Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution and then failed to do those things? Most people have. We say, “I’m going to lose 10 kilos.” Or we might say, “I’m going to start exercising.” We make resolutions, we set goals- then we go back to our old ways. Sometimes this makes us not even want to set goals! The problem isn’t with goal setting. If a goal is to become a reality though, you have to change your behavior. There is one regular practice that will make a bigger difference than any other. It is the development of a daily intercessory prayer habit.
A Disciple-Making Movement (DMM) leader’s most important job is to intercede for those they lead. Leader’s who accomplish much, do so on their knees. It is in the place of prayer that we hear His voice, gain direction, strength, perspective, encouragement and where ultimately our real breakthroughs happen. Prayer in leadership is essential.
Prayer Can Not Be Delegated
The work on our knees can not be delegated to others. It is the responsibility of every Christian leader to pray themselves. We need to lead the way in prayer. That is not to say that we don’t also mobilize and raise up many others to intercede. We do. We must. There are others who may spend more actual hours in prayer than we do, or who may carry the work of intercession in very significant ways. As leaders, delegation is an important skill. This is one that you cannot delegate away though.
Happy New Year! As this year begins I find myself doing what I do in a 3 part disciple makers meeting. Taking time to reflect, pray, and listen is one of my important rituals each New Year’s Eve and Day.
I’m looking back, looking up, and looking forward. Here are some questions I’ll ask myself. Perhaps you’d like to use them too.
Important questions for LOOKING BACK:
– What has God done that I can thank Him for?
– What have I learned about who He is this year?
We long for more than we see today. Though many new movements are being started across the globe, we hunger for more. We look at the world, or at our current ministry, and feel a holy dissatisfaction with the status quo. This longing, even discontentment comes from the Father’s heart. It is there because God has more for us. Millions remain unreached and we are called to impact them in greater ways than we have yet seen.
You may be an existing movement leader who has already seen many generations. Or, you might be someone just beginning to catalyze movements. With our eyes on the ripe harvest, we must always look for more. How do we become the kind of people who God can trust with those greater fruits?
The news has been full of death statistics of late. New York Post headlines from April 8th read “Coronavirus kills 1,000 in NYC in just 36 hours.” Not good news! On April 5th, the death toll in Spain had crossed 12,000 dead. How are we to celebrate Easter in such a time?
If there ever was a time for us to proclaim the incredible news of Christ’s resurrection it is now.
Jesus is alive. He conquered death and the grave. By His stripes, those He suffered on Calvary, we are healed (Is. 53:5). The coronavirus has no grip on Him…nor on us! What a wonderful message we have to share.
This is an inside look at my heart, an invitation to pray with me today. I invite you to join me in holy dissatisfaction.
As I do each year, I’ve been pondering my goals for the coming year. What is God wanting to do? What is He laying on my heart to believe Him for? I want to be focused on the right things…the God things not just the good things or the many things.
You likely do too. It’s the start not only of a new year but a new decade.
As I pray, I find myself filled with what is best described as a holy dissatisfaction. I’m longing for more.
We looked down the path and saw him there. A young man lying on the ground, thrashing back and forth. His body out of control with some kind of seizure. Was it epilepsy? A demonic manifestation? What was going on? What should we do? Casting out evil spirits was something Jesus instructed His followers to do. Was that what was needed here?
In this case it was. Laying our hands on him gently, we commanded the demon to leave. As we prayed in Jesus’ name, he calmed. His eyes focused and he looked up at us. We shared with him and his relatives that Jesus Christ had set him free and invited Him to learn more.
Suppose you had to choose one consistent characteristic. One thing found in every movement, that you absolutely must do regularly. What would that one thing be? The answer is clear. It would be extraordinary prayer.
Ever since church multiplication and movements began to be spoken of, prayer has been identified as a major cause. Wherever you find a DMM or CPM, you will also always find a foundation of extraordinary prayer.
This was evident in the early church – the first Jesus movement that spread rapidly around the world.
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down for a conversation with the leader of a growing movement in India. Knowing my readers would not have that same opportunity, I decided to record our conversation and share it with my readers.
C. Anderson: How did you begin your disciple-making work?
Movement Leader: We began by doing prayer walks, visiting the many unreached villages nearby. For three months all we did was pray. We then began to distribute tracts and share the good news with those who expressed interest.
As we contend for the release of a movement, we must learn to discern when we are facing spiritual blockades. They are put there by the enemy to discourage, causing us to pull back in defeat.
Spiritual warfare can be a major movement killer. Sometimes we face it and are unaware. We respond in the flesh instead of by using the appropriate weapons in our spiritual arsenal.
Ignorance Is Not Bliss
Recognition of the spiritual battle we face is the beginning point. Winning this war means taking an intentional stance. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. It is foolhardiness. We face a very real spiritual enemy when we attempt to launch a rapidly multiplying Disciple Making Movement (DMM). This is especially true when it is in an unreached place or among an unreached people group.
We can not ignore this factor if we want to be successful in our endeavor. Instead, we must take actions to be on our guard. Through discernment, steadfast prayer, and wearing our spiritual armor, we fight. We do battle against forces of darkness in order to gain ground for the Kingdom of God.
Demons At My Gate
Some years ago, we were doing abundant seed sowing with a certain people group. We invited Create International to help us make a contextual film in the local language. This mega people group had almost no media resources in their own tongue. This was hard to believe when their population was well over 80 million people! We enjoyed making the film and finally, the day came for it to be introduced to those in our city.
Below is an excerpt from my soon to be released book, God Encounters in the Wild Places.
“About a week before the showing, I began to get threatening calls. A local pastor had gone to one of the church matriarchs of our city. He had convinced her that she must stop me from airing this film. She came to visit and I listened to her. I tried to show honor and respect, but I knew deep inside that we had not done anything that wasn’t Biblical.
In fact, we had followed the leading of the Lord and made decisions as a group each step of the way. Our goal was not to please the local Christian community with our film. Instead, our desire was to make something that would touch the hearts of unreached people. We wanted to give them a chance to hear the gospel message in a way that they could easily understand.
On the morning of the first showing of the film, I was having my quiet time. It was early. The bell for our compound rang. A group of men was at my gate. I dressed and went out to meet them.
As I walked toward the gate, I felt the Presence of Jesus strongly within me. I sensed Him warning me not to welcome them inside.
Opening the gate, I stepped out. Before me stood a group of about 4 or 5 pastors. One of them was the man who had been causing all sorts of trouble for us.
Discernment took over. I immediately understood somehow that several of these men were being influenced by the demonic.
I could not see the demon with physical eyes. But with my spiritual eyes, I “saw” a tall dark presence standing behind two of the men. It is a bit hard to explain. I turned though and spoke only to one of the pastors on the far right. He didn’t seem to be influenced as much by the dark presence.
“You can not show this film!” they demanded.
Crying out to God silently, I asked Him what to do. Clear direction came through a still small voice within me, “Don’t negotiate with demons.”
I was not to engage or discuss anything with them. I was to honor the men, but stand firm and strong against the demonic realm. The enemy wanted to hinder the showing of this gospel movie.
Thanking them for coming, I listened a bit. Then I politely disengaged. “We will pray and do what God tells us to do,” I quietly stated.
As I walked back into my house that day, I thought about the verse in Ephesians.”
“Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph. 6:12 NIV
God had made it so very clear to me! These pastors were not the ones who were trying to stop the spread of the gospel. This film was a key tool God wanted to use. The enemy clearly wanted to stop it!
Don’t Be Confused
The spiritual warfare we face is not always as clear as it was for me that day. Often it is under the surface. It is rare that you actually see (even with your spiritual eyes) the demonic forces you are up against. But as you ask God to release discernment, you can begin to recognize spiritual attack for what it is.
Don’t be confused by the fact that spiritual warfare is often mixed in with other factors. Most of the time, in my experience, the difficulties we face are a combination of things.