The Fire That Makes the Difference

“He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11)

As Pentecostals we understand the part—“ with the Holy Ghost”—but what about the fire?

More than 300 times fire is mentioned in the bible.  It is often a symbol of God, His judgment or His acceptance.  The angels, as ministers of God, are compared to fire.  At His second coming, Jesus will appear in fire.  The Holy Ghost is compared to fire.  Fire and sacrifices are often linked together.

Abraham took fire with him to Moriah (Gen. 22:6).  Peter warmed by a fire in the temple courtyard (Matt. 14:54).  Paul helped build a fire on the island of Melita (Acts 28:2-3).  Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire in the tabernacle (Lev. 10:1).

However, there is one fire that makes the difference—the fire of God’s holy, manifested presence and power.

“And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar….which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” (Lev. 9:24)

“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven…and the glory of the Lord filled the house…and when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down…they bowed…and worshipped…” (II Chr. 7:1,3)

In both these instances, there had been much planning, work, activity, and sacrifice from the people.  However, it is when they had waited before the altar that the fire of God fell and the people were affected.

The fire that makes the difference comes on those who tarry at the altar of prayer and sacrifice. There is no substitute for the fire of God.  The “strange fire” offered by Nadab and Abihu is clearly man’s attempt to act in the things of God without seeking the mind of God!  Death is the result of this careless spirituality!

A new millineum is open before us—a new decade, a new year, a new month, a new day.  The most important thing we can do is to wait at the altar of prayer until the fire of God, His manifested presence and holiness, comes in its fullness of power.  And if we do, when we do, He will come, and the people will bow and worship.

As the royal priesthood of the New Testament church, we need to be aware of our responsibility to the altar.

“And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning…The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” (Lev. 6;12-13)

Prayer is the priority to preaching, studying, organizing, working, planning, singing, and shouting.  Paul wrote “…first of all….prayers…” (I Tim. 2:1)

God’s house shall be called a house of prayer, but what have we made it?  (Mark 11:17)

The maximum or minimum results of all our efforts in the new millennium, will be determined by the ministry of prayer.  It will be the fire that will make the difference.

The Fate of the World

Dr. Paul Bilheimer in his classic book, Destined for the Throne, reminds us that “the fate of the world is in the hands of nameless saints.

During this past year in the country of Myanmar (Burma), where the gospel is very restricted, 400 saints gathered under the banner of World Network of Prayer in two prayer summits to intercede for our world.  We rejoice in that, but I remember the lone prayer evangelist strapping himself with rope to the back step board of an open jeep as his only way of getting to an unevangelized area where he would seclude himself in deep intercession for the souls of the lost.  He and many others tilted the balance in this Buddhist country until the Spirit was poured out and we have a thriving church in spite of obstacles.

“the fate of the world is in the hands of nameless saints”  Interceding-in prayer!

I remember also Northeast India where the Holy Ghost was poured out on thousands of praying Presbyterians.  I remember the dedicated workers trudging through the wilderness, pushing out the frontiers of the Kingdom, with blood-sucking leeches locking onto their legs.  To redeem the time in reaching their unevangelized location, they wouldn’t stop until they had at least 6 leeches which had to be removed.

“the fate of the world is in the hands of nameless saints”  Praying and going!

And in my own Louisiana, praying mother concerned for her family and community, was surely the cause of the breakdown of the car of an itinerant Pentecostal pioneer preacher.  In the middle of the night, Bro. Hawthorne was forced to knock on her door to ask for help.  When he identified himself, she started praising God, shouting and dancing because, she said, “I have been praying for a preacher and a church!”  And one of many churches birthed by prayer started the next night on her front porch.

“the fate of the world is in the hands of nameless saints”  Praying people.

The WNOP is now 4 years old, organized with coordinators in 30 districts, the Black and Spanish fellowships and in 109 nations around the world.  Almost all of Africa, much of Europe, and countries around the globe are uniting in focused agreeing prayer.  We have a dedicated team of volunteers, some who work up to 15 hours a week.  They range in age from their teens to the eighties.  Brother and Sister Knowles come every week.  He and Frank McGarvey spend their time in prayer in the chapel while Sister Knowles answers the prayer line, prays and assists with other work.

“the fate of the world is in the hands of nameless saints”  And they are praying!

755,000 Prayer Guides, which form the basis for informed intercession for pastors, missionaries, and leaders, have been distributed to saints, to prayer groups, and used in prayer meetings around the world.

Prepared teams for Prayer Evangelism are walking the streets of unevangelized cities around the world praying  for the people in darkness.  There was real breakthrough in Holland last year.  While doing a prayer walk in Honduras this past year, there was a dramatic change in the political, economic and spiritual climate.  Mark Foster and Raymond Woodward, along with a group of pastors from Louisiana, felt the beginning of a breakthrough in Quebec during a time of Prayer Evangelism.  As they prayed in a Catholic Cathedral, recognized as a holy place, they witnessed the shattering of a candleholder directly in front of them, which was said to be unbreakable.  They felt this was a sign of a breakthrough.

Praying children, led by a Pentecostal teacher, diverted a tornado headed directly for their school, a powerful witness to the power of prayer.  A child’s earnest prayer dislodged an unmovable sinner father and deposited him at the foot of the cross.  A Pentecostal woman, Billie Jean Bauer (DeQuincy, Louisiana) is stretching a prayer covering over many schools with Partners in Prayer, teaming churches with schools. The testimony from the schools, ” We feel the difference!  Come now and do a prayer walk on site.”  She was recently invited to speak to a gathering of 80 Superintendents and is receiving enthusiastic acceptance.

Jack Yonts, Jr. is not only breathing and living, but preaching to reach the lost!  All because his crisis request, as with the thousands of others we receive, went out to over 1000 individuals and groups who share them with multiplied numbers of prayer partners, prayer meetings, and post in prayer rooms.  They are also deposited in the chapel at World Evangelism Center, and many are posted on our website where we also received thousands of requests last year.  On our prayer telephone line we receive hundreds of calls a month.

“the fate of the world is in the hands of nameless saints.”  And they continue in prayer!

Through WNOP every Home Missionary has at least four prayer partners; Metro Missionaries have at least four prayer partners, Foreign Missionaries have at least eight prayer partners.  Every leader, board and committee meeting, and every crusade are well covered in assigned prayer with follow up reminders to continue in prayer.

During General Conference we sat with amazement as over $4.9 million was invested into the Kingdom.  What you didn’t see was this:  a group of saints and pastors led by WNOP Coordinator, Bro. Kellstrom, were praying through the Book of Acts, which was the design of the Prayer Room.  Just before the Missions service started they gathered around the area designated “Pray for a Spirit of Apostolic Giving” and started interceding.  The presence of God came into the room as they prayed for a spirit of Apostolic giving, as in the Book of Acts, would come to the people.

“the fate of the world is in the hands of nameless saints.”  Sensitive to the Holy Ghost!

One afternoon recently, missionary Kathy Miller,, walked into the WNOP office in St. Louis and said, “You know I will soon be going alone into 3 Muslim countries where we have never had a witness.  I need prayer partners-it is a dangerous venture.”  With our rapid communication, it was out by e-mail within minutes-the call for prayer!  The next morning, we had 23 pledges of prayer partners; by afternoon, 48; and the last time I checked, we had 71 prayer partners!

“the fate of the world is in the hands of nameless saints”  Praying saints!

The World Network of Prayer is not a program.  It is the hub to motivate, direct and focus prayer for the ultimate purpose of proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom to the whole world.

When prayer was lifted to the place of priority in Acts 6:4, “We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word,” something very special happened.  Not only did the number of disciples multiply greatly, but a company of priests was obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).  God is bigger than any of us and He will fulfill the promise of the great outpouring of the Holy Ghost on this world.  Prayer is the escort for this outpouring.  I plead for the priority of prayer among us.  When prayer becomes the continual priority the disciples will multiply greatly and the obedient priests/ministers will become the multiplied laborers Jesus told us to pray for when he spoke of the great harvest.  (Luke 10:2)  Jesus said, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray…”

“the fate of the world is in the hands of nameless saints.”   Are you one of them?

Prophesying Prayer

Prophesying shouldn’t seem any stranger to us than speaking in tongues. The reason for this is because both originate as the Spirit gives utterance and both reside in the scriptural location of the birth place of the Apostolic Church in Acts. The question is, if we exercise ourselves in one, why not the other? Because the prophetic dimension is also a part of the Spirit-filled believers birthright.

Prophecy can mean to foretell or to forth tell. There are scriptural prophecies, the gift of prophecy, the office of the prophet, and there is a spirit of prophecy. Paul confessed that we sometimes know not how to pray as we ought but the Spirit makes intercession for us. (See Romans 8:26.) This can happen with groanings, which cannot be uttered, or praying in tongues, but it can also be something that happens in our mind as we converse with God.  Any sincere believer can have and probably has had, something suddenly come to mind. In scriptural terminology could this not be considered to be “the word of the Lord came to me”?

The mind of Christ will work in us if we let it, and the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10). This is the source for the resource of prophesying believers.

When we combine the enablement of the Spirit of Prophecy with the medium of prayer we are blessed to tap into a powerful force.

Understanding that all prayer originates with God because no one can come to the Father except the Spirit draws him is one facet, but we must also realize that in knowing that God is so in control that He actually waits to act until we pray. He wants to share with us what He desires to do so we can then ask in prayer for His intervention into our earthly affairs. Prophesying prayer is hearing God and praying His desires and will.

Daniel tells us that the God of heaven reveals secrets and makes known what shall be. When Daniel understood God’s intentions, he prayed them (Daniel 2:28)!

Isaiah assures us God will tell His intentions before they happen (Isaiah 42:9).

The dimension of prayer is readily available to Spirit-filled believers, but if we are not aware of it, we will only by accident engage in it. The power of prayer has yet to be explored fully. It is the most potent power available to man.

I have a very personal story which illustrates prophetic prayer. At our General Conference in 2003, we had lunch with our friend Brother Freddy Clark. After we had finished eating, Brother Freddy prayed over each of us. As he was praying for me he prayed for my health, my well-being and specifically for my heart. When he had finished praying he looked at me and said, “You have a little problem with your heart, but you will be okay.”

This puzzled me and I must confess that although I have great confidence in Brother Clark, I told my husband, “He missed it this time. I just had a good check up saying that there was nothing wrong with my heart.” Three months later, I had surgery for a knee replacement which went very well. However, about fifteen hours after my surgery, my heart stopped. I had a pulmonary embolism and kidney failure. The diagnosis: a problem with my heart that had never shown up in any medical exam. A prayer, a prophecy, and I am okay today keeping a full schedule of work, travel and ministering.

Prophetic prayer is simply hearing God tell us what to pray and praying it. The possibilities are limitless.

If you are interested in further study, Pastor Jeff Ramsey of Minden, LA has written a book called Prophetic Prayer.

The Power of Praying

It is absolutely beyond the natural mind to believe that a little band of believers on their knees have the power to determine destiny, to rule kingdoms, to chart the course of events, to loose, to bind, to destroy, to give life, to bring revival; but it is verified in the Word of God.

More than once, Moses’ prayers saved his nation from destruction (Deuteronomy 9, 11, 16, 21).

On his knees, Daniel towered over pagan Babylon and made them know that God rules.

Elijah strangled the economy of a nation and then, with one prayer, broke the drought as a witness to the power of God.

Hosea prayed a hedge of thorns around his wayward wife until she would be redeemed (Hosea 2:6).

A prophet’s prayer blinded and subdued a destroying army who then took orders from him (II Kings 6).

Praying women initiated revival on the continent of Europe (Acts 16:13-15).

Cornelius prayed down an angel and a revival in an unlikely place with unlikely people (Acts 10).

A home prayer meeting dispatched an angel to unlock prison doors (Acts 12:5-7).

The prayer and praise of Paul and Silas provoked an earthquake which broke open a revival (Acts 16:25-34).

Peter prayed, Dorcas was raised from the dead, the whole city heard about it, and many believed (Acts 9:40-42).

Paul prayed, the governor’s father was healed and became a witness to the power of God (Acts 28:7,8).

Consider that small group praying had major effect on nations, heathens, enemies, continents, the economy, strange people, family, prisoners, angels, the sick, and the dead.  What an awesome thought, and most of it was done on location of daily living—in homes, on the street, or in public.  The power of aggressive prayer is easily accessible to all of us.

The early church prayer warriors not only prayed strong prayers bolstered by faith, but they were not afraid to exercise the authority which Jesus had given them.  Their bold prayers were accompanied with bold words.  They not only prayed, asking God for, they also spoke to, and against, as they perceived through the Holy Ghost.

In Acts 4:29-31, they decidedly spoke against the hindering forces and prayed for boldness accompanied with the miraculous.  There was no sign of timidity in their prayers.  Neither their ability nor worthiness was considered.  Their petitions were not made from a beggar’s stance.  Their unshakable confidence was in God and He shook the place to vindicate their primitive faith.

Peter not only prayed miraculous prayers (see Acts 5:1-11; 8:20-24), but he also spoke judgment and rebuked with the power and perception of the Holy Ghost.

Peter and John, without pseudo humility, could say, “Look on us,” and then with unshakable faith could say, “…rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).

Peter visited palsied Aeneas and brought strong words of command rather than simple words of cheer.  “…Aneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole; arise…” (Acts 9:34).

Paul, on a downtown street, commanded:  “Stand upright on thy feet” (Acts 14:10).

This same authority and power has been given to us.  Read Matthew 10:1, 7, 8; Mark 16:17, 18, 20; and Acts 1:8.  Timidity, inferiority, and self-consciousness have no place in the spiritual life of a believer.  Let us raise our sights, enlarge our borders, and become bold enough to pray prayers and speak words appropriate to the power of our God.  In His divine wisdom, He has decreed to respond to us in proportion to what we ask of Him.  “Whatsoever ye ask…”

The telecommunications revolution, and now social media, has changed our world.  Almost everyday breakthroughs surprise us as to the extent of how man has learned to communicate.  Can we imagine the breakthroughs possible in communicating with God through prayer? The power of aggressive prayer, rooted in faith by the Word, and executed in boldness of authority by the Name, can change our world.

Prayer, What Is It?

Prayer is breath to the spirit.
It is the lifeline to the soul.
It is the tether to the eternal.
Prayer is communication between creature and creator.

It is the eye into the invisible.
It is the ear to the unspoken.
Prayer is the access into the heavenlies.

It is the activator of the miraculous.
Prayer is enlightenment to the mind.
It is understanding to the emotions.
Prayer is man’s greatest opportunity.

It is man’s daily challenge.
It is man’s amazing possibility.
Prayer – what is it?
Prayer is the mystery of all mysteries.

It is as complex as creation.It is as simple as a child’s talk.
It is the most powerful power available to man.
It is more piercing than a laser.
It is the seed of all things possible.It is the finality of man’s ability.
Prayer is man plugged into God.

It is God working through man.
Prayer is creative.
Destructive.  Cohesive.  Dividing.
Awe-inspiring.  Frightening.
Possible and probable.
Prayer is bigger than can be imagined.

It is faster than a beam of light.
It is endless in possibilities.
It can be more concentrated than an atom.
Prayer is forceful.  Tender.  Shattering.
Healing.  Complex and simple.

Prayer has never been totally understood, completely explained or utterly exhausted.
It is beyond the wisest man’s comprehension.
It can be effectively used by a child.
All the words ever known can not adequately describe it.

Yet it can be reduced to a single word.

Every language can speak it.

Only God can understand it.

Practice it and find peace.
Believe in it and find faith.
Let it consume you and really live.

Prayer – the unimaginable, incomprehensible, obtainable connection between the finite and the infinite, the earth bound and the Almighty who fills the universe.

Prayer – God’s gift to man.

Use it.  Engage it.  Revel in it.  Enjoy it.  Reap from its riches.

Sing it.  Read it.  Think it.  Speak it.

“Men ought always to pray. . .”

The Bible is a book of prayers.  There are over 600 recorded prayers.  There are long prayers, short prayers.  There are desperate prayers and prayers of devotion and thanksgiving.  There are requests and rebukes and repentance.  There are prayers of destruction, life-giving prayers, and multiple intercessions.  There are prayers from a lonely woman, a fearful child, a frightened fisherman, a patriarch, an apostle, a prophet and a disciple.

Leaders prayed.  Nations prayed.  Friends prayed.  Groups prayed.  Individuals prayed.  Sinners prayed.  Saints prayed.

Jesus prayed.

Men ought always to pray.

Prayers on Credit

It all happened during the night of January 26, 2004.  My knee replacement surgery had been successfully done that morning.  Teri, my daughter, was napping on the couch beside my hospital bed, thankful that I had finally settled down into a deep sleep.  A nurse came in to check my ‘vitals’ and pandemonium broke out. My blood pressure was 50/30… a blood clot had hit my lungs… along with diastolic heart failure… and kidney failure!  Three hours passed before I responded to anything.

Except for Teri, none of those who so faithfully prayed for me knew that my condition had changed from normal recovery of knee surgery to serious and life threatening.  Within 24 hours, many were praying for me – but not at the time I so desperately needed it. From this, I’ve learned a blessed lesson.

…before they call, I will answer…” is declared in Isaiah 65:24.  Prayers on credit! Credit is when you receive something for which you will pay later.  God is good – and so trusting!  If we have a good credit history of praying when prayer is called for, He will respond on credit!

You did not know in the middle of the night on January 26 that I desperately needed your prayers, but before you called, He answered!

Hosting Prayer in Your Community

Prayer in the book of Acts was never confined to a church or private home. They prayed in the streets, in the house, on the roof-top, in the jail, at the sea shore, by the riverside, in the marketplace, in the parks-they invaded their communities and towns with prayer.

Are you invading your community with prayer? If so, we want to know when you are praying, with whom, and what God is doing as a result.

Please write to me and share what is happening with you in the experience of prayer in your community. Include the size of your church and this outreach of blessing.

Let the Children Come to Me

If prayer is the primary way we come to God, what are doing to “let them come?We need to teach children what prayer is and to model for them a healthy prayer life. We also need to provide them with opportunities to learn to pray on their own and grow in intimacy with God.

One of the most valuable things we can teach children is how to pray. Many of God’s chosen leaders learned to pray as children. King David learned to talk with God as a young shepherd boy on the hills of Judea. The boy, Samuel, heard the voice of God as he lay on his bed in the temple of the Lord. God still speaks to children today and wants to reveal himself to them through his Word, and through prayer.

When we provide examples that inspire, instruction at the child’s level, and opportunities for involvement, we will see spiritual growth and development in our children that will be the foundation for a lifetime of exciting adventures in prayer.

Children are treasures of the Kingdom.  If our relationship with God is indeed so meaningful, then we can’t help wanting to share it with our children.

Help Needed!

Strength, self-sufficiency, and independence are usually admirable traits — especially in our self-help society.  However, there are times help is not only needed but should be openly welcomed.  It is true that Paul said “…every man shall bear his own burden…” but he also said, “…bear ye one another’s burdens….” (Galatians 6:2-5)

Perhaps it is significant  that when the ‘burden’ becomes ‘burdens,’ Paul encouraged sharing the load.  Even Jesus did not carry His cross alone.  “…Simon a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.” (Luke 23:26)

The WNOP has strong and broad shoulders to help bear the burdens of many.  Not only do we share personal burdens , but we are able to impact world events. Often we have missionaries tell us that the very week they were on the request list , they were especially helped and blessed.

Thank you – all of you- who consistently share the load and help bear the burdens of others by agreeing together in prayer for the multiple requests.

We are …”helping together by prayer…”  (II Corinthians 1:11)

Perilous Times & Prayer

As I sit safely and comfortablely in my home this morning, I am fully aware that the situation could change at any moment. Danger lurks in our schools, our streets, office buildings, air planes—even in the air we breathe. Reading the daily newspaper proves the point. The old song, No Hiding Place Down Here, could well be a theme-song for our time.

In a recent conversation, Brother Tom Barnes said, “If ever we needed to tune into prayer, it is now. Terrorism could make the sanctification through prayer of our food a necessity. The operation of the gifts of the Spirit may become a necessity to even know where to go and when to go, because of the danger of terrorism around us. God revealed the position of the enemy to the prophet. Prayer will become a necessity as we face what the future will bring. Even if our need becomes personally great, God is able to multiply bread by the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Even if we are scattered and alone, God will work through us. Prayer is the access into the supernatural power of God and we need it now more than ever before.” (Scriptural references: I Timothy 4:5; II Kings 2: 14; II Kings 4:38-44; II Kings 6:8-12; Romans 1:11-12)

We are instructed not to be terrified when we hear of wars and commotions, but to take heed to ourselves, be alert not unaware of pending dangers that stealthily come as a hidden snare.

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass (Luke 21: 9, 34-36).

Living in times of high alert can have negative and positive effects. Too long on high alert can numb us to surrounding danger. It can also dull our senses to the awesome possibilities of spiritual intervention. High alert can be a time of bringing people to their spiritual senses causing them to go to God in prayer.

These are stressful times with a lot of uncertainty, but  II Chronicles 7:14-15 is still true:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.

Danger intervened by prayer—who knows how many times.

Watch, therefore, and pray always.