God started waking Cindy up in the middle of the night. It took a while before she caught on, but after she started praying when she was woken up, God would give her details about needs that specific people had that God wanted her to pray about. As she began to get confirmation that it really was God, she grew in confidence, and God has continued to grow her gifting as an intercessor to where she now prays for deliverance for cities. Since there was a lack of good information on prayer, she wrote Possessing the Gates of the Enemy, in which she outlines many principles of the gift of intercession.

The gift of intercession is something that God calls us, but at the same time we have to be willing. God started inviting her to intercession after she told God that she would do anything, anywhere for Him. In order to hear clearly from God we need to have clean hearts, so we need to ask Him to clean our hearts from anything that hinders us from giving ourselves to Him. Then God can entrust and share more with us, leading to more effective prayers. This is of primary importance to God: He will wait until our character is ready.

So what is intercession? “Prayer from God’s side is communication between Himself and His allies in enemy country. True prayer moves in a circle. It begins with the heart of God and sweeps down into the human heart, so intersecting the circle of earth, which is the battlefield of prayer, and then goes back again to its starting point, having accomplished its purpose on the downward swing” (p. 225, quoted from S.D. Gordon)  The gift of intercession is for people to stand in the gap, people that God tells his heart to and they pray it back. Such people often spend hours praying and are actually energized by praying: Cindy truly loves the days she can spend entirely in prayer.

Usually intercessors have some sort of list of people that they pray for and either ask God what to pray for, or let the Holy Spirit direct their words. Sometimes God will bring someone to mind and/or provide specific details. Occasionally there will be something urgent that God needs an intercessor for. She tells many stories about intercessors that God brings an urgent need for, they pray for several hours and then feel that whatever it is has been accomplished. Afterwards, they find out that the pastor or missionary or whomever was in some dangerous situation from which they miraculously escaped at exactly the time they were being prayed for. This is usually known as “travail,” where the intercessor is fighting against something, or giving birth to something new through prayer. As the Spirit moves in them, the prayor may shout at enemies of the person/situation commanding them back, may physically hurt with their pain, may weep with their emotions, etc. It is the Holy Spirit speaking through them, not something we can do ourselves. At some point it will be accomplished and there will be a sense of deep peace.

Intercession can take different forms, as needed. One form of prayer is agreeing in prayer, where you agree with what God is doing. Another form is persistence until God makes it clear that the prayer is accomplished. The middle-of-the-night prayers tending to be supplication (“begging prayers”), generally in life-or-death situations. Two other kinds of prayer are binding and loosing: binding Satan from accomplishing his purposes and loosing captives into freedom.

One important form of intercession is corporate intercession. Cindy has many stories from the prayer rooms of major conferences where visa problems were resolved, disastrous weather averted, etc. One spectacular story about prayer was during the Battle of Britain in WWII: every evening at 9pm Britain and the Commonwealth would pray. When captured, downed Nazi pilots asked how they managed to field so many aircraft; one commander asked what the secret weapon they enabled at 9pm every night was. Corporate prayer is extremely powerful, and we need to use it to wage war against the powers and principalities which are constantly influencing the nations away from God. Jesus said that the gates of Hell would not withstand the church, but in order for that to happen, the church needs to actually go to the gates of Hell to besiege them. This happens through prayer. Praying against spirits of a city, for example, can only be done corporately (and only after fasting and repenting from corporate sin).

Prayer groups have a bad name in many circles, largely due not carrying out God’s design in prayer. Generally this happens because the members have not kept their hearts clean, and have bitterness towards someone, or have been proud that God reveals his secrets to them. This may lead the group to think that the pastor is missing God’s calling and leading the wrong way, which causes all kinds of problems. Much of this can be prevented by the prayer leader meeting regularly with the pastor and being on the same page as to the nature of the vision that God gave the church. Another danger if God warns of judgment and the intercessor(s) have bitterness towards that person/group, they might pray for the judgment and fail to see that God warns of judgment because He does not want it to happen. If God warns of judgment, he wants us to pray that the person would turn and repent and not be judged.

With her many years of experience, the last few chapters are many practical guidelines for leading prayer groups of all kinds.

I found this book to be quite informative, as it explained many areas of prayer I had not heard of, and provided a theological understanding for why all these strange manifestions of intercessors happen. Cindy writes not only from personal experience, of which she has much to draw on, but also out of understanding God’s ways. This means that she can explain the “why” of prayer, so that even weird things like experiencing other people’s pain make sense. She is very grounded in Scripture and tries to give the principles behind God’s ways. She is also able to identify why the bad things manifest themselves the way they do, which I found helpful in giving some idea of where the limits of God-led intercession is (generally when stops being about the other person is when it starts being bad).

Cindy does a good job of being both thorough with the material and very readable, and I recommend Possessing the Gates of the Enemy to anyone wondering what the gift of intercession looks like lived out.
Review: 9.5
Thorough, but not a dry intellectual, academic book. She covers all the major points in each topic, giving principles of prayer as well as practical advice. This definitely stands a chance at being a 100-year book.