The development of a church is a direct attack on the devil. It is a frontal assault on what Satan considers to be his territory. Unless proper preparations are made and needed “supplies” are provided for those involved in the battle, the attack will fail. The fundamental preparation and the critical “supplies” come from prayer.
Relentless prayer is marked by four characteristics. It is intentional, intense, intimate and inspired.
“Intentional” prayer plans specific ways to involve as many people as possible in prayer. Many Encounter churches have started as home prayer meetings. Using this as a foundation, they move to larger facilities but maintain the emphasis on prayer. Often the members meet for early morning prayer or conduct all night prayer vigils. The basic premise for the church is that nothing is accomplished without prayer.
“Intense” prayer is marked by tenacity. It does not stop after the first year or two of existence of the church. Tony Evans, in his book “The Battle is the Lord’s” states, “If you and I are going to see this thing work, prayer cannot be an addendum to our day or week. It must be the controlling agenda of our lives. We need to pray when we feel like it and when we don’t.”
“Intimate” prayer signifies a clear knowledge of each request. It begins with a heart focused on God, not one merely going through the motions. It ends with praying in specificity and not with generalities, such as “bless this church.” Winning a city for God begins with prayer, but it is specific, thoughtful prayer that is the intimate form of communication that the Bible models.
“Inspired” prayer prays for great things. Acts 4:23–31 is a powerful example of this. Peter and John were commanded by the rulers, elders, teachers and high priest not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. When they were released, they “went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them” (v. 23). What follows is an “inspired” prayer that provides us with a clear example of how to claim victory in very difficult situations. Inspired prayer believes great things.
The earliest roots of Encounter with God, like all great movements of the Holy Spirit in history, began with unrelenting prayer. So, too, the power of a church and its people begins and ends in prayer. If prayer is foundational, the power of God is unleashed in great ways in a church. It is strengthened for battle and Jesus promised that “the gates of Hell” will not stand against His Church.