I read this book for the first time many years ago. In fact, this was one of the first books that I read after I got in church in New Orleans, LA. There are few books on prayer that have impacted my soul as much as this book. The only other writer than comes close is E.M. Bounds but I still find the lessons in this book to be more practical. A few years ago I was asked to give a series of lectures on prayer and I used this book as my text. I developed two lessons using the concepts and material found in this book. As a little background, this book was not written by Verbal Bean but was a transcription of lessons taught by Verbal Bean to a class of ministers. I highly recommend this book to any aspiring minister. In fact, I have read this book completely through on multiple occasions. With the introduction over, on with the summary.
Current & Memorial Prayers
When we think of the different types of prayer it’s best if we find a common way to describe the differences. The best example that I know of is how we use credit. Some credit cards require that the balance be made in full every month. When I was in the Marine Corps I had a government Credit Card with a $10,000 limit on it. That sounds like a lot but I couldn’t carry a balance over from month to month. I had to pay it in full every month. There were times that I would spend close to the limit each month but as soon as I got a reimbursement from the government I had to pay that bill in full. Another example of this would be a power or a water bill. You can’t carry a balance over from month to month with these bills. If they are not “paid in full” then you are going to have problems.
There are some prayers that we pray when God does do an instant work. To see scripture about current prayers lets take a look at James 5: 14-15 “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” This is a current prayer and God can chose to answer or to not answer this prayer. I have prayed many times for things only once and God answered.
Notice the verse before the ones I just quoted. James 5:13 “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.” We want the affliction to move overnight but if it doesn’t then keep praying that prayer not as a current prayer but recognize that you may be praying a memorial prayer.
Most of the prayers we pray are not current prayers but memorial prayers. It’s like buying a car or a house. I pay a certain amount every month on my mortgage but they still haven’t sent me a piece of paper saying, “paid in full”. But if I keep paying my note over the next 20 years one day I’ll get that “paid in full” note from the mortgage company. To relate this to prayer, a lot of times we have to pray for something over a period of time before the answer comes. I do believe God can answer a prayer the first time we pray it but don’t get discouraged if God doesn’t.
Let’s look at this in the Scripture. In Acts 10 Cornelius prayed this type of prayer. The Bible says of him that “thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4) He was a Gentile praying a prayer that many would say could never be answered. But, he keep praying, he kept giving alms, he didn’t stop. Finally God realized that this guy isn’t going to stop. Cornelius had made so many payments that God had to do something. The payments just kept coming and coming. I’m not sure long he prayed but what I do know was that his prayer was not answered with just one prayer. It was a memorial prayer.
I’ve seen this work in churches. There is a lady in our home church who has been praying for her family for a long long time. For years, she has been making payments. Her mom wouldn’t come to church because of some habits that she had. In fact she had a 42 year smoking habit. But during a revival last year God finally said, sister, you’ve made enough payments. When you pay something off there is a great feeling that goes along with it. On a Tue night revival service this dear saint’s mother came to church and received the Holy Ghost. You know what, she’s still coming to church. What if this saint would have quit praying for her momma after the first year? She realized that her prayer was a memorial prayer and finally she made the last payment. Since then, her nephew and his wife along with his family have come and prayed through. Her brother and his wife have come and prayed through. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t see the results you desire at first but keep on praying. Keep on making payments.
Channels of Approach
“I exhort therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” (1 Timothy 2:1)
These are the four channels of approach. To illustrate what a channel is think about how a CB radio or a walkie-talkie works. There are many channels that are “on line” but for two parties to communicate with each other they have to be on the same channel. God works the same way. The channels of approach in pray are various ways that God will communicate with us. To use the CB radio example, if God is on channel 13 then don’t you turn to channel 9 and expect to get the results tat you want. When and if we learn to approach God the way that he desires we will see the results that we want. I know if can be frustrating to pray and not see anything happen. It’s frustrating whether you are a new convert or a seasoned saint. The point of this class is to offer us some key insights into prayer so that we can see results in our prayer life.
This lesson is about prayer and as it is, prayer is one of the channels of approach. The simplest definition of prayer is “Talking to God”. It is you talking to God. The earth does not have to shake, you do not have to be talking in tongues, there does not have to be tears flowing. Just talking. You may not feel anything but God is hearing you. I’m like most everyone else in that I like to get in the prayer room and shout and make noise and scream Hallelujah. But, more and more I’ll sit on the altar bench at our church and simply talk. I use a conversational tone much like I’m talking to a friend. I may close my eyes and sometimes I even imagine Jesus sitting there beside me like a good friend and listening to me.
Some people think they are not praying unless they feel vibrations and that’s simply not true. Just plain prayer, like what I just described, is one of the channels of approach that God has. What I don’t want you to do it to become so comfortable with this type of prayer that you never seek going any deeper. I think that we should always start with prayer and open ourselves up to the other channels of supplication and intercession. We should desire to intercede but if those channels don’t open then we first need to make sure our spirit it right. If we have repented and nothing is hindering us spiritually and those the other channels still do not open then be content with just prayer. Talk to Jesus like one friend talking to another. Have confidence that God is hearing you. One thing to note about this type of prayer is that it takes faith to pray like this but God will just as readily answer a prayer prayed like this as He would a prayer that was prayed when to Holy Ghost is moving in a Church service.
This is the next step after prayer. It’s a little more intense than praying. When we pray and begin to feel some emotions supplication is usually where we are. Supplication is usually what takes place in most prayer rooms before service. There is a Spirit of supplication that comes and it makes praying easier. Many times I can go from prayer (which I talked about previously) to supplication in a matter minutes. Most Christian will get to supplication and mistakenly believer that it is the climax of prayer and never make an attempt to go beyond supplication to the next level. I’m not going to spend much time here because I think that most people are familiar with this type of praying although you may not have called it supplication. Once here we should make an earnest effort to enter into intercession.
This is the deepest prayer. It’s where we should want to go and I’m going to spend considerable time talking about this subject. Some people will never make the effort to go here because of the intensity that it requires. I can pray and I can enter into supplication without much trouble or effort but if you enter into intercession it takes physical strength. After being in intercessory prayer my body literally feels like I have been doing manual labor. That is the intensity that this type of praying requires. Intercessory prayer is what brings revival. I was in a great revival one time with 200 people receiving the Holy Ghost but during every service there were intercessors in the prayer room praying while the preacher was preaching. A spirit of intercession can fall on someone at any given time. Recently, I was preaching in a church and I was preaching about revival. There was a lot of excitement like what you’d expect in a Pentecostal church. As the altar call drew near you could see that the service was about to explode but I as I was ending the sermon God stepped in and I felt led of the Holy Ghost to speak for just a moment on revival praying. A Spirit of Intercession fell in that service and many of the people in that church found a place to pray with some of them laying down prostrate on the group seeking and praying for Revival. Prayer went on 2 or 3 times longer than the actual sermon. There was deep intercession there that night. Now there were people never got from their pew and prayed. They stayed but they didn’t participate in the prayer because this type of prayer was foreign to them. They were not use to responding to God when he called for intercession. I’ve been preaching at that church for a few weeks now and last night we had a huge breakthrough. We’ve seen people receive the Holy Ghost and that night I witnessed a young lady that was that had been coming finally broke at the altar call. I’ve been watching her for weeks and she showed no sign of making an attempt at living for God but last night she had her hands raised and tears were flowing. Why and how did that happen? I believe it was a result of that intercession that took place last week.
Something we need to understand about intercession is that intercession is usually a particular prayer for a particular need. Intercession usually produces quicker results that other types of prayers because intercession is NOT praying for what You want to pray for but intercession is praying for what GOD wants you to pray for.
Intercession is allowing your soul to be directed in prayer. To be an intercessor is to be available to be used of God at a moment’s notice. Intercessors are people that are known as being men or women of prayer.
Let’s look at what the Bible teaches concerning intercession. Romans 8:26 “We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Paul also wrote, 1 Corinthians 14:15 “I will pray with the spirit.” Paul writes about intercessory prayer making reference that when we enter this type of prayer we are usually praying in tongues. If we were praying in our native language then we would know what we are praying for, but a lot of times this type of prayer will cause us to pray in tongues and many times you may not know who or what you are praying for. Paul did also say that “I will pray with the understanding also”. Like the example of the church I gave earlier, the intercessory prayer was for a specific cause and the cause was that of revival. But unbeknown to anyone praying there that night I have to believe that someone’s Spirit was making intercession for that young family that came to the altar.
Psalm 65:4 “Blessed is the man whom thou chooses, and causest to approach unto thee.” We cannot choose to be intercessors. We can have the desire but ultimately God chooses us. Now, I do believe that if you are available then God will choose you to be an intercessor. I don’t want you leaving here saying that I can’t do intercessory prayer because God didn’t choose me for it. If God didn’t choose you then it’d be a good idea to examine yourself and your availability toward God. To be used in this way is to be completely surrendered to God, and here is the key, AT ALL TIMES. You can be carnal on the job and expect God to just say “alright, I need you to intercede tonight”. The Bible speaks somewhere about God going into a village but there was no faith there so he departed and went to another village. It’s the same way with intercessors. If you aren’t available then He’ll find someone that is.
To intercede is to travail. It doesn’t come easy. It is not with cost or without emotion. Intercession is emotional. If you are too big to humble yourself to week then you’ll not be used in intercession. Throughout the Bible people that God used were people that knew how to weep. Intercession is so intense it will cause our hearts to feel such despair and hunger that it will melt. Jeremiah 9:1 “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.” Isaiah 22:4 “I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.” Mary stayed at the feet of Jesus long enough until she had cried enough tears to wash both of his feet.
I really want to stress this point. Joel said, “Let the priest, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar” (Joel 2:17). I know it says ministers here but it applies to leaders in the church. The Psalmist said, “The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping” (Psalm 6:8). Not only did the psalmist weep, but Jeremiah wept, Paul wept, Nehemiah wept. Jesus wept! Weeping goes hand in hand with intercession. If there isn’t enough compassion in you to weep then you’ll never be able to be used in intercession. Intercession requires humbleness and brokenness.
Well, there is one more channel that God uses. This channel seems out of place among the others. But thanksgiving is something that God desires. There are times when prayer falls flat just two inches out of your mouth. Supplication doesn’t happen and intercession isn’t there. There are times that God will only receive thanksgiving. We feel like we need to be praying, we feel like we should be on our face but none of that works. Those are time when we should try thanksgiving. We have this misconception that every time we pray we have to be asking God for something. When is the last time we have come to prayer and not made a request? There are times we need to come to prayer, not with request, but with praise. One of the fastest ways to get into God’s presence is to praise Him. When we are feeling weak we need to remember, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Review of The Four Channels
I’m writing this so that you can better understand what is happening when you pray. You need to know what channel you are in when you pray. Are you at channel one (which is prayer) or are you entering into channel two (supplication)? The object is to search and by that I meant to try and find what channel God is on. If you want results you have to get on the same channel as God. It may be prayer, it may be supplication, it may be intercession, or it may just be thanksgiving. Whatever it is, get on that channel and touch God.