Recently I had the privilege of chatting with Pastor Connie Bennot of Journey of Grace, Cape Town. Our conversation revolved around effective prayer and the adventures she’s had and still has as a seasoned intercessor.
Connie Bennot is a kingdom-minded, passionate leader. She has been in ministry for 39 years as a church planter, pastor, missionary and intercessor. She is a prophetic voice who awakens souls to the love story of Jesus.
Connie and her husband Bill, whose extensive ministry experience began in the western United States, planted the His People Church, now called Every Nation, in Johannesburg in 1987. Currently, they are the lead pastors of Journey of Grace church in Cape Town. Together they serve churches and leaders in the US and in South Africa.
Their mandate is to cultivate a kingdom culture, where the beliefs, values and behaviours of Heaven become characteristic of a community of people who are mobilising to bring effective and sustainable transformation to their communities and cities. Connie is the mother of four children, Ben, Adam, Ethan and Melody.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic which has thrust the world into a different way of doing life, the Church has been heavily impacted and Connie’s view is that the Church has been pulled into a deeper realm of understanding her place and authority in the world, taking a more aggressive stance spiritually in things that have an effect on society as a whole. This, she says, is the time of the rising of the Ecclesia — the Church — to stand as she should in bringing God’s government to earth.
Each church has a specific role to play in this regard, such as focusing on youth, government, farmers. We are all one body with different parts, but we’re all connected to God through Jesus, Connie says. As an intercessor, and watchman on the wall, Connie has her heart in two nations – America and South Africa.
She recalls a time when she and Bill were planting a church in America and it was slow in taking off. She’d been praying for around 2 to 3 hours in the Spirit one morning and she was taken into the spiritual realm where she saw the demonic principality ruling the city (there were exceptionally high numbers of domestic violence incidents in particular).
Feeling startled, Connie wondered if she was even going to survive taking this spirit on? God then showed her how the spirit behaved and what it employed to keep the city in bondage. He also showed her in the Bible, the scriptural prayer strategy to bring it down. He told her to pray that His Spirit would touch families, for His Spirit to cover families, which is exactly what Connie did and within a few months, there was a dramatic drop in family crime.
She says there is great value in corporate prayer groups, where as intercessors, one prays for specific parts of society. So, some may feel they have the mantle to specifically pray for government. Being called to pray for a president is not more important than being called to pray for a child. It’s just that some may feel more of the unction to stand in the gap for government, to call for righteous leadership, exposure of corrupt practices while others feel the burden to pray for those bound by addiction. These are all expressions of us partnering with God in His purpose and Him expressing His love through us and through our personalities. Some may find themselves crying with gut-wrenching sobs while others may speak with a strong sense of authority.
Connie chuckles and says we don’t need to wonder if there is a target on our backs as intercessors/ prayer warriors/children of God. There is. When we’re opposing the plan of the enemy and stopping him from killing, stealing and destroying, it’s not going to go down without a fight. But the clincher is that because God goes before us and His angels are around us, we have the victory already. We live and move and have our being in Him; we move as He moves.
There are times when we see situations that in the natural we just cannot confront, either due to our safety or the safety of another. At such times we can ask God how He wants us to partner with Him in those situations. Understanding Who God is, makes it a lot easier to pray in authority when we are moving in time with Him. We always want our prayers to change someone’s life, and that comes through effective partnering with God.
There are times when God will reveal what is going on in the natural as an indicator of what is happening in the spiritual, says Connie. As an example, if one looked at the recent situation in the Free State [Senekal], where there was a huge victory for peace that was followed with fire [a reference to a recent outbreak of arson on farms in areas of SA]. So, we can see this as a spiritually-coordinated attack where there’s the fire and the vehicle is political.
Connie says it is important to pay attention to the things going on in the land and the timing of things going on in the land. When we’re praying, leading prayer meetings, we’re to pay attention to what God is doing in the spiritual, matching it with the natural. Some people are called, Connie says, to release decrees over the land. So that person will decree what God says to decree, whether it be scriptures or something else related to what God is wanting to do.
At the end of it all, it is just about obedience and being led by the Lord. Doing what He says to do, when He says to do it and how He says to do it. There are times when Connie is woken up in the middle of the night and she senses the atmosphere over the nation at that time — such as when she was alerted to a spirit of fear during the height of the pandemic. In that instance she asked the Lord to give the country peace and she declared peace over the nation.
There are also times when she doesn’t know what God wants her to pray about. That is one of the reasons she is a firm believer in praying in tongues, thereby making herself available as a vessel for the Holy Sprit to pray God’s will on Earth.
There are also times when she’ll wake up and be able to rejoice with God when the victory comes to pass in the land in answer to prayers prayed over time. There should always be an element of joy, victory and celebration to prayer because we’re partnering with our All-Powerful God!
Intercession, Connie says, is identifying something that God wants to do and standing in the gap in intercession to be used to bring that to the Earth. Volunteering to be the watcher on the wall, staying up to make sure the city’s safe. Effectively, it is putting yourself between what the enemy wants to do and releasing what God wants to do.
As intercessors we don’t pick the fights because God goes before us and gives us the strategies as we go along. God needs our faith, our voice, our travail.
Connie says that when the Holy Spirit is leading you, He is the fire all around you and the cloud of Glory on top of you.