Our senses are pummelled daily by an onslaught of information from Facebook; from Twitter; eMail; telephone; news programmes and even newspapers. It is no wonder that we often have a sense of being weighed down. In the majority of cases it is, in reality, a matter of information overload.
In recent weeks and months we have been confronted with images of churches in Iraq and other, mainly moslem countries, being burned down. or ransacked and people being slaughtered, even crucified and beheaded simply for believing in, or following a different religion, or sect to their oppressors.
We are asked to listen to commentators promoting their latest take on a situation that many of them, in fact the majority of them, have little or no real knowledge about. Most simply want to have their voices heard and their message listened to and forget about facts, or truth, as long as they are being listened to. The incessant round of ‘journalists’ and ‘news commentators’ (and I use those terms very loosely) interviewing or chatting with other so-called journalists, just to fill the airtime, is enough to drive even the sanest person to the brink.
News is no longer reported, instead a story is written and a position, liked, or disliked is posited, in news programmes that were once called news reports, or bulletins. The slow news day must have a feel-good story to take up the slack; what used to be called the “Dead Donkey”; hence the famous British BBC comedy show entitled “Drop the Dead Donkey.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that the church, the body of Christ’s believers, in this world, hide its head in the sand and ignore what is going on around the world, by any stretch of the imagination. Instead. I am suggesting that we need to choose our sources carefully and avoid getting caught up in the hype, the rhetoric and the hyperbole that accompanies a lot of the information we receive.
Instead of watching, or reading the news with the belief that what is happening, or what is predicted to do will happen, we should be actively involved in making the news. Changing the circumstances to ensure that God is given the right to be involved in those very same circumstances. The question asked is “How do we do that?” “How do we get involved in determining the circumstances; instead of always being under the circumstances?” In truth a one word answer should suffice: P-R-A-Y-E-R!
The response I have received regarding this position has been sadly mixed. Particularly from those who wear their ‘faith’ (and I use that term very loosely here) on their sleeve. Armchair warmongers who want to eradicate the enemy and wipe them from their very existence. Their response is full of contempt for Christians that they see as weak, impotent, huddling, just waiting to be plundered by the enemy. They instead will take up the challenge and react with force and destruction.
My greatest concern has been raised when this is the response I have received from ‘ministers’ who are positions of pastor and teacher. These are the reckonings of the unsaved; those who do not promote a belief in a god of any kind.
In fact I believe that it demonstrates a number of things about what they really know about prayer. It demonstrates:
- a lack of belief in the ability of God to answer prayer.
- a sad lack of knowledge regarding what prayer actually is.
- A life, of a Christian that is controlled by and lived under the circumstances.
- If they do have a relationship with God and a ‘prayer-life’ of sorts, their prayers are not based on the Word and thereby the Will of God and so they are asked amiss (James 4:3). Or,
- Prayers prayed without any faith in God’s ability to fulfil his word and answer prayers.
As a result they end up believing that everything in their life, or the world around them, has to be done by either themselves, or someone else with the power, authority, or the ability that they lack. It has to be done in basic human strength; denying God the ability to work in their lives and change things for the better.
Faith and prayer require corresponding action. But, what is that action? and where does the instruction about which action to take come from? At a basic human, fleshly level we all deal with rage and anger that rises because we do not like what we see before us. But, it is when this temptation arises that we can either choose to follow our fleshly, carnal and devilish senses; that are subject to deception. or we can use the wisdom that comes from God.
As Christians we are called to be ‘Little Christ’s’ to the world; we are the body of Christ in this world. It therefore follows that it is incumbent upon us to look at How Jesus acted, When Jesus acted and Why Jesus acted. As well as looking to what he actually taught us, his disciples, to do in relation to attacks by other human beings.
Throughout the Synoptic Gospels we find Jesus constantly reminding those that came seeking answers, particularly for healing or deliverance, that it was Not he that was good. But, that “it is the Father that is good.” He often responded that “I only Say what I hear the Father say.” As well as saying that “I only Do what I see the Father do.”
Jesus is reported to have taken time to separate himself from everyone to spend time in prayer, in conversation with the Father. It is at these times that I believe he heard what he was to say and saw what he was supposed to do; as well as walking in a constant understanding of the reality of the “More Real” spiritual world from where all things originate (Heb 11:3).
Jesus taught that we are to Love our enemies, Pray FOR them that abuse us and use us. For Christians to operate outside of this reemit is rebellion, pure and simple. If we allow our hearts to become full of hatred and we act on that hatred then we are not hearing and doing what the Father either says or does.
St Paul reminds us that our battle is not with other humans, but with the principalities, the powers, the ideologies that battle against the cause for peace in the heavenlies above the natural realm; that if we ignore that battle for a fleshly fight we are doomed to failure.
The story of Daniel reveals the effects that this battle in the Super-Natural realm actually has. It also teaches us the need for persistence when nothing seems to be happening.
The REAL battle for the body of Christ is NOT with flesh and blood. Our battle is based on Spiritual Warfare. A warfare of world changing proportions that is not weak, or passive. But, on the contrary, is effective; changes circumstances and brings the power of God into the environment where he has previously been denied access.
Intercessory prayer is not a game. But, it is in fact the most selfless of all forms of prayer; it is one of the best ways for you to “Love your enemy”. Intercession is a matter of taking up our position to make up the fence around people and situations where the real enemy has had free access.
It is to join forces in the spiritual realm with other “pray-ers” around the world to allow God access and the right to act where previously he could not. The Church, as a whole, has the responsibility to be on its collective face before the Father pleading the case for those in danger.
Over the next weeks we will look at the work of Intercessory prayer. The need to be properly dressed for prayer. The power that the Intercessor has and is able to bring to the battle. Awareness of what is and is not the leading of God. The central importance of ministering to The Lord. As well as the need to know how to minister to one another at times of rest.
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