Monday, March 31, 2014
A story that made me think
It’s always preferable to pray personally with someone, but there’s no distance in the spirit realm. You won’t recognise the people and maybe not even the location (Birmingham’s Bull Ring), but if God puts someone there on your heart, you can ask what is holding them spiritually – and act on it.
THIS WEEK I want to explore further some teaching about the two realms, the natural world and the heavenly/spiritual world.
Up to now, the main part of the story is about how we recognise these strongholds in our own lives, and take authority over them.
There is another dimension which has implications for our mission. Along with loving God wholeheartedly, we have a mission to love others. We are to find ways of telling them that God is for them, and He loves them. And you’re thinking, how do we do that? People are not always open to our way or our message, in fact they can be quite fearful, and that can make them hostile.
What they see as ‘church’ has too often been narrowly religious and rather controlling. We are probably not “the brand you trust” for them.
Part of Bobbie’s story from Sunday a week ago concerned her parents, who wouldn’t talk about anything to do with Christian faith, and how she used principles learned from Jesus Ministry to pray for them in a different way.
Put very simply, the approach is to:
1. Recognise a spiritual problem
2. Ask God for His strategy, and
3. Carry it out, enlisting the help of others.
The strategy she heard from God was to pray twice only, one with a prayer partner and once in her small group, to discern the stronghold which were preventing each of them from hearing the Good News. As they listened, in each of the two prayer sessions, a common thread emerged.
The barriers for her mother were guilt, despair and unbelief. For her father, there was a masonic spirit causing the spiritual blindness.
Repentance is always key. Although very common, these are all descriptions of beliefs that are opposed to God’s truth. They are examples of the “arguments and opinions”” spoken of in 2 Corinthians 10:5 which are spiritual voices raised against the knowledge of God.
The group of friends repented personally for each of these sins before going any further. Then they were able to take authority over those spirits in both parents’ lives. And, as the counterpoint to the spiritual authority we have to bind, or prevent (Matthew 18:19-20), there is the authority to loose, or release:
“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
So they loosed the opposite spiritual influences of grace, love, compassion and God’s plan into both lives. Six months later, both parents knew the Lord.
The teaching that distils from this story is about asking God for His strategy, and keeping to it, while asking what the spiritual issues might be, and taking authority over them.
Personal prayer is always preferable, because it is what we see in the Bible, praying with people not just praying for them. At the same time there is no distance in the spiritual realm – a person who God puts on your heart to pray for can be anywhere. We are not responsible for their salvation – we’ll leave that with Jesus – but we are responsible for asking God how we should pray
Now think of our mission field. How might that change our prayer strategy for people around us that do not know Jesus?