While Jeremiah was still locked up in jail, a second Message from God was given to him: “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as GOD: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ “This is what God, the God of Israel has to say about what’s going on in this city, about the homes of both people and kings that have been demolished, about all the ravages of war and the killing by the Chaldeans, and about the streets littered with the dead bodies of those killed because of my raging anger—about all that’s happened because the evil actions in this city have turned my stomach in disgust.’”
Jeremiah 33:1-5, THE MESSAGE
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:6-8, NIV
Jeremiah has been known as “the weeping prophet.” Truly, he was a suffering prophet. He wrote what he lived, and he lived what he wrote. As we come to his 33rd chapter, it appears that Jerusalem is in its early stages of the siege of the city by Nebuchadnezzar; as we read further into his prophecy, we learn that the kings of Israel and Judah are looking for help from Egypt.
But God gave His prophet a message to give to His people: “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” Too many times prayerless Christians forget that they are not on their own. In these critical times throughout our nation, those of us who call ourselves Christians and those of us who pray must remember that our God is a God of the nations. Let us consider what the apostle Paul told the learned men of Athens: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. . . . Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:24-31, NIV)
It is clear from the Word of God that He places nations under judgment when they seek to deny Him (Psalm 9:17). Our beloved America has been sinking deeper and deeper into moral and spiritual darkness for too long. For several decades now, the Holy Spirit has been calling His Church to the kind of praying that will allow God to demonstrate His power in sending the greatest revival in the history of Christendom. My dear late friend and mentor, Dr. Wesley Duewel, called it “Mighty Prevailing Prayer.” In explaining the importance of such praying in his book by that title, he wrote:
Prevailing prayer is God’s ordained means for extending His kingdom, for defeating Satan and his empire of darkness and evil, and for fulfilling God’s eternal plan and bringing into effect His good will on earth. It is God’s means of covering the earth with His blessings. Prevailing prayer is God’s priority strategy for our age and dispensation. The history of the church can never be fully written until Christ in eternity reveals the mighty hidden prayer involvement of all His praying people. What a joy that revelation will bring to Christ’s prayer partners!
The times in which we live are not conducive to prevailing prayer. Yes, we hear people talking a great deal about prayer. Much is being written about prayer. But is the twenty-first century American Church ready to pay the price of prevailing prayer? Prevailing prayer will have to come to pass by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Prevailing prayer must become intensely personal. We read that Jesus “in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, . . . was heard because of His godly fear.” (Hebrews 5:7, NKJV)
I’ve learned over the last thirty years that I cannot prevail in prayer unless I am full of the Holy Spirit. I’ve learned that repentance is essential if I’m to walk in fellowship with an ungrieved, unquenched Holy Spirit. I’m taking the Lord’s Prayer seriously these days, praying “Forgive my sins, as I forgive those who sin against me.” I pause and wait for the Spirit’s conviction. Sometimes, it’s mismanagement of time and conversations; at other times, it’s an attitude—resentment, criticism, lack of love.
But when the Spirit brings it to my attention, I immediately cry out for forgiveness, and instantly I know I’m forgiven. For the apostle John makes it clear in his first epistle to believers: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9, NKJV) Then I’m free to enter into anointed praying in which I will prevail with God for YES answers!
Both the apostle Paul and the apostle Jude insist that believers must “pray in the Spirit.” Paul writes, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18, NIV) And Jude writes, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude, verse 20, NIV)
I’ve learned that praying in the Spirit for me means a three-fold enablement:
1. The Holy Spirit enlightens my understanding so that I am enabled to pray according to the will of God. We read in Romans 8:26, NIV: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” In this passage, Paul surely had in mind our inability to pray successfully when left to our natural abilities. But thank God, we are not left to ourselves! Whether our struggle is in the mental realm (seeking to be conscious of certain needs and trying to pray for them), or in the physical realm (trying to stammer and stutter our way through the exercise), we have the promise that the Comforter will come alongside us to help us make sense in our praying. The apostle’s realism is wonderful—how encouraging! We are not praying animals. We are not praying machines. As children of our Heavenly Father, our minds, hearts, bodies, and spirits need the attention and assistance of the Holy Spirit in order to prevail with God.
2. The Holy Spirit energizes our human spirit for prayer so that we are enabled to not faint. Prevailing prayer requires more than ordinary human strength. On the night of His arrest, Jesus asked three of His disciples to watch and pray with Him. He went apart from them to agonize in prayer and make His final surrender to the Father to go to the cross to suffer and die in payment for the sins of any and all who would place their trust in Him as their Savior. Even in His crucial hour, His inner circle fell asleep on Him. It will require the fullness of the Spirit to energize our hearts and wills for prayer in these crucial times.
3. The Holy Spirit emboldens our faith so that we might ask largely and refuse to be denied. Once we are filled with the Spirit, we will over a period of time grasp His energizing of our will and spirit to grow bold in exercising the power and authority He has given us in prevailing prayer. Though we are weak, we must remember that we are seated with Christ on His sovereign throne. And this throne-life for us presupposes the Spirit’s conviction for repentance, cleansing, surrender, obedience, and a bold faith in asking for great and mighty things. As a result of bold faith in prayer, God expects us to call Satan’s bluff, issue some commands, and refuse to give up the spiritual battle.
Oh, my dear readers, these critical times require that we make more of our privileges of the throne-life to which we are called. In closing, I beg us to respond to the warm welcome that we are given in the holy Word of God: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16, NIV). We need our churches revived, our homes returned to prayer, our young people brought back to Jesus, and our nation moved upon by a mighty full-scale, historic awakening before it is too late.
May we answer the Spirit’s call to prevailing prayer!