persistent, forceful, suffering prayer

prayer, church, intercession

Written by Jamaal Bell

Jamaal is a MDiv and Clinical Counseling student at Ashland Theological Seminary. The editor of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity's blog He served four years in the U.S. Navy from 1999-2003. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in journalism and public relations at Ball State University. Jamaal's writing interests are devotionals, theology, and social justice. He also loves to do video devotionals targeted to teens, however, applicable to anyone.

May 25, 2011

prayer, church, intercession

The relationship between prayer and the mission of the church is essential, fundamental, and priority. Prayer essentially is a rejection of Satan’s strongholds, an affirmation, and a call to God to be directly involved in the world. Prayer is a rebellion against the world views of domination (Wells, 1979, 161). Persistent prayer is an affirmation of Christians’ belief that God can change the world and that Christians do not surrender and accept things the way they are.

As it pertains to the church, the church and its people must be vigilant in prayer. Christians should pray for the church like Jesus prayed. Jesus prayed forcefully and aggressively. His approach was “forceful, authoritative, even violent in posture at every turn, rebuking, resisting, and casting out demons (Robb, 1997, 165).”

In my experience with prayer and hearing prayer, many people are passive and sometimes to selfish with prayer. They would pray for themselves exclusively and ask God to do everything for them. I’ve heard many that did not ask for the Holy Spirit and to go to battle with spiritual forces in Jesus’ name. There was no rebuking, resisting, or rebelling in Jesus’ name. Prayer sounded almost submissive, where they have surrendered to the enemy’s strongholds and world views and are begging for God to free them WITHOUT asking for the Holy Spirit. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians said how Christians’ can pray forcefully and harness the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put one the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand (Eph 6:10-13).

Along with being forceful and persistent in prayer, Christians should be strategic with their prayers. Prayer should not be random or habitual because of traditions. Prayer should be though-out. One should pray with the absolute belief that God is listening. Furthermore, one should pray expecting God to answer, thus the prayee responses with obedience to God’s commands.

John D. Robb in his article “Strategic Prayer” outlined a prayer effort he was part of in Cambodia. The Cambodian Christians renounced the ancient covenants made by the Cambodian rulers, thus forming a national Christian fellowship. Several features of their prayer initiative that Robb highlighted were (Robb, 1997, 166):

1. There was much prayer preceding and accompanying this effort (persistent prayer).

2. Local leaders carried out the dramatic acts of identificational repentance as representatives of their people (forceful prayer).

3. Humility and brokenness were essential for all who took part (no arrogant or perfect people allowed).

4. They depended on God leading at every point (obedience to God).

5. They prayed in a holistic manner.

6. Effective prayer is persistent prayer.

Finally, our prayers should be expressed in the anticipation of Jesus returning. Our prayer should convey the expectation of suffering, however, our persistent prayer should remove all FEAR of suffering (Colman, 1989, 201). Suffering is received as an expression of God’s trust, our suffering can be a means of helping us comprehend more of the love of Christ, who “suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps” (1 Pet 2:21; cf. Heb 2:10; Heb 5:8).


  • Coleman, Robert E. “The Hope of a Coming World Revival.”
  • Robb, John D. “Strategic Prayer.”
  • Wells, David. “Prayer: Rebelling against the Status Quo.”


  1. Matt

    Love the thoughts on prayer. Probably the most overlooked aspect of our relationship with God today.

    • Jamaal Bell

      I know! I think about how passive we are with our prayers and how forceful David, the apostles and the prophets were.  The psalms rarely have any passive weak or general prayers–they all meant something and were written so strongly.  And they were said with the expectation that God was going to answer.

      Do you pray today with the expectation that God will answer?

  2. Theodora

    Prayer itself can be a battlefield
    I believe it all begins with prayer
    I know God hears my prayers because He is omniscient- He can see everything and hear everything- nothing escapes Him
    He hears every word. He hears our pain, the cries of our heart, He is answering them according to His perfect will- it may be Yes or No or wait a while and someone I know said to me – its usually wait a while,, a chance for God to shape our character and deepen our trust in HIm
    The need to be specific is important
    If you went to eat somewhere and you were asked what you would like and you said vaguely- eh I am not sure, just do not know really- the person giving would disappear for a while until you were ready and knew what you wanted. So with being specific we will get a specific answer.
    Our prayers are attacked also by the enemy – we need to step up and fight back and pray- Help our unbelief
    We need to be relentless in prayer-claim what God has promised us and ask God to help us discern His we are not praying for what may be fleshly desires- as the heart deceives. I pray my desires are at one with God’s desires- that we are aligned in wishes and hopes
    We can use the psalms as prayers- the enemy will retreat when He hears the word. Feeling defeated in prayer recently I read these as prayers and I found stability and solace..
    I do expect God to answer- we need to think God’s way and remember our path is the narrow one and He speaks a different language to the world- and is outside time- – we are set apart from the world-and there is often no reason or logic to it-


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persistent, forceful, suffering prayer

by Jamaal Bell time to read: 3 min