The following are thoughts from the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
In 1880 Andrew Bonar wrote the following: “I long for more and more to be filled with the Spirit, and to see my congregation moved and melted under the Word, as in great revivals times, ‘the place shaken where they are assembled together,’ because the Lord has come in power.” This should be the prayer of every pastor, ministry leader, Sunday School teacher, deacon, and Christian. This is how I want to view every ministry I am involved in. I want every person to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Church success is never going to come from numbers or money; it will only come when the people of God are filled with His Spirit. This will only happen when get serious about our time of prayer with Him.
Cymbala makes the claim that the church was launched not by preaching but by prayer. On the Day of Pentecost the disciples were spending time in prayer. They were waiting on the Lord to move in their lives and in the fledgling church. The Holy Spirit was poured out among the people and the church was born. This is why I feel that it is so important for us a group praying for not only needs of the church but for the salvation of people. It is so important for us to continue lifting people up by name and expecting the Holy Spirit to do mighty works in their lives.
God can do the unthinkable. Look at the story of David and Goliath. The weapon that David had was ridiculous. No one today would ever think of going into battle against a strong and formidable opponent carrying only a sling shot and five stones. One would think that David was committing a suicide mission. It would appear that David was heading to his death. The thing is David had God on his side. Because of this David was successful. God will use whatever tools necessary to build His Kingdom. God is still building His Kingdom, and we get to be a part of this if we spend time in prayer.
The Lord can break through every stronghold of the devil. We must continue being persistent in our prayers for those that need salvation. First Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray without ceasing. We are not to stop praying. Many of the church members were praying for Jessie to come to Christ. I truly believe that because of the persistent prayers we saw a young man come to Christ. We must be in constant prayer, by name, for those that are not yet believers in Christ. Satan might have a stronghold on their lives, but God can break through even the strongest hold that Satan has, because his power is very limited.
Cymbala tells of a story of a young woman who came in one night that was high on drugs. These drugs had a stronghold on her. When they started praying for her, she attacked him. There was a hideous voice according to Cymbala. The voices said that this girl belonged to them. The church continued to pray and through persistent prayer these demons were released. This story might not be believable to someone who has never experienced this.
One night leaving church I received a call from the sheriff’s office that my step son was being taken to the hospital because he had threatened suicide. When we got to the hospital Brandy and I went to the room and tried to talk to him. He refused to talk to me. I started praying that these demons would be released from him. I heard a deep voice say that you have no authority to tell me to leave this boy. Then I was told to leave. No one else in the room heard this voice. I went to the chapel, kneeled at the altar, and prayed and read scripture for over two hours. Brandy said that his entire attitude and demeanor changed. She asked where I was. I told her I was in the chapel praying. God released that stronghold that night because of the persistent prayer.
This God is the same God that is building His Kingdom using the members of this church and every other Christian. For us to see the Kingdom of God advance we have to stop worrying about the numbers in the church. The crowds on Sunday morning are not a sign of God’s grace. The church is going to grow when the members of the church are enabled to speak with great boldness. This means that they are praying boldly for God to do great things. It also means that members of the church are boldly proclaiming the Word of God.
Peter’s boldness on the day of Pentecost did not drive people away. It actually pierced their hearts and they were drawn to God. No preacher is ever told to build a big church, they are told to proclaim the gospel. It is the power of the gospel that will help break strongholds and bring people to the saving power of Christ. This is why Cymbala urges ministers to lead their congregations to focus on divine acceptance rather than the current trends. The church should be more concerned with the substance of Christ then their personal preferences.
For the church to be successful in reaching God’s potential for that congregation, they must saturate the church in prayer. This means praying for those with physical needs, but also praying for those that do not know Christ. Prayer cannot be a once in a while activity, it must be an activity that takes precedence in our lives. Spiritual power only comes through an intimate relationship with God.
“Let us never accept that excuse that God cannot work in our situation.” Jim Cymbala