Session 23 -Weeping and Prayer
"There is a time of weeping approaching"
The Bible says a great deal about weeping, wailing and groaning in prayer, however we have little understanding of the reasons why when we pray, we sometimes enter into these manifestations. Indeed, on occasions we even question the validity and reasons for so doing. As an Appendix to these notes there are 3 things we collectively looked at on the evening before commencing this teaching, it may help to refer to them now, they are
Appendix One – A collection of verses from Joel
Appendix Two – Some accounts of revival in Wales
Appendix Three – An Intimate Encounter with God – Weeping with Him
A.W.Tozer said “The Bible was written in tears and to tears it will yield its best treasure. God has nothing to say to the frivolous man.”
The Bible reveals at least 7 causes for weeping and contains more than 700 references to weeping, crying, tears and mourning. Jesus once asked Mary “Woman why are you weeping?” John 20:15, we too need to ask when we are moved to tears by an experience of God “Why are we weeping?” This way we shall enter into the depths of our heart and the heart of the Father.
There is no doubt we are called to cry. “Isaiah 22:12 Therefore in that day the Lord God of hosts called you to weeping, to wailing, to shaving the head, and to wearing sackcloth. Instead there is gaiety and gladness”
Romans 12:15 “.. rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep”
Stephen Hill gives 7 types/causes of weeping found in the Bible in his book “Time to Weep”
1. When people remember days of old. (by the rivers of Babylon., the former Temple, the better things of Egypt)
2. At a place of total abasement ( the place of spiritual drought, the Valley of Baca Ps 84:5-6, Jobs experience Job 16:16-17, 2 Chron 34:27 Hilkiah finds the book of the law)
3. When the enemy has triumphed (Jer 13:17, Joel 1:5. Judges 20:26 battle with the Benjaminites)
4. The Lord Wept (Death of Lazarus John 11, looking over Jerusalem Luke 19:41. in the garden, and on the way to Golgotha Luke 23:28 these weeping prayers had eternal destiny in focus)
5. Emotion Emanating from deep concern, worship or prayer (Joseph for his brothers Gen 43:30, Paul for those who had fallen away Phil 3:18, in mourning for Moses Deut 34:8, Jer. 6:26)
6. Weeping and gnashing of teeth
7. When God shall wipe away our tears here on earth and when crying will cease forever in heaven. (Neh 8:9-10, Isaiah 30:19-21, Rev 21:4)
I want to deal in this session with just three aspects of weeping, which we have already mentioned tonight in our preparation stages as Appendixed to these notes
These three areas are:
1) Grieving with God over the state of His creation, the church and us as individuals.
2) Travailing in prayer – what it is and what it is not
3) Swindlers at the altar (Stephen Hills title – so apt I did not want to change it.)
1. Grieving with God over the state of His creation, the church and us as individuals.
I think in looking at the prophecies from Joel, and our little “imagine” session we have touched upon the need for weeping, mourning and crying in repentance for the state of creation, church and individual.
Our personal times of repentant weeping need not be periods of extended sorrow. We can decide to yield to the Spirits revelation and move on in joy into the way He would have us walk. We may however, in His grace, find that He reveals many things throughout our life as He changes us from one degree of glory to another. We need to remain exposed to the Word of God, the heart of God and compliant with His leading.
In respect of grieving with Him over the lost and creation, this is an ongoing process. When we spend time with Father, if we are truly intimate with Him, we need to be a tuned to His heart and grieving over what He wants us to
a) see and weep about,
b) know His desire and ask Him in persistent prayer
c) act upon, if He has placed it within our personal power to effect a change
d) prophetically proclaim the promise and dominion of God into situations
2. Travailing in prayer – What it is & what it is not?
The text of Dutch Sheets in his book on Intercessory Prayer – Chapter 8, adequately covers this. There are many books that cover the subject by Stephen Hill, Cindy Jacobs and Arthur Wallis but I will stick with some nuggets from Dutch for these notes.
a) Travail is an important, if not essential part of intercession, for the lost.
b) It is not defined by groaning, wailing, weeping or hard work – but it may include these.
I personally have found it fascinating and occasionally disturbing to watch manifestations of travailing prayer, and real life childbirth. The outcome of the latter always bought joy. The outcome of the former occasionally left me very uneasy and disturbed. I want to stress that I am not saying the manifestation did not have real significance or real outcomes, I just didn’t see the baby. You see I had fallen into the trap of judging what happening in the spirit by the manifestation in the natural. This is dangerous, judgemental, and a hindrance to God’s work.
What I should be looking for is the fruit born out of Holy Spirit inspired travail, whether that had been a silent prayer, or a noisy intercessor. Both Judas and Esau wept because of their mistakes but it did not change a thing. Peter however, wept after his denial, and entered his destiny of birthing a church.
What was the miracle at Pentecost? The apostles appearing drunk, tongues of fire, speaking in tongues or the salvation of 3000 souls. The birth of the new souls did not depend on the manifestation. I could be excited by the manifestations and desire them, but I would sooner have the birth of new life. Intercessors don’t stop, God change our minds and hearts to accept the manifestation knowing when You are at work we will see new birth
John 7:38 tell’s us that “From our innermost being shall flow through us rivers of living water.” The word for innermost being – koilia – translates “womb”. We are not the giver or creator of life. Just the carriers.
Examples of travailing can be found in
1 Kings 18:41-45 when Elijah prayed for rain
Psalm 126:5-6 sowing in tears – brings new life
Isaiah 66:7,8 – can a nation be born in a day
* John 11 – Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus – new life – revival in its truest sense
Matthew 26:36-39 Jesus agonised over the cup He was to bear in the garden – the ultimate birthing of new life for the church
* Romans 8:26,27 – the Spirit helps us intercede with groanings too deep for words.
Galatians 4:19 – Paul relates how he travailed in prayer for the Galatians
Holy Spirit is involved on all accounts, spiritual reproduction is involved (which is not necessarily the case with repentance after salvation, or mourning), it can be intense and fervent with tears and groaning, it can also be associated with signs following.
I would encourage you to look at these scriptures and see for yourself the creative nature of these prayers and relate them to how Holy Spirit brooded (racaph – hovered over as a husband hovers over his wife a Hebrew reproductive term) over the waters. How Holy Spirit “overshadowed” (episkios the Greek counterpart to racaph), over Mary. Holy Spirit is clearly a creative, reproductive force within the trinity. When He moves on us in prayers of travail we can expect new birth to follow.
3. Swindlers at the altar.
What are they? Who are they? Why do they do it?
Unfortunately there are many of us who sometimes approach the altar demonstrating the will to move on with God, crying and weeping, showing all forms of manifestations, standing and responding to all the altar calls, and then our lives do not demonstrate an everlasting encounter with God.
Praise God, He is merciful, and I am still standing here, and you are sitting there. He tolerates so much and yearns to see us REALLY step into those things we pay lip service too. We should however, maintain a reverent fear and get to grips with some “drop dead theology”.
God does not always allow us to get away with it. God will not be taken in by false tears. He is actually looking for the tears stirred by Holy Spirit. Those that come from conviction of sin. Those that come from our intimate relationship with a caring and grieving God. Its no good making a show of tears if they do not lead us into a change of lifestyle. It’s no good showing tears, wailing and shaking if there is no new birth. God is not fooled.
A defendant in a courtroom may weep, and cry for show to the jury, they may be taken in, but the eternal judge is never taken in. Judgement will be passed on reality, not on our acts. God curses the swindler who makes false and tainted vows (Mal 1:10-14). The church holds a form of godliness but denies the power of the cross, we sing Gods praises but avoid His purity.
Unrepentant tears flow from a swindler caught in the act. A criminal knows ‘don’t get caught’. A Christian should know there are always three witnesses present to everything we do.
God stripped Saul of his kingdom for disobedience to the full word of God, in His instruction to destroy the Amelakites. He offered a tainted sacrifice. It was not acceptable. 1 Samuel 15.
God was displeased with the acts of Ananias and Sapphira. They could not swindle God.
Drop-dead theology is scary stuff. Our knowledge of a Holy and Almighty God should produce a reverent fear. Our very life is in His hands, and yes thankfully He is merciful most of the time, but don’t bank on His tolerance, bank on His grace to enable us please Him.
As we approach revival it would be easy to be swept along with the genuine tears of those who have a life-changing encounter with God. It is good to weep with those that weep. However, let our weeping be genuine and stirred by His Spirit. Tears can be as infectious as a yawn, they have tremendous healing properties. God treasures them; He stores genuine tears in His ocean of love. But you won’t find Judas’s or Esau’s; will you find yours when you get to heaven?
You each have a card from the heart of the Father. He loves your genuine tears. They make you kings and queens in His kingdom. They form a crown when they drop in His ocean of love.
Intercessory Prayer – Dutch Sheets ISBN 0-8307-1900-8
Time to Weep – Stephen Hill ISBN 0-88419-459-0
The Blessing of Tears – Julie Sheldon ISBN 0-340-65200-4
Possessing the Gates of the Enemy – Cindy Jacobs – ISBN 0-551-02652-9
Joel Readings – Appendix One
I am going to read the following collection of verses from Joel’s prophecies. I have been impacted by the fact that God has given the passage “Let the weak say I am strong” for Prayer Week next year. Let us remember at verse sits right in the middle of a time of judgement and harvest, life or death, war and peace. It almost speaks of the final revival, the last chance for Gods creation. As I read ask yourself does this sound like NOW. Is weeping in repentance what the house of God needs? Are agonizing prayers for the lost what God is seeking? Is this our wake up call?
In Joel Chapter 1:5 “Awake, you drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it has been cut off from your mouth.”
1:13-14 “Gird yourselves and lament, you priests; wail, you who minister before the altar; come, lie all night in sackcloth, you who minister to my God; for the grain offering and the drink offering are withheld from the house of your God. Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land, into the house of the Lord you God, and cry out to the Lord.”
2:1-2 “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound the alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming. For it is at hand; a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains…”
v6 “Before them the people writhe in pain; all faces are drained of colour.”
v11 “The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word, for the day of the Lord is great and terrible; who can endure it?”
2:12-13 “Now therefore says the Lord, Turn to Me with all you heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness”
v17 “Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give them the heritage of reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples ‘Where is their God?’”
3:1-2 “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and will enter into My judgement with them there. On account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land. They have cast lots for My people…”
v9-13 “Proclaim this among the nations: ‘Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say ‘I am strong’. Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord. Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow – for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision!”
Accounts of revivals in Wales gone past – Appendix Two
An example of weeping and agonising in prayer before a revival meeting.
Taken from an account of the 1827 revival in Llangefni, referring to the prayers of revivalist John Elias
Mrs. Elias shows a visitor Johns study after his death and explains “This is the place where he bent his knees to pray. I often came to call him to breakfast and found him on his knees. And on this very spot I frequently wiped away a flood of tears. I saw him many times with the tears flowing in stream down his face, and, from mere awe and reverence, I was not able to say a word … on a journey to Bangor in horse and carriage, John once threw the reins to me as we drew near the town, fell down on his knees praying fervently, the tears flowing down his cheeks.”
A further example weeping and agonising within the house of God, by Evan Roberts in 1904, Loughor
One eye witness said of the famous Evan Roberts in Wales that it was not the eloquence of Evan Roberts that broke men down, but his tears. “He would break down, crying bitterly for God to bend them, in an agony of prayer, the tears coursing down his cheeks, with his whole frame writhing. Strong men would break down and cry like children … a sound of weeping and wailing would fill the air.”
An account of weeping by the lost falling under conviction, in Bala in 1792 under Thomas Charles
“New conquests are made, and fresh captives are continually brought in, and those in general, the most wild and abandoned that we had in the neighbourhood. I can hardly believe my eyes sometimes, when I see in our chapel those, who were the most faithful servants of Satan, weeping, in the greatest distress, under a sense of sin and danger, and crying out for mercy. The work here is a very gracious work.
We can read over and over again that weeping was an integral part of revival. The language may be strange, but there is a clear indication that both saints and sinners found themselves in tears in the awesome presence of an Almighty Holy God.
There was such agony in prayer that God would be merciful to the “servants of Satan”.
Such travail that bought them from a place of judgement to the very mercy seat of Father God. There were tears shed by the church in repentance for the way they grieved their Father and a determination to change to be holy and wholly devoted to His service. Wailing and tears were shed by those who found their Saviour, as a result of the labours, and determination of the “revivalist”.
Imagine an Intimate Encounter with God – Appendix Three
How many of us love the fact that we can enter the very throne room of God with confidence? Don’t we love it when He invites us to draw near and is so merciful towards us and lets us touch Him? He speaks with us. He melts our hearts with His gaze of love towards us. We know that He desires our company and loves our worship. It’s awesome.
Let us take a momentary break from adoration that centres on what He has done, is doing and desires for us as individuals or a church. Let us invite Him to reveal more of Himself to us. Let us invite Him to put His arm around us as we lean our heads on His chest and listen to His heartbeat as He whispers to us the things He feels about His creation. Imagine Him saying;
“My child come up here for a while and sit by My side. Lean your head on My chest and let Me put My arm around you. Listen to my heartbeat and let it soothe you a while. REST for a moment because I want to reveal something to you. Close your eyes and think about Me. You are safe here in My presence. My Son has made you welcome by His blood.
Now look at My creation and listen to My heart. See here it is resting in the palm of My hands. I always keep it close by My side. I watch it every second of every day. I love it you see, it is My own work. There are people down there I want to fellowship with, I would love to dwell amongst some of them, but they never hear Me or look up.
Its just like the days of Noah when I saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, just like today, and even then every intent of the hearts of man was towards evil continually. And I was sorry that I had made man on the earth, and I was grieved of heart. Oh how I ache for them to return. (Genesis 6:5-6)
So great is My grieving, you can probably hear My groans. I want to go down there and walk with them, but they don’t want to know. My perfect creation is still being spoilt, they will not let Me come down and be in their midst. Oh how I love them, will they not turn. Turn. Turn. My children COME BACK TO ME.
Child what shall I do? Shall I close My hand and crush this creation and start again? Shall I open the floodgates of heaven to destroy? What’s that you say. Oh yes I promised. Well is it the time for the final judgement? Was My Sons visit to yield so little? SON what’s your bride doing at the moment? The wedding feast is nearly ready. Has your bride made all her preparations. Are there any more saints to come here and share this grief with Me for a while? My creation is dying, He cries. Who will deliver My Sons healing?
Child it is time to go and carry on the work. I am coming with you. Let Me look at you before we go. You know – there is a lot more growing to be done, I have so much more planned and purposed for you. Take a look in the mirror here, yes its Jesus, he’ll reveal to you who you will be. Do you see any black spots? I had a brother of yours here recently, Mike, he keeps coming back to see how the work is progressing. I love it when My children do that.
Turn around child and look at the church. Is My Sons bride ready? Has she dressed in spotless, wrinkle free gowns? Does she anxiously keep checking her appearance in the mirror. Is she watching for My Sons return, or is she flirting with world’s way of correctness and tolerance. Go back and encourage her to get ready. I cannot stand the pain of waiting much longer. Tell her to weep so I can collect those tears. They are the treasure that softens the dirt for My Sons blood to cleanse and make spotless My creation.
Cry with Me, My child, this creation is Mine, and I will perfect its worship of Me.