Love on its knees

May 14, 2024 | PRAY, READ

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. (Eph. 6:12 Amp)

I came across a remarkable account the other day in Dick Eastman’s book ‘Love on its Knees.’ In a vision, Dick saw an intercessor moving swiftly in spirit across continents, rather as an angel might, and ‘landing’ in the hut of someone from a very different religion. The room was full of a heavy choking presence. In the vision, Dick saw a person tentatively pick up a gospel tract they had just been given, and then immediately put it down again. But the intercessor went into action, wrestling with all his might that the powers of darkness might not succeed in snatching away this precious seed, but that the person might be set free to come to the Lord.

In the whole realm of prayer, it is important to recognise that God does not override people’s free will. We must be careful therefore not to pray in such a way as to seek to ‘force’ people to do certain things, even if we think it is for their own good. What we can and must do, is to lift the surrounding darkness and other obstructions far enough off and away from people so that they can make their own free decisions. In other words, what we are doing is seeking to giving them the maximum opportunity to respond to the Lord’s invitation without the overlay of the powers of darkness pressing down on them.

As Dick watched this particular intercessor wrestling in prayer, he saw the person going back to the tract, and realising they had rejected it too hastily. (My goodness, doesn’t this remind one of the Frank Peretti novels?!) As they read it through, they found it making sense – and they came right through to putting their trust in the Lord Jesus.

What an inspiration and encouragement to us to continue ‘instant’ in prayer for people to go back to the Bibles and other godly material that they have laid aside! It helps to have one such tangible example and person to focus our prayers around, who we can use as representative of countless others to pray for. And however weak and feeble we may feel our prayers to be, the Lord does indeed hear them. The angel called Gideon a mighty man of valour at a time when he himself was feeling anything but that. Daniel too was only too aware of his weakness, but the Lord entrusts His intercessors with extraordinary power as we devote ourselves constantly to prayer, and lift people and situations to Him. (Rom. 12:12 Judges 6:12, and Dan. 10:11-12: ‘From the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard).

It had been while Dick was leading a retreat of young people in California that a great burden had come on the group one night: a spirit of brokenness and travail for the many caught up in hippie communes. From then on amazing things happened, as others caught the vision to pray. Within a year the Jesus Movement had broken out, which swept something like 800,000 people to faith in Christ. Dick himself received a commission for the Lord to mobilise great armies of intercessors for the nations, a calling he carried out faithfully.

Dick’s account is a powerful reminder both of the power the Lord has placed in us as we lift people and situations to Him, and of the great intensity that is often involved in this wrestling. The word ‘struggle,’ or ‘wrestling bout’ in Ephesiasn 6:12 is palē. It only occurs once in the New Testament, and its original context is described here in graphic detail by Rick Renner. To say the least it is an eye-opening article!* We are caught up in a battle, and many are in urgent need of the prayers of intercessors to countermand the darkness that surrounds them, so that they can come through to a saving relationship with Christ Jesus.

Some of us know that the cost of intercession is high, and we are reluctant to engage in it. This article encourages us to intercede for those who lay down their lives so as to fill the gap. The Lord knows how intense such wrestling is. In His mercy, He does not always keep us inside the wrestling ring. May we always know when we are called to ‘nestle’ rather than wrestle, and always be willing to engage when He summons us. What situations are you be called to wrestle for at the moment?

The world needs so much more than ‘polite’ prayers! Back in early 1976, the Lord told the Assistant Missioners at our university that, if they were prepared to get up in the night and pray, He would bring about a mighty harvest. They were faithful, and one hundred and fifty of us found the Lord in just one week. To my knowledge, within two years at least eight of us were in full-time Christian work. Just think how many will have come to faith as a result of this harvest – and all because the Missioners prayed, David Watson preached with anointing, and the Lord did the rest!

We have written elsewhere of the fervent and effectual prayers of Augustine’s mother, Monica, that led to her son’s conversion. Praise God likewise for Hudson Tayor’s mother. Hudson was initially keen to serve the Lord, but his teenage years saw him grow apart from Christ. At the age of 17, however, the sceptical youth picked up a gospel tract (titled ‘Poor Richard’), intending to read it only as a compelling story, skipping over the spiritual parts. But he found himself cut to the heart by the expression, ‘the finished work of Christ.’

As he pondered the words, he came to see that ‘there was nothing in the world to be done but to fall down on my knees, and accept this Saviour and His salvation, to praise Him evermore.’

Later, he discovered that his mother, away on a trip, had been burdened to pray intensely for him for the afternoon. About the time he gave his life to Jesus, she suddenly felt a sense of relief, knowing that the Lord had granted her petition. Taylor described the whole unfolding of events as follows:

I sat down to read the little book in an utterly unconcerned state of mind, believing indeed at the time that if there were any salvation it was not for me, and with a distinct intention to put away the tract as soon as it should seem prosy… Little did I know at the time what was going on in the heart of my dear mother, seventy or eighty miles away. She rose from the dinner-table that afternoon with an intense yearning for the conversion of her boy… She went to her room and turned the key in the door, resolved not to leave that spot until her prayers were answered.

Hour after hour did that dear mother plead for me, until at length she could pray no longer, but was constrained to praise God for that which His Spirit taught her had already been accomplished – the conversion of her only son.

I in the meantime had been led in the way I have mentioned to take up this little tract, and while reading it was struck with the sentence, “The finished work of Christ.” … Immediately the words “It is finished” suggested themselves to my mind. What was finished? And I at once replied, “A full and perfect atonement and satisfaction for sin: the debt was paid by the Substitute; Christ died for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Then came the thought, “If the whole work was finished and the whole debt paid, what is there left for me to do?” And with this dawned the joyful conviction, as light was flashed into my soul by the Holy Spirit, that there was nothing in the world to be done but to fall down on one’s knees, and accepting this Saviour and His salvation, to praise Him for evermore. Thus while my dear mother was praising God on her knees in her chamber, I was praising Him in the old warehouse to which I had gone alone to read at my leisure this little book.

Taylor later discovered a journal entry from his sister (also Amelia), in which she had committed some weeks prior to pray for her brother three times daily until he was converted. Through this experience, not only did Taylor come to see the extraordinary power of the cross, but also the power of ordinary prayer — something upon which he would stake his entire life. You can find the story here, but do go on reading beyond!

Praise God for the power of intercession!

If you are interceding before the Lord for a particular situation, your spirit is not confined to the room in which you are praying, or to the lists you are using to help you pray, or the lines along which you habitually pray for them. You are free to go wherever the Lord sends you, and to accomplish in spirit what you cannot do in person. May the Lord increase the spheres of our praying, and the ceiling of our authority in prayer from one year to the next!

*You might also want to read this article by Justin Self on the subject of wrestling.

1 Comment

  1. Lizzy Attwood

    Amen, May God indeed increase our desire to pray with all our hearts.


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