By Wesley L. Duewel
Prevailing prayer only prevails through the prevailing Spirit. It is not a work of man, even of the holiest men and women of God. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in you and through your cooperation. Samuel Chadwick confessed, “The biggest thing God ever did for me was to teach me to pray in the Spirit.” No one ever becomes a man or woman of prayer except through the Holy Spirit.
How can you prepare His way so the Spirit can intercede in prevailing prayer through your being? Remember, you will always recognize that you are far too weak in prayer to prevail. Rejoice! “The Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom. 8:26). Again and again you will need to confess with Paul, “Lord, I do not know how to pray as I ought. I do not know precisely what all the details are for which I should prevail.” Rejoice! The Spirit Himself intercedes for you with groans too deep for you ever to be able to express (v. 26).
Since the Holy Spirit is that burdened to help you pray and to prevail through you, God is far more desirous of your prevailing than you ever realized. The Spirit groans for you to become mighty in prevailing prayer. He has infinitely many groanings that are humanly inexpressible – for you to become mighty in prevailing prayer for the many significant needs in the lives of others.
The Spirit wants to make you mighty to prevail for them. God has no other way. He has ordained to bring His will to pass through your prevailing, joined to the prevailing intercession of both God the Son on heaven’s throne of grace and God the Spirit.
The Spirit longs to possess you more and more fully that He may pray through you more and more prevailingly.
God understands your heartbroken confession, even as Paul confessed that he did not know how to pray as he ought (Rom. 8:26). At the end of yourself, give yourself again to God in total dependence. Can you confess with Oswald J. Smith, “Ah, that burden, that burden for souls – how it has characterized God’s anointed ones all down the centuries!…a host of…mighty wrestlers with God. Theirs, my brethren, is the experience I crave above all other.”
God desires you to help mediate the light of the Gospel and the saving power of Jesus through your prayer. In redemption there is only one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). But God needs thousands of cooperating intercessory mediators today.
By your prevailing prayer, place one hand on the throne of grace and the other on the need of the world. Moses did. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel did. Will you? Luther did. Wesley and Whitefield did. Finney, Brainerd, and Hyde did. Will you?
Get the Vision
First, get the vision. Ask the Spirit to let you see the world’s people and their need with the loving eyes of God. Then you will understand why Nehemiah wept, why Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul and a host of others wept. Then you will understand why Jesus wept. Ask the Spirit to let your heart feel earth’s pain as the heart of God feels it. Then you will weep. Your heart will weep, and if you prevail long enough, your eyes may also fill with tears.
Next, plead the Spirit’s help. Your strongest praying without the Spirit’s empowering is impotent. Your feeblest words, empowered by the Spirit, can move Omnipotence. It is not for you to see how much you can do for God. It is for you to see how much more of God you can get into your praying. It is God the Spirit who makes the difference.
Be filled with the Spirit. If you have never received the Spirit’s fullness, receive it today. Clear away any controversy, any veil between your soul and God. Obey God in every step you know to take. Present yourself totally, utterly, eternally to God in absolute surrender, asking the Spirit to fill you. Do not hurry. Be thorough; make sure your surrender is real and total. Then in simple faith appropriate what God has promised: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).
Now keep filled. Purity can be preserved by the Spirit’s help, but power must be renewed. If you wait on God, your strength will be renewed (Isa. 40:31). In Acts the believers were filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit.
As you drive your car, you do not need to get your car repaired every hundred miles or so. But you do need to refill it with the fuel that gives you power. A holy soul often senses spiritual depletion right in the midst of loving service to God and others. We live in a world whose environment depletes us. We war a spiritual warfare that depletes us.
Go alone with God. Ask God. Wait on God. He will refill you again and again. You must stay filled with the Spirit to pray in the Spirit. You must wait on God if you would be refilled. You must feast on His words, chapter after chapter, if you would be refilled. Remember Torrey’s words, “The whole secret of prayer is found in those words, ‘in the Spirit.’”
In His last teaching before the cross, Jesus revealed to us, His followers, that praying was to take a whole new dimension of power through praying in His name, through His words abiding in us, and through the help of the Holy Spirit. Are Jesus’ words true of your prayer life? They can be. By God’s grace, they must be. By your setting your soul’s determination, through spiritual discipline and habits of prevailing intercession they will be.
Prayer power is not something worked up. It is not loudness of voice or physical or emotional self-assertion. It is power of the Spirit within your spirit. Can you paraphrase Paul’s words and say, “To this end I pray, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me” (Col. 1:29)? He will work mightily in you as He prays mightily through you. He will burn the “ought” of prevailing prayer in your innermost soul. He will give you a holy “must” that drives you to your knees.
In this restless, busy age most of us have never learned to give God time in prayer. We would rather work for God than pray. We would rather attend another service than pray. We would rather watch TV than pray. May God forgive us! Bishop J. C. Ryle confessed, “We spend our spiritual strength and forget to renew it. We multiply engagements and curtail prayer…. We work when we ought to pray, because to an active mind work is far easier than prayer…. The servant whom the Holy Spirit is to use must resist the tyranny of overwork. He must resolve to be alone with God even if the hours spent with Him appear to rob his fellow men of his service.”
But, you protest, so often my heart seems cold and prayerless. R. A. Torrey testified, “Many of the most blessed seasons of prayer I have ever known have begun with the feeling of utter deadness and prayerlessness; but in my helplessness and coldness I have cast myself upon God, and looked to Him to send His Holy Spirit to teach me to pray, and He has done it.”
Beloved Andrew Murray wrote, “Heaven is still as full of spiritual blessings…. God still delights to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. Our life and work are still as dependent on the direct impartation of the divine power as they were in Pentecostal times. Prayer is still the appointed means for drawing down these heavenly blessings in power upon ourselves and those around us. God still seeks for men and women who will, with all their other work of ministering, specially give themselves to persevering prayer.”
Quoted from Mighty Prevailing Prayer by Wesley L. Duewel. Copyright 1990. Used by permission of the Duewel Literature Trust, Inc., Greenwood, Indiana. Dr. Duewel’s books may be purchased by calling (317) 881-6751 Ext. 361.