New Wine for New Wineskins May 2013

By , May 2, 2013 9:39 am

Prayers That Move Heaven (by Pray-ers Who Know Their God)

If you are looking for something and you aren’t finding it, or if you are looking for something to happen and it isn’t happening, there could be several reasons why that is the case.  But perhaps the most logical explanation is that you are looking in the wrong place, or that what you are looking to happen isn’t supposed to happen….

For example, many people have come to our island – the Isle of Lewis – over the years looking for revival?  They have come, and continue to come, because they have heard that revival has been experienced here in the past.

Personally, I used to get a bit of a kick out of acting as a guide for the many revival tourists that we have hosted over the years.  I used to enjoy taking them round the various sites where there had been manifestations of God’s glory, and I loved to recount the stories of these times as I had heard them from others – “this is where the two old ladies prayed”, “this is the Barvas church”, “this is the house that shook”, etc.

So, if people come here looking for revival and don’t find it, or if people are looking for another revival to happen here and it doesn’t appear to be happening, is it perhaps possible that they are looking in the wrong place (and I am not referring to geography), or that they may be looking for something that is not supposed to happen?

Let’s have a wee listen to what Jesus has to say.

Matthew 6: 33

33 …seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Luke 12: 31 – 32

31 …seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.  32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Matthew 11: 12

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

AMP

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].

It is interesting that Jesus never once used the word revival.  He didn’t say to seek revival, or that it was the Father’s good pleasure to give us revival, or anything else at all about revival. But he did speak about the kingdom.  In fact, everywhere he went he was preaching and teaching about the kingdom.

Luke 16: 16

16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.”

Jesus didn’t only preach and teach about the kingdom and demonstrate the supernatural dimension of the kingdom, but he also taught us how to access the kingdom.  It’s really quite simple.  He said to pray!

Matthew 6: 7 – 13

7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.  8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:  Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 9: 37 – 38

37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Matthew 17: 21

“…assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Matthew 21: 13

13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”

Matthew 21: 21 – 22

21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Matthew 26: 41

41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 11: 23 – 24

23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Mark 13: 33

33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.

Luke 6: 28

28 “…pray for those who spitefully use you”

Luke 18: 1

1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…

Luke 21: 36

36  “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

John 16: 26 – 27

26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

It seems that Jesus was big on prayer, and that he taught prayer as the means to access the fullness of God’s provision for every area of life.  But although he encouraged prayer he also made a clear distinction between different types of pray-er.  There is what he called the hypocritical type of pray-er who prays to be seen and heard by men, and there is the heathen type of pray-er who prays with vain repetitions – mouthing off words without knowledge as though prayer was an end in itself, and there is the pray-er who prays because he knows God and prays in faith expecting an answer!

A quick study of the Gospels and the Book of Acts reveals that the people who received from God were the ones who went beyond the normal places of religious behaviour, and who made violent assaults on the kingdom of heaven with a boldness of faith that ensured they got the result they were looking for!

John Wesley said, “God does nothing except by prayer…God does nothing until someone prays…”  I believe he said that because that is what he saw in Scripture and that is what he experienced in his own life and ministry.

I believe that people who come to Lewis looking for revival, or looking for revival to happen again simply because they have heard that it happened here before, are looking for something to happen that isn’t supposed to happen!

What is termed revival by many people is simply a break-in or a break-out of the kingdom of heaven in response to the prayer of a pray-er who knows how to move heaven to earth because they know their God!  Not because they know a formula, or a method, but because they know the heart of their God.  They know their God because they have pursued a relationship with him based upon their knowledge of his character and his faithfulness to keep his covenant promises.  This is where it becomes more difficult to describe or explain because the relationship these pray-ers have with their God doesn’t follow rigid rules or regulations, or even guidelines, but it is based on friendship (not familiarity – there is a difference) and intimacy.

Sadly, when people come looking for revival or looking for another revival to happen here they most times miss the keys to what was really a break in / break out of the kingdom and was unfortunately downgraded in people’s understanding to the status of a revival.

Matthew 16: 19

19 “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus didn’t say he would give us the keys to revival. One of the things I believe would be helpful for us to do in this generation would be to abandon the terminology of revival that ultimately limits us in our ability to access and experience the fullness of the kingdom. Some folks might argue that this is just semantics or quibbling over words, but the message throughout Scripture is that the words we use are important in matters of life and death!

I want to look at three examples of prayers from Scripture that brought heaven to earth, and also three corresponding prayers from the record of events of 60+ years ago that brought a manifestation of God’s glory, as heaven touched earth on the Isle of Lewis.  The accounts of what happened here are from the writings of Duncan Campbell, the evangelist most associated with the period of revival from 1949 – 1953.

I believe there is a key to be discovered here that is often missed by the average revival tourist and also by the revival-seeking residents of these islands who are pursuing a repeat performance!  Too often the problem is that people are fascinated by the manifestation of the glory and so they want to see it again, but they don’t or won’t pray the prayers that actually brought about that manifestation.  And even if they did repeat the prayers parrot-fashion it would no doubt be a fruitless exercise, because the key is found in the attitude of the pray-er before it is found in the content of the prayer.

1.  Moses

Exodus 33: 12 – 23

10 All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. 11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. 12 Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” 14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” 17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” 18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” 19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

The LORD spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.  There is a level of relationship that exists here that is a key to understanding the boldness of the prayer that comes from this pray-er, Moses, and that brings such a powerful manifestation of the glory of God.  The people saw the manifestation of the pillar of cloud and they were aware of something powerful taking place, but none of them saw what Moses saw or experienced what Moses experienced.  Not because it wasn’t possible for them to experience it as Moses himself expressed a desire for all of God’s people to know the LORD in the way he did and to communicate with him as he did but sadly they didn’t have the same desire, the same passion, and the same boldness of faith that is born out relationship and intimacy.

Barvas

“In 1949, the local presbytery issued a proclamation to be read on a certain Sunday in all the Free Churches on the island of Lewis. This proclamation called the people to consider the “low state of vital religion…throughout the land…and the present dispensation of Divine displeasure . . . due to growing carelessness toward public worship…and the growing influence of the spirit of pleasure which has taken growing hold of the younger generation.” …..In the parish of Barvas a number of men and women took it to heart, especially two old women…two sisters, one eighty-two and one eight-four, the latter blind. These two women developed a great heart concern for God to do something in the parish and gave themselves to waiting upon God in their little cottage.

One night God gave one of the sisters a vision…In the vision, she saw the churches crowded with young people…..At that time, there was not a single young person attending public worship, a fact which cannot be disputed. Sending for the minister, she told him her story, and he took her message as a word from God to his heart. Turning to her he said, “What do you think we should do?” “What?” she said, “Give yourself to prayer; give yourself to waiting upon God. Get your elders and deacons together and spend at least two nights a week waiting upon God in prayer. If you will do that at your end of the parish, my sister and I will do it at our end of the parish from ten o’clock at night until two or three o’clock in the morning.” So, the minister called his leaders together and for several months they waited upon God in a barn among the straw. During this time they pled one promise, “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah 44: 3). This went on for at least three months. Nothing happened.

But one night a young deacon rose and began reading from Psalm 24, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Psalm 24:3 – 5). Closing his Bible, he addressed the minister and other office bearers in words that sound crude in English, but not so crude in the Gaelic language, “It seems to me so much humbug. To be waiting as we are waiting, to be praying as we are praying, when we ourselves are not rightly related to God.” Then, he lifted his hands toward heaven and prayed, “O God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?” Then, he went to his knees and fell into a trance. Now, don’t ask me to explain the physical manifestations of this movement because I can’t, but this I do know, that something happened in the barn at that moment in that young deacon. There was a power loosed that shook the heavens and an awareness of God gripped those gathered together.”

For three months nothing happened despite the very real sincerity of those who were praying.  But one night, one young pray-er’s hunger took him beyond the normal traditional parameters of their prayer meetings and he dared to ask the LORD a question that only the LORD himself could answer – and the answer came in the manifestation of his presence and a demonstration of his power!  This young man’s bold prayer moved heaven to earth as they were reconnected with the revelation of the righteousness that was already theirs.  His prayer was different because it had a boldness that entered into the presence of God – the place that has been thrown open to us and to which we are invited to boldly come, but a place which very few actually enter even though they can quote the Scripture!

Instead of being fascinated or obsessed with the results of this prayer or even the prayer itself, if more people had the same hunger and boldness as the pray-er then we would have continual, perpetual days of heaven on earth!

2.  Elijah

James 5: 16 – 18 (AMP)

16 The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. 17 Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have [with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours]; and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months.18 And [then] he prayed again and the heavens supplied rain and the land produced its crops.

If Elijah was the same as the rest of his peers naturally, what was different about him when it came to moving heaven?  He knew God in a way that caused him to pray in a way that nobody else had the boldness or audacity to pray!

Bernera

On a trip to a neighboring island I found the people were very cold and stiff. Calling for some men to come over and pray, I particular requested that a young man named Donald accompany them. Donald, who was seventeen years old, had been recently saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit about two weeks later on a hillside. As we were in the church that night, Donald was sitting toward the front with tears falling off his face onto the floor. I knew Donald was in touch with God in a way that I was not. So I stopped preaching and asked him to pray. Donald rose to his feet and prayed, “I seem to be gazing into an open door and see the Lamb in the midst of the throne and the keys of death and hell on his waist.” Then he stopped and began to sob. After he composed himself, he lifted his eyes toward heaven, raised his hands, and said, “God, there is power there. Let it loose!” And at that moment the power of God fell upon the congregation. On one side of the room, the people threw up their hands, put their heads back and kept them in that position for two hours. It is hard to do this for ten minutes, much less two hours. On the other side, the people were slumped over, crying out for mercy. In a village five miles away, the power of God swept through the township and there was hardly a house in that village that didn’t have someone saved in it that night.

The account of what happened that night in Bernera still fascinates people, and many long to see it again but fail to recognise that the key is in the attitude of the pray-er who uttered the prayer that moved heaven to earth.  There is a boldness of faith that finds an expression in words that address God in a way that many would never dare to – simply because they don’t know him well enough!

3.  The Early Church

Acts 4: 23 – 31

23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them (threatening them not to speak any more in the Name of Jesus) 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ 27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

There was no fear of man or devils with these guys.  They knew their God and they knew his heart to see his kingdom come and his will to be done in the earth as it is in heaven, and so instead of retreating into “safe” mode they prayed a prayer that brought a manifestation of kingdom power that shook the building and re-filled them all with the Holy Spirit and boldness to go out and preach the kingdom and heal the sick!

Arnol

In one area of the district there was bitter opposition to the movement because I preached the baptism of the Holy Ghost as a separate and distinct occurrence following conversion. Those who opposed me were so successful in their opposition that very few people came to the meetings.

One night, the session clerk came to me and said, “There is only one thing we can do to correct the situation which now prevails. We must give ourselves to waiting upon God in prayer. I have been told there is a farmer who said we could meet in his home. He is not a Christian and his wife isn’t saved, but they are God-fearing people.” About thirty of us, ministers and elders from the district, met in this farmer’s house. I felt the going very, very hard. I prayed. All the ministers prayed. One felt that the very powers of hell were unleashed. About midnight I turned to one of the elders and told him I thought the time had come for him to lay hold of God. This man rose to his feet and prayed for about half and hour. (Of course, you must remember that we were in revival, and in revival time doesn’t exist. Nobody was looking at the clock.) The man paused, lifted his hand toward heaven and said, “God, did You know that your honor is a stake? You gave the promise that You would pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground, and You are not doing it.” I wonder how many of us could approach God with words like that on our lips? Then he said, “There are five ministers in this meeting, including Mr. Campbell, and I don’t know where a one of them stands in Your Presence. But if I know anything about my own heart, I think I can say that I am thirsty for a manifestation of Your power.” He paused again, then cried out in a loud voice, “God, Your honor is at stake and I now challenge You to pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground.” And in that moment the stone-built house literally shook like a leaf. I immediately went to the Acts of the Apostles where it is recorded that they prayed and the place where they were assembled was shaken. As soon as this dear man stopped praying, I pronounced the benediction a little after two o’clock in the morning and went out to find the whole village ablaze with God. I went into one house and found nine women on their knees in the kitchen crying out to God. One woman saved that night has written some of the finest Gaelic hymns in our Gaelic hymnal. On the following Sunday, the road was black with the people walking two miles to the church. The drinking house in that particular village closed that night and has never reopened since. This is God at work. A God sent revival is always a revival of holiness.

Many people I have met are captivated by the fact that the building shook and, of course, it is not wrong to be awed by that, but how many realise that the building shook because one pray-er moved heaven with a prayer that was different from all the other prayers?

I started out by saying that if we are looking for something and we are not finding it, or if we are looking for something to happen and it is not happening then maybe we are looking  in the wrong place.  I believe this is true in regards to revival.  Too often we focus on the manifestations of past moves of the Holy Spirit and long to see them again, rather than looking beyond the manifestation to the pray-er of the prayer that moved heaven.  Even more importantly, I believe, it is time for us to stop looking for another revival to happen that is not supposed to happen, and rather begin seeking the kingdom of heaven – to see our Father’s kingdom come and his will done on earth as it is in heaven – to be pray-ers of prayers that move heaven to earth, not just temporarily, but perpetually.

Daniel 11: 32

32…the people who know their God shall prove themselves strong and shall stand firm and do exploits [for God].

This is speaking of those who really know God – just like Moses who the LORD spoke to as a friend.  Abraham was the friend of God and so God shared everything with him regarding Sodom and Gomorrah – basically inviting prayer from him on their behalf.  Jesus said he wants to call his disciples friends rather than servants.  Friends speak to each other and say things to each other in ways that people who aren’t so well acquainted never do!  Paul said his strongest desire and motivation was to know Jesus in all of his glory.

2 Chronicles 16: 9

9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

The LORD is looking for friends in these days who are fully committed to him and his kingdom – sons and daughters who know him and who love to come boldly into his presence and be pray-ers of the prayers that move heaven to earth!  Stop looking for revival and instead begin to seek his kingdom – the kingdom that it is his good pleasure to give us – that he delights in giving us – the kingdom that endures violent assault upon its resources from those who are pressing into it!

Is there anyone reading this who is ready to commit to pressing in to know the LORD in a new way – and to commit to being a pray-er of the prayers that move heaven to earth?

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