Covenant Power

By Francis Frangipane

It is right to pray for the Lord to bless and protect our lives. However, praying for the blessing and provision of God is not the same as covenanting with Him. A covenant is an altar upon which the Lord and His covenant partner give themselves fully to each other.

If you have given your life to Christ, you entered into the benefits and power that were released during Jesus' covenant with the Father (see Luke 23). In that covenant between the Father and the Son, we are forgiven, cleansed and made new. Yet, we have not covenanted with God, Jesus did. We receive the consequences of Christ's covenant.

God desires that we enter into covenant with Him. This is not instead of the New Covenant, but it is an expression of our relationship with Him. A covenant relationship with God does not cease once our prayers have been answered. In covenant love we mature from simply being "believers" in prayer to becoming living sacrifices given to God's highest purposes. By so yielding, He creates within us a life that He can use extraordinarily in the process of divine redemption.

Covenant power is greater than that which comes through prayer alone. Indeed, the effects of a covenant reach far beyond simple faith. Prayer and faith are essentials; they are prerequisites, but not substitutes, for covenant power.

Thus, a covenant relationship is a extended pledge between two partners. It is an unbreakable oath which God Himself initiates and then promises to sustain, even giving a unique and enduring grace to His covenant partner. Contained within His promise is His unalterable commitment not only to fulfill His highest plan of redemption, but to also supply grace and faith to His human counterpart along the way. Together, the All-Sufficient God and a believing man accomplish the impossible through their covenant relationship.

Power Released in a Covenant
A covenant with God accomplishes two interconnected goals. It thrusts us beyond "subjective prayer" (prayer made primarily for our personal needs) and brings us into a deeper commitment to God. Out of greater commitment comes greater grace to accomplish God's redemptive work in the world.

An example of covenant power is seen in ancient Israel during the revival that occurred after Athaliah, an idolatrous Judean queen, was dethroned. Jehoiada, the high priest, looked to God in covenant prayer. We read, "Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord's people" (2 Kings 11:17).

Did not Israel already have a covenant with God through Moses? Yes, but it was a biblical practice that individuals at various times made special covenants with the Almighty. The result of Jehoiada's covenant was that grace came upon the people and they cleansed the land of idolatry. We read, "So all the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet" (v. 20). Jehoiada's covenant brought the nation back to God and ended violence in Jerusalem!

Consider also the power released in Hezekiah's covenant with the Lord. The nation of Judah had been fully corrupted by Ahaz, the preceding king. However, Hezekiah began his reign by seeking God's highest favor. He opened the doors of the temple, cleansed it and reconsecrated the priests.

Yet, the purification of priests and buildings would not have brought about revival had not Hezekiah taken one further step. He said, "Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His burning anger may turn away from us" (2 Chronicles 29:10). Just eight days after the king made a covenant with the Lord, we read, "Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people, because the thing came about suddenly" (v. 36).

Often, the difference between a long-term struggle to bring a nation around and a speedy recovery was in the power released when the king covenanted with the Almighty. Keep in mind that Judah was apostate in its religious practices, witchcraft was practiced by the former king, and demonic idols had been placed in the Holy of Holies. Yet, covenant power triggered a national revival that "came about suddenly."

As Americans, it is vital we remember that our spiritual forefathers were a people who knew and exercised principles of covenant sacrifice. When the Puritans came to this country, they knelt on its shores and covenanted with God for this land. They dedicated this "new world" to Christ and His kingdom. They were covenant people who understood the destiny of God for this nation. It is unlikely that the revival of America will come without local and national church leaders covenanting together with God for the redemption of our land.

Covenants With God For Our Times
A personal covenant with God is a serious commitment, worthy of extended prayer and waiting before God. It is not to be taken superficially or without caution. Still, at Christ's bidding, I have covenanted with Him to see the body of Christ delivered of carnal divisions and racism, that Christ's prayer of John, chapter 17, may be answered.

What does this covenant signify to me? It means that my life is not my own. It has been absorbed into something much more powerful: the will of God. It also means that when I pray, there is a power attached to my intercession that works to dismantle strongholds of religious and cultural pride in the church.

I have also united my life and faith with the covenants of our pilgrim forefathers. Together with a number of other brethren, both locally and nationally, we have covenanted with the Almighty to see this land restored according to Second Chronicles 7:14.

There will be a time when this nation, like all nations, becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15). Until then, whether revival comes quickly or we pass through the fires of divine judgments, our lives belong to Christ - not simply to be blessed or made prosperous, but to see His highest purposes accomplished in our land.

Not everyone will covenant with God for the nation. Some will unite with the Lord for their families. Others will covenant with God to see abortion ended in their cities. Still others will make a covenant with God for the church, to see the Lord's house built in their cities.

Making a covenant with God takes us further into our goal of Christlikeness. It is the highest relationship we can enjoy with God; it is that which brings Him the most pleasure. To those who covenant with God, He says, "Gather My godly ones to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice" (Psalm 50:5).

Lord, open our hearts to the joy and wonder, the sobriety and fear, of a covenant relationship with You. Lead us, O King, out of the superficial and into the supernatural. Lead us into a covenant with You for our times and nation! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Repentance Precedes Revival

By Francis Frangipane

A true revival does not just happen. There are conditions that must reside in the human heart before the Lord visits His people.

We Must Want Deliverance, Not Just Relief
Too often, ministries today seek to deliver people who are unwilling to repent of sins, who have not cried in their heart to God for help. The effect is that those prayed for may receive limited relief, but they soon fall back into sin and oppression. The key to successful deliverance is to discern if an individual is ready and willing to be released before we minister deliverance. Are they repentant? Have they put away their idols? Is their heart truly turning toward God?

God's pattern for us as individuals is also His pattern for the church and the city. Even as the Lord did not deliver us until we cried for help, so the war for our churches and cities will not be won until a significant number of us are crying to God in prayer. Christ's purpose in bringing the citywide church to prayer is to provide the proper heart attitudes to which the Almighty can respond.

Without the substructure of prayer and crying before God, deliverance, "binding and loosing" and other forms of spiritual warfare are significantly limited. Deliverance, according to Scripture, is the last stage of a process that began when a person's abhorrence for his present condition led him to cry to God for help.

The Deliverers
The Old Testament reveals God's pattern for deliverance and revival: In answer to the prayers and sufferings of His people, the Lord raised up deliverers. They were individuals who were anointed and empowered by God to defeat Israel's oppressors.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of these deliverers was never based upon their own worthiness or credentials. While they were uniquely sent by God, their arrival was synchronized with Israel's repentance. No repentance; no deliverance. As Israel cried to God, the deliverers were commissioned and anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit.

The essence of this Old Testament pattern for renewal can be applied to us in our day. We may not see actual "deliverers" as much as we will see revival emerge in those cities where prayer and repentance is deep and widespread.

Again, looking at the Israel model, national sin brought defeat and dominance by foreign powers. With foreign domination came the worship of demons and the complete seduction of Israel's heart by the enemy. As Israel blatantly defied God's laws, so came the economic, cultural and physical collapse of the nation. Where once the people enjoyed the blessing of God, now despair and misery dwelt upon the land.

It was in this context of suffering, of people genuinely and deeply crying to God, that the Lord raised up deliverers. These individuals led a repentant Israel into victory over their oppressors. As true worship was established, national peace and prosperity followed.

It should be noted that the route to revival was not set according to a timetable; it was not precisely scheduled. No one can forecast how long judgment might last or when repentance has so excavated the heart of sinful man that God is satisfied. This one fact will be true: The time it takes will always be longer than we expect. The determining factor is the acknowledgment of sin and the return to God. Once the core of the nation was securely turned toward God, healing for their land  followed.

Nehemiah speaks of this pattern of repentance preceding national deliverance. He prayed:

"Therefore Thou didst deliver them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, but when they cried to Thee in the time of their distress, Thou didst hear from heaven, and according to Thy great compassion Thou didst give them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors."   Nehemiah 9:27

We must not hurry this process nor be frustrated if our prayers do not immediately activate divine intervention. The Lord is waiting for the nation to break beneath the weight of its rebellion. Yet, in this we should be encouraged: Our intercession is the first fruits of what is destined to become a national response to the Almighty!

There may be, at times, flurries of spiritual activity, but before a national revival will come, there will be a nation crying to God. This period is called "the time of their distress," and it is not consummated in revival until the nation has been crying unto the Lord for a number of years.

Man's Misery, God's Heart
In the book of Judges this pattern occurs time and again. While Israel tumbled deeper into sin, God waited for the burden and consequences of Israel's sin to humble their souls. He waited to bring them back to Himself.

Yet, the Lord was not aloof from Israel's sorrows. Even when they were in rebellion, He felt their sufferings. When the Lord "could bear the misery of Israel no longer" (Judges 10:16), He sent them deliverers. The misery and desperation of Israel readied them for God.

We see this pattern in the Lord's encounter with Moses in Exodus. The Redeemer said,

"I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them."  Exodus 3:7-8

Notice the Lord saw the affliction of His people; He heard their cries; He knew their sufferings. God is never far from the plight of mankind. In truth, He bears the misery of our society: Our distresses distress Him; our suffering becomes His sorrow.

Returning to our text in Exodus, observe also that it was not merely their prayers which God heard; He heard their cries. It is one thing to pray about a need, quite another to weep over it. It is those who mourn whom God comforts.

The Lord knew their afflictions and their sufferings. The prayer to which God responds is a constant cry, often born out of "afflictions" and "sufferings," as is occurring today in parts of Africa and Asia.

Perhaps the Lord has not fully answered us because our prayers are still comfortably contained within a schedule. In 1970 I came to Christ during the Charismatic Renewal.  This move of God  began in the constant, "day and night" cry of a million mothers. This was not the result of a mere hour of prayer; it emerged out of the continual cry of mothers (and fathers) who were deeply troubled about their children's involvement with drugs and rebellion. Their prayer was not a religious discipline, it was the heartthrob of their existence. Without the sophisticated machinery of spiritual warfare, the tears and weeping of their unceasing intercession prevailed before God, and He rescued their children.

Perhaps what delays revival in our times is that we are troubled, but we are not afflicted by the conditions of our society; though saddened, we are not yet weeping.

It must be acknowledged, however, that a growing number of God's people have truly surrendered to the vulnerability of Christ's compassions. They bear in their intercessions not only the needs of the people but the pain of the people as well. They are laying down their reputations, their jobs, yes, even their lives to see the sins of our society cleansed.

Although still a minority, these intercessors carry in their souls the anguish of their cities. They hear the cry of the oppressed; they know the suffering of both the unborn and the born. God is ready to respond to their prayer. Out of the womb of their distress, God shall bring forth deliverance.

The praying church should not limit the length of its dedication to intercession. God is looking for a life of prayer, not just a season. If the duration of time required to bring change can stop us, it is obvious that the preparatory work in our hearts is not deep enough to draw divine intervention.

How does all this relate to revival? Spiritual renewal is the only antidote for our cities and our nation. It is God's answer to all who cry unceasingly to Him for help.

Lord, forgive us for wanting relief instead of deliverance, for looking for shortcuts instead of Your perfect will. Master, we know that Your heart cannot refuse the genuine cry of the afflicted, that You cannot long bear the misery of Your people without acting on our behalf. So, we cry to You today! Send the rain of Your presence back to us! Cleanse us from our lusts for comfort and apathy. Bring us to the place where You can honor Your integrity and bring revival to our land! For Your glory we pray. Amen.