Why do breakthroughs in prayer surprise me?
I’d prayed over this request specifically for over two years, but God’s affirmative answer still shocked me. Maybe desperation holds more sway with God than I realized. In the course of this journey, I learned three powerful lessons regarding desperate prayer that will forever shape my critical intercession.
1) Just because prayer is a battle doesn’t mean I have to accept defeat.
When God gave the Israelites instructions for warfare, He said “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see…people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God…is with you. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them. For the Lord Your God is the One Who goes with you — to fight for you against your enemies, to save you” (Deuteronomy 20:1, 3-4).
Fear and anxiety often describe my dread of the unknown. But evidently God knows that. “Stop it!” He says. “Don’t even let your mind go there. Look here at Me. I’m not only Your Commander-in-Chief. I’m also Your Father. I’ve got this!”
2) His Word blows away all opposition.
We don’t have to understand how His Word works (Mark 4:27), but the fact of the matter is He does work. When we pray His Word, power explodes. His Word is:
Sharp enough to slice away the competition (Hebrews 4:12)
Surging with Inner Life (Hebrews 4:12)
Far-reaching in effectiveness (Acts 6:7)
Forward advancing (Acts 12:24)
Forceful, potent, and dominant (Acts 19:20)
Constantly strengthened with fresh reinforcements (Colossians 1:6)
Activated to move quickly (2 Thessalonians 3:1)
Our prayers command power in direct proportion to our knowledge of His Truth.
3) When His Word has authority over your life, your life has authority over the enemy.
Under the old covenant, God promised to conquer the enemy of those who fully obeyed the written Law (Joshua 23:6,9). But when Christ came, He repealed that Law (Hebrews 7:12). He set aside all the complicated conditions for victory and gave us only one: faith (John 6:29). Our faith has victory because we believe (not in our own conduct but) in His indestructible life (Hebrews 7:18,16). “Through the obedience of One the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Not through mine!
Under the new covenant, God promises to conquer the enemy of those who faith Him (1 John 5:4). When we hold up the shield of faith and move offensively with the sword of His Word, our prayers pack a punch. “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you” (Joshua 23:10). “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you (Psalms 91:7).
But what about the crafty serpent — the devil, who prowls about like a roaring lion (Genesis 3:1; 1 Peter 5:8)?
“The battle is not yours, but God’s (2 Chronicles 20:15). “You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down” (Psalm 91:13). “Behold,” says Jesus, “I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you” (Luke 10:19).
Let’s go to the war room together this week, shall we?
“Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a flask of oil.”
My eyes fell upon these words as the three of us bowed quietly in prayer.
On the table before us were pages of prayer requests, many of which we would never cover. Friends and family all around us were necessitous of our intercession, yet I felt impotent and overwhelmed. I could relate to this poor widow.
“Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a flask of oil.”
In the margin of my Bible, I noticed that the Hebrew word “flask” signified a very, small container of oil — used for anointing purposes and holding only a few teaspoons of the precious liquid. This destitute widow of Israel had used up every drop of oil for cooking. She now had only enough left to anoint a body for burial. Would it be hers or one of her two sons?
Her personal lack, like my prayer lack, seemed empty, exhausted and hopeless. What prospect did either of us truly have?
“Then Elisha said, ‘Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few.”
More emptiness? That was God’s answer???
As I looked at the requests recorded by our little group, I too saw much emptiness. A woman’s depression. A crumbling marriage. A brain tumor. A suspicious nodule in a lung. The list stretched on before us. So much emptiness. So much sorrow. Yet, in the text before us, we were instructed to gather even more.
“Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few. And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels; and you shall set aside what is full.”
“So she went from Elisha and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing the vessels to her and she poured. And it came about when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not one vessel more.’ And the oil stopped.” (1 Kings 4:1-5)
What glorious revelation!
Our hope is not in our few droplets of intercession, but in the abundant supply at the Source! Because of Christ, we have within us a ceaseless flow (John 7:38). When we tap into His wellspring, “the Rock pours out for (us) streams of oil” (Job 29:6). He has anointed our heads with oil — so let’s live with an overflowing cup (Psalm 25:5)!
“O Father, thank You for being our Everlasting Fountainhead of plenty. For every need, for every weakness, You are always enough. How we need a fresh look at Your lavish source of Living Supply.
“As we gather all emptiness before You, we become very aware of the worthlessness of our own resources. In and of ourselves, we are totally inadequate. We can barely keep up with our own needs, much less help others out of our own insufficiency.
“But praise Your Name that our supply does not depend on our own pantry. Hallelujah! Our “adequacy is from God!” (2 Corinthians 3:5). “God’s love has flooded our inmost heart through the Holy Spirit He has given us” (Romans 5:5 New English translation). Because of Christ, “God is the source of my being” (John 8:42, New English translation).
“So today we come, lugging our own empty vessels as well as those of our friends. Begin the Holy Pour, O Father. Pour out hope into the emptiness of despair. Pour out healing into the void of pain. Pour out peace into the vacancy of discord. “Give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting” (Isaiah 61:3). We open our mouths wide, so that You alone may fill (Psalm 46:10). Now pray through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Photo above by Sara Jeng Grewar. Follow her on Instagram!