All of us are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We are called to pray always and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Yet God is ALSO interested in the quality and effectiveness of our prayer lives.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The most effective prayers then are those that bring a manifestation of God’s will as revealed in the Scriptures to the situations on earth.
God wants none to perish and be lost. The Scriptures says that God “desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). The Lord is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
People do perish however for lack of heart knowledge of God. Even in places where the gospel is broadcast, such as America, Satan operates by blinding the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see perceive the truth.
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Remember that the weapons God has given us are “to cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”.
Strategic intercession then pursues God for the lost, seeking that the major barriers in people’s thinking, the spiritual powers that people have yielded to which are against Christ, be removed. We can only hope to do this by following God’s instructions, which the Bible gives us concerning these matters.
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made FOR ALL MEN, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”
This passage gives the strategy for taking a community for God. To mobilise the church for this task however, requires that the leadership unite around Christ and a passion for his glory. Intellectual strivings must give way to spiritual strivings in prayer against demonic power.
We all told to pray for ALL MEN. I submit that this is not telling us to pray generally, but specifically, and individually, for all men
Let’s say we live in a community where 3% of the population are true Christians. What is needed is to mobilise this 3% to pray for all the other 97% by name. The 3% would have to pray for about 33 different people each to have everyone covered by prayer. Before long, 5%, 8%, 10%, 15%, 25% of the population will be born again, since prayer is powerful. If the prayer movement continues, the 25% can bombard heaven persistently for the remaining 75% continuously. Each person would only have to pray for another 3 different unsaved people and they would be covered in prayer, and get a real opportunity to respond to God’s message. The satanic powers which normally bind their minds would be bound themselves by the prayers of the saints.
To achieve this goal, Christian leaders must embrace it and promote it. Everything that grieves the Spirit of God must be given up. In particular, we have to give up the love of money to be involved in this vision. The love of money is one major reason church groups cannot co-operate effectively. Money represents power and influence by natural ability. Churches with lots of money can construct bigger facilities, invite more popular speakers who attract crowds, operate more programs to help the community, and attract more attention to themselves. Church leaders will sometimes subtly fight for property, money, and influence over the existing pool of Christians in the community. Church leaders are often wanting to get to the position where “one day they will come to me”. This kind of thinking needs to be given up if we are to major on doing what the Bible says – praying for and then talking with everyone in our communities, including the civic leaders.
We should pray for the unity of church leaders and pastors in a city. When they unite, they can then go to the civic authorities as a united voice and ask them what problems they are having in government that need God’s intervention. God delights to get involved in answering such prayers, and it can open many effective avenues into a city.
Identifying Key Strongholds in an area
This can be done simply by getting out, noticing what the people are reading and looking at in mass popular culture, and identifying how these influences might be hindering people from knowing God and wanting to do His will. In prayer, God can reveal the spiritual strongholds over a community of people.
Binding the devil
Jesus gave his people the authority to bind the works of the devil (Matthew 18:18). To do this we must be in unity with one another, having dealt with issues between us according to Matthew 18:15-17. This is more difficult than it sounds. But to the extent that our unity is compromised there will be holes in our own armour through which satanic fiery darts can penetrate.
We must also renounce the works of the devil in our own lives, especially in the areas where we seek to bind the devil off the lives of others. For example, I cannnot bind the spirit of lust in a community if I am reading pornography. I cannot bind the spirit of violence if I hate those who have wronged me in the church. You cannot bind the spirit of apathy concerning spiritual things while you remain committed to wasting a few hours per day watching the television, playing computer games or listening to music that distracts you from what God is saying.
We need to humble ourselves and obey Christ from the heart before our prayers can have influence to neutralise satanic power within our community. The Spirit of God will lead us in our own journey of repentance as we seek to intercede strategically for others. Sometimes, we may be led to confess the sins of our community as the prophet Daniel did, not saying “they have sinned”, but rather, “we have sinned”. Daniel did this even though he himself seems to have lived a very blameless life of devotion to God and faithfulness in his responsibilities.
Apart from these fundamentals, the Lord may lead groups of intecessors to do what seems like strange things – for example, walking around the city, praying over various places, praising God, declaring certain Old Testament passages out loud as prophetic judgments over the dark powers at work in a city. We must be willing to be led by the Lord in these things. However, all this becomes meaningless if we aren’t committed first to living a consistent life in the presence of the Lord, where we pray for others – calling upon the Lord both for our Christian brethren and for those who are yet to know the truth about Jesus Christ. We ourselves would achieve far more if we restrained our tongues from speaking evil of other Christians who may have wronged us, or who don’t agree with us, and instead, seek to walk in mercy towards others as Christ encourages us to do. Amazing things happen to those Christians who seek to remain conscious of the presence of God and wait on Him for instruction.
Be a man or woman of prayer. And please pray for spiritual leaders in your city.