Our Identity in the New Covenant (NT) should affect how we hear, what we hear, how we speak and what we speak. It should affect prayer significantly. Our identity is the foundation of all that Jesus paid the price for. Through His sacrifice and resurrection we have obtained a whole new identity and position in God’s Kingdom. Our perspective should be more than that of servants.
I will lay this foundation – prayer is, at its simplest form is communion and conversation with the Lord. It may contain petition, adoration, etc, but in reality prayer is to be an intimate communion between us and Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. Prayer at it simplest is more than words! It is our relationship with the Lord. Our conversation with Him reveals the type and depth of our relationship to Him. What we talk about with him reveals what we perceive to be the reality of our position in Him. We tend to separate our relationship with Father and Jesus into a different place than all other connections, unfortunately it tends to be a religious place rather than a close family place.
In the beginning we were created in God’s image and likeness. We lost our identity and our position with God through the first Adam’s decisions. Christ, the second Adam, redeemed us from our past and moved us to the place where individually we get to “choose” the position/relationship we were created to be in by God or not – without choice there can be no Love. Jesus paid the price and opened the door for all to have the freedom to choose. If we accept His sacrifice, and chose Father’s provision through Jesus It is an even better place than the original covenant as through the man Jesus’ sacrifice and shedding of blood our covenant can not be broken again – ever! This covenant is that of being sons and daughters of God!
In the Old Testament (OT) under the Mosaic covenant, our identity and position was that of servants. In the NT we are children of God. Servants are not privy to family life, they live in a community life. Community is different than intimate family living. Our self identity and the position we see ourselves in effects our conversations, communion and attitudes with and toward others. It affects our conversations with God also, what we hear, how we hear and what we say to Him. This conversation we call “prayer”. Our identity perspective will affect what God can say to us and how we hear Him.
Many of us live like the elder brother in the “prodigal son story”. We have no idea of how much our Father loves us and how much of what is His is ours. We do not have the intimacy of the relationship that is truly our position with Him. We live in His house but not in His presence. Though we are sons or daughters, in our minds we are servants with benefits. We have failed to “know” Him though He has revealed Himself and His desire for us to us. What I am saying is we have never comprehended our identity, position and the responsibility involved in being a part of His family. Knowing His heart will change our perspective and thus the way we live and think. Our identity and perspective of His heart WILL affect our conversations with Him and how we speak to others.
I have been a part of many prayer meetings and prayer networks over the last 40 years of walking with Christ. What I find amazing is that in these meetings, most of the scriptures used in prayer come from the OT. Besides that, most of our prayers at these meetings are about us attempting to get God to do what we want done or what we see as important.
I have taught on intimacy, (our close, dynamic, personal relationship with the Lord), discipleship and prayer that hears first to many groups and churches around the world in the last 20 years. Listening and hearing is the most important part of any intimate relationship, not talking. Intimacy takes Honor, Obedience, and Sacrifice to maintain.
In the last couple of weeks the Lord has been asking me, “Why do most of my people pray out of or from an OT perspective?” This is not a new conversation between us but He brought it up with a bit of a different foundation. So I have been meditating on His question (knowing He would eventually lead me to the answer). One day He spoke to me about the definition of adultery in the OT and then in the NT. In the OT you were not guilty of adultery until you physically committed the act – in the NT you are guilty of adultery if you dwell on it, (continue to think about it). Why the difference? Through these thoughts, we find the NT more restrictive than the OT! Why? In the covenant of sonship your attitude and thoughts affect your hearing and thus actions. Relationship, identity, and position” are a matter of the heart and the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart (Lu. 6:45 NKJV). In the OT you were servants in relationship, the law dictated the relationship and your obedience to those laws decided your future. In the NT you are family! What you think continuously about or dwell on will effect family relationships. In family, attitudes, words, thoughts affect your future before your physical actions take place. An awareness of your identity and your relationship will change your attitude, you will be heard differently and hear differently because of what is going on in your heart! “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Mt.12:34 and Lu. 6:45). Family living is about a fulness of life and each member carries a responsibility to the relationships. The attitude, commitment, respect, honor, etc that is in your heart or the lack of it will affect the whole family. Intimate relationships is not life lived for self but life lived out with others in mind always. Lying, selfishness, guilt, shame, etc effect the conversations shared and life lived together. Intimate fellowship filled with hypocrisy (wrong attitude, thinking, fears, etc) can change the future drastically for the worse because the “adultery” found in our hearts change how we speak and what people hear. Intimate life filled with the “fruit of the Spirit”, is a whole different place and produces a different attitude, perspective and family identity. It creates real life and freedom to all.
If intimate fellowship is found with a right heart, if vulnerability, humility and love are present that is; if honor, obedience and sacrifice is found in our life, people will hear us differently also. Father’s purpose and life will be exhibited The NT is about family and thus “prayer, (our intimate communion), needs to be filled with intimate interaction and a lot of selflessness. The Father leads the family. If you do not have the Father’s input and direction – know His heart; how can you carry on the family directive with the Father’s heart? He knows all, has the vision, owns all and is about all!
We actually pray for the most part from the OT because it is easier, less confining, We do not need to know Father’s heart precisely, a general knowledge of His will is good enough as then we get to decide what is necessary (though we only see in part). OT prayer only needs a general community agreement. NT prayer has to ALWAYS be a family participation and starts with relationship. Jesus set the example;. He says, “I do nothing unless my Father tells me or directs me”. (Neil paraphrase of Jesus’ attitude on life and prayer or communion with Father). He constantly affirms that He did not come to do His will but instead came to do Father’s will! We think if we just get enough people praying loudly and long enough we can move God to give us our desires, Our mandates. I believe Jesus defined that kind of praying as “pharisaical”. I know prayer would take a paradigm shift if we really knew who He is, who we are in Him, and had His heart explicitly on each petition we think we need to pray.
In the parable of the widow and the unjust judge, Jesus does say that if we “hound” Father like the widow did the unjust judge He will speedily give us our petition – THOUGH – What He would rather find is faith when He returns. He wants us to trust Him and walk with Him, NOT pound on His door all the time.
Prayer changes things and Father wants to change prayer!
We are sent “Just like Jesus”, (Jn.20:21,NKJV). What would Christianity look like if we took that responsibility to heart and lived like He did on earth? What if our prayer was a real intimate conversation, filled with us living our lives as listeners instead of having the attitude of us deciding that we know what God should do and telling Him so?
A change in prayer (communion, fellowship, and conversation with God) starts with a change in heart. When Jesus walked the earth as a man He marveled at His disciples not knowing Him and who He was. Jn 14:8-10. This is where we must start, – our identity of Jesus has to be more and our relationship with Him needs to be more and in line with His revelation to us of what “sonship” is to look like. Jn.15:15 states that Jesus told His disciples they were no longer servants but instead they were His friends! When Jesus died and was resurrected, we moved even further into a new relationship – Now we are sons and daughters, 1Jn 3:2, Sent Just like Him, Jn 20:21!
Going to “church” does not make you a Christian! We are the “Church”! Our living in Him and Him in us every day, all day, at every moment is what it takes to be true Christ followers, or “of the Way”! (Acts 9:2).
We are to be His house, “A house of Prayer to all nations” (Mt.21:13a).
How can we say we know God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and not walk in intimacy (close personal, dynamic fellowship) with Jesus and be a house of prayer like He revealed while He walked the earth as a man?
Why do our traditions seem more meaningful and powerful to us than what the Word tells us? We need to humble ourselves under His mighty hand and receive the truth from Him, then stop making excuses for not changing or being like Christ!
In Father’s Hand,