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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Charisma House; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
Cindy Trimm is a motivational speaker and preacher and a multifaceted executive, life coach, and success mentor who travels up to forty-eight weeks a year, speaking and empowering people from all walks of life. She has published several best-selling books, including Commanding Your Morning, and is known as a popular, charismatic communicator.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $15.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Charisma House; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
PREPARATIONS and FOUNDATIONS
The art of spiritual war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions of taking the field and winning the battle.
These are: (1) The way; (2) heaven; (3) earth; (4) the general; (5) method and discipline.
—The Art of War, 1:3–4, paraphrased
Therefore, in your deliberations and preparations for war, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:
(1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with right on his side?
(2) Which of the two generals has the most ability?
(3) With whom lie the advantages derived from heaven and earth?
(4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?
(5) Which army is stronger?
(6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained?
(7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?
By means of these seven considerations I can
forecast victory or defeat.
—The Art of War, 1:12–14, paraphrased
In the Book of Acts, Jesus’s last words before He ascended to heaven gave the church a direct order, which was to be carried out before His return:
[Do not] depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father. . . . “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
—Acts 1:4, 8
It was a military-like command to go out and take territory for God and expand His kingdom around the earth—but only after having first received the power and strategies from heaven’s war room. God was ready to unleash His kingdom and His divine power upon the earth. As we stand here more than two thousand years later, this commandment has still not been completely carried out.
You may ask, “What exactly is God’s kingdom?” God’s kingdom is simply any place God’s will is performed on the earth as it is through the administrations of the government of heaven. When one attempts to understand the kingdom of God, the seeker must first learn what is meant by the actual concept itself. It has become almost a catchphrase in the body of Christ, without many people truly understanding the concept thereby or living out their proper authority.
Over time, the true meaning of the kingdom of God has been overshadowed by the religious conventions of Christianity, church denominations, and the traditions of man, thereby hindering believers from true freedom. Let us take some time to truly understand what God really intended by this phenomenon called the kingdom.
The kingdom of God is a literal, spiritual realm accessible only to born-again believers. This realm encompasses the power and resources essential to the believer if he or she desires to achieve the manifestation of heaven on earth. (See Genesis 2:4–5.) It can be best understood from an analogous perspective of the natural cosmological systems of the universe.
In the kingdom of heaven, the believer’s earthly experience is filled with the essence of the righteousness that is God. It is a spiritual realm in which believers are privileged
to exist and function at prosperous levels while physically living in the earth. This life is lived with the perspective originally intended by God at the forefront— that is, fulfilling God’s original mandate to humanity as presented in Genesis 1:28—that we are to have dominion on the earth.
The kingdom of God has its own unique characteristics, consisting of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. It encompasses countless other principles;
however, these three concepts are, at best, a summation of what the omniscient God purposed for His earthly kings to whom He gave complete dominion over all that exists in the earth.
As previously stated, this lifestyle can only be accessed and experienced by those who have faith in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. According to Luke 17:20, this kingdom cannot be perceived by the natural eye, because it is the sovereign rule of our unseen God through His citizens in the earth realm.
To achieve the maximum benefits God intended, we must move from merely surviving and settling for mediocre lifestyles to living—abundantly. God did not intend for His people to live beneath their potential. We find evidence of this in the Old Testament, and it was later manifested and maximized in the perfect example of Jesus Christ while He lived on the earth.
Jesus Christ emphatically proclaimed the kingdom of God. Since He so passionately promoted kingdom living, it is wise, at the least, to seek and obtain all that He purposed and planned for your life from the beginning of time.
Christ has instructed us as believers, above all other pursuits, to seek the kingdom. It should be the epitome of our priorities. In this realm we demonstrate our royalty and manifest our authority.
Open the spirit of your mind and allow these laws of the kingdom—which are based on principles found in the Word of God—to be firmly planted in the fertile soil of your heart. Then, and only then, can the kingdom be internally understood and subsequently realized through your existence as a kingdom ambassador in the earth.
IGNORANCE IS THE ENEMY
The greatest enemy of the church is not sin but ignorance. Satan’s number-one goal is to keep you ignorant concerning the kingdom, as was described in Hosea 4:6:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being priest for Me;
Because you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.
Even as Satan challenged Jesus in Matthew 4, so it is today with the church. The key confrontational issue has to do with the kingdom, because it is literally God’s rule on the earth through man—His earthly representatives.
Think about that for a moment.
What rules heaven? God’s will as expressed in His laws and principles. Is there sickness in heaven? No. Is there poverty in heaven? No. Is there slavery, sex trafficking, drug and alcohol abuse, oppression, famine, war, child soldiers, persecution, terrorism, malnutrition, bankruptcy, or water that isn’t safe to drink in heaven? No.
I’ll tell you another thing; heaven doesn’t need orphanages or divorce courts either, because those aren’t issues there. The things that are tearing our world apart don’t exist in heaven, because God’s will is as accessible there as breathing the air is to us.
The next question is, what rules the earth? As long as man does not take his rightful stance, posture, and place in God through prayer, evil and evil human beings will rule. Herein lies the challenge. You must arise and take your place so that through you God can restore order, peace, righteousness, morality, ethics, just governance, health, and healing.
Though we all have different racial and ethnic backgrounds and are from all types of families, our emotions and passions have commonality; they respond to the human condition and life challenges, hardships, and disappointments in very similar ways. God planted it within each of us to want to make a difference in our world—a difference that will bring good and not harm, peace and not strife, prosperity and not poverty. But too few realize that the groundwork for this overcoming lifestyle begins in our prayer closets. It is the place of training and preparation. It is the boot camp to overcoming.
Just as one who is not practiced in the art of sword craft cannot artfully wield a sword, no person on this earth can correctly use God’s Word who has not been trained in it by the Master Himself. Prayer is that place of training, and also the place of overcoming.
There are battles still raging for the peoples of the earth, and those battles are fought in the spiritual realm before they manifest in the natural. I remind you that the Spirit realm is the causal realm. If you prevail in the Spirit, you will win in the natural. If you can learn the art of victory through intercession, then such struggles that steal the souls of humanity need not ever manifest at all.
Thus, as you look at joining the forces of God’s army to establish His kingdom upon the earth, you need to count the cost. You need to look at some initial considerations and the lay of the two sides and see what it is that you need to do to gain the victory. For Sun Tzu, this boiled down to the answers to seven questions:
1. Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with right on his side?
2. Which of the two generals has the most ability?
3. With whom lie the advantages derived from heaven and earth?
4. On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?
5. Which army is stronger?
6. On which side are officers and men more highly trained?
7. In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?
Some of these answers are easy. (1) God has right on His side over our adversary, (5) God’s army is stronger, and (7) God “is a rewarder of those who diligently seek
Him” (Heb. 11:6). But what of the others? Do our prayer generals have more ability in warring for right than those who are seduced by Satan to establish his kingdoms of evil? Which side is better at using its authority under heaven and upon the earth? Which side is more disciplined in what it is doing? On which side are the officers and soldiers better trained and practiced in establishing the will of their master upon the earth? While we as
Christians have all the power behind us, how well are we acting in that authority? The determination in whether we will be victorious or defeated hangs upon the honest answers to these questions. We are overcomers, but are we overcoming? Thus the issue is not the power of our God, but how disciplined and prepared we are to win the battles of our spiritual war in prayer.
Thinking of these questions reminds me of what happened with U.S. General George Patton during World War II. Patton demonstrated the need for both physical and spiritual preparations to win the battles we face, and in his case these were literal battles against evil. In early December 1944, the German Sixth Panzer Army was making a desperate attempt to regain lost territory in France through surprise attacks on the eighty-eight-mile front that was tenuously held by the Allied Forces. They were making great headway in the midst of heavy rains, thick fogs, and swirling ground mists that muffled the sound of their engines, blotted out the sun, and reduced visibility to only a few yards, keeping Allied planes grounded and forces on the ground isolated. Under this cover, the Nazi tanks easily cut through the few divisions holding the front in Luxembourg as they pushed south. The foul weather was an incredible aid to the Axis leaders, and Patton knew that if these troops were going to be turned back, the skies would have to clear or they would have little chance to determine where the Panzers would strike next. These rains had been plaguing the lines between France and Germany since September.
So, on the morning of December 8, General Patton, who was an Episcopalian and used to written prayers, called the Third Army chaplain, saying, “This is General
Patton. Do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war.”
The chaplain who took the call did not find a specific prayer on weather in the prayer books he had access to, so he composed the following:
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.
Because of the season, the chaplain also added a Christmas greeting. When the general approved it, he instructed, “Have two hundred fifty thousand copies printed, and see to it that every man in the Third Army gets one.” The chaplain then directed the general’s attention to the greeting on the other side of the card and said, “If the general would sign the card, it would add a personal touch that I am sure the men would like.”
Smiling at the gesture, the general crossed to his desk, took a pen, and signed the Christmas message. When he handed the card back, he said, “Chaplain, sit down for a moment. I want to talk to you about this business of prayer.” He crossed to the window and looked out at the steady rain. He was a striking figure at six feet two with broad muscular shoulders and dressed in his uniform, which showed the discipline and polish of a dedicated soldier.
“Chaplain, how much praying is being done in the Third Army?”
“Does the general mean by chaplains or by the men?”
“By everybody,” he replied.
Thinking a moment, the chaplain responded, “I am afraid to admit it, but I do not believe that much praying is going on. When there is fighting, everyone prays, but now with this constant rain—when things are quiet, dangerously quiet, men just sit and wait for things to happen. Prayer out here is difficult. Both chaplains and men are removed from a special building with a steeple. Prayer to most of them is a formal, ritualized affair, involving special posture and a liturgical setting. I do not believe that much praying is being done.”
The general crossed to his desk, sat down, leaned back in his chair, and began toying with a pencil he had found laying there.
“Chaplain, I am a strong believer in prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want: by planning, by working, and by praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that’s working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks. I call it God! God has His part, or margin in everything, that’s where prayer comes in. Up to now, in
the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home
are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy simply because people prayed. But we have to pray for ourselves too. A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working—it’s his guts. It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don’t know what you it, but I call it religion, prayer, or God.”
He talked briefly about Gideon and men he had known who felt they must always be in prayer or else they would crack up, then eventually, he went on: “I wish you would put out a training letter on this subject of prayer to all the chaplains. Write about nothing else, just the importance of prayer. Let me see it before you send it. We’ve got to get not only the chaplains but also every man in the Third Army to pray. We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that holds defeat or victory. If we all pray, it will be like what Dr. Carrel said [Dr. Alexis Carrel had been quoted some days earlier in the press describing prayer “as one of the most powerful forms of energy man can generate”], it will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power.”
In the days that followed, a quarter of a million prayer cards and 486 training letters on prayer were distributed to the soldiers and chaplains of the Third Army, sometime
between December 11 and 14. From December 16 to 19, the men fought bravely against an enemy almost invisible in the rains, and on the nineteenth, the Third Army turned north to meet the attack of the Panzer divisions. Even though continued rains and bad weather was forecast, the skies cleared on the twentieth, and the fog dispersed. For a better part of a week the skies remained bright and clear, creating perfect flying weather for planes by the thousands to pound the Germans to defeat as well as cut off the chances of the arrival of any reinforcements.
When the general saw the chaplain again in January of 1945, he said simply, “Well, Padre, our prayers worked. I knew they would.” Then he cracked him on the side of
his helmet with his riding crop to punctuate his gratitude for the chaplain’s help.
As believers, are we yet ready to stand as prayer generals with this same faith, planning, and work at the head of God’s army to marshal His troops to pray down His will for our world with just this same enthusiasm?
Are we as prepared and disciplined, but still relying on God to make the difference? Before we can hope to attain to such successes, we must first develop overcoming prayer lives of our own.
In order to have an overcoming prayer life, knowing that these conflicts and wars are waged against all humankind, not just us, helps give perspective. We face no challenge, “except such as is common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13). If we understand this, then we are better able to persevere in prayer, knowing that the turmoil we see is business as usual for Satan, and God has beaten him at it millions of times before. This knowledge helps us to contend with difficulties and gives us the faith we need to overcome them.
But while the victory is ever the Lord’s, it will not manifest on the earth if you as a believer do not fight for it. This is your time on the earth to see that God’s will is done during your watch. You, who have jurisdiction on the earth while you are here, must stand in the gap and tell Satan, “No, I will have none of your monkey business here.” Praying earnestly—and ultimately victoriously—in such matters is to strive in the spirit through mastery of the techniques and disciplines of prayer. In praying earnestly, there is a heavy exertion of energy consistently propelling you forward to obtain the object of your faith. The greater work Jesus said you would do will not first be done with hands reached out to others, but will first be done by hands folded in prayer and hands reached out to God.
You make a mistake if you underestimate the tenacity needed to win such battles. The fights are oft en so prolonged that you will be tempted to—and will—try anything else rather than persevere in prayer all the way to victory. The answer to the pain of drug addiction, marital infidelity, unemployment, homelessness, prostitution, or any of the number of other evils that need to be overcome in our world require dismantling of the old and establishing of the new. At the moment a prayer is uttered, angelic hosts move throughout the atmospheres on behalf of the prayer(s), rooting up and tearing down entrenched strongholds that have wreaked havoc on lives. Then God meticulously plants and nurtures, one by one, the answers to counteract those evils, until all is in alignment with His will. Just as it took a long time for the enemy to spawn his diabolical webs and trap people in them, it will take time as well to unravel and reposition people to receive the blessings of the Lord. Therefore, we must pray patiently, persistently, and passionately.
Staying steadfast in prayer over such matters until the answer arrives not only is the key to victory, but it also matures our faith in ways that no other practice can.
In order to take the fields of battle God has assigned us, we need steadily and patiently to be plugged into His command center in just this way. We need to be constantly tapped into the big conversation that is going on in the heavenlies, tuning into heaven’s frequency and listening in to what God is broadcasting concerning His will and His ways of bringing His goodness into manifestation on the earth.
I’m not just talking about miracles, either. Miracles are wonderful things, but you know what? Heaven doesn’t need miracles to make things right. The systems of heaven simply work the way they are supposed to.
God’s will on the earth could look as much like a school or a hospital as it could a healing revival. It could look like a church that doubles as a community center to help people find work when they need it or teach English to immigrants as easily as it could miraculously open prison doors in the middle of the night as it happened in
Bible days. Believe it or not, most of the social services offered by governments today—unemployment offices, health clinics, job training centers, schools, advocacy groups for safe working conditions and abolishing child labor, and so forth—started as outreaches of Christian ministries. Such ministries, holistic in essence, sought to reach out to help people spirit, soul, and body. We need a similar approach today. Our churches need to again be the powerhouses that connect and improve communities, not just somewhere to sing, clap your hands, and hear a “good word” or a Sunday morning book report.
But how are we going to return churches to that kind of relevance? Once again, we need to become masters of winning battles in the spiritual realm, so that God’s will is done in the natural realm around us as easily as it is done in heaven.
Prayer cannot be a passing fancy or fad. Power comes through constant prayer. When a group of American ministers visited Pastor Charles Spurgeon in the late
1800s, he offered them a tour of his church’s facilities. He took them through the massive sanctuary and around the various buildings of the compound and then asked if they would like to see the power source, the boiler room of the ministry. Thinking it dramatically unremarkable, the visitors tried to politely decline, but Spurgeon insisted. So he led them down a rather ordinary stairway down to the church’s basement, then down a hallway to a room with a closed door. When he opened it, instead of finding the plumbing and furnace they expected, they found a hundred or so people on their faces in prayer. “This,”
Spurgeon said with a smile, “is my boiler room.”
When Spurgeon was asked the secret to his success, he credited his success to his praying church members. What is the power center of our churches today? Those inexperienced or new to life in Christ oft en think that winning spiritual battles is as easy as asking. Thank God that in many instances this is true. We ask for things in prayer, and sometimes the answer comes immediately. But don’t let such easy successes fool you. Satan is not ignorant of God’s methods and the power of prayer! The last thing he wants is believers practiced in the long-term campaigns of prayer required to dismantle his empires of greed, hatred, pain, suffering, and deception. Because of this, he has no problem letting some little answers through every now and again. So, you come to Christ, you pray for your rent money in a service, and someone hands you a check before you leave. Praise God. Or you face an exam and need God’s wisdom to help you pass it. You are blessed and you get an A. Or you are on a short-term mission trip and you pray for a child’s foot to be turned around the right way from being crippled, and before your eyes the child goes from walking with a crutch to running and leaping and dancing. Praise God!
But what I want you to see here is that it is not always in Satan’s interest to block such prayers from coming to pass. If the devil did, you might just pray all the more determined. So what he would rather do is let you convince yourself that prayer should always be this easy, then you will never learn to persevere in it. You will pray for something a few times, but when the answer doesn’t manifest as others have before, you will begin to question things. You will wonder if your faith is just not strong enough, or if you have interpreted the Scripture correctly—or you become convinced it is just not God’s will. So your determination wavers. You begin to hedge your bets by praying artificially spiritual things like, “Your will be done,” so that if your prayer doesn’t get answered, you can always blame it on God’s will rather than anything that was within your control.
Satan knows that if he can let you convince yourself that everything that comes from God is always spectacular and easy, then you will begin to overlook the supernatural for gimmicks and tricks. You will be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Eph. 4:14). You will remain children who think everything that is good in life comes on your birthday or Christmas, and you never learn to work for anything. Satan doesn’t really care if you become a Christian and get blessed every once in a while—as long as he can keep you from truly understanding how to exercise your authority in Christ. Because of this, he doesn’t mind letting a casual prayer though here and there, as long is it keeps you convinced that prayer is like a vending machine where you put in your faith, push a button, and immediately your answer pops out. In fact, it probably gives him a laugh, because as you jump up and down, he is already envisioning your doubts and discouragement when he later hinders something bigger you will pray for; he knows you will give up just short of seeing it manifested.
You see, what Satan really doesn’t want is a persistent, methodical, importunistic believer who lives by prayer. He doesn’t want someone who is so disciplined and tenacious in prayer that once that person begins to pray, Satan knows, no matter how long he fights to delay the answer, he has no hope of winning. If we had more Christians who prayed like that, then there would be an inevitable, unstoppable, step-by-step, day-by-day dismantling of the kingdom of darkness that he could never withstand. The end of his kingdom of bondage, disease, deformities, and emotional torment would be written on the wall. So he is quite content to keep us thinking that all the big things are really in God’s hands alone, so we never need to worry about much more than our own needs and those of our immediate family.
Do you find that hard to believe? Well, look then at the story of Daniel. Nowhere else in the Bible do we see so many plots against one person to do one thing—simply stop this man from praying three times a day. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace for what? Because they would only bow their knees to God—something they did regularly with Daniel. Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den . . . why? Because
he threw open his windows and prayed unabashedly. And yet, we don’t see Moses-like miracles being done by Daniel. There were no plagues of deliverance upon the Babylonians as there had been on the Egyptians. No, instead we see a simple prophet of God who prayed with a regimen nothing could deter him from, and it brought about the deliverance of Israel from Babylon.
Look at the story in Daniel 9. Daniel is reading in the Book of Jeremiah one day in one of his devotional times, and he makes a discovery. According to Jeremiah, God said that the exile of Israel would only last seventy years. Daniel is an old man at this point, so he starts to count his birthdays. “Let’s see, I was taken into exile when I was a child of so many years, and now I am so old—why, that is more than seventy years!” There it was, a promise in
Scripture, and it hadn’t come true! So what does Daniel do? He begins to seek God through prayer and fasting to find out what was going on. He began confessing his sins and the sins of Israel and presenting his petition to heaven, inquiring as to why this promise of God had not yet been fulfilled. He gets a vision from the Lord about the future, but it is not the answer he is after, so he stays in prayer. He received other visions—incredible, mind-boggling things, but again they weren’t the answer to his question, so he kept praying. Then finally after three weeks, an angel appeared to Daniel saying:
Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come. . . . Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia;
The Art of War for Spiritual Battle and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth.
—Daniel 10:12–14, 20–21
The very moment Daniel started praying, God sent this messenger, but he immediately ran into demonic interference, and it took twenty-one days to fight through with the answer. Satan let other insights come through, hoping that Daniel would be so fascinated by them he would forget what he was really praying about, but when Daniel persisted, Satan’s forces were eventually defeated. Daniel received his answer, and within that same year, according to some scholars’ chronologies, King Cyrus decreed that the temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt. (See Ezra 1:1–4.) It was the first step in Israel’s return to the Promised Land.
A similar thing happened with Rees Howells, an intercessor in Wales in the early twentieth century. He had spearheaded a very successful mission outreach to the local coal miners, of which he was one, but over several months his closest compatriot in the mission was considering leaving because he didn’t want to be second fiddle to
Rees. Rees took the matter to prayer, and God answered very matter-of-factly: Rees was to turn the leadership of the mission over to his friend, step down from the pulpit, and go behind the scenes to become an intercessor and pray that the mission would have greater success in the hands of his friend than it’d had in his own. Rees eventually reluctantly agreed, and the mission exploded in attendance in the coming months.
Following that, God gave Rees an even greater challenge that seemed even more obscure. He was to pray for the son of a benefactor who had gone off to war and fallen away from God. Rees agreed that he would pray that the young officer would not return to the front without returning to God. This would not be a prayer for a matter of hours, or even days, either. Rees’s shift in the coal mine was from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., six days a week. He would then come home, eat dinner, and go to his room and spend from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on his knees before God reading his Bible and praying for the young man. He did this for six months. In that time the man’s son was discharged from the army and moved to Canada, never returning to the front, but also not yet returning to God. Eventually Rees received the conviction in his heart that his intercession had been answered, and he left this vigil to pray for other things, telling his benefactor the work was done in the spirit. It would be another twelve years, though, before the man’s salvation manifested and he turned his life back over to God. It happened just weeks before his father passed away. In all that time Rees never budged from the conviction that the man’s salvation was already accomplished in heaven as God had promised him in prayer.
Another example would be a little noticed part of the Christmas story, from the day just after New Year’s when Jesus was presented at the temple to be consecrated to the God.
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was
just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. . . . Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. —Luke 2:25–26, 36–38
Both Simeon and Anna had been blessed by God to see Jesus before they died, but why? Why—and when, for that matter—would God tell them they would see the Messiah before they died? The only logical answer was that it was while they prayed, and, logically again, while they were praying for the Messiah to be born on the earth. How long had they been praying? According to this passage, Anna had been living in the temple praying day and night for eighty-four years. That doesn’t mean she never slept, but it does mean the primary occupation of her time was prayer. In writing this, Luke took the time to mention that her father’s name was Phanuel, a name remarkably like the Hebrew Penuel, the place where Jacob wrestled all night with God and received the name Israel, meaning “a prince of God” or “one who has authority with God.” (See Genesis 32:22–30.) It seems that God couldn’t even send His own Son to the earth without someone praying Him in.
I could tell other stories—and I will later on—but I hope this is enough so that you can see there is a way of prayer to accomplish things in the heavenlies that is beyond merely presenting our requests to God. It is a surer way, but it is also a more difficult way—certainly not for the faint of heart. However, the rewards are limitless. By spending consistent, purposeful, and fervent time in prayer, knowing God, discerning His voice, and walking in His ways become as intimate to us as knowing those who live with us in our own homes. It opens us to understanding the mysteries of God and allows God to reveal to us exact strategies for praying for specific people, growing our churches, changing our communities, and releasing God’s kingdom on the earth. It also lets God’s
wisdom rub off on us regarding how to conduct our businesses or work our jobs, how to invest and manage our money, and what we need to do to nurture our relationships and discipline ourselves to keep our bodies fit and strong.
Many people think that engaging in this level of spiritual warfare is something for only a select few, but there is no gift of prayer or office of intercessor mentioned in the Bible. What this means is that each of us has a part to play in manifesting God’s kingdom on the earth. Prayer is a call of duty, a practice and principle for every one belonging to Christ. After all, if He is our Lord, how can we honor His lordship if we don’t communicate with Him daily? Certainly we will each be led to pray in different ways and with different intensities, but prayer is as foundational a Christian discipline as reading the Scriptures or obeying the law of love. It is the place of apprenticeship for learning the voice of God and communicating with Him so that He can teach and empower us to live as His representatives on the earth. It is the key to our success and to winning battles in every arena of life. This is why we must become people who live in the way of prayer.
The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.