Introduction (repeated in parts 1-4)
The portion of the Church (those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives) that currently exists in the industrial nations such as the U.S., Canada, France and other parts of Europe, has become a dysfunctional, mere shadow of the first century Church. Over the past few months, the Lord has taken me on a “Tour” of sick and dying denominational churches where, in my opinion, there is either open rebellion, or a subtle form of what I will call a “beguiling” rebellion against His direct and delegated authority and where there is also open denial of His power. When I say, “beguiling”, I mean that, although the individuals in the church are sincere and honest Christians, yet they have been deceived by the tempter (Satan), just like Eve herself was deceived when she partook of the forbidden fruit.
Would Eve have described her act of rebellion as “rebellious”? No. But just as Eve rebelled in partaking of the forbidden fruit, so, too, do I believe that churches in the West are also rebelling against what God has ordained for his church. Thus it is, that, based on the word of God, I can say that, even though churches may be sincere, and even walking in the light to a certain extent, yet there is much rebellion going on, whether open or not. Simply put, the church in the west, to a large extent, is currently in rebellion, but so deceived is she, that there are not many that would care to admit this fact, or take ownership of it, or realize that they themselves are in fact, in rebellion. This has led to a huge and devastating darkness that has now covered our lands, to the extent that many churches now proclaim “light” as “darkness” and “darkness” as “light”. This is deception. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
God has shown me the darkness and sickness in His children and how they are handing their families and their inheritance over to the enemy (Satan) in ever-increasing numbers. He has also shown me four important steps that will lead the Church back into His authority, into His power and into the light.
Understanding Prayer, a Responsibility and a Privilege – Step 3
The call to intercessory prayer has never been as strong as it is today. It will be even stronger tomorrow. The statement has been made that prayer is both a responsibility and a privilege and God’s children are being called to intercession with an ever-increasing regularity and urgency. Unfortunately, just like Peter Pan in the movie of the same name, God’s children have forgotten who they are. As a reminder, we are the sent delegates of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The enemy (Satan) may have supernatural power on this earth but he no longer has authority. In Genesis 3:15, God told Adam and Eve “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” God stated that He would crush Satan’s “rosh” (Heb) or headship that had just been taken from them and Jesus Christ indeed returned that headship or authority to mankind when, as a man, He took it back from Satan at the cross.
From the beginning, the Father deliberately chose to accomplish His will on earth through man (that is, mankind, which is both man and woman). He may know what we need but we must still ask for it. That is simply the way God works, and we must respect that if we are to see God’s authority flowing through our lives. What does this mean in a practical sense? It means that even though God knows all there is to know about us, including what we need, we are still required to bring our burdens and needs and petitions before him in a regular ongoing manner. To some, this may seem like an unfair burden. But it is because they do not understand God or his nature. God does not require us to pray and bring our petitions before him because of some legal requirement, but because he desires for us to get to know him. In other words, it is the relationship that is at the forefront of his concern when he says, “Pray”. After all, is it not true that God himself has been providing for the needs of all people on the earth, since the earth has begun? And have all people been praying to him, giving him glory for all that he has done? Certainly not. Thus, it is not a legal requirement that we pray in order to have our needs met. In other words, prayer is not required to have your physical needs met. But ah, it is required if you are going to be effective for God’s kingdom. Please, let me explain.
The man who does not pray, thinking that God will take care of him anyway, because God knows all, is only fooling himself and deceiving himself, for he is missing out on the greatest blessing this side of heaven: cultivating a powerful relationship with the living God. Thus, if you have always thought of prayer as something you “do” in order to get your needs met – as something to fulfill some sort of legal requirement before God – then you are missing the point! The point is, God loves you so much, and he desires to use you so much, that he calls you, or “requires you” in this sense, to pray, in order to have your needs met. No, you do not have to pray. But yes, you have to pray if you expect to be used by God powerfully and effectively. Or, to put it another way, there was never a man (or woman) who was used powerfully and effectively by God who did not pray. The two — that is, effectiveness for God’s kingdom and prayer — “must needs” always go together! From Wesley to Carmichael to Edwards to Spurgeon to Paul and Jesus himself – you name it – they all prayed. And, by the way, they all received an eternal reward for doing so! Am I then proposing that you pray in order to receive an eternal reward?! No, but if you have to, let it be a motivator. Whatever it takes to pray! In the end, you will realize that prayer is not something you do primarily to “get” something out of – though it is true, you will be blessed beyond measure if and as you pray.
I want you to know, as well, that though God still supplies the needs of the rest of the world who don’t pray, that God does often specifically withhold blessings from his own children who refuse to pray. Why? Because they are in disobedience to his command to pray. And it is not wise to disobey God’s commands. Thus a lack of provision may sometimes be chastisement from a loving but holy God on account of our own disobedience. In all of this, God is loving and desires to “woo us away” from sin and into his arms of love. God desires to show us how great he is, but only through a committed, prayerful, relationship with him is this possible! My friend, God has secrets to reveal to you, but he will not do that unless you learn to pray and submit yourself to him! Thus, many of us miss out and never arrive at the place that God has for us. What a shame! His word says that His will is that all shall be saved but we must still ask for it. He wills for us to be healthy but we must still ask for health. We have been tasked with the awesome responsibility of asking His will and then praying His will into existence through intercession. We have the awesome privilege of being His children and being loved by Him. Using the authority that He has delegated to us, we are to stand against the enemy, Satan. “Submit yourselves to God, therefore,” the Bible says. “Resist the devil and he will flee.” (James 4:6-7)
We cannot sit back and watch the war from our rocking chairs. When we ask for something and we are then shown that God is beginning to move on our request, it is not time to give thanks. It is time to literally drench the situation in prayer and to continue to pray through for the victory. Our response must be identical to Daniel’s when he recognized that the time for the end of the nation’s captivity had arrived. He didn’t say to himself “Wow – Jeremiah’s prophecy says that we’re going to be in captivity for 70 years and the time is up – let’s celebrate! His response was: “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.” (Dan 9:3). We must stop letting the enemy take our spouses, our children and our kingdom inheritance without a fight. If we have already made that mistake, we have the authority to go to his gates and take those things back through prayer and fasting!
You are reading part 3 of a four part series. Stay tuned for part 4, tomorrow.