January 25th, 2007
My wife and I are headed for Atlanta tomorrow, where I am speaking at the House of Prayer Leadership Summit.
I am, by nature of both the grace of God on my life as well as my function for this season of my life, an aggressive student of the dynamics of 24/7 prayer and the people that participate in it. The idiosyncrasies of this unique people, these “Annas” and those who gather to serve with them, and the culture that forms around all of them have been an ongoing fascination for me. Understanding these dynamics helps me serve the elements of our culture that are strategic and necessary while providing leadership to help stem the tide of the unnecessary elements.
As Greg said in the comments section elsewhere in this little journal, we lead a strange life here.
Like anything else, when you become an aggressive student of something you often then are given the opportunity to pass on what is you’ve learned and observed over the years. Because I’m young, inexperienced, and often overzealous, I rarely take the route of “sage” and instead choose the much more natural role of “loud preacher”. Still only 33 years old, I’m too dumb at this stage of my life to know better. So this weekend I’ll probably be shouting some of my insights into a microphone with way more passion than the subject matter demands, as is my way. You can get the CD later, if you don’t believe me.
I’m passionate about the subject because I’m passionate about the prayer movement. As a 72-year-old VIP who passed through here recently took the time to tell me (he’s seen a few things), the Holy Spirit is our only solution to the growing crisis threatening the earth. He wanted to talk to me because he understood the geopolitical situation intimately; he grasped the historical context with stunning clarity, but did not quite grasp the eschatology side of things.
I mostly nodded (trying not to look awestruck) and told him that biblically, his educated assessment of where things are going is right on.
The prayer movement that the Chief Intercessor is orchestrating from heaven is the last and best hope that men have in these last days. So, when I talk about it sometimes, I have a habit of speaking a little loud. And fast. I’m working on that. I know, however, that what I am going to say next may not be well received by many around the nation who are desperate for a house of prayer to be established in their communities. I also know that what I am about to say seems counter-productive for one who claims such a personal zeal to serve the global prayer movement.
But I still have to say it. Regardless of how much property they gave you, regardless of how much it seems like the time is right to do this, you (or the folks you really like) should really consider not starting that house of prayer just yet. In fact, I would shut it down and re-evaluate for a while. I’ll tell you why I think this, and then I’ll tell you where I think you should go from here. If this statement disturbs you, I understand. I really, really do. But hear me out for a minute.
I am a rabid believer in the necessity of Joel 2:15 “solemn assemblies”. I think that they should happen in stadiums across the earth. I think that every believer in every denomination is called by God to both pray, intercede, and gather for days, weeks, or months when they take place to contend for the mercy of God for our respective nations. Again, all believers will participate in these before this age comes to a close. But not all believers are called to be a caretaker of the epicenter of these solemn assemblies - houses of prayer throughout the earth. Put differently, all will be called to gather for a time to the sanctuary to contend for mercy. Not all, however, are called to keep charge of those sanctuaries until the time of the sacred assemblies.
In fact, it is likely that only 1 percent of the body of Christ is called to what we have coined the “Anna” calling. 100 million out of a billion believers, perhaps. While that seems like a staggering number, it helps to keep it in its right perspective - at a successful, well known house of prayer that has been running 24/7 for seven years now, we have only gathered about 700 people from around the nation to keep the charge of our sanctuary. About half of that number are full-time “Annas”. With all of our resources, network, and reputation, we can only gather an infinitesimal fraction of a percentage of the number of intercessors God is calling in this generation.
And, of those we have gathered, we still are sorely lacking in regards to the level of leadership needed to motivate and maintain 24/7 prayer. The difficulty of this endeavor and the simple inertia needed to keep everyone on task - the thankless task of crying out to an invisible God with no immediate reward while encountering much barrenness - takes almost incalculable time and energy. Much of what I do, day in and day out, is teach. Not the classroom kind - but the kind of one on one, small group meeting, leadership training kind of teaching that helps people navigate and interpret the collisions of the heart that take place when they sign up for a life of prayer. To rightly interpret the activity of the heart is to gain courage to stay in the blue chair and not quit. My life is mostly, at this stage, helping idealistic young people not quit.
To sum up: gathering intercessors is hard. Keeping them in the chair long-term is harder. It takes more than a prophetic word, a storefront, and lots of gumption. It takes more than a firm conviction that the prayer movement is necessary and vital for your city. What does it take?
Well, it takes as close to 100% clarity that the Lord has called you to do this (and that now is the time) as one can lay hold of from the Lord. That which is truly the Lord will not be moved by a little blog post. If you were called to do this, however, two indicators would be:
1. You have an ability to draw intercessors from a greater sphere than your city (and state)
2. You have an ability to draw significant leadership to come and help you in this endeavor. In other words, Allen Hood would come and work for you. So would Dwayne Roberts. So would I.
Of course, “this” does not have to mean “24/7 Missions Base”. If “thou be the man” to establish a prayer room in your city, than you must be brutally honest about your God-given “grace package”. What do you have the grace to legitimately pull off from the Lord? If you answer this question wrong, the stakes are high. It is imperative that you lay aside, for a moment, your zeal for the prayer movement in your city and honestly answer that question. Once you know what you are truly capable of, you can set out to build accordingly with integrity before God and man.
Few have the grace from God to establish 24/7 prayer right now in their city. There will come a time in the years to come when that will surely change. For now, many have the grace from God to gather and establish many hours of prayer per week that matter to God and the angels. Many have the grace to establish more hours of prayer than were happening prior to their efforts. We cannot despise the day of small beginnings, and we must be thankful that God has positioned us to serve in the manner that we are able.
Finally, some who are doing this really need to consider what it will really take to pull off their true dream of 24/7. Some will begrudgingly settle into a few hours a week with teeth grit and hearts aflame, longing for the dream of their heart to be realized and unable to rest until it is. What then?
I would suggest that it’s time to go to “medical school”. You want to do more than just be a doctor (intercessor). You want to run a hospital (24/7 missions base). Again, some who aspire to run major hospitals are really called to operate the little clinic down the road - and that’s okay. Those in a neighborhood who benefit from the clinic don’t begrudge the guy who “settled”. But if you have read all of this, and still are burning to run the hospital, then I would strongly suggest you spend some time in one, learning from the chief administrators what it takes to run it. There is so much to learn. There are so many details, nuances, and cultural distinctives to what we do - I’ve never seen an operation like this in my life.
I’ve said this (or variations of this) to many, many people who have asked my advice over the years - and still this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. This is the dream for many around the nations of the earth, to be able to gather and rally night and day prayer for the transformation of their city, state, and nation.
Sometimes however, dreams have to die before they can be rightly realized. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
In other words, sometimes our hearts get so bound up in the dream that it is often difficult to do what is necessary to see those dreams birthed according to the divine order of God’s perfect (but sometimes painful) leadership. I have a zeal for the prayer movement. I have zeal to see houses of prayer established, 24/7, in every major city on the earth. My zeal does not eclipse, however, my loyalty and commitment to God’s methodology and plan to make this happen. The details of this plan are as of yet unclear. When things are unclear to me, I like to default to the best posture one can maintain until the fog lifts and the way forward becomes obvious. It’s the most sagely advice a 33 year old can give to you regarding this subject.