I was recently in North India, which is home to more than 400 million people and over 2,000 unreached people groups. It is also the birthplace of four global religions and countless gods, idols and deities. During the week of my visit, the largest religious pilgrimage in the world, an event called Kumbh Mela, brought 120 million Indians into the Ganges River for ritual cleansing, in hope of salvation.
Nearby, I met with 60 church planters and leaders representing various denominations and every state across the region. Together, we reflected on the theme of the “fear of the Lord” and in particular how actually seeing God changes everything in our relationship with him. We looked at Isaiah’s testimony, “I saw the Lord…” (Isa. 6:1), Paul’s testimony about how he “saw the Lord” (Acts 22:18) and others who encountered Jesus in the flesh after his resurrection. When Paul prayed for the Ephesian church, he asked that the “eyes of [their] hearts would be enlightened” (Eph. 1:18) to know the hope of their calling, their value to God and his incredible resurrection power for those who believe. With these Scriptures and others, we then spent time seeking the Lord in personal prayer.
As I prayed, the Lord gave me a picture of North India covered by a dark cloud. The 120 million pilgrims were re-covenanting their lives and territory with spiritual principalities and powers. The Lord invited me to see this picture from his perspective, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion” (Eph.1:21). He reminded me that “God placed all things under [Christ’s] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body” (Eph. 1:22-23). As part of the body of Christ, I too was seated with Christ in heavenly places, above the principalities and powers. The Lord challenged me to call these church leaders to apply or express the wisdom of God to the fallen powers (Eph. 3:10) through applying the finished work of the cross in intercession for our peoples.
These leaders caught the vision and began crying out to the Lord in repentance for the covenants of their peoples with spiritual darkness. They cried out to the Lord for the light of the gospel to shine in the darkness of their communities and cities and to set their people free. The anointing of the Lord on this extended corporate prayer time is not something I will soon forget.
I left India asking the Lord what annual festivals are celebrated within our own culture that give the principalities and powers authority in the spiritual realm of our nations? How does intercession from heaven’s perspective change how we pray for our context? In what ways are we being called to repent, and how can we call our people to the freedom of the Gospel? What’s our vantage point in prayer?