Matthew 11:6
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39
When I called the church into the deep in Colorado several years ago, I knew that I would lose many people, a lot of money and even my reputation. Many would be angered that we were picking up the pace and raising the bar—beyond where they were willing to go. I fully understood there was a risk of killing Revolution Church when we did this—and it literally almost happened. Many truly thought I was a madman—and they were right! The remnant came alive to the call and ran with passion, but, sadly, those who were given to this costly, fiery, normal Christianity were very few and far between. I decided early on that I’d rather have a small church on fire with Christians who were ready to invest their very lives than a church of two or three hundred people who gathered around a space heater—and I knew I could have either. A church of 200 would provide a good salary and stability for my family. Good programs and honey-dipped messages would draw the socialites who would invest just enough to provide a cozy, Laodicean environment for all of us. I get sick even thinking of that option—and so does God.
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16
In a world where lukewarm is normal, the common response to an extreme church environment is that it’s not the appropriate church experience, that it’s not for a typical Christian, even though some would agree such a ministry has some value, for some people. An extreme church culture to many is more like a para-church ministry than a legitimate church. It doesn’t fit within their definition of what a church is suppose to be and do. The accusation is that such an extreme focus is only for a small minority of Christians—and then, most probably just for a short season.
I’ve spent years and tears attempting to address this fallacy. Normal church today is that of mildly committed followers of Jesus who put limits on their passion and devotion—it’s children splashing in the shallows. This is not the Christianity of the Bible.
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ Matthew 11:16-17
Revival Church is not an extreme environment, not even close. However, compared to the user friendly, bread and breakfast version of the church that dominates the landscape of our nation, it does feel like a para-church, over the edge, specialized ministry for the minority instead of the majority. This grieves me—not because I want more people to stuff themselves into our church building, but because the thought of extreme passion feels specialized and uncommon, unwanted and unnecessary.
The church experience in our nation has become more about living a wonderful life instead of dying a remarkable death—and pastors know very well that a focus on surrender versus benefit will result in empty pews and offering plates.
While I would never presume to have a perfect understanding of the function of the church, I am confident on several points—and when I employed these critical elements into our ministry I fully believed that the result would be a sound, vibrant and biblical church. We are para-church in no way. I want to alleviate the fear pastors may have of being accused of not being a legitimate church—when you gather together to pray on fire and release the messages of the Lord, you are modeling the coming church. This is what the church will look like when the reformation is complete! That being said, the accusations will fly, but don’t relent. Stay the course, gather the people and pray.
Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:15-17
The call is for every person who has made the radical and costly decision to follow the living God to dive into the fire together. No matter how long we’ve known Jesus, our pace should be the same—intense and fiery.
Have you ever met someone who was recently radically saved? They can’t run fast enough or burn hot enough! Yet, we’ve fallen for the deception that new Christians need to take baby steps! No way, no more!
Extreme church is the only option in today’s end-time climate. The formula is simple—too simple for most—pray with fervent passion together with others several times a week, read the Bible, believe it and respond to God’s mandates with faith and obedience. Pray continually. Live in the spirit. Die daily. Surrender all. Be holy.
This is normal church. It’s a culture of uncommon holiness and passion for intercession where we refuse to be amused by darkness and endeavor to slow the flow to Hell with prayer and action. This is why were are on the Earth.
I believe we would be much closer to the true, biblical model of the church if we did little more than pray nonstop in tongues for two hours on a Sunday morning than what we see today.
The Coming Church
Please understand this point. Consider it. Pray on it.
We live in a day where Christians are boldly, unapologetically defending their measured religious devotion and are denouncing calls to extreme commitment. I hear it all the time—fervency is shunned in favor of the status quo. Can you believe this? Being extreme for Jesus is an unwelcome negative attitude, an invasive intrusion into the well guarded lives of American Christians.
If the thought of the church experience being made up mostly of praying in the Spirit with infusions of apostolic messages and reading of scripture feels incomplete or uncomfortable to you, you will find yourself frustrated and resistant in the coming church.
Change is coming. For example, many are looking for a church with an amazing worship experience where it’s easy to sit back and bask in the atmosphere. In the coming church, in place of polished worship teams, we will see an environment where groans of intercession are echoing in the room—with or without instruments. Everybody will be on their face burning, groaning and crying out as acts of worship in place of today’s Christian karaoke. Imagine gathering together multiple nights a week to hit our faces and groan in intercession together! Most everything else that we’ve come to know in today’s church will be done away with as we all serve as worshiping intercessors in the house of prayer for all nations. We will worship in spirit. In truth.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
This type of a church environment seems extreme, and demanding, and uncomfortable. Yes. Today it will feel like that, but when the reformation and revolution in the church is complete, it will feel normal, and God will call us to yet another level—a level today that we wouldn’t even think is possible. It’s a level, one beyond the level where we are going next, that will result in continual supernatural power. Keep that in mind. If the next level seems extreme, just compare it to what’s coming beyond that!
Again, the coming church, the next level, will be white hot and perfect for every Christian at every maturity level. The prayer room is the only room for the new Believer and the apostolic leaders who are investing into them! This is my heart for Revival Church. I see this model being perfect for people of all levels as it calls everybody into the same place—death and destiny. Everybody gathers, prays, grows and is intentional in their discipleship. It’s intense and life changing. And then, when the remnant does this together in unity, it will be world changing.
Our ministry school, theLab University, is an extreme experience of prayer and maturity—and my view is that the school is closer to a normal, biblical church than churches we see today.
The commitment level at theLab is high (by today’s standards)—we meet together four days and nights a week. We have homework to complete and turn in on a weekly basis. There are prayer events that are required for us to attend somewhere in Detroit every Friday night. We are held accountable for our attendance and participation. Holiness is commanded. We are a family. We are locked in and ready to grow at a rapid rate together. This, my friend, is church. However, in America, it’s para-church. It’s extreme. It’s not for the general Christian. This, again, deeply grieves me.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11
Zeal is not a personality trait! It’s a command!
And he said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” So he had him ride in his chariot. 2 Kings 10:16
I challenge you—live so boldly that others take notice, and call them to experience your zeal for the Lord! Call them higher! Call them out of the dead and dying manmade American church system that is headed for judgment!
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1
…If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Revelation 3:3
The coming church is what the scoffers and mockers and seekers and disillusioned are waiting for. They want to see a people who are serious about their God, radical in their devotion and done with the imitation religion of our day.
They want to see a church that’s finally devoid of hypocrites—people that won’t be amused by unrighteousness in media that required the death of the one they say they love.
They are waiting for a church that will not only boldly expose the sins of the nation, but also pray night and day for it.
The world needs a church that burns with such love and anointing and holiness and that’s single minded in it’s purpose—to set the world ablaze.
No more programs, productions or promotions. It’s time to pray as the church again. America is waiting.