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“In Jesus’ Name. Amen”

June 25, 2012 4 comments

 

Intercession is a weird thing to define- in the Christian context at least. At first it seems simple. It’s middle management, right? It is to me one person speaking for the voiceless. Intercession in my mind revolves around social justice. The poor, the oppressed, the exploited and the vulnerable, the disabled, the orphans and widows. The kinds of people that have a social disadvantage and do not have, or do not realize they have, the power to be better than where they are now. It almost becomes material for me. But that is not intercession, or at least not all that it is.
Intercession literally means to be a mediator, go-between, or representative. And intercessor is a messenger representing one party to another. In the spiritual context we see a dual representation. A prophet would represent the people to God, and (s)he would represent God to the people. One of my favorite examples of an intercessor representing the people to God is from Genesis 18:23-33 where Abraham makes a case for Sodom and Gomorrah. Another favorite is from 2 Chronicles 30:18-20 where the people of Jerusalem did not follow the law but where eating the passover meal unclean. There Hezekiah intercedes on behalf of the people to God. Examples of God to the people are easy to spot as well. 2 Samuel 12:7-12 is a great example. That’s where Nathan rebukes David for the adultery he committed with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. Luke 3:1-18 is another favorite (I have a lot). John the Baptizer is calling all of Israel out into the desert to be baptized, he’s quoting scripture and telling very powerful people that they need change pretty much everything they do. He’s representing God to the people.

So, how do we intercede? Where does the power come from? Why is it so important? There are a lot more and more meaningful questions, but I doubt I’ll get to all of them.
All intercession is an extension of Christ’s work as the Ultimate Intercessor.
1 Tim 2:5 says: “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle.”
This scripture says that Jesus represented People to God (“gave himself as a ransom for all men”) and God to the people (“testimony given in its proper time”). What I find very interesting is that Paul says he was appointed a herald and an apostle. This would mean he’s representing God to the people. An apostle is someone sent with a message. The message carries not the authority of the messenger but of the master who sent him. So, when the message Paul gives is received it is received as a message from Jesus’ lips.  That’s extending the work of intercession that was made complete in Christ. 
The power then is coming from the authority of Jesus. When my charismatic friends pray for healing they bind whatever illness is to be found in Jesus’ name. It’s powerful when you let Jesus do the work and merely step up to ask him.
 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 justifies us praying in Jesus’ name:  “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

Again this explains Jesus role of representing us to God, and then gives us authority to intercede. He gives us the message of reconciliation and God is making his appeal through us. We then have a responsibility to represent God to the earth. As intercessors that have received the gift of the Holy Spirit we also plead the case of the people to God. We seek justice and forgiveness, standing in the gap between the actions of the people and the righteousness and justice of God. We intercede on behalf of the people for mercy from God. We intercede on behalf of God to the people for repentance. It’s an interesting relationship. We should learn more.

 

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Prayer Questions

June 19, 2012 3 comments

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power” James 5:16

I wonder, since I sin so stinking much, how powerful is my prayer? I can’t really talk a lot about this topic without this scripture in context. It’s sooooo Good!

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[b]17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Prayer is very powerful, but if we get too caught up in one little phrase out of all of this we can begin to think our prayers are only as powerful and we are righteous. I want to explain how this is both true and false at the same time, and of course when something is as confusing and contradictory as that, Jesus is smack dab in the middle of it. And he’s saying, “Really guys, you still don’t get it?”

Let me use my buddy Chris as an example. Chris is probably the best prayer I know, or have prayed with at length many times. He’s very open to the Spirit and let’s God speak through him. Often times he strings together 50 different passages of the bible from Genesis through Revelation and it sounds like he added a chapter to Isaiah. But more impressive to me is that he’s a righteous dude. He lives out his prayers and is  blameless. I on the other hand stumble through words grabbing on to anything that completes a sentence and barely do anything right, much less live righteously. (That doesn’t mean I’m okay with my faults; I’m just being honest). When we pray “O beloved, return to rest. And you exploited, return to rest.” Does God hear Chis louder and clearer than me? Do Chris’ prayers carry more weight?
I don’t think so. Because it’s not about the one praying, it’s about through whom we’re praying. See, we both pray in Jesus’ name. See, all fall short of righteousness, but Jesus came to pick us back up. He came and lived a sinless life, breaking the Satan’s dominion of the earth by overcoming it, and then became an atonement for our sins. In doing so Jesus became that stairway between heaven and earth like Jacob saw in his vision (Genesis 28:12) and Jesus said himself in John 1:51. I could quote scripture all day, it’s easy if you’ve read John, about Jesus being the way to the father. It’s Jesus’ righteousness that overcomes our sin and he intercedes for us, so that we may intercede for others. He is the great intercessor and now we are an extension of his work interceding for the lost and brokenhearted.
That being said, yes a righteous prayer is more powerful than an unrighteous prayer. But no prayer is more righteous than the prayer said in Jesus’ name, and a prayer said in any other name does not go to the father, for no one goes to the father except through the son. I do want to note that our own guilt and shame can hinder us from being praying powerful prayers. When I lead worship I like to do a song where I sing “The shame can’t hold me, the guilt has no grip.” If for nothing else than to prepare my mind for open worship and prayer to the father through the grace of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:16,17

Prayer Time

June 16, 2012 Leave a comment

My Interests are shifting. I feel like I’m a sailboat adrift on an ocean of knowledge and wisdom and the wind of my interests are blowing me all over the water with no control over where I’m going. It’s quite the experience.

I started this blog back in November of 2010. It’s been over a year now, almost two, and I’ve kind of moved away from my original interest in this blog. If you’ve read a few of my posts you know I really like apologetics. But lately I’ve moved into anti human trafficking and porn-awareness (not support). It’s been a blessing to be involved with the people I’ve known over the last two years who I’ve shared these interests with, and have either studied diligently or prayed fervently with. But now, my interests have shifted once more. I’ve been called, very much not by choice, to be an intercessor. I was to blog about prayer, and my journey with it, and the ways the Holy Spirit has captivated me. But first, let’s talk about how I was called to intercede.

A few months ago I was waist deep in intercession, even though I didn’t really know it. I was in a group that met weekly to pray against human trafficking. We prayed some pretty powerful things, and left a lot open and exposed before God, I did at least. I remember the powerful prayers of Brandon that eyes would be open to the truth, and chains would fall off the wirsts of the girls in the brothels. I remember the steady prayers of devotion from Andres, the intellectual consumption of Chris K., the burning for God’s Kingdom in Chris B. and the compassionate and nurturing spirit of Meagan, and all of us held together by the faithfulness of Kate. There were definately others that played huge roles in our prayer during that time as well.
Sometime during all of this my brother, and bandmate, wanted to start doing a worship service at the campus center. So we did. On Monday nights we started playing worship, in a COC group, haha, and devoted our time to prayer, and that is all. No sermon or game, or anything to keep people entertained or to grow or anything. It was a time to be before the Lord.
Around this time I was also attending a C3 prayer group where every Sunday night the Power fo the Spirit filled a room and amazing things happened in the hearts and minds of those who opened themselves to God. It was my first example of doing life in the Spirit. Of course I was well familiar with the Holy Spirit doctrine, and more the most COC kids I was interested and seeking the power of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes finding it. I’d had other exposure, but I never really got into it. It always seemed fake, or some it was just some wierd emtion brought on by mood music. But this communion groups is an entire community of believers who where living in the Spirit. I want that.
So that’s all cool and dandy… but there was more going on around that time. In those days I was really getting involved in Seeds of Change, a nonprofit that feeds and spends time in friendship with those going through a season of homlessness in Denton. It was a great blessing to have the ability to be there every Sunday afternoon and cook and serve. During this time of being with C3 group, my church, and Seeds of Change, a nonprofit, and old fire of mine for inter-denominationl unity. When I was there I met Maureen. She is an awesome woman of God who told me about the House of Prayer in Denton. So after a few weeks of  us talking about it we went. The day we went was an ordination for the Assistand Directors. We were expecting praise music and some prayer time, instead people were just saying super nice things to two people I’d never met before. So naturally we stayed and heard what there was to say about these two people. After the ordination there was a snacks and some great fellowship time. I realized that I had met the two Assistant Directors, Daniel and Laura on the square once when I was raising awareness to fight human trafficking. After talking with a few people I decided I had to come by and see the house of prayer in action. So I did. I went one day and was blown away. I loved it. So the next week I brough my bassist and drummer in my band, who are two of my best friends, and we experienced God’s singing. In the seats I remember one of the singer doing improv about being made like a child before the Lord. It struck my core. I was in the middle of praying forgiveness over my childhood and just mourning with God. He spoke to me through her that day. After that I was hooked. I had to be a part of this House of Prayer. So I started training with Daniel and Laura. I didn’t really know what the House of Prayer was, I didn’t really know how to lead worship, and I didn’t really know why I was doing it anyway. It’s very against my character to do something so rash, but I couldn’t stay away. I can’t stay away.
But that’s not the whole of the story, yet.
Remember I was starting to do worship on Monday night that was all centered around prayer? Well, I was training to do a monday night set. Not only that but the topics for intercession on those sets are justice topics like abortion and human trafficking. We also prayed for the Church- the united nondenominational church. I can see now looking back on it how God put the slightest desire in my heart to do something like go to a communion group, or cook and clean for a few hours to lead me to a place where I can steadily intercede for Denton, for the Vulnerable, for the Church, but most importantly to be near my Daddy. It’s odd when the peices finally connect, and I wonder what he as in store for me next.
I do want to blog about my journey through prayer as I learn how to talk and to listen to God- this will be life long learning. I don’t care if you read my blog or not, but I do hope whatever time you do spend here will ignite a fire for something so that God can have his way with your life.
Shalom