“I can’t pray one hour.”
Some Christians seem to be intimidated by Jesus’ statement to His disciples in Matthew 26:40: “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” They reason, “If the disciples were rebuffed because of their inability to pray for one hour, and effective prayer requires praying for that length of time, then I’ll never be effective. So why should I pray at all? I mean—isn’t prayer supposed to be difficult? I’m not the emotional type, but what about words like labor and travail that I read in Scripture?”
As far as we know, at no other time did Jesus bring up the issue of praying for an hour. To pray for one hour was not a commandment to anyone—not even to Peter and the disciples! Peter was questioned, not commanded. Yet, unfortunately, some preaching has left us to conclude that if we can’t pray for at least one hour, we may as well not pray at all.
We are actually moved with the tenderness with which Jesus rebuffed Peter. You will recall that as Jesus prayed in the garden that night, He was facing His betrayal and cruel death on the cross. He was suffering great agony of soul while His exhausted disciples were fast asleep. Awaking them, He asked, “Can’t you guys pray just one hour?” Lovingly He added, “Your spirit is ready, but your flesh is weak.”
Besides, would it surprise you to know that most of the prayers recorded in Scripture can be read in one minute or less? This includes those prayers that raised the dead and those that called down fire from heaven! (Read 2 Kings 4:33–35; 1 Kings 18:36–38.)
Perhaps you are thinking, Are you saying, then, that spending long periods of time before the Lord in prayer is of no value? Not at all. However, it is important that we see that the apostle Paul, who “travail[ed] in birth” at times for some of his friends (Gal. 4:19, KJV, emphasis added), said on four other occasions, “I mention you in my prayers.” (Read Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:15–16; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Philemon 4.)
After all, it doesn’t usually require as much time making our prayer requests as it does preparing our hearts to make them. God can release His blessings to people simply when we mention their names to Him!
Should you spend long periods of time in prayer? Sure . . . go for it! Jesus often prayed all night. However, don’t forget that it was one brief prayer that Jesus prayed at His baptism that caused the heavens to be opened! (Read Luke 3:21.)
“Won’t God do what He wants to do—with or without our prayers?”
In my (Eddie) book Intercessors: How to Understand and Unleash Them for God’s Glory, I tell the following story about prayer:
One morning my wife, Alice, went shopping for building supplies for a project. Alice, being an intercessor and not a construction worker, was unfamiliar with the items and spent a considerable amount of time in the hardware store looking for the items. Finally Alice found the items and was standing in the checkout line when, suddenly, she had a brief vision. In her mind’s eye–a closed vision–she saw a man standing in my office pointing a gun at me.
Immediately she grabbed her purse, abandoned her shopping cart and ran to the car. Alice began to intercede, even as she drove home. Once home, she rushed inside to her prayer closet, where she began crying out to the Lord.
Alice prayed for forty-five minutes until the burden and the sense of urgency subsided. Only then did she call the office and ask, “Eddie, are you OK?”
“Yeah, fine,” I answered. “Why do you ask?”
She told me about her vision and how she had entered into prayer.
“Oh that,” I explained. “He just got saved.”
That morning I had had a counseling session with a medical doctor who was in ill health, separated from his wife, addicted to narcotics and suicidal. After I led him to Christ–and through some significant deliverance–he explained how he had loaded a pistol that morning and placed it on his kitchen counter, intending to bring it to my office and first kill me, then himself. For some “unexplained reason,” he absentmindedly left the pistol on the kitchen counter.
Since that incident, Alice has been asked, “Alice, why didn’t you call the office and ask if Eddie was all right?” “It was time to pray, not take a survey,” she replies.
One day while teaching at a Baptist seminary in Singapore, I (Alice) was emphasizing the importance of prayer. I shared a similar story to the one above about a prayer assignment regarding my brother, John. Suddenly one of the young male students said, “Ma’am, it sounds as if you’re saying that God will put the life or death of a person in another person’s hands.”
I reminded the student of how similar his question sounded to the one Cain had asked: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9).
In Exodus 17, Moses told Joshua to choose some soldiers to go with him into battle against the Amalekites.
“Tomorrow,” Moses explained, “I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands” (Exod. 17:9).
Moses, along with Aaron and Hur, climbed to the top of the hill as Joshua and his men fought the Amalekites. As long Moses’ hands were up, the Israelites prevailed, but as soon as he lowered his hands, the Amalekites began to win.
Soon Moses’ hands grew tired. So, Aaron and Hur slid a large stone under him so he could sit. Then they held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—until sunset, as Joshua’s army defeated the Amalekites.
Aaron and Hur symbolize intercessors in this story. Holding up Moses’ hands is illustrative of our holding others up in prayer. Notice that when they were faithful, Joshua’s men were victorious. However, when they failed to hold up Moses’ hands, Joshua’s men began to die. Is intercessory prayer important? Yes! It can be a matter of life and death.
Assignment: Look how sudden, intervening prayer actually saved people from death in these situations:
Esther 4, 8; Daniel 6:10–23; Acts 12:1–19; 20:7–12
Christian, do you suffer from an unbridled temper, overpowering sinful habits, overwhelming sadness, or any number of other spiritually defeating issues? Are you seemingly unable to establish and maintain positive meaningful
relationships with others?
Counselor or Pastor, do you sometimes wonder why you have such limited authority over evil spirits and why, after evicting then one week, the same spirits show up again the next week.
In Delivering the Captives, Alice Smith draws on her 35 years of deliverance ministry around the world to expose some of Satan’s “slickest strategies”. She explains how he deceives us into building spiritual strongholds in our own lives though will full sin so his demons can operate, develop into strongmen, and access levels of dominion over us.
Let Alice show you how to detect and defeat strongmen, and precisely why Jesus said we must bind the strongmen before we dismantle their strongholds and permanently dismiss them.
Here are your guidelines, including Alice’s much sought after list of Apparent Demonic Groupings that reveals how demons work together. Here are your biblical tools, including prayers, proclamations, and pronouncements to renounce evil spirits and remove them from your life and from the lives of others.
Order yours today at: http://tinyurl.com/wv6ya