One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
Luke 18: 1-8
The woman in this passage was demonstrating what our prayer lives should look like. Her unrelenting persistence in pursuing her request with this judge reflects the work that should go into the way we pray and approach the throne of God with prayer. Interestingly, Jesus points to the key of her persistence and the effort behind her pursuit in the last verse of this passage: “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
In Israel, there is a national monument called The Western Wailing Wall. This wall stands as a reminder of the battle that took place at that location for some and as representation of the prevailing Presence of God for others. Visitors to this site often present prayer requests by slipping them into the cracks and crevices of the wall in the belief that those prayers will be answered. These same requestors visit the site three times a day in order to reinforce their prayer and faith for the answer to be delivered speedily.
In this same manner, the woman’s faith was the driving force behind her consistency and resilience to not give up on her request of this judge. She refused to let up until she received the attention and answer that she sought from him. We can take a lesson from her and establish the same mindset in our own prayer lives. But here’s the thing: prayer is work.
Many times people lose the victory in their prayers because they are unwilling to exercise their faith long enough to see a breakthrough. In short, they give up too soon. But, if you will see effective results in your prayer life, you will indeed need to put in the work required for victory. This work is not so much sweat equity, but faith equity, consistency and the patience to be willing to wait for as long as it takes to see the Kingdom response that you are expecting.
Prayer is a labor intensive exercise. The perspective of prayer for many people is like that of a wish list that they send off to “Santa” God and then they cross their fingers with hopes that they have been good enough to receive what they have asked of Him.
This is a sad but accurate analogy. It is no wonder that people often do not see more effective results in their own lives. So, then there is no stretch of understanding to realize why many Christians have a hard time praying for someone else. If they can barely get their own prayers organized, it is an even less likely expectation that they would be effective in praying for someone else.
Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Intercession, which is an intense prayer of supplication on behalf of another, is the effectual fervent prayer for a person that should avail much.
When done properly, intercession should be like using a battering ram on a target that you are trying to take down or penetrate. What is a battering ram? It is a heavy beam or device that is used to break down a fortified entry point or door.
Many times when praying for others there are long-standing fortified strongholds that need to be broken down before breakthrough, healing or deliverance can take place.
The most difficult part of getting beyond those exterior walls that have been built up is the entry point.
As with battering rams, one uses intercession in this manner. It is a repetitive “pounding” on this entry point until the barred area is broken down. What is the “pounding” I’m speaking of?
“And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”
This is the battering ram in action.
The same will be true in your own life. Your persistent work through prayer and fasting will facilitate breakthroughs in the lives of others as well as your own life. But you have to be willing to put in the work to see the breakthrough happen.
You should not always expect that your “one and done” prayer is enough to breakthrough years of strong and fortified barriers.
Sometimes you will need to persevere in your prayers and efforts over a season to see results.
This “pounding” that needs to take place is the work with which you will exercise your faith. God has blessed each of us with the weapon of a battering ram, but it is up to us to put it to work to see powerful results in our prayer efforts for others and for ourselves.
In ministry, this is what our consecration prayer efforts are doing. Our job, even prior to suiting up and ministering before the people of God, is to do our due diligence in making sufficient cracks in the fortified areas of the enemy’s camp.For it is here where our brothers and sisters are being held captive and in bondage behind the mortared walls of sin, guilt, condemnation, depression and abuse on so many levels.
A battering ram’s effectiveness comes from the repeated pullbacks and thrusts of the weapon. This is the way your prayer and fasting should be also. There are times when you are pulling back, and this is just as effective as the forward thrusts.
It may seem counterintuitive to pull back from your prayer effort, but doing so is an important strategy.
When this action is occurring, you have the opportunity to reevaluate, assess, gain more momentum to thrust forward again against your target. When thrusting your ram, you are pressing hard into prayer and fasting, actively engaging your efforts and directing them with purposeful study and Word immersion to intensify your spiritual impact.
But, the pullback, gives you the time to check your efforts, understand the impact your strategy is having on your enemy and adjust as needed when the plan calls for re-calibration.
Intercession is a repetitive process, but it doesn’t have to be a random one. Strategy is always important when facing an opponent. Strategy ensures that you have a goal to achieve with your prayer and fasting. During your “pullback” is the time to make sure that your strategy still makes sense.
This might seem a bit unorthodox, because we may have learned in the past that we should just pray and wait. However, God has made us intelligent and capable of coherent reasoning even during heightened spiritual activity.
As believers, we should be able to discern the impact of our efforts and hear what the Spirit of God is saying to us. This is not an automatic capability, but as with anything, the more that you “exercise” in this area, the stronger and more “agile” you become. The idea then, is to make intercession a regular part of your life.
A final point to be made about intercession is to pray specifically for those who appear to be adversarial toward us.
We should remember that sometimes we will be in a position to pray for our enemies, and it is important that we do not ignore this if we want our effectiveness in intercession to become stronger.
“But If your enemy is hungry, feed him; And if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Thus, the use of intercession as a weapon is a pounding exercise that is intended to break up fortified places. This is true for our own lives as well as that of others–even those that mistreat us and persecute us. Love and forgiveness are critical elements in honing your strategies and efforts.
The battering ram that your prayer and fasting creates is an effective weapon against the devices and tactics of the adversary. Our ability to remain consistent and faithful to exercising the use of the spiritual ram is critical to the impact of our ministry. If we lose the power of this ram, then all that we are left with is a dance with no impact. Your consecration matters, remember this in all of your doing for ministry preparation.
© 2012 LR Rodgers All Rights Reserved.