Thursday, July 17, 2014
A bailiff exercises distraint, from a 2011 Daily Telegraph story. Not a ‘nice’ example, but the point is that we should use our spiritual authority shamelessly to take hold of what has been assigned to us, out of the grasp of the one who won’t give it up without seeing the warrant.
IN FINDING God’s heart and finding agreement (or harmony) with others, we haven’t yet mentioned asking. Well, we know how to ask – but we don’t always realise when we just need to take delivery!
Asking is scriptural but we need to step through the Cross to the Resurrection and Pentecost as empowered believers, who know that Jesus is seated in the heavenly places, picking up our prayers and interceding for us. Therefore we are to pray the prayer He would pray.A bold prayer. A prayer invoking heavenly authority.A prayer that fully recognises the Father’s good intention.
In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus tells a parable about a widow (picture of powerlessness) who was seeking justice from a judge, who kept sending her away, and she kept on coming back with her request. We usually take this as a story about how persistence pays off. On level it is, but we may see the last sentence in verse 8 as little more than a comment.
When Jesus comes back – post-resurrection obviously – will He find His people working things out on a basis of faith? Faith that the Father might find it in His heart and busy schedule to hear and respond? Or faith in the spiritual authority He has given us in Jesus?
There is a big hint here that prayer needs to move from asking without much hope, to asking in hope (confident expectation) in verse 7, and then exercising faith in spiritual authority, based on our identity in Christ and the Holy Spirit’s revelation of how we use it.
This is moving from a widow’s prayer to a warrior’s prayer.
The story about the man who needed bread for a late-night visitor, Luke 11:5-9 now starts to have a different sense to it. There was always something awkward about it which concerns the word anaideia, which is a strong word meaning shameless boldness or (ESV) impudence, although you can see why many translators have settled for the less uncomfortable ‘persistence’. Now we have a different perspective on the scene: he is shamelessly demanding the bread – he knows by Jewish custom he has a right to it on the basis of need, and he challenges what sems to be preventing his friend opening up to him.
This teaches us to move from asking, and from asking repeatedly. Our Father, who loves us and is for us, heard the first time – and He already knew what we were going to ask. So now there’s a different dialogue, and a better strategy, which is based on confident expectation in God (hope) and faith in His promises. Faith comes by hearing. At the point we start hearing from God, faith rises and our stance becomes quite different. As faith rises, we become more aware of who we are, and where our words need to be directed.
The judge in the story could get away with dismissing a nobody; not so a person of standing who understood the legal process. The man has the bread and will give it to meet the need – but he is constrained: “I cannot get up, the door is locked…” So asking moves to seeking, and then seeking moves to knocking, an authoritative action, for whatever prevents him must move aside and allow him to open up.
As we learn the legal process which is being acted out in the heavenlies, and take up our authority to use precedents and shamelessly impudent questions ike a barrister does, everything will start to change for us.