In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops off – Ephesians 6:18 MSG
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father – John 14:12 KJV
All through the ages, there has never been a spiritual awakening, exploit or move of God that was not preceded by intense prayer. If the past generation of men who walked with God couldn’t accomplish anything without it, then our generation can also not do without it. The call to pray is louder than ever, and nonnegotiable. To prayer, there can be no alternative; everything begins and ends with it. If we must accomplish greater works than the men of old, then we must be ready to invest more in prayer than they did. In order for our impact to outlive us, we must get it insured in prayer because Kingdom exploits are impossible without a rigid prayer life.
THE CHALLENGE: A SLUMBERING GENERATION
Ours is a generation more interested in intellectual development than spiritual development. We are busy with so much activity yet, with little productivity. The call is loudest now for the slumbering generation to “Wake up from your sleep, climb out from your coffins; Christ will show you the light!” (Ephesians 5:14, MSG). A recent prayer survey of over 14,000 Christians revealed that only 2% of the population was satisfied with their prayer life; majority of pastors in the group pray for about 30 minutes daily; majority of laypersons pray for 10 minutes daily, while 57% of the population had distraction as their barrier to prayer. This shocking result of the survey reechoes the prayer challenge confronting the Christians of today. It is also an indication that many a Christian today, would rather spend their time and resources on other concerns, except prayer.
Many books on prayer have been written and rewritten, yet this will never suffice for prayer until we pray. We are a generation of explorers and knowledgeable people, yet the knowledge of prayer alone does not equal praying. An individual is under attack if his prayer life experiences a continuous downward trend. We are busy trying to ‘make ends meet’ while Satan is on a relentless mission to destroy our fellowship with God so that he can have the last laugh over us. There are no two ways about this; if we are not praying, then we are playing. And be sure that to play in a battleground is tantamount to becoming a prey to your enemy.
A WORTHY EXAMPLE: THE PRAYER LIFE OF JESUS
The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray – Mark 1:35 NLT
With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night – Matthew 14:23 MSG
Christ, during His earthly life assured us that “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father” (John 14:12). There is no doubt, Christ did mighty works during His earthly ministry, and this is not unconnected to His fervent and consistent prayer life. For Him, prayer was more of a lifestyle, and a firm act of worship than a mere religious practice.
During His earthly walk and work, Christ prioritized communion with God above all else, and to this end He spoke, saying, “But I do nothing without consulting the Father…” (John 5:30a, NLT). If our Master needed to consult the Father in prayer in order to succeed in His earthly assignment, we sure need to walk in His steps. His exploit was a clear reflection of His fervent prayer life. Little wonder, He never ceased being relevant for the Kingdom while on earth, but was always sought after by men. Everywhere he went, “News about him spread beyond the borders of Galilee so that the sick were soon coming to be healed from as far away as Syria. And whatever their illness and pain, or if they were possessed by demons, or were epileptics, or were paralyzed—he healed them all. Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River” (Matthew 4:24-25, NLT). He didn’t need to coerce the crowd into following Him; He settled that in the place of prayer. Without posters, handbills or public address systems, His ministry still pulled large crowds whose needs were all attended to, all by His consistent life of communion with the Father. He prayed long and hard in the secret so much that when He was confronted with any challenging situation (sicknesses, demoniacs, death, etc.), He only gave a command, and such challenges were arrested, and their victims set free. Doing greater works will be impossible without modeling His prayer life, and the way He lived. This is made possible if we stay totally dependent on the Holy Spirit who is our Helper even in prayer.
A RAY OF HOPE: THE EMERGENCE OF A GENERATION OF GOD-SEEKERS
This is the generation [description] of those who seek Him [who inquire of and for Him and of necessity require Him], who seek Your face, [O God of] Jacob. Selah [pause, and think of that] – Psalms 24:6 AMPC
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand- a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains, a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old, never will be in ages to come – Joel 2:1-2 NIV
The LORD gives voice before His army, For His camp is very great; For strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; Who can endure it? – Joel 2:11 NKJV
In spite of the dwindling spiritual state of men in our generation, God has assured us in His Word that there is going to be a rise of a generation of God-seekers. Historically, revivals are almost always preceded by a period of moral decadence and spiritual decay. In his book Revival Fire, Wesley Duewel wrote of England before the 18th century revival:
“The eighteenth century was a time of great moral and spiritual darkness, political restlessness, and social need in many parts of the world. In England, deism had had a devastating effect, and the authority of the Bible was shaken. Spiritual difference and skepticism abounded, and liberty degenerated into license. Religion was emptied of its spirituality and power. Viewed with contempt, it became at most a code of ethics. The masses were largely untouched by the Church. There were Godly, faithful ministers here and there, but many clergy were mere figureheads who did not teach and actually opposed the doctrine of salvation by faith. Many were known for their drinking habits. At times some of them even riot against the revivalists…. Church services declined, Church buildings fell into disrepair, and worship was neglected. The common people of the prerevival England were for the most part, ignorant and amazingly brutal. Few towns had any kind of police force; mobs ransacked and pillaged in London and Birmingham, burning houses, flinging open prisons, and terrorizing people. Londoners rarely traveled after dark, even to the nearest suburbs, except with armed groups. Despite an ineffectual police force, criminal justice during this time was quite ruthless. Prisons were crowded, dark and filthy, with the air offensive from the open sewers running through the prison cells… Many prisoners died in the dark and filthy prison cells. It was in these prisons that Wesley and other members of his group began ministering early in the revival period.”
This is a summary of the situation which preceded the Wesleyan revival of the 18th century. Aside the moral and spiritual downwardness, great prayer investments were made by handful of passionate men prior to these revivals. This is our hope in an era where Christianity is most challenged.
God is raising a generation of Godly men and women who will brutally take on the enemy, and take over territories by the instrumentality of prayer and intercession. The Psalmist calls these men “The generation of those who seek the God of Jacob”, while the Prophet Joel calls them “A large and mighty army”. The Prophet Joel further outlined the spiritual characteristics of this mighty force that heaven is preparing to invade the earth in Joel 2:1-11. And like past spiritual awakenings and revivals the earth has experienced, these men will be mobilized in the secret place of prayer. God by Himself will give voice to His end time army.
The need to begin to brace up in the place of prayer for this greatly anticipated revival is inevitable. This work must be incubated, birthed, sustained and eternalized in the place of fervent and persistent prayers, because there has never been a great Kingdom accomplishment on earth without the ardent devotion of great prayer labourers. By prayer, we touch the heavens to change the world. There is hope for our generation based on the infallible promise of God; “…a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old, never will be in ages to come” (Joel 2:2b, NIV). All we need to do is to labour in faith and by grace to be found worthy to be enlisted into that army. And to be enlisted, we must derive spiritual strength from Him in prayer, because our walk with God on this side of eternity will be impossible without the noble work of prayer.