Called to Pray

This is a chapter from My Book: Fanning the Flames of Intercession.

Please check out the book here.

The Vision Changes

Youth Ministry! It was all my wife Darla and I could think of for 15 years. After pouring our lives into young people all that time, we were totally content and had no regrets. Then came a time that we believed God was calling us out of ministering to teenagers to something else. At the time we didn’t even know what that something else was. It wasn’t long before I began to get frustrated. All the areas of ministry I thought were going to open up for us didn’t materialize. I was unaware of what God was really doing in this season. Instead of promotion, he was leading us into a season of deep testing. Then the question came. Was I really in this for Him, or for my own ministry ambitions? Ouch.

I remember being in a Friday night meeting getting ready to listen to a guest speaker that our church invited in. During worship I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart. He said, “You are frustrated aren’t you?” I admitted I was. He said, “The reason you are so frustrated is that you don’t have any vision for your life. I am planning to give you a new vision; and to prove that this is me talking to you right now, tonight he (the guest speaker) is going to talk about vision.” I have always been one for a good confirmation, so I waited eagerly to see what was going to happen.

A few minutes later the guest speaker got up and the first words out of his mouth were, “Tonight I am going to talk about vision.” I was very encouraged that God was about to give me another vision for my life and ministry. The only problem was that I thought when God said that He was going to give me a new vision, I assumed that He was going to do it that week. I was still unaware of some dross that had to come to the surface and some things still to walk through.

During the next year and a half or so I was ordained as an elder/pastor in the church and served faithfully during that season.  Even though that was good, I knew there was something more that the Lord was calling me to.

Then in 1995 the vision came, but not in a way that I expected. We had just entered a time in our church where God had come in a powerful way. In every meeting He was there. I mean really there. I had never felt the presence of God in such a manner. I remember a time in the early 90s when the pastor would say during a Sunday morning service, “Isn’t there a wonderful sense of God’s presence here this morning.” I would think to myself, “I don’t feel anything; I must be really out of touch spiritually. I felt there must be something wrong with me.”  However, by 1995 that had all changed.

We spent hours and hours just soaking and basking in His glory. Many of us began to get real clarity in the Spirit. Visions and dreams were coming on a regular bases and it seemed that God was just as excited as we were. It was during one of the ministry times at the end of the service that I saw Jesus in a vision. He was standing over me as I lay on the floor. He said, “Will you give your life for intercession?” He had tears in His eyes when He said it and then He just looked at me. Then to confirm what God was saying, a sister came over and prayed for me. She said, “There is a strong Spirit of Intercession on you, brother.” God was definitely speaking to me, so all I could do at that point was weep and say, “Yes Lord.” It was a moment that changed the course of my whole life. The vision He had promised had come.

From that time on I did all I could to learn about intercession. But the most important lessons I learned were when I just began to pray.

An Impartation for Intercession

As I began to seek God about this new call on my life, one of the things I didn’t realize is that I had yet to receive an impartation for intercession. When God calls, He always provides the enablement (dunimas power) to carry it out.  I had a heart to be obedient to the word that came to me, but the thing I lacked was the power within to proceed forward.

That was a problem that was soon to be taken care of. God made it possible for my lifelong friend, Jeff Plueard, and I to attend the “Catch the Fire” conference in Toronto in October of 1995. The conference was awesome and God met us there in a powerful way. When we arrived I saw that they were going to have a workshop on intercession. I knew that I had to attend. Now when you have over 5000 people at a conference in a hotel, it gives the word ‘workshop’ a whole new meaning. There were at least 1000 people crammed in a hotel conference room that probably had seating for 600.

I was late in arriving and figured that there was no way I was even going to get in the door. While standing in the hallway wondering what to do, I noticed the man leading the workshop with a box full of handouts unable to enter the room as well. Then I had a (not totally selfless) idea. I would go over and ask the man if he wanted me to make a way for him to get into the workshop. I am a pretty big guy so I thought it might work. He said yes, so off we went. I blazed trail for the brother until we finally reached the front. There were people everywhere so the only place for me to sit was on the floor about 2 feet behind the podium.

The workshop was great and I learned a lot. But the real reason I was there was still to come. After the workshop, as people began to file out, I noticed that one of the ladies who had taught part of the workshop was praying for people. I thought since I was there I might just hang around and watch. Then this lady came over to me. She reminded me of the classic prayer warrior. She had a direct, no nonsense style. Then she looked at me sternly and said, “Well, what do you want?” Being caught off guard I said, “Uh, I don’t know.” She said, “Well do you want prayer?” I said, “Uh, yeah.”  She quickly put her hand on my stomach and I instantly doubled over and began to grown loudly. She then said, “Lord, give him the Spirit of Intercession in Jesus’ name” and He did. The impartation had happened. I knew that God had touched me deep in my spirit and left a deposit there. Paul said in Romans 1:11, For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established.”

I left that conference with something that I didn’t have when I came. Often we think that when God asks us to do something, somehow we are to accomplish this in our own strength. Even Paul recognized his utter inability to carry out God’s call on his life. He had great credentials, awesome drive and a sharp intellect. He had everything needed to be successful in this world. This is what he said about himself: … “though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so.” (Philippians 3:4) “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)

If Paul refused to trust in his own strength, should not we do the same? Many of us go to the place of prayer and feel as if we don’t even know where to begin. God wants to empower us to pray. He wants to bring us to a place of intimacy with him. As we remain connected to the vine, He will give us the “Spirit of Intercession” that will enable us to pray with power and confidence.

An Unlikely Warrior

I remember in the 1960’s as a kid, I had mixed feelings about war.  I loved TV shows like Combat, 11 O’clock High, and McHale’s Navy. These shows and others depicted some of the realities of World War II.  On the other hand, the war in Vietnam that I was seeing on the nightly news completely and thoroughly soured me from wanting anything to do with warfare.  I remember thinking that if the draft was still on when I became of age I might even head for Canada.  I think some of this also came from the fact that I was quiet, reserved and mostly noncompetitive. It was as if I did not have anything in the natural that would make me a good soldier. I think many times it is an advantage not to have natural strength in that to which you are called.  It allows us to know that what comes forth from us is of God and not ourselves.

When it comes to spiritual warfare, I think I must have been among the most unlikely people to do this.  I also think that God loves taking the foolish and weak, the unexpected, to confound not just people, but the enemy as well.

Not long after receiving the initial call to intercession, the Lord also put a call on my life for spiritual warfare.  This call came during another ministry time.  Once again I had a vision while flat on my back on the floor with my eyes closed.  In this vision I was standing with Jesus and He placed before me an old, well used, wooden chest.  It was about 4 feet long, 30 inches wide and 30 inches high.  I asked the Lord what was in the chest and He said, “These are your weapons.”  I instantly knew that along with intercession, He was calling me to spiritual warfare.  He then opened the chest and inside was a rod, a sword and a bow with arrows.  He asked me if I wanted to take a look at them, so I picked up the rod.  I remember thinking that it was so cool that I could pull a six foot rod out of four foot chest.  As I picked up the rod in the vision, in the natural my body shook violently as I lay on the floor. Then I put it back in the chest and the shaking subsided.  It was the same as I held the other weapons.  The next thing I saw in the vision was that I was surrounded by about four or five large warring angels. This one very strong and muscular looking angel slapped his hand on my shoulder and said in a deep voice, “Welcome, we will fight together.”  Feeling like the extremely green rookie on the team, I squeaked out some timid response like, “Yeah sounds great.”  Then the vision ended.

A few months later God spoke to me again about spiritual warfare.  It was May of 1995.  Some friends told me about this movie that had just come out called “Braveheart.” It was a movie about Scotland and a man that I had never heard of named William Wallace.  I decided to ask my dad if he would go and see the film with me.  We have always shared a love for history and I thought he might enjoy it.  As we were walking into the cinema I was surprised by something.  I heard God speak to my heart and say, “I am going to show you what the severity of spiritual warfare is like.” At the end of the first battle when William Wallace is shouting with his Claymore raised into the air, and the blood of the enemy all over his face, I knew that this was what God wanted me to see.  We must understand something in this warfare.  There is no neutral ground of negotiation with the enemy. Either you defeat him or he will defeat you.  I was beginning to get the idea.

Then in October of that year, the Lord confirmed this calling at the “Catch the Fire” Conference in Toronto that I previously mentioned.  I had already received the impartation for intercession as was determined that I was going to receive all that I could at this conference, so I went up for prayer after each session.  It seemed that every time I was prayed for, the person would start with a simple blessing prayer, and then end up praying about God using me in warfare.

One night I was prayed for by one of the ministry team leaders. Upon seeing my conference name badge, his prayer went something like this, “Lord, bless Mike. Lord, touch Mike. Mike? Mike? Michael! Lord, teach him to fight like Michael the Archangel.” Then I was be overcome by the power of God and end up, yes you guessed it, back on the floor.

Since then I have discovered something interesting.  God loves to place prophetic declarations about His intentions for us, even in simple things like our names.  God takes a bit of time in scripture on properly naming people.  I challenge you to look up the meanings of your names.  I think you will be surprised at what you find there.  I discovered that warfare was inherent in my very name.  My first name Michael comes from “Michael the Archangel,” who has the distinction of being the warring angel for Israel.  One of the meanings of my middle name Keith is, “from the battlefield.” Then the meaning of my last name, Bachelder, means, “young knight.”  Even in my youth, when there seemed to be nothing that would indicate warfare, God had already placed prophetic destiny in my name.  He knew that someday I would answer this call.

Although I am still learning what it’s like to be a warrior, and have made loads of mistakes along the way, I also consider this calling to be one of the greatest honors of my life.  I give Jesus all glory and credit for any victory that I have had the privilege of being a part of.  All praise to our great and victorious, warrior king.

High profile Intercession

Not long after I received the impartation of the Spirit of Intercession, I heard there was going to be a Saturday morning intercession seminar at City Bible Church in Portland, Oregon. I gathered some of my friends from the church and off we went. The seminar was with South American evangelist Ed Silvoso, whom I had heard of but had never seen before.  Right after worship the pastor gave an invitation for all senior pastors to come up and have Ed pray for them. This immediately brought a sigh of disappointment, as I was only an associate pastor at the time. So all the senior pastors came up and the rest of us watched as the senior pastors were prayed for by the man of God. Can you tell that, by this time, my attitude was really starting to sour? I began to whine under my breath, “Why is it always the senior pastors who get all the good prayer? Why can’t they just say pastors instead of senior pastors?” To make matters worse, I looked over to the prayer line again and saw a friend of mine talking to Ed Silvoso. He was a missionary to Bosnia and not a senior pastor. So Ed started praying for him. I said to myself, “That brother is going for the blessing.” So I headed right over there and was hit with a brilliant idea. I would go over and help pray for my friend and then Ed would see me standing there and move over and pray for me. So I initiated my foolproof plan. The only problem was that when Ed was done praying, the pastor leading the meeting came and grabbed Ed and took him to the other end of the prayer line to pray for another senior pastor who had just arrived. Then I really began to snivel. “It’s just not fair. After all I…” In mid-sentence the Holy Spirit interrupted me. I had honestly forgotten all about Him. He said, “Excuse me, but can I ask you a question?” My heart sank and I knew immediately that I was being convicted about my bad attitude.   “Are you here for him or are you here for Me?” At that point I was spiritually busted. I said, “Oh Lord, please forgive me, I’m sorry. I’m here for You.” “Assume the position then,” was his response. I knew intuitively that what He meant was to stand there as if someone was going to pray for me. So I stood there with no one around me.  I raised my hands and closed my eyes and was hit by the power of God. I immediately fell to the floor with no one to catch me. It was okay though, I didn’t feel a thing.  The Holy Spirit was all over me. It was incredible.

After a while the Lord spoke to me again and told me to sit up that He wanted to show you something. As I sat up, He asked me, “When you walked into the room this morning, did anybody notice you?” I said, “No, not really.” He continued, “When Ed Silvoso walked in, do you think anybody noticed him?” I quickly thought of our little group who were seated together at the beginning of the meeting. I think it was I who pointed him out to everyone. I said to the Lord, “Yes, a lot of people noticed when he walked in.” “Do you want to know what the difference is?” He asked. “He is a high profile person and you are a low profile person.” I fully agreed with that. “I have an offer for you.” He said. “How would you like to be low profile in the natural, but high profile in the realm of the Spirit?” All of a sudden the full import of what He was saying flooded my thoughts. Scriptures began to fill my mind like; And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (Acts 19:15) and “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)

In response to his question, I said, “Yes, I’ll take that.” I knew that it meant that being recognized as a person of prayer in the spirit realm would be more important than being recognized as a “High Profile” person in the earthly realm.  Although I knew that there are those that God has called to be both, for me the one was just fine. How fortunate we are when God gives us a chance to see if we really “get it” when it comes to what He is trying to teach us.

A while later I was back at City Bible Church for their first Intercession conference. During one of the ministry times one of the guest speakers, Claudio Friedson, was making his way through the crowd praying for people as he went. He was about twenty feet away when I saw him. I immediately turned away, lifted my hands and said, “Lord, I just want You to know that I am here for You and no one else.” Just a few seconds later, Claudio went about twenty feet out of his way to come and pray for me. He quickly looked at my nametag and said, “Lord, bless Mike.” The next second, I was on the floor with God’s presence all over me and my heart was overwhelmed with thankfulness.

Intercession – A Prophetic Journey

Much of what I learned came as I attempted to glean from the life of others who have gone before me in their own journeys of prayer. I’ve read books, listened to loads of teaching tapes and CDs (and now MP3’s, podcasts and YouTube), and asked questions as much as I could.  However, the most important lessons I learned came as I just asked the Lord as the disciples did, “Lord, teach me to pray.”

You may say to yourself, “I am not even sure I can hear Gods voice clearly. How could I possibly ask Him to teach me anything?” I have found that if I just step out to do it, I begin to hear Him before I even realize it. The key is, are you desperate to hear Him? I found out that I hear God much clearer in the midst of a difficult time than when all is going well.

I remember a time in youth ministry when everything was going fine, then it all seemed to be going south fast. We began to have trouble with a lot of the young people. Even our leadership kids were having bad attitudes and getting tripped up. It all came to a head at one of our infamous “all-nighters.” Between the dirty jokes, rebellious attitudes and sneaking off, there came a point that we knew something had to change. So we asked God if there was anything He wanted us to do differently. He responded by giving us a whole new strategy for youth ministry, one that actually worked. The key is, we must be desperate for Him. Like Moses declared to Israel,But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)

God wants to reveal truth to us, but often we are too busy, too impatient and too proud to ask Him.  As a person of prayer you are in a training process. God always wants to teach you something. Intercession isn’t just about praying to get a prayer answered. It’s also about teaching us along the way. It is not just learning how to intercede but learning the heart of God; how He thinks, how He feels and how He is.

As I was praying one day, the Lord led me into some rather heavy intercession. The more I prayed the more burdened I became. I could sense the passion of God, as well as the fear of God. Then He said to me “Do you want to know how I feel?” For the next few minutes I stood trembling as the God of the universe told me not only what He thinks, but also how He feels. It was an amazing and fearsome time. You see, God will often tell someone what He thinks, but seldom does He declare how He feels.

The more you get to know Him, the more you will find that He will want to share things with you. I have heard of people who say, “I never have visions or dreams Why don’t I see things in the Spirit?” Part of the answer is directly related to the time and energy you put into seeking after God. In Deuteronomy 4:29, the Hebrew word for seek is da^rash. This means to pursue frequently.” (Strong’s) God will often wait to see if we are serious about finding Him. It would seem that as we have the same heart as David did, we will find God in the place where He dwells. Listen to David’s heart as he seeks after God. “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” (Psalms 63:1) “My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. (Psalms 63:8)

The Hebrew word for hard is “da^baq” which means, catch by pursuit.” (Strong’s)  To be involved in high profile intercession, you must go after God. It seems that many of us have adopted an American, microwave, remote control attitude towards prayer. If it’s not self-serving, instant and quickly changeable we don’t want it. God’s plan is self-denying, He takes his time and He never changes. But His way is always the best way. In intercession you must do it His way.

Called Aside to Pray

Many of us thrive on being right in the middle of what God is doing at any given time. We shudder to think that God would ever set us “on the shelf” for any reason. We are convinced that the pruning process of John 15:2 doesn’t apply to us. We may have the thought that the only direction for us is upwards. “After all, God really needs me to do all this stuff I am doing. What would He do without me?  He understands I have an important ministry.”

Now we may not say it quite that way, but it might be what we believe deep in our hearts.  We are in a season where we must understand that God is going after all of our selfish ambition, self-promotion and glorying in title and position. Now it is okay to have a title or position as long as your heart is right in relationship to that position. Here is a verse that I have endeavored to base my life and ministry on, and I have found that it works. Proverbs 18:16 says, “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”

Albert Barnes in his commentary, Notes on the Bible, speaks of the word “gift” this way: the “gift” (or, bribe), by a bold personification, appears as the powerful “friend at court,” who introduces another, and makes him welcome in high places.

I have seen this verse activated in my life many times as God has allowed me to spend time with people I never imagined I would spend time with. We need to understand that if we are trying to open our own doors, the hand of God is stayed from opening them for us. Many times I have tried to make room for my gift, instead of letting my gift make room for me. Instead of letting Jesus be my “friend at court,” I have chosen to represent myself in the matter of ministry advancement. By taking the reins of my own life and ministry, I am actually telling God that I don’t really trust Him to open the right doors at the right times. What we must understand is that the Father is taking the emphasis off our identity being based on what we do, to a basis of just knowing Him.

Am I saying that we are not to do anything? Not at all. What I am saying is that everything we do in our service to Him must be founded on our knowing Him. It’s important to see that God cares much more for us than He does our ministry? That is why prayer is so vital to us. It brings us to the place of knowing Jesus. In my own life, when this word about intercession came to me, I was very busy doing for God. I was an associate pastor in charge of many different areas of the church, as well as being the main drummer on the worship team. There always seemed to be more to be done than I had time to do it. So I tried to add prayer to my to-do list, but it didn’t work very well. During a prophetic conference we had with Wes and Stacy Campbell in 1996, God gave me this prophetic word through Stacy that helped put things in perspective: 

“I just feel that you have done many things in the kingdom of God and that it is not just this one or this one, but that you have done sort of everything. And I feel like in a very positive sense you have been a jack of all trades. You can do this and you can do this and you can do that, but I feel the Spirit that is coming on you is primarily for intercession.  I feel there is a strong intercessory thing that God is trying to build in you, but I feel like it’s just beginning compared to what it is going to be like. And that intercession is what God is calling you to. He is calling you from doing many things to begin to focus. And I think this is going to be a struggle for you because you’ve done so many things. And you are used to doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but I feel God is putting a hook in your mouth and drawing you to the prayer closet, because you are to be mighty though God to the pulling down of strongholds and that this anointing is an intercessory anointing for you. And God is looking for someone to take on His burden. And the Lord says, you have taken on My burdens, but now God wants you to pray, pray, pray.”   Although this word was for me, I believe God wants you to pray, pray, pray, pray as well.

Final thoughtGod is looking for people who will allow their lives to be “set aside” for the purpose of prayer. He is looking for people who will take up His burden and come into the throne room to intercede. However, instead of looking at it as being set aside, it is really an invitation to be called up to where He is. It is an absolutely incredible invitation.