I was in a meeting the other day where there was altar ministry that sounded like "More Lord!!!! We aren't satisfied, we must have more!!!"
It was tenacious, it was persistent, and almost militant, and I was just irritated. I wish I could tell you that I have a clear, audible word-of-the-Lord about the situation, but I don't. I do have some impressions, thoughts and questions that weigh heavy on my heart and I've got to share them.
The Lord said that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness
(2 Peter 1:3) that's past tense, that we have every spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) and that He will supply all our future needs according to His glory (Philippians 4:19). He also said that we are seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) and are complete in Him. (Colossians 2:10).
Jesus said that if anyone asks, they will receive (Matthew 7:7). That if anyone is thirsty, ask for a drink and He will give living waters (John 7:37-39, Revelation 22:17) and that if anyone wants to come, you must believe that He really will open up His heart. (Hebrews 11:6)
Then why do we pray and minister corporately like we do? I feel like the church at large is still talking to the Lord like He's angry and withholding, that you have to arm-wrestle Him just to get a morsel.
Many prayer meetings feel like we're trying to grab God and shake "it" out of Him - whatever "it" is that we're praying for.
Many people at this point would refer to the parable of the "persistent widow" in Luke 18 to contextualize this type of "We-aren't-Satisfied" prayer, but I have mixed feelings about that one too. I am convinced that the parable of the persistent widow is a contrast, not a comparison. Jesus was not comparing the Father to that unjust judge. He is not suggesting that the way that widow approached the judge is an example for the way we should approach the Father. It is not a new prayer strategy or intercession model. He's saying, "HOW DIFFERENT is our Father! Will He not bring about justice for His chosen ones?! We get to relate to Him so differently!"
Besides, the context of this parable is the question: “When will the Kingdom come?” We have one very safe prayer: Come Lord Jesus. We can pray that prayer unceasingly with boldness and confidence knowing that we are in perfect agreement with His heart when we say "Come." In this confidence and love, we can be persistent without being insolent. So why do we keep coming to God like He's the unjust judge we have to pester?
When it comes to revival prayer, for praying for the release of the manifestations of the Lord's heart in signs, wonders, healing, deliverance, outpouring of presence, love and power, it's not usually the Lord that's getting in the way, it's us. WE are the ones in the way. We could all do with a little less "send more Lord" and a little more "I receive what you've provided."
So many times I feel like we blame shift responsibility to the Lord when it's really our responsibility. We act like if He doesn't want to come, then we're not getting anything and it's all His fault. We then are "barren" because God isn't doing something, not because we are in compromise or simply not receiving or spending time with Him. It's so much easier when it's all wonderfully Calvinistically His fault.
From what I've noticed throughout history, the prayer of the revivalists isn't just asking God for more externally, no, they are asking God for help to receive internally.
This is best summarized in the prayer of Evan Roberts, the Welsh revivalist, “Oh, Lord, bend us!”
We see this in the New Testament all the time. Paul didn't exhort the church of Ephesus by crying out to God for a change in the atmosphere, he spoke to the Ephesians calling them into the knowledge of Jesus. Let me illustrate with a parody of sorts, imagine if Ephesians 1 started with
"Oh God, the church in Ephesus needs more! They are not satisfied, they must have more! Now God, don't withhold yourself! Rend the heavens God, rend them over Ephesus right now God. Do what only you can do."
How weird would that have been.
Now I feel like I need to put a little disclaimer
in here: I don't think that type of prayer is necessarily bad when it's in the right context, for example if you are having a time of intercession over a region. In that situation, you are agreeing with the heart of Jesus, or other believers for a spiritual shift in heavenly realms of authority, like the displacing of the Prince of Persia in the book of Daniel (Daniel 10:13-23) - but that is not the Pauline example of ministry to believers.
What Paul did in Ephesians 1, and all of his letters of exhortation to churches, and a great example of how to minister to believers even today, is to speak the truth of God to their spirits calling them into the recognition of the finished work of the cross, a full reliance on the blood of Jesus, inviting them to the place of receiving, the casting down lies and misconceptions about God, and coming into specific agreement with the plans and purposes of God.
A breakdown of Ephesians 1
1. Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.
2. You are chosen by Him.
3. Because of Him, you are holy and blameless in his sight.
4. It is His pleasure and will that you walk in sonship.
5. In Him you have redemption, forgiveness, and inclusion into the mystery of God.
6. Did I say you were chosen?
7. You have been sealed by the Holy Spirit
8. You will know his hope, riches, glory and power.
I would LOVE to see more ministry-to-believers time at the altars looking more like that and less like "AHHH, we don't have enough!" I'd love to hear your thoughts too.