These are words we never want to hear God say…DO NOT PRAY.
The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. Jeremiah 14:11 (ESV)
It’s common to hear evangelists encourage lost people wandering in the darkness of hopelessness by saying, “It’s never too late.”
While it is true that anybody who desires to surrender their lives to the love and leadership of Jesus will be welcomed with open arms, it’s not true that it’s never too late. If we want to return to God now, it’s because the Holy Spirit is drawing us. There can come a time where our rejection of God will be respected, and the drawing will cease.
I’ve taught previously on the very interesting and troubling topic of a great delusion. Due to repeated wickedness, there comes a time when people are given over a debased mind, to a delusion:
9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (ESV)
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:28 (ESV)
Isaiah was commissioned to prophesy this very thing—that eyes would be blinded to truth.
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, Isaiah 6:8-11 (ESV)
How strange (and troubling) it is that God would do this. In his wisdom, he opens and closes the window of opportunity for people to come to him.
Most often we presume people have until the day they die to turn to the Lord. This isn’t the case. There are many who have been turned over to delusion. Eyes have been blinded. Others have committed the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It’s too late.
Many are nearing the point of no return, and for a significant number of them it will come well before they die. They will be spiritually hopeless, fully dead, possibly decades before an obituary is written.
This is a terrifying reality, and it should increase our urgency for intercession and evangelism.
Of course, only God knows who has crossed this line, and our job is to continue to contend for all. Additionally, we know that at other points in the book of Isaiah we see him prophesying eyes that see and ears that hear.
6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. Isaiah 42:6-7 (ESV)
The reality remains, however, that many eyes will forever be closed, many people forever imprisoned in delusion.
DO NOT PRAY FOR THE WELFARE OF THIS PEOPLE
There can come a time personally when we cannot return to Jesus.
There can also come a time when a nation cannot return—until its people endure everything necessary to bring them to repentance.
Thus says the LORD concerning this people: “They have loved to wander thus; they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them; now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.” Jeremiah 14:10 (ESV)
The weight of this verse is almost too much to bear—and God meant for it to be that heavy. He declared in no uncertain terms that he does not accept them. He will remember their iniquity and he will punish their sins. It would seem to be the perfect moment for a prayer movement to launch, for a cry of intercession to shatter the heavens. Unfortunately, it’s too late.
11 The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.” Jeremiah 14:11-12 (ESV)
From the Adam Clarke Commentary:
O, how dreadful is the state of that people in reference to whom the Lord says to his ministers, Pray not for them; or, what amounts nearly to a prohibition, withholds from his ministers the spirit of prayer and intercession in behalf of the people!
Can you imagine, intercessors, gathering together with every intent to contend for our nation, when God then clearly reveals that we are forbidden to pray. It will do no good. His mind is made up.
I know some of you might be thinking about Abraham’s negotiations with God as he interceded fervently for Sodom and Gomorrah even as God was intent on destroying them. Can we not do the same if God reveals his plans for judgment on a nation? For those who are truly compassionate, they won’t be able to help but to wrestle with God. With tears in our eyes we would have no choice but to cry out for mercy. Sadly, in this account, it would have done no good. The clear command was that prayer was not to be made.
In a spiritual culture like we have today, the common reaction to such a topic would be that God, in his perfect love, is smiling over the people and is ready to receive them back. The idea of God standing in opposition to those he so deeply loves runs counter to much of the faulty theology that’s rampant today.
This scenario plays out as we continue in Jeremiah 14. Read this passage completely. The message is very clear:
13 Then I said: “Ah, Lord GOD, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” 14 And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them. Jeremiah 14:13-16 (ESV)
There are those who will reject truth for the sake of keeping people hopeful and happy. These lying prophets are everywhere today, and they will only increase, especially if our nation ever gets to the point that the people in this story did.
1 Then the LORD said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! 2 And when they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: “‘Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence, and those who are for the sword, to the sword; those who are for famine, to famine, and those who are for captivity, to captivity.’ Jeremiah 15:1-2 (ESV)
Adam Clarke explains the above passage (and the following verses in the account) well:
God declares to Jeremiah that not even Moses and Samuel, whose prayers had been so prevalent, could divert him from his purpose of punishing so wicked a people, v. 1. Accordingly their captivity is again announced in a variety of images so full of terror, vv. 2-9, that the prophet complains of his own hard fate in being obliged to deliver such unwelcome messages, v. 10; for which too he is reproved, vv. 11-14. Immediately he appeals to God for his sincerity, and supplicates pardon, vv. 15-18; and God tempers his reproof with promising again to protect him in the faithful discharge of his duty.
A QUICKLY CLOSING WINDOW
America is not at this point of no return—yet.
There are movements of holiness, revival and passionate, devoted intercession growing from coast to coast. Awakening is happening.
However, I don’t believe these movements are currently strong or numerous enough to outpace the movement of wickedness that’s both in the world and in the church today.
What this means is that the window of opportunity is quickly closing and if we don’t exponentially increase our efforts, judgment very certainly will come to us.
If judgment does come to America, I believe God will preserve the remnant, radically devoted church as he promised to Jeremiah and as he did at Goshen with the Israelites.
25 The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail. Exodus 9:25-26 (ESV)
This isn’t a time for fear as God’s own will be protected (though this doesn’t mean hardship or persecution won’t come). This is a time to be marked by tears, just as Jeremiah was.
Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Jeremiah 9:1 (ESV)
Don’t listen to the lying prophets who are saying that all is well and no judgment will come.
Do rend your hearts.
Do contend for revival.
Do pray, while there is time, before God tells us that we can pray for our nation no more.
Has Detroit failed in the opportunity to initiate and steward one of the greatest revivals known to man?
Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
That’s an amazing, invigorating promise! Our God is a very good God and he has very good plans to prosper us. Amen!
Wait just a minute. Let’s look at the context of this popular, biblical word of encouragement.
Just because God is indeed very good does not mean we have carte blanche rights to provide false encouragement to others. We see this quite a bit in the prophetic movement. Well intentioned people desire to encourage others and, instead of giving the pure prophetic message, they focus solely on the positive.
Now, of course, when handled rightly, this has precedence.
1 Cor 14:3 …the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.
So, it’s very good and right to prophesy with a motive of encouragement. However, the prophecy must also be accurate. We can’t depart from the truth in order for people to be encouraged.
In Jeremiah 29:11 we see an extremely encouraging word… but consider the larger story:
Jer 29:7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
First, God, in response to the unsatisfactory condition of Israel, is the one who led them into exile! A very good God did something that we might call bad!
Notice how the “church” was listening to the prophets that gave them the words they wanted to hear? God was clear. He did not send those prophets.
In fact, in stark contrast to the words of quick freedom from exile the false prophets were communicating, God tells them to get cozy in their current situation in captivity. They are going to be there for a while:
Jer 29:4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.
What? We’re believing for freedom! For revival! God is telling us to get use to our captivity? We are to build houses? That takes a long time! Plant gardens? Get married? What?! Have kids? That takes years! Woah. Wait a minute! Then we have to wait for our kids to get married and have kids? This isn’t at all what we are praying for!
No wonder they wanted to listen to the false prophets.
Then comes the accurate prophecy:
Jer 29:10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
What a story!
God has a plan, but the process may be very different than we might presume. It may take much longer than we might hope.
REVIVAL IN DETROIT
I believe the Detroit region is still on the radar, but the first sweep, the first ping, has passed. How long will this region remain on target? I’ll say this—we can’t risk the time even to discuss it. It’s time to work.
The question is, what is God’s prophetic word for Detroit?
Are we to listen to words that declare that revival is unavoidable and then kick back and wait? Or, is there are greater, more inconvenient plan that God wants to reveal to us?
My view is that Detroit has missed it for this season, and we will need to regroup quickly and prepare for the next sweep. If you look at the radar image I’ve included with this post, you might consider it to represent God’s perspective as he is looking down on America, looking for a city that will rise about the others. Which city church will unite and initiate the greatest revival strategy since 120 people holed up in an upper room 2000 years ago?
It may take a year or five years before the next sweep of the radar comes and Detroit has the opportunity to send an unmistakable ping of revival vibrations heavenward. What will we do between now and then?
CLEAR, UNAVOIDABLE STRATEGY
I’ve heard it prophesied many times that stadiums would be filled with praying people in Detroit—and I agree with this prophecy. But, it’s a ways off. Stop and consider this. If we can’t even fill churches on Sunday with fiery people, how in the world do we think we’ll fill stadiums with people who are disciplined in fervent prayer? It’s insanity. We couldn’t even fill a stadium at The Call after months of preparation and alarms being sounded! The strategy must change.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein
Take a moment and pull your head out of any mystical, hyper-spiritual fog you may be swimming in and consider reality:
There are over 19,000 cities in America and NONE of them are experiencing revival. We are zero for 19,000! There aren’t ANY! AT ALL!
That means the strategies must change with such extreme and sudden shock that anybody who isn’t locked in with God will be radically disoriented. It’s a necessary disorientation.
Can we be honest with ourselves? The strategies in Detroit, though often extremely honorable, and truly impactful to a degree, have not resulted in revival. In fact, I wonder if the region is spiritually worse off now than it was just a few years ago. The talk of revival is rare and the urgency to contend is falling on mostly deaf ears. People are experiencing hope deferred and sickness is hitting this region.
For this to change, a simple yet costly strategy must be initiated now. The cost is so extreme that anybody who is devoted to the typical American lifestyle just won’t pay it. The cost of revival includes the surrender of personal dreams, lifestyles and plans.
If you are a Christian, now is your time to lock in with great passion and without excuse to the corporate mission of prayer. Be together with other Christians and pray in the Spirit, with fire, continually. Upper room style. No excuses allowed. Cares of life can win no more. Cancel your life. Change your schedule. Your job now, every single day, is to gather and pray.
Check out the plan, and notice how similar it is to the passage in Jeremiah:
2 Chron 7:11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14if my people who are called by my name 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. 15Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.
- Step one: (verse 11) Leaders must build the house of prayer. In the last year alone at least two houses of prayer in this region have closed. That’s the wrong direction!
- Step two: (verse 12) God will make it clear that Detroit has been chosen. I believe supernatural visitations will help confirm this.
- Step three: (verse 13) A difficult season will come that will provoke the people and provide a clear mandate to them. Notice that leaders already built the house of prayer, and now it’s the people’s turn to step into position.
- Step four: (verse 14a) The true followers of Jesus will be revealed via a mass movement of humility, prayer and holiness. It will overwhelm this city.
- Step five: (verse 14b) A movement of healing will initiate not only on the people but on the city, on the land.
- Step six: (verse 15) The precedent of prayer and intimate communion between God and his people will be established.
- Step seven: (verse 16) The city will be known as a holy place that hosts God himself, exalts his name and has his attention forever.
THE PLAN SIMPLIFIED
The church is a house of prayer for all nations. The primary, most dominant activity in the church must be deep and continual prayer. It’s not a house teaching, a house of evangelism, a house of relationships or a house of anything. The church exists for prayer fueled people to conquer the world!
With this in mind, if you want to experience revival in your lifetime, start doing the following:
- Pray in the Holy Spirit at least an hour a day personally.
- Gather together multiple times a week to pray in the Holy Spirit corporately with your local church or an intercession movement in the region.
- Mirror the commitment of a fully devoted senior leader in the church. Never miss a service. Show up early. Stay late. Never gossip or complain. Take ownership of the mission.
- Pay attention to regional revival events—and attend with expectancy.
- Be responsive to leadership as they prayerfully give apostolic direction to the movement.
- Give extravagantly to the house of prayer (the church).
- Be humble.
- Live holy. Stop sinning. Stop watching most movies, TV shows and other forms of entertainment.
- Eliminate every distraction, even good ones, that keep you away from the costly, inconvenient daily mission of prayer and service.
- Stir up your faith, walk in the Spirit and prepare to build. There’s a lot of work ahead!
We can’t take a wait and see approach. Stop playing it safe. Dive in and pay the price and take the risk and participate in the mission of revival with a level of devotion that will help calibrate the church back to the fiery heart of God!
And, do it quickly. The next sweep of the radar is approaching. Fast. And it may not sweep again.