The destiny of a nation depends on the prayers of its Christians (2 Chronicles 7:14). God wants all peoples and nations to know him and enjoy the intimacy of a friendship with him (Matthew 6:10, 28:19, 1Timothy 2:3-4). But he does this in partnership with those who pray. If you don’t pray for the lost, you will never win the lost (2 Corinthians 9:6). Do you pray for the lost? This, above all other keys, will bring in a harvest. But how should we pray for the lost? As in all other areas we must follow the example and instruction of Jesus. He spent a lot of time listening to his father’s instructions. He only did what he heard his father tell him to do. As a result, the kingdom of God burst out wherever he was, because he was in constant communication with his father.
Below are some of the ways Jesus prayed, or asked us to pray if we are serious about bringing lost people into relationship with him. If we do prayer the way he did it and asked us to do it, then we will see the same results he saw!
PRAY LIKE JESUS PRAYED
Jesus prayed for cities, for people, for the lost, for the nation of Israel, for salvation to come and for the future harvest. He spent quality time with his father pleading for the harvest of souls and for guidance in extending the kingdom of God (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16). He sometimes prayed all night. At other times till the wee hours of the morning (Mark 6:46-47, Luke 6:12), and sometimes for weeks until the job was done in the spiritual realm (Luke 22:41-42). These were not one way monologues either. They were intimate conversations where the father conversed with the son as well as the son with the father. If we are to be prayer warriors we also must learn to hear the voice of the Lord in prayer (John 16:13). Hearing Gods voice is the most important part of prayer. It turns prayer into an exciting event and something you will long for. The topic of hearing the precious voice of Jesus will be covered in detail in a separate seminar. For now it is enough to say that if we are to see a harvest of souls, we need to get serious in our communication with God.
Don’t spend your prayer time on yourself either. God already knows what you need (Matthew 6:8). Pray for the harvest with conviction every day like he did. Seek first the kingdom and all the things you need will be given to you (Matthew 6:33). He modeled an intimate relationship with his father to the disciples (John 8:26, 28, 12:49), then they copied him in their early ministry and achieved the same astounding results Jesus had (Acts 6:1-4). Pray each day for the harvest and watch things start to happen around you! Pray when you feel that soft prompting of the Holy Spirit. Pray with a prayer partner. Make it a priority over the business of the world and you will become a world changer.
PRAY FOR HARVEST WORKERS
For 2,000 years we have had a harvest of souls waiting to be handed over to Jesus (Luke 10:2). Because of a lack of workers it has largely been left to rot. The job of winning the world should have been finished by now! The only problem is a lack of workers and a lack of Christians interested in reaching the lost. Too many of us want to play church and never bother getting our hands dirty bringing in the harvest. You cannot reap a wheat harvest if you are sitting in a farm shed. You cannot fight a war if you are holed up in the barracks. There is never a shortage of people ready to receive the message of friendship with their creator. There is only ever a shortage of workers. Your destiny was never meant to be just a church attendee. It was always to be a soul winner (Luke 10:1-19). If we all start to pray for more workers then one of those new workers is guaranteed to be you as you start to see opportunities to share your faith that you never saw before.
This prayer for harvest workers was specifically commanded of us by Jesus, so it should be part of what you do each day in your prayer time. Don’t be tricked by the lie that the harvest in your community is hard and not many people are interested. If you think this then you will never reach your full potential as a disciple maker. We have access to the supernatural power of God who will move spiritual mountains on our behalf when you ask (Matthew 11:23). He gave us the powerful gifts of the Holy Spirit to cut through resistance. You are an ambassador of the creator and part of his royal family. You have been sent out to reclaim the planet and all of its people for the rightful owner, King Jesus. Pray with the authority of a royal ambassador.
The best harvest workers are new Christians, so if pray for the harvest and you will also be praying for new and enthusiastic workers. If you pray for workers and you will also be praying for the harvest. It becomes a naturally repeating cycle once in place. This is why the early church saw exponential growth in numbers.
BREAKING SPIRITUAL STRONGHOLDS
Jesus spent the first 40 days of his earthly ministry in prayer for the breaking of Satan’s strongholds over Israel (Luke 4:1-12). He knew the battle had to be won in the spiritual realm first, before we could claim the physical victory. The result of these 40 days of prayer is splattered across the rest of the gospels and the last 2,000 years of history! Each culture, city and family has strongholds that Satan uses to hold people back from accepting the fantastic news that they can have an intimate personal relationship with the creator (Ephesians 6:10-12). These can be religious ideas, sacred physical objects, cultural patterns, traditions, lusts, compulsions, obsessions, fears, jealousies, violent tempers, money, uncontrolled appetites of all kinds, misplaced loyalties, materialistic obsessions, philosophies, curses, demonic powers or any one of a hundred other strangleholds. Ask Jesus what these strongholds are in the target groups you are praying for. Ask him to reveal the strongholds in the very people you are praying for. Then take authority over them, as the disciples did in Luke 10:17-19. Smash them with the hammer of prayer. Satan is under your authority because you are now under the authority of he who has all authority (Matthew 10:1, 28:18). Prayerfully destroy Satan’s blockages so that he can no longer hold people back from seeing the truth (Matthew 12:29). Even the demons are subject to the authority of a single Christian who prays and speaks with authority (Acts 19:11-12).
People are not our enemy, Satan is. People are victims of Satan’s lies (John 8:44). So our spiritual anger should be directed toward his deceitfulness. It should never be directed toward people. Satan is fighting a losing battle. He is outclassed and outgunned when Christians pray. Our mission is one of mercy and rescue to those suffering under the weight of Satan’s lies. He has blinded their minds (2 Corinthians 4:4) so they cannot see the truth. The Holy Spirit has been sent to break this stronghold in people’s minds (John 16:7-11) Ask him to do this job of conviction and it will pave the way for you to rescue them.
PRAY FOR KINGDOM EXPANSION
When the disciples specifically asked Jesus to teach them how to pray like he did, he showed them a series of ordered prayer topics (Matthew 6 5-15, Luke 11:1-4). We now call it “The Lord’s Prayer”. The second topic of the prayer sequence is to pray for his “kingdom to come and his will be done on earth, just as it is done in heaven”. This prayer topic is crucial to our mission on earth. That’s why it was placed immediately after the most important topic of all; that of relationship with our creator.
The kingdom of God spoken of in this prayer is simply the different spheres of human activity that are back under the guidance of our creator, the king of the universe. This was how it was always meant to be from the beginning. It is the areas of our lives, both individually and collectively, that are under his government, cleansed of sin’s corrupting influences and following his guidelines. Whenever this happens to an individual, family, community or nation there is great blessing, prosperity and peace (Romans 8:14, 14:17). If you are a believer, then the kingdom of God is your guiding paradigm for living and you will be aware of how much it has improved to your life. When the kingdom is growing in a nation then there are safer streets, more innocent childhoods, less demonic activity, stable and restored families, just court decisions, less corrupt government, fairer laws, increased economic activity, better education, less physical, substance and sexual abuse, less depression, less communicable disease, better marriages, much lower taxes, increased charity and a host of other benefits that could go on for pages. God’s plan for kingdom expansion is designed to benefit us and our descendants. Our assigned task is to extend this government into more and more areas that are not yet under the Father’s loving guidance. Eventually, as it says in the prayer, the whole world will be set free and come under this wonderful government (Genesis 12:3, Daniel 2:34-45, Matthew 13:31-33, 28:16-19, Ephesians 1:9-10). This is fantastic news for a hurting world.
The kingdom of God grows when we deliberately work on making it grow. We pray for it to influence the whole world, but we act so that it is extended in our own lives and in those around us every single day. Pray for the kingdom to be extended into those around you, through influence, through the supernatural, through expressions of love, through his standards and ethics being upheld and through conversation. But pray mostly for the kingdom to be extended through the birthing and maturing of new spiritual babies. This is the quickest way for all these other kingdom influences to spread. Every person in your community has been ransomed by Jesus because of the price he paid for them. Take your nation by taking one ransomed soul at a time and show them how wonderful the father’s kingdom is.
PRAY FOR INSTRUCTIONS
Jesus did what he heard his father tell him to do (John 12:49). He did not leave us orphans, but sent the Holy Spirit to guide us in our ministry of winning the lost. It is his job to whisper the words of Jesus to us (John 16:13-14). So each day make sure you pray for an awareness of the presence of the Lord next to you all through the day. As you go through the day continually ask for guidance on what to do and say to people (John 10:4, 27). Ask God to give you words of knowledge, the opportunity to pray for people, for healings and the miraculous to come into people’s lives (Acts 1:8, 4;33, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 ). Keep a two-way conversation going at all times, one with the person you are chatting to and one with Jesus , asking him for specific instructions for that person (John 4:4-26).
Hearing the voice of the lord is the beginning of effective and powerful ministry. It is absolutely crucial if you want to imitate the type of supernatural ministry that Jesus and the apostles had. We live in both a physical and spiritual world. Pray for the faith and boldness to do the same miracles that Jesus did. Nothing gets people’s attention quite like a miracle, a healing, deliverance, a word of knowledge and the other supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12: 4-8). Jesus had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is our job to continue the ministry of Jesus. That’s why he gave us the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. He brought the spiritual realm into the natural world all the time (John 10:38). The New Testament church did the same and the gospel spread like a fire (Romans 15:19). Pray to be led by the voice of Jesus every day. Then you will see the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit start to impact your own life, and those around you. Nothing cuts through a lifetime of Satan’s lies and personal resistance like a miracle. Nothing reinforces a new believer’s faith like seeing the Holy Spirit in action. These fantastic happenings only occur when you are hearing direct instructions from Jesus. Without his voice guiding us, without this one weapon, all we have are weakened and feeble arguments to win the lost.
PRAY IN THE SPIRIT
Speaking in foreign languages (tongues) was one the nine supernatural gifts given to the early church so they could carry on the ministry that Jesus demonstrated (1 Corinthians 12: 4-11). The gift of tongues is the gift of being able to pray in another language that speaks from your spirit directly to heaven (1 Corinthians 14:2). It is a crucial tool for a strong prayer life (1 Corinthians 14:18, Ephesians 6:18). When you first come to a time of prayer, you can so often be mentally caught up in the business of the day. Soften your spirit to the things of heaven through spending some time praying in tongues first (1 Corinthians 14:4). Soon prayer will begin to flow and you will sense you are praying significant things, even though your mind is not aware of their nature. After a time of praying in tongues there will emerge an intensity and sense of purpose to your prayers. Paul said he prayed in tongues more than anyone in the Corinthian church (I Corinthians 14:18) and look at the fruitfulness of his ministry. Often kingdom ideas will pop up when you are engaged in praying in tongues, plans and purposes for those you have been praying for. Listen to them and act on them as they directions from the Spirit of God.
PRAY FOR A BURDEN
So often we do not pray as we ought simply because we do not understand how passionate Jesus is for lost souls to be restored to him (Luke 10:19, 1 Timothy 1:15). He longs for relationship with those who are trapped in Satan’s net. Jesus’ whole ministry was about seeking and saving those who were distant from their father God. The healings, deliverance, teachings and passion of our lord were all driving toward one goal: Setting people free and bringing them back into relationship with his father. He spent his entire three years grabbing every opportunity to win souls back to himself, souls that had been tormented by the curse and sin. He even paid the ultimate physical and spiritual price so they could be set free. Ask him to share some of that passion with you. Ask for his burden for the lost people of the world to impact your heart. When he does give you a glimpse into this core of his heart you will never be the same again. It will break you. You will weep with compassion for the lost. It will change your priorities and turn you into a soul harvester with conviction.
FAST AND PRAY
The Old Testament prophets fasted and prayed. Jesus fasted and prayed. The apostles fasted and prayed and it was a regular part of the early church. The chief purpose of fasting is to free up an incredible amount of time for prayer. But it is not an end in itself. It simply focuses your attention on the kingdom, instead of your stomach, which is where it usually has its attention! Jesus spent the first 40 days of his ministry in prayer and fasting. He had to break down the immense spiritual stronghold Satan had woven over the minds of the Jewish people. He knew he needed to devote quality time to this battle. An echo of this battle can be heard when he said to his disciples that some top level demonic spirits will not budge unless there is fasting as well as prayer (Mark 9:27-29). Fasting is not easy in our food-saturated culture, but it will give you quality time to pray and talk to Jesus. You will see further into the spiritual ream and clearly hear instructions for the battle ahead. It will also make you healthier!
This last topic is a very important one. Through prayer walking you put into practice a lot of the topics covered above. Prayer walking is simply targeting a geographic area for focused prayer. It is flushing out Satanic spirits from their local nests (Matthew 10:8, Mark 16:17-18). It is wading into the thick of enemy territory and driving the flag of God into new spiritual ground. It is taking spiritual control of a street, village, suburb or location. It is doing battle with the territorial spirits which control so many of our cities. It is an ideal strategy for extending the kingdom of God into areas where you know there are no believers. Pray for the redemption of souls in the area. Pray for a discernment of spirits. Take spiritual possession of the location. Every place on earth is waiting for the arrival of our king. Prayer walking should be one of the first things a new Christian is taught. God will begin to open doors when we do this (Luke 11:20-22). Experiments with prayer walking in India have shown a huge difference in receptivity to the gospel within a few months between those locations which have been subject to prayer walking and those that haven’t.
The following are suggestions only. The most important thing is to be led by the Lord for the specific situation you are in:
1. Start now!
2. Pray half an hour a day for the harvest for a whole month. This will embed the habit of harvest prayer as a priority.
3. Pray when you feel that still, small voice in your heart prompting you that your attention is needed in this area of prayer.
4. Find a prayer partner, or team who will team up with you and keep you motivated.
5. Find a mentor who is experienced in prayer who can coach you.
6. Ask Jesus to help you in what to pray for.
7. Pray for the release of the captives.
8. Pray for the kingdom to be extended in your area of influence.
9. Pray for minds to be opened and spirits to be bound.
10. Above all, enjoy your times of prayer, for one day you will spend a fantastic eternity in the presence of the one you now address.