Continued from part 2 from Tuesday.
Step 3: Revelation
With this team from Michigan, I encouraged people, most of whom have never prophesied, to listen to the voice of God and share it with us. One by one people would share pictures, impressions, Scriptures and other words from heaven. I explained that God desires to speak clearly and continually to every man, woman and child of His on the planet.
"Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy" (1 Cor. 14:1).
To prophesy is simply to hear God and to repeat what He says. Share with others the heartbeat of God in any given situation. Hearing God is one of the most exciting parts of one's personal experience as a Christian. We are all to have spiritual dreams and visions, to walk in the Spirit and hear in the Spirit. God is continually sharing His heart with us and to receive that data from the invisible realm is amazing!
Not only does it make life exciting, it makes it survivable. The only way we can obey God is if we hear Him! So, as we hear His voice, we can know what is required of us. We can see into the spirit realm and understand how to battle the enemy. This is how it unfolded in this particular situation:
We were about to move into the fourth and last season called execution–declaring and enforcing the will of God that was just revealed in this season of prophetic revelation. All of a sudden, I heard this sweet voice from on the other side of the cavern call out, "John?" I said, "Yes?" She said, "I just can't go on until I share something with you." It was the same girl who had prayed for my shoulder back at the church. "God is squeezing my heart. It's so strong and I have to share it with you. ... It's not good though." Oh boy! Here we go. One of those moments that every leader has to deal with at one time or another—a crazy prophetic word!
I told her, "OK, go ahead and share it. Let's see what God has to tell us." It was important to me to encourage her in this as it was obviously a critical moment for her. She was hearing God, and I was excited about that. She went on to tell me that she saw a vision when she was praying for me back at Revolution, but she didn't know how to share it. That same vision intensified extensively during the season of prophecy and hearing God there in the cave. She saw someone holding a voodoo doll of me and they were poking me in the shoulder over and over again.
Now, what she didn't know was that I was there in the dark on the other side of the room wincing in extreme pain for the previous four hours. I was contorting my body every which way I could in an attempt to relieve the pressure in my shoulder. I was almost in tears much of the night.
I then announced to everybody there that we were a living experiment. God was taking us by the hand and teaching us about revelation-driven prayer. I told everybody that God has revealed His desire—He wanted me healed that very moment. It was now time to move into our last season—execution.
Step 4: Execution
I asked that girl if she would pray for me. Wow! Something happened to this girl—the fire of God was on her! She prayed down the heavens while the rest of the people in that cave warred in the Spirit and interceded with passion. The noise was astounding.
All of a sudden my shoulder started to burn intensely! It was like someone poured hot oil on my shoulder and was rubbing it in. It went down my arm all the way to the tips of my fingers. God was instantly healing me. I went through every movement I could think of, I pressed my fingers deep into the spot that had previously hurt so badly. My fingers which were previously partially numb were now highly sensitive. It was really happening—I was healed! My arm was on fire. I told everybody what was going on as it was happening. I halfway jokingly asked them if they could see my arm glowing there in the dark cave! It was so hot I thought people around me could feel the warmth!
To this very day my arm has been healed. God was waiting to heal me so all of those people in that dark cave would experience the glory of God.
"As Jesus passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned. But it happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him'" (John 9:1-3).
This last season of execution is simply that—we execute the instructions of God as He reveals them to us. He didn't have anything else for us to do at that moment, and our ability to hear Him clearly kept us from praying amiss. We came into perfect agreement with God, looked at the spirit of Infirmity with fire in our eyes and a supernatural confidence and cast it out. The attack of witchcraft was annihilated in a place of agreed prayer. We executed God's instructions that were revealed to a repentant and consecrated people who were filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Revelation-driven prayer works. We pour ourselves out, spend hours in the presence of God, hear His voice and then war in the Spirit. Miracles are then the expected, and very regular, result.
"If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:7-8).
I want to encourage you to pattern your own prayer life in this way. Every day, present yourself to the Lord and go through these four seasons. If Christians will eagerly step up to a place of two or three hours of intentional prayer every day, we will experience an outpouring of God within weeks if not sooner!
I find myself exhilarated when my time in the prayer room is dosed with waves of insight into God's heart. It's becomes easy to hit my face, cry out in pursuit of the Living God and then to press on into hours of prayer—when it's fueled by revelation.
When the cry of our heart is to discover the cry of God's heart, life in the invisible realm of prayer ramps up powerfully.
I believe the prayer movement will become the thrill ride that it's meant to be when it becomes predominantly a prophetic movement. Praying prayers into the nether regions without at least a low level of supernatural insight is a frustrating activity. It's a prime reason many people are resistant to a life of prayer.
"See then that you walk carefully, not as fools, but as wise men, making the most of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:15-17).
Revelation-Driven Prayer in Action
The Holy Spirit schooled me in the important concept of effective and efficient prayer one day when I was alone in prayer at Revolution Church at the base of Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Keep in mind that I have always been a "prayer guy." I caught the fire of love for Jesus in my early years when I was in the place of prayer and that hunger for intimacy with God has never ceased.
This particular day I found myself praying very good prayers ... but these particular prayers weren't on God's agenda for me that day. I was praying for church growth, for people that came to mind, for strategic ideas and other good and important topics. However, they were topics that came to mind based on human insight and yesterday's revelation. I had no leading that those focuses were also God's focus for me in that moment. I was praying blindly.
"Therefore I also, after hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, mentioning you in my prayers, so that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance among the saints" (Eph. 1:15-18).
Understand that blind prayers aren't bad. It's a very good thing to intercede for any number of pressing issues. However, I was learning that prayers based on human insight alone were simply not efficient. This particular day something else was on God's heart and he was instructing me to avoid distraction—even honorable distraction such as praying for people in the church—and to have laser precision by praying what was on God's heart. Prayer is all about agreement. If God's calling us to stand in the gap for one thing and we're focusing on another thing, we are actually misaligned.
Again, let me make it clear so people don't fall into guilt or false ideas: To pray is good and beneficial. However, we should crave the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness as possible. That's certainly God's desire.
A quick way to become disillusioned and discouraged in the place of prayer is to become plagued with what I call petitionitis or to discover addiction to petition. The thought that God is simply waiting for us to ask Him for something so He can perform it for us is exceedingly short sighted. We should discuss our desires with God, but the idea that this is the limit of prayer is tragically flawed. Yes, we can ask God for things, but the adventure begins when we allow God to reveal His requests to us.
It simply makes sense to fuel our prayers with the revelation of what God is working on with us at that moment. One of the most exciting questions we can ask God is: "What are you thinking about right now?" If God revealed that a terrorist attack is scheduled to be carried out in our city within the next 12 hours, and He is attempting to reveal instructions for intercession on that issue, it wouldn't make sense to spend precious time praying for other things.
This lesson was drilled home by the Holy Spirit this particular day at Revolution a few years ago. God said, "Don't pray about anything until I reveal My agenda. Spend time preparing your heart to receive and to be an instrument of intercession and authority in My hands."
This was one of the most important instructions I have ever received. The reality that God has such an expansive perspective that goes far beyond our own viewpoint should grip us.
"Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the totality of the Almighty?" (Job 11:7).
"O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable are His ways!" (Rom. 11:33).
So, I walked around Revolution Church with no list of petitions. I worshipped, humbled my heart, prayed in tongues and waited.
God then spoke (this is always the starting point of effective prayer). "John, I don't want you to pray for anything else except for this property. It's strategic and I want you to advance. It's time to take new ground."
The faith, anointing and presence of God increased immediately in such measure that it literally felt like the room was flooded to the ceiling. Immediately after, my staff started to arrive for our weekly staff meeting and one of them walked right up to me after he came through the front door and said, "What's going on? The faith is so high in this room that you could cut it with a knife."
He felt it as he walked through the door.
I shared with the team what God had instructed us to do. We all spread out, prayed and anointed the property from room to room. The city of Manitou Springs and this particular property has a very dark history. Many call Manitou Springs the darkest and most strategically demonic city in the nation. This particular property was over 100 years old and was once a brothel. Revolution Church (now Revolution House of Prayer) occupied about two-thirds of the property and the owner had his Moroccan restaurant in the other one-third. A single wall divided the two sides.
When the church first moved in to this location I found it very hard to physically breathe. The demonic stronghold there was unusually heavy. We did a good job of cleaning things up on our side of the wall and enjoyed the presence of God in freedom to a wonderful degree. However, this very day God was calling us to advance beyond the wall.
After we spent some time praying throughout the rooms of the building on our side, I called everybody together and told them we were to lay hands on the wall that divided the two sides and to pray from the perspective of authority and with great faith and confidence based on the revelation that God had given us.
Now, I hadn't spoken to my landlord for quite some time. We didn't cross paths very often, so what was about to happen was very much out of the ordinary.
As we were all praying, my cellphone rang. I just let it go to voicemail as we continued on. Then, something snapped. One of my elders looked at me and said, "It's done. There's no reason to keep praying."
I felt it too. It was awesome. We all went outside and walked around the perimeter of the building and thanked God for what was accomplished. At that point I remembered that I missed a phone call when I was inside praying at the wall, so I checked my voicemail. It was my landlord. He wanted to talk with me. Immediately the anointing around me started to burn even hotter.
I went to meet him and he asked, "I was wondering if your church would you like to move in to the other side of the property?"
I'm sure my face was white. The swirl of God was so strong on me that I had to intentionally maintain my composure. I said, "Yes."
I often joke that many people simply want God to call them on the phone with answers to their prayer ... and for us, it kind of happened like that! Right in the middle of a powerfully unified and faith-filled moment of prayer my phone rang with the answer I was seeking!
That next month we moved into the very room that was on the other side of the wall where we were praying. Plus, our monthly rent was decreased from $8,000 to $6,000! We took ground and prospered financially all because I laid down my agenda, waited, received precise revelation and came into active agreement with it.
"For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. 1:25).
I am actively contending that the dry seasons of struggle in the prayer room that has weighed on so many will not remain the norm. The cry is for regular, perpetual revelation to rain down from heaven on a continual basis. If we are to walk in the Spirit, we must have the ability to see and hear and discern in the Spirit.
Instead of simply praying along with the prayer leader in the room for the nation of Egypt, for example, we'll receive, on both a personal and a corporate level, clear and active revelation about Egypt or whatever is on God's agenda for that session. The more people that receive a strong yes in their spirit as intercession is being led, the more agreed they are and the more effective it is.
It's good to pray for what seems obvious any time of the day. It's better to pray in a specific moment for whatever issue God's calling us to focus on. The goal is to lay the list aside as much as possible and wait until God tells us exactly what to agree on. We'll find ourselves more alive, refreshed and strengthened as we ride on that wave instead of pressing ahead without it.
As we minimize our agendas and expect God to give us precise instructions for prayer, we'll see the testimonies skyrocket around the world.
John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOPKC) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at johnburton.net.