In the early days of my adventure in YWAM Philippines I was impacted by the incredible commitment of the YWAMers to pray until they saw breakthrough. Those early days were so exciting for me. I woke up each day expecting God to do the miraculous. We were often facing incredible odds, beyond natural solutions, and we never knew what to do, except seek God. The moment we did, peace, understanding, rest, direction and closeness with the Lord fell. Where would I be today if I hadn’t seen that in action? What if the group I was with hadn’t placed a high premium on seeking God?
I have often heard it said, “…nothing ever happens unless it first happens in the place of prayer.” That became my experience. I saw prayer demonstrated and was eager to learn. The power of prayer began to shape my life. I wouldn’t say I was the classic intercessor by any means. There are prayer heroes in YWAM who have been used by God to set things right in the place of intercession. I wouldn’t regard myself in that league but there is a deep conviction in me that I need to lean into God to know Him and know how to move forward.
Prayer starts when we first accept and follow God’s will. For us to do that every time we have to remain tender in our relationship with Him. Otherwise, we can put on our leadership hat rather than a child of God position and say to the Lord, “This is too much God. We don’t have enough people, finance, it’s not my thing, doesn’t fit with my personal passion or vision.” On most occasions what God is saying seems and is impossible to me and if I don’t get myself into a place of faith it’s going to pass by, onto someone else. That affects me but it also affects those I lead. Without faith I could easily withdraw from leading in God’s direction.
Prayer has this wonderful ability to make my heart bigger until I am able to contain what God is leading me to do. For YWAM, prayer is essential! If we as leaders are not convinced of what God is saying, how can we expect those we influence and lead to catch the vision?
Information overload is the standard of this age. People are not interested so much in what we think, no matter how compelling, but they are interested in what we know or have heard from God.
Prayer gets us to Him. What matters is being with Him, close enough to understand His heart and follow. Once we get there the task isn’t the big thing anymore, He is! This type of pure-hearted obedience leads to faith and faith leads to love and love leads to service.
The disciples didn’t know how to pray so they asked Jesus to teach them. What Jesus gave them contained everything; God, ourselves, our neighbours–all wrapped up in the Lord’s Prayer. If we are to remain true to our heavenly calling we need to ask God to teach us to how to pray the same way the disciples did. We need direction for now. Fresh bread every day. If we don’t get that from Him we will fill in the gaps ourselves.
In YWAM we have experienced deep fellowship with God over what concerns Him in the nations. Intercession has been a gift to YWAM. One of the most important roles of a leader is to create opportunity for hunger and thirst to grow in our teams and communities, a hunger for God and for his concern in our world today. Otherwise we will be reactive, not responsive and in danger of misrepresenting Him in the nations.
Hunger and thirst are created through teaching, training and more importantly by doing intercession and prayer. Doing is the best teacher. If we as leaders have the appetite, others will follow. I believe providing leadership for prayer in large and small gatherings is critical to remaining in our apostolic anointing.
Our YWAM story is a chain of steps of obedience that have all been birthed in the place of prayer. We can’t afford to move away from these type of gatherings. The newest YWAMer must have the security of knowing that we, YWAM, are “needy” for God. As they hear people praying, “God we must know what you think, what you want and we are not leaving until we do!” they become needy too! It’s at that point we are in a position for growth.
Some of my most joyful moments have been in large gatherings on our base witnessing God speaking to a group of YWAMers. He delights to lead us! Our community comes alive, people streaming forward to get to a microphone so they can share what God is saying to them. Everyone is together, everyone is hearing and everyone has ownership. During these times things really start to come alive and God begins to build His vision at a grassroots level.
Prayer will always expand us, not take away. When we gather with the disposition of a child, God comes. How wonderful He is and what a privilege we have to be taken by the hand and guided through our next assignment. Whether that be large or small we need to hear it from Him.
YWAM Perth, Australia