Conduits of His Power
Yesterday we discussed the need for persistence in prayer. But why is persistence required? Does God have a certain amount of prayers required for certain situations? Do we “talk Him into” doing things? Does God ever “finally decide” to do something? Do we “earn” answers through hard work or perseverance?
The answer to all these questions is no.
“What about that which is frequently referred to as the prayer of importunity, in Luke 11:5-13?” some will ask. “Doesn’t this story teach that we importune (persist) with God until He decides to give us what we ask?”
The answer is an emphatic NO! Persistence in prayer is never required for the purpose of overcoming God’s reluctance.
The word “importunity” in Luke 11:8 (KJV) is an unfortunate KJV translation of the Greek word anaideia, which actually means “shamelessness”1 or “bold unashamedness.”2 Aidos, the root word, means “modesty or shame”3 and is translated as such in 1 Timothy 2:9. Here in Luke 11, it is in its negative form, making it “without modesty or shame.”
The point of this passage in Luke is the same as Hebrews 4:16, which is that we are to approach the throne of grace boldly, rather than with a sense of unworthiness or shame. Just as the petitioner in the story, we can approach God as our friend, at any time, knowing we are welcome.
So why is persistence or perseverance necessary in prayer? In 1984 Ceci was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst which the doctor said would mandate surgery. I asked Holy Spirit to heal her; He responded by instructing me to pray in my prayer language for her an hour a day. I did so, and over a 30-day period, the cyst completely disappeared. Why did it take 30 hours of praying to get the cyst dissolved on my wife’s ovary?
In 1985 Holy Spirit assigned me to pray for a young, comatose girl. Viral Encephalitis had damaged her brain, reducing her to basically a vegetative state for the past year and a half. The doctors gave her no hope of recovery. At the instruction of Holy Spirit, I prayed over her at least an hour every week - sometimes two hours - for a year. At the end of that year, Jesus completely healed her brain. Why did it take a year to obtain a miracle for this young girl? (Both of these testimonies are shared in more detail in my book, Intercessory Prayer.)
Why does it sometimes require several years of intercession to see someone saved? Why did Elijah have to pray seven times before the rain came (see 1 Kings 18:41-45)? Why did Daniel have to pray 21 days before the angel broke through with his answer (see Daniel 10:13)?
Gordon Lindsay, a great man of prayer and the founder of Christ for the Nations, taught much about what he called the “substance” of prayer.4 The concept is that our prayers do more than simply motivate the Father to action. They actually release the power of Holy Spirit from us to accomplish things. Certain types of praying would, of course, do this more than others. For example, praying in the Spirit releases great power. When spiritual opposition is involved, speaking the word of God becomes a powerful sword against those powers (see Ephesians 6:17). Spirit-led declarations or commands release the power of Holy Spirit (see Matthew 17:20; Mark 11:23). The laying on of hands is another scriptural method of imparting power (see Mark 16:18; Hebrews 6:2).
That there is literal power in us, which Holy Spirit desires to release from us, is absolute. The power of God that brings life, healing, and wholeness flows out from us - the church. Please don’t assume the power of God flows only from His heavenly throne. He is now enthroned in our hearts - we are the temple of Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19). The word translated temple (naos), means “the holy of holies.”5 We are now the holy of holies, the dwelling place of God and His glory on the earth. When He releases power, it doesn’t have to shoot out of the sky somewhere - it emanates from we, His people, the dwelling place of Holy Spirit. Whether through speaking, touching, laying hands on the sick, declaring, or even worship, when God’s power flows on earth, it is through human vessels.
A symbolic picture of this is given in John 7:38, where Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’” Innermost being, (or as the KJV says, “belly”) is the word Greek koilia, which literally means “womb.” Translating the verse literally, we would say, “From his womb shall flow rivers of living water.” The word “womb,” of course, speaks of reproduction, or birthing - the bringing forth of life.
A similar phrase is found in Revelation 22:1-2:
“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
The picture here is of Jesus as the source of life. Out of Him flows the river of life, with trees on either side. Leaves are produced by the trees, which are watered by the river, which flows from Jesus. People (the nations) eat the leaves of these trees and are made whole.
Incredibly, the phrase “river of the water of life” in this passage is the same Greek phrase as “rivers of living water” in John 7. The river of life flowing from the Lamb, one day bringing healing and the wholeness to the earth, is the same river of living water Jesus said would flow from the womb of the church now. We are Christ’s womb, His incubation chambers. As profound as this is, however, it shouldn’t surprise us. Is it not the very power and life of Jesus in us - not our own - we are supposed to minister to people?
John 7:39 goes on to say, “But this He spoke of the Spirit.” The river Christ spoke of as flowing from us is the Spirit of God. Obviously, it must be His power flowing, but it flows from us. Holy Spirit doesn’t lay hands on the sick - we do (see Mark 16:18). As we do so, He, inside us, releases His river of power and life to flow into that person.
Not only are we Christ’s womb, we’re His mouth. When the Spirit of God wants to release power against His enemies, He uses us to wield the sword of the Spirit - the spoken word of God (see Ephesians 6:17). He doesn’t speak from the clouds; He speaks from His people - up from our spirits, out of our mouths. And this releases God’s power! We are the mouth of God from which His power and life flow.
At the time when God was teaching me this in the mid-80s, I had 45 warts on my hands. Some were quite large and had eaten into my fingernails and cuticles on 3 fingers, completely replacing them. They had been spreading/multiplying on my hands for 7-8 years. Doctors told me they didn’t want to burn or freeze them off, for fear of mutilating my hands, nails, and cuticles.
Many people prayed for me, with no results. I was in numerous services where “gifts of healing” and “workings of miracles” (1 Corinthians 12:9-10) were occurring, with many people healed - but never me. Finally, Holy Spirit spoke to me very clearly, “Though some are healed through the gifts of my Spirit, others are through the prayers of the elders (James 5:14), and still others through the prayer of agreement (Matthew 18:19) - I will not heal you through any of these methods. You will have to do what I’ve been teaching you - speak My word over your hands every day (Mark 11:23), numerous times each day, releasing My power to them until the healing comes.”
I determined to obey. Six or seven times each day, maybe more, I spoke God’s word - which is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12) - over my hands, using 8-10 scriptures promising healing and breakthrough. I saw no change for 2 weeks, but as God’s power was released and accumulated, it began to do its work.
After 2 weeks, the warts began to shrink. I watched them becoming smaller and smaller each day. As they shrank, finally fingernails and cuticles began growing. Once this process began, it took a total of 2 weeks for all of them to disappear and new nails and cuticles to form. The entire process took a month.
What I’m about to say may sound like heresy to some. So be it. Although it was most definitely God’s power that removed the warts and gave me new skin, nails, and cuticles (with no scars), He didn’t release the power - I did. It was Christ’s provision, Holy Spirit’s power, God’s word and strategy . . . but I had to release it.
Tomorrow we will talk about why, in most situations, the release of this power cannot simply be a one-time thing.
“Embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance, like a helmet to protect your thoughts from lies. And take the mighty razor-sharp Spirit-sword of the spoken word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17 TPT)
Pray with me:
Father, we have not done an adequate job of teaching believers regarding Your amazing power and life in us. Therefore, the church has remained terribly ignorant of who we are in Christ, and all He intends us to be and do. The river of life is in us in the person of Holy Spirit. Your immeasurable power is in us.
We ask You to increase our understanding of this. Teach us how to be those who release Your power to those who need it. Teach us to release the flow of Your river of life into situations where spiritual death is operating. May new boldness come to the church, and confidence to believe You really do want to work through us. And we ask that all hope deferred be overcome, in order that we may persevere in our intercession.
And, as always, Father, we ask You to pour out Your spirit in this nation. As we pray and release Your power, bring the greatest awakening we have ever experienced. Transform our nation and other nations of the earth. We ask You - this very day - move in our land by the power of Holy Spirit. Send revival to our churches, and from there into the nation. In Christ’s name we ask and believe we will receive these things. Amen.
We release the power of Holy Spirit into every city and neighborhood in our nation, in the powerful name of Jesus!
Portions of today’s post were taken from my book Intercessory Prayer.
1 Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1977) p38.
2 Jack W. Hayford, Praying Is Invading the Impossible (South Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1977; revised edition, Bridge Publishing, 1995) p55, 1977, edition.
3 Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon, p14.
4 Gordon Lindsay, Prayer That Moves Mountains (Dallas: Christ for the Nations, Inc., revised 1994) p43.
5 Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon, p422.