By Samuel Clough
An audio message delivered at the Antioch Prayer Society Convocation for Prayer and Revival from Isaiah 6 on the call to live before the Lord as a priest in this age.
By Samuel Clough
It has been very encouraging to my heart to see more and more people studying the book of Revelation studying it to find the revelation of Jesus (Revelation 1:1) and to prepare their hearts to both boldly declare the gospel and endure persecution. Because of this, I plan to share some ideas on how to study the book of Revelation in a very practical way in a future post. The book is full of very practical information with regard to what the Lord ultimately sees as important in our lives and in preparing our hearts for coming storms and for the coming storm.
As a mentioned recently in praying the Bible, taking specific promises and warnings from a passage of Scripture and praying them can help us to really root the Scripture in our hearts. It also helps us to develop a more clear picture of exactly what the Lord is saying to us in a passage. At the bottom of this post is a link you can use to download a document on praying the book of Revelation. For those that are frightened of the book of Revelation, take a few minutes and read it. You will be amazed at how practical this is. I am finding a lot of material in the book for prayer.
The book of Revelation is filled with a lot of sobering material for devotional prayer. There are very specific admonitions that will keep us from disaster in the faith and there are very specific exhortations concerning weighty rewards that are available. I fear what it might cost our hearts to neglect the critical issues that Jesus addresses in this book.
By Samuel Clough
Praying the Scripture is something that I believe is often overlooked, but has incredible value. Recently I’ve been making an intentional effort to pray the Scripture and it has really moved my heart. Just to clarify what I mean by praying the Scriptures, I am not talking about what I call “pray reading.” Pray reading is where, as you read, you turn phrases and verses into prayer and basically dialog with the Lord over the Scripture. This is much slower than just reading the passage, but also helps bring real life into the passage and helps apply it deeper to your heart. This method of devotional reading is very valuable but it not what I am talking about here. If you’re not familiar with this, just leave a comment or send me an email and I can point you to some resources.
What I mean by “Praying the Scriptures” is extracting key phrases, promises of rewards, commands, warnings, and blessings from a book of the Bible or a passage of Scripture and creating a prayer list from these verses. For example, the book of Revelation uses the phrase “ears to hear” at least seven times. From that you could create the following point on a prayer list: “God give me ears to hear. Let me hear what you are saying, both to my heart, and my generation.” Under that prayer you write out the seven verses, reading those verses as you are praying so that your heart is filled with the combination of your own personal heart cry and God’s language describing the need of the human heart.
What this does is help really drive the Scripture into your heart. It does not replace reading and studying entire passages because that is very valuable, but by taking specific action points from the Scripture and specifically praying those we take God’s direction, or His law, and plant it deep in our heart all the while using the Biblical language that God gave us. It is an incredible way to go deeper in the Word and to plant in our hearts what God says really matters. By following the study of a passage with the repeated praying of the passage’s action points over time it helps us to set our hearts to obey the Scriptures in an intentional way rather than just hoping to remember what the Scripture says.
Using this method you will also start seeing patterns in a passage of Scripture. Often God hits the same topic more than once. How often something is repeated in the Scripture is very valuable because it underscores the importance of the directive to our hearts. The sad truth is that we quickly forget much of what we read, but when we intentionally pray the action points that the Scripture gives us, we begin retaining specific things that God directed us to do, to seek for, or to avoid.
The goal is to use this type of prayer as a pattern of heart engagement with the Word and obedience to the Word that we might be found obedient and mature on that great day. Without using techniques like this, there are many promises, and warnings, in the Scriptures that will never stay in our heart.
As far as methodology goes, praying this way does not have to be a rigid type of liturgy. As you develop prayer lists from various passage or books, keep a written record of them and periodically review them in your personal prayer time. God may highlight one particular thing in your prayer list one day and, if He does, just focus on that one thing. The goal is not to follow a certain liturgy or get every prayer point covered that one day, but that over time the Scripture goes deep in our hearts and, in doing so, increases our fellowship and communion with the One who is Holy and to whom we will give account.
By Samuel Clough
We were recently discussing some of the ways prayer is misused and it immediately came to me that perhaps some of our error in praying is that we have so mystified it that we really do not have a solid paradigm for exactly what we are doing when we pray. Because our governmental model of the universe is not sound and because we do not see intercession as a primarily governmental occupation, our prayer suffers and is subject to all sorts of frustrations and excesses. We may use a lot of volume and many repetitions (Matthew 6:7) and even consistently “bind satan” and yet our prayers seem to have little effect.
My argument here will be that the lack of a governmental model of prayer is at the root of many of our issues in prayer. Now, while this is entitled “Demystifying Prayer,” I will acknowledge up front that prayer is inherently mystical in the sense that fallen man is communing with the Divine which is a relationship that is beyond human capacity. The issue though is that we have added a mystical layer on top of prayer that makes it frustrating and unfruitful. If we remove the unnecessary mysticism we will find that we begin to pray in a much more Scriptural and far less frustrating manner. Understanding the governmental model behind prayer helps to clear our hearts so that we see prayer less as an ethereal thing and more as something substantial and real.
Rather than seek to examine all the possible errors of our methods of prayer as if we are the proper authority on prayer, let us simply examine the proper paradigm of prayer. When we pray out of the proper paradigm, we will naturally adjust the way we pray.
We obviously do not have the space to examine Luke 18, but let us suffice it to say that Luke 18 presents the model for intercession. We can get a basic grasp of how we are to prayer from Luke 18:1-8. If you’re not familiar with the passage, take a moment now and read it. We learn the following from Luke 18:
- There is injustice, sin, and evil on the earth. It is caused by the adversary working through fallen humans and the systems of this age.
- We are affected by it in a substantial way. In fact, it is the oppression from evil that we experience and observe that becomes the groundwork for our intercession.
- The proper response then to the predicament we find ourselves in is to go to the judge who alone can rescue us and beseech him until He answers.
- The judge may appear silent, but each request is moving him. He will act. In fact, Jesus asks the leading question of whether He will find men interceding with a confidence that God will act. Even if He withholds His action until the Day of the Lord, we are still to have faith that He will act.
If we properly understand the governmental paradigm of Luke 18, it will clear the fog that surrounds intercession and lead us to more effective praying. The problem is that we have so thoroughly adopted Greek dualism that we see God as completely dwelling in another realm and do not see Him in His governmental position over our realm. Some see our job in prayer as trying to get Him to cross the boundary of His realm into our reality and do something. Others see our job in intercession to be attacking opposing spirit beings so that God can do what He desires in our realm. The reality is that intercession can be long, painful, and deep but our model for it does not need to be confusing, nor overly mystical.
In short, to intercede is simply to approach the throne of grace to find help in our time of need. When we pray we are approaching a King. This King is enthroned above all other kings. He presently, at this time, has full authority and dominion over all of creation. When we perceive the need for wrongs to be made right, we simply stand before the King, as did Queen Ester, and beseech Him to act on our behalf and break in.
We must see that prayer is primarily a governmental function. The secret to prayer is not figuring out which spirit is the problem or which language will finally move His heart, but to realize that when you step into the place of prayer the Scriptures tell us that you are standing before a very real God on a very real throne that hears the cries of His people (Exodus 2:23). We do not fully consider the idea of God as a real and present King reigning over the earth, but this is the Biblical paradigm. Just consider some of the most significant theophanies in the Scriptures and you will repeatedly see the revelation of a King upon a throne and the recipient of the vision being undone at the present ruling majesty of the living God over both the recipient of the revelation and the entire earth.
Just the recognition that you are approaching the King of the universe in a governmental capacity should dramatically alter your perspective of prayer. You are beseeching this great King, asking Him to move on your behalf. We are subject to His rule and yet He invites us as men to take on His heart and beseech Him for the very things He desires to do. This is a stunning partnership that few of us really take the time to comprehend, and this partnership takes place in a governmental paradigm where we beseech the King to act.
Beyond the issue of partnership, is the core, fundamental motivation behind intercession and that is the issue of evil. Most of our intercession at this time arises primarily from the problem of evil. The problem is that, absent the proper governmental paradigm, we lose our way and can end up trying to attack evil in our prayers rather than following the Luke 18 model of simply going to the King and asking Him for justice. To better illustrate this, if you were in a kingdom and there was a usurper propagating evil what would you do? Would you go to the usurper and ask him to stop, or would you go to the king, the one who has full power and authority, and ask him to drive the usurper out of the kingdom?
The obvious answer is that we would enter the king’s courts and appeal to the king. Is this not exactly what the Scriptures exhort us to do? What then should be our primary approach to evil and spiritual warfare? Should it be to incessantly bind the devil, which the Scriptures clearly say is bound at Jesus’ coming and not until then, or should it be to appeal to the King to break out in power and stop the infusion of darkness?
Now, as we ask the King to break in, we recognize from Luke 18 that we are also in a place where we are awaiting the ultimate justice of the Day of the Lord. This keeps our hearts in faith with regard to the issue of delay. The question is not whether or not the King will act on our behalf, but rather it is a matter of when. Remember that in the book of Revelation, it is bowls of the saints prayers that sure as the fuel for God’s judgment as He breaks in on the earth. All the intercession throughout the ages that has been delayed, is finally answered in that great day. On that day full justice comes and the usurper is totally destroyed.
Intercession then, seen in its complete context, is to stand before the creator and to ask Him to break in now and demonstrate a preview of the goodness, kindness, and liberation that is coming in His ultimate act of justice on the Day of the Lord. When we ask Him to execute justice, heal, deliver, or liberate men we are asking Him to demonstrate who He is now as a prophetic picture of what He will ultimately do on a global level in the present.
How much would it alter your prayer life if you began to see your intercession as literally standing before the Judge of the universe beseeching Him to break in a rule on a particular issue? What if, rather than searching for more powerful language or new techniques, you merely closed your eyes and saw yourself before the throne of Hebrew 4:16? How would that alter the entire way you approach prayer and the language you use? What if you began to understand that when God delays His justice that He is also filling a bowl in heaven with the cry for justice and that bowl is going to overflow one day when the world is immersed in the justice and judgment of God? Your “unanswered” prayers are not unanswered, but rather assembled by the King into a great bowl of prayers that He is going to answer in His time and in response to His saint’s continued cries.
What if that King not only tolerated your petitions as the king did with Esther, but what if the King had actually invited you to come and beseech Him in your time of need? In our case we are welcomed by the Sovereign of the universe to approach Him and make known our needs, or our injustices.
Read Revelation 4 and consider the throne room of the King of the Universe, the “One upon the throne.” Then, take the thing you need to intercede before the Lord as though you were a subject being welcomed by the King to petition Him for the thing that you need Him to act on. You will find that addressing God in the proper governmental context is far more satisfying than trying to find better language, stir up more volume, or attempting to randomly bind spiritual enemies. Approach and address Him as a just and willing King. You just may see your prayer time transformed.