Showing posts with label declaration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label declaration. Show all posts

Thursday

Learning to Pray Wisely


The church is learning a lot about declarative prayer in recent years, prayer that issues decrees and declares what shall be, (as differentiated from prayer that begs and sometimes whines).

Like anything that we are just beginning to learn, we’re not terribly good at it yet.

 We have (many of us) figured out that Jesus didn’t generally ask God for stuff when he prayed. He generally commanded something to happen (John 11:43) or decreed the result that he wanted (Matthew 9:29). Even at his most extreme circumstances, his prayers were declarative sentences, not interrogative ones (Matthew. 26:36–46). 

 As a community, we’ve begun declaring and commanding pretty much all the time. It’s baby steps, and it’s really cute. (Don’t get me wrong: I’m part of this community of baby steps, too!)

 I’ve been reflecting on this transition recently. It’s being a good thing, for a bunch of reasons that I’ve discerned:

 • We’re beginning to take responsibility ourselves for the things that he’s given us responsibility for (see Genesis 1:26). Much of what we pray about is actually our responsibility, not his.

•Slaves ask or plead. Sons, heirs, might ask, but they surely expect  (consider Romans 15:13 or 16:20); or they may not ask, they just take what they need and go.

You and I, we’re not slaves, not servants.

• It appears that while God respects servants who ask, more seems to get done by sons who declare.

 On the other hand, when sons are young, they require more parenting than they do when they mature. Dirty diapers are no more fun in the Spirit than they are in the natural. They’re normal, even healthy for a while. They’re still a mess, and no more than a starting place. But they’re a normal, healthy mess for an infant.

For example, I’m part of some prayer groups (side note: please do NOT add me to more groups!), where folks post their prayer requests, and the community prays for them. You learn a lot from groups like this. Here are some things I've learned.

There are a bunch of folks whose prayer requests are more a list of what all is wrong in their lives than a description of what we’re actually praying for. Some of those diapers need changing desperately.

Some responses are in the “Oh Jesus, please help ‘em!” category.

A growing number of responses are attempts to command all the bad things become good.

Far too many declarations are not much more than self-centered, wishful thinking. “I want this, and therefore I’m going to declare it as if it were God’s will.” And then they get disheartened when the world doesn’t conform to their empty but optimistic words.

 Honestly, it’s a beautiful thing. Just like when my little granddaughter takes her first, wobbly steps. That’s a wonderful thing, too. It’s growth! But it surely isn’t maturity yet. And it’s cute when she takes a couple of steps and then plops down on her wet diaper, making that interesting sploogy sound.

 I was reflecting on our wobbly growth recently, and I was reminded that when we watch Jesus commanding sickness or demons to flee, we’re only seeing half of the story. We’re only seeing the half that happens in that moment, the part that’s visible to the gospel authors.

 But Jesus did tell us the other half of the story himself:

John 12:49 “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.”

 So apparently, if we’re going to (If I’m going to) be successful at commanding sickness and demons and death away, I need to speak what Father commands me to say and to speak. Declarations out of my own wishful thinking are a wasted effort. At best.

 Since the gospels never show the story of heaven opening and the Almighty shouting from heaven, it makes me wonder, “When and how did Jesus hear Father tell him what to say?”

 I think there were at least three answers to that, and neither one was a mystery.

The first is that I’m pretty sure the still small voice of the Holy Spirit gave him instructions from time to time (in John 2, compare verse 4 with verse 7, for example).

Second, verses like Mark 6:46 and Luke 6:12 tell us that he spent extended time away, just him and Father alone. I’ll bet that’s a clue. There’s a reason he encourages us to search out matters, maybe.

I think the third is more rare than we wish it was. When you’ve walked with God a long time, you begin to think like he thinks. You do that long enough and the line between “my thoughts” and “his thoughts,” between “my words” and “his words” gets thin.

 I’m thinking that it’s good that we, the saints and heirs of our Almighty Lover, are learning to hear from Heaven, and declare those words. Declaring what Father-who-sends us gives us to declare, those are going to be the more world-changing declarations.

Listen first. Then speak.

Be Holy. Be Healed.


The first words spoken in the Scriptures sound like a command to our Western way of hearing (1). We translate those two words (אוֹר הָיָה) as “Let there be light,” but  translating it “Light, be!” is perhaps more literal, though it feels odd to command light.

And that’s largely because it isn’t really a command in the “obey this rule” sense. Light didn’t even exist and it couldn’t obey a rule, not until God called it into existence. When God said, “Light, be!” he was releasing his power to create light, causing “reality” to conform to his will. It would be silly to expect the light to hear this as an agenda item, and to work hard (can you imagine light sweating, feeling guilty for failing?) to conform to the directive?

His words caused the thing he said to become reality. It was not reality until he said it. He did the same thing a few more times, and then he took a day off to reflect on his “very good” creation (2).

In the beginning God established the pattern: he commands a thing to “be” and suddenly, by the release of his power, it is. And it is good. This is the way God began this whole creation; this is the pattern he uses.

Years later, he speaks to a family he’s trying to adopt as his own (and just like in our day, there were lots of complications). He makes a similar statement to that family, releasing his power in them to accomplish what he was describing, but this time, they were terrified, and out of their fear, they interpreted his release of power as a directive (3), as a rule for them to obey.

“Be holy,” he said (4). And they tried. They sweat and made laws and practices (5) and did everything they knew to do. And they failed miserably. They failed because they tried to do in their human obedience what was released as a disbursal of heaven’s power. They did not receive the power, therefore they were not able to actually “be holy.”

A few millennia later, he did it again, this time while he was walking on the planet: he spoke several times in the same ways, releasing the same creative power.

Nearly a dozen times (6), he declared to various people, “Be healed!” He’s not telling people to live up to a standard of healed-ness, he’s not giving them a rule to obey. He’s releasing power. We get it, because we understand that we don’t generally have the power to “be healed” on our own, apart from the power of God.

Only twice (one woman literally caught in sin, one man with a history of brokenness and disappointment) (7), he released the power of God to remove the bondage of sin: “Sin no more,” he said. We make the silly mistake here of thinking that we can do this apart from God’s power (we cannot) (8), and therefore, we think this is a rule to follow (it is not), and we teach others, “You must be holy! God commands it!”

All of these statements were declared by the same person of the Godhead (“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (9) ) and they followed the same pattern: it sounded like a command, but functionally, this is about the Creator God releasing his power to create the thing he speaks about, causing “reality” to conform to his will.

When the Godhead declares for something to “be” (whether it’s “be healed” or “be holy”) it’s not a commandment, not a rule. It’s a disbursement of his power, a declaration of our destiny. Our response is not to grunt and sweat and fail and then condemn ourselves for failing to do the impossible. That’s foolish. We cannot do what it takes the power of God to do (10). If I may say so, it is the Christians who think they can accomplish in their will what God has offered his power to  create, whose “gospel” is the least hopeful and the most ridden with condemnation: their “good news” has the least “good” in it.

When the Scriptures say, “Live this way,” it is a release of the power of God. Our job is not to make that word come about. Our job is to set our sights on that target and it is God’s job to pull the trigger, to release the power to accomplish that word. And that will only come about as he and I are one, are in actual unity.

And when a prophetic word declares, “This is your destiny,” it is a release of the power of God. Our job is not to make that word come about. Our job is to set our sights on that target and it is God’s job to pull the trigger, to release the power to accomplish that word. And that will only come about as he and I are one, are in actual unity.

When God speaks, it releases God’s power to accomplish what he’s saying. If he thinks I need his power to accomplish that task, then it is extreme arrogance to attempt it in my own will; the only greater arrogance is teaching others that they should live as I live.

----
Footnotes:
1 Genesis 1:3
2 Genesis 1
3 Exodus 20:19
5 see Exodus through Deuteronomy
7 John 5:14 & 8:11
8 Romans 3:23 & 5:12
9 John 1:3
10 Mark 14:38, Romans 8:5-13, 1Corinthians 15:50, Galatians 2:20, 3:3, 5:16, etc.

The Vengeance of God


Isaiah 61 begins, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor...”



This much is familiar to us. It’s the part that Jesus quoted when he began his public ministry (Luke 4). It was him announcing, “This is my job description for the next three and a half years. This is the what Messiah will be among you.”

But the statement He quotes from in Isaiah 61 goes on; Jesus actually stopped in the middle of a sentence. I don’t know how many sermons I’ve heard - and I agree with them - saying “That’s because it wasn’t yet time for the next part.” Which reads:

“...and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

We are clearly no longer in the days of Messiah, at least the days of his earthly ministry. I wonder if we’re now in the next bit, “the day of vengeance of our God.”

Look at how this verse defines the day of God’s vengeance. It continues on and describes God’s vengeance as:

¤ to comfort all who mourn,
¤ to provide for those who grieve in Zion,
¤ to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
¤ [to bestow on them] the oil of joy instead of mourning,
¤ [to bestow on them] a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Resulting in:

¤ They will be called oaks of righteousness,
¤ [They will be called] the planting of the Lord.
¤ [They will be called] for the display of his splendor.

That is how Isaiah describes “the day of vengeance of our God”: comforting, providing for, blessing his victims, until they are firmly established and displaying his splendor.

Hmm. I  believe I’ve misunderstood God’s vengeance.

I had learned about vengeance from Romans 12:19, which tells me, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”

I’ve always interpreted this as, “Don’t you beat ‘em up and make ‘em pay. God can beat on ‘em far more severely than you can!”

That was my understanding of vengeance. It was the image of God as my hit man, so I didn’t need to dirty my hands (or dirty my soul). He’d do the dirty work for me.

If I was really honest, the idea that I’d always had modeled for me was “God save me and destroy my enemies!” And I rather adopted that idea too, not in so many words, but this was the worldview from which I prayed.

Yeah, I don’t think that’s right any more. That’s not what his vengeance is; where he’s leading us.

Rather, God appears to want to save me AND save my enemies! (What? He loves those idiots, too?)

Jesus stopped quoting Isaiah before he mentioned the vengeance of God. But that didn’t stop him preaching these values.

Everybody loved it when he quoted Isaiah and announced, “That’s right here, right now.” They all smiled and nodded and clapped politely.

But when he went on, things changed.

Seven verses later, Luke records, “They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.”

That’s a pretty big attitude change. What pissed them off so badly?

I’m glad you asked. In between, he declared, “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

He was preaching that God wanted to save Israel AND save the gentiles.

It angered the religious community then, and it seems to anger the religious community now. But that’s not my issue here.

My focus here is that this idea that God wants to save us AND save “them” too is far more consistent with God’s character than the idea that God iss our hit man, on duty to smite our enemies so we don’t need to dirty our hands.

I remember a verse from my youth (from when I used to focus on sin as I was presenting the “good news”): “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). That’s him saving his enemies.

I could go on. Now that I stop and think about it (and I’ve been thinking about this for months), I find the value all over Scripture, now that I’m beginning to be willing to see it.

But for now, I’m going to just make this statement:

The vengeance of God is not about  smiting my enemies. It’s about saving them, about blessing them with everything he’s blessing me with.

Tuesday

Declarations: For Yourself or for Others

Here’s a prophetic exercise for you:

Take a week and declare these [all of these] over yourself every day for a week. Then sit down and journal about what effect you’ve experienced.

Alternative: They’re also a great way to pray for someone you love, someone going through hell! If you prefer, declare these every day about someone else for a week.

Then sit down and journal about what effect you’ve experienced and what you observe in them. If it makes sense, ask them if they feel anything different this week from last week, and note that.

Instructions: Declare these aloud about yourself, or about the person you’re praying for. Declare them out loud. Shout them if you need to.

Engage your heart with them: don’t let them just be words. Recognize that you’re speaking both to all of Heaven and all of hell when you’re announcing these truths.

Note: These are things that the Bible clearly says are true. You’re not asking nicely if these can be so. These ARE so, the Bible says so. You’re just announcing the ruling of the King, like a town crier: “Hear ye, hear ye! This is the way it is now! The King has declared it!”

I am [or Suzie is] complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10).

I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).

I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me (Isaiah 54:14).

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).

I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).

I have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

I have received the gift of righteousness and reign as a king in life by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).

I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened (Ephesians 1:17-18).

I have received the power of the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, to cast out demons, to speak with new tongues.  I have power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm me (Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:17-19).

I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me (Colossians 3:9-10).

I have given, and it is given to me; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men give into my bosom (Luke 6:38).

I have no lack for my God supplies all of my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

I can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one with my shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16).

I can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13).

I show forth the praises of God Who has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

I am God’s child for I am born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23).

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).

I am a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I am a spirit being alive to God (Romans 6:11;  Thessalonians 5:23).

I am a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind (2 Corinthians 4:4).

I am a doer of the Word and blessed in my actions (James 1:22,25).

I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).

I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37).

I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11).

I am a partaker of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).

I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I am the temple of the Holy Spirit; I am not my own (1 Corinthians 6:19).

I am the head and not the tail; I am above only and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13).

I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

I am His elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility, and long suffering (Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12).

I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).

I am delivered from the power of darkness and translated into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13).

I am firmly rooted, built up, established in my faith and overflowing with gratitude (Colossians 2:7).

I am called of God to be the voice of His praise (Psalm 66:8; 2 Timothy 1:9).

I am healed by the stripes of Jesus (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).

I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12).

I am greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).

I am strengthened with all might according to His glorious power (Colossians 1:11).

I am submitted to God, and the devil flees from me because I resist him in the Name of Jesus (James 4:7).

I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward (Philippians 3:14).

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).