I have been walking with Jesus as Lord a while now and in these years of walking with Him and being a part of the church, I have seen so many “moves” of God. It seems we are always trying to “get God to move” by the works we do, trying to prove ourselves to Him.
Looking at the time from the reformation revelations (Luther’s time) to the present, we have the rediscovery of; being saved by grace through faith, the foundation of scripture for all, the importance of missions to the body and life in Christ. The baptism of the Spirit and all the gifts of the Spirit. (happenings released from the time of Luther through today) the need for prayer, gathering together, dynamic worship, Evangelism (conversion focus), and many other facets of Christianity that are in practice today. I believe we must continue to build on His house but I think we need to figure out that we don’t do what we do to win favor but because of our favor.
In the Old Testament (OT) there was a focus on works. Even though they were God’s people, they did not know how to receive His covenant of faith ratified through Abraham without laws and the measurable work of servants. So came the covenant of “the Laws of God” with Moses 430 years after the covenant of faith that was given to Abraham. (Gal. 3). This covenant of laws was more comfortable to God’s people, as they only knew how to be slaves. Though the covenant of the Law could not save them, as no one can keep all the law, their true identity evaded them. They could not imagine having favor without laws and a king to govern them. Thus they were always in the place of offering sacrifices for their disobediences and living in fear of losing their servant position/identity with God.
Most of the prophets of God during this time lived in communion and faith with God. Kings pretty much did not like them nor did most of the people as they brought God’s presence and attention to what God had said and what He wanted them to be…
The New Testament (NT) basically takes us back to the covenant of faith established through Abraham. This covenant is about relationship and family. The covenant of Law was fulfilled by Jesus through His sacrifice, and the covenant of faith was ratified by the same sacrifice. His blood released us from the position of servants and moved us into the revelation and position of sonship! There are “ laws of grace” but unlike the OT these laws are written on our hearts (Heb. 8:10). We don’t obey them to attain our identity and position, NOR to obtain Father’s favor, but because of His favor and the position we have with Him!
The problem today is that we are trying to live out our “sonship” by doing the works of servants or from the mentality of being slaves to sin. Throughout this “age of grace and faith”, we get revelations of who we are, being sons and daughters of God, but then rather than walk out those revelations from our new identity we try to win God’s favor by “doing works” to show we are worthy of said revelation or Grace given. We constantly “hope” what we do will win God’s approval, instead of recognizing our true identity. We are as insecure as the Jews were in the OT. We are still striving to get God’s presence like we see in the book of Acts and the rest of the NT by our works rather than our walks. Somehow we feel that if we just do ‘it’ right we will cause God to move more. Most of us live in a place today where we believe if we can sing heavenly anointed songs together long enough or spend more hours in prayer we will see God do more. Why? We all know that Father prefers obedience to sacrifice and that Jesus was obedient to Father which led to the cross that saves us! The church age was started by the disciples waiting together in one accord in prayer for the “promise of God” to come upon them as Jesus had told them to wait until they had power before “going into all the world”. (Though He had commanded them to go in the resurrection commands, after the Holy Spirit came upon them, they did not go but stayed in Jerusalem until Father had to bring persecution to scatter them abroad).
I am a man of prayer, I am a man who loves to sing to my Father, but I will not get Him to move more or do more by those activities, even as wonderful as they are and can be. I know that no amount of dedication to prayer or worshipful singing will move God more than my obedience to His commands. My trust and the resulting obedience to His voice and commands moves Him. All of the angels rejoice when one soul comes to Jesus, (Lu.15:10) The bible does not say that about when we worship well or pray long enough. He provided Jesus to restore us to our place with Him that we had before He even created us and rejoices when we go and touch someone with the Gospel.
For several years I have given this word, “Prayer changes things and God wants to change Prayer”! According to His written Word in Lu. 18:1-8, This story of the widow and the unjust judge reveals to us that if we cry day and night to Father that he will answer us if we continue to press Him and petition hard or long enough- speedily! But, there are two statements at the end of this passage we need to look at; “Though He bears long with them” and “nevertheless, when The Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Portions of Lu. 18:7-8 NKJV). Even though we may not understand what we are truly asking because we are praying out of an incomplete understanding and knowledge of his desire, He will relent. Even when He actually does not want to give us what we are petitioning for. Wouldn’t it be better to have faith, that is; to learn to listen, trust and follow rather than dictate to Him to give us our desires like the widow did with the unjust judge? Wouldn’t that show the kind of faith that Jesus wants to find when He returns?
Prayer should be the foundation of the lifestyle of living a Jesus like life. Jesus’ example of “praying always and feinting not” (Lu.18:1KJV), or the examples given by the lives of the Apostles throughout the NT looks nothing like what we are trying to do today. Jesus modeled praying always by revealing a life lived in Father’s presence as The Son of Man and of God. His ‘LIFE OF PRAYER” was a life lived in response to the Father, doing His will and speaking His words to others. In the rest of the NT we see mostly that the example of praying included going! Paul says men should always pray (1Thes.5:17) and his example of that was a life lived out “going”.
We are to pray always, but scripture does not say to focus on prayer! Our focus is or should be to be the resurrection commands which we are given to live as sons of God. Our focus should be to seek and save the lost (Lu.19:10) and to destroy the works of the enemy (1Jn3:8b). We are to be a “house of Prayer” that reaches the world by going and presenting Him and His presence to all.
Being a house of Prayer, thus living in conversation and communion with Father, is the foundation of all we train people to do! Without that we will not lead people to the place of “being like Jesus” which is our goal. We work with ministries and Christians all around the world teaching discipleship/intimacy with God to both traditional and house church groups. The results are that the people go out and see their areas and lives changed. Scripture does not say, “Go into all the world and make prayer warriors.” Jn. 20:21-23 does not say I am sending you like servants to pray in hope, but it says that we are sent just like HIM – to be sons of God revealing our faith and showing His presence to all. The resurrection commands say; “Go make disciples of all nations. Teach them to do or observe what i have taught you, preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and in John Jesus says, “Peace to you, As the Father has sent me I also send you”. (NKJV).
In Jn.14:15 Jesus states, “If you love me you will keep my commands”. In verse 21 He says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me.” (In both of those scriptures the obedience is key to what follows found in verse 16 and the rest of 21.) In Jn.15:14 We find “You are my friends IF you do whatever I command you!” In these scriptures our love is measured by our obedience which shows out trust and thus releases more of His presence to reach the world!
Being sons of God and doing His will requires prayer and/or communion with Father as we need to hear where we are to go, when we are to go, to whom we are to speak to, and what we are to speak… Prayer is not to be our end goal – we are to bring people through the cross to the identity of being sons of God. We are to bring people into an intimate relationship with Father, because of the cross, and we are to cause those we reach to do the same with others (Mt.28:18-20, 2 Ti. 2:2). We are to be His naturally supernatural Love to the world, His House of Prayer!
Praying harder and petitioning Father more will not make us more acceptable in His eyes! (Matthew 6:7,8). 24/7 prayer is or should be living always available to Father. It should be listening and then obeying because we have favor, not to get it! Here is a thought, “Is the reason we pray more because we want God to do something we were told to do but don’t want to do”? Or maybe, we do not like what He is saying so we continue to pray to hear a different word? We keep waiting on Him but He has said and done all He is going to do. He has given us ALL. He is waiting for us (to obey his commands, to follow his examples, and to walk by FAITH !
Father wants to reach every person with the knowledge of Christ! He wants to destroy the works of the enemy. Do you suppose He knows how to do it? Because we know that prayer changes things, maybe we should let Him change prayer and learn to listen, trust and then obey! Maybe prayer would be simpler and more effective if we followed rather than dictate to Father what He is to do. (And possibly when we obey ALL he has said, we will see Him move more, say more and be more.)
I believe in prayer – all the time – but prayer without (an) obedience to go is incomplete prayer! No one is exempt from the commands He left when resurrected and no matter how much we pray we will still be required to give account as to why we did not go!
Let us and our prayer not stop short of obedience to Jesus commands. Prayer without obedience is an incomplete house of prayer, Jn14:15 and 15:14. Our love can be measured by what we live!
Neil W Gamble
The following is Ryan Krieger’s paraphrase of Mt.28:18-20 that he came up with during a discipleship training seminar activity conducted here at 3 Springs missions training center a few years back. (i added a few words that I’ve underlined for my own understanding)
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, Because I AM Love “All authority (all power of rule) has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. So, abiding in My Love found through Truth, ( “abiding in” is; your peace & equity, stability, certainty, and assurance in love), Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe and divinely hear and obey all things that I have commanded you as a house of prayer (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion); and lo, I am with you always, to see divinely behind walls, to declare the purpose, to reveal things for the afflicted and to foretell what is required, even to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).”
Ryan helped with this document by editing it for me and I including some of his thoughts also… it was a real help.