We often miss the point of prayer. There are several aspects of prayer. First of all, prayer is the door of communion. It is a time to pour out your heart to God and hear the response of His heart to you. That is the fellowship aspect of prayer. It is vitally necessary and all too neglected by us more than we know. We rarely come into fellowship with Him where He can speak whatever He wishes into our hearts. We rarely are still and quiet long enough to hear His voice. We are far too used to noise and far too prone to look for the next big bang rather than the quiet voice of the Father. We have to learn to establish ourselves in communion.
Another aspect of prayer is petition. This is perhaps what we are most familiar with and this is the only type of prayer the lost man typically prays. We need something and so we ask God for it. Even though this is completely legitimate and Jesus includes examples of it in the "Lord's prayer," it is often abused as God is treated like a shopping cart for our desires. Still, He would have us learn to live in the blessedness of His provision and so he desires our petitions even though we tend to try to be self-reliant and offer up petitions only when that fails.
Another aspect of prayer that we probably do not understand is that of exercising Kingdom authority. There is a lot of confusion on why God requires prayer and why He just does not do things and why we are constantly begging. I certainly cannot answer all those questions nor do I have the one answer to all those questions, but there is a key here that may answer some of those questions.
Going back to the beginning, God gave man authority and dominion over the earth. That was never taken away. God never took it back. God instead has continued to affirm that authority. That is the whole reason why Jesus came to earth as a man. He had to take dominion over the devil and the earth as a man because God gave man that authority and has no intentions of taking it away from him in spite of the horrible mess he has made.
In fact, Jesus said the following in John 5:22 (AMP), "Even the Father judges no one, for he has given all judgment (the last judgment and the whole business of judging) entirely into the hands of the Son." Have you ever realized that the entire world is to be judged by a man that is living the way God always intended man to live? The Father hands judgment over to the Son. Now we know the Son is fully God, but I believe it is the fact that He is also fully man that uniquely qualifies Him to execute judgment. God gave the earth over to man, and He will judge it at the end of the age by a man.
The second coming of Jesus is the coming of a man. Have you considered that? God overthrows evil and restores the earth by a man. This should open our eyes to just how serious the call of mankind is. It should not fill us with pride, but rather drive us to dependence on God that we exert the authority over the earth that He desires us to have because the authority we are intended to exercise is simply an extension of the divine authority over all creation.
Paul alludes to this very thing when he makes the comment to the effect of, "Don't you know that you are to judge the angels and you cannot even handles things among yourselves?" (I Corinthians 6:3) God has designed man to carry and exercise His authority particularly on the earth. Just as a king gives princes an opportunity to exercise his global authority in a particular realm, so too God has delegated a portion of His authority to men and He is looking for us to exercise it.
The book Rees Howells Intercessor is one of the best books ever written on intercession and contains the portrait of Rees' life. In it Rees and his group of intercessors are responsible to tearing down the Nazi regime in prayer. God revealed to Rees the authority that they were to exercise on the earth and they exercised it against that evil system. The west celebrates the fact that the "Greatest Generation" pulled themselves together, stood strong, and withstood the Nazi war machine. Now there is no doubt there were some amazing feats by that generation and I don't want to take away the honor that is legitimately there, but at the same time all the human effort in the world could not have held back that evil if Rees and his group did not exercise their authority on the earth in prayer.
One who was with Rees during these years of intercession talks about the difference between prayer and intercession and how Rees came to one of their meetings and said prayer had failed against Hitler and they must enter intercession. In intercession, the intercessor must own the thing to be achieved. They are married from the goal and are not released until the thing is accomplished. Stepping into their authority requires that they take ownership of whatever thing on the earth God is giving them. This is the thing. You cannot arbitrary take ownership of matters, it must be God given. However, once God grants the authority in intercession, you then own that thing and it is up to you to bring it to pass.
Authority without responsibility is one of the prize lies of our time in western culture. In reality, nothing of the sort exists. Authority demands responsibility. True power does not exist without responsibility. One of the great deceptions of our time is the image that is constantly pressed upon us of living in a constant adolescence. The images and pictures we have of men and women are not men and women laying down their lives unselfishly and taking on responsibility and denying themselves. Rather we are given images of men and women frolicking and enjoying themselves, living in a perpetual adolescence where they never really mature.
Men are expected to virtually act like high school teenagers with regards to women, sports, and whatever other pleasure they can thing of. Women are to maintain freedom and not be held down by children. They are rather to pamper themselves and spend all their efforts on their youthful figure and appearance. Our society promotes the very antithesis of the way we were created. It pushes us to simply enjoy life as though we were 16, rather than to live with the responsibility for the earth upon our shoulders.
Prayer is one of the primary realms where that authority is to be exercised. It is a Spiritual authority, not a soulish one or a physical one which is one of the reasons prayer is so critical and is the place that so much takes place. This is yet another reason we are admonished to pray in the Spirit which is more than praying in tongues; it is praying out of our Spirit in the realm of the spirit rather then simply launching petitions out of our minds towards a God that is "somewhere up there."
We are required to come into a place of authority in God and then learn how to pray in that authority. God has given us the earth. It is our job to enforce that authority in the spirit realm through prayer. This fact is also why humans are so prone to a thirst for power and so easily enticed by the occult and other offers of power from the dark side. It is in the human dna to rule and have authority. Because of the fall, this has been twisted and we are constantly trying to rule over other humans. Even if we do not have the chance to rule absolutely like a monarch or an emperor, we try to create little kingdoms where we are the rulers whether it is in our families, workplaces, hobbies, churches, neighborhoods, or other areas where we can rule over others.
We are also easily enticed by the power of the dark side because God designed us to rule and we easily take the bait of authority without the price of the cross. The cross is required to bring us back into proper relationship with God so that we can begin the process of restoration and carry his power and authority again. The dark side offers a quick path to power that does not require the cost of the cross. Because it is in our nature to exercise spiritual power, we are attracted to this offer and many fall for it.
There are so many things that we pray for expecting to God to handle things when God desires that we exercise His authority and bring the answer on the earth. We are offering everything up as petitions to Him and hoping and begging He will answer, when He is desiring that we will come into maturity and step into the authority He desires to give and then begin to exercise that authority in prayer and bring the answer to earth ourselves.
We are begging Him to do something and He is telling us to do it. Remember when Jesus sent the disciples out, He did not say "pray to God and ask that if it is His will they are healed." His instructions to them were heal the sick. In plain English, "You go heal the sick." (Luke 9:1-2, Mark 3:15). How can we heal the sick unless we carry His authority? And if we can carry His authority to heal the sick, which is to destroy a physical manifestation of the curse off an individual while the world itself is still under a curse, then what else does He want us to do? He is giving us the offer here of bringing His authority here now in some measure.
In Daniel 10:1-13, Daniel was seeking God and God sent Daniel's answer immediately but it was opposed for 21 days and had to fight to get through to Daniel. It is no coincidence that Daniel was committed to prayer for that same 21 days. Daniel's fight in prayer was exercising the authority of God for the battle the messenger was fighting. God could easily have blasted the message right to Daniel, but He rarely does that. He is looking for us to take our place and exercise His authority. Our present lives are training grounds where we are to learn how to exercise spiritual authority so that we will be prepared in the next age to do it.
There are things that you may be offering up as petitions to God where He is simply desiring that you learn how to bring kingdom authority into your praying and decree it and bring it down yourself. This is not a presumptuous demanding or commanding of things and this obviously requires a communion with Him and a great fusion of our will to His, or we will be praying and trying to bring things down that are not of God. John tells us in I John that we have our requests only when it is made according to the will of God.
This is where the rubber also meets the road. Making petitions of God comes at little cost. The lost man can petition God for his needs and then it is God's fault when he fails to get the answer he wants. Exercising kingdom authority in prayer comes at a different price. This one requires that we come into a deeper relationship with God and become completely filled with Him rather than with ourselves. We have to pass a maturing process just like Jesus did to carry the full weight of His authority. This means that some answers to prayer are lost because of our lack and not God's; our hesitation at God's full requirements and not His hesitation to meet our needs. Certainly we cannot assume that all "unanswered" prayer fits into this category, but certainly some does.
The thing is that we will not learn prayer and will not learn intercession until we learn to step into this place. We are too focused on learning techniques and methods of prayer when God desires somebody to take Him up on His offer, come into this kind of relationship, and then begin to exercise authority from the place of prayer. Our prayers are not to be begging God to do certain things, they are certain places where God is looking at us and desiring that we do it through the tools He has given us.
How are we going to judge angels and take authority in the age to come, if we do not learn it now? How are we going to execute intercession on the earth if we do not understand what God is desiring for us to do?
Remember nothing is in the pages of Scripture as an accident, or waste or there to just tickle your ears. God is always saying something with a passage of Scripture. Consider what God said in Ezekiel 22:30, "And I sought a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none." This revelation in Ezekiel 22 is an example of the fact that God is looking for men who will enforce His will upon the earth. This idea is not isolated to Ezekiel but is rather repeated and demonstrated throughout Scripture.
Do you remember Abraham's intercession for Sodom in Genesis 18? God changed His purposes towards Sodom as Abraham made His requests. God did not initiate the intercession, Abraham did. God responded to Abraham. He knew the heart of God and that God desires mercy over judgment (James 2:13) and so he made his petitions. Note that God responded favorably to Abraham's intercession. One of the things we learn here is this sort of intercession is not a trivial thing. It demands an intimacy with God and knowing His heart. Man does not step into a place with God to "change His mind" but rather to enforce the will of God through his human authority. Proper intercession requires living close enough to God that you know what His heart is and what to intercede for.
Notice as well here that Abraham petitioned God with a reverence. At times attempts at intercession can end up being simply a shouting match or us attempting to order God around. Abraham knew his place and he knew God and he approached Him appropriately. Yet God did not rebuke Abraham for moving God's heart to change His actions because Abraham was exercising God's heart. God's heart is mercy over judgment and so, though Sodom's time for judgment had come up, He was still willing for a man to stand in his authority and plead Sodom's case for mercy. Abraham's intercession could have altered the course of the city had God found the righteous number Abraham requested.
There is a mystery here as to the purposes of God that hints at the previously mentioned idea that history is not some fixed, linear line but rather an ebb and flow of activity and inactivity as men take their place in God and seek to extend His influence on the earth by choosing to exercise the authority inherent to their humanity for the purposes of God. God is looking for men that will be purified in the crucible of His training and then alter the course of history by taking their place in intercession and exercising the authority of God on the earth.
God is longing for men that become so heavenly minded that the can engage God on the issue of world affairs and even alter the course of history, whether it is in the local vicinity where they live or on a larger level. This requires a heart that becomes absorbed and consumed with God until all of life is viewed from His perspective. Only this kind of vantage point in God will produce the vision necessary to enter into this kind of praying relationship with God.
God longs for these kind of men. Consider the words of E.M. Bounds, the author famous for his writings on prayer: "The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. What the church needs today is not more machinery, or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods but through men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men mighty in prayer." God's heart longs for men who will put down their fascination with this temporal age and step out into eternity with Him and bring authority on the earth.
Consider Moses who was known as the meekest man on the face of the earth. Read the interchange in Numbers 14:12-20. God has enough confidence in the character of Moses that He can tempt Him with the promise of making a nation directly from Him and eliminating the rebellious Israelites. Moses instead steps into a place of intercession and authority where he secures the redemption of the nation.
Notice the interchange concludes with God telling Moses, "I have pardoned according to your word" (AMP). Sit for a minute and let this statement sink in. This is one of the most amazing sentences that could be recorded in Scripture. The almighty God of the universe replies to a man that He will pardon an entire nation according to a man's word? Every act of intercession with God does not have to be something with these kinds of implications, but God is looking for men who exercise authority in prayer in all areas of their lives.
There is a prerequisite to this kind of prayer and authority and it is character. There must be a process of character development to stand in this kind of place before God. Now, that process is not some insurmountable obstacle to keep all but the best and the brightest out, but rather it is a process to which we must submit which can be, at times, quite painful. In Moses' case, it was 40 years of being a nobody in the desert after having been trained to be a ruler in the mightiest nation on earth.
When God has a man of this kind of character, He can come to him like He came to Moses and declare judgment only to see the man step into His authority and change the course of history over a nation. This is not a trivial or trite thing. God could trust the character in Moses to intercede in this situation and God comes to him to give Moses the opportunity to exercise his authority and secure mercy for the nation. God longs to have us live in a place where He can come to us and give us this chance to secure things for nations and individuals. It is a restoration of the divine authority we were given over the earth that has never been rescinded.
You will notice Moses again standing in this place in Numbers 16:22. Because of Korah's rebellion, God tells Moses and Aaron to step away from the congregation that He might consume them. Moses stands for the congregation and God relents and pardons the congregation and only judges those who led the rebellion. Again, Moses takes a place of authority and secures redemption for the nation.
Elijah was another man that demonstrated, even with his fears at times, carrying the authority of God on the earth. He is a man that was trained by God and appears out of nowhere. Notice how he comes on the scene in I Kings 17:1, "Elijah the Tishbite, of the temporary residents of Gilead, said to Ahab, As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before Whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years but according to My Word." What a brash thing this would be coming from the lips of a man that was not broken before God. However, coming from a man that had been prepared and broken before God, it is a revelation of the authority that he carries. He carried the power to dry up the rain and the power to let the rain come because of the place he lived in with God.
Notice that when the period of drought was to be over, Elijah said to Ahab in I Kings 18:41, "Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of abundance of rain." Elijah spoke about rain that was not yet coming because Elijah had learned how to secure the purposes of God upon the earth. Ahab goes up to eat and drink, but now Elijah goes to secure the very rain he just spoke about in verse 42. Notice in verse 43-45 Elijah secures the rain by his place in prayer.
What we are talking about here is not something just for "super heroes" or famous men in the Bible. This is something that God longs to see in every believer. God has simply given us these examples in Scripture to reveal His plans. God is looking for men who can take their places on the earth and bring His purposes to pass. He is asking you today if you will step up into character training with Him and aim towards the maturity of exercises kingdom dominion over the earth rather than living in the adolescence of enjoying His blessing but never taking the place He has called you to that enjoys blessing and responsibility.