Monthly Archives: July 2013
Key elements of prayer
James affirms that “the prayer of a righteous man” is effective. Or in other words, the prayer of a righteous man produces an effect. The lack of prayer and the lack of answers to prayer is basically the collateral effect of the “character crisis” that afflicts the church today.
All prayer will certainly have one of three answers: yes, no and wait. What causes a prayer not to be answered? What elements of prayer and in our own lives can increase the effectiveness of our prayers? What is it in our lives that can affect the spiritual world in a way that would alter the speed and frequency of positive answers to prayer? Obviously patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit and God will always create situations for us to exercise it. What causes a prayer to lose or to gain effectiveness? What elements of prayer can alter the effectiveness of someone’s prayer life?
The answer to all of these questions is simple but deep: the elements of a prayer of a righteous man. The answer dispenses with the manner that a person prays and rewards the character of the person who prays; it dispenses with the length of the prayer and rewards the discernment of the prayer. It dispenses with culture and rewards the knowledge of and intimacy with God. It dispenses with human merit and rewards the crucified life.
When we speak about the elements of prayer of a righteous man, the only recipe that God gives us is dependence on Him. This is not merely a matter of believing in God, but of God believing in us and knowing that we will not use His power to destroy ourselves.
Defining the elements of prayer of a righteous man
How can we define the elements of this “prayer of a righteous man” that causes it to be so effective? I believe we can safely say that there is no better model of the “prayer of the righteous” then the high priestly prayer of Jesus. More than just “righteous” Jesus is also our “justifier”, giving us access to ownership of His character.
to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:26)
Of all of the prayers of Jesus registered in the Bible I believe that this is the most meaningful principally in virtue of the existential confrontation of the moment at which He offered it. In order to define the meaning of the “prayer of the righteous”, I suggest we take a closer look at this prayer.
Elements of prayer in Christ’s Priestly prayer
“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said:” Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:1-26)
We can glean some elements in this prayer offered by Jesus without which prayer begins to lose its effectiveness. Some things block our prayers and other things make our prayers more effective. Contained in this prayer are elements that characterize the prayer of the righteous and establish the genuine character as well as the lifestyle of the intercessor
The prophetic discernment of the moment
This element of prayer defines the spiritual intelligence in prayer and of prayer.
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You” (John 17:1)
A perseverant character
Another element of effective prayer is the lifestyle of the intercessor which is marked by a perseverance that defines the cutting edge effectiveness with which prayer can break out against resistance in the spiritual world.
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4)
Spiritual objectivity – the goal of prayer
This element of prayer limits the scope of prayer focusing it on something specific enough so that when the prayer is answered, there will be no question whether God responded to what we specifically asked or not and thus the favorable answer can bring more honor and glory to Him.
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours” (John 17:9)
The spirit of covenant
Covenant is one of the indispensable elements of prayer that is much more than simple agreement; it is an integral sharing of mutual life. Covenant begins with surrender. Surrender testifies to the trust that defines the strength and spiritual power of prayer.
And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. (John 17:10)
Consistency and identification
Another element of prayer is consistency with the identity that God has given to His people. The legitimacy of a relationship depends on consistency. From this genuine authority emerges through prayer. Authority is inseparable from truth.
And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth (John 17:19)
Vision and hope
Yet another element of prayer is the ability to spiritually see the answer to our requests in prayer. Vision determines the reach of prayer and the spiritual ceiling of our faith.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” (John 17:20)
The spirit of unity and love
Lastly the element of unity among those who agree in prayer guarantees the answers that we seek. Unity releases revelation and the saving presence of God in and through prayer.
I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:23)
The prayer of a righteous man and the prayer of faith are joined by confession. Faith and character are synergized through brokenness. The prayer of a righteous man is perfectly synchronized with the reality of the spiritual world. The character of the intercessor, the content of his prayer and the prophetic discernment of the moment work together to produce a determined impact in heaven and on earth.
The prayer of Elijah
The prayer of Elijah, contrary to what many affirm, does not represent a prayer of just any man. Elijah was not just any man even though James guaranteed that he was a man subject to like passions as the rest of us.
However, although he was subject to the things that we are also subject to, Elijah chose to be different. Something of the righteousness of God was imputed to his character in spite of all of his weaknesses. The level of dependence on God that he reached gave him a perception and allowed him to penetrate the spiritual world the likes that few have ever known. He made a difference in his generation.
Elijah was so in tune with the laws of the spiritual world and with the will of God that his prayers were affecting the whole nation. Thus was the story of Elijah and can also be yours.
The prayer of a righteous man and the judgment of God
“And he fervently prayed that it not rain, and for 3 ½ years it did not rain upon the earth.”
Judgment always begins with the house of God. The first aspect in the life of someone endued with the prophetic is a sensitivity to sin. The righteous man loves the sinner, but does not tolerate his sin. The judgment of God comes to make the comfortable uncomfortable. What would drive someone to pray fervently for a drought? I believe that it is the discernment of the benefits produced by divine judgment.
We should dispense with the thought that prophecies of judgment are the schemes of the prophets of doom. Unfortunately many wounded people pass themselves off as prophets seeking emotional revenge and self-affirmation. On the other hand, true prophets feel the weight of sin and understand the urgent need of specific confrontations that produce true repentance.
The judgment of God is always preceded by a limited time for repentance. In many cases, the prayer of a righteous man is based on the discernment of sin in the leadership that is troubling the land. Here we have a conflict between the leader and the prophet. Ahab was the leader and Elijah was a prophet. When this conflict was resolved the heavens opened and the rain fell. It is important to mention that the prophet is not above the leader, but he is the channel through which God will try to correct the leaders before judging them. Thus it was between Elijah and Ahab, between Nathan and David, between Haggai and Zerubbabel, etc. Of course it is possible that anyone can immaturely claim himself to be a prophet and this is very dangerous because the Bible warns us:
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7
We must know the difference between the prophetic prayer of a righteous man and the irresponsible threats of an immature and wounded prophet.
The prayer of the righteous man and the restoration of the land
“And he prayed again and it rained and the earth produced its fruit”
The purpose of the drought sent by God is to provoke the hunger and thirst for righteousness in society. Judgment comes to remove the deceit and the seduction of sin. Satan is constantly sugarcoating sin. The judgment of God is complete when the seductive deceit of sin is broken and something changes in the hearts of the people. When Ahab repented Elijah changed the direction of his prayer. The prayer of a righteous man is clothed in the reality of the spiritual world.
It is necessary to discern the correct moment to change a prayer. When James stated that Elijah prayed again, this means that he prayed in another way. It was a different prayer that certainly would change the reality of the nation.
He saw a little cloud in the heavens and believed for the rain. It was like a little lock in the sky. He walked around it seven times with the golden key. He put his head between his knees and continued persevering in prayer without becoming distracted from the prayer of a righteous man. He repeated the process seven times until the storm of God came. The prayer of a righteous man unlocks the heavens and refreshment comes.
Elijah ran in the rain of revival with such speed that he passed Ahab in his chariot. Revival enables us to run as fast as those who ride horseback. As a result of Elijah’s prayer a great restoration began to spring forth over the nation that culminated in the destruction of the prophets of Baal and in the restoration of the worship of the true God.
The prayer of a righteous man and the restoration of backsliders
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
This is the heart of the prayer of a righteous man. Elijah knocked a whole generation of God’s people off the wall of indecision. They were not only undecided, they were backslidden. They hobbled between two lords. They served God, but they also served Baal.
It is a common practice to give up on people who for some reason have given up on life. Jesus compared the kingdom of God with a King that went out to war. Many who have been shot and wounded and others who have been captured have been left behind. These are precious losses which in some way can and must be rescued.
The church lives in a prophetic moment of seeking out these people. The nature of revival has inarguably been characterized by an intense spiritual move of reconciliation, deliverance and restoration of the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”. More than ever we need intercessors! More than ever we need the prayer of a righteous man. Better yet would be the prayers of a righteous generation!
The prayer of faith and the principle of authority
Jesus taught that the most important principle of faith isn’t how much of it we have, but whether we practice it or not. He taught that even a miniscule amount of faith is sufficient to move a mountain. With faith, size really doesn’t matter but readiness to exercise it in an act of obedience is what makes for effective prayer.
What most Christians today don’t understand is that it is of utmost importance to recognize that faith is tied to the principle of authority.
Before Jesus spoke of the prayer of a righteous man, he spoke of the prayer of faith. There are three things that are extremely necessary to unlock the power of the prayer of faith: the mission of leadership, the anointing of leadership and the forgiveness of leadership. I hope to show you that these are the principle parts of the prayer of faith. Trustworthiness can be gained or lost in virtue of these factors.
Many afflictions and sicknesses can be tied to the dysfunction of the principle of authority. Yet on the other hand, much restoration and healing can be received from the correct application of these aspects.
The prayer of faith and submission to leaders
“Let him call for the elders of the Church“. The mission of spiritual leadership provides spiritual direction orientation and protection. The central aspect of submission in this context is transparency. All spiritual authority should be met with humility and transparency. We need adequate leaders with whom we can be open. Spiritual protection is for those who expose themselves to and walk in the light. This can be extremely uncomfortable, but it is a powerful principle of faith and one of the principle paths to the miraculous.
In Matthew 8:4 Jesus honored the principle of submission, instructing the leper to present himself to his spiritual leadership. Humility births confidence and reinforces the truth. Spiritual protection also called “spiritual covering” then springs into action.
The prayer of faith communicates mission and protection. When an appropriate leadership is met with humility and transparency within a group, then the spiritual dimension of life gains perspective. A renewed sense of mission arises and this revives hope. Hope is a fundamental condition of faith and births vitality and sharpens the sense of destiny. Hope is the best anti-depressant in existence. To be under the proper leadership and ministry is fundamental for this process.
The starting point of a victorious spiritual experience and effective prayer life comes from a joining together of our own mission and the divine commission, authorized by the authority and prayer of our spiritual leaders. Obedience to the great commission in this manner always leaves a trail of miracles and a supernatural provision of grace.
Not only the lack of submission of a follower blocks his mission, but also the spirit of control and manipulation on the part of the leadership can impede and even destroy it. In these two cases the principle of the prayer of faith is broken.
The prayer of faith and the anointing of leaders
“And let them pray for him, anointing him with oil” The anointing is a transferable supernatural enabling that God grants to his children for the execution of a calling or task. The prayer of faith imparts this enabling.
Troublesome burdens are broken and spiritual gifts and ministries can be imparted and confirmed by the laying on of hands and prayer of faith by leaders. The anointing breaks the yoke, eases the work and manifests the supernatural favor of God over the development of ministry.
There is an anointing that is acquired personally and another that is received through the principle of authority as a spiritual inheritance. Anointing accompanies mission and follows through submission. To fulfill the divine commission, it is necessary to pay the price required by the maturing process of God, but we also need to be anointed by someone. God has the right people who at the right time will lay their hands on us to unlock heavenly callings, revitalize our gifts and release ministerial empowerment over our lives.
There is always the danger however of receiving the laying on of impure hands. The principle of impartation through the laying on of hands results not only in the same anointing but in the same spirit of the person who is performing the laying on of hands. (Example of Moses Num11:17)
If the spirit of the person is contaminated or infirm, this will also be transmitted to those who receive prayer. Adulterous leaders and those with a possessive and manipulative spirit will produce the same conditions of the people they lead.
The prayer of faith and the forgiveness of leadership
“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, the Lord will lift him up; and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven.”
Without exception, we all need much healing and forgiveness. The prayer of faith brings healing and restoration. When we expose our sins and are forgiven we can forgive ourselves. The soul receives healing, and the conscience is purified. The result is rest. Rest together with hope, are fundamental elements that lead to the faith that restores the heart.
These dynamics speak of the power that the forgiveness of the leaders has to edify and restore a person and also how resentment and harsh unloving words spoken by leaders can harm the functioning of the body of Christ. For this reason the principle characteristic of the priestly ministry is a forgiving and reconciling heart. (Hebrews 5:1-3)
When leaders forgive their followers the power of guilt is overcome, the conscience is purified from dead works, strongholds of the mind and chains of sinful thoughts are broken, the soul is renewed and the body healed though the prayer of faith. In this way the truth is re-established and the heart and relationship are reconciled. Compassion births healing and performs miracles.
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19, 20)
When leaders forgive not only does it close the back door of the church but it also rescues the “100th sheep” that had gotten lost. The bruised reed is not broken nor is the smoking flax quenched. The compassion and wisdom of leaders through the prayer of faith saves the lives of those who have fallen away from the truth.
Powerful prayer – perfection vs. consistency
Powerful prayer doesn’t require perfection. God does not expect Christians to be “perfect” but he does expect them to be consistent. Perfectionism and inconsistency lead to opposite destinies. Perfectionism exalts personal merit and leads to pride, legalism, self-righteousness and control. Consistency assures dependence on God and leads us on the road to integrity. Prayer is not magic and even less so something with which we can manipulate God according to our will independently of our consistency with the laws of the spiritual world.
Powerful prayer and character
When the Word of God affects our character we begin to see our own needs from God’s perspective, and in this way our prayers begin to be fully answered. Jesus said “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (John 17:7). When God’s words abide in us and we abide in God’s Word His character pours into our lives. This is the power of a consistent life and a character that is in agreement with the Scriptures. Powerful prayer doesn’t require perfection but it does require a certain level of character.
Powerful prayer and faith
However, the Bible is far from affirming that a prayer by itself will always bring great results. James spoke of the prayer “of faith” as the saving the sick and that the prayer of a “righteous man” avails much. Prayer requires elements like faith and character to synergize it.
Usually, when we speak of powerful prayer, we emphasize faith. Unfortunately, too often this is communicated in a mystic and inconsistent way. Too often the guilt of consistent failure is irresponsibly attributed to someone’s “lack of faith”. Regardless, the fact is that faith is able to produce supernatural and powerful prayers and this is what is generally emphasized. However, James goes beyond the prayer of faith in explaining the effectiveness of the prayer of a righteous man. This demonstrates how the character of the person can affect the development of the prayer focusing on the relationship with God through which His hand is moved. Faith alone is not sufficient for effective prayer there must also be character and relationship in order to catalyze the effectiveness of the prayer.
Powerful prayer requires both faith and character. One of the main reasons that there is so much failure and ineffectiveness in prayer is often irresponsibly due to the lack of faith of those who pray. Many people don’t recognize it but character and not only faith is necessary to tap into the potential of powerful prayer.
Powerful prayer and intimacy
This approach to character and the lifestyle of the intercessor is what I want to emphasize. The truth is that powerful prayer is merely a consequence of our intimacy with God and the mutual trust that exists between us. Just think of the ease and effectiveness of the prayers of Christ. Powerful prayer is not merely fruit of what we know about God, or what we do for God, but of who we are in Him and to Him. By that I am referring to our relationship with Him, beyond the fact that we are His spiritual children and He is our heavenly Father.
The example of Christ as an intercessor illustrates a life built on a true foundation of relationship with the Father upon which He (God the Father) was able to edify a permanent work of salvation and spiritual blessings through the life and prayers of Jesus His Son.
Powerful prayer and identity
Power in prayer is not only the fruit of what we do for God, but who we are in Him. It is not only the fruit of our ability to work for God, but also of our ability to confidently rest in Him. It is not the fruit of our spiritual anxiety, but the powerful released by hearing God and waiting confidently in faith for the fulfillment of His promises. Prayer is not merely a war against hell, but above all an unshakable peace with God. It is at this point that the cross enters the scene as the fulcrum between faith and character. This is not an article about how to pray or about models of prayer, but about the power that a proven character, transformed and trusted, has over the spiritual world.
My purpose is not to offer a magic formula or power prayer model that will guarantee your prosperity, but to encourage the building of true foundations upon which God will build an enduring work.
Powerful prayer to the all-powerful God
When we enter into the dimension of character we can understand how God can show Himself in a greater way and far beyond the limits of our faith than we could achieve through our greatest prayers. A trustworthy character which is the fruit of voluntary submission to God’s means and measure of teaching and discipline is a sure factor that moves God to act exceedingly abundantly more than what we ask or think. Just as the apostle Paul experienced; “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20). This is contrasted with a much more common yet ineffective approach to prayer which presents formulas and models of prayer that promise prosperity and success.
Many things can cause God to act beyond our prayers and dreams exceeding our expectations. One of them I firmly believe is a trustworthy character which is the fruit of voluntary submission to God’s dealings and the principle factor of a powerful prayer life.
The romantic idea that spiritual life is a “bed of roses” needs to be overcome. It is important to grow and mature. It may be hard to believe but God meant for our afflictions to draw us closer to Him and not lead us further away from Him. It is exactly in this matter that many neglect and waste the opportunity to experience the power of prayer. James taught that if anyone is sad, that he should pray. To stop praying because of tribulations is a mistake. Neglecting prayer opens the door to murmuring. Murmuring is a pact with defeat. This was the sin that condemned the whole generation of Israel to death in the desert.
Afflictions work like an alert for us to depend on God. Through afflictions we have a great opportunity to crucify our self-righteousness, self-piety and other subtleties of the ego. Therein emerges the true spirit of prayer. The cross is the chisel that sculptures the character. When we crucify our afflictions we exercise faith, strengthen our spirit and offer up with highly effective prayers.
It is biblical to affirm that together with so many tremendous promises that God has made to us, Jesus also includes the promise of affliction: Jesus said: “In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world (John 16:33). When good cheer and peace coexist with afflictions God’s people give credit to the work of Jesus and increase a real possibility of a divine intervention. This exercise of faith and godliness transforms character, builds victory and produces a qualitative growth.
No one needs to continue in affliction and sadness. It is imperative to pray. So pray! Soon there will be an atmosphere of gratefulness and praise. And as James continued: is anyone joyful? Sing praises. Prayer ties affliction to contentment. This is the path to victory: affliction, prayer, contentment and praise.
Afflictions can come in varied forms and directions. Whenever we perceive a circumstance or situation as an affliction, it indicates that it is an area of our lives to which we have not yet died. For example a small boy may be devastated by a classmate that calls him a derogatory name like for instance “skinny” if he is slight of build. However a grown man who is extremely slender has learned to mature over the years will not be devastated when someone calls him “skinny” or “bean pole”. This situation is no longer perceived as an affliction because he how recognizes it as shallow and unimportant and sees no need to yield his perception of self-identity to it. In the same manner afflictions in the life of a Christian are perceived as afflictions because they point to an area of our lives that has not yet been yielded to the lordship of Jesus Christ. The more that we yield the areas of our lives to the lordship of Jesus the less we will perceive situations and circumstances of life as afflictions. Therefore, we must recognize that afflictions are opportunities for growth and spiritual maturity. For this reason James taught that we should rejoice when we come up against all kinds of afflictions, tribulations, trials and tests.
When we sense affliction we should pray immediately. Hopefully at this point you can perceive that we should not ask for the source of affliction to simply disappear from our lives which will only bring on the need to repeatedly go through similar situations or circumstances until we pass the test and advance to higher levels of maturity. It is important to recognize that God’s goal is not to cause us affliction but to help us see where we need to grow and to pray in the direction for our growth in the context of the affliction that we are going through so that we can move on and enjoy the deeper life and more fruit in our Christian walk.
Therefore in prayer, we must learn to embrace the affliction and the lessons that we must learn from it. Some things that we should ask for in prayer include understanding what area of our character is being tested. Another valid request in prayer in reaction to affliction is asking God what he expects us to do in the light of this affliction. After a time in prayer and fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit we begin to see the direction that we must pray in order for the affliction to be removed and as a result we will have grown and positioned ourselves to experience more of God and his power.
After we have successfully passed through the affliction and we have discerned God’s will in it, as a result we experience contentment. We feel content in the first place because the perception of the affliction has subsided, and peace and joy are restored but beyond that, there is a deep sense of contentment due to the perception that we are advancing in our walk with Christ and that the opposition of the enemy against us seems more and more insignificant.
Then finally this inner peace and contentment progresses to the point of praise. It is at this point that we shame the devil and experience what it means to be more than conquerors by praising the name of God in the midst of persecutions difficulties and afflictions. As we grow, we will begin to perceive that we approach the experience that the apostle Paul had when he said: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” In all things we are conscious of God’s love and power and as a result we can utter sincere words of joy and praise unto God even in to the point of suffering afflictions like being imprisoned.
The Psalmist assures us: “Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). When affliction and sorrow do not come to an end and weeping persists, depressing life, it is a symptom that in some way we are failing in our relationship with God.
The Principle of Life and the principle of Existence
Life can be described in one of two ways, as a principle of life or a principle of existence. Life or death is a matter of interaction. A cadaver can be defined as a body that lost its capacity to interact with the physical world. It has eyes, but it cannot see, it has ears, but it cannot hear, etc. Since it can no longer correspond to the physical world, it is physically dead. In the same way, it does no good to have a mere religious label, to keep your name on the members list of a church or your body sitting in a pew. If you do not enjoy fellowship with God, you are spiritually dead. This is a symptomatic principle. Every person out of fellowship with God is diseased, whether born again or not.
The principle of spiritual life is based on interaction with God. In order to have interaction there must be agreement. In order to have agreement there must be revelation. In order to have revelation there must be brokenness. This is the progression of spiritual life and the essence of prayer: brokenness, revelation, agreement, interaction and life.
Man without brokenness is perfectly content to trod through his human existence without seeking after God. God offers us life, life with abundance but almost universally man opts for mere existence. It is incredible how much suffering a human being can go through and think that it is normal. Hunger is a daily expense of millions of people around the world today. Some of these think that it is good fortune to find garbage and leftover table scraps from other people’s tables.
The principle of existence is relative. The rich and wealthy without God enjoy a comfortable existence both physically and socially, however many of these people go through hell in their family and work relationships. On the other extreme, people become accustomed to the lifestyle that is unthinkable for the higher end.
Where the rich and prosperous or poor and miserable the common factor among human beings is the lack of brokenness. This is exactly the point at which life and the principle of life can begin.
The broken person has finally become predisposed and opened to change. Without this predisposition Man has no hope to receive the principle of life since he is satisfied with his lot. That’s the first step towards the principle of life and the abundant life this brokenness.
Once man has reached a state of brokenness he is now prepared to receive revelation. Without brokenness there is no need for revelation. This is because mankind, as long as he is able to tolerate his current circumstances is unwilling to listen to something new, another detail to remember, another challenge to face. He would rather be left alone and continue on in the rut that he’s become a custom to. The central point is agreement. Agreement is the practical aspect of a reconciled life with God. It is where everything fits together spiritually. Salvation is agreeing with the sacrifice of Jesus. Faith is agreeing with the Word of God. Purpose is agreeing with the will of God. Unity is agreeing with God to agree with others. Perseverance is agreeing with God’s dealings in our life in accordance with His plans. “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
Interaction is the step that can be taken after there is a agreement. Without agreement interaction becomes merely conflict. While some people enjoy conflict just to break the monotony of their lives many people avoided at all costs and just one peace. When two people or a group of people are in agreement the next step is interaction, the desire to work together towards the goals that have been agreed upon.
The principle of life even before considering objectives that can be reached by it, grows and is strengthened by interaction. Another word for interaction within the principle of life is fellowship. Not only does fellowship reduce the principle of life, it feeds the principle of life.
The principle of life is both the beginning and the end. It is both of goal to be reached and the means to reach the goal. It is the life of God who is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the life of God the Zoe of God!
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:13-16
Prayer has never been nor will ever be a secondary subject. It continues to be the key to revival and to the breath of spiritual life. James describes prayer as an imperative. The exercise of our spiritual life not only demands adjusting to the principles that rule over the spiritual world but also a close and deep relationship with God. Effective prayer not only entails asking things of God but also correctly responding to his commands, his counsel and direction.
God’s moral government is not based on a sovereignty isolated from human will, but on an interaction and cooperation that God desires to maintain with man. Prayer is the greatest spiritual opportunity to partnership with God in what He is creating and doing. God created man to be his moral agent on the earth and prayer is the means by which he can access God’s divine resources.
Many things can unilaterally attract God’s favor; however there are others that God has determined must be bilateral. God’s character is unchangeable. He is gracious and His kingdom is abundant. There is plenty for everybody. However, above all He is a personal being. This means that the highest purpose of our life does not depend upon what we do for God, but in the simple fact of possessing and maintaining a relationship with Him. This is the primary axis of our existence.
Relationship is bilateral by definition and is only genuinely possible through trust. Trust is never automatic but something that must be built over time and doesn’t only depend on our faith in God’s character but also on our credibility before him. Beyond exercising blind faith toward God we are required to be trustworthy before him. When you are trustworthy, then it is easier to believe that others will also be. This interactive faith is the foundation of relationship.
Faith and character are interdependent elements. Faith without character produces fantasy and hypocrisy. Character without faith is reduced to rationalism. Faith and character, trust and credibility are the master pillars that support and give structure to relationships.
To trust and to be trustworthy are interconnected. Faith can be inhibited by infidelity and betrayal. Chronic infidelity reduces the capacity to believe and engenders superficiality. Superficiality can rapidly undergo metamorphosis and transform itself into mere hypocrisy. When we allow hypocrisy into our heart, our inner sense of spiritual security begins to fade away.
It is impossible for us to believe in ourselves if we are not trustworthy. Why would God believe or trust in us if we don’t even believe in ourselves? Certainly God is free to believe in us regardless of our trustworthiness; however, our lack of trustworthiness becomes an existential matter that imposes an internal conflict between our conscience and our soul. We are either convinced of our own sin or we strangle our own conscience. We either relate to God and to others in a healthy and free manner, or we isolate ourselves from God and others. If we choose to isolate ourselves from God because of this inner conflict, we will undermine our faith and our prayers will become ineffective. The result is a quality of life that is inferior to that which God desires to give us and the tragedy at this point is that we often blame or attribute this level of life to God’s preference rather than to our isolation from His grace.
Taken from http://vinebrancher.com/2013/07/overcomers/ Are all Christians overcomers?
Although every born again believer is legally an overcomer by right of spiritual inheritance, we know this is not the experience of all Christians. Many Christians live defeated lives. Is there such a thing as a defeated believer? Can a person who lives in spiritual defeated still be a born again believer? The answer is yes because our salvation and new birth is not only a question of experience but also of legality. Our salvation does not depend on our personal victory, but on the victory of the Lord Jesus. It is one thing to be a born again child of God, but it is another thing to be an overcomer. Salvation is the gift of God to those who believe in Him; but only the overcomer will experience victory and receive a reward. Salvation comes by faith; however, the reward comes by works that we practice before God.
The effective prayer of a righteous man
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16)
Not all prayer is effective and not all people who pray are effective intercessors. The problem of ineffective prayer is not God’s lack of power or goodwill or the spiritual exercise of prayer itself but ineffective prayers and people who ineffectively offer them. Just as the strategy of a prayer is a highly relevant element in its effectiveness so also is, and principally so, the character of the person who is praying. That is why some prayers are effective and some are ineffective, some are powerful and others are “harmless”. Some prayers are so dangerously ineffective or negatively effective that they can even do more harm than good.
And He gave them their request, But sent leanness into their soul. (Psalm 106:15)
James testifies that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). How can we define that which James called the prayer of a righteous man? The best example would logically be the famous “High priestly prayer of Jesus”, the “righteous or just one” and the “justifier” of the entire human race.
I would suggest that this prayer above all of the prayers voiced by Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, serves as a model for the Christian leader, due to the crucial moment of testing that confronted His character and revealed the secrets of His lifestyle. From this “prayer of a righteous man” we can identify at least seven elements that are necessary to produce powerful effects of a prayer and must be synergized and integrated into the lifestyle of the person who prays:
1. The power of effective prayer
The power of effective prayer is founded upon a covenant with God as its object. The first requirement of effective prayer is a proper relationship with God. There is a huge category of people who have absolutely no promise of getting a hearing from God, namely those who are outside of God’s family.
While it is true that God is free to answer any prayer we must recognize that the first “basis” for answered prayer is to be “in covenant” with the God who answers prayer. The scriptures teach us that the rain falls on the just and the unjust but those who are outside of God’s family have no “ground” upon which they can exercise faith because there is no promise from God upon which they can believe. The only exception is that whoever wills can approach God for salvation based on promises such as Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” And Hebrews 11:6 “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Therefore for the unconverted that cry out to God for salvation, there is a basis for positive and effective answered prayer, but beyond the point of salvation God expects all further requests to be uttered firmly upon the basis of a covenant relationship. This implies that the unconverted may never expect any answer to prayer except to the request for their own salvation, but it also implies that God’s covenant people who pray outside of the sphere of any of God’s covenants cannot expect God to hear or answer their prayers since they pray against the spirit and intent of covenant purposes.
2. The authority of effective prayer
The authority of effective prayer is established by coherency with God’s purposes. Before we can begin to act as agents of God on the earth we must recognize that there is a proper basis upon which we must proceed in prayer. In the same way that it is unreasonable to act in the name of a stranger, or improperly use someone’s name with whom we have no relationship, it is useless to pray in a direction or manner that God has made clear is contrary to his will. God will not listen to just any and every prayer but only those that are in accordance with his will and character. No child or servant of God is authorized to pray in any direction that they please and expect God to comply. The relationship of the servant of God with the Father even though he is a legitimate son does not trump the Father’s purposes.
3. The spiritual intelligence of effective prayer
The spiritual intelligence of effective prayer is optimized by the prophetic discernment of the moment. Not every legitimate prayer is spiritually intelligent nor should it be uttered at any given moment. Believers, as God’s collaborators (1 Corinthians 3:9) have the responsibility to perceive the direction that the Spirit of God is moving in any given circumstance and at any given time. This ability of course must be developed in each Christian and must be tried and tested in the case of approving a leader. The effective intercessor needs to know when it is time to ask God for something, how it should be asked for, when it is time to patiently wait, when it is time to boldly act, and numerous other factors that are impossible to anticipate thus making the dynamic ability to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit an absolute necessity.
4. The aim of effective prayer
The aim of effective prayer defines the focus of its spiritual objectives. After discovering what God intends to do in any given situation it is necessary to discern how he intends to use us as his co-laborers. This requires the knowledge and understanding of the spiritual and supernatural arsenal of tools that God has provided us with, which of these must be used, when they should be used and the order in which they must be applied.
5. The cutting edge of effective prayer
The cutting edge of effective prayer is sharpened through perseverance. Once we are able to discern what God intends to do in any given moment or circumstance and we discern the manner that he wills to bring it about and we voice the corresponding objectives in prayer, we must resolutely persist and press on in the direction of the prayer. The enemies of Intelligent and persistent prayer are many and varied. Although many leaders are able to discern God’s intentions in any given circumstance, many do not have the state of mind to insist and persist in the direction that they have been praying. If we falter in this respect, our prayers can be rendered useless and we will fail as God’s co-laborers.
6. The spiritual impact of effective prayer
The spiritual impact of effective prayer is manifested through the spirit of unity and love. Unity is the key to the revelation of the gospel and the love of God to the world. Jesus prayed:
“… that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:23)
Whenever a body of Christians on any level whether it be a small group, a congregation or even an entire denomination begins to succumb to the attacks of the enemy with respect to its unity and love, the effectiveness of its prayers will be adversely affected. Just as within the covenant of marriage a husband’s prayers will be hindered because of problems in his relationship with his wife, so also the corporate prayers of a small group, local church, or group of churches will be hindered because of lack of unity.
7. The scope of effective prayer
The scope of effective prayer is defined by the limit of our faith, vision and hope with respect to God’s covenant purposes. When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray he gave them authority to ask that God’s will be done here on earth just as it is done in heaven. As we begin to experience effectiveness in prayer in the circumstances of our own life, we must lift up our eyes and expand the horizons of our hope, vision and faith. We must grow in our conviction that only we can limit the scope and dimension of our spiritual influence on the earth. While we must be careful not to presumptuously use the name of Jesus in our requests in prayer, the greatest danger is to become paralyzed in the name of “godly fear” in overstepping the limits of God’s will. In other words, we must waste no time imagining that God has a smaller ministry than what our heart cries out to accomplish. Our hope must grow ever stronger, our vision must extend ever further, and our faith must grow ever bolder.
Effective prayer is attainable, it is God’s burning desire for each of us, but we will never reach it unless we dedicate ourselves to these seven factors: authority, spiritual intelligence, aim, cutting edge, spiritual impact and scope. Upon these seven pillars any child of God can enjoy a rich experience of a spiritual overcomer through an effective prayer life.