God prepares people and groups for His kingdom’s purposes through the work of pruning and refining. Brad shares a recent journey of personal refining and healing as an example of the Lord’s preparation for great outpourings of the Holy Spirit. A guide with steps to personally walk with Jesus through the refining fire is included.
Recently, we have reported to you about the outpourings of the Holy Spirit that have been taking place in our PRMI stream. See these reports! These confirm that we are at a most extraordinary epoch when the Holy Spirit is being poured out, igniting the fires of revival worldwide. This move of God to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ has already started, and I believe PRMI has been given a strategic role in preparing for it. And that is the exciting part! However, historically, pruning and refining fire have been part of the preparation of every outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which advances the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Refining and Pruning
We all know what Jesus says about pruning:
“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. (2) He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit. (3) You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you. (4) Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. (5) “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in him – bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. John 15:1-5 (NET)
“I came to pour out fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already ablaze! Luke 12:49 (TLV)
And John the Baptist tells us that:
“I baptize you with water, for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than I am – I am not worthy to carry his sandals! He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (12) His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clean out his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire!” Mat 3:11-12 (NET)
And further, Peter notes that the trials we go through test and refine both our faith and us.
These trials are so that the true metal of your faith (far more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire) may come to light in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Messiah Yeshua. 1Peter 1:7 (TLV)
So the implication is that both the preparation for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the result will be a refining fire that prepares us to be more fit vessels for participating in God’s Kingdom. This will lead us to repentance, confession, healing, deliverance, and pruning so that we may be prepared to be Jesus’ friends and coworkers to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.
This is a process for individuals and the corporate expressions of the body of Christ—the Church. This refining process is necessary for participation in the next great wave of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, by His grace, Jesus has seen fit to include PRMI and us in this refining process.
Pruning and Refining within PRMI
I am so thankful that the Lord has recently sent PRMI through a terrible time. I believe this was part of the refining fire to prepare us to fulfill the mission that Jesus has given us to prepare for the Next Great Awakening in the Power of the Holy Spirit. So that the things I have been talking about—igniting outpourings of the Holy Spirit—can be fulfilled.
But going through refining fire and pruning is never fun. It is awful! However, I believe we already see good fruit resulting in the outpourings and manifestations of the Holy Spirit that we have been experiencing.
A Demonic Stronghold Within the Ministry
The short version of what happened is that a demonic stronghold had been formed within PRMI’s ministry. A high-level evil spirit had taken root and was twisting communications. Gossip and rumors were destroying our fellowship among those in anointed leadership. Many people were getting hurt, and there were all sorts of misunderstandings that, no matter how hard other leadership team members and I tried to work on solutions, everything just got worse.
I am sure those on the other side had the same experience. Their efforts to reach out to me and the leadership team were also being twisted through miscommunications energized by this high-level demon. It was a challenging time and led to the possibility of splits in the ministry and blocking our fulfillment of our Kingdom purposes and mission.
I do not need to go into all the bloody details. I just need to tell you what the Lord did to me! How the Lord pruned and refined me. Others can tell their own story; I am being led here to share my own story mainly because I contributed to the situation in my role as Executive Director. I did so because while I clearly saw the specks in everyone else’s eyes, I could not see the logs in my own.
In doing so, I contributed to the formation of the demonic stronghold. But I really could not see it until several members of the PRMI Board and team members suggested that I had contributed to building that demonic stronghold.
My initial response was, “What me!??” I do not need to confess all my sins here, as I have already done that, but I want to tell you one of them. When I feel betrayed by someone, I find I lash out in anger and go into attack mode, even when they are not betraying me at all!
Anyway, this is uncomfortable to talk about but true. I have struggled with this tendency for a long time and have mostly learned to control these inappropriate responses. However, I realized that I had wounded a lot of people! And that was where I contributed to the demonic stronghold being formed in PRMI.
As I wrestled with all this, I also had to face the reality that I had sustained some spiritual wounding from the strategic intercession and spiritual warfare that I had been through over the last several years. I have written up these strategic-level prayer engagements in two recent books.1
The first involved praying for the Kingdom of God to overcome the violence of the Marxist and Occult groups around BLM and ANTFA seeking to deceive the Church of Jesus Christ and destroy the common grace structures of government and society in America. These structures give the Church the freedom and means to fulfill its Gospel mission.
The second was what many other intercessors and I experienced as a demonic invasion of the United States between November 3, 2020, and January 6, 2021. Satan’s intention in this invasion was to bring tyranny into society once again and to usurp and/or destroy the expressions of God’s Kingdom on earth.
Both involved engagements, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, to overcome high-level demonic powers. There was the role of breaking witchcraft curses and being called by Jesus Christ to be His means of engaging high-level demons who had entered our human and earthly spheres, where we have dominion.
These protracted spiritual battles and prayer engagements had left me spiritually exhausted and wounded. And frankly, as anyone who has been through the experience of deliverance and exorcism knows, such encounters with evil, even when entirely led and covered by King Jesus, sear one’s soul.
The result was that I had become a very defensive and difficult person to be with. I knew I needed healing and restoration from these strategic engagements. I know for sure that it was the wounding and battle fatigue in me from these prayer battles that Satan also used to contribute to building this destructive demonic stronghold within PRMI.
As I wrestled with this, I decided to reach out to the other person with similar experiences in strategic intercession and spiritual warfare, Gary Hixson. I introduce him in this issue of Discerning the Times on Witchcraft.
Gary is incredibly experienced in deliverance ministry and dealing with high-level demonic spirits. So I set up a prayer time with him over Zoom, as he lives in Seville, Spain.
We had an amazing two-hour healing and deliverance prayer session. And we dealt with the arrows of demonic curses and wounds from these prayer battles. I needed an extensively experienced prayer warrior who, like me, had been on the frontlines of strategic level engagement with the “…rulers,… the powers, …the world rulers of this darkness, …the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (c.f. Eph 6:12 NET) Open doors to flaming dart attacks were healed and closed, curses spoken against me and PRMI were broken, and I was set free from harassing demonic spirits. Praise God! Through this prayer time with this anointed man of God, Jesus spoke to me, reaffirming my calling as an apostolic leader called to advance the Kingdom of God, a warrior to defeat Satan’s schemes, but also as a healer, restoring those who are broken.
All this was part of the refining fire Jesus was putting me through, as had been the prayer engagements. It was a good start, but there was still something in me—my lashing out in anger when I felt betrayed. I just could not seem to get past this tendency, which really worried me. It was a sign that a deeper level of wounding needed to be dealt with, but I did not know what it was.
A Word of Knowledge
As I struggled with all this, during one of the PRMI Board Executive meeting conference calls, a board member, Becki Newman, with real gifts of healing, said, “You know I keep seeing you as a boy on the school playground.” I said, “Well, thanks, but that does not mean anything to me.”
Then Cindy, PRMI Director, who was also on the call, said, “You need to think about that because I am getting the same guidance. Something that happened to you on the playground really hurt!” I had already dealt with the wounding and rejection that I had received in school because of my dyslexia, which meant that I could not spell or actually, at that time, read or write. This was different and seemed to point to the deep root of feeling betrayed as a leader.
Uncovering the Wound
The Lord used the words of these two sisters in Christ to start working on me. To make a long story short, I asked those who had received the guidance about me on the playground to pray for me. This took place over a Zoom meeting. I was wrapped in love and the presence of Jesus.
I just want to say that Jesus was right there with me, manifesting His unconditional love and acceptance of me, affirming my calling, and anointing me as a leader in His Kingdom. During the prayer time, suddenly, a deep memory from my elementary school days came back to me. A memory that had been buried and forgotten for decades.
The Baseball Game
It goes back to when I was in elementary school in Charlotte, NC. What we did all summer long was play baseball. Each neighborhood would have its own team, and I was the captain of our neighborhood team. Well, at the end of summer, just before school started, all the teams would gather for a weekend championship match.
For this grand event, the fathers of the team captains would often buy nice uniforms for the kids. But my father was too stingy to do that for my team. He also thought playing baseball was a waste of time, which hurt. He did not realize that because of my dyslexia, I could not spell, could hardly read, and was a complete failure in school. But I could play baseball, and I was a natural leader.
Anyway, we showed up for the great championship final game. My team mainly was barefooted in shorts and tee shirts, and the other teams were all dressed in new uniforms and special baseball shoes with cleats.
We could hear the jeers and laughter of the crowd as we lined up. But then what got the most laughter and ridicule was that I had several girls on my team. My little sister Lucy was too young to play but tagged along with me, her big brother. (Actually, she was good at throwing rocks and catching.)
There were also the two girls in my class from across the street; their fathers had taught them to play ball. The other teams were all boys, and the girls were in their proper place as cheerleaders. Except for my mother and the fathers of the two girls, we had no one to cheer for us. One of the lads shouted, “Look, girls, “they can’t even throw a ball right. They can’t win!” Do you get the picture?
In the last inning, we were tied, we had the bases loaded, and I was up to bat. Standing there with no fancy baseball shoes but barefooted. I was already feeling humiliated but what made It worse was that someone noticed that I was holding the bat wrong, and I had gotten my right and left hands mixed up, as I still do today. And they shouted, “look, he can’t even hold the bat right.” Everyone laughed. Now that made me angry, but I was also asking God to help me.
Then the pitcher pitched. I swung and missed twice. On the third, the ball came in, and I remember now. It felt almost supernatural! As the bat connected with the ball, I felt like one of those huge Scottish catapults that could hurl huge stones to smash castle walls. The ball took off and soured not just out of the baseball field but out of the park completely! We won the championship. And I was the hero.
One of the girls on the team’s father shook my hand and shouted to the crowd, “Slugger!” And that became my nickname. My father was not even there, and that hurt. There was great celebration and astonishment, and everyone thanked me.
Fists on the Playground
But the next day, on the school playground, the boys on the team all ganged up on me. They had been humiliated enough that we had not had nice uniforms and that I had invited girls to join the team, but having me be the hero was just more than they could take.
I am sure I contributed to their hostility by not handling my fame very well. And so I had to fight them all, and of course, I won, giving them bloody noses and black eyes. But their betrayal really hurt.
While walking home, when I was sure no one was looking, I broke down and cried. This hurt by these boys and by my father for not being there became a place of deep wounding in my heart.
It was so deep that whenever I felt betrayed, or my leadership rejected or ridiculed, I just wanted to give people bloody noses and black eyes. I cannot do that with my fists as I did in elementary school on the playground, but I can certainly do it with my words, which are far more effective at hurting and destroying people than my fists.
That event had been suppressed and forgotten for at least six decades. Over the years, the Devil had used that anger at being betrayed to hurt many people. It was one of the open doors the enemy had used to establish a demonic stronghold in PRMI.
The Healing Ministry of Jesus
Well, in the prayer time, I remember all this and relived it vividly and totally. But Jesus was right there with me, giving me the grace to forgive those boys who had betrayed me, even though I, as their leader, had led them to victory.
I also forgave my father, who had betrayed me by not buying us nice baseball shoes with cleats and by not even showing up for my day of triumph. The immediate result of this prayer of my confession of my sin and receiving healing by forgiving those who caused those deep distant hurts is that I know that a door was closed to flaming dart attacks of anger and feeling betrayed. I suspect, too, that perhaps even an evil spirit that had been attached to me for many years just left me.
I was also able to forgive and release to Jesus for His blessing all those who had taken part in forming that demonic stronghold in PRMI and who had caused hurt to the ministry.
This experience of recalling and facing my own sin and seeking help from Gary for the wounding from the prayer battles was a refining fire for me. It was a painful process of pruning by Jesus. But what took place in this experience of healing and deliverance was that Jesus Christ was more fully established as King in my life.
Restored for Kingdom Service
This began a restorative healing process, which of course, is not finished. It also set in motion the preparation for me to continue to lead PRMI in preparing for the Next Great Awakening in the Power of the Holy Spirit. It all had to start within my own heart, in which Jesus Christ had to be fully King.
So what I have learned from this entire experience is that true revival begins in our hearts. It often starts when we welcome Jesus, who loves us, to lead us through His refining fire so He may be our King to whom we are totally submitted!
So my word to all of us praying for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is to ask Jesus Christ to do His refining work within us, in His love and mercy. We can take the risk of doing that because we are confident He will never let us go! And after the refining fire has done its refining work, Jesus will use us to ignite outpourings of the Holy Spirit for His glory.
For more on how you can prepare for the Next Great Awakening in the Power of the Holy Spirit, please contact us and join us in this great work of fulfilling taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations on earth.
Prayer Points – By Martin Boardman
We need to let the Holy Spirit search our hearts and reveal areas where He wants to lead us through his refining fire.
The Lord desires to bring each of us into deeper levels of healing and draw us deeper into a relationship with Him as Savior and Redeemer.
The Father wants to bring us through this pruning process so that we may be even more fruitful in his kingdom. The following prayer points will help you to walk into that experience of pruning and Refining.
As you move through these prayer points, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Linger over each step as the Spirit leads, and then move to the next step as He shows you.
Step 1. Focus on Jesus
Scripture is clear that God is love and that He loves us, His children. Take some time to meditate on the following scriptures that speak of God’s love and Christ’s supremacy.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4–6 (NIV)
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15–20 (NIV)
Step 2. Draw Near to God
We must come close to the Lord and surrender to Him as our Lord and Savior.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8 (NIV)
Step 3. Ask the Lord, “What needs to be pruned?”
If we ask the Lord, he will show us those things in our lives that He would like to deal with. So take some time in quiet, and ask the Holy Spirit to shine his light upon you and show you those things he wants to work upon.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2 (NIV)
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23–24 (NIV)
Step 4. Ask the Lord for further guidance
Sit with Holy Spirit and ask Him to reveal the root causes of the attitudes, behaviors, or woundings He wants to deal with. Allow the Spirit to bring memories to the surface of your conscious mind, and ask him to show you what you need to do with them.
Here are some questions to consider as you do this:
- Is there someone or a group of people whom you need to forgive?
- Do you need to ask for forgiveness for anything or from anyone?
- Are there lies you have believed that need to be renounced?
- Are there vows you have made that need to be rejected?
Step 5. Invite Jesus into your woundedness and brokenness
Open your heart to allow Jesus to manifest his healing presence to you.
I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. Psalm 30:1–2 (NLT)
Step 6. Healing through The Word
God’s healing comes with the command to walk further with him in obedience. Ask the Lord to help you hear the Word he is speaking to you.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:19–20 (NIV)
Step 7. Choosing to Abide
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 (NRSV)
As we choose to remain and abide in Jesus, he will use us to bear fruit in his kingdom. Ask the Lord to reveal his kingdom’s purposes for you.
Step 8. Invite the Holy Spirit to Fill you
Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18–20 (The Message)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV)
Invite Holy Spirit to fill you and empower you to be a witness for Him in His kingdom.
If you get stuck on any of these steps, you might find it helpful to walk through them with a trusted friend or prayer team. For more information about prayer ministry and prayer appointments with PRMI, contact the PRMI office.