Travailing Prayer: Pulling Down Strongholds
Our Heavenly Father does nothing in the church or His Kingdom that is not first wrought in travailing prayer. Prayer; interceding, travailing prayer is God’s first line of spiritual operation. When God is ready to do some marvelous work of eternal consequence, He first prepares human channels of travailing prayer to lay the foundation. Powerful prayer can no more be the work of flesh alone than can preaching, miracles of healing or the breaking of demon powers. Effective prayer is a work of the Holy Ghost in willing and released human lives.
Prayer that has no divine element and anointing is like the dead letter of the law without the unction of the Holy Ghost. It kills instead of resurrects. Fleshly prayer creates false assurance, deadens those exercised therein and causes the individuals to substitute activity for Spirit. The more a church or an individual is involved in fleshly praying, the more they become centered on soulical and fleshly support for their religious programs. Gimmicks, entertainment, emotionally titillating methods and all kinds of fleshly operations become master. The church becomes nothing better than the fleshpots of Egypt. Any religion in the world can accomplish everything that this kind of prayer and action can affect in a “Christian” church.
Everything changes when men/women begin to pray in a Spirit-directed fashion. Prayer becomes fellowship and communion with God in the deepest sense. Our entire mindset becomes one of total dependency on God. We learn to hate religious activity and empty speech. Religious sight, sound and sensation become as annoying to the praying believer as it already is to the Lord Jesus Christ. The soul that becomes inclined to God because of Holy Ghost anointed travail takes on His nature and glory, but in a totally dependent fashion. Worldly religion becomes even more obnoxious than worldliness itself. In fact, what most people label as worldliness is less annoying (though certainly to be rejected) than religious self-righteousness, carnal speech and the self-empowered praying that has only human form.
Biblical Promises Are Dependent On Prayer
Every promise that God has made to His Saints are yea and amen. Those promises, and there are thousands of them, are always available to every Saint of God, but will not be experienced until there is believing prayer. There is not one of those promises that our God will not honor. But He can not do it until His Saints themselves take hold of the promise in Spirit-filled prayer. The church world lives like paupers on the outskirts of His kingdom. We carry in our souls the divinely authorized sonship of the Kingdom, but live like children of poverty. We have royal blood from the kingly line of the eternal God, but go about life as though our relationship is meaningless. How pathetic this cold world appears to our hurting generation.
The church world as a whole offers the sick and suffering the same antidote as the secular world. Churches have twelve step programs, psychologist couches and a quick prayer. Can you imagine how the devil howls when the modern preacher walks in the hospital room, gives his compassionate gestures, “sometimes” says a prayer and leaves the patient to the care of a mostly skeptical medical profession? Certainly, many of these men of the cloth and doctors are kind and well-meaning, but helpless to do anything more than console the suffering and prescribe a few pills. Is this the only way a “man of God” can bring the mighty power of the Creator into His world? Absolutely not!
Travailing prayer will bring all of us into a realm where supernatural powers are as natural as God is supernatural. The promises of God cannot be viewed honestly in any different fashion. They are either His promises, absolutely and infallibly available, or God is a big lie. You and I both know better. Isaiah did not mince words when he spoke by the Holy Ghost of why Jesus Christ would come into our world. Listen carefully!
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5) Argue all day with the truth of God’s Word, but you will only cheat yourself and those who listen to you. The Word of God stands sure and God has not changed.
Healing powers in the church are absent in exactly the same degree that travailing prayer is absent. Jesus has paid the redemptive price for both spiritual and bodily healing and the virtues of His redemptive act is locked away awaiting the unfailing key of importunate prayer. Somebody that knows God and can pray must be the link between the power to heal and the person awaiting the miracle. Many of the present day sicknesses and strange diseases are nothing less than the work of Satan. Satan is the destroyer and comes to mankind “to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10a) Jesus gave us this warning, but clearly concluded by promise, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b) Only travailing prayer can bring us out of our morass of helplessness.
Every Believer Is Promised His Family
It’s thrilling to read the Biblical accounts of transformed homes where the Holy Spirit ties the salvation of a dad to the salvation of his household. The devil has duped many fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers into helplessness concerning the salvation of their children. Satan is probably damning more people by His lies than any other evil skill he possesses. His lies are always a denial of some Biblical promise. When Satan tells you that you have raised them right, taught them truth and now its up to them to decide, you have just been fed a master lie.
The Bible promises every Saint their household. Look at Zacchaeus. He was wealthy, had a great position and apparently a large family. He forgot all the restraints of his wealthy position when he experienced the conviction of what Jesus Christ represented. He shows such hunger that Jesus stopped in His tracks. As always, when Jesus takes control of someone’s life, the Lord said, “I must abide at thy house.” (Luke 19:5b) Jesus cannot do His work in your life until you let Him go home with you. At Zacchaeus’ house, Jesus made an incredible proclamation. He forever destroys all the arguments of the devil’s claim on a believer’s family. “And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” (Luke 19:9)
Don’t believe another moment that Satan has a right to your children or grandchildren. It’s a lie! If you are a saint, your family has the claim of God on them. You placed that claim on their life when you trusted Christ totally. Now, you become the travailing servant of the great God, you Heavenly Father. Do not hear reasoning that opposes the promises. Tell the devil that he’ll walk over your dead body as you wait on your faithful God and doubt it not. Heaven will be populated with the transformed sons and daughters of the saints if we will stand on every Word of God and count our covenant with Him as an unfailing covenant that hell cannot nullify.
Remember, the promise of God that accompanied the first and second of the Ten Commandments.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:3-6)
This theme of God’s covenant wit the head of a household is clear throughout Scripture. God said to Abraham, “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee.” (Genesis 17:10a) Joshua proclaimed, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) God spoke to Peter and described Cornelius as “A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.” (Acts 10:2) Paul said, “And I baptize also the household of Stephanas.” (I Corinthians 1:16a) Luke spoke of Crispus, the church ruler of the synagogues and said that he “believed on the Lord with all his house.” (Acts 18:8a) God has endowed parents with the spiritual responsibility of their household and covenanted with the same for their salvation.
Every promise of the Holy Scripture must be viewed in exactly the same light as His promise to heal sick bodies and save families of His saints. Our God never acts to glorify flesh and human pride, but only to glorify His own name and effect His will on earth. He and He alone is sovereign and everything emanating from Him will exalt His glory and His holiness. Daniel knew this principle of travailing prayer and understood that such praying had only one motive. Travailing prayer has passed beyond selfishness, self-seeking lust of things, to the place where the vision is the glory of God alone. Listen to this great prince of prayer, who knew he would not be a part of the answer, but would pas to his reward out of Babylon leaving others to enjoy the reward.
“Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” (Daniel 9:17-19) Which men have no motive, but the “glory of God,” they have laid the foundation for something incredible from Him.
The Powers of Hell Are Bound By Travailing Prayer
If we think our puny praying is going to stop hell and bind destroying devils, we are grossly deceived. Every great move of God in the Bible or in the history of God’s saints screams out the answer. “…The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12) We are not speaking of human force, flesh powers or the carnal lust after wealth and things which characterizes our modern television preachers and their horde of lust-filled followers. The Scripture is speaking of the “Forcer” Himself, none other than the Holy Spirit. This “Forcer” acts upon the crucified flesh of sanctified saints who are dead to this world and available for God Himself to wear like a garment. This garment that God wears is travailing prayer becomes a barrier to the marching of hell over human souls and turns the tide of destruction.
Don’t think for a moment that you can be the “garment” of His revelation unless you have died to this world. We do not manipulate God or turn on and off His operations. The Day of Pentecost found 120 souls that had become vessels of honor. They had been forged upon the anvil of absolute surrender and were ready to suffer all loss just to be the representative of the resurrected Savior. The Holy Ghost did not just touch or titillate them, He possessed them and became the king of all their ambitions. They became His garment and He was manifested in them as He previously had been in the temple. The glory that Solomon saw so breathtaking that the priest could not stand to minister was now revealed in human lives. “They turned the world upside down.” Travailing prayer was their first line of attack. They prayed until buildings shook, prison doors swung open, demons fled in terror and a multitude was converted. Nothing could stop them because they were possessed of God to pray.
Daniel Knew This Travailing Power
Daniel lived I the midst of Satan’s greatest stronghold. Babylon is the Biblical center of demons and devils. It is the location of the First Church of Lucifer and a place from whence every unclean power has spread to debauch the world. Everything unclean had its origin in this location, yet Daniel defied hell, stood his ground, and saw the God of heaven revealed, exalted and vindicated as the only true God. He did it by travailing prayer. God always uses a godly saint to show up the devil.
The greatest display of travailing prayer in the First Testament is the story of Daniel. Hell had spread its tent over the known world until Babylonia was the Golden Kingdom on earth. Its vileness was drowning men in devil worship and sexual debauchery. Men worshipped goddesses in feminine attire, while women worshiped gods in masculine garb. Sexual orgies were the ultimate act of worship to please these gods from hell. In the midst of this hellish baptism one man fell on his face before the true God and set his heart like a flint.
The Holy Ghost said, “In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days. And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong.” (Daniel 10:2-19a)
If one man in the stronghold of hell’s capital can defy the powers of darkness and witness a revelation of deliverance, what can we do in our day? It depends on our willingness to pay the cost of total surrender and give ourselves to the Word and travailing prayer. Satan sent reinforcements when he saw the resolve of Daniel to travail. The victory was given to the man who dared to believe and persevere. It has always been settled that “travailing prayer” is God’s method.
The Syrophenician Mother
It’s amazing that the Holy Ghost chose the story of a Gentile woman to further reveal God’s plan in travailing power. She was an unlikely candidate for a miracle. There is no data to show that she was less than a heathen. She had simply heard of Him and came out of desperate concern for her possessed daughter. The disciples were annoyed by her and requested she be sent away without hope. Jesus’ response to her was to relegate her as an outcast to Israel and unworthy of the gifts of God. When she finally had His attention, He stated, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” (Matthew 15:26) The average person would have left in disgust, highly offended.
I believe, “She could not be denied, because she would not doubt.” His complete rejection of her first request, “gave her faith a chance to grow.” Her importunate pleading was the kind of faith the heart of Jesus was searching to discover. God had spoken in His Word, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9a)
I believe the Lord has always sought for and always will seek for the travailing soul to reveal His glory. While those who live inside the walls of the church continue to live like orphans, occasionally our Lord finds a soul ready to travail until Heaven is opened. You may be the next saint to see His mighty power if you are willing to pay the price. Every promise of Holy Scripture is available for every saint of God. Do not believe that God picks and chooses those to whom He will show Himself. He does not show respect of persons. If the Bible has clearly said something then that fact or promise is forever settled in Heaven. It awaits the man or woman that is empowered by Holy Spirit led and anointed intercession. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16b)
Jesus Established The Church On Travailing Prayer
The Kingdom of God has been ordained by the Father to function within the church during the Second Testament period. That does not suggest that there are no movements of God apart from the body of the church. The entire universe is under the ultimate actions of the Creator. The Jewish nation is regathering in the land of promise and being readied for the final chapters of human history. That is certainly a movement of our Heavenly Father.
The body of Christ is His church (not a denomination or a certain movement) and He continues to build His church wherever men will come under His sovereign Lordship. We have no need to despair about His church even though the church world has little resemblance to the biblical body of our Lord. He has a remnant and He is still ready to use that separated and called out few who know how to pray. Listen carefully: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)
This is a picture of the true church whether two or three or hundreds. The church cannot be built on anything but the “Rock.” Apostle Paul stated, “And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:3-4) Wherever there is someone that is clearly and uncompromisingly fixed on Jesus Christ and His calling, He is building His church.
Now, For The Important Facts of Prayer
We have somehow lost the importance of importunate prayer. We do not need a crowd, great music or any of the conveniences to which today’s church is in total bondage. One praying saint established on the “Rock” is the foundation of a great church. When that one saint sets their heart to God, soon it will be two, three, then four and on it will go until God shakes that community. A praying saint is more to be feared by the wicked than a thousand armies. Daniel shook Babylon because he could not be stopped from praying.
Notice carefully the second verse in the great statement of our Lord. “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” The risen Lord has put the keys of His kingdom in your broken heart of prayer. We are not talking about prayer without the divine element of Holy Ghost power. We do not speak of orchestrated prayer groups where flesh is raw and unsanctified. Our church world is filled with organized prayer by thousands of people whose lives show no reflection of the cross. Biblical standards of living and worldly separation is scorned and denigrated while partitions for renewal and revival is promoted. It is a stench in God’s nostrils.
But give Him one or more “Saints,” despised by the worldly crowd, but undaunted and in love with the pearl of great price and there will be His church. “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Please listen to me, I don’t mean to make it sound easy for it will not be so. Prayer that takes hold of heaven will discover the fury of hell. Satan has no mercy and he will bombard the praying saint. Satan will sent reinforcements to aid his dark spirits, but fear not as long as your heart is pure. Heaven has been awaiting your travail and God is on His throne. Do not number the saints and sin as King David did. Trust only in the infallible promises of Holy Writ. “Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” (Psalms 138:2b)