Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle. Psalm 144:1
He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. Psalm 18:34
He teaches my hands for the war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 2 Samuel 22:35
The need to pray for our government, national, state and local, is something everyone seems to agree that we need to do. Especially since we are specifically told to do so. (1 Timothy 2:2) But how, exactly, should we do this? As I've walked the path of being a governmental intercessor for 23 years, I've learned the importance of the three scriptures at the beginning of this lesson. They tell me that if my hands are going to be trained for the spiritual warfare involved in praying for government, I absolutely MUST be teachable and willing to change how I do things. In the process, here are a few guidelines the Lord has shown me that are essential for effective praying for government - or anything else for that matter.
PROTOCOL - First, we need to recognize that the protocol for corporate prayer needs to be different than the freedom we have in our personal prayer times. The focus of the group needs to be determined and every participant needs to agree to stay within the boundaries of the chosen focus. If a group is formed to pray for personal needs, that's great. But if it's focus is to be government, then it's not the place to pray for Aunt Sally or Uncle Joe, or even your church. Those needs can be prayed for before or after the set group prayer time but not during the time specifically focused on government.
Once the focus has been set, too many times, the group will engage in what I call "tossed salad prayers." You know, a tossed salad is lettuce here, a tomato or carrot there, some more lettuce, then some onion and more tomato. Tossed salad prayer is the same way: a prayer for the President, then for a bill before congress, then a congressman, then the President, then something else and on it goes, all jumbled around. When the group focuses on one topic at a time, Holy Spirit is able to give them amazingly accurate and focused prayers, visions, and/or words of wisdom because of their unity. Whenever I've led such a group, I've been known to sometimes stop the prayers when someone begins a new topic and ask if there is anyone else who has received something else from the Lord on the current topic before we embark on a new subject. Unity in focus is important.
If the prayer group is made up of relatively new intercessors or those with little experience praying in a group, it is entirely appropriate for the leader to call upon the timid ones to see if God has given them some insight, a scripture or vision that pertains to the topic being prayed for before the group goes onto another topic. If the group is made up of experienced intercessors, it is inappropriate for the leader to do this. Why? Because mature intercessors who don't volunteer freely are simply operating in pride. They are more concerned with being singled out than with helping the group fulfill the mandate God has given them to pray at that moment. The consequence is that when they keep quiet, they actually cheat the group of insight given by the Lord. I have literally told groups, "If you receive a prayer or a vision or scripture that pertains to the subject matter we're praying about, don't tell me about it after the meeting is over! I don't want to hear it then because it needed to have been prayed for when we were focused on that subject."
The protocol for each particular assignment is different and needs to be identified. For example, when permission is given to pray in a particular room of the State Capitol the guidelines given by the governmental authority must be followed. An "undercover assignment" in a building, a city location or another country is something else. My husband and I engage in a lot of undercover assignments. When others are with us, we require strict adherence to the rules pertaining to how to remain under cover. Unfortunately, there are prayer ministries that send people out to pray on-site without such guidelines. We participated in one such assignment that proved to be disastrous. As directed by the leader, we entered a bus that was to drive us around to various embassies in Washington, DC. We were supposed to get off the bus and pray around the buildings on the public sidewalks while acting like tourists. Unfortunately, having received no guidelines, one man took his perceived authority too far. In his boldness, he literally shouted decrees and declarations at various embassies. The result was that the police were called and our tour came to an end.
If you are interested in the list of 25 guidelines for prayer journeys that I've compiled from experience, let me know and I'll forward it to you.
When a prayer meeting is over, there needs to be sealing prayer so that whatever was of God is protected against satanic robbery. In addition, there needs to be prayer against retaliation and retribution toward all those in the prayer group. I like to add their families, vehicles, homes, resources and everything that concerns them.
If you are a prayer group leader, feel free to ask me to send you a short lesson on how to lead your group.
ACCOUNTABILITY - This is key. When traveling to another city, state or nation, it is good to come "under" a local person or ministry. Besides the accountability aspect, when we do this, we gain more authority. For example, Gary and I have authority to pray in our county because we live here. We have more authority to pray for Texas, not just because we live here but when we submit to someone who lives in whatever city or region we're praying in. We have authority to pray in the DC area because our nation's capitol belongs to all U.S. citizens. But we also give those who live or have their ministry headquarters there the opportunity to welcome us and transfer their specific authority as residents, to us. A transparent intercessor should never be afraid of accountability.
Participants in prayer for government must be willing to learn the rules of spiritual warfare if they want to be accountable to or in agreement with scripture. I've seen too many people quote 1 John 4:4 about "greater is He who is in me" and go after principalities and powers by themselves and get clobbered by the enemy. First of all, they ignore the fact that the context of this verse is all about warfare guidelines. We need to always remain teachable and search out other passages for guidance. For example, too many people literally teach that we should put on the pieces of armor listed in Ephesians 6: 13 every morning. I am strongly opposed to that teaching because I have yet to find biblical instruction that we are ever to take them off! As intercessors, we need to just "straighten it" before we go to bed and again when we arise the next morning. Our satanic enemy knows how vulnerable Christians make themselves when they go to bed thinking that their job of intercession is done for the day. We are called to be warriors, not fighters. As a Vietnam veteran told me years ago, "A fighter fights in a battle, then goes home. A warrior is always on duty."
FORGIVENESS - Forgiveness of those who have allowed themselves to be tools of Satan is key to governmental prayer. We cannot afford to harbor anger, bitterness or resentment. No matter what they claim, I have yet to meet anyone who held "righteous indignation" as Jesus did when He tossed out the money-changers from the temple. Yes, He acted in anger. But a few days later, He gave His life for those very people. A person with true "righteous indignation" is willing to literally give their life in exchange for those they are angry at. Forgiveness does not include compromise. With our current political environment, forgiveness with no compromise can be very difficult to do. But, with God's help, we can do whatever He asks us to do so this is our choice whether we obey or not. It helps to remember that forgiveness is more about us and our attitude than it is about the other person. When we forgive, we take our hands off and let God deal with them.
Too many times our anger is caused by not knowing the facts, of language difficulties or the fact that Washington, DC is a foreign environment. According to quantum physics, all matter retains memory. How can that affect those in government? It affects our ability to hear God. For example, a good person is elected and takes office in our city, state or national government and they have to work out of a place that was formerly occupied by a bad office-holder. The place needed to have been cleansed with prayer prior to the newly elected official taking occupancy. When I teach on this subject, I often use the example of when a relatively good man was put into a national office. At first, he made good decisions after retreating to his personal home for contemplation about a sticky decision. But one day he invited a leader from a country that has purposefully and legally legislated God out of their national life. The foreign leader stayed several days. Out of ignorance, when the leader left, the home was not cleansed of all the unbiblical spirits he left behind. From that point on our US leader did not make wise decisions that were in the best interest of our nation which was dedicated to God. Probably every national governmental leader has operated in the same ignorance of how quantum physics affects their environment and make good decisions. Even our presidents. Our job as governmental intercessors is to cover them when they are ignorant. We need to be aware of what's happening to and with our leaders whether we're called to pray for our local government, our state government or our national government.
Forgiveness needs to be balanced by God's specific direction as well as scriptural directives. We need to forgive people for their actions or words against us personally but we need to separate that from the unrighteous actions of leaders over a group of people. Let me explain. While many iniquitous government workers operate out of ignorance, increasingly, in the age that we are now living in, many government workers of iniquity know exactly what they are doing. They have been presented with a choice as to whether to serve God or Satan and have chosen Satan and his ways. I don't believe we can know for certain who these people are, but I believe strongly that we need to be very careful before putting on them Christ's words on the cross to "forgive them for they know not what they do." Why would I say such a thing? Look at scripture:
· God is the One who caused Egypt to hate the Jews - Psalm 105:25.
· We are told that God will choose the delusions of the wicked - Isaiah 66:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.
· Jeremiah 7:16 & Jeremiah 11:14 God said, "Do not pray for this people nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you."
· Matthew 11:21-24 - Jesus pronounced "woe" on various cities then let us know that we are judged by the level of enlightenment we have, not the level of evil.
We can't know the heart of another or what level of enlightenment they've had. Furthermore, we don't know what God is doing or how He is using them. The Egyptian Pharaoh is a good example. He had a choice. Unfortunately, for him and his nation, he made the wrong choice. But God used that choice for His own purposes. So, when we automatically pray to forgive a governmental leader because of their ignorance, we remove God's dealings with them. Jesus knew the specific people who crucified Him. He knew they were ignorant. We don't always know this so a blanket prayer is not appropriate. Only He knows the end from the beginning. We must ALWAYS ask God how to pray.
WORDS - Our words are absolutely critical when it comes to praying for government. I have repented many times for words I used to say in a joking manner about all federal government leaders - our congressional men and women, our presidents and our judges. When God began to pull me into specializing on national government, I had to change my ways and become open for Him to teach me and reveal truth to me. I try to watch my words. Have you ever noticed that when people run out of good arguments or facts that back up their views, they get into name-calling? When believers resort to name-calling, we descend to Satan's level. You probably know as many or more scriptures than I do about how Christians are to build up and plant rather than tear down and destroy. Name-calling is a form of cursing. We are told to bless, not curse (Romans 12:14).
RESEARCH - We need godly, scripture-based discernment and knowledge. This often requires research which most of us don't like to do because we're comfortable with our own mind-set or that of our favorite news outlet, talk-show host or friends.
Sometimes we need to learn about the culture. For example, the culture of New York City is different than the culture of Texas. We can't pray in love (which is God's language) if we look down on a particular culture or refuse to appreciate where they're coming from. For example, 45 years ago, my husband and I realized that people who grow up and continue to live in a city don't understand rural areas. Many of them don't have an appreciation for the land. When we lived in Dallas, we had friends who grumbled when it rained on weekends, having no appreciation for how badly the farmers needed the rain in order to produce the meat and vegetables that graced the shelves of the grocery stores and the tables of those who grumbled.
Recently we were blessed to have in a state and national leader of the Hispanic community in our home. He was an immigrant who had obtained US citizenship. Based on his experience, his cry was for all immigrants from all nations to learn the basis of our American culture. He explained that these people often come from countries ruled by dictators or a culture that required a person to grab whatever they needed to survive without consideration of laws or what was expected of them. Assuming the American culture was the same as their country-of-origin, they do things in ignorance. In their ignorance, they feel safe only among people from their own country and don't assimilate into the new culture. I'm sure I'm not articulating what he explained to us well, but hopefully, God will give you interpretation. One of the things that made America grow and thrive in days past was the willingness to first meld together based on what we had in common, then gradually celebrate our differences. When, as a nation, we began to reverse the two, we just ended up with differences which have led to controversy and strife, often with no appreciation of where each side is coming from.
TONGUES - The gift of tongues is a valuable tool to use when praying for government. I Corinthians 14:1 instructs us to seek the spiritual gifts. This is one of them. Get it. Use it. I recently read an appeal by a national leader for individuals and prayer groups to spend up to an hour praying in tongues whenever we gather together because the current issues are so complex. This, I believe, is well worth considering.
OVERVIEW - When praying for government, get an overview of where you're going in prayer. To do this, we must look at and deal with reality. Two examples are Presidents Bush and Obama. Bush had a lot of prayer but much of it did not take into account his family history and his membership in Skull & Bones. Obama had a lot of prayer also but little dealt with his fatherlessness, his early introduction into the occult or childhood programming as to what he was supposed to do with his life. From my own research I never saw that he was given much choice in life. Consequently, I believe he was given gifts and talents that he has never gotten to use the way God intended.
BOUNDARIES - Know what yours are and don't go beyond them. We had a teacher who went with a partner to pray over a DC building. Instead of staying on the public sidewalk, she stepped on the grounds of the building without the call to do so like her partner did. She went home and was sick for a week. I once had to tell a friend with serious illnesses to stop praying about everything she heard on the 700 club because not only was she ill-equipped spiritually to handle every governmental problem she heard about, she was not physically strong enough to do so. God had given her a particular focus for her prayers and she needed to stay within the boundaries of that focus.
Dealing with principalities and powers is a group effort. Currently, many intercessors are coming against Leviathan. We can ask God to deal with this principality but scripturally, Leviathan is for God to rebuke. Not us. I once met a man who would come against principalities and powers ruling over various government departments in DC. Shortly after he began to do this by himself or with untrained pray-ers, his personal life fell apart. He needed to know his boundaries.
EGO - When I first got into the city-wide prayer effort, I discovered a lot of ego on the part of prayer ministry leaders and members. When the various ministries got together, I heard people bragging about how they'd participated with big-name speakers who had come to town. How many prayer journeys they'd been on. Which assignments were more important than others. When it comes to prayer - or any ministry for that matter - there is no place for ego. We need to know our place, stay there and be satisfied until, and unless, God promotes us. Consider David's top mighty men. There were the top three, the next three and the 30. Abishai was the head of the second three. He was most honored but didn't attain to the top three. Benaiah was "more honored" than the 30 but didn't attain to the first three. Yet they were all valuable and mighty men of valor. All positions within David's army were needed. All were important. Status is neither here nor there in the long run.
Besides, being a hidden intercessor is a good place to be because you get less attack. So keep on praying. Learn the rules of warfare. And keep learning. You are needed and wanted and VALUABLE.