What is travailing prayer and why is it important?

Travailing prayer is one of the most powerful form of prayer that God works through to intervene in circumstances and accomplish his purposes. This is praying that is an outcome of God himself putting a burden deep in the hearts of men and women, and so they begin to cry and call on him often in agony under great conviction, over a troubling situation. Examples are many both in the Bible and even today, of travailing prayer and its outcome. Let us look at some examples.

Nehemiah was a man who travailed in prayer. After hearing of the disgraceful state of affairs in Jerusalem and the broken wall, this is what he says Neh. 1:4 “When I heard of this, I sat down and wept. In fact for days, I mourned, fasted and prayed to the God of heaven”. The burden of the wall was so heavy on Nehemiah’s heart that he would not rest until it was addressed. After praying, Nehemiah acted, got a go ahead from the king and eventually went and built the wall.

In the 1970s a church called the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York, under the leadership of Pastor Jim Cymbala, experienced a great move of the Spirit. In his book ‘Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire’ explains how he started ministry at this church and how troubled and burdened he became by the deadness of the church, that one night instead of preaching, he simply stood before the small congregation and wept. The people also joined him in weeping and so began the move of God which transformed this church into a vibrant Spirit led church, which has grown and lead to the transformation of many lives.

At the beginning of the East African Revival two men Joe Church and Simeon Nsibambi were so burdened by the obvious dryness and luke-warmness of the church of Uganda, that they met and started praying and crying in earnest to the Lord to revive the church. The outcome was the well-known East African Revival.

Today, the Lord is looking for:

  • Souls that will avail themselves like Nehemiah, like Jim Cymbala like Nsibambi and Joe Church to mention but a few, to travail in prayer, crying for the lost souls, for our ungodly and sinful nations, for the lukewarm church, for the broken families, for the wayward young generation that does not know God and so on.
  • Souls that will be ready to persevere in prayer until the outcome that God desires is evident, because travailing prayer produces a very evident fruit. Is 62:6-7 “Take no rest all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work”
  • Souls that will be courageous to act on what God is revealing, being lead of the Holy Spirit. God is looking for people to stand in the gap (Ez. 22:30). He is looking at us his people and not anyone else. 2 Chr 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”