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Last night (Oct 25), I went to the Billy Graham crusade in Oakland, California. It was incredible. From the moment I walked in the stadium, God did things to orchestrate a wonderful evening for me. For starters, He put me in the counselor's line (they have counselors line up for their assignments) next to a woman name Monique. We clicked and became instant "best friends". We had so much fun together. And we ended up with incredible seats... front row center.. directly across from the platform. And it was "youth night" with DC Talk Michael W Smith each giving a concert and there was a group of really fun loving teenagers in our area. It was so fun. At one point, a divine restlessness came over me and I got up and went outside and walked around the whole coliseum, praying and interceding. Then (about 40 minutes later) the restlessness left me and I went back in and had more fun.... right up to the moment they gave the altar call and I went up to be a counselor. They it was beyond fun.... I got to counsel two teenagers from Nevada. They saved their money to fly out from Nevada to come to this concert, spending the night in a hotel in Oakland and flying home the next day. One had never accepted Christ before and came forward as a first time salvation. The other came forward to rededicate her life to the Lord. What a delight! God brought them all the way from Nevada to get them into a close/personal relationship with Him!!! Being a counselor at this Billy Graham crusade was an awesome experience!
They told me that about 50,000 people attended the Crusade on Satuday night and over 7,000 of them make decisions for Christ! Powerful stuff! I was so excited when I got home that I was simply beside myself. I could not get to sleep for a while and spent a long time just praying and worshipping.
I guess I expected today to be just like yesterday. But God had other plans. The crusade did not start until 4:00 PM, but I was instructed to be there no later than 1:00 PM. I ended up in a group of counselors that I did not click with, a seating assignment I did not like and I was feeling sort of discouraged and frustrated. I actually toyed with the idea of just going home and skipping the crusade. So I got up and walked around and prayed silently, asking the Lord what I should do. I felt decidedly unspiritual for being frustrated. After all, I wanted to have a really good attitude and a servants heart. So why was I feeling upset? I felt like I should just go home and forget about counseling at today's crusade. But I had been so sure the Lord had wanted me there before I left the house in the morning. It was sort of a confusing tangle of emotions.
So, I went off to a quite place and prayed for a few minutes. I started by repenting for these bad attitudes that seemed to be creeping in. I offered the day to the Lord and invited Him to use me however He wanted to.
Almost as a response to my prayer, I got this impression that the enemy had assigned several demons to try and hamper the workers.. counselors, ushers, etc, by making them frustrated and discouraged. It was a small number of demons compared to the number of people who are working at the crusade, as the enemy does not have unlimited resources.
I had this mental picture of the demons lining up, similar to how they line up counselors, waiting for their assignments. I had been one of the first counselors there, so I been an assignment for one of the demons. The picture of the demons lined up waiting for assignments (or crusade workers to try to discourage) was so absurd that I started laughing out loud.
"Lord", I prayed, "I don't know if that was my imagination running wild, or if You were really showing me something in the spirit. If the demons are really interfering this way, please come in Your power and cancel their assignments and chase them away. And if I've got one assigned to me, please get rid of it for me. Amen."
Not a particularly powerful prayer, but my attitude changed. Instead of being frustrated and critical, I decided to go make myself useful. I went to the table where the ushers get their assignments and asked if they needed any help. They said that they were too short of counselors to use any of them as ushers and that I should just concentrate on being a counselor today. I felt a bit discouraged that they would not let me help. So I decided to go check out the choir area, as one of my friends was in the choir. Maybe I could run into her and fellowship for a little while.
Everyone in the choir was required to purchase this green golf-style T-shirt, and the ushers wore maroon ones. I passed the table where they were selling green shirts to any choir members who had not gotten theirs yet. There was a table next to it selling the usher shirts... Now I'm basically a cheapskate and would never dream of paying $17.50 for a T-shirt. But suddenly I felt strongly impressed to purchase one of the maroon T-shirts. I wondered if they would sell it to me since I was not an usher, but I asked anyhow. It turned out that he was more than happy to sell it to me (apparently counselors are allowed to wear the maroon shirts as well). So I asked if they had any size "medium" left. He had exactly one left, and he teasingly said that the Lord had saved it just for me.... which turned out to be a prophetic statement.
Well, I went to the woman's restroom to try on the shirt. It fit perfectly. While I was trying it on, a woman came up who was an usher and had another tag on as well... it said "On-Site Prayer". That caught my interest, because I was hoping to get together with some intercessors and go pray. I asked her if she was an intercessor. She said yes and asked if I was one as well. I said yes and she invited me to be a part of the on-site prayer team. I got a strong inner witness that this was what I was supposed to do. So she led me through this maze of back passages to where the prayer room was... I did not even know they had an intercession room for the crusade. If I had known and went looking for it, I would never have found it on my own. But this woman led me right to it. Two women were sitting at a desk. They had me sign in and gave me an On-Site Prayer badge. It was about 2:45 PM. They told me to come back at 3:30, as that was when corporate intercession would begin.
Since I had three quarters of an hour, I decided to walk around and pray. This powerful anointing came on me and I had a great time praying... I sort of wandered around the area near where the prayer room was located. Before I knew it, I was in the Oakland Raiders locker room. (Of course, none of the Oakland Raiders were in there at that time :) An anointing hit me and I suddenly found myself praying regarding this team.. that God would bring them to know him and then change their image from a mean team to a group of men who know God and are committed to Him. I prayed in there for a while and then the Spirit led me somewhere else to pray. The Lord kept showing me things to pray.
The time just flew by and before I knew it, it was time for the corporate intercession to begin. So I went to the prayer room. As I was walking in, the Lord told me that I was only to stay in corporate intercession for an hour, and then I was to go prayer walk around the stadium. I went in. They started with some brief instructions and said that any of us who felt led to prayer walk could go do so at any time. Seemed like a confirmation to me. I did not know it then, but that prayer walk was going to be an incredible series of divine appointments....
The first 55 minutes of corporate prayer went really fast and there was a wonderful anointing on it. Then I started to feel restless again. I asked the Lord why I felt restless and He answered that I was supposed to be out prayer walking. We had broken into small groups of 4 to pray. Our group had just finished praying, but not all of the other groups were done. It seemed like the perfect time to make an unobtrusive exit.
The hallway near the prayer-room had changed. Instead of being an empty hall, there were several security people. They all had headphones and were talking to each other and there was a lot of activity. Apparently Dr Graham had just come into the stadium and was in one of the rooms off of this hallway.
One of the security people approached me and started to ask me what I was doing there, saw my "on-site prayer badge" and changed his mind. He said something to his buddy about "Oh, she's allowed... she's one of the prayer people."
'Interesting!' I thought. I sort of got the impression that God wanted me back in this hallway praying. But I was not sure exactly what to pray about. So I began walking up and down this long hallway, praying quietly in tongues. Each time I passed a security person, they would look at me, see my badge and then leave me alone. A bit of an intensity came over me... a longing for souls to know Jesus. I found the security people a bit distracting, so I closed my eyes and continued slowly walking up and down the hall, crying out to the Lord for people to come to know Him. I must have looked really weird to these security people, most of whom probably were not saved. I'm not the type who enjoys doing weird looking things or having people think I'm nuts. But the Lord was on me with an intensity to pray, so I made a conscious decision to ignore the security people and pray as I felt led. As soon as I made that decision, I did not feel uncomfortable any more. That intensity stayed on me for about 10 minutes and I just kept walking back and forth along the hallway praying.
Then the intensity left me and I felt like I was supposed to go pray by the choir. The choir were seated in a part of the stadium that was directly behind the platform. The main walkway was at the top of the section they were seated in. As I walked past the choir, there was a table with some extra choir song books laying on it. I felt impressed to pick one up and carry it with me, so I did. I went over and stood in the aisle next to the top of the soprano section. There were some ushers standing there, with the same maroon T-shirt I was wearing. So I figured it was OK to be there... even though I was not in green.
Ok Lord, what now?
Just then worship began to well up within me. I used to be in a choir many years ago. Suddenly, one of the songs we used to sing in that choir came flooding into my mind. I could hear the song in my head (words and music) as clearly as if I was listening to a tape on a walkman. I found myself silently mouthing the words to that song. Just then the choir stood up and began singing.. the very same song that I suddenly remembered in such intimate detail. I had been a soprano in that choir and for some reason I remembered this song as clearly as if I'd just rehearsed it. So I went ahead and sang along with the choir. (I was not actually standing in the choir section, but was in the top of the aisle just the other side of where the soprano section ended -- I was only three feet away from the nearest soprano). As we got to the end of the song, they had a different ending than I'd learned. I flipped open the songbook that I happened to be holding -- and it fell to exactly where they were in that song... since I can more or less read music, I was able to sing the ending with them.
Boy that was fun and unexpected. I got to sing with the choir!! Wow!!! This was turning into a great day.
Before I had time to savor what had just happened, the Lord called my attention to the top deck (5 stories up). This deck was only about 1/4 full. The Lord told me to go up onto that deck because He had some prayer assignments for me there. So I began to make my way over there. It was a long walk and took a long time. And God showed me other things to pray on my way over there.
To get over to that section, you actually have to exit the stadium building and take this really long (many flighted) outdoor ramp. As I was walking up that ramp, I ran into a few people who I knew, including an acquaintance who used to go to my Church but now went somewhere else.
As I continued to climb up this ramp, I found myself praying that God would start pouring out an anointing on the people at the highest level and work all the way down to the field... that those who did not know Him would accept Him and those who did know Him would be set free of anything that held them back in their walk with Him. All of the sudden, that intensity to pray was on me and it seemed to carry me up that ramp... the long trek up that ramp became effortless.
When I finally reached the top, I went in the entrance. I found that I was standing in exactly the spot the Lord had pointed out to me when I had been standing near the choir. I was not blocking anyone's view, so I stood there for a second and silently asked, "OK, Lord. What next?"
I did not have long to wait. My prayer was interrupted by someone calling my name. I opened my eyes to see to friends from my church approaching me. They asked me what I was doing way up here. I answered that God had send me up here to pray for people's hearts to be open to receive Jesus.
"Oh, God must have sent you for me!" Amy said. "I brought my unsaved bother.. he's sitting over there..." she pointed, but I had no idea which person she pointed at. "I was just hoping God would send someone to pray for him."
So I suggested that the three of us pray for him.. and the Lord fell strongly as we prayed. Michael, who is also an intercessor, and myself each laid one of our hands on Amy's shoulder as we prayed for her brother. The next thing we knew, Amy was being slain in the spirit. We both hustled to try and catch her... after all that cement floor looked very hard. We managed to keep Amy standing and after a couple of minutes she was able to stand on her own again. But it was clear that the Lord had entered into this prayer. We built on top of that and asked the Lord to save all of the unsaved relatives that believers had brought with them to the stadium, particularly brothers and sisters, husbands, wives and children. God's presence was very tangible as we prayed.
When we finished praying, I looked around to see what else He would have me do there. But He said, "I'm done with what I want you to do here. Go down to the third level." So I did.
It took a while to get down there, because it was a long way. On my way, I passed a security guard who I just knew was a Christian ... many of the security guards were coliseum employees rather than part of Billy Graham's organization. But this guy looked like he was part of Dr Graham's team... he had on one of those maroon T-shirts. I felt led to go up to him. He smiled and greeted me. I don't know why I did this, but I gave him a summary of some of the neat things God had been doing on this "prayer tour". The man broke out into a grin from ear to ear.
"Hallelujah!" He said. "That is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for coming and telling me."
I grinned at him and then asked if I could pray a quick blessing on him. He said "Absolutely." I just prayed for a couple of minutes, but the Holy Spirit showed up and touched him in a powerful way. He was one very happy security guard when we finished praying.
I got to the third level. There was a walkway across the center of it, with aisles going up into seats above the walkway and other aisles going down into seats below that walkway.
"Now what, Lord?"
"Just walk across, and I will show you what to do."
So I started across the longish walkway. By this time, Dr Graham had come onto the platform and had began to speak. I did not want to distract anyone or block their view, so I tried to walk quickly and to pray silently. I did remain silent, but there was this deep yearing crying out within me for the blinders to fall off of the lost, for every bit of resistance to melt off of people and for them to be open and yielded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I also found myself inviting the Holy Spirit to fall on people with a strong anointing for salvation.
"Teresa! Teresa!" I looked to my left where the voice was coming from. Three rows down from the walkway and near the aisle, a friend was motioning to me. There was an empty seat on the aisle of the row behind her. I went over and sat down it it.
She asked me what I was doing here. I told her I was walking around the stadium, praying for people's hearts to be open to receive Jesus.
"Oh Good!" she said. "Please pray for my brother. He's here, but he's sitting in a different section."
So we joined hands, bowed our hears and prayed together for her brother. Again the Lord seemed to fall powerfully. There was such a strong anointing for prayer. This was another one of those divine prayer appointments.
I walked away from that saying, "Lord, I could really get to like this. It is fun when you lead me like this!"
By the time I got to the end of the walkway, I was not just full of joy, I was full of boldness and confidence. The Lord pointed out another security guard who was standing on the ramp by the end of the walkway. As I looked at him, all of the sudden I knew some things about him, including the fact that he was not saved and that God was yearning for this man to come to Him. He smiled and nodded at me as I passed him. So I struck up a brief conversation with him, asking him if he was listening to Dr Graham's message. "No", he said, "not really." So I asked him if he had ever had a personal experience with God. His reply was "I have heard Billy Graham preach more times than you can imagine."
I smiled sweetly and said, "Yes, but that was not the question I asked you. I asked if you had ever entered into a personal relationship with God."
He chuckled. "Sorry, I'm a confirmed atheist. If Billy Graham could not convert me, you won't be able to either."
"Oh that's ok", I said, "I'm not trying to convert you. That's God's job. It's just that He pointed you out to me and told me that He wants to bring you to know him."
About then, I noticed an older woman who was leaning against the wall just behind us and sort of groaning and rubbing her foot. A frustrated looking man was standing next to her. I excused myself for a moment and went over to them, wondering if she needed some healing prayer for her foot. Before I could open my mouth to say a word, she looked at me and began complaining. Her story was as follows...neither she nor her husband is a christian. They came to hear Billy Graham, but they got here late and had to take terrible seats where they could not hear well enough to tell what he was saying. They were desperate to hear the words of his message, so they walked down a couple of sections to get close enough to hear. After standing a few minutes she was exhausted and realized it would be too hard for her to stand there through the whole message...she was definitely an older woman and probably hard of hearing.. I could hear just fine in the top section, but it certainly was louder down here in the 3rd section. They were so frustrated that they were getting ready to leave.
Suddenly I just "knew" that there were two seats together down in the section below them. I offered to go find her some good seats. She said that would not be possible, as the section was totally full. But she agreed to wait while I went and checked. It did not take long to find those seats.. there were three empty seats four rows down from the walkway and they'd only have to climb over 5 people to get to them. So I went back to the couple and led them to the aisle with the empty seats. They were delighted.. the woman even smiled. Just as they got seated, Dr Graham finished his opening remarks and started on his presentation of the gospel. Boy, does the Lord have a sense of timing! He is awesome.
As I passed the security guard, he stopped me and said, "That was very nice of you to help them."
I asked him if I could pray for him for a blessing. He said he does not pray. I said that's ok, I'd do the praying and he could just stand there and listen. He said that would be fine. Then I asked if it would be ok if I asked God to come and reveal Himself to him in a way where he knew God was real. He said that could not happen, because there is no God. I said that if it turns out that there is a God and if He reveals Himself to you in a way where you know it's really Him, will you give your life to Him? He said yes, he would. So, I asked, can I ask God to reveal Himself to you? He said that would be OK.
Oh, could I pray with confidence. I had just been given permission to ask God to reveal Himself to him and I knew God was going to answer that prayer! And of course, I prayed some blessings as well... whatever God showed me to pray. God had told me to keep my eyes open when I prayed for this man. He kept his eyes glued to mine throughout the prayer. I smiled at him and kept praying. Pretty soon he was smiling too... especially when the Lord started giving me words of knowledge about what blessings to pray for him. At the end of the prayer he said, "Wow, that was nice! Thank you."
After the prayer was over, the Lord told me I could return to my seat. "But don't be in a hurry, as I am going to use you to serve people on your way back."
As I walked back to my seat, several people asked me for help with this or that. I did not realize it at the time, but I guess they must have thought I was an usher since I had on one of those maroon Tshirts. Oddly, I seemed to know the answers to most of their questions... I guess that since I'd been all over the stadium praying, I sort of got a feel for where most things were.
When I got back to my seat (a front row seat on the level nearest the field), I realized it was really a very nice seat. I don't know why I ever thought it was a bad seat... maybe the enemy really had been playing tricks on my mind. I did not get to stay in it very long, because pretty soon it was time for the altar call.
The altar call was, of course, my favorite part of this incredible day. I got to counsel with another first time convert, a 29 year old professional woman who had know about Jesus for years but now came to know Him personally. There is just something so awesome about when a large group of people first give lives to Jesus... it was so neat to be in the midst of this. I know the angels were rejoicing over this scene. And I was certainly rejoicing over the woman that the Lord allowed me to counsel... she was so genuine and so sincere and she was moved to tears as she repented before Him. Those tears turned into joy and smiles as she learned that her sins had been forgiven and that she had been given eternal life and was now a daughter of God!
You guys, this is what it's all about. This is why the Lord calls us to be intercessors. Awesome stuff!
But even after this, the Lord had more divine appointments for me. He just kept bumping me into people to pray for and people to share with. By this time I was so excited and full of the spirit that I almost could not keep my feet on the ground. I felt like someone had to tie me down or I'd end up soaring in the heavenlies. One counselor remembered me from the previous night... she'd been in the same group of 20 counselors I'd been in that night and last night was her first time ever leading someone to Christ. God led me to pray a blessing on her, and to ask Him to give her more divine appointments to lead other people to Christ. Then there was this woman sitting in the handicapped section... she had cancer and multiple other physical problems. Yet she loved the Lord passionately and was full of joy at seeing all of the people accept Christ. She was glowing with that joy. I asked her if I could pray a blessing on her. She said she'd love it and we prayed. I also prayed for healing... I don't know if the Lord healed her or not, but I know that He showed up during the prayer. She said she was very blessed/touched by the prayer and thanked me many times for praying with her.
The Lord gave me so many prayer opportunities that the security guards finally came and asked me to please leave the stadium now so they could close it down.
I don't think I've ever had this much fun being an intercessor before. It sure is fun to pray when God leads so clearly and gives you so many divine appointments/assignments. I wish He'd do this with me every day!
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