Continuing Steadfastly in Intercession
APRIL 29, 2020
How we thank the Lord for His abundant supply to the churches and the saints in His recovery that has enabled so many to intercede as one man over this past month. There has never been such global, round-the-clock prayer in the history of His recovery. Though we feel to bring this coordinated labor to a close on April 30, we hope in the Lord that this will not be just a season of prayer but that He will sustain us all to continue to advance in our personal prayer life and in the corporate prayer ministry of the church.
We believe that every saint who has taken up this burden has gained some realization of the perseverance required for intercessory prayer (Col. 4:2). This is because in the unseen realm there is a war raging between God and his enemy, Satan. Of course, God’s purpose will ultimately be fulfilled, but how quickly that happens and who appears to be winning the battle at a particular time depends on how much God’s people cooperate with Him in prayer. Satan knows this, so he seeks by all means to frustrate our prayer. In fact, because the entire tide of this age is against our prayer, Brother Lee told us, “Persevering in prayer is like rowing a boat upstream. If you do not persevere, you will be carried downstream by the current. No doubt, to persevere in this way, either in rowing or in praying, requires a great deal of energy” (Life-study of Colossians, p. 580). Because of this, we need the Lord’s empowering (Eph. 6:10).
Brother Lee gave some practical tips to help us persevere in prayer. First, he charged us to have a thorough dealing with the Lord and even make a vow to Him concerning our prayer life. Such a vow expresses our aspiration to be a praying person, while acknowledging that we need the Lord to enable us to be faithful to fulfill our vow. Second, we need to set aside one or more definite times every day to pray (Dan. 6:10). We should consider prayer the most important thing and not allow anything to usurp these times or to interrupt our prayer. Third, we need to be mindful of our speaking during our daily life, as loose talk dampens our praying spirit (Eph. 4:29-30; cf. 1 Thes. 5:19 and footnote). Fourth, we need to use our spirit, exercise our will, calm our mind, and regulate our emotions in order to pray properly (Eph. 6:18; 2 Tim. 1:7; 1 Pet. 4:7). Fifth, experience teaches us that praying with a companion helps us to develop more consistency in our prayer (see Life-study of Colossians, pp. 581-583, and Life-study of Ephesians, pp. 552-555, for more detail on these helpful practices).
Exercising to pray in such a way has tremendous benefits. It causes us to be mingled with the Lord so that we become a reproduction of Him as a man of prayer (Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). It causes us to set our mind on the things above instead of on earthly matters related to our own interests (Col. 3:2). It enables us to join with the interceding ministry of the ascended Christ for God’s interests on the earth (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). This intercessory prayer, which is in Christ and with Christ as the incense, is “not prayer for ourselves but prayer for the carrying out of the divine administration, for the dispensing of God’s supplying grace, and for the churches and the saints. Such prayer is a fragrant incense to God—it fulfills His purpose, satisfies His desire, and delights His heart” (Exo. 30:7, footnote 1). Furthermore, as we come forward to the throne of grace in prayer, we receive mercy and find grace for timely help (Heb. 4:16). Our prayer will bring blessing to ourselves, to our churches, and to our nations.
Whether in our estimation we succeeded or failed in our prayer over the past thirty days, we need to press on and advance from this point forward. We strongly encourage all the saints to take the thirty suggested prayer burdens on unceasinglypray.org and pray over them again during the month of May. We believe that if you go back to pray over these thirty items and the verses that accompany them, you will realize there is still much that requires our continued intercession. May the Lord strengthen His recovery and make us His house of prayer (Mark 11:17). Let us praise our merciful and faithful High Priest who is higher than the heavens (Heb. 2:17; 7:26) and who brings us into oneness with Him in His heavenly ministry of intercession (James 5:17 and footnote).
Your brothers in Christ,
The co-workers in the Lord’s recovery
Persevering in Prayer
APRIL 16, 2020
We worship the Lord that He has stirred up so many of you to participate in the present burden for twenty-one days of prayer. Never before have so many across the entire globe joined together in one accord to pray as one man in such a sustained way. We are confident that our ascended Lord hears the church’s prayers and that they will avail much toward the accomplishment of His desire. After further consideration and fellowship, we have decided to ask all the saints to steadfastly continue this prayer for an additional nine days, that is, through April 30.
Our hope is that this month of prayer will not simply be a passing event but will greatly strengthen our personal prayer life and the corporate prayer ministry of the church. Prayer is our greatest work before God, and it is also the greatest threat to God’s enemy. For this reason, Satan seeks to weaken our prayer life and the church’s prayer ministry. Knowing this, the apostle Paul joined perseverance and prayer (Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2; cf. 1 Thes. 5:17). Consistency and persistence in the face of obstacles are crucial to building up a prayer life and prayer ministry. This is not only the apostle’s teaching; it is also extensively illustrated in the Word of God.
As Joshua led the Israelites into battle against Amalek, Moses stood on a hill with his staff uplifted (Exo. 17:9-10). Verse 11 says, “And when Moses lifted his hand up, Israel prevailed; and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.” Moses lifting up his hand on the mountaintop typifies the ascended Christ interceding in the heavens (Rom. 8:34b; Heb. 7:25; cf. 1 Tim. 2:8), and Joshua typifies Christ as the indwelling Spirit fighting against the flesh, typified by Amalek (Rom. 8:9-11; Gal. 5:16-17). This means that victory in spiritual warfare depends very much on Christ’s intercession. However, verse 12 tells us that Moses’ hands became heavy and in need of support. As one whose hands became heavy, Moses represents not Christ but us, signifying that while Christ is praying in the heavens, we too need to pray on earth (1 Tim. 2:8). A stone, which typifies Christ as our strength and steadiness in prayer, was brought in for Moses to sit on. Moreover, his hands were supported on one side by Aaron, representing the priesthood, and on the other side by Hur, representing the kingship. This means that to persevere in intercessory prayers of warfare, we must be priests who exercise to pray in our spirit, today’s Holy of Holies, and we must be in full submission to the Lord under His authority.
Daniel was a person who, knowing the promise of God regarding Israel’s return from captivity (Jer. 29:10), persevered in prayer for the Lord’s desire (Dan. 9:2-3). He had the habit of praying three times daily (6:10) and would not let anything frustrate his prayer, not even the threat of death (vv. 7-9). Daniel was thus a channel of prayer the Lord could use to carry out His desire. Regarding Daniel chapter 6, Brother Lee said, “God desires to carry out His economy, but man is needed to pray for His economy on earth. God carries out His economy on the earth through His faithful channels of prayer. Satan's strategy is to frustrate the prayer which is for God's move...There is no other way to bring God’s economy into fullness and into fulfillment except by prayer” (Life-study of Daniel, p. 45). Daniel’s cooperation with the Lord in prayer afforded the Lord a way to take a great step in His move.
Today the Lord is seeking prayers of dispensational value, prayers that match God’s heart, prayers for the advancement of God’s move, prayers for the preparation of the bride, prayers for the producing of the overcomers as the Lord’s army, prayers for the defeat of God’s enemy, prayers that change the age. The prayers of the saints and of the church are a significant factor in effecting the dispensational change from the present age to the kingdom age (Luke 18:1-8; Rev. 6:9-10; 8:3-5). To persevere in such prayers, we surely need the Lord’s empowering (Eph. 6:10).
Dear saints, the Lord wants to raise up a royal priesthood to join with Him as the ascended Intercessor in His heavenly ministry of intercession. With this in view, we urge you to continue our present round-the-clock global prayer through the end of this month, and we encourage you to invite others to join in this prayer. If you have not already done so, you can visit unceasinglypray.org to sign up for a time slot to pray. Those who sign up will receive a suggested prayer burden for each day via email. May the Lord do what He desires within us, and may our prayers lay the tracks for Him to carry out His heart’s desire on the earth.
Your brothers in Christ,
The co-workers in the Lord’s recovery
A Call for Global Prayer
March 30, 2020
Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind Jehovah, do not be dumb; and do not give Him quiet until He establishes and until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. —Isaiah 62:6-7
The church of God has a strategic twofold commission—to pray to God and to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to men. We often focus on the work that we do for the Lord in reaching men, but the prayer ministry of the church is actually much more important. The present situation on the earth is a call for all the saints in the Lord’s recovery to rise up to fulfill the neglected function of the church: to cooperate with God in prayer for the advancement of His interests on the earth. To that end, we are asking the saints in the churches around the globe to sign up for a fifteen-minute time slot every day from April 1 to April 21, 2020 to pray in private or with companions. We will provide some suggestions concerning what to pray for, but first let us enter into a fundamental understanding of the type of prayer the Lord needs.
Too often we think of prayer as something we do only when we are aware of a particular spiritual or practical need or when we want to accomplish something for the Lord in a way of service, whether personally, with others, or as the church. Prayer for these things is legitimate and even necessary, but the highest and deepest prayers in the New Testament are, first and foremost, for God's work in the saints and for His move on the earth (Phil. 1:9-11; Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Acts 4:24-31; Eph. 6:18-20; Col. 4:2-4). Intercessory prayer is a matter of co-laboring with Christ in His heavenly ministry. Such prayer is the pinnacle of the church’s service to Christ. He as the heavenly Intercessor needs His people on the earth to echo His desire. Matthew 18:18 says, “Truly I say to you, Whatever you bind on the earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Brother Watchman Nee helped us see from this verse that God in the heavens is waiting for the church to execute His will on the earth through prayer. Something may have been bound or loosed in the heavens, but it is only through the church's prayer that it can be bound or loosed on the earth.
The book of Revelation shows us God's divine administration in His consummating of this age. In this book we do not see the churches carrying out so many activities. Rather, we see prayer in relation to God's governmental move. The saints' prayers are present in the scene in heaven at Christ's ascension and the opening of the scroll of God's economy (Rev. 5:8). God responds to the cry of the martyred saints (6:9-10) with the opening of the sixth seal, which marks the beginning of the great tribulation (vv. 12-17). After Christ as “another Angel” offers the saints' prayers with Himself as the incense before the throne, fire is cast to the earth followed by supernatural calamities, marking the beginning of God's judgment of the earth and its inhabitants (8:3-5). In each case the prayers mentioned have dispensational significance and enable God to carry out His administration.
The Lord desires to end this age and to establish His kingdom on the earth (Rev. 11:15; 12:10). He is waiting for an adequate number of believers to be made ready as His Bride and as His army (Rev. 19:7, 14). Now, more than ever before, we should beseech the Father according to Matthew 6:9-10 that His name would be sanctified, that His kingdom would come, and that His will would be done on the earth. On the one hand, the pandemic that is currently wreaking havoc throughout the world is a warning from the Lord to the nations. On the other hand, it is a call from the Lord to His people to carry out His commission to be one with the ascended Christ at the incense altar and match His intercession.
The Bible shows us that the created race of Adam, the called race of Abraham, and the church as a whole all failed God in cooperating with Him to accomplish His purpose. For this reason, in Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord called for overcomers. We must realize that God's move depends upon overcomers, and a key characteristic of overcomers is their prayer. The martyred saints crying out beneath the altar in Revelation 6 become the overcoming man-child in chapter 12, and when the man-child is caught up to heaven, Satan is cast down (12:5, 9). One aspect of the Lord's recovery today is to produce overcomers who will fully cooperate with the Lord so that His purpose can be fulfilled and He can return. We must be those overcomers who are praying at the incense altar in the house of God to correspond with Christ, our heavenly High Priest, and to cooperate with God by praying on the earth what is out from His throne.
The saints in the churches in the Lord's recovery should all aspire to be overcomers. However, we must realize that such spiritual warriors are not produced overnight. We need to build up our praying and fighting capacity. We believe that the unprecedented restriction many of us find ourselves under is sovereign of the Lord to grant us the opportunity to recover and uplift both our personal and corporate prayer life. If you read the New Testament carefully, you will realize that the apostle Paul's ability to minister from prison was quite limited, but he prayed much. Similarly, Brother Nee carried out his public ministry for thirty years, but while he was in prison during the last twenty years of his life, he could minister only in a limited way to those around him. Yet during that time of confinement, he was able to join with the interceding Christ in a hidden ministry of prayer.
We are accustomed to viewing all the provisions of God, the bountiful supply of the Spirit, and the riches that we have received from this ministry as the spiritual supply for our growth in life for the building up of the church. This is not wrong, but we should realize that all these things are also to strengthen us to carry out the church's paramount ministry of prayer. We need to read the Bible, know the anointing, and be nourished by the ministry of the age so that we can know how to pray according to God's will and not our own. We all want to have the Lord's presence, but we should realize that the Lord's promise to be with us when we gather together in His name is in the context of two or three offering binding and loosing prayer in harmony with one another and with God’s will (Matt. 18:18-20).
Finally, as we join ourselves to the Lord in prayer, we need to remember Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8:48, in which he spoke of God’s people praying to God toward the holy land, typifying Christ as the portion allotted by God to His people; toward the holy city, signifying the kingdom of God in Christ; and toward the holy temple, signifying God’s house, the church, on the earth. This indicates that God will listen to our prayer when our prayer to God is toward Christ, the kingdom of God, and the house of God as the goal in God’s eternal economy. This means that no matter who we are praying for, our prayers should be aimed at the interests of God on earth, that is, at Christ and the church, for the fulfilling of His economy.
Brothers and sisters, we need to advance. We should be deliberate during these days to build up this ministry of prayer, both personally and with one another. All our shortages, whether individual or corporate, can be traced back to the lack of prayer. Presently, we may not be able to pray that strongly or for very long, but the restrictions we face afford us a way to build up our capacity for prayer if we have a mind to persevere. Moreover, though we may be isolated physically, the Lord has given us a way through modern technology to still pray together. To seize this opportunity we need to budget our time and exercise to pray in a regular way.
The saints in the churches in the Lord's recovery have never been so ready to enter into such prayer. Today, more than ever, there is a strong one accord and rich blending among the co-workers and the churches on the earth. We can truly pray as one Body, even as one new man, joined to Christ, our ascended Head. Together let us put on the whole armor of God to stand against the rulers and authorities of darkness and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies. Let us continue steadfastly to pray at every time and in every place for God’s will to be done on the earth.
Therefore, to meet the need at this crucial juncture, we call on all the saints from every continent, nation, and locality in the Lord’s recovery to attend to this prayer ministry watchfully and earnestly. Specifically, it is our hope that many would participate in this worldwide, round-the-clock prayer as appointed watchmen upon the walls of Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:6) for these 21 days and until there is praise to Him throughout the earth!
And the smoke of the incense went up with the prayers of the saints out of the hand of the Angel before God. And the Angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar and cast it to the earth; and there were thunders and voices and lightnings and an earthquake. —Rev. 8:4-5