At Taconic, we've just finished a 40 Day Circle of Prayer (inspired by Mark Batterson's book). We've been joined by about 25 others and it's been an awesome journey. I never thought of myself as much of an intercessor. My prayers have always been pretty much strictly business without much fervency or intensity. Frankly, I always had trouble mustering up all that energy; maybe you're the same way.
But this was different. Maybe I've matured. Maybe it was a "situational anointing." Maybe it was just timing. I don't know. But I do know that the last 40 days have changed me and changed the way I look at prayer.
Here's what I've learned:
- Unity needs a common cause. Nothing brings a team together like a common cause or purpose or enemy. We've talked a bunch in the past about "praying for Taconic." But when we actually established a purposeful 40 days, with daily emails that brought us together and kept us together on the same prayer points it really focused the effort. We had over 25 people coming together every day in prayer. It was an awesome thing.
- You probably don't remember your high school physics class but Newton's third law of motion states, "For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction." Isaiah said it like this, "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." (KJV) When you stir things up (like intercessory prayer), the enemy will come against you. The enemy to your soul loves it when you do nothing, when you choose to be blind to the realities around you, when you choose to be silent. But when you get up and speak up; when you are intentional about prayer, there will be a reaction. You better get your armor on…prayer is serious business.
- If it doesn't hurt, you're not doing it right. When I say "hurt" I don't mean actual physical pain (although I suppose that could happen). It's more like emotional exhaustion. You don't encounter the King of Kings, the God of creation without walking away changed…and worn out! Our earthly human bodies simply weren't created to be able to handle the intensity of "prolonged exposure." But it's that holy presence we strive for. It's that presence we need. It's a beautiful exhaustion.
- If you build it, He will come. When you are intentional about coming into His presence, He is always faithful to be there. And where He is, you'll find His revelation, His encouragement, His deliverance and healing, and inspiration. All you have to do is simply turn your face to Him and BOOM; He's there. All of Him. That intense white-hot beam of His presence envelopes you and carries you to another place.
- There's a beauty in battle. There's a great scene in the movie Patton where the General (played by George C. Scott) comes upon the scene of a battle only recently waged. The wounded and dead still lay in the field, tanks and jeeps still smoking and smoldering. He's talking to a comrade (General Bradley played by Karl Malden) about what happened and how the battle was fought; the ebb and flow of it. Then he shakes himself and says (mostly to himself), "dear God, I love it. I love it so." Battle is a terrible thing. People are hurt and wounded and even killed. But when you are fighting for freedom, you are fighting against those terrible things. Intercession is tough. Stepping into that other realm of spiritual warfare can be dangerous but when you are praying for freedom and for the presence of the Lord and for His hand to move on your behalf, there's a beauty to it.
- It's about the act, not about the answer. It's interesting…the more time I spent in prayer the less important the answer to that prayer actually became to me. That's not to say that I didn't care anymore. I did care, deeply. But the act of prayer, of being in His presence was so satiating, my focus actually shifted from my need to His presence. And like I said…where His is, there is all I will ever need.
I'm sure I'll realize going forward that I learned other things over the last 40 days but those are the ones I can actually articulate now. Lamentations says that His mercies are new every morning. Every day, He's revealing more of His nature to me. As long as we remain committed to learning, we'll grow closer to Him and look much more like Him.
I'd like to take the time to publically thank each of those who have prayed for us over the last 40 days. (You know who you are) By circling us in prayer every day you have caused a shift in thinking here. Your prayers really have been answered. You have made a difference and for that I am truly grateful. I appreciate you more than words can say.