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A Spiritual Storm

Imagine if you were a general at war with another country.  What if you could control the weather?  What if you could hit their country with a category 5 hurricane the day before your attack?  Do you think it would increase your chances of victory?  Believe it or not, we can operate in this scenario in the spirit.

In my last post, I talked about the cumulative effect that takes place when believers pray in the spirit corporately.  There’s an exponential increase as we come together and pray.

Think about it.  When Jesus walked the earth with His disciples, He limited Himself to the power of one man yielded to the Spirit.  When He prayed, He prayed as a man empowered by the Holy Spirit.  The result of the Lord’s ministry was tremendous.  Yet, when He ascended into heaven there were only between 100 and 200 believers.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Acts 2:1

After Jesus ascended to heaven, He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Gift of the Spirit.  Nobody knew what He was talking about.  Not the disciples, and certainly not the devil or his dark kingdom.

On the day of Pentecost, there were 120 people in the upper room praying expectantly.  I’m not going to show you the math, because that’s boring.  Suffice it to say, that if you calculate it out like the wind equivalent, this small group of believers had about 10,000 times the prayer power of Jesus by Himself.  Why do you think the Bible records the following?

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:2

Something happened that had never happened in the history of the universe.  Satan didn’t see it coming; he had no advance warning.  120 believers aligned their spirits with the Holy Spirit all at the same time.

They generated a “spiritual wind” with a force like never before experienced.  I can just imagine demons blowing in all directions out of Jerusalem!  This is why there was such a great effect on the Day of Pentecost.

Jesus Christ had an incredible effect upon Israel.  Those who heard Him said, “no one ever spoke like this man.  We have never heard this much authority.”  Yet, after 3 years of ministry, only 120 still obeyed His instructions.

This is because, during His life, Jesus had to fight the spiritual battle single-handed.  This can still be done.  Even today Christians are finding themselves fighting hand to hand with the kingdom of the enemy.

But, when the demonic influence is blown away first, how much easier the battle becomes.  This is illustrated beautifully in the outcome of the day of Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts.

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 2:41

Think about the implications of this for us today.  If we have 3000 people show up for an event and 120 are saved, we shout victory.  How about 120 people showing up for the meeting and 3000 being saved?!!!  This is the potential if we as a body of believers send a spiritual attack against the kingdom of the enemy before we do something in the natural.

Please understand this.  That first day of Pentecost took Satan totally by surprise.  Now he’s ready when believers gather for prayer in the spirit.  He instructs his minions to hang on to something while they’re praying.

I ask you then, what’s the devil’s greatest fear?  It’s simply that the church would come together and pray in unity in the spirit.

Question: Why do so few churches have intentional, corporate, prayer in the spirit?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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The Power of Prayer in the Spirit

I’ve been posting about the connection between prayer in the spirit, unity, and the fight of faith.  Did you know that they all go hand in hand?

Today we’ll look at another place in Scripture where we’re told to contend for the faith.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.
Philippians 1:27

I’ve read through this verse many times.  After careful study, I have developed a very different take on this passage.  When I read it now, it sounds to me like an army general giving a final speech to his troops on the eve of battle.

Listen to what Paul says.  Stand firm in ONE SPIRIT.  Contend as ONE MAN for the faith.  How can this be done in the natural?

We now know that it can’t, it must be a work of the spirit.  We must pray in the heavenly gift together, and so line up our spirits with each other and with the Holy Spirit.  Only then can we stand firm in one “spiritual wind”.

It’s without a doubt that prayer in the spirit unifies the church for war.  This gift is the unifying factor in the body of Christ.  There is, however, a deeper reason for using prayer in the spirit as a part of our warfare.  I found this, of all places, while watching the Weather Channel.

They were airing a special about wind.  Scientifically, the wind is simply air molecules in motion.  They talked about everything from light winds to severe winds.

You would think that a 40 MPH wind is twice as strong, does twice the damage of a 20 MPH wind.  So did I, and I was wrong.  The effect of wind on its environment is an exponential increase as the speed increases.

This means that because of the nature of wind, a 40 MPH wind is actually ten times the strength and effect of a 20 MPH wind.  Take hurricanes for example.  A Category 1 hurricane, the weakest, is about 75 MPH.  The strongest, a Category 5, is about 135 MPH.  Even though it has twice the wind speed, a Category 5 hurricane does ten times the damage of a Category 1.

What does any of this have to do with prayer in the spirit?  Well, all of this talk about the exponential increase of wind should remind you of a spiritual truth.

How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up?  For their rock is not like our Rock, as even our enemies concede.
Deuteronomy 32:30-31

We usually quote this by saying, “one can put a thousand to flight and two shall put ten thousand to flight.”  Whether you know it or not this verse is speaking about the exponential increase of the move of the Spirit of God.

The truth we need to learn is that prayer in the spirit has an exponential effect on the object of that prayer.  This is the true power of corporate prayer in the spirit.

Question: Why is the power of corporate prayer in the spirit largely untapped in our generation?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Unity and the Fight of Faith

In my last post, I showed how when I pray in the spirit, I align my spirit with the Holy Spirit.  I used the illustration of a fan in a field.

I’ll now continue with a deeper truth.  It all begins when you come along into this illustration.  Let’s say that we’re together.  I’m praying in the spirit and then you begin to pray in the spirit.  We’re now together praying in the spirit.

At that point, I’m one with the Holy Spirit, and you’re one with that same Holy Spirit.  Our two separate spiritual “winds” are now consumed by the wind of the Holy Spirit.

So as we all come together to pray in the spirit, we create a spirit (or “wind”) of unity.  This is the unity of the spirit.  The incredible truth is that as we pray in the spirit together we align with the Spirit of God AND with each other.

Think about some of the great spiritual movements of recent history.  Moves like what happened at Azuza Street in California.  According to the reports, rich and poor, black and white, it made no difference, as people from all backgrounds came together into unity.  This was not achieved by willpower or a decision to agree – but by the Spirit.

More recently, think about the Charismatic renewal.  Denominations that never spoke to each other came together in unity as they prayed together in the spirit.  This could only have been accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I believe that both of these moves of God were orchestrated by Him to bring His church into unity for the end-time harvest.  I also believe that the Lord is going to do it again in the near future, only this time with a church that understands the importance.

There is, however, an even deeper work that the Lord wants to do through corporate prayer in the spirit.  I was led to this truth while I was studying for a series of messages on Spiritual Warfare.  It all began while I was studying the standard warfare section of Ephesians chapter 6.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

Most of us know this section of Scripture pretty well.  It’s in the passage that deals with the Armor of God.  This section literally says to pray in the spirit, “sleeplessly watching, and persevere at it.”  I always thought that this was an interesting verse, especially since it concluded the section on spiritual warfare.  Keep this in mind.

Now we will go to the book of Jude.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit…
Jude 20 (NKJV)

Jude is telling us to strengthen our inner man by praying in the spirit.  Here’s where it starts to get interesting.  To find the reason for Jude’s writing of this short letter we must go to verse 3.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Jude 1:3

According to Jude’s own words, he started out just wanting to write a light letter of encouragement.  It would have been a short word about the salvation that we all share.  But the Holy Spirit had other plans.

The Spirit of God moved upon Jude to change the course of his writing.  He says that he felt like he had to write about CONTENDINGfighting, struggling, wrestling – for the faith.  It so happens, that Jude uses the same Greek word here that Paul used when he said that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12).

There are also some differences between the two writers.  Paul was writing about contending against spiritual forces.  Jude, on the other hand, was dealing with the struggle against false teachers.  But it’s the similarities that caught me off guard.

Here we see two very different writers talking about the fight of faith.  In both cases, they conclude with PRAY IN THE SPIRIT.  It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that there’s a connection.  Somehow our spiritual struggle requires prayer in the spirit.

Question: Why do we need unity for the fight of faith?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Unity and Agreement

I want to take a few posts to talk about the public use of prayer in the spirit.  There’s a private and corporate use of the gift.  In this series, I want to zero in on the corporate aspects.

The Bible uses a number of word pictures to explain the move of the Spirit.  One of the most common is the wind.

As a matter of fact, both the Hebrew and Greek words for spirit is the word wind.  The only way that a translator knows whether to use “spirit” or “wind” is by the context in which it’s used.  As it turns out, the wind is a very powerful picture of how our spirits operate in conjunction with the Spirit of God.

When you speak about wind, it implies motion.  Motion is determined by speed and direction.  We need to understand this aspect of the Spirit if we’re to talk about the corporate use of the heavenly language.  There are two main reasons for corporate prayer in the spirit.  Here’s the first.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

In order to grasp this function, we must first define some terms in the Scripture that are commonly misunderstood.  What we must understand is that there’s a big difference between unity and agreement.

Most Christians use these two terms interchangeably.  Actually, they’re two very different truths.  So, we must ask ourselves what’s the difference between unity and agreement?

The Word of God is clear that agreement is when we think and believe the same way.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 18:19

In this verse, the Greek word that’s translated, agree, is sumphoneo.  It’s where we get our English word symphony.  It literally means to sound together.  You agree on the facts, so you speak the same thing.  This means that if I believe Jesus is Healer, and you believe Jesus is Healer, we’ll sound the same when we speak.  In that case, we’re in agreement.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10

In this passage, Paul makes it very clear.  Agreement involves mind and thought.  These are functions of our soul.  If we believe the same thing, then we’ll also speak the same.  This is agreement – our thinking and our speaking.

Unity is a whole different thing.  Let’s look at the verse from Ephesians again.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

In the same way that agreement is a function of our soul, unity is a function of our spirits.  What we need to realize is that we’ve already been made one in Christ.  It’s now our job to keep or guard the unity of the spirit.

In the Greek, the phrase, make every effort, means to use prompt and earnest effort.  This tells me that it requires work on our part.  There’s something we need to do.  In order to keep this unity, it will require the “wind power” of the spirit.

In the next couple of posts, I’ll share how the power of the spirit brings unity in the church.

Question: Why do you think that so many Christians adamantly oppose the gift of tongues?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Calling to Pray

As believers, we’re all called to pray.  However, the question often arises; are we all called to a warfare or intercessory type of ministry?

It’s clear from Scripture that we need to be a praying people.  We should be praying daily for ourselves and our family.  Also, we need to pray for others in the body of Christ.  Then, we should be praying for our friends, neighbors, community, and nation.

In order to fulfill this, Jesus gave His disciples a teaching on prayer.  As a part of this lesson, the Lord showed them an outline of what a prayer to God should include.  (Mark 6:9-13)  We call this the Lord’s Prayer.

We all should be praying – that’s beyond question.  But there’s a deeper level of prayer that needs to be addressed.  This is a powerful type of prayer that involves our whole being – body, soul, and spirit.  It could express itself in warfare, intercession, or a combination of both.

I believe that this is the kind of prayer that Jesus entered into, while in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Look at how the Gospel of Mark describes it.

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
Mark 14:32

I think it’s interesting that this place of prayer Jesus chose was called Gethsemane.  That was an Aramaic word that meant olive-press.  It was going to be a place of great pressure for Christ.

What I want you to notice is that most of the disciples simply got the instruction to sit here.  Jesus told them that He was going to pray.  But He didn’t ask them to do anything in particular during that time.

There were, however, three disciples who got a different set of instructions.

He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them.  “Stay here and keep watch.”
Mark 14:33-34

Peter, James, and John – the three leaders of the group – were told to go with the Lord.  As they approached the place, Jesus began to be overwhelmed by the weight of what He was about to endure.  He expressed this to the three and told them to remain with Him and watch.

The Lord obviously wanted these particular disciples to watch and learn from what was happening in that garden of prayer.  They needed to learn the deeper issues of intense, Spirit-led prayer.

Most of the disciples would have had no understanding of what was going on in that garden.  It was these three that had a grasp of some of the things that take place in the spiritual realm.  After all, they were with Him when the Lord raised a dead girl back to life (Mark 5:37-43) and they witnessed His transfiguration (Mark 9:2).

We need to see that intense, intercessory prayer is not for everyone.  It’s only for those who have obtained to a mature level of spiritual understanding.  Even then, this kind of prayer is only learned by watching those who are already walking in it.

Are you called to this type of prayer?  The only way of knowing is for you to continue to pursue Christ.  Make it your goal to walk in everything that the Lord has for you.

Question: Why is intercessory prayer so important in the body of Christ?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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There’s No Convincing a Hard Heart

As we continue our study of the Gospel of Mark, we come to a point where Jesus is met by some Pharisees.  They start to discuss theology with Him.  But they have an ulterior purpose.

The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus.  To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.
Mark 8:11-12

The Pharisees were the spiritual authorities in Israel.  They were the ones who the people looked up to for guidance and counsel.

In the natural, you could say that there was a lot riding on this meeting.  If the Pharisees accepted Jesus as their Messiah, then the people would follow.  If they rejected Him, it would be harder for the people to be convinced.

On the surface, it seemed pretty innocent.  A group of spiritual leaders looking for more information upon which to base their decision.  That’s not what’s happening here.

We’re dealing with a group of self-righteous leaders, who don’t want to lose their power base.  The appearance of the Messiah would make them step down a rung on the ladder of authority.  It was in their best interest to find a reason to reject Christ.

Of course, that’s always the reasoning of the self-righteous.  They put up a smoke-screen of seeming to want to accept you.

“Show us a sign from Heaven, so that we can follow you.”

This isn’t how self-righteousness works.  In my experience, self-righteous people are looking for signs that you’re not truly a believer.

“You can’t possibly be a strong Christian.  I saw you dance and drink the champagne toast at the wedding.”

These Pharisees had already concluded that Jesus wasn’t on their level.  After all, He heals on the Sabbath.  He doesn’t even make His disciples perform the religious rituals, like fasting and hour-long ceremonial hand washings.

How do you convince someone whose mind is already made up?  It requires supernatural wisdom.

He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign?  I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.”  Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
Mark 8:12-13

This is the key to walking in the wisdom of God.  The original Greek version of this verse specifically says that the Lord groaned deeply in His spirit.  Most people don’t realize that Jesus had a rich prayer life in the spirit.  For a more detailed look at this, click here.

This is why we need to cultivate our spiritual prayer language.  It’s how we tap into the mind of Christ.  It’s the channel for the wisdom of God to flow through us.

We think that we always need to defend ourselves.  We get into arguments trying to convince people that we’re right.  The truth is, even though we’re right, God’s wisdom might be to simply not answer them and walk away.

That’s what the Holy Spirit led Jesus to do in this instance.  The Pharisees had already made up their minds about Him.  Nothing He did would change them.

This is a reason we need to pray regularly in the spirit.  We must be prepared to face the challenges ahead.  It doesn’t matter if it’s people who are challenging us or the enemy’s kingdom.  It’s the wisdom of God that will ultimately bring the victory.

Question: When have you received supernatural wisdom as a result of your prayers?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Christ the Baptizer in the Spirit

I believe that America is ripe for revival.  I also believe that prayer in the spirit will play a major role in this move.  John the Baptist preached about this subject in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:6-8

We’ll need an understanding of this if we’re going to flow in revival to the level God desires.  I’m talking about coming face to face with Christ, the Baptizer.  He’s the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

But there’s a question that this brings up.  How can Christ do that if He wasn’t baptized Himself?  I believe that Jesus was baptized in the Spirit and prayed in the spirit.

Of course, Jesus prayed in the spirit without the manifestation of tongues.  The reason for this is that speaking in tongues is the reaction of our sinful flesh to the work of the Spirit.  Our flesh can’t comprehend what’s happening when we pray in the spirit.

In another Gospel, we see John the Baptist witnessing something unique.

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.  I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”
John 1:32-33

This was unheard of in their day – the Holy Spirit remaining upon a person.  This was the point where Jesus was baptized in the Spirit.  I believe that from this day forward, Jesus prayed in the spirit.

But I think that the key word here is, remained.  The Holy Spirit remained upon the Lord and Jesus remained in the Spirit.

That’s something we need to see the importance of.  Very often we think that what Jesus did was a special case.  He said that the same works He did, we would do.  But in order for that to happen, it will take the same preparation.

We need the same remaining in the Spirit.  You could also call it immersion in the Spirit.

Before He ascended to the Father, Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this gift.  Don’t preach, don’t make disciples, don’t do anything, just wait.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

That was fulfilled in the baptism found in Acts chapter 2.

What about Jesus?  He was baptized by John who testified that the Spirit remained on Him.  Then Jesus went into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days.  There, the Lord was tempted by the devil himself, yet…

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
Luke 4:14

What power did He walk in?  The power of His immersion in the Spirit.   We need this same power to be evident in our lives.  In that case, we must remain in the Holy Spirit just like He did.

Question: How does Christ exemplify the Christian walk?

 

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