Jesus’ ministry was a ministry not of resignation but of revolt. He was about revolting against the cruel tyranny of a world ruler (Satan) that was oppressing God’s people. He was about seeking to give back to people, and to win back for his Father, what the enemy had stolen and destroyed. He was about restoring humanity to its rightful place of dominion over the earth, and thus about empowering humans to rise up against the cosmic thief who had stolen this from them.
Jesus’ very being, and certainly his deeds and his teaching, were about training us to revolt against the enemy in order to make our circumstances a place where we can discern the hand of God. From this perspective, we must never pray to accept “as from the father’s loving hand” any evil event.
We ought rather to pray to change things. Many think that the purpose of prayer is not to change God or to change things but only to change us. And while it sounds pious, it’s altogether unscriptural.
The primary purpose of prayer, as illustrated throughout Scripture, is precisely to change the way things are. Crucial matters, including much of God’s own activity, are contingent upon our prayer.
The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective (James 5:15-16). Whether we pray, how faith-filled our prayer is, how persistent it is and even how many people agree together in prayer are all factors that have a real effect in getting God to move and thus in changing the world. Jesus attached real urgency to prayer (see Lk 11:5-13; 18:1-8) and believers are therefore to strive to be involved in it on a nonstop basis (1 Thess 5:17).
According to Scripture, prayer can save a nation (Ex 32;10-14), and the lack of prayer can destroy it (Ezek 22:30). Faith-filled prayer moves God to bless, and the lack of prayer hinders it (2 Chron 30:18-20; Lk 18:1-8). Faith-filled prayer empowers one to free other people from demons, while the lack of faith-filled prayer leaves these very people enslaved.
In the midst of the spiritual war, things genuinely hang upon what free, morally responsible beings do or do not do. To expand God’s kingdom is to revolt against the kingdom of evil and the main thing that we do, as Jesus both teaches and demonstrates, is to exercise prayer and faith. When disciples do this, no demonic obstacle to the kingdom, however formidable, can stand in their way (Mt 21:21-22).
—Adapted from God at War, 201-205
Image by _Pek_ via Flickr.