Tag Archives: prayer

THE PRAYER OF POWER

THE PRAYER OF POWER

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better (Eph. 1: 15-17).

Much is spoken and written about the power of prayer, but what about the prayer of power? Paul knew how to pray the prayer of power.

If you were in his shoes, what would you have prayed for these infant Ephesian believers? They had been steeped in superstition, witchcraft and idolatry. They had believed and faithfully adhered to the myths and legends surrounding their beloved Diana, and worshipped her with the fervour of religious devotees.

Suddenly, their world was transformed. When they heard the message of Jesus, which was no myth but the truth, based on historical fact. His life and death had happened within their lifetime, and they embraced the message willingly. But what were they to do with the religious “junk” that had filled their minds from birth?

It was a wonder to Paul that they had believed his message and turned away from their belief in idols and their horrible lifestyle to worship God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He could not stop thanking God for the miracle. Wouldn’t you? But how would they stand up to the pressure of the Roman government? They were the targets of terrible cruelty because they refused to acknowledge Caesar as Lord. How could they, not even to save their lives, because they had confessed Jesus as Lord.

Paul could have pleaded with God to protect them from their persecutors, to keep them safe and to “be with them” wherever they were. These are familiar words, aren’t they? We have prayed prayers like this for our friends and family, haven’t we? How powerful is this kind of prayers? The Apostle John wrote:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him (1 John 5: 14-15).

In their circumstances, what do you think God’s will for them would be? To save them from being persecuted? If that were so, why were so many of them put to death, and by cruel torture?

Why did He not stop the persecution and deal with the bloodthirsty Nero who ordered it? Is it not possible that God had a plan, even when man’s plan was to exterminate the believers? A quote from one of the church fathers confirms that persecution did not get rid of the problem but fuelled the flames of evangelism and faith.

The 2nd-century Church Father Tertullian wrote that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church,” implying that the martyrs’ willing sacrifice of their lives leads to the conversion of others.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_martyrs – retrieved December 2015.

The prayer of power does not focus on the comfort or safety of the ones for who we pray. It centres on God and what He desires through the trials we endure. What does He want for His people? Jesus summed up the Father’s desire in His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17.

Now this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17: 3).

Do you think God would answer a prayer like that? Of course, He would because He wants us to know Him and His Son, Jesus. He longs for us to experience Him, His love and His mercy, in the fullest way possible. We can only know Him when we open our hearts to Him and allow Him to reveal Himself to us in and through the circumstances of our daily lives.

Unfortunately, we interpret God through our circumstances, and end up accusing Him of not loving us, of being indifferent or even punishing us for something we may have said or done. He wants us to understand our circumstances through Him and to respond in faith in Him no matter what happens, because He has promised that He will make everything that happens to us work for our good.

When we really know God, when we are willing to trust Him when everything seems dark, when we are convinced that He loves us, no matter what happens, then the trials we face can never destroy us because He has promised that nothing can separate us from His love in Christ Jesus.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

21 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – THE POWER OF PRAYER

21 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – THE POWER OF PRAYER

Now this is a huge subject! So many streams of thought, but in this context, let’s look at prayer as it contributes to learning to live with God as our Father and in the love and harmony of God’s family in the environment of a hostile world. Remember, we are living in God’s kingdom in the middle of enemy territory.

First of all, what is prayer?

We have unfortunately made prayer a formal activity confined to specific times and places, when we pray aloud or in our minds, starting with “Dear Lord Jesus…” or “Dear Heavenly Father…” and ending with “…in Jesus’ name, amen.” You must end with “Amen” so God knows you’ve finished praying! It’s almost like signing off a radio communication, “Over and out.”

That’s not prayer. That’s our idea of prayer. It actually contradicts Paul’s instruction to “pray without ceasing” or, better, “never stop praying.” How can we pray all day and all night if we pray our “dear Heavenly Father” prayers?

  1. Prayer is a family activity

More than anything else, children need a father. He gives them the security of an identity, and protects and provides for them in their weakness and vulnerability.

A good father is always available for his children. He listens and understands, gives good counsel and does not judge or criticise. We talk to our dads about everything. We tell him stuff, we ask advice, we make requests, we share our ideas, we go to him for comfort, reassurance, help, even affirmation and praise.

God is our Father and He is always with us. He wants us to treat Him and trust Him as our perfect Father. He wants to be part of the most personal and intimate details of our lives. He’s always available.

  1. Our Father knows what we need

Much of our “praying” is taken up with needs. We have to inform, explain and advise God about our needs in case He forgets. After all, He does have a world full of people to take care of, who also have needs.

This kind of praying comes from a low view of God as our Father. We see God through our earthly father which is a bad perspective, not a Biblical one.

Our Father is more to us than the checkout at a grocery store. He is our Father, the one who has our best interests at heart and has the wisdom and power to care for us in every way.

  1. Prayer is our access to all the resources of the kingdom

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22 NLT

Everything we need to live as God’s children in a hostile environment, a depressed economy, and a disease-riddled planet is at our disposal.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Living in this world is a dangerous business

A father’s role is to protect his children from danger. Earthly fathers can’t always do this, but our Heavenly Father can. He has legions of angels at His beck and call.

“Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.” Hebrews 1:14 NLT

He dispatches them in a flash to stand between us and danger.

“For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.” Psalms 91:11-12 NLT

He never permits anything that does not work for our good.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT

As much as we need protection from the natural and physical dangers around us, how much more do we need to guard our minds from the deception that can destroy us and our destiny in this life.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT

How can we be safe from Satan’s devices?

God has provided armour that protects our thoughts… God’s armour is found in God’s Word.

“Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11 NLT

There is protection in humility.

And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:6-7 NLT

  1. Our Father understands our hearts

Sometimes it’s difficult to understand with our finite minds the meaning of what the Bible is saying. Take this Scripture, for example.

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” Romans 8:26-27 NLT

The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in us. We know that but what does it mean? There is such an intimacy between the Holy Spirit, the Father and us that the Holy Spirit who understands our frail humanity, takes the jumble in our minds and hearts and presents it to the Father with perfect clarity.

I don’t understand all the details of this interaction but it comforts me to know that my muddled mind and emotions never hinder God’s responses to me. This produces a peace inside me that is unaffected by the chaos around me.

  1. Prayer allows us to participate in God’s business

What is God’s business?

4.1. The kingdom is God’s business.

“… Your kingdom come, your will be done,  on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 NIV

We make prayer so much about ourselves, our needs and wants that we forget that we are here to fit into God’s bigger story. We know that Jesus spent time finding out what the Father wanted Him to say and do.

“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19 NIV

When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we are not dispassionate spectators but enthusiastic participants, involving ourselves in the Father’s business as partners with Him.

Jesus gave us this instruction,

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 NLT

The greatest blow to Satan and his thirst for control is to do whatever we can, by word or deed, to represent the kingdom of God where we are. In partnership with the Holy Spirit, like Jesus, we should be on the alert for opportunities to put God’s kingdom on display.

4.2. God’s family is His business

The New Testament is dotted with “one another” instructions. Why is this? Caring for one another is one of the only two commandments in the New Covenant.

“And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.” 1 John 3:23 NLT

I don’t think we can be more loving than by praying for one another. Paul’s letters are full of examples of the prayers he prayed for his fellow believers. His concern for them was  reflected in what he prayed for them. We can learn much from him about what to focus on when we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT

There are no examples in the New Testament of prayers for the salvation of unbelievers. I wonder why? Was Paul not concerned about their salvation? Of course he was, but Paul viewed them from God’s perspective. A study of Romans 10 reveals that it is believing the gospel, not prayer, that saves people.

So, prayer for the coming of God’s kingdom on earth and for our fellow believers is a powerful weapon in our arsenal of weaponry against our common enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are in this together. We have one goal, to fulfill God’s purpose for us.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18 NIV

“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” Hebrews 2:10-11 NIV

We are one family in Christ, living together in love and harmony, preparing for our eternal home with the Father by living under His authority in this evil world.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

All Scripture quotations in this series

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

3 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – WHO IS IN CHARGE?

3 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – WHO IS IN CHARGE?

 Now that we have finally settled the issue of who is in charge, we have our first weapon against the devil’s lie that he is in charge – TRUTH.

Our immediate response to adversity should never be, “I am under attack.” Wrong focus! Our first response should be, “I am being tested.” Who is testing me? Definitely not the devil. He has no authority to do anything without Jesus’s permission.

Why am I being tested? To find out whose word I believe. Do I believe the TRUTH that Jesus is in charge, or do I believe the lie that Satan controls my life? Jesus will continue to test us in this area until our automatic response is confidence in the love, goodness and power of God, no matter what.

When we are finally secure in the conviction that Jesus is in charge, we can begin to explore the power given to us to respond positively to every test.

We have two resources at our disposal, God’s TRUTH which tells us what the real issues are in every situation, and God’s PROMISES which show us what He intends to do if we trust Him.

We also have two channels through which we access those promises, FAITH, our only connection with God in the unseen realm, and PRAYER, our direct access to God to tap into the resources He has made available.

We have already briefly commented on faith as the only thread that connects us to God. Without the confidence that God is who He says He is, loving, faithful, reliable and trustworthy, and that He will do what He says He will do, prayer would be a waste of time.

“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:4-5 NLT

Today, we take a closer look at prayer because it is only through prayer that we have direct access to and contact with God.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22 NLT

“So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT

From the many studies we have done on prayer, let me summarise the Bible’s perspective rather than what we have learned from others.

  1. Prayer is, firstly, changing our awareness. We deliberately turn our thoughts away from the earthly circumstances we are embroiled in to contemplate the glories of the one whose help we are seeking.
  1. We can only approach the Father on the authority of Jesus (in His name). He has given us power of attorney to use His name ONLY if our prayers meet the requirements of His character and will.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.  You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! John 14:12-14 NLT

“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” 1 John 5:14-15 NLT

  1. Our motive for asking for help is to protect our unity with Him and to glorify His name no matter what it costs us. Look at Jesus…

“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!  Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” John 12:27-28 NLT

“He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Mark 14:35-36 NLT

Whenever we effectively engage the power of God in any situation, the outcome reflects back on God.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

  1. Having established that Jesus is in charge and that we have help available for every situation we face, now we turn to the Word and the Promises and ask for discernment to engage whatever resources are available in God’s realm (kingdom) to resolve the situation for our good and His glory.

The New Testament gives us many examples of the way Jesus went about dealing with seemingly impossible earthly situations by engaging the kingdom’s resources. Just one powerful example comes to mind, the feeding of the five thousand.

“Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”  He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.” John 6:5-6 NLT

Jesus was already convinced of the Father’s character and will. He (the Father) would never send people in need away to seek help elsewhere.

Jesus showed His faith in the Father by giving thanks for the food available in His hand. He acted on that confidence without hesitation.

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.” John 6:11 NLT

Please understand that I am not giving you a check list to tick off but rather showing you how to develop a mindset that responds to challenges rather than reacts in panic.

John wrote an absurd statement which is impossible to achieve UNLESS we do it by using the resources God has given us to overcome the world.

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So, we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence BECAUSE WE LIVE LIKE JESUS HERE IN THIS WORLD.” 1 John 4:16-17 NLT

How is this possible? We’ll discover how as we go along.

What I have done so far is to lay a foundation to enable us deal with the whole variety of challenges we face in our lives in this world. I have discovered that every challenge and every test has a specific resource that God has provided for us to overcome the world (the way the world thinks and reacts) in the problems we face and turn them into opportunities to shine the light on God.

In the next few weeks, we’ll explore every resource and find out how to apply them as situations arise. I would love you to add to the list as you recognise, in the Word, what God has provided for you to overcome the world.

Scripture  taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

THE BOOK OF ACTS – IN THIS FOR GOOD

IN THIS FOR GOOD 

“So they left the mountain called Olives and returned to Jerusalem. It was a little over a half a mile. They went to the upper room they had been using as a meeting place: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, son of Alpheus, Simon the Zealot, Judas, son of James.

“They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included. Also Jesus’ mother, Mary, and His brothers.” Acts 1:12-14 (The Message).

This seems like a pathetically small group of followers after three years and a spectacular life of miracles and teaching like no other rabbi. God had once said to His people when they felt overwhelmed by their circumstances, “Who despises the day of small things?” Zechariah 4:10 (NIV).

The people of God had returned from exile and, after many years, they had finally rebuilt their temple, but it was an inferior temple to the one built by Solomon. They wept but God reassured them that the glory of the latter temple would exceed the glory of the former. Of course, He was referring prophetically to the human temple He would occupy after Jesus’ work of restoration through the cross.

These few people in the upper room were now right in line for the fulfilment of that prophecy. They were few in number but their potential was huge because of the one fact which Luke noted. They were in this together. Together they prayed and waited for the promise to be fulfilled.

Adam’s decision to go it alone had severed him from God and shattered the image of God in him, the oneness (ECHAD) that reflected the oneness between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one…” Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV). It was imperative that this small group of people be of one heart and mind so that the Holy Spirit could have unrestricted access to their spirits.

At the beginning of human history, when the people banded together to set up a false religion in rebellion against God, God said, “‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.'” Genesis 11:8 (NIV).

In few days’ time Babel would be reversed. Their unity would be the environment into which the Holy Spirit would come to set them on the path of restoring what Adam had destroyed in the Garden of Eden.

Jesus’ prayer just before His arrest gives us a glimpse into His heart. His final request was “‘that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.'” John 17:21 (NIV).

This unity is initiated by the Spirit but maintained by the mutual submission of God’s people. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2, 3 (NIV).

These disciples had decided to stick together, to do life together and to go it together and in that decision and their actions that followed they paved the way for the Spirit’s coming and His work in and through them.

They had made their decision – they were in this together, for good!

New Covenant Prayer – The Foundation

NEW COVENANT PRAYER – THE FOUNDATION

Prayer is a common activity in all religions. In fact, religion is a felt need because human beings are incomplete within themselves and need a higher power upon which to depend in their weakness and to supply their needs.

Since people are essentially at enmity with God and refuse either to acknowledge His existence or to recognise their accountability to Him as their Creator, they have created gods for themselves which are both figments of their imagination and beings (though non-existent) made in their image so that they can manage and manipulate them for their own ends. Prayer to these “gods” is not true prayer. This kind of “prayer” has no fellowship with its god, and it does not submit to the will of such a god. People relate to their gods on the basis of fear. Whatever they do is often an attempt to appease or to manipulate them for their own ends.

We cannot understand true prayer unless we understand our essential relationship with our Creator. In order to short circuit our accountability to our Creator, we have invented both gods and what we call “prayer” but that does not absolve us from accountability in any way. We can neither make God go away, nor can we shake off our responsibility to Him just because we choose to do so.

God has two very valid reasons for calling us to account for what we are and what we do with our lives. He is both our Creator and our Reconciler.

1. GOD IS OUR CREATOR
There is no other account of creation that gives a simpler or saner record of the event. Unlike all other attempts to explain how the universe came to be, including the theory of evolution that many scientists support that presupposes that everything just “happened”, the Bible explains the origin of all life by starting at the beginning.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen.1:1)

Since God claims responsibility for all of creation, He has the right to direct the affairs of individuals and nations.

I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself (Isa. 44:24).

2. GOD IS OUR RECONCILER
In Paul Young’s book, The Shack, the main character, Mackenzie, asked Papa (the person who plays the part of God the Father), the question, “What exactly did Jesus accomplish by dying?” Papa’s response was both simple and riveting. “Honey, you asked me what Jesus accomplished on the cross; so now listen to me carefully: through His death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the world.”

“The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?” Mack asked.

“The whole world, Mack. All I am telling you is that reconciliation is a two-way street, and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally. It is not the nature of love to force a relationship but it is the nature of love to open the way,” responded Papa.

God has opened the way for the world to be reconciled to Him. He invites us to change our minds about Him and to return to Him. He reinstates all who receive His forgiveness as His beloved sons and daughters.

…God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. (2 Cor. 5:19).

It is this Father/son relationship which qualifies us to come to God and to call on Him for a response to our prayers. There can be no true prayer outside of this relationship.