PRAYING HEAVEN OPEN
BY DAVID YONGGI CHO
Dr. David Yonggi Cho is the Senior Pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea. His congregation numbers over 800,000 members involved in more than 25,000 cell groups.
It is refreshing to walk into a church and immediately sense the presence of God! It is also encouraging to be aware of the power of God in our daily lives over every situation. Both the refreshing and awareness of the power of God every day comes into our lives through prayer!
How can we develop a great desire to pray, that we may experience this power and reality in our churches and personal lives? I believe developing a great desire to pray is partially the result of knowing the purpose and benefits of prayer. That’s the way God made us – we are motivated to do something when we understand its purpose and benefits. If we realize the benefits of prayer we will be a people of prayer.
To pray this way, however, means a change in our lifestyles. This change does not come easily and is uncomfortable. There are many examples, both Biblical and contemporary, of God’s people acutely aware of the purpose and benefits of prayer.
Take the revival in Korea, for example. God has opened up heaven over Korea. I personally believe God is pouring out revival because our people have established strong prayer habits. Though they are already very industrious people, they have made prayer their first priority. By prayer they have communion and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Today the Holy Spirit guides them in their daily living and they have power with God.
At Yoido Full Gospel Church, our people learned to pray in this manner. At first it was not easy, but as I led the way, they followed. We began with early morning prayer at 4:30 am. We added an all-night prayer meeting Friday nights from 10:00 pm to 4:40 am. Our people came to one or both prayer meetings. Although each person was on a different level of maturation, coming together strengthened us.
The fervency and persistence of the Koreans was an indication of the new place in prayer we had found. And this fervency was not unrewarded. One by one we prayed through to an overflowing experience of joy and faith and filling of the Spirit. We prayed through every visible and invisible hindrance before us. Lives were changed. There was an unseen high tide of faith and victory! The believers never went back to their passive praying, which is to pray only when one has time or feels like praying.
Neighbors and business associates saw the difference! The joy and peace and faith became contagious. Unbelievers were attracted to our church and when they came they accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Prayer was the key that opened revelation of God’s Word in their hearts as the Holy Spirit made the truth very clear to them.
This is why our church has grown monthly by an average of 10,000 to 11,000 members. We are now ready to pray with others for the many hundreds of prayer requests that come to us from all over the world. Prayer changed us and prayer has now changed the course of our nation.
In the Bible, examples of praying people are everywhere. These people knew how to pray. They prayed God down on their world, and He opened heaven to them.
For example, Moses had power in prayer. He could speak with authority not only to the enemies of God, but also to God’s people. When he prayed, plagues came to Egypt. When he prayed, the Red Sea opened before Israel. When he prayed, God moved.
Joshua also saw the mighty hand of God work through his life and ministry. He knew the will and strategy of God in battle. Mighty cities fell before his untrained army. Where did this power come from? His prayer life! Joshua had learned to pray. While Moses was praying on the mountain, Joshua spent the night at the foot of the mountain in prayer. When Moses departed, Joshua was trained in prayer.
David was a man utterly given to prayer. When he was anointed king of Israel, Saul was still on the throne. David could have been discouraged by the fact that only a few recognized his kingdom, yet in prayer he came to a place of trust. He waited for the Lord to place him on Israel’s physical throne. David was strong enough in his relationship with the Lord that he did not kill Saul when he had the opportunity. After Saul’s death, David’s first action as the recognized king of Israel was to bring back the Ark of the Covenant to its rightful place at the center of Israel’s worship. When we look at the power in David’s life and his kingdom, we see the source of his power: a life of prayer.
But no one has ever manifested the power of God like the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Before He entered His public ministry, He spent much time with the Father in prayer. This was the source of His power. He could do nothing unless the Father revealed it to Him.
Here in Korea, I have learned much from these examples of prayer in the Bible. I have learned that in my own personal ministry I must depend on the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not by might or natural power but by the Holy Spirit that great things are accomplished for God. I can pastor a church of over 800,000 and still have time to travel all over the world because I have power from the Holy Spirit in prayer.
As we pray there is a purpose: that God may be known and worshiped in the world. But when we pray the Holy Spirit also works on the one praying. One of the ways He works is by breaking us. Over the past 36 years I have learned that God cannot use a person who is not broken and completely surrendered to Him.
Look at the example of Peter. When Jesus met Peter in his fishing boat, Peter had one reaction: conviction. He felt as if he were too sinful for Jesus to be in his boat. Having denied Christ three times, he was broken by the grace and forgiveness of Christ. Peter was then used by Christ to open the spiritual door to the Gentile world. God was able to use Peter once he was broken. When a man is broken, his heart resists pride, and can be used greatly.
The Holy Spirit is the comforter. Yet, the comforter can make you most uncomfortable if you are not willing to be broken. The Holy Spirit ensures our obedience to the Heavenly Father by breaking us.
Another purpose of prayer is authority over satan. In this evil age, satan, supported by the fallen angels and demons is out to rob and destroy. Without depending on the power of prayer we are not able to break satan’s power. The devil has never been concerned about church ritual, but he is deathly afraid of genuine prayer.
When you begin your life of prayer, you are going to discover new and diverse opposition from Satan.
How is this authority exercised in prayer? Satan opposes the prayers of God’s people more than anything else. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) When Christ was crucified and resurrected He took the keys of death and the grave and declared “All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth.” (Mt. 28:18). Jesus now shares His authority with you and me here on earth (Luke 10:19). As we learn how to pray in the Spirit, we realize we have been given Christ’s authority, and with His authority operating in and through us we are able to bind the forces of Satan in people, cities, and nations.
How can we develop a great desire to pray? Know the purposes of prayer: that we might be changed, that the world might be changed. Then know the benefits of prayer: that God is victorious in all situations through our intimacy with Jesus in prayer, and He motivates us with dreams of what could happen through biblical and contemporary examples. When we experience the biblical dynamic of prayer in our lives we will then experience the refreshing and power of God in ways we never imagined.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY TOUCH OUTREACH MINISTRIES, 2000, “CELLEBRATING CELLCHURCH MAGAZINE, PAGES 75-78.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.