This week we are wrapping up our October C3 theme with “The Prayer of Influence.” As Jamie Jordan alluded to at the beginning of the month, we must understand influence and its power if we are to positively impact our world.
“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12 ESV
What does it mean to have influence in the realm of prayer? Throughout scripture we see men and women of God storming the gates of heaven to pull kingdom realities into their current circumstances. They rose up in their spheres of influence, took hold of God’s promises, and waged war on the evil that was running rampant in their generation. Will we learn to do the same?
There are three qualities we consistently see in the lives of men and women of God who have great influence in prayer: abiding, persistence and a strategic focus on the future.
Begin with Abiding
Before we can have influence with God in prayer, we first must have an abiding relationship with Him. In the gospels we see the disciples having daily conversations with Jesus. They ate, slept and ministered alongside Him for three years. They listened to his stories, watched in wonder as he extravagantly loved the people around Him and marveled at the way he healed them. In every way Jesus modeled what an abundant, victorious life could be like when you are equipped by the Holy Spirit and listen to and obey the voice of the Father. Ultimately He modeled to them the greatest sacrifice, followed by a triumphant victory over death, hell and the grave. When Jesus rose from the dead He commissioned and equipped them to go, tell, and make disciples of the nations, telling them the good news of the gospel. He called them His friends and said that what He had done on the earth, they in turn would do even greater.
Before all of this world-changing could happen, they had to learn what it was to be a son or a daughter of God, and then a friend of God. Just like us they had to learn there is no influence in the realm of prayer without an abiding relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7
It makes me wonder if Jesus had Abraham in mind when He spoke these words.
When the Lord and a couple of angels visited Abraham in Genesis 18, He tells Abraham in passing that He is going to Sodom and Gomorrah because “the outcry was great and their sin grievous.” He was going to check it out for Himself. If it was as bad as He understood it to be, He planned to wipe them from the face of the earth. It is here that we see a fascinating interchange between the Lord and Abraham.
“The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached Him and said: ‘Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’
The Lord said, ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.’
Then Abraham spoke up again: ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?’
‘If I find forty-five there,’ He said, ‘I will not destroy it.’
Once again he spoke to Him, ‘What if only forty are found there?’
He said, ‘For the sake of forty, I will not do it.’
Then he said, ‘May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?’
He answered, ‘I will not do it if I find thirty there.’
Abraham said, ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?’
He said, ‘For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.’
Then he said, ‘May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?’
He answered, ‘For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.’
When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, He left, and Abraham returned home.” Genesis 18:22-33 NIV
Abraham was called the friend of God, and here we see Him persistently pressing God to change his mind on the complete destruction of two cities. It appears that God invited this discussion because He stayed behind to continue speaking to Abraham before continuing on His journey. Abraham’s nephew Lot was living there, and he knew that unless he interceded for Lot and his family they were as good as dead.
Abraham believed God implicitly, and knew that His word was yes and amen. His abiding faith was credited to him as righteousness, and even now he is called the father of our faith.
I cannot think of another virtue more needed in our society than persistence. Our culture wants things now, and is uncomfortable waiting for anything, much less answers to prayer. But Jesus taught us to be persistent in prayer and to not give up. To have influence in prayer we must take the stand that God’s word on an issue is enough, and we will pray and thank Him for it until we receive an answering echo from heaven.
“Importunity is made up of the ability to hold on, to press on, to wait with unrelaxed and unrelaxable grasp, restless desire, and restful patience. Importunate prayer is not an incident but the main thing, not a performance but a passion, not a need but a necessity.” ~ E.M. Bounds
Importunity is not just another word for persistence. It literally means, “persistence to the point of annoyance.” Friends, ask and keep on asking!
Strategic Focus on the Future
The prayer of influence is forward-facing. It necessitates locking into a vision that God has for the future and the children coming after us and agreeing with Him in prayer.
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”
This is an old testament prophetic declaration given by Joel hundreds of years before the fire fell at Pentecost that is still being fulfilled in our day. The prayer of influence is strategic, full of faith, and knows the world will be impacted whether we are here to see it with our own eyes or not. Like an arrow being shot from a skilled archer, spirit-filled prayers always find their mark and influence generations.
The Old Testament, written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, contains over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His life, death and resurrection. Think about that for a moment. Each prayer and prophetic declaration – each time a man or woman came into agreement with the heartbeat of God – resulted in another arrow hitting it’s mark. God’s word never returns void but accomplishes exactly what it was sent out to do (Isaiah 55:11).
May you find God in the still pockets of your day and lock into His voice. Be quick to do whatever He is calling you to do, in faith, knowing you have been called and equipped to do so. You are His son, His daughter, and even now He has called you His friend. Rise up with a vision for the future and declare what your Father is saying in the secret place. Our world needs your prayer of influence!
To get more information and join the South Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce (SC-C3) movement, go to www.sc-c3.org and become a member today!
Lori Anderson-Bowen is the co-director for SC-C3 in Charleston and a publisher with Best Version Media. Her passion is to see the Church connect with the heart of God in practical, life-giving ways and to see generation impacted for Christ.. She can be reached at LBowen@bestversionmedia.com.