Stoking the Fires of Prayer and Intercession (especially for those who struggle)

Does the call to a life of prayer and intercession seem daunting to you?  Do you feel that an effective, consistent prayer life is beyond your reach?  Have you tried to pray and intercede for others regularly but have failed miserably?  I can relate to all of those sentiments and conditions at one time and another in my walk with the Lord.  There have also been regular seasons in my life that have been marked by a deep, fervent, and abiding spirit of prayer and intercession.  I’ve known both ends of the spectrum, and a wide range in-between.

In the drier times, I’ve felt like I have this little “match” of faith and desire and I place it up against these giant logs of prayer and intercession and all I get is a little puff of smoke.  The match goes out and I’m done.

The fact of the matter, however, is that it only takes a tiny match to get a fire going that has the potential to not only set big logs on fire, but an entire forest.  If all you and I have is a tiny match of faith and desire, we have all we need to start a fervent, consuming, prayer life.  It’s simply a matter of what we do with that match that makes all the difference.

Natural Fire Building

When I build a natural fire, I gather the logs I want to burn, but I also include smaller logs, branches, kindling wood, and paper.  I build it from the bottom up, from the most easily ignitable material to the least.  I further make sure it is constructed with the right balance of proximity of materials to each other as well as needed space for airflow.  I then take my match and only concern myself with lighting the most readily combustible material, the paper.  If the paper catches, I might have to blow on it a little to get the kindling wood burning, but, eventually, the flames take over and the fire burns hotter and hotter until even the biggest logs are crackling and popping in the blaze.

Now, if I tend the fire regularly and keep feeding it when it begins to burn down, it’s not hard to keep the fire burning for hours and even days without having to start all over again from the beginning.  However small or large a fire I may eventually obtain, however, it all is set on fire with just a single, tiny match.

Spiritual Fire Building

If we find that the fires of prayer and intercession in our life have burned down to mere ashes, or maybe were never kindled in the first place, we need to start at the beginning and build these fires on the hearth of our heart employing the wisdom gained through natural fire building.

To start with, we will need to make sure we have the right “materials.”  These will include some “big logs” of our primary objectives in prayer and intercession, but we will also need to incorporate into our pyre of prayer some smaller logs, branches, kindling wood, and paper.  Unless our prayer life is regularly fed and tended, we shouldn’t assume that the “big logs” will easily or automatically catch.  We will most likely need to first build a “starter fire” under them consisting of the other, more readily combustible “materials.”

“Paper”

The first thing we will need, then, is the “paper.”  In this analogy, may I suggest that the “paper” is representative of the Scriptures.  As we begin our time of prayer, it is a wise and helpful practice to begin by meditating on and “praying into” a selected portion of Scripture.  This can take various forms and can be focused on anything from simply one spiritually rich word from Scripture (“love”, “peace”, “holy”, etc.), a Scriptural phrase, verse, portion of a chapter, or an overview of an entire chapter.  We should choose a portion that our heart is drawn to and focuses our thoughts and desires on God Himself, revealing something of His character, promises, purposes, wisdom, works, and/or ways. (The Psalms are an excellent place to draw from.)

As we meditate on and begin “praying into” God’s Word, we must engage not merely our mind, but also our heart, allowing our “match of faith and desire” to “burn up into” and “envelope” the portion of Scripture we are focusing on within our spirit.  Through the quickening of the Holy Spirit, this uniting of faith and desire with the truth of Scripture will begin to ignite and generate increasing measures of both “light” (revelation) and “heat” (spiritual desire.)  Thus our faith and desire will be further kindled and enflamed. 

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you…”
(2 Timothy 1:6 NAS)

“While I meditated, the fire burned; ” (Psalm 39:3 NIV)

“Kindling Wood”

As these initial burnings of faith and desire begin to increase within our spirit through meditation, our first responses in prayer ought to be those of thanksgiving and praise.  These expressions are the flames that are most readily kindled by the Spirit as we muse on God’s Word.  The “kindling wood” which our thanksgiving and praise are fueled by are the character, wisdom, will, works, and ways of God revealed in the Scripture portion before us.

In order for this “kindling wood” to fully “catch” then, we should begin to express focused prayers of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord drawing from the portion of Scripture we are meditating on.  Such expressions begin with words such as, “I thank You, Lord, that You are…”, “I praise You, God, for…”, etc…  This is how we begin to “pray into” God’s Word.  As these expressions of gratitude and exaltation begin to flow from our hearts and lips to the Lord, they further feed and fan the flames of faith and desire within our hearts drawing us deeper into prayer and praise.

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV)

“Large Sticks and Small Logs”

As the fire begins to grow, the “large sticks” of confession and repentance ought to most readily catch next.  As we lift God up with thanksgiving and praise, we, in turn will find ourselves coming into a greater position of humility before Him.  As the light of revelation through His Word begins to shine brighter, we will find the areas of our hearts that yet harbor shadows and darkness will begin to be exposed.  This will lead us very naturally to confession and repentance in prayer.

In the “light” and “heat” of our Scripture meditation/praying, we should ask the Lord if there is some aspect of our faith that needs to be increased in relation to His Word and some corresponding aspect of unbelief that needs to be confessed and repented of?  A prayer such as is recorded in the Gospels is always in order, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

We should further ask if there is some aspect of obedience that is lacking in relation to His Word, and if there is some corresponding act or practice of disobedience that needs to be confessed and repented of?  Confession humbles the heart before God and opens the way for a greater “wind” of God’s grace to blow in and fan the fires of prayer in our heart. 

“For God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.” (Zechariah 12:10 NIV)

“Take words with you, And return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.” (Hosea 14:2 NKJV)

 

In close proximity to the large sticks of confession and repentance are the small logs of supplication. Supplication by definition is a humble entreaty for oneself.  As we humble ourselves before God in confession and repentance, we also humbly entreat Him for His mercy and grace that we may be forgiven, cleansed, and enabled to walk in a greater measure of faith and obedience.  The deeper the humility, the greater the grace that is given and is able to be received.  We should seek to sink very low before the exalted Lord if we desire the fire of prayer to burn brightly and intensely.

Through meditation on Scripture, exalting God through thanksgiving and praise, and humbling ourselves through confession and supplication, we are in the most fitting and “flammable” place for the spirit of prayer to then begin to ignite and consume the “large logs” of petition and intercession.

“Large Logs”

There are two related types of prayer that comprise the “large logs” of our prayer life: petition and intercession.

The word “petition” comes from a Latin word, “petere” which means “to make for, go to; attack, assail; seek, strive after; ask for, beg, beseech, request; fetch; derive; demand, require,” (Online Etymology Dictionary)  In these descriptives, we see the intensity of the word “petition” as a focused and fervent beseeching of the Lord in prayer.  In Scripture we are entreated: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 KJV.)  We are further encouraged by the words of James, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.(James 5:16 NKJV.)  Petitioning prayer is one of the greatest privileges and highest responsibilities we have as the children of God and when the fires of prayer burn hot, these large logs begin to burn brightly and feed the flames with substantial fuel and fervent heat.

Closely related to prayers of petition are prayers of intercession.  While prayers of petition can be for ourselves as well as for others, prayers of intercession are strictly on the behalf of others.  The word “intercede” comes from the Latin prefix, “inter” meaning “between” and “cedere” meaning “to go”. To intercede is to “go between” the Lord and another on their behalf in prayer.  This is the essence of priestly ministry which is the high calling of every believer.  It is, likewise, through intercession that we can most powerfully encounter and be conformed to the heart of Christ in His heavenly ministry as He who “always lives to make intercession for [us].” (Hebrews 7:25)  There is very little in the spiritual life that is more effectual in decreasing the self-life and increasing Christ’s life within us than importunate intercession for others.  This is the second type of large log that God desires our prayer lives to consume.

Burning Embers

As with natural fire, our spiritual fire of prayer goes through stages.  There is that which involves our intentional kindling of a “starter fire” through meditation, thanksgiving, and praise, followed by our willing cooperation to fan the flames through confession, repentance, and supplication, followed by our active participation to feed the fires the substantial and sustaining fuel of petition and intercession.  As the fire of prayer transitions through these stages, the flames burn hotter and brighter, but they also build up within us a lively bed of red hot embers that continue to burn and throw heat long after the active flames have died down.  Those glowing embers are the coals of intimacy with the Lord that are built up in the process, and as a consequence, of the active aspects of our prayer lives.  Not only do these coals continue to burn in our hearts long after we have moved on from active times of prayer, they also become the hot bed upon which our next time of active prayer will be built and easily kindled afresh.  As long as these burning embers are tended regularly with the fuel of meditation and active prayer, the fire will never go out!

This, indeed, is the key to building and sustaining an active, intimate prayer life with the Lord. It does not happen automatically, nor without intentionality and consistency, but neither is it beyond our reach.  All it takes is the wisdom of natural fire building applied to our prayer life and a small match of faith and desire to get it all started.  Before long, we will have a fervent, abiding spirit of prayer within us that not only consumes and radiates within our own hearts, but also warms and enlightens those around us.

I pray that you are encouraged “to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you…” even unto a consuming fire of prayer and intercession through the wisdom and grace He has given!


Related:
A Continuing Urgent Call to Prayer and Intercession
1857 Prayer Revival – Can it Happen Again?
A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – by Madam Guyon (free audiobook)
Prevailing Prayer: What Hinders It? – by Dwight L. Moody (free audiobook)

As an example of one way of “praying into the Scriptures”, I commend the following relatively short podcast episode by John Piper.  As you listen, please notice the different aspects of thanksgiving, praise, confession, and supplication that are interwoven into his prayers related to the Scripture portion he is meditating on!

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A Continuing Urgent Call to Prayer and Intercession

The urgency in my spirit for the Church to arise from its slumber and get up to the front lines of the battle in prayer, repentance, and intercession is persisting…and increasing!  I’m afraid that our culture of instant gratification and incessant distraction has so spiritually weakened us that we are ill-prepared for the depth and duration of persevering, prevailing prayer that is needed in this hour.  (I include myself in that assessment.)  It is a most critical hour, however, and the future course of our nation and of the world ultimately lies in the hands of God’s people, His royal priesthood. 

We are also the people who are living in the days of the full and final fulfillment of what was prophesied in Joel 2:

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days

I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.  And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved;”  Joel 2:28-32 NIV

This is what the apostle Peter quoted on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was initially poured out on the Church.  (See Acts 2)  If we look at the prophecy closely, however, we see that the ultimate fulfillment will take place “…before the great and dreadful day of the LORD.”, i.e, at the very end of the age.  Pentecost was an initial fulfillment, but the full and final outpouring of the Spirit is still yet to come.  I believe we are living in the very days leading up to this great, last work of God that will serve to perfect the Bride and bring in the final harvest of souls for the Kingdom of God before the end comes.

As with all great moves of God, including the initial outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, there is always a birthing process that culminates in travailing, prevailing prayer. (For the ten days between the Ascension and Pentecost, it says of the approximately 120 believers in the Upper Room: They all joined together constantly in prayer…” Acts 1:14)

If we go back to the original prophecy in Joel, we see that there is a prerequisite to the promise, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…

That prerequisite is found in Joel 2:12-17:

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”  Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.  Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.
 
Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly.  Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast.  Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.  Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the portico and the altar.  Let them say, “Spare your people, LORD.  Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations.  Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ”

This spirit of heart-rending repentance and importunate intercession is the travail that births the merciful, bountiful, restorative work of the Spirit that follows by the grace of God. (See Joel 2:18-32) 

It is this level of travailing, prevailing prayer that is needed in this hour not only because of what is happening geo-politically, economically, and concerning the Covid-19 pandemic, but also in regards to the Lord’s desire to culminate the age in one last global outpouring of His Spirit to purify His Bride and bring in the final harvest.

~ ~ ~

It’s important as we consider this matter of travailing, prevailing prayer, that even this is a work of the grace of God by His Spirit.  Charles Spurgeon said, “Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray.”  One of my teachers in Bible School further said, “Travail doesn’t bring on the baby; the baby brings on travail.”  And so, when God seeks to birth a new work in the earth, He begins the process with conception within His people, leading to the inward formation of what becomes an increasing burden to bear, eventuating in the birthing process of increased spiritual birth pains, travailing intercession, and intensified labor unto childbirth.  Paul spoke of this as even an ongoing process when he said to the churches of Galatia, “My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you–” (Galatians 4:19 ASV) 

Our part, then, is to give ourselves to the Lord, seeking intimacy with Him that He may conceive within us the seeds of His new work, nurture what is conceived through continued prayer until it is fully formed within, and then cooperate with the Lord in the laborious birthing process of travailing intercession and prevailing prayer.  This is the way that God has worked to bring forth every great move of His Spirit throughout Church history, beginning at Pentecost.

It should also be noted that the reason God employs this process is that He wants His Bride fully engaged and fully participating with Him in the work that He desires to birth in the earth.  In His sovereignty, He has chosen to work in co-operation with His people in relation to the earth over which He has given them dominion.  He has chosen prayer as a primary means of engaging our participation as His royal priesthood and reigning Bride.

He also has chosen this arduous and prolonged process of “childbirth” because it is only by this depth and duration of prayer that our hearts are possibly prepared to become the “new wineskins” that will be able to contain the “new wine” of the outpouring of His Spirit when it comes.  Frank Bartleman, one of the main intercessors and instruments used to birth the Azusa Street revival, said,

“There is always much need of heart preparation, in humility and separation, before God can consistently come. ” (Another Wave of Revival, pg. 10) 

If God were to pour out the new wine of His Spirit without this deep heart preparation, the old wineskins of our inflexible hearts would not be able to contain it, possibly be damaged by it, and the wine would pour out and be wasted.  God knows the deep preparation that is needed within His people before He can do such a new work of His Spirit.

~ ~ ~

On a personal note, I can say that I’ve been feeling the “seed” of God’s “new thing” growing inside of me now for months and it is developing now to the stage of increasing birth pains.  I don’t believe I am alone in this for it seems there is this same process going on in many in the area where I live, across this nation, and around the world. 

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”  Isaiah 43:19 NIV

~ ~ ~

As a final piece to this post, I want to share a few links for you to consider that will help to confirm and further express the things that I’ve shared thus far.  We need to learn from our forefathers and allow the echoes of their lives to reverberate down through the ages into our hearts today.  They have much to teach us of the ways and works of God.  I commend the following pieces to you, the Bride of Christ, in whom and through whom God seeks to birth His new great work!

E. M. Bounds, the great man of prayer, was a Civil War chaplain and in his biography it shares that there were two books he always had with him, his Bible and the diary of David Brainerd.  The following is his brief recounting of the life and ministry of David Brainerd.

The following video also touches on the prayer ministry of David Brainerd as well as other leaders of the First Great Awakening.

May these videos further inspire you in this last days calling to concerted prayer and intercession for the nations!

All blessings,
David


Related: 
The Final Call to Repentance and The Return
The Return Is Over…but is it?
The Essentials of Prayer – by E. M. Bounds (free audiobook)
The Ministry of Intercession – by Andrew Murray (free audiobook)

 

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The Return Is Over…but is it?

The Return was truly a powerful and, I believe, history-shaping event.  I was deeply moved by it and believe it deeply moved the heart of God!  For those who partook of and engaged in it, I’m sure you would concur!  It had all the marks of Divine providence upon it and the anointing of the Holy Spirit throughout was abundantly manifest!  All glory to God for His mercy and grace!

As well as there being a great blessing that comes with initiatives and events such as this, however, there is also a great danger that can accompany them.  After they have passed, we can easily hail them as “powerful” “history-shaping”, “deeply moving”, and the like, and then put ribbons on them, set them up on the trophy shelf, and move on with life pretty much the same as before.  Such an attitude can not only undo much of the good that was done in people’s hearts, but also has the ability to provoke the Lord to remove His hand of mercy and grace that would have otherwise been extended as a result of the event.

God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel about such an attitude in the hearts of the people of Israel whom he was warning of impending judgement if they did not turn from their sins. The Lord said,

“As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’  My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice.  Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.  Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.  When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” Ezekiel 30:30-33 NIV

Jonathan Cahn delivered an anointed “watchman’s” word to the nation of America on Saturday morning as the primary address of The Return event.  It was powerful and prophetic.  I want to encourage everyone to watch and listen to his word (again.)   Moreover, I want to encourage you to ponder it deeply in your heart, pray into it, and then put into practice whatever the Lord speaks to you concerning it.  (I extend this encouragement to those of you who do not live in the USA as well, for there are universal principles shared that likewise apply to your nation, and the future of America will also impact, for good or bad, the future of the entire world.  We are all in this together!)

There were many moments of deep and sincere prayers of repentance and intercession during this solemn assembly which I believe were deeply effectual both in the heavens and in the earth.  In fact, it surpassed my expectations, which I admit were hopeful and yet slightly reserved.  (I’ve been involved with a handful of other similar national gatherings and I’ve been disappointed that many seemed more about the speakers and singers than about actual, deep, collective repentance and extended periods of effectual fervent prayer from God’s people in the assembly.)

The fact of the matter, however, is that no individual heart, and certainly no nation, is ever turned around and brought back to an ongoing dedication to God through any single event, no matter how deep and moving it may be.  It is primarily what gets set in motion and then carried on through an ongoing and perpetual returning, repentance, life of prayer, and obedience that is the lasting value of such events.  In other words, it’s not about going to a concert of beautiful “loves songs”, its about actually becoming better “lovers!”

John the Baptist said to the Pharisees, Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…” Luke 3:8 NKJV  Or as the Complete Jewish Bible words it, “If you have really turned from your sins, produce fruit that will prove it!”  So, now is the time that we need to put into practice what was declared, prayed, repented unto, and committed to.  It is the fruits of repentance that God is now looking for, not a trophy event on the shelf!

Our nation, and the nations of the world are in a titanic spiritual and natural battle, and will be unto the end.  The forces of darkness know that their time is short and the Kingdom of God is advancing against them with spiritual “violence.” (Matthew 11:12)  We do not wage war with the weapons of this world, but with the weapons of prayer, fasting, intercession, humility, obedience, worship, the Word of God, and the word of our testimony.  What has begun with this solemn assembly, then, must now be pressed forward unrelentingly!  The RETURN isn’t over, it has only just begun!

* * *

Unto that end, then, below are links to the entire live-stream “replay” of The Return, to the main address by Jonathan Cahn, and to some additional 40-day fasts that are underway leading up to the most consequential election of our lifetime!  Please partake of these!

In addition, as long as I hear the reverberations of the “trumpet” in my spirit for this critical hour, I will also continue to put out some additional smaller posts with encouraging and edifying material for equipping the saints in this epic, end-times battle.  I pray that you will be blessed and strengthened by them!  The Lord of Hosts is with us!  The trumpet is still sounding!!


The Return – Replay  Three live-stream videos encompassing the entire two-day event.


Jonathan Cahn’s prophetic word to America:


40-Day Prayer Fasts to be joined:

“Pray in Unity” – with Dr. Cindy Jacobs and others

and,

Yours in the battle…and in the victory of Christ,
David


Related:
The Final Call to Repentance and The Return
1857 Prayer Revival – Can it Happen Again?
Call to a (Virtual) Solemn Assembly – [UPDATED with follow-up report]
The Ministry of Intercession – by Andrew Murray (free audiobook)

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The Return – Live Stream (and more)

UPDATE: (9/27/2020) The Return was a very powerful event that I believe will prove to be historic in our nation’s unfolding destiny.  I have updated the link below to the live-stream replay of the gatherings Friday night and all day Saturday.  It is essential that the solemn call to national and global repentance and prayer continue in our lives, our nation, and our world.  The turning of our hearts and of a nation is never a “one and done” affair.  Never!  I pray this live-stream replay continues to inspire, challenge, convict, and radically change our hearts towards God in the days, weeks and months ahead!
-David

The Return 2020 begins its live-stream today, Friday, September 25, from 6pm -9pm EDT.  The main event streams from 9am – 9pm on Saturday, September 26.

The link for the live-stream is here:

THE RETURN live-stream REPLAY

I also wanted to pass on two calls to 40-days of fasting and prayer for our nation that began today, September 25th, forty days out from the election.  The links to those are here:

“Pray in Unity” – with Dr. Cindy Jacobs and others

and,

Very clearly the trumpet is sounding!

-David


Related:
The Final Call to Repentance and The Return
1857 Prayer Revival – Can it Happen Again?
The Ministry of Intercession – by Andrew Murray (free audiobook)

“The Sacrifices of God” – by David Bolton (original song)

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