Prayer changes things. Sometimes through us. Sometimes around us. Always in us. Tweet this!
When life is turbulent, prayer is the oxygen mask that drops from above and sustains us. It’s our lifeline to the Father, no matter what’s happening in and around us, but especially when persecuted. Tweet this!
In Luke chapter twenty-one, Jesus teaches and preaches the gospel in the temple at Jerusalem, and the people ask Him what sign to look for to know the end is here. He answers in detail, including this warning: “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake” (Luke 21:12). And this admonition: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (verse 36).
In Paul’s words, we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), especially when persecuted. We must “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16), and we must pray with authority!
Chapter four my book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His, deals entirely with power-packed prayer. Right now, I’m offering a free download of an electronic version of my book when you SUBSCRIBE.
When Jesus came to earth in the form of a man, He came with His Father’s authority, and when He prayed, He prayed with authority. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” Everything He said and did was backed by the power of heaven. When Nehemiah boldly approaches Artaxerxes’ throne to ask the very monarch who halted work on the wall for permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild it, he was backed by the King of kings. He approached an earthly throne with authority from a heavenly throne. Nehemiah needed the king’s compassion, endorsement, and authority in order to advance the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. In the same way, we need the authority of the King of kings in order to accomplish His purpose for us…
Before we are told to “come boldly to the throne of grace” in Hebrews 4:16, the scripture explains that we have a High Priest, Jesus, who sympathizes with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). Upon His ascension, Jesus was “exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33), which is a position of honor and authority. When we make Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 2:6 tells us God raises us up with Him, and we “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” In the Greek, this verse means God raises us up from the mortal fate of the spiritually dead into a blessed new life dedicated to God and confers upon us a kingdom together with Christ Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of God – the place of authority! We share that place of authority with Jesus – sitting together with Him – and when we pray in Jesus’ name, we are praying with His authority. No more wimpy prayers! Just as Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem with the king’s authority and accomplished the purpose God had for him, we must go forth with God’s authority as we pray.
In order to understand our position of authority, we must know who we are in Christ Jesus – fellow heirs, mighty conquerors, kings and priests, sealed by the Holy Spirit, redeemed and forgiven, new creations. Then we must recognize the power we’ve been given. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:18, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In the Greek, this means we have the power to forbid, prohibit, and put under obligation whatsoever, whoever, how much, as great as on this entire earth – anywhere, anytime – and that very person or thing will be put under obligation in “the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings.” In the same way, we have the power to unbind, set free, undo, dismiss, break up, overthrow, do away with whatsoever, whoever, how much, as great as on this entire earth, and it will be unbound, set free, undone, dismissed, broken up, overthrown, and done away with in heaven. Jesus has given us the power to hinder the devil and principalities of the darkness, to prohibit their schemes against us, to outlaw sickness and disease from our lives and our families, to bring a halt to emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial decay, and to do away with bondage and strongholds that keep us and others from bringing glory to God. The use of whatsoever implies that everything is fair game. Nothing and no one is excluded. There are some who have abused this gift of authority and misunderstood it to mean we have the power to bring about our will. We are not to take this to mean we can bind a new Cadillac on earth and it will be given to us from heaven. The Lord has opened the heavens to us as His children – His agents and representatives – and given us permission to get things done according to His will (I John 5:14). This right here is why prayer is our most powerful weapon. Tweet this!
This is critical because there are some demons, strongholds, habits, addictions, generational sins and curses, idols, beliefs, lies, attitudes, and mannerisms over which we are going to have to exercise our God-given power and authority in order to be holy as He is holy. We are going to have to bind these things in Jesus’ name, and loose God’s truth in our lives and the lives of others. Tweet this! Holiness is obedience to God’s word, and I believe it’s impossible without the appropriation of God’s authority in our lives.
Again, one of the most effective ways to exercise our authority in prayer is to pray scriptures for ourselves, our families, others, circumstances, needs, direction, wisdom, and every other area of our lives and responsibilities. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” so when we declare scriptures out loud in prayer, we are speaking the very words of God Himself. Even Jesus spoke only what the Father told Him to speak: “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak” (John 12:49-50). And “His word was with authority” (Luke 4:32) because Jesus is in the Father and His Father is in Him. In the same way, we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us (John 14:20), so when we speak, we don’t speak on our own authority. We speak on the authority of Jesus Christ, and then the Holy Spirit who dwells within us and empowers us accomplishes the work of our prayers. This is a power and responsibility we cannot take lightly. What we speak in Jesus’ name, whether a petition or praise or a request or a command, we need to do it because we’re hearing from the Father through the Holy Spirit and according to the authority given us in Jesus’ name. Tweet this!
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and He will guide us into all truth in all areas of our lives, including our prayer lives. John 16:13 tells us, “when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” This is another crucial application for praying in the Spirit. As we do, the Holy Spirit will tell us the things we need to know to exercise our authority in prayer. What we say and what we pray, we must first hear it from heaven, and then we must speak and pray it with the authority given us by the God of all creation. When we do, the Word will do its work not only in us, but in those around us.
We can’t lose sight of the fact that we are here to do God’s business, and others are desperate for us to believe and obey God’s word – all of it. Their lives depend on it because we’ve been given “power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases” (Luke 9:1), “to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). Tweet this! Our obedience to God’s word has everything to do with how effective our prayers are for ourselves and others. As we exercise our authority in prayer according to God’s will, allowing the Holy Spirit to accomplish His work in and through us, we will be holy as He is holy, and we will become powerful vessels for God to work in others’ lives as well. Tweet this!
Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
We can’t fight in the natural what’s happening in the spiritual. Tweet this! After detailing the armor God gives us to “withstand in the day of evil, and having done all, to stand” (verse 13), Paul tells us we are to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (verse 18). In specifying how to pray for him, we see what to ask for ourselves: “that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (verses 19-10).
In Acts chapter four, Peter, John, and their companions pray the same thing! The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees come upon Peter and John, “being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (verse 2). They want to know by what power or name they healed a man who was lame from birth. Peter, “filled with the Holy Spirit” (verse 8), answers them, and “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (verse 13). The healed man stands before them as a testimony, but they still threaten Peter and John and command them not to speak or teach in Jesus’ name. When they return to their companions and tell them everything that’s happened, together, they raise their voices to God and pray:
Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus (verses 29-30).
And look what happens in verse 31:
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
We are to pray for boldness to preach the gospel, and that boldness comes from being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Tweet this!
Before His ascension to heaven, Jesus Himself told His apostles: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Witnessing Jesus requires power! When faced with persecution, we need to ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to boldly testify and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ! Tweet this!
And when we pray, we are to pray in the natural and in the Holy Spirit, as Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 14:14-15: “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding.” Jude 1:20 instructs us to build ourselves up in our most holy faith, “praying in the Holy Spirit.” Tweet this!
Why is this so important? Because the Holy Spirit helps in our weaknesses. When we don’t know what or how we should pray, “the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).
Which leads us to Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Knowing this, let us be bold, for “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
And let us believe, for Jesus requires it: “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24).
And when you pray, come to the Father having forgiven others: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).
The power of prayer. Not only does it see us through, it ushers in the peace of Christ. Tweet this!
Let us therefore heed Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Lord, thank You for giving us prayer as access to Your throne of grace, both in our understanding and in the spirit. Thank You for our advocates, who continually intercede for us! Thank You for the Holy Spirit, who steps in when we don’t even know what to say. Give us the power of the Holy Spirit to boldly witness Jesus, especially when persecuted.
We are nearing the end of our series on Unshakable Hope in the Face of Persecution. Simply click the link to read previous posts, and when you SUBSCRIBE, you’ll not only receive your free electronic copy of Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His, but you’ll also be the first to receive the eBook of this series when it’s complete.
FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION:
1. When asked for a sign to know the end is here, Jesus describes what to expect in detail and then warns the people in Luke 21:12, “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake” (Luke 21:12). Then He gives this admonition: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (verse 36). Are you watching? What do you see? Are you praying always? Why do you think that’s so important?
2. Jesus says in Matthew 18:18, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In the Greek, this means we have the power to forbid, prohibit, and put under obligation whatsoever, whoever, how much, as great as on this entire earth – anywhere, anytime – and that very person or thing will be put under obligation in “the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings.” Everything is fair game! How does knowing this change how you might pray?
3. John 16:13 tells us, “when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” This is a crucial application for praying in the Spirit. As we do, the Holy Spirit will tell us the things we need to know to exercise our authority in prayer. What we say and what we pray, we must first hear it from heaven, and then we must speak and pray it with the authority given us by the God of all creation. Is this how you’re praying now?
4. Ephesians 6:12 tells us “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We can’t fight in the natural what’s happening in the spiritual. So Paul tells us in verse 19, we are to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” What do you think it means to pray in the Spirit? How does/might this help you?