In obedience to Jesus' explicit command, 120 believers waited in the upper room for the promise of the Father, and while they waited, they travailed in prayer. For 10 days they gave themselves to intercession.
Luke records their steadfast spiritual labor: "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication" (Acts 1:14, NKJV). This is a key fact that reveals that intercession was an integral part of the birth of the church.
In that miraculous moment, the Holy Spirit fell in power. Peter preached Christ, and suddenly 3,000 souls believed, repented and were born anew (see Acts 2:37-41). The travail of the 120 brought forth new life for many. This is the calling of God's interceding forerunners everywhere.
Like the 12 apostles and the 120, Christians have been sent ahead of our Lord as His harbingers. It is our solemn duty to announce and prepare for the King's upcoming visits to the cities, regions and nations in which we live.
We announce His coming by our upright manner of living, our faithful testimony, our sowing of God's Word and our uncompromising loyalty to His standards. But our most important means of preparing the way for Jesus' visitation is hidden; it is systematic, faith-filled, Spirit-inspired, persisting intercession.
This is the labor that repels the forces of darkness. This is the labor by which the life of God is born into the souls of men. This is the labor that hastens the maturing of the saints (see Gal. 4:19).
This is the labor that causes fallen Christians to repent and turn again to the Lord. This is the labor that spawns Spirit-led, God-glorifying missions and ministries. And this is the work of interceding forerunners to which each of us is called.
Will you fulfill your calling? Will you gladly assume the hidden, humble work of a spiritual harbinger so that, by your daily intercessions known only to God, the Lord may do mighty works in many lives in the day He visits your city?
If so, you will have to walk by faith, not by sight. You will have to persist in childlike belief in God's promises, confident that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16), even when lengthy delays severely test your faith.
But God never fails to visit those people and places that have been prepared by steadfast spiritual travail. Never. Our King is utterly faithful.
Greg Hinnant is the author of Walking in His Ways (Charisma House), from which this article is adapted.