Posted by: cdnpray | October 2, 2008

Getting Prayer out of the Ghetto

So why not start with something provocative!?

Here is my question:

How do we change the image of prayer/intercession in the nation from easily the least popular ministry to the place people are clamouring to become intercessors?

I remember about 10 years ago, when a conference on intercession was always going to be sold-out, and everyone was reading everything they could get their hands on about how to pray. Now in MANY settings intercession is barely tolerated, and praying people often find they loose their credibility as soon as they identify with the ministry of intercession.

I was surprised when on the Miracle Channel in the summer and the host who was interviewing me mentioned that he knew of many Canadian churches where intercession had been totally shut down because of a fear of intercessors going off into weirdness or worse. What happened?!

Where is the conviction that prayer changes things? Has the enemy so blinded the Body that we are afraid of intercession instead of seeing it as a mighty weapon to strike fear into the enemy’s camp? How did we get to be known as the granola bunch (flakes, fruits and nuts)? How can we break out of this upside down perception?

I don’t really care for my personal image or reputation- but it breaks my heart to see how poorly attended prayer meetings are and how much this undermines the power and impact of the Church.

Talk to me on this… I invite your thoughts, revelations, perceptions…

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Responses

  1. Hi Sara, I’ve been asking the same questions about why intercession is so hard to draw people to. I do not feel that within the city intercessor’s group I’m with because these people are all very committed to God and to their city.

    I am wondering if a lethargy is over the people of God from not being really involved in what is going on in our day. The election is an example of almost indifference and not wanting to be bothered with what the issues are, or how they will impact them.

    There is such a spirit of the world in our hearts that causes us to be self-indulgent and not wanting to be stirred out of our comfort zones.
    Once we are, we can’t stop praying!!

  2. Sara, what a great idea!

    Re: Intercession, I do know what you mean.
    In mentioning the word over the past few years it’s almost as if people hold their fingers to their noses, as in something smells.
    I know I battled through a season where I did not want to be identified as being an intercessor. Call me anything but THAT !!!

    I think some of the problem lay in leaders not knowing WHAT to do with what came forth from their intercessors…… somewhere there is a disconnect….

    I was just listening to Arthur Burk’s CD on the redemptive gift of mercy for an individual. The folks with this gift have a great passion for intimacy/holiness and asking them to explain to the brain what God gives them from the heart is almost impossible!

    So, as God releases His heart to an intercessor, and they TRY to explain something, and it goes to a brainiac, much will be lost in the transaction, because it is spirit to spirit language.

    This frustration has caused many to shut down. Knowing you won’t be HEARD, understood and loved and appreciated, you give up speaking. It hurts when there is no place to place your offerings…..

    Imagine cooking a fine meal and people looking at it like it’s from Mars and refusing to eat, perhaps even turning their back on it/you and going on with their own conversations….and food.

    The passion you carry begins to die….
    Looking for like minded others is good, but then it’s caused suspicion, like “what are “they” up to now….which often looks like rebellion.

    There has to be a solution to this, to the embracing of one another, to the understanding of HOW the gifts are to operate together.

    There is also the challenge of the character building part of intercession….. many cannot do it or will not do it, refusing to bow.
    Out of woundedness comes great self preservation.

    Frustration…there is a lie out there that says “If you do that, nobody will listen, and if they listen, no one will obey, so why bother?.”

    It has to do with knowing that the Lord is listening and it is to Him that we pour out our all.
    Intercessors must be grounded in our personal identity in Christ above everything, and have the tenacity to stand, even when we see NOTHING happening around us for years…..

    I love the movie “Galaxy Quest” where they frequently say, “Never give up! Never surrender!”

    We certainly shall, and there is coming a day when the disconnect will be repaired, and honour will be the name of the day.
    I prophesy it NOW!

  3. Hi Sara,
    I would not have the faintest idea how to set this up – you are amazing.

    When you say why are we known as the granola bunch, its because many went that way – getting way out and bringing fear in leaders, because they didn’t know what they were talking about – I have had that in prayer groups where people talk in such convoluted ways they seem to be in cloud cuckoo land. I believe in this age of instant gratification, prayer doesn’t have an instant enough answer for people so they seek other ways to achieve their goal. But I believe that is all changing – I saw the Lord turning the church inside out and what had been buried and hidden was seen and what had been pushed to the forefront by man was underneath. There has been a shift and we have yet to see the full impact of it.

  4. Hi Sara,

    I’m really glad you have started this blog! It will be so helpful.

    I like the fact that you haven’t started with an easy or light topic.

    This is really crucial. As I write this we are in Toronto teaching a weekend School of Prayer for Mandarin speaking intercessors. There has been a good turnout.

    A lot of what we teach is to attempt to bring a balance to a lot of the extreme things that the popular books on prayer are encouraging.

    Wherever we teach this stuff (and of course sometimes we partner with Cityscape to do the week-long National Schools of Intercession) we find that the pastoral leaders are greatly relieved. They are so used to having to correct the unbalanced ideas that “intercessors” have picked up somewhere else. We are able to say things as outsiders and so-called “professional pray-ers” that they have already been saying, but have been ignored when they have said them from their own pulpits.

    We really need a wake-up call. Let’s stop blaming the pastors or the other people in the church. Let’s take responsibility for having put them off prayer by our own actions and atttitudes.

    We really need to test everything by the word of God and stop repeating everything that the latest speaker or writer is propounding.

    Anyways … that’s my rant.

    blessings,

    Richard Long
    National House of Prayer

  5. I am hearing everyone’s concerns and fully agree that there are major trust problems between pastors and intercessors. Richard’s right -this is a very popular session when we teach it in the National School of Intercession. Pastors are really looking for help in this area, but intercessors have been beat up as well.

    Many are wounded and are reacting from this, others immature, others need more character training :o).

    Sara

  6. Hi Sara,
    Have been reading and pondering…I would agree with the insights from each one. I have many questions in this whole area too and long for us to just “do it”, come together and pray. I do know that intercessory “acts/prayerwalks/projects” have rallied us to pray at times effectively. But the day of filling a room just to pray? Haven’t seen that in a while.

    I feel to intercede and cry out for God to call the intercessors again to pray, to intercede for the intercessors. I sense that there are actually many praying, but I long for us to be together to pray. I believe it is a call. Training hones us, clarifies the Scriptures, answers questions and is needed but, the actual doing? Who moves first? God calling his people? Or, His people beseeching Him? Lately I have been praying “call us again, call us Lord to yourself, call us again Lord.”

    Thankyou for this site you have created Sara. Thankyou for asking this first poignant, thought provoking question. Appreciate you a whole bunch!
    xox-p

  7. I too, can get discouraged because sometimes there are only a few that come out to pray at the HHOP. But I read lately that all the past revivals started with under 12 people praying, so that really encouraged me this week!
    I try and not look at the empty seats but thank the Lord for those who are faithful each month.

  8. Not sure if I agree on the “trust” area as much as I would have a few years ago. I believe God has healed many areas of trust broken and that intercessors are freer now than they used to be. I can only speak from our experience but what I see in our city is that Satan has been attacking the intercessors individually and is thus wearing us down to the point of exhaustion. We are too tired to attend a meeting to pray for the city when we have been in warfare for our families etc. Daniel 7 talks about this. The good news is that the Ancient of Days is still on the throne and “this is the end of the matter”.

    I and Murray are “Worship Warriors”. At the moment there is no prayer meeting in the city where we fit. No Worship Intercession. We see the need but the churches all seem too busy to support a meeting like this. We used to meet as worship intercessors on a regular basis but over the years (due perhaps partially to the lack of interest from churches to support such a prayer meeting but also due to the fact that many of the intercessors that met are now moving into different, more national and global circles).

    How do we reach the younger people and the men and those women who have careers outside the home? Perhaps our meetings need to change times and dates, making them more accessible to those who have jobs and other responsibilities. Perhaps we have been working bottom up instead of top down. Would it be better to get the church leaders on board with the idea of a prayer meeting of all intercessors in the city and then get them to call the intercessors to come rather than to call the intercessors together and hope that the leaders support them? At this moment are there any leaders in our city that are committed to corporate worship/intercession?

    Change the name – prayer meeting gives the impressions that everyone is sitting or kneeling with prayers of petitions. A night of Worship/Intercession or Harp and Bowl Prayer be more exciting to attend. Where the worship is intertwined with the prayers seamlessly. This would take time but it may be worth the effort.

    In the mean time perhaps we all just need to admit we are tired and need some clear direction from God.

    Colleen

  9. These comments are thought-provoking to me as a pastor who desires more intercession in his church. One thing (in addition to time and the other good observations already mentioned) I have found that causes people to pull back is understanding the language of intercession. The references to less-used biblical texts and phrases are a challenge for many people new to intercession. It might be good for mature intercessors and Christians in general to develop and use language alternatives that are more understandable to a broader spectrum of the church. It might also be helpful to continue to develop contemporary language or illustrations to describe spirit-realm activities, so that people are able to more easily understand, agree with, and participate in the intercession activities. Hard work, for sure, but likely worth it.

    Rob

  10. Very interesting Rob.
    I was in a meeting not too long ago, and a pastor came up to me and suggested we do a quick (1 minute) teaching on what was happening as a number of intercessors were going into travail.

    This was a great reminder as I usually am focused on the “push” and seem to loose all pastoral inclinations in the heat of the moment!!

    Can you give us some specific expressions, words etc that you have noticed as problematic?

    Yea for the pastors!!!
    sara

  11. Here are some words or phrases that I have heard in the past: travail, birthing (doing this, not the concept, seems to be a very scary thing to most men), watch for/go for/hear the oil, burden of the Lord, overshadowing of the Spirit, pray out of your spirit, to name a few I will try to listen for more as new people come into our intercession meetings.

    Newer intercessors, and often ones who come from a more traditional church background are sometimes unclear about other intercession concepts, such as taking dominion, declarative vs. prophetic vs. petitionary, united vs unity, and understanding authority rights and privileges, to name a few I have encountered. Your Gadite training is really helpful in this regard.

    In short, I think just being aware of who is attending the meeting and the likely degree of exposure to various intercession models would help people be more comfortable. I would liken it to when there is a Holy Spirit activity in a Sunday service. If I don’t know everyone there (we have a small church so I can do this), I will take a brief moment to communicate what is happening and invite questions after the service for more explanation or clarity. It needn’t take much time and it could help to make intercession more accessible.

    Yea for the intercessors!
    Rob


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