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I had a very unusual intercessory experience last week while on vacation with my unsaved husband. Our vacation plans were to go to New Orleans for the Americal Contract Bridge League National Championships. We played bridge and also did some sightseeing. Our first night there we arrived quite late (around 11:00 PM). My husband decided to walk along the fameous Burbon street -- the "party center" of New Orleans. Every third building was a bar and there were also a great number of nude and "live sex" types of places. There was an incredible mass of people walking along the street, so much so that it was almost impossible to walk along. Most of these people were drunk, some to the point where they needed assistance from their friends to walk. Some where shaking and some were staggering around and almost everyone was smiling and laughing. It looked sort of like a really hot renewal meeting, except that it was the immitation (liquor) instead of the real thing -- God's Spirit. I got back to the hotel room feeling really troubled in my spirit but I could not put my finger on exactly why.
The next day we went to a group lunch sponsored by the ACBL -- a gosple and blues brunch. We ended up sharing a table with two older ladies who were from the local area. There was a lot of voodo paraphernalia on the walls, such as a lot of pictures of snakes or dinasours with "Jesus loves you!" written over them. My husband pointed out the pictures and the local ladies started explaining that they were voodo. They went on to say that voodo was was not evil, just another path to God. They said that they were Christians (Catholics) as they sat there and drank heavily. My husband piped in that I was studying to become a minister and the women started saying how Christianity could be summed up in the word "tollerance". At this point, I finally jumped into the conversation and disagreed. I started to say that Christianity was all about loving God with all of our heart, soul and mind and loving our neighbor as ourself. But the lady would not even let me finish my sentence. She started yelling at me and going on an on about tollerance. Finally, abut 8 minutes later when she paused for breath, I said, "It sounds like you really value tollerance." "Yes," she replied. Then I went on to say that she was being very intollerent of me and was not even giving me a chance to finish my first sentence. She offered to let me speak. I said that Christianity is not about being tollerant but of being right with God. She cut me off again saying that we cannot know what is right with God and how dare anyone try to judge another and on and on. When she finally paused for breath, I said that God has revealed in His word, the Bible, what He consideres right and wrong. I almost got to finish this sentence before she started on another barrage. Just about then the entertainment (gospel blues music) started. She suddenly started clapping her hands and acting like the stereotype of a "traditional pentacostal" during the entertainment. You would have thought that we were in a Church service and everyone here was a believer -- but I knew some of the people in the group who were decidedly anti-Christian. They preached a short (5 minute) sermon about needing to love each other and tollerate each other. They seemed to throw around "praise the Lords!" pretty lightly as they drank their complementary alcoholic drinks.
It just reaked of hyprocracy and mixture. At one point I got up and went to the bathroom. There was a framed note on the wall. Someone claiming to be a prophet of the Lord had written the restraurant owner a note saying that it was wrong to use Holy things of God as entertainment for secular activities and that if they did not change their behavior, God's wrath would come on them. They obviously did not take the note very seriously, as they were using gospel blues as their entertainment. In fact, they framed the warning note and displayed it proudly along with their voodo stuff.
God spoke to me very clearly that this was a type of the mixture of worldliness and ungodliness in His church. He said that He was displeased with this mixture both here in New Orleans and in His church in general. He said that He was no longer going to hold back His wrath from this place. He told me that He would continue showing me things that displeased Him.
A little later, I told the Lord how sad I was for this lady and how she would not let me get a word in edgewise to share the gospel. God said that He'd been trying to speak to many people here in New Orleans as well, and that they would not listen to Him either.
We left this luncheon a little early because Ed had made reservations for -- get this -- a cemetary tour. It turned out that this tour also had a voodo emphasis and pointed out the tombs of a lot of voodo queens (and how praying to them could grant wishes). The tour guide turned out to be a voodo student himself and went on and on about how voodo is using the dead to do good things for you, like healing people, etc. He keep calling this practice good instead of evil. Also, he took us to the oldest catholic Church in the city and pointed out the voodo saint -- St. Expidite -- which had a place of honor in the Church.
The Lord spoke to me again and said "when people call evil good and call good evil and do so in My name, My judgement MUST fall. I cannot allow this to continue."
I left the tour a little early and went back to my hotel room. I started considering what I'd seen and asking the Lord about it and I suddenly became intensely sick -- I was nausious and had such a piercing headache that I could not even stand up. It came on me all of the sudden -- one moment I was fine and the next, the full intensity of this was on me. I felt like maybe it was an enemy attack designed to keep me from praying. I really did feel too sick to pray and told the Lord so. I asked Him to help me. I felt like the Lord told me to take authority and that there was a voodo curse on me that needed to be broken. I wondered if this might not be my imagination instead of God's voice. I did not want to throw around the Lord's power/authority lightly, so I asked Him for a confirmation that I'd heard right. The intense headache continued for over three hours and my husband never came back to our room. I felt like I was being tourchored or something and could not fall asleep or sit up or think clearly or anything. Then I remembered hearing the Lord say that it was a curse and that I should use His power to break it. I told the Lord that I could not think clearly enought to do so and asked Him to help me. The Lord sort of led me through a repeat-after-me type of authority prayer where He would tell me what to say one phrase at a time and then I'm pray it out loud.
The headache started improving immediately and about an hour later was gone. My husband got back to the room and suggested we go dancing -- the entertainment that evening after the bridge game was over was an orcherstra that played ballroom dance music. And it happens that Ed and I are ballroom dancers -- we used to compete in it several years ago but now we just dance for fun. I was well enough to be able to go dancing and to even enjoy myself. But when I got back to my room, I remained troubled in my spirit about the things the Lord had shown me. I had a sense of impending judgement falling on the area.
The next morning (Tuesday) they announced that hurricane Erwin was headed directly towards New Orleans. The Holy Spirit came on me as I heard that anouncement. I suddenly knew that this was His judgement against the things He'd been showing me. I asked Him why He brought me here at this time. I had a strong sense that I was supposed to interceed for this area. So I started to consider how to pray and could not come up with anything. From the things that the Lord had been showing me, it seemed like this judgement was totally justified, long overdue, and that there was nothing to be argued against it. I told the Lord that I felt He'd brought me here to interceed, but that I had no clue of how to do so. I asked Him to show me what to pray and reminded Him that He is a merciful God.
On Wednesday, I was in prayer. I was again considering everything that the Lord had showed me and how justified any judgement of this area would be. I keep seeing pictures of those masses and masses of people on Burbon street and kept imagining them drunk in the spirit and worshipping God instead of drunk in the natural. I started telling God of my picture and asking Him to make it so. I felt like He said that He would make it so, but that first He would bring destruction and out that that destruction the survivors would be more receptive to revival. I asked Him if He could find a way to do it that would not involve destruction and a whole lot of people dieing without the Lord.
Suddenly an intensity came on me and I found myself saying out loud to the Lord, "Lord, New Orleans has the word 'new' in it's name. I challenge you to make this city new in You and to clean it up like You did in my life. Please turn this place into a holy place of Your power and presense. Make it new in You."
I felt like the Lord said that He would take that challenge. His voice was so distinct that it was almost audible. I remember being startled and looking around the room. No one was there but me -- my husband was in the shower. We played two sessions of bridge that day which took about 8 hours and kept me from being able to concentrate on prayer. When I went to bed that night the hurricane warnings were up. People were boarding up the windows of stores and restraurants. Hotel guests were stocking up on snacks incase food would be unavailable. I felt like I should interceed some more, but there did not seem to be any empowerment or leading from the Lord to do so. So I asked Him to take good care of my husband and myself if the huricane should hit -- we were in the 33rd floor of a 41 story hotel and I didn't feel too terribly safe being way up there in a hurricane. I felt His peace wash over me and He told me two things -- 1) He always took care of His own when His judgement hits an area and 2) He had taken me up on my challenge to make New Orleans new in Christ.
The hurricane was supposed to hit us around noon thursday, but it never came our way. Instead it turned inland and hit the Florida panhandle. Now, I don't know much about hurricans and their travel patterns. I hear they are irratic. But I do know that New Orleans was expecting the hurrican to hit and that many businesses had closed for the anticipated storm. I also know that even with the hurrican turning, they expected a lot of rain and wind to still hit New Orleans, but it never came. In fact the best weather we expereinced the whole week was on the day the hurricane was supposed to hit and the day afterwards.
I am still trying to process this intercessory experience. Could my prayers really have made a difference in turing the storm away from New Orleans? Has God really accepted a challenge to make New Orleans new in Christ and turn that place into a spiritual hotpoint instead of a party town? How much of this was the Lord's leading and how much (if any) of this was just my immagination? Did God really bring me to New Orleans just then to interceed for it?
I've been an intercessor for a while now, but there is still a lot about intercession that I don't know. Still, it was an interesting and powerful expereince for me and has left me even more convinced of the power of prayer, especially when our prayers are Spirit led.
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