Dutch Sheets Honors IFA
Even Dutch Sheets, one of our esteemed guests from our 50th anniversary event, once had to learn how to pray. Teach us how to pray, God!
From Give Him 15. Last Friday (11/10/2023), I had the great honor of participating in Intercessors For America’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. No ministry has done more to generate prayer for America than this great ministry. As I pondered IFA’s role in my life, one of my fondest memories was my early years of learning to pray at Christ For the Nations Institute (CFNI) in 1977.
Each student was required to participate in an outreach or serving ministry on a weekly basis. My initial choice was Intercessory Prayer, not because I was an intercessor or knew much about the subject. Truth be known, I could barely pronounce it. But I wanted to learn more about prayer, so I enrolled. Our prayer guide each week was a bulletin provided by a ministry I had never heard of. Yep, Intercessors For America. One sheet of paper, front and back, with timely issues and government leaders listed for prayer. Thus began my prayer journey.
I’ll say more about my message at the IFA anniversary celebration in a moment. But first, I want to honor another link in the chain of my introduction to prayer at CFNI (Christ For the Nations Institute). I’ve always felt one of the best ways to learn something new or improve at it, was by watching and emulating someone better than me. Of the 1200 students at CFNI, I chose Immanuel Ike, a student from Africa, complete with tribal markings – three scars on each cheek. I believe Ike, as we called him, was Nigerian. When Ike prayed, the room shook. I think he was fire incarnate.
During the last six weeks of the school year, students were encouraged to gather for prayer in the main auditorium, an hour before chapel. This wasn’t united, corporate prayer; it was a time for us to seek God individually in an atmosphere fueled by 2-300 hungry, passionate people also pursuing Him. We were encouraged to come up on the large platform, and/or scatter throughout the auditorium – on our feet, knees, faces, or walking – it didn’t matter the position. I chose the platform, kneeling at one of the chairs right behind the piano…because that’s where Ike was.
I prayed for an hour each morning, with one eye closed, one open, watching and listening to Ike. When he bound, I bound; when Ike loosed, I loosed. Soon after beginning, he would grab the side of his chair and begin rocking back and forth. I, too, held on and rocked. Ike would start in English, shift into his African dialect, then “machine gun” his prayers in tongues – I think. Maybe it was his African dialect on steroids. All I know is that Ike had now lost all connection to earth and its earthlings; we no longer existed. Tears. Groans. Pleadings. Decrees. Worship. Ike was in heaven’s throne room, then traveling the planet with Holy Spirit, tearing down strongholds and birthing Kingdom realities.
And I was riding his coattails!
What is it they say? Often, more is caught than taught. My prayers were mostly, “Lord, give me at least some of what this man carries.” I think I received a small degree of Ike’s mantle. “Wherever you are today, Ike, thank you.”
My heart and world also expanded through the influence of other guest ministries that came through CFNI every week. Literally. That was the plan: every week, a different ministry/person taught all students in a united session at 11AM, Monday through Friday. They, Ike, and prayer ministries like IFA taught me to move beyond my own needs, not praying only to generate money for school bills, rent, clothes, etc. They challenged me to transcend caring only for my own ministry and future success. For the first time in my life, I found myself praying for nations and travailing for souls. I called out the names of Senators, Representatives, Judges, laws, bills, and court cases. I began to realize I was called to more than personal success, something bigger than a congregation or a traveling ministry of my own. I was invited into the realm of an eternal Kingdom with a worldwide cause.
Somehow, my heart grew and expanded. I take no credit. It was the influence of others, of great teaching, of exposure to different ministries and organizations every week; it was an atmosphere of passionate worship, prayer, and faith – every day. And Ike, of course. I’ve never looked back.
The cheetah survives on the African plains by running down its prey. The big cat can sprint seventy miles per hour. But the cheetah cannot sustain that pace for long. Within its long, sleek body is a disproportionately small heart, which causes the cheetah to tire quickly. Unless the cheetah catches its prey in the first flurry, it must abandon the chase.
Far too often, Christians seem to have the cheetah’s approach to prayer. We start fast and with great energy. We are robust and have unmeasured faith. But lacking the heart for a sustained effort, we falter before we finish the job. We don’t need more speed or emotion; we need more staying power, which only comes from a bigger prayer heart.
Last Friday, I thanked IFA for their large prayer heart. Fifty years of prayer for America, and they’re only getting stronger! Incredible. And I thanked them for helping me pray more effectively…for 46 of my years.
I concluded my message by mentioning Rees Howells, an intercessor with a large prayer heart. In 1924, Howells launched the Bible College of Wales, which always had an emphasis on prayer. During WW2, however, Holy Spirit burdened Rees’ heart to intercede at even greater levels for the Allies, and for the deliverance of the world from Hitler’s Third Reich. Every day, anywhere from 5-10 hours, sometimes more, Rees and the students labored in prayer over the war. He challenged the students to not allow the soldiers at the Front to labor more than them. Rees Howells and his 100 students no doubt played a huge role in saving the world from Hitler’s demonic assault. (You can read more about the life of Rees Howells in the book Rees Howells, Intercessor.)
God is looking for intercessors now who will accept the call to save the world from today’s demonic leaders. Like Hitler, they are possessed by powers of darkness and want to rule the earth. If we join forces with big-hearted prayer ministries like IFA, we can prevail. I know many of you who follow Give Him 15 also have hearts that will never quit praying.
Thank you! Lock arms with others at this time and determine that we will not quit, we will not falter, and we will not fail until we see the earth in full-fledged revival. We have put our hand to the plow, and we will not look back. Victory is ours through Christ, and we will see it come to pass.
Pray with me:
Father, it is appropriate that we honor ministries like Intercessors For America and people like Rees Howells and my friend Ike. All of our successes are built, in part, on the work of others. We ask for Your blessings on them in abundance. For those still here with us, multiply their effectiveness, anointing, and provision. For others, like Rees Howells, well, tell them we said thanks.
Today, we ask You for bigger prayer hearts. We want hearts so expansive that they embrace Your worldwide Kingdom efforts, and run prayer’s race without growing weary. We pledge to persevere in prayer for a worldwide harvest. We will continue to lay hold by faith of a restored America. We will never stop representing You as Your Ekklesia, enforcing Your victory on earth.
We do that now over the Middle East. We pull down the thrones of iniquity over that region in Yeshua’s name. This is the hour of deliverance for millions there. This is the season of their entrance into the King’s family, their day of salvation. We declare over them that the veil is lifting, and the spirit of revelation is invading the territory. We loose them from their darkness and deception, their oppression and bondage. Signs and wonders are manifesting; powerful evangelists are being raised up and anointed with the level of power Stephen, Phillip, Paul, Peter, and others demonstrated in the book of Acts. We decree revival there now. And we do all this in the name that guarantees victory, Jesus.
We decree that Christ’s large prayer heart is being imparted to His Ekklesia. We will not faint.
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(Used with permission. From Give Him 15. Photo Credit: Give Him 15)
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