------CHAPTER 1 --------
Standing Against Injustices
Twelve burly fisherman climbed into a large seaworthy whaling boat. Three were headed north, three south, three east and three west. When the large, rugged craft finally forged into the open seas, tension began to mount
as each trio rowed toward their own destination. The hefty wooden hull began to spin about like a dog chasing its tail, while every man fought frantically to hold his own position. Before long, the oars became weapons
of destruction rather than tools for navigation. What might have been "fellowship" turned into mutiny among the "fellows in the ship." Finally, the whole uncharted mission sank as the vessel capsized and broke apart in
a swell of confusion and defeat.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?! Many times, however, the fellowship at prayer meetings looks a lot like what we've just described - especially
when praying over issues. One person wants to pray about the abortion issue, another about pornography, someone else wants to prayerfully tackle gambling issues, while another seeks a solution for families. Before long,
a power struggle ensues and no one feels heard or honored. The intercessors limp out of the prayer room feeling bruised and battered, never wanting to set foot on that ship again.
No More Mutiny In The County
Now let's replay the saga of our 12 brawny fisherman with a new twist. Imagine what could have happened had these trios of ambitious sailors set course in four separate boats
with only one focus as their destination. Not only would they have reached their targets, but they also would have bonded in a spirit of unity along the way.
When teaching on
corporate intercession, we begin by asking the pastor to identify issues of concern, such as missions, feeding the poor, schools and youth - the list could be endless. Next, we gather the intercessors and ask the Lord to
speak to each of their hearts regarding the concerns at hand. Various parts of the room are designated as meeting places for each issue. Everyone is then asked to identify and write down the concerns that kindle a
passion in their hearts. Issues and passions are finally linked together as a three-strand cord forms for what the author Evelyn Christensen calls "triplet praying". Whether 4 or 400 respond to a given issue, that
number eventually splits into clusters of three. One of the triplets lead in verbal prayer while the other two agree; each person then takes a turn at the prayer helm. Triplet praying ensures safety for those who might
otherwise be intimidated by public prayer. It also helps intercessors to more fully understand the heart of God over a particular issue.
Identifying Your Issue
Those who pray over issues will find that the Holy Spirit imprints an assignment on their souls. Sometimes issues flow out of their own hurts; other times the Lord simply drops a burden, like a seed, into the heart's soil and
then pours out prayers to water it.
Carol Ann Ferrell is one of those people who began her assignment through fresh pain. Several years after coming to Christ, a woman from church
handed her a picture of a six-week-old fetus. Having had two abortions that resulted in permanent damage to her womb, Carol Ann finally understood that not only had her actions destroyed her own hopes of ever having a family,
but she had also killed two little babies. For three days she sobbed without ceasing. When the tears finally stopped, Carol Ann knew that God had cleansed her of all shame and was calling her to intercede for other
young women with a potential for following in her footsteps.
She poured herself out daily in her prayer closet, and once each week she put feet to those prayers by standing in front of
a local abortion clinic to pray on-site. Throughout the four-year duration of that assignment, Carol Ann saw more than 20 women reverse their decisions. One young girl even asked her for a ride home and, on the way,
confessed that she was pregnant with twins. Though Carol's mission was rewarding, when the Lord removed the burden, the grace and power to intercede for that issue also lifted.
Her next assignment began when she inherited an apartment building in Los Angeles, California. Rapes, murders and drug transactions were a daily occurrence in the alley just behind her newly acquired building. Raised in
a wealthy family, Carol Ann had never understood the hopelessness and despair that drove the downtrodden into lives of uninterrupted crime; but as she interceded for them, judgment was overshadowed by mercy. The inner city
became her mission field in prayer. She "prayer-drove" the streets and prayed God's Word over the hurting. Though her life was often in peril, Carol Ann saw the hand of God move on her behalf. Eventually, she was
even able to summon local law enforcement to change laws which brought greater protection to that area. The assignment lasted 10 years.
Today Carol Ann intercedes for the leaders
in her church. Because she is also a list pray-er, she has pages and pages of Scriptures she prays daily over each leader. Sometimes the Lord will reveal a problem or expose a spirit that is trying to get a foothold,
and she will pray until the burden lifts. In her own words, "I don't know how long this assignment will last or what the next one will be - that's up to God. I will simply pray what He gives me to pray until He moves me
on to the next issue."
Issues That Define A Lifetime
An issue of intercession can also become a lifetime assignment. Eva Alexander, for example, was a powerful
politician in India when she received Christ as her Savior. Today, as director of The Comforter Ministries, she says that her lifetime issue began when she read, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter
the kingdom of God before you" (Matt. 21:31, NKJV). She then heard the inaudible voice of the Lord assuring her, "You shall see the harlots in heaven." Those words echoed within her head, because prior to her
conversion, Eva had supported prostitution by lobbying for legislative policies and programs that would protect it.
Now, realizing that she was to be part of seeing the harlots in
heaven, Eva began to travail on their behalf. "God," she cried out, "I have a heart for these women. But, Lord, I don't want to reach just a few of them, I want to reach every single one - every temple prostitute, every
call girl, every street prostitute. And when I get to heaven, I want to see millions of them there. I want to hear the words, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant.' I believe You have forgiven me for the sins I
committed in supporting prostitution before I knew You. Now use me in any way You desire to protect the harlots and bring them into the Kingdom."
Eva invested much time in prayer
before sharing the vision with her husband. When she finally did, he agreed to stand with her in that effort. Their mission began with hours and hours of intercession, but they had no idea how great the cost would
be. They brought the prostitutes home and began to pray over them, counsel them, teach them, provide medical care for them and help them find jobs. Some returned to the streets many times before the love connection with
Jesus became a reality, but Pastor Eva and her staff refused to give up on even one. She pursued them by walking the streets and opening sharing the good news about God's love and forgiveness.
Eva's family and staff suffered persecution from neighbors as well as government authorities. They were ridiculed and mocked, even harassed by those who accused them of running a
brothel. But Eva persevered, saying, "If God gives the mission, He will also provide for its success."
A prostitute she had ministered to later confessed that while conducting an
immoral act, the radio alarm next to her bed went off and a pastor said, "Woman, your sins are forgiven!" Immediately, the woman left that lifestyle. Today she is an effective evangelist in India.
Intercessors by Tommi Femrite, Elizabeth Alves, and Karen Kaufman. Regal Books, 2000.