Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Prayer is an Active Event

Prayer is an Active Event

“Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness” (Joel 2:13 KJV)

Glad you could join us for yet another “Truth for the Journey.” In our last article we looked at the principle meanings of intercession: a) One who “took the place of” b) Standing in the “gap.” Then we looked at intercession in terms of providing a hedge of protection for others. Standing between them and the enemy. Making up the hedge as mediators, defending them, by using the Word of God. We discussed the “power of attorney,” just like a layer who has the “authority to act on behalf of” others in a court of law.

Today we continue with “Prayer is an Active Event.” In the book of Isa 66:8, “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” (KJV). Instead of the word “travail” the NIV uses the word “labor.” Nevertheless this is a very profound statement, taking Zion (as a type) to represent the Church, the Body of Christ.

Getting into “labor” or “travail” during intercession, is likened unto a state of “child-birth.” This type of praying then becomes an active event just as our title suggests! “Active,” in terms of “work,” in addition it’s not a “passive” or “quiet” event. Giving birth can be both strenuous and noisy! Not necessarily a pretty or pleasant experience either! Including the fact that most mothers, at that point, care very little who hears them scream!

So from this we can deduce that “travailing in the spirit” or “giving birth” to the things of God in prayer – can also be a noisy affair at times! To add to this, I quote here from one of Jack Hayford’s books on the subject, “Just as groans of travail precede birth, so Holy-Spirit-begotten intercessions forecast new life, new hope and new possibilities for individuals trapped in the impossible” (page 144, “Prayer is Invading the Impossible”).

To continue, we see in the book of Joel that God promises that if we rend our hearts, crying out and giving birth, that afterwards He will, “pour out His Spirit on all people” (Joel 2:28 NIV). A pouring forth of God’s Spirit brings about “newness of life.” However, there is more to the Spirit than just making us feel good! There is real passion that exists with the Spirit of God, to help individuals, to protect them, to intercede on their behalf and to be their advocate. Yet He still needs our prayers, to help Him bring this about. He needs us to work with Him in this passion of His, for people.

Lets consider at this point that God the Father is seen in a similar as a judge, but is a judge who does not judge according to “emotion” nor “invariable needs,” but according to the book (TRUTH). As for us, we too can pray no other way - THAN ACCORDING TO HIS WILL.

“This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1Jo 5:14 KJV). “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11 KJV) “He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom 8:27 KJV).

Scripture reveals to us that Satan has three main objectives in our lives, to steal, kill and to destroy (John 10:10). However God is NOT willing for destruction, death and theft to take place. He prefers that we work together with His Spirit, so that destruction can be averted. He provided more than a “pass-over” in the New Testament. They had their wooden doorframes and lintels stained with animal’s blood; but it is our whole lives that are stained with Christ’s blood! That speaks of better things than the blood of Able and represents a covenant of much “better” things (Heb 12:24).

Let me add just swiftly that if they had not followed Gods instructions in Egypt, they would have seen a different outcome. The same is true of today. If we follow God’s directive, only then we reap the desired results. His ways work, for those who work them and chiefly we have nothing to fear, so long as we ACT but also PRAY according to His will (directive).

Consider the fact that if praying were EASY then we would not need a helper would we? However the Holy Spirit is our helper in prayer and as E.M. Bounds wrote in his book, The Reality of Prayer, “How vain and delusive and how utterly fruitless and inefficient are prayers without the Sprit.” He goes onto say, “…official prayers they may be, fitted for state occasion, beautiful and courtly, but worth less than nothing as God values prayer” (emphasis added).

However prayer is made easy through the ministry of the Holy Spirit working through us, but without His help, its not hard to say that we are useless at it! Yet travailing in the spirit does indeed bring forth new life, as we saw at the entrance of the tomb of Lazarus:

“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go” (Jo 11:33-44 KJV – emphasis added).

Now there is so much in these verses above that we could dissect them all day long! Yet just by highlighting certain parts of it in bold font – it’s easy to see that Jesus was NOT quiet during this event. It was not a moment where Jesus was looking to be “discreet” rather as our title suggests – was an entirely “active event” that everyone heard! According to the Authorized Version it says expressly that Jesus “groaned,” “wept” and “cried with a loud voice.” Jesus was NOT hidden away somewhere in a private prayer closet, but was openly travailing in the Spirit.

By way of small interjection here – if Jesus needed the Holy Spirit in prayer, how much more do we?

Moving on, I draw your attention to notice how the people said, “…behold how he loved him!” because they saw Him cry, “Jesus wept.” People very often tie things to “emotion” and only know how to read emotions, however emotions rarely give an accurate reading! Those present that day did likewise; they put everything down to “emotion” and “sentiment” rather than accurately reading what was truly taking place.

For instance, if Jesus was just all bent-out-of-shape emotionally, as they supposed - just because a good friend had died, then why did He purposefully delay His arrival two full days? “Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judæa again.”

The truth of the matter is that there was a purpose to this event - which Jesus was fully aware of. No! It was NOT an emotion that Jesus was displaying. It was an opportunity to reveal how God answered prayer.

Travail brings life. So it was on that particular day and so it still is today. This type of prayer is so active because new life is involved. Just as a baby must be pushed out into the world so does, new life, new hope etc., etc. Miracles and the will of God must also be pushed into existence. His will from heaven pushed into the earth realm.

A good example of this exists in the Old Testament where Daniel prayed and the angel baring the answer to his prayer, took time getting to him. Dan 10:12 KJV “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.”

However the very next verse says, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” This was spiritual warfare being spoken of here. Notice: Daniel did not quit praying until the breakthrough came. This takes perseverance – something that we too must adopt into our praying. It takes courage to wait without growing faint.

In fact it will do us all good to remember what the angel told Daniel, that how on the very first day that he prayed, the answer was on its way! But it took all of 21 days to get there. Do we quit before it arrives? Do we realize that our prayers are as good as answered the first day we pray, but the manifestation of the answer takes a little longer to materialize?

Pain is Forgotten:
Going back to travail, when a woman is giving birth, as Jesus foretold, it is agony. But a moment after the child is born and laid upon the mother’s breast, the pain is forgotten and the joy of the new birth overwhelms her. We can remember this, because there is a lot of joy connected with intercession. An intense joy that comes with the breakthrough and the victory!

When interceding there will be times when we know in the spirit that the breakthrough happened. We will know this breakthrough by the experience of JOY! Now this speaks of more than just emotion, but of reality. There is a difference! We must decide to rejoice that our prayers have been received and answered in the spirit realm, perhaps long before we see any results in the natural realm. Prayer is all about faith. “PRAYING FAITH!” Speaking those things that are not as thought they were! (Rom 4:17)

In our last article we said that intercession is a very powerful weapon in spiritual warfare and we repeat this fact again today. It is indeed a powerful weapon in the onslaught against the enemy; Satan does not like it. If you want to see the Spirit of God move more than He has already, whether in the local church, school, housing estate or in a specific relationship that involves people who are not born again, then we MUST be willing to intercede. We must be of an attitude that allows the will of God to be brought into being, and travail for those in need. Then we will reap the harvest, which God has prepared.

Paul in Galatians 4:19 said, “My dear children, for I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Paul was constantly in a place of weeping before God for his people. This then must also be the place for us.

Father I want to intercede. I want to learn. I want to adapt to this new way of life. I want to take Christ’s example, as Your Spirit illuminates it to me and to live out a life of intercession. Help me take my place. Amen.

Travail and labor is part of prayer. I give myself to it. So that new life can come forth just as Lazarus did at the tomb.

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’
Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries


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