I’ve been listening to the FireKeep podcast from the Kansas City International House of Prayer, and was struck by two particular podcasts. The first is the recording “Out of Hiphop, Into IHOP,” from the onething 2007 conference, in which Mike Bickle and the rest of the IHOP leadership focus their prayers on the African-American community, released January 14, 2008; the second is The Call Nashville’s (Pt II – Worshipping Our King), released July 7, 2007.
One of the prayer leaders told the story of when he was in one of the Islamic nations on a secret prayer mission trip. He stayed in this tiny home, in a tiny village, in one of the remotest areas of that country. At 4:30am, he woke up to the sound of morning prayers at the house next door. What initially started as a quiet chant soon escalated into quite the ruckus, with all the other Muslim households eventually joining in. The village shook with the prayers of the Islamic faithful.
Theirs, he said, is a culture of prayer. Prayer meetings, he said, cannot compete with a prayer culture. I was quite taken by that (so struck, actually, that I nearly pulled over to the side of the road just to take that in). Prayer meetings cannot compete with a prayer culture. How can such a simple truth be so far removed from the consciousness of so many Christians, myself included? There is an urgency, a desperate need for believers today to make prayer a part of their daily lives, an essential that is uncompromisable. If the only time we get to pray is once a week at church, or twice a week by joining the weekly prayer meeting that gives us donuts or chicken afterward, well, no wonder God seems less and less real and relevant in our lives.
In Ezekiel 9, the prophet has a vision of God commanding His angels to kill all the sinful men and women of Jerusalem. Before the six angels set out to do His bidding, He says in verse 4, to a man dressed in linen with a writing case by his side, “Go through Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the people who groan and cry about all the hateful things being done among them.”
I wrote before about the role of an intercessor in the church, and in this verse, it is clear that men and women who pray are set apart in the eyes of God. Prayer, however, in this context, is not the typical rote prayers that usually come with day-to-day activity. This kind of prayer is the kind of prayer that shakes the prayer warrior to his or her very core. The verse says, “people who groan and cry,” with other translations using everything from “moan and groan” to “terribly upset and sad.” This isn’t your run-of-the-mill chant; this is the prayer that leaves grown men weeping on their knees, overwhelmed by the sheer revelations God has given them in the course of their prayer. This kind of prayer life doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. When you do eventually have that kind of prayer relationship with God, though, oh WOW.
The desire to communicate with God comes from deep within, and when men and women are moved by that desire to action, well, these men and women can influence nations. I believe God moves us to pray, because He wants to work in our lives, and wants that invitation, and wants that open door. 1 Tim 2:1 tells us, “I urge, then, first of all that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone,” and when we intercede for people, when people witness for the themselves the redemptive, transformative, life-altering power of God through prayer, well, it changes the landscape of the times, and becomes part of a culture in itself.
Take a few minutes a day to just talk to God and see it for yourselves. Stand witness to what prayer can do. Don’t wait for the pastor or priest to call a meeting; while when two or three or more gather in His Name, He remains in the center, I know that God is just waiting for you to talk to Him. Come on; make Him part of your life for real!