Travail and spiritual intercession overpowers the works of the devil that hold people in bondage, very often against their own wills, where they find it difficult to make the right decision. This kind of praying works to the pulling down of strongholds. People need to be taught by precept and example of how to cooperate with the Holy Ghost in praying this way.
For example, during altar calls when an invitation to receive Christ is given in evangelistic meetings or church services many believers have an overwhelming feeling, but they don’t understand what it is. They don’t realize that it’s a burden to pray for lost souls, and they don’t know how to yield to it. We need to have more of this kind of praying so sinners can be truly saved. There’s a difference between making a decision for Christ, following up someone who has made a decision, and being truly born from above by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve read stories and accounts of Charles Finney and his prayer partner Father Nash. Nash would go into a city usually with at least one other pray-er and they would rent a boarding room and spend a number of days in prayer and fasting before Finney would come and preach. They would groan and travail in deep intercession for a majority of that time. And here’s the litmus test they would use to determine if the atmosphere was ready for Finney to come. They would look out the window, back in the days when many people were out on the streets, and if anyone fell to their knees in conviction with an overwhelming sense of sin and God’s reality, they’d call Finney to come. Have you ever heard of such a thing?
“Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.” (Isa 66:8-9)
I know that these verses are a prophetic depiction of the rebirth of the nation of Israel, but there’s also a two-fold application here. It is also speaking of the Church (Zion) in prayer. Through spiritual travail and intercessory prayer is really how you possess a city. Evangelistic outreaches are great. Doing personal work is fine. Following up people is order to disciple them is necessary. But without this kind of praying these things can fall short of the standard God desires. Yes, we have a great responsibility to preach the gospel, for we’ve been commissioned by Jesus to do so, but unless travail and intercessory prayer precedes it and even succeeds it, the results and fruit of it will be minimal. But just as surely as a pregnant woman’s travail will result in the birth of her baby so will spiritual travail and intercession result in giving birth to babes in Christ.
This is a lost art in the modern day Church. Back in the 1980’s there was a real move of prayer in this area, but pastors and churches backed off of it because people got weird and flaky with it. Well, the Lord wants to bring that back again because, frankly, there’s very little hope without it. The world is in a desperate state of gross darkness.
Years ago the Spirit of God spoke these words to me under a strong unction:
“If My people will learn to pray and acknowledge Me as God I will bring conviction even upon whole cities. And some shall call it a phenomenon, but you will know it’s because you prayed.”
I could tell you some old stories and accounts I’ve read of men of old that saw and experienced amazing things that happened as a direct result of praying this way. I’ve witnessed a few of them myself. No, I have not seen an entire city fall to its knees in conviction, but I’ve seen a few unexplainable things that can only be attributed to spiritual intercession.
For instance, one day I was preaching on a street corner of a busy, noisy intersection in an African city. There were many taxis honking their horns and people on the sidewalks going to and fro buying and selling one thing or another. We had been praying every morning before going out to preach, but on this particular day it was different. Suddenly in the middle of my preaching the entire area of this busy, noisy intersection became silent. You couldn’t hear the cars or the people. It was deathly silent. You would’ve thought you were at a funeral. I recognized it as the spirit of the fear of the Lord. A great peace and calm filled the streets. I told the people about it and everyone stood almost motionless and attentive to every word I was preaching. Many were soundly impacted that day.
Friends, these kind of things don’t just happen by coincidence or by a sovereign move of God. Somebody prayed with some unction and help from the Spirit of God. I realize that many saints are praying throughout the nations. Even in America believers are arising, but where is the revival in the Church and the awakening among the masses? I have to believe that it’s coming. If just a few sincere pockets of believers across the globe take hold of this kind of praying and get after it, we could see a tremendous swelling of the influence of the Spirit of God in the earth. Sometimes you can sense a work in the Spirit that God wants to do, but He won’t do it unless we carry it and pray it through. Birth must be given to it. More careless saints need to help carry that load. Will you be one?
I hope you’ve been helped and encouraged in some way by these prayer blogs. I’d appreciate your comments if you have been. Thanks!