Prayer—in all its forms—has played a key role in my life and ministry for years. I want to see the works of the devil destroyed with the least amount of backlash. So I have pondered deeply on various understandings and perspectives concerning spiritual warfare and how to deal with territorial spirits. I've met with different revival leaders around the world to increase my understanding on issues dealing with principalities, powers, and spirits of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).
A gigantic breakthrough came to me one day when the penetrating voice of the Holy Spirit spoke, resolving the whole dilemma, "I'm going to teach you to release the highest weapon of spiritual warfare."
Stunned, I marveled at the thought, "the highest weapon." That one statement made my spiritual antennas go way out! My initial response of gratitude was soon replaced by curiosity and anticipation. What could the Holy Spirit mean? What is He referring to?
At first, the Lord simply gave me an invitation, "I'm going to teach you to release the highest weapon of spiritual warfare." But finally He added, "I will teach you to release the brilliance of My great presence."
Do you want to be effective in prayer and spiritual warfare? Do you want be marked by the distinguishing characteristic of the people of God? Then get saturated with and become a carrier of the brilliance of His great presence!
The Distinguishing Characteristic
There is to be one primary distinguishing characteristic of the people of God. It is not the clothes we wear, the style of our hair, or even the rules by which we conduct ourselves. There is a "birthmark" of sorts that should set apart every community of true believers, manifesting itself in love for one another. Moses reveals this birthmark in a dialogue with God recorded in Exodus 33:14-16:
And He said, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
Then he said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how will it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we will be distinguished, I and Your people, from all the people who are on the face of the earth?" (Ex. 33:14-16).
This is a key of great power in God's kingdom. The presence of God is the distinguishing characteristic that proves we have favor with God! Without it, we are as other men. The glory of God is "the manifested presence of God," the visible evidence that the person of God, Himself, has shown up among us—and that is the greatest thing in life. I believe Moses was crying out to the Lord of Hosts, "Oh, great one, do not take us up from here unless You go before us. Put the brilliance of Your great presence upon us."
In the New Testament, we are commanded to "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). This perfectly parallels God's command to Moses and Aaron concerning the sweet odor of "perpetual incense" that was to continually waft into the most holy place from the altar of incense.
When I first began to study these verses in the book of Exodus, my mind went into gear and I thought: Now it's logical that if I can get an understanding of what each one of these ingredients is, then perhaps it will give me some insight into what God receives as an acceptable sacrifice of prayer that leads to His presence.
What Are the Actual Ingredients of Prayer?
It is extremely interesting that God says these four ingredients must be mixed in equal proportions. The reality, I've discovered, is that prayer isn't a technique. Neither is prayer a methodology. Prayer is a communal relationship where one is being with God.
Day by day, we must make our way into His presence to be renewed, transformed, empowered and filled with His glory. We have been commissioned to light the fire of prayer and offer sweet-smelling incense created from equal parts of stacte, the oozing, bubbling abundance of God's indwelling Word; onycha, the sweet crushed spice of inward humility and brokenness; galbanum the unyielding and ingathering faith that God is good; and the purity of frankincense, the righteousness of Christ applied and dried upon our hearts in whiteness and holiness unto the Lord.
Yes, these are the biblical ingredients of the incense of prayer. It is important to remember that the ingredients for the holy incense were purchased fresh each day and mixed in equal proportions. The incense could not be "stored up." Only freshly made incense would do. We can't thrive on the relationship, the intimacy, or the communion that we enjoyed with the Lord yesterday.
The priests of old tended the fire of God and carried sweet incense and fire into the holy of holies. The priests wore white linen garments adorned with alternating bells and pomegranates on the hem. This speaks of the double blessing of God. God gave the church nine gifts (signified by the bells signaling that the priests of God are alive and well), and nine fruits of the Spirit (signified by the pomegranates). When we enter His presence, we are going for the "double blessing" of the fullness of God's character and the fullness of His power.
This is a beautiful picture of the church filled with the sweet-smelling smoke of prayer, praise, worship and intercession. It is here in the presence that God says, "I will commune with you there." It is here that we see an abundance of holy gifts, fruit, incense, holiness, mercy, authority and the sovereign rule of God in the bounds of covenant love. We must get the distinguishing characteristic to be the genuine people of God!
Come Be With Me!
I long to be a person of His presence—one who spends time with Him and then releases the brilliance of His great presence to the world around me. The Lord looking for such a people who will simply come and be with Him. He wants a nation of kings and priests who diligently will go from prayer to His presence and bear the distinguishing characteristic of His people—God with us.
Now, it is as though we are crossing over the threshold and through the veil into the place of His manifested presence. It is a new beginning, a fresh start. That's why there's a new wind blowing across the earth, a wind called renewal, revival—and a hunger for a great awakening to come.
What is the Lord requiring of us? He is calling us to be with Him. It's time to cross over, to abide in His presence: "Come, come, come!" says the Lord. "Come, come, come before Me. And I will teach you to release the brilliance of My great presence!"
Dr. James W. Goll is the founder of God Encounters Ministries, an award-winning author and communications trainer and has ministered in over 50 nations. For information on his webinars and online classes, visit godencounters.com. James continues to live in Tennessee and is a joyful father and grandfather today.
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