[b]Be Part of God's Emergency Prayer Network![/b]
By Wesley L. Duewel
God is constantly both receiving and issuing emergency calls. Some events, which you could not have foreseen, call for Gods immediate intervention. Other situations develop to a point of crisis. While God is never surprised, for He foresees all, you and I interpret these as emergency needs.
Christ is enthroned at Gods right hand today, ruling the world through His intercession and the intercession of His earthly prayer partners. When such needs arise, God at times chooses to prepare for them in advance by calling His children to pray. At other times He sends an emergency call at the exact hour of need.
This emergency prayer network is constantly available to you and me. It is also dependent upon you and me. Usually God alerts someone who already knows you to pray for you, thus strengthening that persons faith as well as your own.
Let me give you an example. During my college days I was counseling and praying with another student concerning an urgent situation known only to this student and me. An oppressive spiritual darkness weighed heavily upon my friend. For several days I spent every spare moment in prayer and counseling, but, for some reason, it was a real prayer battle for which there seemed to be no victory.
During that time I received a brief postcard from an evangelist who knew me well. He wrote: "Dear Brother Wesley, As I was praying for you I suddenly seemed to see you on your knees in prayer. I could see Jesus standing in front of you with His arms outstretched to you, but you did not seem to see Him. I thought to myself, how often is God so near to us, anxious to answer our prayer, and we dont realize it." God had alerted him to pray just when I needed it.
Sometimes we do not know why we are burdened, only that we have received a special prayer constraint from the Lord, a sense of call and responsibility to pray at a given time.
In August of 1962 I concluded ministry in Australia with four days of meetings in the Scarborough Baptist Church in Perth. God began to burden me to spend all day Saturday in prayer and fasting. Early Saturday morning I found a secluded spot on Scarborough Beach and began my time alone with God. As the day progressed I entered into a tremendous prayer battle with the powers of darkness. I knew not why, but the Holy Spirit led me into real militancy of prayer against Satan, and in the service that night I felt led to speak on "The Power of Satan and the Power of God."
En route to the service, my voice suddenly left me. I had prayed silently all day, so had not abused my voice, and I had no cold. When I rose to my feet to speak, I moved my lips but could not make a sound. The congregation gasped. Seizing both edges of the pulpit with my hands, I strained and strained. After a little while my voice began to return, but it seemed as if I were pushing every word over the pulpit where it fell to the floor. There was no liberty or blessing, and at the close of the service, the people silently left the church.
One woman, a stranger to me, stayed behind. She told me she knew she had been born again six months before. Having practiced black magic, however, she now felt the demons would not leave her alone. They visibly gathered around her bed each night and hooted at her. In righteous indignation I prayed with her and claimed victory. She was completely delivered from Satans oppression.
In the service the next morning, it seemed as if all heaven opened to us. The spiritual needs of many were met, and some were called to the mission field. At the close a demon-possessed man, trembling from head to foot, was delivered as the pastor, deacons, and I prayed. He was the husband of the woman set free the night before. Unknown to me, for the past six months, the deacons had had a covenant of prayer for that man. The Holy Spirit called a prayer alert at the crisis time. Satan tried to interfere, but Jesus won the victory. To Him be all the glory!
1. Be sure you are filled with the Spirit. This assurance is foundational to everything in the spiritual life. While any Christian can be led and used by the Holy Spirit, it is so much easier to hear His voice when He is in complete control of your life. Every born-again Christian is indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9), but not every Christian lives a Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled life.
You cannot live such a life until you enter into it. The believer must make a "total surrender" (the term Andrew Murray preferred) a total consecration of himself and his all to God (Rom. 12:1-2) and must ask for the Spirits fullness (Luke 11:13), trusting for His cleansing, empowering, and filling (Acts 15:8-9). Any Christian living today can be as Spirit-filled as the early apostles, if the same commitment is made (Acts 2:38-39). This is not a matter of special manifestations of the Spirit; it is a matter of surrendering your will.
Whenever you see a believer struggling with the will of God, defeated by carnal longings and ambitions, hampered by a stubborn self-will, and reacting carnally toward his family or others, you know he is not living a Spirit-filled life. Either he has never been filled with the Spirit or, through disobedience and withdrawal of consecration, he is not now living in the fullness of the Spirit. Normally, once you have been filled by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit will fill you again and again as you have need.
2. Develop a deep prayer life. The more you experience the life of prayer, the more God is able to use you at special times of need. God is constantly needing real prayer warriors. You learn to pray by praying. Though book knowledge about prayer is beautiful, you gain confidence and strength in prayer only as you pray. Put into practice the principles of prayer, and the Spirit will give you increasing liberty and boldness in intercession as well as increased opportunities.
3. Develop a conversational relationship with the Lord. Repeatedly tell the Lord how you love and adore Him. Punctuate your day with praise. Share your joy with Him. In the quiet of your soul thank Him for each blessing of the day sunshine, beauty, smiles, friends, song, His help in your work. Ask God to bless people you notice, pass, or meet. As you do your work, walk along the way, or drive your car, whisper to the Lord in your heart, without others knowing anything about your frequent communication with your wonderful Lord. Live in His presence.
4. Develop a listening ear. It is your privilege as a child of God to be led by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14). Have you developed the habit of listening to God? No Christian ever masters this lesson, but God can help you develop a listening ear. May God make these suggestions a blessing to you:
a. Make sure you maintain your commitment to the Lord each day and live in the Spirits fullness.
b. Ask God to teach you how to listen to Him. Prayer is not true communion if you do all the talking.
c. As you begin each day, ask God to speak to you whenever He desires throughout the day. Ask Him to help you recognize His voice.
d. Read your Bible, expecting God to speak to you and bless His Word to your heart. Read it for personal blessing and His suggestions as to how you can please Him more and how you can do His will more fully.
e. Ask God to guide and help in even small things. Anything that is important to you is important to Him. Ask Him to help you be a blessing to others as you meet them, speak to them on the phone, or write letters. Ask God to show you little things to do for Him and others. You can ask Him to guide you in your purchases, your attitudes, your contacts, your work, as well as in your prayer life.
f. Relax and trust Him to guide you constantly (Isa. 58:11). Dont be fearful, afraid you will miss Gods will. You are His child; rest in His faithfulness. Dont jump to conclusions. Dont expect to hear a voice or a sign from heaven. Gods guidance is such a normal part of His dealings with you that He is often at work when you are most unaware.
g. Observe how God coordinates providence for you. Do not fret if He permits delays or blocks your plans. His way is best. He wants to work all things together for your good and His glory. He always knows what is highest and best. Dont struggle against Gods providence; just relax in His loving care for you. God can open a way where there was none before, but you will never have to force open a door.
5. Ask God to keep you alert each day. Each morning ask God specifically to bring to your attention any person or situation for which you should pray. Keep prayer lists, for God may impress you to add others with special needs. The lists will serve, also, as a chronicle of answered prayer! Daily be sensitive to any new prayer assignment God may point out to you. As you go through your day, pray immediately for anyone or anything God brings to your mind.
6. Accept responsibility for any special prayer burden God gives. Assure the Lord each day that you will try to be faithful to bear any prayer burden He gives you. Treat it as a special trust from the Lord.
God may impress someone indelibly on your mind. This may happen at your prayer time or at some other time during the day. If you have told God of your willingness, and a person keeps coming to your mind, that person probably needs prayer. This may happen only occasionally, but the more closely you walk with God and become attuned to His voice, the more frequently God will use you in this way.
You may feel a special presentiment or apprehension of danger or need. Go at once to the Lord. If at all possible, pause in the midst of whatever you are doing. As you pray, God may bring some person or situation to your mind. If not, just pray for Gods help and mercy for whatever the need may be.
On December 12, 1939, while praying about the outcome of World War II, I became especially burdened for a particular situation. The Graf Spee, a German merchantman that had been converted into a "pocket battleship," was sinking many merchant ships with much loss of life. That night I felt Gods special authority as I asked Him to intervene. The next day radio news announced that the Graf Spee had been chased into the harbor of Montevideo, Uruguay. After several days, the ship was brought outside the harbor and scuttled. No life was lost except that of the commander, who chose to go down with the ship. God probably put the same prayer burden on the hearts of many others at the same time He gave me that burden. But I had the joy of knowing that God had called me to prayer alert and that He had specifically answered that prayer
God may give you a sense of urgency for a need you know well. You may have prayed repeatedly for a particular need, but now you are impressed that God must answer prayer without further delay. The prayer burden may be for a physical healing, the salvation of an unsaved person, the restoration of unity to a group of divided people, or revival in a particular place. God may keep a general burden on your heart for days and then at some point guide you to set apart a special time for prolonged urgent prayer
God may progressively deepen some prayer burden until it becomes your permanent assignment. God needs permanent intercessor-watchmen for churches, missions, cities, nations, and ministries. "I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth" (Isa. 62:6-7). God announces that He has posted prayer watchmen. Undoubtedly, Isaiah himself was one of these, for he says in verse one, "For Zions sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalems sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch." You can be one of Gods prayer watchmen.
Every full-time Christian worker needs a prayer team standing with him, strengthening him, and covering him with intercession. Every Christian ministry needs a burden-bearing team of prayer warriors. The effectiveness of any such ministry will depend upon the godliness of the team and the power of prayer that is marshaled behind it. God will bless any person or ministry as prayer support is deliberately enlisted and the prayer partners kept carefully informed and guided in prayer. Blessed is that person or ministry that has not only enlisted the aid of prayer helpers, but has intercessor-watchmen who carry a continual burden for the ministry.
This was the secret of the ministry of Charles G. Finney, whose ministry resulted in hundreds of thousands turning to the Lord and whose meetings in 1858-59 were called a direct cause of one of the worlds greatest revivals. Finney was himself a mighty man of prayer and had many praying for his ministry. In his twenty-two famous lectures, "Revivals of Religion," four of them are on the role of prayer.
As Finney traveled from place to place, he was accompanied by two elderly men known as Father Clary and Father Nash. When he went to Britain for several weeks of special meetings, these two men of ordinary means went also, rented a dark, damp basement room for twenty-five cents a week and stayed there on their knees, prevailing in prayer. Their tears and groans in prayer prevailed. They were Finneys intercessor-watchmen.
When Evan Roberts was so mightily used of God in the great Welsh revival of 1904-1905, he had behind him a small group of young people who served as his intercessor-watchmen. One of my treasures is a post card from Evan to one of the young people on this burden-bearing team.
When God entrusts you with a special prayer burden, accept it with joy and be faithful to it. It is a special commission from the Lord.
1. Give the prayer burden priority over all else. If at all possible, put aside what you are doing and give yourself entirely to prayer for this need. Often time is of the utmost importance; do not delay. If you cannot immediately set yourself apart for this prayer burden, keep praying for it every spare moment until you are free to cease all else and go to prayer.
2. Be prepared to pray for hours. This is not always necessary, but be so diligent in prayer that you intercede as long as it takes to receive the assurance of Gods answer.
In the 1930s a dear friend of mine, a barber in Oklahoma, was a zealous witness for the Lord. One afternoon he felt strongly impressed to pray for the salvation of the deputy sheriff of his county. He closed his barbershop in the middle of the afternoon, pulled down the blinds so people could not see inside, and went to an inner room to pray.
All the rest of the afternoon, through the supper hour, and into the night George Sherrick prayed on. At about two oclock in the morning someone pounded on the door. No one knew George was in his shop at that hour of the night. When he went to the door, there stood the sheriff for whom he had been praying, under deep conviction of the Holy Spirit. That night George Sherrick led him to the Lord.
3. Pray until God lifts the burden or gives you assurance He has heard. In about 1949 a group of retired missionaries from China, with a few faithful praying friends, met for their regular missionary prayer meeting in Adelaide, South Australia. A great prayer burden and sense of urgency came on them as they gathered together. All felt especially burdened for Hayden Melsap, then assigned to the China Inland Mission. They unanimously decided to drop all preliminaries and go "straight to prayer." They prayed until they all felt a sense of peace and relief.
A few years later, when Hayden Melsap was on deputation in Australia, the missionaries asked him if he recalled any unusual occasion at that time. To their amazement, they found that on that day and hour Hayden and at least two other missionaries were backed against a wall in a courtyard in China, with communist guns leveled at them. Just as the officer was about to issue the command to fire, the door of the courtyard opened and a higher official entered. Shocked to see what was about to happen, he shouted, "Stop!" He then stepped up, put his arm around Melsap, and led him and the others to safety. I heard this testimony from Hayden Melsap himself and also have it in writing from an Australian friend.
4. God may lead you to enlist the prayer of several others. Many a miracle has been brought to pass by the Holy Spirit in answer to a chain of prayer or the prayers of a specially convened group. Many local churches have arranged S.O.S. prayer chains. When an emergency prayer request comes in, five or six people are immediately called. Each, in turn, calls the next person on his list. In a matter of minutes, many are at prayer. We have such an arrangement among our OMS headquarters staff.
During the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in 1960, missionaries Matt and Lora Higgens were returning one night to Nairobi through the heart of Mau Mau territory, where Kenyans and missionaries alike had been killed and dismembered. Seventeen miles outside of Nairobi their Land Rover stopped. Higgens tried to repair the car in the dark, but could not restart it. They spent the night in the car, but claimed Psalm 4:8: "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." In the morning they were able to repair the car.
A few weeks later the Higgenses returned to America on furlough. They reported that the night before they left Nairobi, a local pastor had visited them. He told how a member of the Mau Mau had confessed that he and three others had crept up to the car to kill the Higgenses, but when they saw sixteen men surrounding the car, the Mau Mau had left in fear. "Sixteen men?" Higgens responded. "I dont know what you mean!"
While they were on furlough a friend, Clay Brent, asked the Higgenses if they had been in any danger recently. Higgens asked, "Why?" Then Clay said that on March 23, God had placed a heavy prayer burden on his heart. He called the men of the church, and sixteen of them met together and prayed until the burden lifted. Did God send sixteen angels to represent those men and enforce their prayers?
Heaven will reveal many wonderful accounts of how God has used special prayer burdens to advance His cause and protect His people.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon