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!
Hi Revival Church team!!! Thank you SO MUCH for my birthday card and gift!!! You know my love language!!!
There are some key truths that will assist our ministry and any other as we advance into uncharted territory.
In order to move forward, it’s going to take quite a unified advance… I’m praying about what this looks like, and one significant step I’m calling the entire church into is:
- Praying non-stop in the Spirit together for one hour from 5-6pm on Sundays.
The groans, the flow of intercession as the Spirit prays through us is critically important… and it’s also important that we do it as a unified team.
I understand that ‘life happens’ to all of us, and it’s so easy to get hit… the enemy is nasty and very active… and based on my own experience in seasons like this there are two mission critical areas that tend to take the hit first:
We have to jealously guard against anything that would hinder either of these focuses. We need to be proactive and preemptive.
We have to be very intentional in loving each other deeply and holding hands in prayer-fueled advance. If we do this, life will be amazing and we’ll blast through barriers with ease.
The very first element in our strategy (20 Elements of Revival) is agreement in the place of prayer. Revival and mission advance can’t happen if either of those two elements are minimized.
I’ll include chapter one from that book below…
It’ll give us a good picture of the importance of being together in fervent prayer continually. If you haven’t read the entire book, I’d strongly recommend you do asap.
**We can be in the building Sundays before 5pm (in fact, we need help at 4:30pm setting up)… and then dive into praying in tongues together right at 5pm.
**For those of you who are in the i1 or i2 intercession team… PLEASE ensure you are on the call every Monday night at 9pm.
If you have thoughts, words, dreams, visions, etc. please let me know!! You are the best of the best! Thanks for all you do and for who you are!!!!
Here’s chapter 1:
Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
The way this ancient and emerging Church was birthed is the way it was meant to continue. God drew zealots together to actively wait.
As we step through these twenty elements, it’s critical to prayerfully consider the step-by-step process. It is flexible enough to allow God to infuse your Church growth experience with your own DNA, yet the underlying principles simply must not be violated.
This first element is the most critical, yet is probably the most neglected. In the pursuit of establishing a new Church, or in the development of an existing one, the pure adrenaline of it can cause us to become impatient. This first Church could not have been planted from a human perspective.
Good teaching, proven programs, intimate small groups, evangelistic crusades and other methods would not work at this stage of the process. These are actually parts of future elements that will take root and develop further in the Church planting process.
So, what is this first element?
Element One- Agreement
The verse tells us that they were ALL in one accord AND in one place. This depicts a mature and hungry team of radically devoted believers who understand the massive commitment it will take to fulfill the mission.
To launch, there must be a strategic team of mission-minded owners of the vision.
A tragic mistake that is often made at this initial phase of ministry is the improper focus on relationship. Fellowship will become a staple of the Church experience well into the process, but to entrust the strategy of fellowship as a foundational element at this phase will result in failure, stagnation and a lack of power.
Being in agreement is very different than being in fellowship. An attitude of agreement results in corporate strength that will bust through many barriers the enemy will set up in the early stages.
A strategy of fellowship alone is incredibly susceptible to offenses taking root, gossip, frustration, disagreement and the fostering of an Absalom spirit. Fellowship is simply not strong enough to be a foundation of a local Church. Agreement, however, easily is.
I’ll often hear pastors state that they are launching a new Church on a foundation of fellowship. They have a plan of worshiping together, inviting friends and developing a new community. Of course, the heart behind this is wonderful. Strategically however it simply rarely works.
This first element of agreement breeds the second element that we’ll discuss further in a moment. The second element is extreme devotion of time. We’ll notice that the first Church was together every day. Why? Because that was how it was birthed. In order to capture God’s heart, hear His instructions, nurture unity and become alert to the directives of apostolic leadership we must be together nearly continually.
If we are fellowship minded, this type of commitment will rarely last. Desire for fellowship is inward focused primarily, but an attitude of agreement causes us to look outward. To be agreed and unified toward an impossible goal that God has presented to the team will both require and result in a continual pursuit of that goal together.
I often teach that if we are to experience revival, we must do now what we will be doing when revival breaks out. A revival atmosphere results in people craving to be in the Church building night after night. Prayer and worship and breaking under the presence of God never end. If we are contending for that, we must start the process now.
I find it amazing that Churches are eliminating services in response to a very demanding American lifestyle. If we are to experience revival, we must fight that spirit and once again, as in the previous generation, be in the Church every time the doors are open- and the doors should be open night and day!
At the risk of getting ahead of myself, I want to share now what we are contending for. The biblical norm for believers is to experience the weighty presence of the Holy Spirit regularly. The normal experience for a Sunday service, for example, is for us to walk in the door and immediately become influenced by an atmosphere of fire. Brokenness, tears, drunkenness in the Holy Spirit, prophetic unction, repentance and other manifestations should be the expected reality day after day.
We have become satisfied with teaching services, song services, social gatherings and other activities without the baptism of fire that should be burning through them.
I often discuss what I call the ‘money changer principle’. Churches, both new and mature, often have an imbalanced focus on satisfying the needs and desires of the members. Church growth strategies dictate that we must have certain things in place if we expect people to want to come to our Church. So, from the outset, our minds are tilted toward drawing the crowds and in order to do that we ask the question, “What will cause people to come, stay and get involved?”
May I offer that this mind set must change if we are to experience God the way He wants to be experienced. The money changers’ table was overturned by Jesus. He was indignant. He stated clearly that the temple was to be a House of Prayer. What was the sin of the money changers? They went into the temple with the expectation of leaving with more than they entered with. The temple is to be a place of sacrifice! We are to have the expectation of leaving with less than we entered with!
If we as leaders understand this, we will have no problem requiring much from those who are joined with us in mission. We are truly called to die. That perspective must be embraced and shouted from the rooftops.
Let’s look at an interesting passage of scripture. Keep in mind as you read this that Peter was the ‘rock’ on which the Church was birthed. Jesus was making a severe statement not only to Peter but also to the upcoming Church.
Matthew 16:21-25 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Note an very important statement that Jesus made:
“You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Peter unwittingly renounced the cross. Jesus rebuked him in this famous conflict to ensure that the generations to come would be sure to embrace what Peter renounced- daily death under the weight of a cross.
This was exceedingly critical not only for Peter and not only for the generations, but primarily for the structure that Peter represented. The Church.
As we launch or redevelop our Churches according to this New Testament paradigm we must be sure that we avoid a structure that appeals to man ahead of God. Jesus told Peter that he was an offense to Him. Why was he an offense? After all, he wanted Jesus to be safe and comforted. The boldness that we saw in the garden as Jesus was being led away to his destiny with the cross showed itself in this instance as well.
We don’t know what other inner struggles Peter may have been dealing with, but we do know that Jesus didn’t like his reaction to those struggles. He stated clearly that to be mindful of man ahead of God was offensive.
Our Churches must be setup to primarily minister to God on a foundation of prayer, sacrifice, offerings and service. When someone comes into our Church as a visitor they should witness a radical atmosphere of extreme commitment, passion and mission-driven fervor. Instead of forming materials that emphasize what the visitor can expect from their new Church those materials should highlight what their new Church expects from them!
Churches are missional organizations. They exist to accomplish a mission- and to equip the saints to ensure that mission advances with precision. We must be mindful of God and the vision he has given that Church.
I won’t go into much detail here, but I believe the concept of vision must be addressed at least to a point. Agreement will not last without a vivid and easily communicated vision.
I was leading a prayer event at a Church in the area on a Friday night earlier this year. One of the other leaders who was with me that night asked the pastor what his vision was. When it was obvious the pastor was struggling with this question we asked if he had anything written down so we could come into agreement with them during our prayer time. He went searching for something to give us, and finally found a brochure that described the Church’s mission.
Vision for our mission should consume us night and day. If we do not lead from a place of vision, we will go nowhere. If we don’t have vision, we need to ask some hard questions. Are we the one to lead the Church? What alternate role may God be opening up to us?
The process of gaining vision might include something as simple as praying and fasting on a mountain somewhere for three days. God desires every one of us to have clear vision- but to receive that vision takes an absolute dedication to being with God, hearing His voice and obeying. Yes, our dreams and desires may be threatened when God starts talking, but as we walk in the direction of God’s voice, we will shake nations!
Simply, if we don’t have vision, we may need to step down. However, if we do have vision, stepping down won’t even be an option. There is a job to be done!
A trap that captures many men and women of God is to step into a leadership role based on gifting instead of vision and calling. Someone who has a pastoral gifting may not be called to lead a Church at all. A teacher may be called as a small group leader or a lecturer or an author. Or, that person may indeed be called to lead a Church, but if that is the case, vision must burn like a fire in their bones!
I’ll finish this sub-point by saying this- vision is very specific and personal. Vision is not a quote we hang on the wall in our sanctuary like, “Our mission is to grow closer to God and each other”. Vision is precise and seemingly impossible to fulfill. It will cause great excitement and scrutiny to be aroused at the same time. It will usually include geographical information, statistical goals, clear transformational ideas and a laser focus to fulfill that mission. This doesn’t mean it won’t be ambiguous at times- the larger the vision the more difficult it may be to put into words. However, there is an end goal and everybody under our leadership will be willing to pay its great price- and they will celebrate when we arrive together.
So, we discovered a lot in this first verse of Acts Chapter Two. Everybody had a clear vision, was perfectly agreed and together continually. The cost was understood at the very beginning- what was coming required strict adherence to God’s structural plan by everybody involved.
Church planters- if your team is radically agreed to pursue the fulfillment of a vivid vision for their region, then by all means, keep reading! If there are some in your midst who are wondering what is in it for them, then remain in this phase until you have 100% participation.
Existing Church leaders- Your evaluation may be a bit more difficult, especially if you are significantly developed. First of all, don’t be afraid to violate existing structures in the fear of losing people. A great reformation is coming to the earth that will cause Church as we know it to be shaken to its core. Do you have an atmosphere of extreme agreement and passion for a clear and precise vision? Is there great expectancy of what is to come and great commitment to the realization of that dream? If so, let’s move on!
Everybody else- Are you involved with your current Church for the right reasons? Would your pastor be able to say that you are one of his most loyal and faithful partners in ministry? Do you embrace the vision to the point of extreme participation and lifestyle change?