Praying with Authority

In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:23-24   

When we see the flashing lights of a police car behind us and pull over to the side of the road and await the officer approaching the car to ask for our licence and registration, we comply because we know that the officer has the authority to do that. The officer cannot do that when they are off duty and driving their own car. They can only stop us because of the authority of the badge which they carry. 

In a similar manner we carry a badge of authority in prayer, because we belong to Jesus. We carry his badge, his authority. As we accept Jesus as Lord we are adopted by the Father, through the justifying work of the Spirit who allows us to cry out “Abba Father” (Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:6). As adopted children of God we can come to him at any time. I came across a quote from Tim Keller which expressed this beautifully… 

“The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 am for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access.” 

With such access we can come before the Lord at any time. We can approach God’s throne with confidence because we have the authority of his children (Heb 4:16). We have authority of access and we have authority of request. 

When we come to the father in the name of Jesus, we are promised by Christ that “my father will give you whatever you ask in my name’ (John 16:23). Our requests are heard through Jesus and the father will respond to those prayers. 

Christ’s work of redemption allows the reconciliation of humanity with God. The relationship which Adam had with the Father is being redeemed and so too is the task God gave to Adam. Adam had dominion in Eden, he had authority and was a co-labourer with God. God invites us today into that place of domination and authority as through the Holy Spirit we are invited to join in the work the Father is doing just as Jesus did (john 5:19). One of the ways we can join in that work is by praying. 

When we pray in the authority of our position in Christ and pray into God’s will in the name and authority of Jesus then our prayers become powerful ad effective. It’s time to pray in authority.

Praying Together

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19–20  

There is great value in personal private prayer time with the Lord. Scripture encourages us to go “into your room, close the door and pray to your Father” (Matthew 6:6). This verse continues with a promise of reward for those who spend time in prayer. Spending intimate time with the Lord is one of the best ways of developing a personal love relationship with our heavenly Father. We grow in understanding who we are and who God is. 

But it is not the only way the Lord calls for us to engage in prayer. Later in Matthew’s gospel Jesus directs his disciples to pray together. While Jesus assures us that we will be rewarded when we pray on our own, when we pray together in Jesus’ name the Lord promises that those prayers will be effective. 

They are effective because there is unity and mutual submission. When I pray by myself it is just God and I. I can pray for whatever I want to pray for. But when I get together with a group to pray then we join together to pray about a specific topic. There is an immediate sense of unity, which comes from praying together. Everyone is engaged in prayer at the same time and there is mutual submission to one another as everyone prays together for a particular issue rather than everyone praying for what they want. 

Praying together is effective because it becomes the body of Christ at work. God has given this body various gifts, which come together when we pray as a group. One person may bring a word of wisdom giving guidance to a situation, another may be bring a scripture to pray, or a picture or word of knowledge, all of which give shape, direction and fullness to the prayer. It requires trust to pray together and out of that trust greater fellowship follows. We draw near to God, but we also draw near to one another. Praying together produces koinonea; it builds community. 

We need personal times of prayer to draw close to the Lord, to read and meditate on God’s Word. Out of that time we receive the personal reward of relationship with our Abba Father. Then as we join together in corporate prayer we unite in fellowship. Together our prayers become effective.

Prayer is like a Combine

Would you try to harvest a 1000-acre field with a hand held scythe? To try and harvest such a large size field with a hand held instrument would take a very long time and a huge amount of effort. Depending upon the size of the field it would even become impossible to harvest it by hand. 

But if you were to bring the power of a combine to the field, then what was at one point impossible suddenly becomes possible. The field can be harvested. 

Prayer is like a combine; it makes possible what is impossible. Too often prayer is overlooked or dismissed because we fail to realize how essential prayer is. “But in everything by prayer” (Philippians 4:6) scripture tells us but do we actually believe that? Too often we approach the problems, challenges and even the opportunities in our lives as if we have been given a hand scythe and been sent out to harvest while there is a brand new combine sitting in the farm yard. 

We wonder why we don’t see more people coming to know Jesus. We wonder why the church does not fill up on a Sunday morning. We wonder why we do not see transformation in our communities and nation. The answer in part is that we are not praying. We are standing with a scythe when we could be sitting in a combine! 

Prayer is powerful, it changes and transforms who we are and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. It does so because it draws us into a relationship with our heavenly Father and as we continue to come into His presence then we cannot fail to find ourselves changed. Through time spent in prayer God’s power is released and transformation takes place. 

Jesus said, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. ” (John 4:35) But to be effective in harvesting those fields we need to see our prayer lives renewed and revived infused with Holy Spirit power, which comes from our Father. 

It is time to climb up into the combine of prayer and see transformation and harvest happen.

Prayer is like “Green Eggs and Ham”

One of my boys’ favourite bedtime story books (okay It was mine too) was “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss [1]. In the book Sam is insistent that his friend try his plate of green eggs and ham. Page after page of Sam asking “Would you like them here or there?” and the friend is adamant that he does not like green eggs and ham. But eventually he is worn down and realizing the only way to silence the persistent Sam is to actually try the green eggs and ham, he takes a bite. Transformation takes place. “Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I am!” It’s a great children’s book and I will admit to trying to use the Sam-I-am approach to encourage my own children to try new foods.

The reluctance of the friend to try the green eggs and ham is similar to how we sometimes approach prayer. “That is not really for me.” or “It’s not my gifting” or “I don’t like it.” These are examples of the excuses we use to keep us from praying. The psalmist encourages us to:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8)

The challenge he presents is to try things God’s way. The psalmist goes on to promise that those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing. As we step into the place of prayer, we discover the riches of God which he gives through this prayer relationship. In prayer, as we seek God, he promises that he will be found (Jeremiah 29:8) and we shall lack no good thing.

If we take the palmist’s challenge to “taste and see that the Lord is good” we will find, just as Sam’s friend did, that the Lord is good. There is a blessing which comes out of time spent in prayer. We will also discover the vast variety of styles and ways to pray. We can pray in the rain or in the dark or on a train or in a plane or in a car or in a tree for pray is so good, so good you see!

A whole new dimension of relationship with our Heavenly Father opens up to us when we take the risk and try prayer. We taste and see that the Lord is indeed good.
[1] “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss (New York, New York: Beginner Books: Distributed by Random House) 1960