I confess before you today that I have purposely avoided watching and reading about the news and current local, national, and global events. I avoided it because it is disturbing to see all of the negative things that are happening, to have to sift between “fake news” and “shocking click-bait” to get to the truth. Another reason that I have been avoiding it, is as an intercessor, I am pretty sensitive to the suffering of others and it is very disturbing to learn of what people are going through. I am realizing that while I do not prefer to always “be in the know” about certain news and current events, it is pertinent as an intercessor to stay engaged enough to pray effectively and be able to encourage and express empathy appropriately. I have to admit, ignorance can be bliss, however, choosing ignorance is a set up for a rude awakening when reality sets in.
If you are like me, you may be tempted to retreat into the “secret place” and insulate yourself from the outside world. Myself, being on furlough right now, I am surprised at how easy it is to stay completely unaware of what is going on in the world. Unfortunately, this truth has caused me to reevaluate my prayer strategy and what I feel is important to pray about on a daily basis. Now, for many people, taking a “news” or “social media” break is a necessary and healthy thing to do from time to time. Especially when there is a lot going on in one’s personal life, pressures from career or school, or even just to have some quality “alone time” with God. So this healthy break from the news and current events is not what I am referring to. What I am talking about is becoming oblivious to anything happening of importance that as Christian intercessors we have the mandate to put before God and invite His will concerning the matter to be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Sometimes we need to check the news just for the confirmation that our prayers are having an effect in the world. Recently, something that I was praying fervently about I saw being addressed in various ways when I checked the news. Now I am not taking credit for these events that took place, however, I recognize that those prayers were in alignment with the will of God and that He saw fit to respond through those events that occurred. Sometimes confirmation will show specific answers to detailed requests in prayer, other times, like what I experienced, the confirmation will be the issue or problem that was prayed about being addressed openly gaining the attention of those in position to address and provide solutions for that issue. If I had not checked the news, I would not have known that God was responding to the cry of my, and many other intercessors’ hearts. This proves that even experienced intercessors can grow weary in well-doing and need confirmation to continue proceeding with prayer assignments in expectant faith.
A great example of this is Elijah praying for rain in 1 Kings 18:41-45. As Elijah prayed he checked the atmosphere, via his servant, for the status update – whether or not a rain cloud was forming. This method of prophetic intercession is a great pattern to follow when undertaking prayer assignments or developing faith and sensitivity to the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is important to note that it is implied that Elijah’s servant was beginning to become weary and frustrated by checking for signs of rain. So it is possible to become discouraged or disheartened when you are checking with expectant faith and do not see the answers that you are seeking from the Lord. This is why we need to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and fully trust and rely on the Lord for the outcomes (Proverbs 3:5-6) and response to our prayers.
Also in the example with Elijah praying for rain, he received a specific answer pretty soon after praying. It did take him to pray seven times, however, we do not know how long his prayers were or how much time lapsed in between each prayer, but from the text, it seems like the whole process of praying, checking the atmosphere, and receiving the answer all took place within one day. For those of us that have been praying about certain things for years, possibly decades, one day is a pretty quick turn around for interceding and getting the answer. I mention this because there is a temptation to quit praying on that topic or to assume that the lack of response is actually the response of “no” from God and therefore discontinue pursuing the prayer assignment. While it is possible that the prayer could be amiss if there is no answer after a long period of time, or as we learn from Daniel there are a number of things that could be occurring delaying or obstructing your prayer from being answered. Daniel realized that the time had passed by which it had been prophesied that Israel would be delivered out of captivity. Instead of disbelieving the prophecy, he prayed and interceded for the nation over the course of twenty-one days. On the twenty-first day, an angel came to him and explained that God heard his prayers from the first day, but he (the angel) was obstructed and delayed in answering because of the demonic prince of Persia that fought against him. This text demonstrates that God hears our prayers immediately and that sometimes there is demonic resistance, spiritual warfare, that is delaying the answer from manifesting quickly. Another thing that the text reveals to us is that God is faithful to answer and respond to our prayers, especially righteous prayers that benefit His people and Kingdom advancement. God is so faithful, He could have just answered Daniel’s prayer, and Daniel probably would have been more than satisfied with that, but He personally sent an angel to explain what the delay was because He honored the dedication to a righteous prayer assignment.
Hindrances to Prayer/Intercession:
- Personal or corporate sin
- Error or praying outside the will of God and/or covetousness (James 4:1-3)
- Resistance from members of the occult (witches, warlocks, wizards, secret societies, etc.)
- Resistance from authority figures or people in high positions
- Generational curses
- Lack of wisdom, knowledge, or understanding of the topic that is being prayed about
- Timing of God – regardless of the urgency in our spirit, God operates on His time table
- Priority of importance
- Not spending time with God (in bible study, praise, worship, etc.)
I am sure that there are other hindrances to prayer that were not mentioned, some specific to the intercessor(s) praying. These hindrances are listed to grant insight and offer a place of reflection and repentance if you are experiencing delays in prayers and intercession.
When to quit? So it is true that regardless of how much we pray about certain things God is going to respond in His way and in His time. Also, some issues may need to be “shelved” or “put to rest altogether” if there has been no significant response. The gauge that I follow on when to “quit” or better yet, “turn over” to God and leave it with Him is peace. If continuing a prayer assignment is going to rob me of peace, frustrate me in a defeating way, or just realizing that the situation is outside my scope of influence – only for God to address, I will “make peace” and turn it over to God and agree to not to pray about it unless prompted by the Holy Spirit. Is it wrong to persistently pray about something for a long period of time? Does repeated prayer on the same topic reveal a lack of faith? My opinion for both questions is no. In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells a parable about a persistent widow approaching a wicked judge for justice over her adversaries. It is detailed in the scripture that the woman approached this judge so many times that he eventually caved in and responded to her requests, not for righteousness’ sake, but because he was exasperated by her continual requests. We do not know how many times this widow woman approached this judge, but from the scripture, we know that it was many times over an extended period of time. This is from a parable that Jesus told with the main point being in verses 7-8 (AMP):
“And will not [our just] God defend and avenge His elect [His chosen ones] who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay [in providing justice] on their behalf? 8 I tell you that He will defend and avenge them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [this kind of persistent] faith on the earth?”
Jesus is still asking us this same question today.
Importance of Repentance
12 And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice.
13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
16 For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
-2 Chronicles 7:12-16 (KJV)
If you are an intercessor, then you probably already know that repentance, fasting, and prayer along with expectant faith are foundational building blocks for a lifestyle of intercession and consecration. While most Christians repent at the time of first accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, or at times of great sin or iniquity, most are not taught to repent often as part of maintaining their personal relationship with God. The hyper-focus on grace by the church at large in recent years is partly the cause of this, although there is also error about confusing conviction of sin with condemnation that could also deter people from repenting often. Repentance involves not only “confession of sins” but complete discontinuation of doing or participating in that sin by action, thought, or inner attitude (spiritually & emotionally). The mark of true repentance is not only sincerity but renunciation and disassociation. To onlookers, repenting can seem like an extreme change, or if it is an inner attitude, they may not notice at all. Often retaliation and scrutiny from demonic sources will try to introduce doubt of true repentance through condemnation, accusation, and portrayal as a hypocrite or having hidden agendas for the change of heart. Stand firm in your repentance, knowing that God sees, hears, and understands everything concerning your turning away and trust Him to have the final say over scorners and mockers sent by the enemy. Know that testing of your repentance may also arise through opportunities to sin and encouragement to go back to your old ways by people that you are close with, do not fall for this! In fact, pray in advance concerning this, as the temptation may come at a weak moment to compromise your testimony – trust me I have failed this test before and pray that you will not do the same. It is very difficult to recover your faith, and sometimes even your walk with God if you, unfortunately, are ensnared by temptation during a weak and fragile time. This is why we need to edify ourselves with personal Bible study, praise, worship, and confronting items on the above list because the enemy could attack from any angle, especially if you are ignorant, or weak in that area(1 Peter 5:8). Not saying this to scare you, but to express the importance of repentance becoming complete, for it is not true repentance if a person is continually going back to a sin then saying to God that they have repented. Repentance, in many cases it is very difficult depending on the level of participation, and generational involvement, to sincerely repent from sin and not turn back. It takes empowerment from the Holy Spirit to resist the draw to that sin and His cleansing power to know that the residue from unholiness is purged from you and everything in your life. It also takes intentionality, you have to consciously decide to turn away from sin. Yes, there are people who are instantly delivered from certain sins when they receive Christ, however for repentance to occur they still must decide not to go back to it. *Side note: Repentance often goes hand in hand with deliverance as well as intercession.
Humility is also required for true repentance. Sometimes the realization that participation in sin is a shock, unnerving, or seems unfair to be judged for involvement, particularly if done innocently out of ignorance or being led by someone you trust. There is a temptation to justify, uphold, or even continue in sin if that person can not humble themselves before God to admit that what they have done is wrong. Please know this: God is just, and God is loving, and more importantly, He is holy. This holiness abhors what is evil, sinful, and unjust. While God is loving, gracious, and merciful, His holiness will not permit Him to ignore any sin in our lives. Because He is just, He will judge the redeemed along with the wicked for unrepentant sin. For believers, this means that we have access to grace, forgiveness, and cleansing of sin when we repent and apply the finished work of the Cross to our lives. Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but that does not mean that we are permitted to continue in sin, for that would diminish His sacrifice and ultimately “crucify” Him again every time we sin (Hebrews 6:6). Of course, this does not mean to seek perfection in an unhealthy way, this means that if/when we sin (unfortunately it still may happen), to confess and repent quickly and remove all strongholds so that you do not return to it. Humility is required for this because a false sense of holiness or self-righteousness can be a blind spot for sin hiding out in your life. If we are praying and not seeing results, a good practice is to pray a “search me” (Psalm 139:23-24) prayer from time to time to seek the Lord to reveal anything that needs to be addressed before continuing in prayer.
The reward of repentance is audience with God. Verse 14 from 2 Chronicles 7 states:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Receiving an answer from God, especially if we have been praying fervently over a long period of time is rewarding enough, but the fact that just repenting will open access to the hearing and response of God is something that is often overlooked, especially in a culture where repentance is not highly valued. But this is what intercessors thrive on, access to the Throne room, to the courts of Heaven, and intimate times of refreshing in the Garden of God. This access is the undergirding to know that our prayer assignments are important to the Lord. This does not make us better or more special than anyone else, although sometimes it feels that way, however, what this access offers is: purpose, confidence, increased faith, clear communication with/from God, and assurance that God hears and will respond to our requests. A direct enemy to this access are feelings of insignificance, laziness in prayer, apathy, weariness, and unbelief. Once again, this is why personal time with God, or even disengaging from various distractions is necessary to stay edified in our prayer assignments.
Fasting is such a huge topic to discuss in regards to intercession, however here are a few points to consider:
- Biblically, the main use of fasting is to receive clear communication from God regarding a problem or concern, be it personal (King David) or corporate (Daniel, Esther).
- While we are free to choose to fast, it is possible for the Holy Spirit to lead a person or group of people to fast (Matthew 4:1-11)
- Fasting is for personal or corporate cleansing, strengthening, and consecration. This means that the answer to a prayer may or may not be given by the end of a fast, however the person(s) who fast should be cleansed, edified, and in better communication with God by the end of the fast
- Fasting could become a ritual if done for the wrong motives or if insincere (going through the motions) – Isaiah 58
- Fasting is not exclusive to Christianity, so when seeking methods and options for fasting, make sure that what you implement adheres to and agrees with biblical examples.
- Every prayer assignment may not require fasting, however it is our responsibility to seek God concerning the specifics of the assignment and to be led, obeying accordingly.
- Every fast is not the same, there are multiple ways to fast. Traditionally, fasting involves abstaining from eating (either all food or specific foods) for a period of time, while praying, and intentionally worshipping God on a regular basis. Other ways to fast can involve not watching TV/videos/media/etc., not participating in certain activities that consume a lot of time and attention (video games/ hobbies/etc.), and other instructions that the Lord may lead to do or not do
All of this is to say that fasting is not a “formula for prayer success,” or a “cure-all,” for unanswered prayer. Fasting does not move God to do what we want Him to do, He is still God and will honor our fasts according to His will and the motives of our hearts. But when we are obedient to fast, even if our situation does not change, we will be changed for the better. Some resistance to fasting to watch out for are: excessive appetite, procrastination, doubt that fasting will make a difference, routine/schedule, and rebellion – when you just do not want to do it. So pray about these and any other resistance to fasting as soon as you perceive that God is leading you to fast.
If you have read to this point, all of this information may be a bit overwhelming, however, the question remains: Who will cry out? Who is going to place the concerns and issues of this and future generations before the Lord? Who is going to invite the Lord of Lords King Jesus to reign and rule over matters in our lives, corporately and globally? Who is going to persist like the widow woman for justice that the wicked refuse to grant? Who is willing to be different or even suffer criticism and misunderstanding to be uniquely positioned to communicate with God in this season? Who is going to remind God of the prophecies that were given by spoken word and in print? Who is going to be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves? Yes, crying out is going to take time, effort, personal reflection, and consecration. It’s going to be uncomfortable, unsettling, and even downright painful at times, but isn’t what we are seeking the Lord for worth every moment of this temporary distress? Could it be that the transformation that we are longing for has to start with us? So who will answer the call to pray and intercede? Who will lift up the issues of our world to the Throne room of God and Courts of Heaven? Who is seeking the counsel of the Lord for strategies and solutions instead of complaining and whining about the problems that we face? Who is committed to the advancement of Kingdom initiatives by bringing what is already done in Heaven into the earth realm? Once again: Who will cry out???? Are you the one chosen to cry out?
Thank you for reading, this was a lot of information so if you made it to this point thank you very much for reading! My prayer is that you pray about this information during your personal devotion and refer back to it the links that I have provided for further study, edification, and prayer points. As always, please share with other intercessors or those that would be encouraged by this message.
More on “crying out” or “travailing” in regards to intercessory prayer
Other Helpful Links: