Called to Pray:
and from Jesus (the Messiah) the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father… (Revelation 1:5-6a)
In Revelation 1:5 the Messiah Jesus is identified according to His authority. He is the faithful, resurrected witness, the ruler of the governments of this world. This glorious king is also a priest, our “great priest.” (Hebrews 10:21) According to His inherent power and authority, He has made us to be a kingdom of priests. (Revelation 1:6)
Apparently, the believing community has forgotten this primary calling. Generally speaking it is not considered a good thing if someone wakes up and cannot remember where they work or what they do. It is important for every believer to recover and live in this aspect of our identities. We really are priests. (1 Peter 2:5,9)
The Spirit of God, through the Scriptures, shows us our identity and reveals the nature of our Creator. As spiritual priests we know, and freshly discover, Who we worship through the Scriptures. Let us know and rediscover our intercessory priestly priorities as well. For direction in prayer, the first place we go to receive our assignments are the Scriptures. Since we are submitted to God through His Scriptures, let us be attentive to enscriptured apostolic guidance.
Paul gives a doxology in 1 Timothy 1:17 – To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. In the light of the reality that the Messiah Jesus is king, (five verses later) Paul prioritized prayer for governments.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
We are called to pray for the social and economic climate in which we find ourselves. We are called to pray for the structure of civil society to be amenable to the manifestation of the Kingdom of God through the church. To pray for the Kingdom’s purposes to advance in our nation we must identify with the King’s heart for those who govern. First, we must renounce wrath, rebellion and resentment.
Renounce Wrath, Rebellion and Resentment:
Here’s a principle offered by an apostle: Peter wrote that husbands must live “in an understanding way” with their wives “so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7b) There is an analogy to be made concerning prayer for our government. We must make sure that our hearts are right with God before we can expect to be heard.
To wisely pray we must have hearts that are free from wrath and rebellion.
Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. (1 Timothy 2:8)
“Wrath” in this context has to do with being angry at the repressive Roman regime. The dissension spoken of in this verse is not referring to rebellion within the church. It is speaking directly to the priestly call to pray for those who ruled a godless, amoral, idolatrous, tyrannical empire. This follows the instruction of the Messiah Jesus. He told us that if we are to effectively pray we must have hearts that are free from resentment.
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)
Anger, rebellion and rancor pollute the streams of our relationship with God and revelation from God. Let us rid ourselves of the deception that we will be enabled to maintain holy intercessory interaction while ignoring this important injunction.
Honoring God’s Heart:
We must diligently watch over our hearts.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
Many who read this may view President Obama and this administration as adversaries of important godly priorities. I am not contending with that perspective. However, let me ask us a question – what is it about loving our adversaries that we don’t understand? Jesus shed His blood for those who were adverse to God’s righteousness. He loved His enemies. He died for sinners. He expects us to reflect this love, even in the light of serious political oppression.
The degree of despotism experienced by Israel under Roman occupation and what we are enduring in our nation is not worthy of comparison. Yet, Jesus said this, “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matthew 5:41) What a test this verse provides for many of us in this current political climate. Look at this section of Scripture that follows:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
How serious is the oppression we are enduring? In comparison to what believers suffer throughout the world, we are not suffering. If we cannot walk in love during this season, how can we hope to do so in a time of serious tribulation?
Here’s something else to consider for those seeking to fulfill their role as priests: Can we come before God, through the blood of Jesus with an attitude which is antithetical to the motive which caused this blood to be offered? Dare we come with a different spirit? His blood speaks love and cries out for forgiveness. If we are to effectively pray for our nation’s leaders we must have a similar spirit.
To pray effectively there must be a thorough, heartfelt, renunciation of anger and rebellion. To be heard in heaven, we must honor the heart of God by embracing His love for His enemies.
During this time before the elections, let us consider our ways, return to the Lord and pray that righteousness would be exalted.
Posted in Law & Politics Tagged with: attitudes, authority, election, government, humility, obedience, prayer, praying for leaders, rebellion, submission, worship
“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” -Matt. 6.6
There is something most holy and precious about obediences and acts of loyalty that are carried out unto the Lord in secret. The real discrepancy in modern ministry is not a lack of activity or enthusiasm, but a woeful lack of true foundations, and this malady stems from the neglect of a secret life with God.
At the end of the day, all our anxieties, fears, compromises, moral collapses, and worldly strivings can be traced back to a threadbare secret life. We may be gifted in some form of ministry, waxing eloquent in spiritual talk, and impressing our friends and colleagues, but when the heat and press of real life strikes our hearts, our best facades wither for want of the reality of Jesus Christ. “Beholding Him, we are changed,” but when the secret place of prayer is forsaken for other things, we are “mere men” with no heavenly distinctive in the earth.
The Lord has never cared much for religious performances. Feverish and self-conscious attempts at spirituality are ever and always driven by the desire to be seen and approved by men. He has always been the great Purist in terms of a jealousy for reality and “truth in the innermost parts”, and this can only be established and maintained when we are engaging Him in the secret place. It takes time to cultivate a secret life, for we are an inwardly itchy and distracted people, always yearning for recognition and praise. But during Jesus’ earthly sojourn, He left us with the preeminent example of Sonship, living out a seemingly mundane 30 years of submission to earthly parents and carpentry work, while abiding with His heavenly Father when there was no one to pat Him on His back. His identity was found totally in the favor the Father, and so He was able to live in a distinctive manner, “full of grace and truth”, unmoved by criticism and unaffected by flattery.
He did not strive for the recognition of His name or His spirituality, but lived a common life in a radically uncommon way. If anyone had the earthly right to “toot” their own horn it would have been Him, but He demonstrated the wisdom of God by glorying in that which only His Father could see. And when the day of His showing forth came, He emerged from the Jordan waters as One upon Whom the Spirit rested “without measure.”
Dear saint, get your eyes off of men, and cease this deathly cycle of seeking their praise and acceptance. As you fix your eyes upon “Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith,” you will be delivered from strife and brought into the real rest of sonship. All things will be made new. He will bring you into His heart and purpose, and your secret life with God will become your supreme treasure.
The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God. -Oswald Chambers
(Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God, by David McCasland; Discovery House Publishers, 1993; p. 187)
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: authenticity, encountering God, foundations, humility, inner life, Jesus, obedience, Oswald Chambers, prayer, secret life, seeking God
Interesting perspective on Tiananmen Square from some of the leaders involved, reprinted from China Aid:
Tiananmen Square Leaders Issue Declaration of Repentance and Reconciliation on 20th Anniversary
June 4, 1989 — Tiananmen Square
May 6, 2009
USA — An unprecedented statement regarding the June 4, 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square was released today by more than 80 Chinese Christian leaders calling for forgiveness, repentance, truth, justice and reconciliation. The majority of the signatories were directly involved with the students’ movement, and suffered severe repercussions at the hands of authorities for their participation. In the aftermath of the massacre, the failure of the movement and in their search for truth, these leaders found reality and hope in Jesus Christ.
In their statement, the Christian leaders articulate how the massacre “awakened our sense of social justice as intellectuals… and shattered our dreams of utopia on earth.” Through this crisis, they saw they were not “entirely innocent bystanders of the sins and tragedy.” The manifesto declares, “in terms of this sinful nature, we are not fundamentally different from the decision makers, commanders or transactors of the massacre,” except for encountering the grace and forgiveness of God. The declaration calls on all Chinese Christians to seek reconciliation on the basis that truth must be revealed and justice done. The declaration lists specific actions including confessing the sins of silence and hypocrisy; revealing the truth; helping those still suffering as a result of this tragedy and praying for Chinese authorities. The signatories also urge Chinese authorities to investigate the massacre; fully disclose the truth; find the perpetrators; commemorate the massacre and compensate and care for the victims’ families.
The Tiananmen Square Massacre, known in China as the “June 4th Incident,” was the tragic end to a movement of students and intellectuals calling for free media and formal dialogue between authorities and student-elected representatives. Between April 15 and June 4, approximately 100,000 Chinese citizens, the majority of whom were university students, led peaceful protests in Beijing’s famous Tiananmen Square. On June 4, the Chinese government sent in armored tanks and, as the world watched, killed hundreds of the demonstrators. According to the Chinese government, the official death toll was 200-300. However, the Chinese Red Cross estimated that the actual deaths were between 2,000 and 3,000. More than 10,000 Chinese citizens from all over China who were involved in the movement were sentenced to death by the government as retribution. June 4, 2009 will mark the 20th anniversary of the massacre.
Bob Fu, president and founder of ChinaAid, was one of the student leaders in the Tiananmen Square movement. “The fact that this tragic massacre happened 20 years ago and is still not allowed to be commemorated in China by the Chinese government, should remind the international community that the road toward true freedom for the Chinese people is not an easy one,” Bob Fu stated. “We are encouraged that the persecuted Chinese church and church leaders are awakened to repent for their silence regarding the massacre and to move forward toward true justice and reconciliation.”
The declaration also issues a call to all Chinese Christian churches, within China and overseas, to pray between May 12 – the anniversary of the Sichuan Earthquake and June 4 – the anniversary of the massacre. They urge churches to make May 12 and June 4 “Pray for China” days and to hold special prayer meetings during that time.
ChinaAid calls on the international community to stand with the signatories of the declaration by joining them in prayer and action for true reconciliation.
Read the full text of the “Declaration of Chinese Christians on the 20th Anniversary of the June 4 Incident” in Madarin and in English.
The signatories of the declaration invite other Chinese Christians and church leaders to sign the declaration. Those interested in signing please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted in News, Persecution Tagged with: Activists, China, China Aid, communism, grace, humility, Tiananmen Square, underground church