Many people around the world claim to pray, but not all prayers will be successful. It’s when we pray according to the Word that our prayers are answered.
If believers prayed correctly, Satan’s strategies in cities and nations would be thwarted. And God’s purposes would then be fulfilled to a greater measure on this earth.
Praying for revival effects change in our cities and nations by pushing back darkness. The ministry of Charles Finney shows us how to prepare the way for revival through prayer.
Sometimes almost everyone in cities where Finney preached got saved. Now that’s invading the kingdom of darkness! Many church historians say he had greater soul-winning success than anyone since the Apostle Paul. It was reported that the majority of Finney’s converts remained faithful to God in their Christian walk.
Pleading Your Case
When asked the secret to his success, Finney said, “The secret is prayer. I always get up at 4 o’clock every morning and pray until 8 o’clock in the morning. I’ve had experiences in prayer that alarmed me. I found myself saying, ‘Lord, You don’t think we’re not going to have revival here, do You?’ Then I found myself quoting scripture after scripture, reminding the Lord of His promises.”
Finney’s way of praying is what God instructed us to do in Isaiah 43:26: “Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.”
Finney pled his case with God for revival based on the promises in God’s Word. He prayed according to the Word for souls to come into the Kingdom of God. Finney never pulled down demonic strongholds, prayed against devils, or dealt with ruling princes over cities. Yet entire towns were won to the Lord.
Biblical prayer and intercession that follows the Holy Spirit’s direction cause change in cities and nations for the kingdom of God.
Intercession for the Lost
Finney also talked about a man named Father Nash who supported him in prayer. Sometimes Father Nash went ahead of Finney to the next city and prepared the way in prayer for revival.
One time a woman came to Finney and said, “About a week ago, Father Nash rented a room from me. After three days, I wondered why he hadn’t come out of his room. I went up to his door and heard him groaning. Thinking something was wrong with him, I opened the door and peeked in. There he was, lying in the middle of the floor, groaning and praying.”
“Don’t worry about Father Nash,” Finney told her. “He just has the burden of intercession to pray for lost souls.”
Father Nash was praying according to Romans 8:26. The Holy Spirit helped him pray with groanings that could not be uttered in articulate speech.
Prayer that is in line with the Bible prepares people’s hearts so the Word can bear eternal fruit in their lives. That is the scriptural way to change cities and nations—not by supposedly warring against spiritual forces ruling over them. Jesus has already defeated those spiritual forces.
Raising Up Churches
Let me share how a woman prayed for many to be delivered from the kingdom of darkness. We called her Mother Howard.
When Mother Howard moved to north-central Texas, no Full Gospel churches were in that region. The Lord laid it on her heart to pray that a Full Gospel church would be established in every city in that area.
Taking one town at a time, Mother Howard prayed until a church was raised up. She’d pray from 10 in the morning until midafternoon. After supper, she continued interceding until midnight, depending on how the Holy Spirit led her.
Mother Howard continually talked to God and asked for souls to be brought into His Kingdom. She was largely responsible for praying a church into every city and town in that region of Texas. She’s a good example of how to pray.
Biblical prayer and intercession that follows the Holy Spirit’s direction cause change in cities and nations for the Kingdom of God. Let me illustrate this.
Praying as the Spirit Leads
One time in the middle of my sermon, a spirit of prayer fell on the congregation, and everyone hit the floor praying. We prayed for quite some time.
When the burden to pray lifted, the Lord said, “Tell these folks that if they will enter into intercession and travail for the lost in their city, I’ll give them this city. They will have to possess it, and the way to do that is through intercessory prayer and soul travail for the lost.”
We can intercede on behalf of others with our understanding, as Finney did. He pled his case using the promises in God’s Word. But we don’t always know how to pray for folks as we ought. That is why we need to pray as the Holy Spirit leads us and as He takes hold together with us (Rom. 8:26). Praying for the lost in this manner is a part of the scriptural way to win a city for God.
To win a city, you must win souls. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will be saved, because people have free choice. But when you pray and intercede for people, it is easier for them to yield to God and want to be saved. Because believers prayed for the lost in that town, many people came to the Lord.
When I went back to that church two years later, it was the largest one in town. Many souls had been prayed out of the kingdom of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of God. Believers in that church never tried to pull down one stronghold! They just gave themselves to prayer based on the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Is Prayer Necessary?
Some might ask, “Why do we have to pray for others? Since God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He just save everyone today? It’s His will that all men be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4).
A statement John Wesley made answers that question. He said, “It seems that God is limited by our prayer life. He can do nothing for humanity unless someone asks Him.”
The Word tells us why that is so: “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2).
God waits for us to ask Him before moving on behalf of the lost. Asking based on God’s Word is one way believers stand in their position of authority in Christ and enforce Satan’s defeat on the earth. Take your place today by praying according to the Word and as the Holy Spirit leads.
Kenneth E. Hagin
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