Like Ezekiel of old who sat in the valley filled with old bones, we were sitting in a great cemetery filled with gravestones that marked the resting place of hundreds of Moravian saints. These nearly forgotten prayer warriors had pioneered some of the richest and most daring missionary work in the history of the Church, but on this day all was silent.
Drawn there by a prophetic mission on that pleasant afternoon in February of 1993, 19 intercessors, including my wife, Michal Ann, and myself, paused for prayer before completing our walk through the cemetery. Our goal was to reach the wooden prayer tower overlooking the cemetery and the Moravian village of Herrnhut, which is located on the southeastern border of Germany, across from Poland and the Czech Republic. While sitting in the cemetery during that time of somber prayer, the Lord spoke to my heart, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I responded with the same answer given by Ezekiel thousands of years before me, “Sovereign Lord, You alone know.”
Moments later, we quietly left the cemetery and climbed the hill to the prayer tower. After I unlocked the door, we climbed a spiral staircase to the circular mezzanine at the top of the Moravian watchtower. From that vantage point, we could see far beyond the borders of eastern Germany into the neighboring Czech Republic and Poland, but some invisible hand seemed to draw us all away from simply viewing. As we silently gathered together in a loose circle, we could sense a weightiness and deep anticipation growing in our hearts. Something was about to happen.
Suddenly, every person in the tower was overwhelmed with a compelling spirit of intercession unlike anything we had ever experienced. As we prayed, agonized, and groaned under the obvious influence of the Holy Spirit, a strong wind suddenly blew about the tower where we were standing, whipping away hats and scarves in its power. We all knew that this natural phenomenon was an outward manifestation of a mighty movement by the Spirit of God.
As one person, we were gripped in deep, groaning travail. We knew what was happening. We had traveled tens of thousands of miles as a team and experienced incredible provision and guidance all along our journey to fulfill the Holy Spirit’s command. Our mission was to seek God for the anointing of the spirit of prayer that once rested upon the Moravian community of faith. Now, just as the prophet Ezekiel called forth the winds of God in Ezekiel 37, we had called forth the winds of God’s anointing, and that wind was blowing among us. We sensed that it bore with it the same anointing that God once gave to the Moravian prayer warriors of the eighteenth century!
When the wind died down, we waited. Was our mission complete? Was it over as quickly as it began? Somehow we all knew that God wasn’t finished with us yet. We confirmed it later, but at the time we sensed that as a woman in the midst of giving birth, we were in a lull between “contractions.” Suddenly, we were hit spontaneously as one person with an even stronger spirit of travail, and a second wind began to roar across the valley and up the prayer tower mezzanine where we were positioned. I sensed that this second wind had brought a new wave of faith and anointing to fulfill a holy mandate to blow this spirit of prayer out into the nations.
Immediately, I felt an impression “light up” inside of me that God wanted to raise up the “house of prayer for all nations” in 120 cities, just as He breathed His Spirit into the 120 prayer warriors on the day of Pentecost (see Matt. 21:13; Acts 2). From those 120 cities of prayer, God intended to cover the earth with His glory.
Just as those 120 believers tarrying in the upper room in Jerusalem on Pentecost were “baptized in fire” by the Holy Spirit of promise, so those who answer God’s call to tarry before His face will also be baptized with a holy fire. The group of Moravian believers who gathered at Herrnhut to pursue their dream of religious freedom were in much the same state as most Christians are today. They came from widely diverse religious backgrounds. During the first five years of their communal existence after the community’s founding in 1722, they experienced bickering, dissension, and strife. They were no better or worse than you or I, but they made a deep commitment to Jesus Christ and to prayer, which transformed and changed them forever. They began to think God-sized thoughts and feel a burning, God-like compassion for the lost. They received supernatural faith to tackle challenges that would, in many cases, cost them their freedom or their very lives. Yet, they did it all in faithfulness and joy.
The Moravians changed the world because they allowed God to change them. God wants to change the world again and He is looking at you and me. Are you willing to seek the same fire that inspired the Moravian believers two centuries ago? I believe that God wants to see a whole generation of humble, priestly people rise up with the passion and anointing to lay hold of God as He has laid hold of them.
- James W. Goll, author of The Lost Art of Intercession