Recently, I wrote two controversial, yet liberating, blog posts on prayer that has caused quite the chatter in the form of both positive & nasty private messages. It never ceases to amaze me how the same message can elicit such a wide margin of responses. What I would like to share with you today, however, is more of a practical response to some of the questions that have arisen as a result of those two posts on prayer. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to read those posts, here are the links to them:
These two articles exposed the faulty foundation & motivation of prayer for many people in the evangelical religious system. Prayer originating in the flesh, and prayer rooted in fear, is truly unfortunate as it misses the heart of the New Testament.
When fleshly striving and fear are removed as the foundation of prayer, what are we left with? As I stated in the second article, the root of most fear comes when we ascribe to mankind or Satan the power to trump God’s good plans. Make no mistake about it, no such power exists. He is in firm and complete control. We can rest securely in that.
Because of this, many have incorrectly assumed that I am advocating a passive, fatalistic approach to prayer & life since the Lord will accomplish His purposes no matter what. Nothing could be further from the truth at all. The opposite of prayer rooted in flesh & fear is prayer rooted in the rest of the Spirit. I am finding that this kind of prayer moves mountains!
According to the New Testament, each person in Christ is a priest. Priests have tremendous authority to work & intercede on behalf of another. Again, this ‘work’ is not rooted in our fleshly striving, but in our rest in the Spirit. Priestly work done on behalf of others in the Spirit can literally move mountains that were once humanly impossible to move. I am experiencing this first hand in my life right now. Let me give you an example.
There is a loved one in my life that currently does not experience much peace. As a matter of fact, he is consumed with a lot of anxiety and fear most days. This has been normal existence for him for many years. In the last couple of months, I have been very burdened for him. Oh, how I truly wish that he would be set free! As this burden for my loved one has increased in my life, so have my attempts to ‘make’ him experience peace. I have tried to ‘make’ him understand some concepts that could help him have peace if only he would ‘get’ this, or he could ‘get’ that.
In my attempts to help my loved one, I have also noticed a trend occurring in my own life as well. The more ‘peace’ that I try to ‘make’ my loved one have, the less peace that I actually have. Because my attempts to ‘make’ him have peace were not working, my peace was actually being disturbed! During one particular afternoon in which I was particularly frustrated at my loved one’s lack of peace, I began to sense the quiet voice of the Spirit speak to my spirit. Here is how the conversation occurred. (Note: this is a paraphrase)
THE SPIRIT: ‘Making’ him have peace is hard work, isn’t it?
ME: Yes, it is.
THE SPIRIT: Do you find it ironic that you are trying to ‘help’ him have peace, yet you yourself are losing your ‘peace’ in your attempt to ‘make’ him have peace?
ME: Wow, I didn’t realize that this was even happening. It’s kind of silly, isn’t it?
THE SPIRIT: Yes, it is needless. It doesn’t have to be this way, you know?
ME: What do you mean?
THE SPIRIT: Did you know that you are ‘IN’ the very one who is the personification of peace? His life flows in your innermost being. As the scriptures have declared, you have become a partaker of the divine nature. He is your peace right now, and nothing can, in reality, separate you from this Christ who IS peace.
ME: Amen, that’s right! But, what am I supposed to ‘do’ about him (my loved one)? How can I help him know this as well?
THE SPIRIT: Stop trying to ‘make’ him have peace. Realize who you are.
ME: And, who am I?
THE SPIRIT: You are a priest of the most high God. You are ‘in Christ’ who is the ultimate high priest. Embrace your role as a priest for your loved one and do something on his behalf.
ME: Ok, what should I do on his behalf?
THE SPIRIT: Cease your striving to ‘make’ him have peace and rest in the peace that you already have in Christ.
ME: Seriously? That’s it?
THE SPIRIT: Yes, that’s it. If he (my loved one) will not have peace, simply have peace on his behalf.
ME: Wow, that is so liberating, thank you. I can totally do that because Christ is already in me and He is my peace!
THE SPIRIT: Yes, and He (Christ) will be your peace continually no matter what situation you are in. I will take His (Christ’s) peace and give it to you always.
ME: Thank you.
Obviously I am paraphrasing and putting to words this impression that the Lord was sharing with my spirit recently. After this conversation with the Lord occurred, I instantly had peace restored in my spirit. I knew that the Lord shared something very profound with me that I will never forget.
Here is where this story gets crazy. When I encountered my loved one after this conversation that I had with the Lord, I noticed my loved one a bit more anxious than he had been previously. I was immediately tempted to try to ‘fix’ and ‘correct’ his anxiety. Instead of trying to ‘do’ something to fix him, however, I remembered what the Lord said to me. As a result, I made a conscious effort to focus on Christ my peace in my spirit. I exhaled and rested in the abundant peace that I already possess. I did this while in my loved one’s presence. It seemed that the more peace that I would have, the more anxiety he would have. I could tell that spiritual battle was occurring. Then, after a bit of time, something broke!
I began to notice peace coming to areas of my loved one’s life that he had never known before. He even began to tell me about this peace that he was experiencing. Amazingly, the areas of his life that he was now starting to experience peace in, was exactly the same areas of his life that I had previously tried to ‘make’ him have peace in before. My loved one began to experience peace when I stopped trying to ‘make’ him have peace, and I simply rested in Christ on his behalf.
The anxiety that my loved one experienced seemed like an unmovable, permanent mountain until this occurred. While there is much of this mountain still there, I am watching this mountain being dug up and removed in my midst! All of this mountain removal is being done in and through rest and peace in Jesus Christ! Can you believe it?
You Have It All
I write this to you today to encourage you with the same encouragement that the Lord has given to me. It doesn’t matter what you are facing, what you think you may need that you don’t have, or what obstacles stand in your way. The best way for you to ‘do’, ‘accomplish’, or ‘move’ unmovable mountains in your midst is by resting and receiving what you already have. You have all that is real and good because you have Christ who is the personification of reality & goodness (John 14:6). Through resting in what you already have on behalf of someone else, you can also move mountains in their midst as well.
‘Being’ in Christ & rest are our priestly weapons. May we readily use these weapons as long as it is called ‘today’.