I left the evangelical church in my early thirties but not before having some very profound and life-changing spiritual experiences. I served for a short time as the college minister at the “fastest-growing” Baptist church in Texas near Dallas.
College ministries during the early nineties were challenging to grow and maintain. University students have freedom of choice, and that customarily means no more church! They usually have a car, and it gets pointed anywhere but to Sunday service! To attract young, twenty-something adults, you’ve got to have more than the average, tired religious talk.
My late wife Lisa and I grew this ministry from three students to over one hundred in fifty in about four months. We went to college campuses and simply invited people to come and hear a different take on Jesus than they’d ever heard before. We also did something else a little unusual for Baptists in that we invited everybody. No matter their race, sexual orientation, number of piercings, or tattoos – even purple and blue hair was welcome. We believed Jesus really does love everybody.
Evangelicals seriously enjoy talking about “revival.” What this means in practical terms is a fresh filling of the Spirit of God. You’ve been a tired sack-of-shit these past few months – now a “fire and brimstone” evangelist is going to come through and preach some God back into you! There are books full of revival stories that tell of God moving among the people where many miracles are performed; folks are healed etc. These events are much less common today as many denominations have turned their backs on God in favor of materialism.
I was discussing prayer recently with one of my spiritual children. I was explaining to them that whenever someone crosses your mind, whatever your intention is for them at that moment, that is your prayer for the person in question. Prayer is simply the projection of your intentions. If you focus your intentions, then it becomes a “fervent” prayer.
Christ says in the scripture (paraphrasing), “If two of you get together in my nature (meaning surrendered to God’s will in every way), you can ask God for whatever you want and be assured that you will get it.” Jesus explains the power of directed intention. With just two souls, it’s mighty. With more than a handful of souls, it is unstoppable.
What started occurring in our college ministry were longer and longer meetings where these young people wanted to worship and pray. Read that again – they WANTED to do it. NOT because they were trying to impress me or anyone else. God was genuinely moving in their lives. I’ve never witnessed anything like it before or since in a church. Many incredible things happened, and all the credit to Christ!
On most nights, I would teach Jesus for forty-five minutes to an hour. Then another hour or so of worship (singing) would follow. That would then merge into a prayer time with no set end. Our song leaders would continue to play guitar softly and sing while people prayed out loud as they felt led by God to do so. Within a few weeks, we were praying for three to four hours a night, two to three nights a week. Meetings would sometimes be at the church and other times at church member’s homes. There were always several adults present as well.
The satisfying thing for me personally was that the ministry took on a life of its own. People were genuinely caring about one another and helping each other make important life decisions. They were holding each other accountable in love. They were walking away from harmful situations. Never in any other evangelical church setting have I felt the presence of God so profoundly as during these few months of revival we experienced in North Texas.
Sometimes one person would pray out loud, leading the entire group. At other times you could hear many people praying throughout the whole room. On occasion, the “hum” would sound like every voice in attendance was praying at one time. It was challenging to be in the room without tears. The Spirit of God was just that thick.
Our meeting space was a portable building out behind the church that would comfortably seat thirty to forty. Some nights we’d pack in seventy or eighty. One night it was literally wall-to-wall. We had been praying a few days for the brother of a young man in the group. We’ll call him Cory. His brother described him as a very violent alcoholic with a hard heart and no interest whatsoever in God.
We were well into the prayer portion of the service – maybe an hour or more. By that time, every spot on the floor was filled. Indeed, every person in the building was down on their face in invocation! There was a pause in the prayer time that lasted a few seconds, broken by a prayer for Cory. I don’t remember precisely what was said, but I do remember the beauty and selfless nature of the oration. She cried something like, “God show Cory that you love him no matter what! Show Cory he can have your love now – it’s not necessary for him to change or to earn your Love God!”
When she stopped, another voice took over, praying for Cory right where she left off. Then another and another. Maybe it was eight or ten different people – but not me. I’m down on my face, and I’ve not looked up. I’m crying at the love being poured out for this absolute stranger that nobody knew except for his brother.
All of a sudden, I sense this dreadful feeling like I’m being watched. I open my eyes and lift my head gently. When I do, there are a massive pair of motorcycle boots right in front of my head! Whomever they belonged to had walked into the room, stepping across many people, to stand directly over me! Starting to look up, I see he is entirely dressed in black from head to toe. As my eyes catch his, I can see his face is full of tears.
As person after person cried out, “God show Cory your Love!” he wept silently more and more. That’s when I realized it was Cory who was standing over me.
He would later tell us that he was sitting in a bar across town contemplating suicide. While completely drunk (certainly WAY too drunk to drive), he said a voice told him to come to our church because there were people there that loved him. He walked into our portable building just as folks had started to pray for him.
Please believe me when I say your intention is powerful. There are no “random” or “meaningless” thoughts. Every intention you feel you send out into the universe. If you learn how to combine your intention with others, you can manifest anything you desire – just like Jesus said. Not only are your prayers heard, but every single one of them, without exception, is answered.
Your intentions are all that matter, for they create the heaven or hell in which you find yourself in this present moment. Use them wisely.