"We are a generation that avoids pain at all costs. This is why there are so few intercessors. Most Christians operate on the shallowest levels of prayer, but God wants to take us into the deep levels of intercessory prayer that only a few ever experience. Deep, prolonged intercession is painful. It involves staying before God when everyone else has gone away or sleeps (Luke 22:45). It involves experiencing brokenness with the Father over those who continually rebel against Him. How many of us will experience this kind of fervent intercession?" Henry and Richard Blackaby
Prayer can be a very joyful experience, but there are times when we agonize and travail for God’s purposes to come to pass in people’s lives. There are days when the Holy Spirit burdens us over a situation, and we begin to travail in prayers of a very deep and intensive nature in order to bring it to birth.
God is looking for people with whom He can share His heart.
He wants to train us in deeper levels of intercession. He wants to teach us to travail in prayer. Jesus practiced travailing prayer while He was on earth. In Luke 22:44 we read, "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." Imagine travail of that nature. In the final hours of His life, Jesus wanted His disciples to understand His anguish of heart. But in the Garden of Gethsemane His disciples could not fully grasp the urgency of the hour, and Jesus prayed alone.
"Ultimately, Jesus prayed alone. He went farther than His disciples and prayed longer. At the greatest moment of intercession in human history, there was no one willing to go with Jesus and watch with Him. Throughout history God has looked for those willing to yield everything to Him and His desire to redeem the world. At times God has marveled that no one was willing to go with Him (Isaiah 59:16, 63:5). The prophets seemed to grasp more than the common people, for while society carried on as though nothing were wrong, the prophets agonized and wept over what they knew God was preparing to do."
We watched a wonderful movie called Amazing Grace. It was about William Wilberforce, a great Christian philanthropist who opposed the slave trade in England in the 1800's. Society was wicked but Wilberforce remained confident in prayer. He did not lose hope even though society was unspiritual and immoral. He knew that there were still many who loved and obeyed the gospel of Christ and that their prayers would prevail. A few years later there was a great revival and thousands were saved. Society changed dramatically.
God does hear the travailing prayers of His people.
Today there are many people living at ease, not grasping the importance of the hour. God is looking for individuals who will stand with Him in intercession and travail for souls; ones who know the significance of the days in which we are living. You may be one God chooses to travail over nations or cities, over this generation of youth, and over unsaved relatives or co-workers. God is bringing you deeper in Him for a purpose. Don’t give up. William Wilberforce believed that God would break through. The situation in the 1800's sounds much like the situation we face today.
While talking with an intercessor who was struggling personally, I told her that God is taking intercessors deeper. He is preparing them for something very significant.
SEE ALSO: Fellowship with the Holy Spirit
God is looking for those who will not fall asleep, but who will travail to birth His Kingdom purposes on earth. Travail is a cry of desperation. It is worth it to press in, travail, cry out, seek, and passionately hunger after God. If you feel barren in some area of your life experience, rise up in thanksgiving and say, “Thank you" to God. You are in a position for God to bring something to birth through your impassioned prayer. Travail brings forth birth. It is a powerful way to touch heaven and change earth with our prayers.
“God’s first requirement in ministry is barrenness. God looks for people who are incapable of producing life on their own, those who have come to the end of their own striving and honestly admit their true condition. Most of us, not wanting to bear this reproach, go around feigning 'life.' Our activities become the substitute for the anointing. Programs replace productivity and prayer. Life seems to abound everywhere, until one looks below the surface and realizes it’s only a veneer—a form of godliness that lacks power. Why does God insist on barrenness as a prerequisite for blessing? Simply because no flesh can glory in it… God has to strip us first so that He alone is glorified.” David Ravenhill
Travailing Prayer Brings Forth Birth
Travail is hard work and can be compared to childbirth. If you talk to any mother, you know that there is intense pain and agony involved in childbirth. Travail is a form of intense intercession that is initiated by the Holy Spirit. In travailing prayer, an individual or group is gripped with that which grips the heart of God. Travail happens after you have carried something in your heart for a period of time. It can be a burden, a promise, or a longing that God has put in your heart. There comes a time to bring the burden to birth through prayer.
God is the initiator who desires to bring forth life. Through travail He creates an opening that has been closed. When we listen carefully as we read His Word, we receive His heart to pray His purposes in travailing prayer. This opening provides the way for the birthing of God’s purposes and plans. We wrestle in prayer to see God’s plans birthed here on earth. We agonize to see God move in certain situations and to see the lost saved.
Such strenuous prayer calls for perseverance.
Jacob wrestled all night in Genesis 32:24-26. He would not let go until God blessed him. Ephesians 6:11-12 says that we wrestle in prayer against the world rulers of darkness and the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. In one sense, we are in a wrestling match with the enemy, but we are the winners when we persevere. Epaphras wrestled in prayer for the Church at Colossae (Colossians 4:12-13). Jesus knew how to travail when He walked this earth. We read in Hebrews 5:7-8:
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.”
We must passionately pray the promises that God has laid on our hearts until they come forth. We must travail and wrestle and cry out to God on our knees. Are you desperate enough to travail over the promises that God has given you? Are you willing to pay the price to bring them to birth? Don’t give up. There is too much at stake. Remember this always:Travailing prayer brings forth birth.
God has laid dreams, purposes, and destiny on our hearts. He has a global plan, and we are all part of it. We may feel barren at the moment but deep in our heart the dream is there. There is joy in the heart of a mother when her baby is finally born. Likewise, when something is finally birthed in the spiritual realm, there is tremendous joy! I encourage you to press into the purposes of God and travail in prayer until God’s plans are birthed.
Your joy may be right around the corner.
“Wrestling in prayer enlists all the capacities of your soul, marshals your deepest holy desire, and by the grace of God uses all the perseverance of your holy determination. You push through a host of difficulties. You push back the heavy, threatening clouds of darkness. You reach beyond the visible and natural to the very throne of God. With all your strength and tenacity, you lay hold of God's grace and power as it becomes a passion of your soul.” - James Goll
*This Article First Published 8/13/2013
SEE ALSO: Trusting our Prince of Peace