God’s plans for victorious spiritual battle
The apostle Paul exposed Satan’s strongholds to help the New Testament church make sense of the enemy’s outrageous victories. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” he taught, “but against principalities, against powers” (Eph. 6:12).
To partner with Jesus in fulfilling the Great Commission and establishing justice in the earth, the church must renounce fear and fatalism and recover the prevailing faith behind Paul’s frontal attack against the forces of darkness. Souls are bound in the most desperate spiritual and physical captivity. In answer to racism, abortion, sex-trafficking and false ideologies, God is raising up His house of prayer. His church must learn to contend, to wrestle with and throw down its spiritual adversaries.
In 1996, under the urgency of prophetic direction, I was part of a 40-day fast. During this season of intense prayer and divine initiative the Lord gave me my job description. I saw in a dream a Buddhist house of prayer situated on top of and dominating a Christian house of prayer. In a great wrestling match, the Christian house of prayer flipped from its inferior position to dominate the Buddhist house of prayer.
The Lord gave me my marching orders through this dream: to join Him in establishing His church as a house of prayer contending with every other house that exalts itself above the lordship and supremacy of Christ.
A Council of War
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15) and Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). In response, Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven,” and He declared, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:17-18).
The implications of this conversation are mind-bending, shattering all conceptual limits to the measure of authority, power and influence Jesus has given His church. Not even the gates of Hades can surpass the church in strength. If this is true, the church can overcome every spiritual power. If we took this proclamation by faith, it would reshape our expectations in every place and circumstance in which Satan boasts dominion.
The word Jesus uses in His declaration to Peter is the Greek word ekklesia, translated as “church.” Yet ekklesia and the English word “church” do not mean the same thing. Human error can lead to translation mistakes, even in the infallible Word of God.
The mistranslation of ekklesia as “church” is acknowledged by scholars as a critical error, yet it is perpetuated in nearly all modern English translations. This substitute word obscures an important dimension of our identity as the body of Christ, diminishing our role in society.
By the time of Christ, the word ekklesia had been in use for over 600 years. It had specific, well-acknowledged connotations. When early believers heard ekklesia, they didn’t think of a building, but of a ruling body. It was a political term. The ekklesia was an assembly of the government in Greek city-states.
Open to all male citizens over the age of 18, the ekklesia was responsible for declaring war, developing military strategy and electing military generals, chief magistrates and other officials. We can be sure that when Jesus said ekklesia, His hearers understood what an ekklesia was.
We can also be sure Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said. When He declared His intention to build His ekklesia, He meant He was going to establish His governmental center, His house of prayer to contend with every other house.
The church, functioning as the house of prayer, the governmental ekklesia, is the correct context for Jesus’ teaching on binding and loosing. When Jesus assured Peter that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18), He was clearly referring to a company of believers agreeing in prayer.
He went on to specify: “If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:19-20).
By “agree,” He meant more than mental assent. He was describing the purity of intention among believers joined by covenant. The rebellious had to be removed and forgiveness extended among members. The size of the gathering did not count, for God needs just two or three of the caliber of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to shake even strongholds like Babylon.
A change of mindset is needed in the body of Christ. We may go into a building on Sunday, but rather than simply attending a service, we are joining an assembly around the throne of God, a spiritual body governing our cities, states and nations. A threat to every corrupt government, institution of oppression, rebellious leader and demonic stronghold, the ekklesia of Jesus is a council of war at the highest level. With Christ as our Head, we are bringing heaven down to earth and barring hell’s invasion.
Blueprint for a House of Prayer
If the gates of hell will not prevail against the kind of ekklesia Jesus intends to build, let’s examine the blueprint. What constitutes the church functioning as a contending house of prayer?
1. The ekklesia has the same revelation Peter received: Jesus is the Son of the living God. The house of prayer is a house of His Presence where worship prepares the way for His eternal reign on the earth.
2. The holiness of the ekklesia is more important than the fervency of its prayers, for “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Fervent prayer is only effective if the house of prayer stands in righteousness.
3. As the ekklesia, we “put feet to our prayers” through obedience. Far from being an escape from action, prayer is actually the impetus for service. Jesus mobilizes us in answer to our own prayers.
4. The ekklesia has a clear moral objective and defined prayer assignments. To be effective we focus on a target, rather than shooting off prayers in a haphazard fashion.
5. The ekklesia is committed to victory at all costs, because real men, women and children are being trafficked, real babies are being aborted and real people are going to hell.
6. The ekklesia is committed to offensive action because Jesus came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). The fight is not against people but instead against principalities and powers.
7. The ekklesia overcomes powers of darkness through divine wisdom and the spirit of revelation. A spiritual entrance, revealed by divine wisdom, is necessary to overpower a stronghold. God gives His people understanding through the Scriptures, through dreams and visions, and through His still small voice so that we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices (see 2 Cor. 2:11) and can wage war by wise counsel (see Prov. 20:18).
8. The ekklesia does not just ask God for answers; it makes authoritative declarations at His direction. As His house of prayer—those who send the “rod” of Christ’s authority forth in the midst of His enemies (see Ps. 110:2)—we do not pray as if we are beggars but decree the Word of the Lord as priests.
9. The ekklesia prays night and day for breakthrough, gaining supremacy over principalities and powers through extended fasting and prayer as the prophet Daniel did (see Dan. 10:12-13). Certain strongholds in the spiritual world do not fall except in answer to day-and-night prayer and fasting (see Matt. 17:20-22).
10. The ekklesia is determined to siege the gate until victory is decisive. Laying siege is abandoning the option to quit. When the house of prayer gains a great victory, it keeps praying to maintain its ground.
The Bridegroom will not return until the bride has made herself ready (see Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 19:7; 21:2-3). In the same way, the King will not return until His ekklesia has learned to rule through prevailing prayer. It’s time for us, as the church, to become His contending house of prayer.
Lou Engle leads TheCall, which hosts large solemn assemblies to pray and fast for breakthrough and revival. Lou’s passion is to call young adults into a lifestyle of radical prayer, fasting and holiness. He is also a senior leader at the International House of Prayer.
These 15 pioneers have rallied prayer warriors worldwide to the cause of intercession
By Mike Bickle
David Yonggi Cho, Yoido Full Gospel Church. Korea has provided the primary leadership to the prayer movement for the last generation. In 1973, David Yonggi Cho, pastor of the world’s largest church, started Osanri Prayer Mountain just outside Seoul. Thousands have gathered there daily for nearly 40 years, praying 24/7 for revival and personal breakthrough.
Today Prayer Mountain receives more than 1 million visitors each year and has inspired hundreds of other prayer mountains throughout the world. Young Hoon Lee, Cho’s successor at Yoido Full Gospel Church, continues to call people around the world to prayer and fasting for revival and world missions.
Bill Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ. Bill Bright’s Campus Crusade for Christ is the largest evangelistic organization in the world. Bright (1921-2003) zealously called the missions movement to prayer and fasting during the final decade of his life, sparking many to see the connection between prayer and world evangelization.
Dick Eastman, Every Home for Christ. In the late 1970s, Dick Eastman started 24/7 houses of prayer in the United States that he called “Fire Houses.” His ministry has launched more than 5,000 prayer chains that continue 24/7 called Walls of Prayer (mostly in Asia). His three books in his “harp and bowl” series (soon to be released in one volume titled Intercessory Worship) are used as textbooks by many prayer ministries.
The Jericho Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., hosts 18 hours of prayer each day. Their staff includes 4,000 full-time workers serving in more than 110 nations reporting more than 100 million decisions for Christ in its history.
Loren Cunningham, Youth With A Mission. Loren Cunningham leads Youth With A Mission, one of the largest evangelistic organizations in the world today. He and Joy Dawson trained believers around the world for many years to hear the voice of God and then to pray what they heard back to God in strategic prayer. The result was a greater effectiveness in missions and evangelization.
Today YWAM has more than 1,400 ministry locations in nearly 200 nations. The YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii, hosts a house of prayer that operates many hours each day led by worship teams.
Leonard Ravenhill. Few men have inspired more people in the Western world to pray over the last 50 years than Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994). He preached weighty sermons and wrote many books on prayer and revival. His most notable one, Why Revival Tarries, sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, and his impact continues to inspire the next generation to consistent prayer for revival and the harvest.
John Robb leads the International Prayer Council, which is the largest global network of prayer. He’s mobilized more than 100,000 intercessors and has worked closely with Patrick Joshua, who has mobilized more than 400,000 intercessors and 6 million children in a prayer network.
Jane Hansen leads Aglow International (Women’s Aglow), a large prayer movement of women intercessors with more than 4,000 local groups in 170 nations. They mobilize more than 200,000 women each month in prayer and Bible study to become more effective in the harvest.
Peter Wagner, Spiritual Warfare Network. Peter Wagner has been at the forefront of the prayer movement in the nations since the 1990s. Along with Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, Chuck Pierce and others, they have mobilized hundreds of thousands in the U.S. to fast and pray for breakthrough.
Graham Power, Global Day of Prayer. Graham Power, a South African businessman, started Global Day of Prayer in 2000. Each year, more than 100 million believers gather on the Global Day of Prayer on Pentecost Sunday.