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The Forbidden North and the Power of Prayer

Could prayer truly threaten a nation?

  Months before arriving in Korea for our mission trip, our team spent many hours praying, fasting, and pouring our hearts not only into South Korea, but also into North Korea to see reconciliation, redemption, and freedom for the nation and its people. On the last Friday of our schedule, we journeyed several hours to the North Western coast of South Korea to arrive at the DMZ–the Demilitarized Zone–the no-man’s land between South and North Korea. Our purpose: to release freedom over the nation of North Korea through prayer.


journey north

                    Under the rule of Kim Jong-un, North Korea is known as one of the top most dangerous countries in the world for the persecution of Christians. Before leaving for our mission, I was privileged to hear the story of one such persecuted Christian (who will remain anonymous) held prisoner in North Korea for sharing the Gospel. When questioned by the NK government about their work as a missionary–and about how their job description focused largely on prayer–the government insisted that this kind of work threatened the nation. The grounds for their charges included the following reasoning: If one person started a prayer movement, it could grow to involve hundreds, thousands, and eventually millions of followers. In other words: prayer could ignite a revolution. The person held in question realized it was true, and the power of prayer could not be denied.

                    With this story in mind, empowering context breathed new passion in my heart for our prayer pilgrimage to the North. As we trekked up the path to the border, the surroundings of the land began to change. Military vehicles lined the roads, security gates towered toward the skies, and soldiers heavily guarded the way. A thick silence filled the air as a South Korean soldier stepped on our bus to survey our group, clearing us to continue on. As we neared the lookout point, I was surprised to find little shops selling souvenirs and snacks (including everyone’s favorite delicacy: warm, tasty… silkworms.)


“Boundary” in Korean.


              Finally, we reached the DMZ and my eyes beheld North Korea for the first time; a mere .5 miles from where I stood. The sparkling sea peacefully graced the shoreline, creating the mirage of a picturesque travel destination–a juxtaposition of the oppression of the country.


.5 Miles from North Korean

North Korea in the distance, .5 Miles away.


              Only a small fence lined the border, and just beyond it lay the land of the forbidden North. It seemed eerily easy for one to jump across and traverse into the outlawed lands–a prophetic picture of how close the nation is to breakthrough. As a team, we looked out across the border and we began to declare hope and peace over one of the most dangerous countries in the world. We worshipped our King freely here, and we prayed for God to encounter Kim Jong-un with the the transforming power of Christ’s love, in a type of Saul-Paul conversion.


interceding

           Over 100 years ago, from 1907-1910, the capital of North Korea, Pyong Yang, experienced a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit known as the Pyong Yang Revival. Thousands came to know Christ because of this movement. Remembering history, we cried out for a move of God to spread across the land with greater momentum and power than ever before.

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” -Ezekiel 22:30

                   In this Scripture Verse, the phrase “stand in the gap” is synonymous with the word intercession, which can be defined as: standing in the gap in prayer until the answer comes.

            God is looking for those who will pray, stand in the gap, on behalf of nations until the answer comes.  We may not be able to always be there in person to lend a helping hand, but we can always pray–and the power of prayer should never be underestimated.

We left the border that day, believing we moved heaven and earth with our prayers–believing God for the revival of a nation.

“Our Heavenly Father, May the glory of Your name Be the center on which our life turns. May Your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us. Manifest Your Kingdom on earth. And give us each day what is needed for that day. And forgive us our sins as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us. And rescue us every time we face tribulations.”

Jesus’ model prayer, Luke 11:2-4 (The Passion Translation)

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About the Author

MARIEL VILLARREAL is a writer, speaker, and prophetic mentor. Her heart is to encourage this generation with right-now prophetic words that reignite hope during the waiting between a prophetic promise and its fulfillment. Through her ministry, the Embolden Co., she holds seasonal prophetic mentorships, training programs, and retreats to empower people around the world to develop their spiritual gifts and hear God for their lives—so they can bring revival to the nations. 

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