Questions and Answers
Regarding Prayer

Advocates
in
Prayer

 

 


 

Sender:  Jacqueline, Lawton, Oklahoma, USA


"Why are intercessors sometimes referred to as armor bearers?  Please explain the role that they fulfill in this capacity."


IN THEIR PRIMARY ROLE, intercessors stand before God appealing for His mercy and intervention in the lives of others who are in need of prayer.  We usually think of intercessors as those who are gifted and anointed by God to pray for others who may not yet know the power of prayer and do not know how to pray for themselves.   While this is an accurate picture of the primary role of the intercessor, it is also important to remember that those who pray for others often need prayer themselves.  Prayer is spiritual warfare, and those who struggle in prayer on behalf of others often become the target of spiritual assault themselves.  In such cases, intercessors need prayer support from other intercessors.

Powerful Partnership:  
Warrior and Armor Bearer

When one or more intercessors assume the role of praying for another intercessor, they are functioning as armor bearers.  This picture of intercession is actually taken from an Old Testament story that is a picture of  vision, faith, courage, loyalty, and divine intervention.  (See 1 Samuel 13:16-14:15.)  It is the story of how Jonathan and his armor bearer dual-handedly defeated a Philistine outpost.  The Philistines were oppressing the Israelites and had so totally plundered them that only King Saul and his son Jonathan had access to a sword of spear.  In the natural, the Philistines could have easily wiped out Saul and his six hundred weaponless soldiers.  However, they preferred to simply plunder and demoralize them.  Enter Jonathan and his armor-bearer.   

The story of the victory wrought through Jonathan and his armor bearer against the Philistines underscores several  components required for effective intercession.  They are:

1.  Faith and vision.  Against impossible odds, Jonathan had a vision prompted by His faith in God.  He said to his armor-bearer, "Come, let's go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows.  Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf.  Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving whether by many or by few."  (verse 6)  Jonathan had a covenant relationship with God, and he considered God's power as greater than the entire Philistine army.  

2.  Courage and loyalty.  Jonathan's armor bearer replied, "Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul." (verse 7)  The courage of Jonathan was contagious.  His armor bearer stood in agreement with him, was committed to a common cause, and gave himself fully to the task.  He was faithful.

3.  Divine intervention.  Against the taunts of the Philistines, Jonathan and his armor bearer climbed a cliff in full view of the Philistines and began to slaughter them left and right until they "struck panic in the whole army."  (See verse 15a.)  The NIV Bible Commentary says the two men won "a skirmish with a heavily armed enemy against overwhelming odds."  How did two men accomplish such a feat?  God was fighting with them.  The Bible says, " . . . the ground shook.  It was a panic sent by God."  (See verse 15b.)

Jonathan and his armor bearer were fighting a war that only God could win.  They gained the victory because they were fighting God's battle and depending on His intervention for the outcome.  This is what intercession is all about.  We are fighting in behalf of others to enforce the victory that Christ has already won for them.  We are expecting God's power to be released to strike the winning blow.  And, we are fighting in partnership with God and with other intercessors.  

A Winning Team:  
Intercessors and Armor Bearers

Intercessors are warriors.  They are fighting to advance the kingdom of God and drive back the forces of evil in the world.  As with the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer, intercessors wage war best when they bond together in a common cause. 

One of the most dramatic stories of militant intercession I've ever read depicts intercessors and their armor bearers fighting together.  They also were fighting against impossible odds from a human perspective, but God worked through them to liberate an entire city from heavy oppression caused by a demonic stranglehold.  [Summarized from C. Peter Wagner, Praying With Power  (Ventura, California:  Regal Books, 1997), pp. 16-28.]

Powerful Prayer Takes a City

The story of the liberation of Kiambu reaches its climax in the discovery of how to release the greatest potential of intercession through implementing the strategy of the intercessor/armor bearer partnership.  We will summarize this story by referencing one couple's call to Kiambu, their strategy to embark upon that calling, and several phases of intercession through which they discovered God's way of liberating the city.

Calling to Kiambu

The story begins in the late 1980s when Thomas Muthee and his wife returned from Scotland to Nairobi, Kenya.  He was serving as an itinerant evangelist and his wife as a school teacher.   In 1988, the Lord spoke to him in a time of prayer and said, "I want you to plant a church in Kiambu."  

Muthee had never planted a church anywhere, and Kiambu would not have been the place he would have wanted to start.  It had a reputation of moral degradation, violence, crime.  It was the murder capital of Kenya.  The economy was so bad that government officials bribed their superiors to keep from being sent there.  One area of the city was known for mysterious auto accidents where bodies were mangled but blood was never shed.  Numerous evangelical preachers had tried to start churches there and left defeated though churches thrived in other parts of Kenya.  If the Muthees were to succeed in starting a church in Kiambu, they needed a divinely-given strategy.

Strategy for Conquest

Thomas Muthee knew the need to understand the Enemy's strategy in order to effective engage in spiritual warfare.  He and his wife committed to six months of prayer with various types of fasting before ever entering Kiambu.  Their goal in prayer and fasting was to ask God to reveal the name of the demonic principality ruling over Kiambu and keeping the city under such oppression.  God revealed through a vision that a spirit of witchcraft was the ruling principality there and that a number of other demonic spirits were functioning under the headship of witchcraft.  An effective strategy for conquest would be to topple the spirit of witchcraft first and thus bring the coalition of evil spirits into disarray and drive them from the city.

Phases of Intercession

There were several phases of intercession that led to victory in the liberation of Kiambu.  We will organize the meat of this saga around identifying these phases of intercession.

1.  Staging an air raid.   The Muthees first step in taking Kiambu was staging an air raid.  Since God had shown them that witchcraft was the ruling principality over the city, they spent the remainder of their six months in prayer and fasting attacking this stronghold.  They were essentially doing "battle in the heavenlies" through prayer and fasting to topple this demonic spirit from its seat of power.  Once they knew in their spirits that this initial phase of the battle had been won, they were ready for phase two.

2.  Sending in the ground troops.    The Muthees called their second phase of intercession simply sending in the ground troops, and they were it.  The two of them moved their residency 10 miles away into Kiambu and set to work on starting a church.  God gave them tremendous favor, and they were the first evangelical ministers allowed to hold meetings at the municipal hall.  Eight people came to Christ the first night.  While this was a promising start, Thomas Muthee was unhappy about the fact that the municipal hall was only available to them twice weekly.  He knew they needed a place where 24 hour prayer could be launched.  They moved into the basement of a nearby building to which they would have access 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

3.  Rallying an army of prayer warriors.   The third phase of intercession for the Muthees was rallying an army of prayer warriors.  As their numbers grew and they had access to their new facility at all times, they began prayer vigils in which someone was always in the facility praying.  It came to be know as The Prayer Cave.  This militant prayer began to bring spiritual counter-attacks.  They soon found out that the principality of witchcraft had its chief human counterpart in a woman named Mamma Jane, a sorceress who practiced witchcraft and fortune-telling in a facility she called Emmanuel Clinic.  They discovered that the reason for much of the political and economic oppression of the city could be traced to the fact that many prominent political leaders and business  men in the city were going to Mamma Jane to have their fortunes told thus submitting to the spiritual forces at work through her.  They also learned that Emmanuel Clinic was located very close to the location where the mysterious traffic accidents were occurring.

Once Mamma Jane was discovered, she began an overt counter-attack.  She went to the location of The Prayer Cave every Saturday night to cast spells and curses on the work.  She was determined to stop the work of The Prayer Cave because she realized that they were "cutting her lines of communication," and she was very vocal in telling city officials that this was happening.  The result was that these city officials and even pastors of other churches turned against The Prayer Cave in respect to Mamma Jane.

Mamma Jane's counter-attack was felt to the extent that spiritual distractions were occurring during public worship services at The Prayer Cave.  Those attending found that they were having difficulty praying together or even finishing a worship song.  On one such occasion, the believers went outside of the building and found the remains of fresh animal sacrifices that Mamma Jane had placed around the building.  

4.  Designating divinely called intercessors.  Thomas Muthee knew that the 24 hour prayer vigil was not cutting it and something more was needed.  He reached a point of desperation and tears and feared he would be the next statistic of pastors who gave up on Kiambu.  Then, the Lord revealed to him the fourth phase of intercession that was needed.  The Lord said, "My son, I want you to get the intercessors on the job."  Muthee knew what God meant.  While there was 24 hour prayer going up, most of those who were praying were filling the Christian role of prayer but were not anointed and gifted as intercessors.  Muthee asked God who the designated intercessors were, and God gave him five names.  He immediately assigned these five intercessors to fast and pray on alternating days so that every day there was one designated intercessor fasting and praying.  While the results of this strategy were initially positive, the designated intercessors came under strong attack on their assigned days.  They might become sick, weakened, or distracted on their day of duty. 

5.  Adding in the Armor Bearers.  When Muthee asked the Lord how to deal with the attack on the intercessors, the Lord directed him to the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer to show the wisdom of going to war with an armor bearer at one's side.  Each intercessor needed armor bearers on the day they were assigned to fast and pray.  The group of designated intercessors had now grown to nine.  Muthee assigned to them a new strategy.  On a day that a given intercessor was assigned to fast and pray, two other intercessors would be a covering to the intercessor on assignment.  These two included the intercessor assigned to the previous day and the one assigned to the following day.  As this new strategy was implemented, the spiritual counter-attack suddenly stopped.  Victory in prayer has remained unhindered ever since, and the team of committed intercessors has grown to 400.  Now 15 or 20 intercessors are fasting and praying every day, and each one is covered by 2 armor bearers.

The Liberation of Kiambu

The addition of armor bearers to the strategy of intercession brought about the liberation of Kiambu.  Muthee issued the challenge:  "Mama Jane either gets saved and serves the Lord or she leaves town!"  Many of Mama Jane's clients began to become Christians and burned their charms and fetishes in public.  The public was suddenly enlightened to what was happening and began to suspect it was more than coincidence that Mama Jane's Emmanuel Clinic was near the site of the mysterious auto accidents.  When a subsequent accident claimed the lives of three children, public outrage led to police involvement.  They visited Mama Jane, saw that she had a huge python in one of her rooms, and shot the snake.  They took Mama Jane in for questioning and then released her.  She decided to pack up and leave town.

The changes that came to Kiambu were truly revolutionary.  The city is now economically prosperous.  Government officials are now said to offer bribes to be assigned to Kiambu.  Crime and violence is virtually gone.  The mysterious accidents have ceased.  Many of the worst criminals have become Christians and attend The Prayer Cave.  One of the infamous drug dealers is a believer now and taking classes in the Bible School.  He plays guitar for the worship team and evangelizes in the hospitals.  Alcoholism is at an all time low.  Prayer walks around ballrooms that once blared rock music throughout the night has caused these public disturbances to cease.  One such ballroom has become a church.  A nearby valley that was notorious for bootlegging on the black market has resulted in the still being closed down and the property purchased as a site for building a sanctuary for The Prayer Cave.

The results of the prayer efforts for Kiambu have brought unity to the churches.  Hostility from other pastors has ceased, churches of all denominations are growing, and the churches have come together for joint crusades to evangelize the city.  The Prayer Cave itself has 4,000 active members which constitutes 5% of Kiambu's population of 80,000.  

On Becoming an Armor Bearer

Our discussion of the role of intercessors as armor bearers underscores our need as intercessors and aspiring intercessors to uphold each other in prayer and to stand together in the common cause for which we pray.  As we intercede for others, we will come under attack.  For we are snatching souls from Satan's kingdom, and the Enemy does not take this lying down.  

My hope and prayer is that many who are effective intercessors, and others of us who aspire to become more effective intercessors, will be envisioned to take our prayer experience to the next level.  We need to ask God to lead us to other prayer partners functioning in intercession who can stand with us and we with them in concerted prayer.  Not only will we experience greater results through the partnership of agreement in prayer, but we will provide a genuine protective covering for each other in the battle.  The writer of Ecclesiastes states:  "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."  (4:12)  As intercessors and armor bearers come together, we experience protection, solidarity, and increased effectiveness in our battle against evil forces.  We became a potent force for the advancement of God's reign in the lives of those for whom we pray. 

 

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