My friend’s father was a wayward pastor. He ran from a false accusation when pastoring a ministry very strict about its rules of behavior. Working on a house, he put a white pencil in his mouth while measuring a board to be cut to size, and a church leader, driving by, thought it was a cigarette. This escalated into an “I saw it don’t call me a liar” fight when he denied it.
He ran, leaving several children and his wife. At the time of the story, he had made no contact with them for more than seven years.
They lived at the Bible school where I studied the entire Bible verse by verse for three years. I knew the children, and two of the boys, in particular, were my friends, studying for the ministry, and supporting their mother.
During a revival time that fell upon the school, we all met one night in the chapel, with permission to pray all night, because we said, “We are not leaving the chapel until ‘we pray through’ on Paul’s daddy coming home.” “Praying through” is another way of describing prevailing prayer that brings a person to the place in the spirit at which they know the answer has come, and they stop praying.
We had no worship music playing. We walked, knelt, and lay on the floor praying. About two hours into the prayer time, one of the sons rolled under the front row of seats and went into travail.
Travailing in prayer is a part of prevailing prayer. The groan of intercession comes upon a person, and they fell the physical sensation of heaviness that requires them to groan as if giving birth.
My friend stayed in this groan himself for about five hours, and the groan came upon all of us who were praying so that the chapel walls were stained with sounds of several young men travailing in prayer, barely able to say a word or two without making sensible sounds or praying whole sentences
After the groaning began, a significant shift came into the room when the groan of God joined the groaning of intercessors. The atmosphere was filled with Him, heavy as the heaviness, full as the full feeling in our chests, weighty as sandbags on our entire bodies. We were either on the floor, leaning over the altar, or sitting with our heads in our hands.
Suddenly, like a window opened and blew a fresh breeze over us, lifting a heavy wet blanket that was covering all us, the groan stopped, and my friend rolled out and said, “Dad is coming home.”
We all went back to the dorms or homes and went to sleep.
The phone rang at 5 AM, only a couple of hours or so after we left the chapel, and his dad spoke to his wife for the first time in more than seven years. He called her by name and asked if he could come home. She wept and said, “Yes, please come home,”
He did, and he returned to the Lord and his ministry.
Birthing in the Spirit
When we groan, God groans. This groan is not contrived or learned from a book. This groan begins with our own groaning. We get pregnant in the Spirit. We give birth
Private or Public?
Such groaning is rare in public, but not in private. Whether or not it should be public is God’s decision. Whether or not we enter into that place of pregnancy is our decision, our yielding to intercession with a strength of will to prevail.
To speak of these holy things without awe is blasphemous. I mean nothing religious at all when I say that playing with the secret place is to trifle with intimacy with God, an unspeakable dishonor to Holy Spirit. Grieving Him can occur in other ways, but treating what I am describing as a parlor game or mocking such a holy moment is a dangerous consideration.
Not everyone is ready for pregnancy. Not everyone can bear the pressure. Many will abort. Many will take spiritual birth control to avoid stretch marks and ruining their figures. Many will tell you up front they have no room in their lives for children produced by intercession.
Those that do seldom speak of it any more than a married couple gives the public access to their sacred marriage bed. It is far too hallowed a place to be cheapened to the level of whorehouse talk. One does not talk about the pregnancy like writing on a bathroom wall about “for a good time, call.”
Most of what I see in worship sessions falls far short of intimacy as I am describing it. It is a recreational infatuation with the experience of worship about the same level as reading romance books with pictures of men and women with perfect tans and impossible skin tones. It is not worship released but worship experience vicariously, nearly to the point of being spiritual voyeurism. (I speak carefully here but intentionally that we are near the line of mocking what is holy in heaven with entertainment substitutions for authentic worship.)
The kind of worship that occurs in the closet births worship in public that blends intercession and worship together so that we cannot tell the difference between the two. The rejoicing we often cop to becomes available after victory is won. It is as sweet as honey that brightens the eyes. Without worship in the closet, corporate worship has little hope of reaching this level of intimacy.
In this way, I would say that much of the falling upon the ground that revival once produced was preparation for revival intercession. God was teaching us to yield, not to play. When the party animals invade revival, and the entire public display of hippie-kiyah and high-five that was a good one invade, we know someone forgot to raise some adults in the spirit for the real reason God was moving.
This whole come and down and get some always comes from the mouth of a man shallow of soul and loose in morals — no one who has learned honor for the closet bonds with that kind of hype.
The groan is back! Whether Holy Spirit wants us to birth in public yet, I do not know. I would be careful to exploit the discerned and discovered with any shallow hype. I would give my leadership time to developing some adults who understand the protocols of Glory and the honor for the secret place.
I do not parade my groaning like a strutting young stallion proving his virality with the girls. A married man finds himself whole with his wife, requiring no validation for what it is too beautiful and holy for public consumption. Only the shallow, crass, and immature splash about in the shallows in a vain attempt to prove their manhood.
It is not that I am ashamed of birthing. It is not that I fear someone will see me bent over groaning in birth. Like Elijah, I may have someone near that I can send to see if it is raining. It is just something that begins in secret that adults find no reason to video with an iPhone for social media consumption.
It would be casting pearls in the mud to be trampled. For only those that prize the closet so much they neglect pursuits that attract other people can understand the call to the birthing.