The hospital room was bright but quiet when my husband and I and some friends entered to pray for a young mother who had gone into premature labor. I wrestled with how to intercede. This was years ago, and I was new-ish to intercessory prayer at the time. I was watching carefully how our the older, more seasoned couple would approach the situation.
Thinking we’d really “go after it” in fervent prayer, with maybe a dash of spiritual warfare, I was surprised when one of our friends just gently laid her hand on the young mother and spoke conversationally to the Lord. She asked Him simply to seal up the womb, protect the baby, and allow a full-term pregnancy. Her prayer was a tall order. So imagine everyone’s surprise and delight when baby Brooke “unexpectedly” turned breach a few days later, effectively sealing her mother’s womb with her own body, a position that lasted until she was born months later—healthy, naturally, and at full term! This prayer experience beautifully illustrated to me the kind of influence we have with our heavenly Father, not just because of our position with Him, but also because of our relationship with Him.
Now, I know that because I am “seated in the heavenly places with Christ” (Eph. 2:6), I carry His spiritual authority in me. Jesus’ enemy, the devil, is under His feet and, because of my position with Him, is under my feet too. That spiritual positioning permits me to make firm declarations against the enemy and see him flee (Luke 10:19; James 4:7). The theological term for this truth, if you want to get fancy, is positional authority.
But I’ve been surprised and delighted to learn over the years how influential is our relational authority with Jesus, as well. Our prayers are not just effective because of who we are (in Christ). They are effective because of Who we know in a personal, intimate relationship. I am beloved in Christ. I have my Father’s ear. And that is powerful.
This spiritual principle is precisely what the seven sons of Sceva missed in Acts 19:13-16. Seeing the powerful results from invoking Jesus’ name over demonic spirits, they tried to use it to stir up a little spiritual power of their own. Unfortunately for them, the demons recognized the seven had no relational knowledge of the One whose authority they had invoked. The ambitious brothers lost their shirts—and nearly their lives!
Moses understood the power of a personal relationship with God. Exodus 33:11 tells us, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. “ And in His classic teaching on prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to relate to God as father and friend (Luke 11:5-13). That, I believe, is where our real power lies.
Power in prayer is based on relationship with God. So why did it take me awhile to discover this simple truth? I think it seemed easier to rely on objective prayer principles and formulas. They felt “safer” and gave me that reassuring feeling that I was “doing something right” (i.e., religion). Relationships, on the other hand, are subjective and unpredictable. In a relationship, I need to be vulnerable. I can’t hide my weakness. But frankly, isn’t that exactly where the Father can use us best? After all, His power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
Intercession is not all about war and declaration, although those are often certainly a part of it, if the Holy Spirit leads me to pray that way. But when spiritual battle is my default prayer posture—without a love relationship with the Father’s heart—I risk becoming a clanging cymbal (1 Cor. 13:1). No thank you!
Our heavenly Father loves our relational ministry to Him when we pray: our voices in His ear, our prayers rising up to Him like soothing incense (Rev. 5:8, 8:4). So it’s a good—and powerful—thing when we unashamedly receive and press into the reality and glory of an up-close and personal relationship with Him.
How can we apply this to our everyday lives? It’s simple: Make sure you’re spending time with the Father, one-to-one, as Jesus (and Moses) did—hearing His heart, being His close personal friend. Ask Him for your needs because you are in a love relationship, not because you are appropriating the legal benefits of an impersonal business contract. Your prayers will be answered based not only on who you are in Christ. Your prayers will also be answered based on Who you know—and how well you know Him.
Are you confident of your authority in Christ — not just because of who you are IN Him, but because of who you are TO Him? What are some things you can do this week to cultivate a deeper love relationship with Him that will lead to greater intimacy, and power, in your prayer life?
(c) 2017 Arlyn J. Lawrence. All Rights Reserved.