Prayer Summary for Thursday, June 23, 2016

Jerre led in worship…

♪ In Your presence, that’s where I am strong… In Your presence, O Lord my God… In Your presence, that’s where I belong… Seeking Your face, touching Your grace, in the cleft of the Rock… ♪

Pastor Ray shared…

I read something where Andrew Wommack talked about being led by the Spirit. In a minute, I’m going to introduce one of our pastors, John Matthews, because I felt “led” to have him testify about things he does as he is directed by the Holy Ghost. Andrew Wommack said he was led to minister to a group in another state. A businessman called him and wanted him to come minister to his employees. There were about 30 employees. The owner of the company spoke to his employees and said “I want you all to be in the meeting today. You’re on the clock. I’m paying you to be in this meeting.” So Andrew came to the business and there was a young lady at the front desk. She said, “Why are you here?” He said, “I’m here to minister.” She said, “You’re here to minister for who?” It was a younger lady. He said, “I’m here to minister for Jesus Christ.” She said, “Oh, so you’re the one?” He’s like, “I’m the one? What does that mean?” She was either a Buddhist or Hindu. She became desperate and started questioning whether she was serving God; she questioned all of it. So the night before, she said a short prayer to God. As soon as she did, a ball of light came into her room and a voice spoke to her and said, “Tomorrow there will be a man of God come and minister to you about Me and who I am.” Then it was gone. She said again to Andrew, “So you’re the one?” He goes, “Yes. I’m the one.” So he was able to minister to her salvation and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. She couldn’t go into the meeting because she was the newest person and they needed someone to answer the phones. But she got her answer before the meeting even began.

This story kind of reminded me of how Fern and Phil Halverson used to operate. If you ever heard them minister or read their books, they would tell of how they would do stuff like get in the car and go somewhere and it would turn out to be a God-ordained adventure that they’d be in the middle of. That was kind of his point. He was directed by the Holy Ghost to minister to a group of business people but this young girl needed to be ministered salvation and he was at the right place at the right time. He said he felt so humbled and blessed to be in the right place.

I want to introduce Pastor John Matthews. Come on up here. I asked him to do this. I just want him to testify about some things that God has ordained him to do.

Pastor John shared…

I’m privileged to serve with Pastor Kent Otey in the missions department. Phil and Fern are the basic reason why I’m at Living Word. Our relationship with them goes back to the early 70s when they were supportive leaders in another church and that’s where I came into the baptism of the Holy Spirit and became a young leader there. I served with them for years before the Lord led them out into a broader ministry. I had pastored three churches and then He took us out of the senior pastor ministry to work in missions. But it had much to do with prayer and we didn’t really understand that. Although, in working with the churches in our city here, we came to realize there was more talk about prayer than there was prayer. This was true even in the best churches; Living Word was an exception to that.

So I spent years serving our city and working with churches in terms of developing prayer. When you submit yourself into the presence of the Lord, you pick up the heart of the Lord which happens to be for the whole world. So after some years, that became a launching pad for what we have now been doing for 20 to 25 years which is going to the nations. But when I’m here, the thing I do now that I think is most important is to keep circling our twin cities and praying. I still carry that as a foundation in my heart. We’re living in harvest time. Harvest time is the chief subject of our generation. We live in countries and in places where there are always issues, and we may think they are the chief issues. But I believe that harvest time is the Lord’s chief issue and His chief agenda.

Of course, our country has served on the front lines of the harvest. One of the chief reasons God raised up our country was to bless the nations and to serve His harvest. In those early years after pastoring, I was trying to sort out what the Lord really wanted to do with me. Of course, I had a heart for my own country. He made it clear to me the best thing I could do for my own country was to serve the purpose of this country which was to bless the nations. We sometimes think serving other nations might be a secondary purpose to our own place of living but I don’t think the Lord looks at it in that way. Because the heart of the Lord is for the world, so when we get close to Him, we pick up that heart and it becomes our chief motive. So that’s what happened to me.

He never led us to live in a nation as a residential missionary. He led us to serve His harvest. So we’ve been doing that for 45 years now. I give a lot of credit to the influence of Phil and Fern in our lives at that time. They helped us to realize the foundation of the church and of every Christian’s life was prayer. And even though some see it as a “special calling,” it’s hard to find that in the Bible. I remember when Pastor Lynne made a statement many years ago: “There’s only two intercessors listed in the Bible and you’re not one of them.” She was talking to a room full of praying people. Although the term “intercessor” is quite freely used among praying people, she wanted to make a point. I hope we all know the two intercessors that are listed in the Bible are Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Her point was that the real issue in the ministry of prayer is yielding to the Holy Spirit and letting Him be the intercessor through us. It is a special calling, but it’s a special calling for the whole Church.

These foundations have shaped what we do wherever we go. Hebrews 4:16, “Let us draw near to the throne of grace” is the heart of what is in me wherever the Lord sends me. For many years, we were attempting to influence the praying part of the Church in our city. We were privileged to have relationships with most of the Pentecostal charismatic tongue-talking ministries in the Twin Cities. When we would gather with the prayer warriors to pray, I realized that though the zeal for prayer was there, the foundations weren’t so good. The way people prayed sometimes wasn’t so effective. So the Lord pulled us into a ministry of foundations for praying people which, of course, there is only one foundation—Jesus. The foundation of the covenant which is in His blood says we can approach the throne of grace with the confidence that the scripture requires of us. “Let us draw near with boldness.” Actually the Greek word for boldness is stronger than that. It’s almost like the word “brash.” It goes beyond boldness, almost to the point of being offensive. And the Lord uses that word to say that’s the way to come into His presence.

When I was in Ukraine, I was with the lead pastor’s family in their apartment. Vitali, their son, was about this tall, five years old. Pastor Gregory had been gone and then came back to the apartment. I was standing in the short hallway when he knocked and then turned the lock. And his son, Vitali, came running. Just as Pastor Gregory opened the door, here’s his son, Vitali, running full speed toward him. And Vitali leaped up into his arms and Gregory grabbed him. But then Vitali not only leaped into his father’s arms but he grabbed his papa’s cheeks so that his papa could not look at anybody but him.

In that moment as I watched this, I heard the Lord say, “That’s what I mean about boldness.” Just like Vitali. Of course, they had a covenant. It wasn’t the neighbor’s kid. It was his son. Of course, his papa grabbed him and allowed his face to be grabbed, to pay attention to his only son. That always stuck with me. I don’t think we’ve learned boldness yet. And it’s God’s idea of prayer. This isn’t our idea. So that word “let us come boldly” shapes how our prayer ministries need to be.

But then the accompanying scripture, Romans 8:26, which I think of as the doorway into prayer, says “Likewise so to the Holy Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray, or what prayer to offer, but the spirit himself intercedes.” So we come boldly, but then we approach prayer with the realization we don’t know how to pray and we have weakness. I saw that one day. I realized if you don’t come that way, if you come strong and knowing what to do, then the Holy Spirit will just step back and let you do it. You think you know what to do, go ahead. So to be strong in prayer is not actually strong but dependent. So you come boldly but then you come totally yielding.

I’m so grateful for Pastor Lynne and others who have emphasized that the main object of our praying is to come into the presence of the Lord and then yield. That principle guided what Jackie and I have done through the years wherever He sends us. In this city, it was mostly with praying people from many churches that we were trying to lay this foundation. What overtook us most was the harvest in the Soviet world. It was not our desire. It was a supernatural thing that happened where we were “apprehended” in a prayer meeting. We had men from the city praying. I had invited a friend from Regent University who was involved in world missions. He had just gotten out of the Soviet Union. This was back in 1993. I said “Come to our men’s prayer meeting. We’re just praying.”

So he started sharing his testimony of the harvest. Every place they went… they stood on a street corner, they went into a big building that was jammed with people. They said “We just mentioned Jesus and everybody wanted to be prayed for.” As he shared this great testimony, it was like a Holy Ghost blanket came down on me. I saw a vision of migrant workers in the United States. Migrant farm workers would be the ones who harvested the crops. Where they worked and lived was dependent only on one thing. It was not where they wanted to live and not where they wanted to work. Only one thing determined where they worked and lived and that was where the harvest was ripened.

So we’re in this room, hearing this testimony of the ripened harvest in the Soviet world and I was apprehended. There were 8 or 9 pastors in the room and 50 men or so. Nobody in that room had any calling to the Soviet world. Personally, Jackie and I were involved in Asia. We felt that was where our calling was. But in that meeting, it made no difference that this wasn’t our harvest or our calling. This was God’s harvest. And it was going to take the whole Church all over the world to reap that great harvest.

Pastor Roger was helping me lead this. I leaned over to him and said, “Roger, I don’t think we can get out of this room today except opening up the altar for those who are willing to go and help reap the harvest in the Soviet world.” I said, “All of you who are willing to go and help bring in the harvest and plant some new churches in the Soviet world, come up to the altar.” Almost half of those men came up. Then I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t believe them! I didn’t even believe that I was willing. So I said, “Let’s meet next Monday morning at 5 a.m.” It was mainly to clear them out and find out who was serious. So they all came and some even brought their wives and friends. So we met that way for several months praying and it turned into six church-planting teams. There was a missions organization coordinating on the other end. All we had to say was “Here we are, just send us where you want us to go.” So our particular team was sent to Ukraine. I had no calling for Ukraine. I had no burden for Ukraine. I had no leading inside of myself.

Through the years, I realized that I had become too introspective in terms of the will of God. There was a well-known teacher, actually in Southern Baptist circles, who taught a principle. And it’s based on Jesus’ words: “look up your eyes and look on the fields.” Sometimes we don’t do that. Instead, we look down in here and we try to get the revelation but Jesus said “lift up your eyes.” So this teacher said, “Find out where and what God is doing and then adjust your life to be involved with Him in what He’s doing.”

Sometimes we get super spiritual. I know because people and say, “Please pray for me. I need to know my calling.” But really in this case, God just totally ripped it out of me. This didn’t have to do with “my calling.” It had to do with God’s calling. And it had to do with God’s harvest. I thought we were just going to take a trip over there and do a little evangelism and help them open a church, which did happen. They rented a cultural center in the city. We got there and it was full of 600 people. I preached and I said, “How many of you have never given your lives to Jesus?” All 600 people stood up. Working through translators, I said, “Sit down.” So I preached more and explained more. Then I said, “How many want to give your lives to Jesus?” All 600 people stood up. I still didn’t believe them. “Sit down.” Third time. We couldn’t bring them forward so we just had them pray the prayer of salvation with the whole crowd. With us was a young man who had been trained and was ready to pastor a new church. We said, “Here’s your pastor. Next Sunday meeting starts here.” So that’s how our first church in Ukraine began. Not all 600 people showed up, but 100 of them showed up.

Now 23 years later there are about 130 churches raised up. None of them are so large. The main church is about a 1,000. There’s another church of 400 or so and a couple other churches of 200. But the vision was to plant a church where there was no church, especially in the villages because the villages of the world are where the most unreached areas are. So it has been in Ukraine, 24,000 villages with no church at all. And this is in a country which is classified as a reached country, or a Christian country. So we’ve been honored in that country to work with our precious Ukrainian friends in serving God’s harvest. I just came back from my 70th trip to Ukraine. I’m going again in three weeks or so. That’s my testimony.

I have it in my heart for us as Americans because we are in a high-tension season for our country where the opinions and even the prophecies are flying wild that we keep ourselves in the love of God, find ourselves more rooted in Him than ever in our own country. Because we are citizens of heaven, we must stay aware of what God is doing. Every crisis in the world has behind the scenes a harvest or a potential harvest. And it doesn’t come to the news.

I thought God was going to clean up the world so that there would be peace in every country but so far not! But then I realized God’s goal wasn’t necessarily to get good government everywhere. His goal is to get access to unreached people, however it happens. May God help us to stay on the front lines of what He’s doing. We have to listen to the politics of our country but we can’t live there. We have to stay and live in the presence of the Lord, yielding to Him. God help us in these days to keep blood-washed hearts and minds so that in any situation we’re ready to serve the Lord’s harvest whether it’s in our home, our neighborhood, our cities, other parts of the world in Jesus’ name. And the power for all that is in this kind of room. Jesus looked at the multitudes, saw them as sheep without a shepherd and He said, “Pray for laborers.” He didn’t say pray for the lost. He said pray for laborers to go into the harvest. The issue from God’s side is the laborers. So if you want to pray for the harvest, you pray for laborers to go into the harvest.

“We pray for that. Lord, thank You that we’ve had the honor and privilege of serving Your harvest in some way. But even beyond what we can do, Lord, we just take our places with Your call to prayer for a world that is like a multitude without a shepherd. I ask in the name of Jesus, that You raise up laborers, more laborers for that harvest in Jesus’ name.”

I warn you. That’s the prayer that pushed me into full-time ministry. I was innocently working at a job and the pastor asked me to come up and pray. So I prayed that. “Lord, send laborers.” And within about three months, I myself was called into the ministry. So when you pray that, just be willing to go. It’s a lot easier, less struggle, if you are 100% willing.

Pastor Ray shared…

Thank you. There’s an anointing for the laborers, to call the laborers, to pray over laborers in the days that we’re living in right now. Like you said, Pastor John, about situations that we look at them in the natural sometimes and they seem so messed up, but God has a plan behind the scenes, maybe not in the news, but He has a plan for the lost to come in and for the laborers, of course, first to go forth.

Yes to Your will, Lord. And yes to Your ways. Thank You for Your plans and for the grace and strength you’ve given us all individually to go and move ahead.

I believe sometimes just on the other side of a “yes” the plan will unfold. But until we say “Yes, Lord” we don’t see that other side. But our eyes continually are opened more and more to the will and plan as we yield in this prayer place. Thank You, Lord, for the place of prayer, the connection that happens there as we’re connected to You with our eyes lifted, looking up heavenward. I’m thankful for the ministry of Your precious Holy Spirit. Father, I pray that our ears be opened even more clearly to hear. That we’re more yielded to Your plans.

Jerre led in worship…

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