Throughout history, there have been many revivals or times of God manifesting His power and presence among mankind. These times and seasons of God’s glory have been for the purpose of bringing forth His plans on the earth. Every time, without fail, as God prepares for one of these outpourings, there first comes a cry of the Spirit from heaven. Even now, as this generation is rapidly approaching its destiny—the greatest move of God this planet has ever seen or experienced—the cry of God’s Spirit is going forth once again.
It’s the same cry that has brought forth every move of God since the beginning—the call to pray. It’s the call for God’s people to join hands in partnership with Him, doing what we can, which enables God to do what He can.
Prayer is always the catalyst that brings forth God’s ability on earth.
As we approach this subject, it will not be simply as a religious activity with no real purpose. Instead, we’ll be doing business with God—doing our part to bring forth His final plans on earth.
Praying in the River
There is a Church-wide unction on the body of Christ to pray in these last days. What does that mean for us in the Church today? The Word of God says in Hebrews 10:5 “…a body You have prepared for Me.” That verse has a twofold meaning to us in the Church. First, God prepared a physical body for Jesus to use while on the earth. Second, God prepared a spiritual body for Jesus to flow through on the earth, which is the Church or every born- again believer. Ephesians 1:22-23 tells us when Jesus went to the Father’s right hand, God “…gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body….” When Jesus came to earth and “…became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14), He was the only body of Christ that existed on the earth at that time.
Since Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, His body has changed. He is now the head, and the Church is His body down here on earth. Today, we believers are the body of Christ.
Jesus is our example, and the things that affected the body of Christ then will most likely be the same things to affect the body of Christ today. We need to look to Him to see what the body of Christ should be doing in these last days.
For 30 years, Jesus walked and talked as a man on the earth. During that time, He didn’t perform any miracles or heal multitudes. When He was 12 years old, His parents found Him in the temple asking questions and learning. Jesus spent 30 years searching the Scriptures finding Himself. He did not have a major ministry at that time, but He did have a major job to do. He had not yet stepped into the fullness of His purpose for being on this earth—the fullness of His calling.
Then, in Luke 3, we see Jesus about to enter into the fullness of His ministry. Where did God lead Him? To a river. Why? A river is a picture of a move of the Holy Ghost (John 7:37-39). God led Jesus to a river to be baptized as we see in the verses below.
21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” 23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age….
We see two things working together: the body of Christ in the river and the body of Christ praying. Notice the heaven opened over the earthly body of Christ praying in the river. When heaven opened, the Spirit of God—or the anointing without measure—came upon the body of Christ (Luke 4:18; John 1:33). In the next three and a half years, Jesus wrought more miracles than His disciples could record (John 21:25).
The Church has stepped into the river of God’s Spirit, and now it’s time to get heaven opened. How do we do that? Through prayer!
When heaven opens, it will change the Church, and when the Church changes, it will change the world!
As the Church or body learns to cooperate with the Spirit and mix that with prayer, we will step into the fullness of our purpose for being on this earth—the rain and the harvest.
I grew up in a church where prayer was not a subject often discussed. We had a few religious prayers, but that was about the extent of it. It wasn’t until years later that I began to realize the importance of prayer.
When I attended Bible school, I heard the message of faith taught, and it changed my life. It was then that I began to love studying the Bible and spent hours upon hours studying. Through the years, I developed good study habits, yet I had never personally taken time to develop an equally strong prayer life.
Yet, I began to see that our walk with God will never go further than our prayer life, and our prayer life will never go further than our Word level. When it comes to believing God, our faith will rise to—but never beyond—the level of our words. Similarly, our walk with God will rise to—but never beyond—our prayer life. It’s all connected. Our prayer life is directly affected by our Word life, and our Word life is directly affected by our prayer life (John 15:7-8). Therefore, to be a person of the Word, it’s vitally important to be a person of prayer.
God Is Limited by Our Prayer Life
Years ago, I heard a statement from a well-known minister that has stayed with me. Quoting John Wesley, this minister said, “It seems God is limited by our prayer life. God can do nothing for mankind unless someone asks Him.”
“You can’t limit God!” someone might say.
But the children of Israel limited God. Psalm 78:41 says, “Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” If the children of Israel limited God, don’t you suppose it’s possible for us to limit Him? The truth is, it is possible to limit God, and it is possible for God’s will not to come to pass.
“How can that be?” someone might ask.
“The Lord is…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), yet people die and go to hell every day. People limit God by not stepping into His plan for their lives.
According to John Wesley, God can do nothing for mankind unless someone asks Him. That statement blows apart the thinking of most theologians. They think that a sovereign God can do anything He wants to, and if something doesn’t happen, it’s because God didn’t want it to happen. But when a man like John Wesley, who knew God and took revival everywhere he went, said, “God can do nothing for mankind unless someone asks Him,” we had better look a little closer to find the truth in that statement.
I began to study along these lines in the Bible—remember, our prayer life will never go any further than our Word life.
As I went through the Word, I noticed how many times God told us to ask.
Zechariah 10:1 says, “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field” (KJV).
If God wants rain, why doesn’t He cause it to rain? Again, in Psalm 2:8, He says we have to ask: “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.”
Some will argue, “If God wants to reach the nations and the heathen, why does He say to ask? Why doesn’t He just do it? After all, He’s God.”
Notice what Jesus Himself said in verses 37 and 38 of the following passage.
35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
We were ministering along these lines in another country a few years ago. After the service, one of the missionaries came to me and said, “I finally got it!”
“Got what?” I asked.
He explained, “I’ve been writing letters to everyone I can think of to tell them I need laborers and to please send anyone who can come help. I finally realized I’ve been talking to the wrong people! I learned today that if I want laborers, I need to talk to the Lord of the harvest and ask Him to send laborers.” Jesus said the harvest is plenteous and the laborers are few, but we still have to ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest fields.
God Said to Ask
I’ve noticed throughout the Bible, if God wants something done He tells us to ask for it. “ … Yet you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). “… Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22). “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).
In Matthew 6, Jesus gave his disciples instructions concerning prayer. He told them not to be like the hypocrites who want to be seen so people can talk about how pretty their prayers sound. Jesus warned them, “When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (verse 7).
In other words, they think if they pray long enough, loud enough and hard enough, and gather enough people to pray with them, then God will hear them. But Jesus said that is the way heathen pray.
So in these verses Jesus told His disciples how not to pray. In the next verse, He said, “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (verse 8). God knows what we need before we even go to Him in prayer.
“If God knows what we need before we ask, we shouldn’t have to bother asking Him, right?”
Matthew 7 answers that question.
7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
One chapter earlier, Jesus said the Father knows what we need before we ask. Then in the next chapter He told us to ask anyway. Think about that. God is that big, strong, and powerful, and He knows what we need before we ask. Yet, all through the Bible He still tells us to ask, so we had better be asking Him. And when we ask God for anything, we should be expecting an answer, because God doesn’t answer our requests “yes, no, or maybe later.”
God Always Says Yes
Shortly after I was born again, I asked some fellow believers why I wasn’t receiving answers to my prayers. They told me, “God always answers prayer, but sometimes it’s yes and sometimes it’s no.” I heard another preacher say, “Sometimes God in His wisdom does not answer our prayers.” No, God’s wisdom doesn’t lie. God’s wisdom doesn’t violate His Word. God’s Word is His wisdom, and His Word always says yes. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen…” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
If we know how to pray, God will always say yes.
If we pray in line with His Word and His will, which are the same, we’ll always receive the answer we desire. In fact, we shouldn’t even pray without receiving a yes answer. If we’ll always go to God’s Word first and find out what God said, we’ll always have the desired results. God will always answer, but the asking part is up to us.
When I found that in the Bible, I decided to do a lot more asking. Since then, I’ve been asking for the rain, the nations, the heathen—for anything and everything God wants.
When we start asking God to move on the earth, we’re giving Him a legal invitation to bring His will to pass.
Even though there are things God wants to do—things He said would happen—it takes someone going to Him in prayer and asking Him to bring those things to pass.
God is a just God. Everything He does, He does legally. Through the plan of redemption, God put prayer on a legal basis for us. Now it’s our job to find out what God wants to do and give Him a legal invitation to move on this earth and bring His will, plans, and purposes to pass.
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