Category Archives: Principles of prayer
Effective prayer and spiritual objectivity
The secret of successful prayer is to know how to focus requests in prayer according to the prophetic need of the moment. We must learn how to cultivate and employ spiritual objectivity as the target of our prayer. Jesus did this when he prayed for his disciples.
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)
Defining spiritual objectivity
I believe that this verse expresses the most complete definition of spiritual objectivity given in the Bible. Spiritual objectivity is simply the ability to “hit the right target” in prayer. There are far too many people aiming at the wrong target.
Many people proceed to climb what they perceive as the “ladder of success” only to discover that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall when they reach the top. Objectivity implies leaning the ladder on the right wall in order to reach the right target. For Christians this means investing in the things and people who the Father has given them to distribute to others.
Objectivity is also the power to transform our dreams into reality through elaborating and following executable projects. Many people idealize projects that are so abstract and unreal that they are impossible to implement into anything doable. This is frustrating. Every illusion is a promise of disappointment. Many people never wake up to live out and experience their dreams. To cultivate the art of dreaming is very important; however, it is more important to know how these dreams will materialize in a practical manner. Objectivity is one of the principle measurements of distinguishing dreams from illusions.
The practice of spiritual objectivity speaks of the ability to establish living examples in accordance with the divine plan. We must hear God’s voice in order to recognize the right priorities that we must focus on in harmony with the moment. Spiritual objectivity is the fruit of intimacy with God’s divine purpose manifesting itself through a deep sense of destiny concerning our inheritance in God
Spiritual objectivity in prayer
The lack of objectivity communicated in many prayer meetings is tragic. Many prayers are as long-winded as they are empty, as religious as they are mystic and as foggy as they are unbelieving. It is common to hear prayers that are the exact opposite of what Jesus prayed: “Lord, bless all of the nations of the world and all the churches on the face of the earth!” Jesus simply prayed: “I ask not for the whole world”.
We can define prayer without objectivity as prayer that requires no evaluation of results. Effective prayer of the righteous involves specific motives and implies unquestionable effects and answers. They are shots fired under the precise guidance of a target. Spiritual objectivity in prayer demonstrates the exercise of faith. Vague and wide-reaching prayers attest to religiosity. They try to impress, but deep down inside those who offer them do not believe what they are praying.
Jesus did not meander in prayer; He enjoyed a focused intimacy with God through the Holy Spirit that pointed to prioritized responsibilities. He knew where He wanted to go. His prayers had a clear focus. When we speak of prioritized responsibilities we are principally speaking about praying for people and for the vision that God has directly given to us.
Jesus made it a point to limit His prayer. His prayers were short and sweet. His disciples would soon be under the same crossfire. He said: “I do not pray for the world”. He targeted his prayer to his primary scope of responsibility. Although they were few, Jesus interpreted the value of his responsibility to his disciples as far superior to that of what he had with respect to the whole world. This focusing power is distinctly impressive and strategically necessary.
We have the responsibility to know “who” and “what” God has entrusted to us. If you do not know whom God has entrusted to you, you must find out, and begin to cover these people in prayer. We must learn to pray specifically for the people who God has chosen and has given us to care for independently of our present position of leadership. These people constitute and represent a specific purpose of God, which we must strive to attain. Do not shrink from this objective responsibility! Do not question God as Cain did irresponsibly inquiring, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). God always entrusts people to other people.
The greatest responsibilities are usually small ones. God pays attention to how we face small responsibilities. This is the way that God tests us and knows whether we will remain faithful to Him or not. God is adamant in this: if we are not faithful in the little, we will not be faithful with much. No matter how much you desire or even “pray” for much, if you are not being faithful in the little, your prayer will be irresponsible and if God were to answer it, you could even be destroyed. Therefore, God will not give you the much.
In perseverance possess your soul
I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. (John 17:4)
Perhaps this is the most powerful declaration that anyone has ever made in history. The one thing that determines whether we are prepared to die or not, is if we persevere and finish the work that God has prepared for us. Christ’s words cut sharply across the heavy spiritual atmosphere that hung over him as he faced the cross. In spite of the darkness and gloom of the prophetic moment that Jesus had to face, this declaration slashed apart the darkness that tried to separate him from God the Father.
His ostensible posture of godly character decided the course of his life as he resolutely walked in the perfect will of the Father. He followed, pursued and succeeded in materializing the whole plan of God. Here Jesus illustrated the needed attitude and paid the necessary price to glorify the Father on the earth through his perseverance to follow through to the end and consummate the work and the call that the Father had entrusted to him. He was correct to declare, “It is finished.” Death did not interrupt his life on the earth. He completed his task, fulfilled the Scriptures, trampled death, accomplished man’s salvation and entered into eternal glory. Thus, he established himself as an eternally effective intercessor on our behalf:
Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors; And He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12).
The spirit of obedience is the essence of perseverance
There is no obedience without perseverance and there is no perseverance without obedience. This statement may smack of stubbornness but spirit of obedience is what makes the difference. Obedience distinguishes perseverance from stubbornness. The word obedience originally came from the term “to give ear”. Obedience is tied to our spiritual hearing. In order to obey we must hear. Without a correct understanding and perspective of obedience, we may exercise discipline in a harmful and abusive manner.
Christ’s statement in his priestly prayer (verse 4) includes three fundamental aspects of obedience:
“I have glorified you on the earth”
Obedience begins with the motivation to glorify God. The first aspect of obedience is motivational. It demands victory over the lust of acceptance. The difficulties of life normally flesh out boasting in all human motivation and this can fatally compromise the course of our life in all aspects. We must constantly attribute all glory to God if we want to see him work through us. The first enemy to be conquered is our ego and its devices, schemes and strategies of emotional dependence and boasting.
“Having finished the work”
Obedience is not just saying that you will do something and begin to do it. Obedience always implies finishing your work, persevering until the successful conclusion of everything that God has designated you to do. Many people’s lives consist of a collection of false or unmet promises or things that they began, but later abandoned. How many times have we neglected to persevere in that which God has entrusted to us? This is a sin against the spirit of the righteous man’s prayer, debilitating the character of perseverance and inhibiting faith. God certainly hears prayers, but He only responds to faith. Faith is a progressive conviction that depends upon the dynamic interaction with the revealed will of God.
“The work that you have given me to do”
Obedience also implies not doing what God did not command you to do. Jesus fulfilled the work that the Father gave Him to do and not that which the Father did not give Him to do. This may seem to be an obvious detail, but it is amazing how so many people are doing so many things other than what God has commanded. In this way, we become potential candidates of doing the work of God without God and even in opposition to God.
A position taken up in these three aspects revolutionizes our spiritual life. We supernaturally gain a deep discernment in prayer that makes it sharp, cutting and penetrating against the resistance imposed by the spiritual world in the critical moments of life.
The crucifixion of Jesus
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Jesus concluded His life on a cross, with no apparent sign of success. He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9), crucified naked between two thieves he lost his reputation, did not study in any great or famous schools (John 7:15), spurned political success and a life of palace courts (John 6:15), manifested God’s power by leaving his in heaven (Matthew 26:53), yet completely fulfilled God’s will for his life. This is a strange but genuine way of defining true success. He simply persevered completely in God’s purpose.
Jesus made it clear that through our perseverance, we will possess our soul. Perseverance is one of the most meaningful principles of victory. Through perseverance, you advance in the direction of that which you have already reserved for God. The sting of death we must conquer here is the lack of perseverance.
Which will we choose perseverance or abandonment? The choice is a matter of life or death! We can only fight against death through the cross. Either death crucifies us through our own abandonment or we crucify death through our perseverance!
The crucifixion of Paul
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:6, 7)
When Paul wrote these words, he was already looking into the cold eyes of death yet he had no fear. The truth is that he was the one that was scaring death. The sign of perseverance produced a supernatural security. He knew what was awaiting him. (2 Timothy 4:8) He was able to turn death itself into an eternal opportunity to pour his own life as a libation to the Lord. Paul completely yielded himself to the Holy Spirit.
In what prophetic moment are you living? What is the prophetic moment that your church and city are living in? What is God doing in your life right now? What is God changing at this time? What is the Word of God for this moment? The simple fact of hearing God with respect to these matters can place us in a strategic position of prayer and intercession: “He who keeps His command will experience nothing harmful; And a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment, Because for every matter there is a time and judgment, Though the misery of man increases greatly.” (Ecclesiastes 8:5, 6)
It is God’s intent that you pray discerning the spiritual moment in which you live and it would be tragic for you to ignore the prophetic occasion. “You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” (Matthew 16:3b). This is one of the principle confrontations of Jesus with the Pharisees. Even after this harsh rebuke they continued to be blind in relation to the Kairos of God. The result ended up being tragic: (Luke 19:44). When we don’t understand and refuse to receive the prophetic word in God’s timing, it will only be a matter of time before destruction comes.
Father, the hour has come
“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.” (John 17:1-5)
Jesus was aware of what he had to do and prepared for the darkest moment and the greatest suffering of His life. For this reason He was able to offer the correct prayer. He knew how to interpret that moment, prioritizing its greatest truth, as the test from God that it was. He reacted by praying.
From that moment on, each one of his reactions would be measured by the pattern of divine approval. His focus was neither on the devil, nor on the failures of His disciples, the inconsistency of the multitude, the evilness of the ungodly, the cruelty of the Pharisees, the cowardice of Pilate, nor the cold-bloodedness of the Roman soldiers, but on the fact that God was testing Him. He had to be the perfect sacrifice, the spotless Lamb. When the time came to pay the price, when the time for the test had arrived, what is our reaction, or better yet, what is our prayer? Our prayer expresses the spiritual position that we have taken or that we have neglected to take.
One of our greatest problems is that we are so spiritually ignorant that we can’t even discern the spiritual timing that we are in. If we do not understand the timing of God, we will offer unjust, bitter and ignorant prayers that will be like firing shots blindfolded, merely increasing our frustration.
Those who do not understand the correct “time”, flee, disburse, betray, deny, sleep and become disillusioned. The disciples were scattered because they didn’t understand the moment. Those who understand God’s timing can say: “the flesh is weak, but the spirit is ready!”
Jesus would be abandoned, betrayed, denied, persecuted, arrested, whipped, humiliated, beaten, judged, crucified and killed. The Lord’s discernment of the prophetic moment led Him to offer this strategic prayer that became a shield so as to assure that all of God’s plans could flow into His life and into the life of His disciples.
Setting the Spiritual Clock by Praying the right prayer at the right moment
It is all too common for people to try to rush God’s plans while others slow them down or even frustrate them. For those who are in a hurry it seems as though God wisely slows down the pace of His operation, while for those who seem to always slow down the work of God He attempts to push them forward in many ways. This is where the need for the prophetic ministry comes in. Not that anything is too difficult for God but I believe one of His greatest challenges is to set the clock in the lives of His people.
Discernment or lack of it in this area produces behavior that affects the speed in which the fulfillment of God’s will is accomplished. Some slow His work down and others try to hurry it up. Due to the rebellion of Miriam the people of Israel were delayed in the desert for a whole week waiting for the time necessary for her purification. On one hand, because of one person a whole nation lost a week’s time and the work of God was delayed.
So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again. And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran. (Numbers 12:15)
On the other hand, because of Moses’s intercession the work of God was moved ahead of schedule. God proposed to destroy the people in the desert and begin a new nation beginning with Moses. “Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” (Exodus 32:10). How long would that have taken? Perhaps another 500 years! However Moses did not permit the people to be destroyed. “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” (Exodus 32:32).
It’s amazing how God receives certain types of intercession. In this case it almost seems that God humbles himself and proceeds in compliance with the request of Moses. It appears as though God asked Moses for permission to destroy the people, but Moses did not allow it and God accepted his position. This demonstrates the power of an intelligent prayer that boldly cooperates with God’s purposes while at the same time seeming presumptuously stubborn and resolute.
We must be ready for each specific step, time or task that God has for us, being sensible to what this time will demand of us. The right prayer, at the right moment offered by the right person that calculates the right price required by the moment, will have a surprising effect! The apostle John taught “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” Confidence in prayer depends upon discerning the will of God. When we pray the will of God our prayers will always produce the effect that we ask for.
Without a shadow of doubt, the greatest crisis that marked the reign of David was when his own son, Absalom, rebelled against his throne. Apparently this rebellion was birthed when Ammon had raped Tamar and David did not take care of the situation in the way that he should have, at least in the eyes of Absalom who decided to take justice into his own hands exacting revenge on the incest suffered by his sister. Absalom coldly murdered his own brother at a family gathering. It was a shocking way to denounce the impunity of the King.
Because of this, David simply exiled Absalom from the city and from his presence. The indifference of his father fueled the resentment of the injustice even more in Absalom’s heart. In the end, he merely did what the king should have done to Ammon for having raped his sister. The fact is, according to the law, the crime of Ammon should have been punished with his death.
After some time Absalom was brought back to Jerusalem. Still indignant, he began to steal the hearts of the people. He tried to convince the people that there was no justice in the kingdom of David. He was still deeply hurt by his father. He would detain the people who came to the Royal Palace resolving their complaints to the detriment of David’s government.
Finally, through his bitter scheming, he was able to garner enough support to declare a coup d’état. To demonstrate his intention of killing the King and occupying his place, he slept with his father’s concubines in full daylight. This was a tearful page in the history of David’s reign. What was really behind this terrible story? Why wasn’t David able to execute justice concerning his sons? What was the key that could unlock this whole legacy of immorality and violence that had cruelly struck the royal family?
Apparently the situation painted David as an innocent party and Absalom as the rebel, which is true. However, it is necessary to fully understand the facts to uncover the attitude and the discernment of David.
The truth is, going back to the source of the problem; everything began when David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, which resulted in an unexpected pregnancy. After failing in his attempt to simulate a romantic encounter between Uriah and his wife to cover up the consequences of his sin, he ended up killing his faithful warrior with the sword of the sons of Ammon.
The scandalous details that we have been mentioning happened as a consequence of David’s crime. Everything happened just as the prophetic word had predicted:
Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord:’ Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. (2 Samuel 12:9-11)
Many years had passed and now God was confronting David’s sin through the rebellion of Absalom. However, it wasn’t Absalom that God was correcting, but David. When David perceived that the trap had been set, he abandon the palace in the attempt to save his life.
On the path of his flight, David was confronted by a name called Shimei who cursed him and threw stones at him. In reality, David was before one of the greatest circumstantial tests of his life. When Abishai, one of his men wanted to react against the insult and cut off the head of Shimei, David rebuked him revealing his discernment of the moment that confronted him. Understanding that in that moment God was correcting him and humiliating him, he submitted himself, accepted the humiliation and facilitated an incredible intervention and a tremendous prayer to God:
Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day. (2 Samuel 16:11, 12)
That was an impressive thing for a king to do. Imagine someone cursing you and rejoicing in your destruction by telling you that you deserve the damnation that you are suffering! How could anyone say that such a thing was of God?! Normally it would be interpreted as something from the devil! However David did not say that Shimei was being used by the devil, but by God! He discerned the moment that he faced. He didn’t take the enemy’s bait! It wasn’t a fight against flesh and blood! He recognized that he deserved what was happening to him and submitted himself to the circumstance thus transforming the curse into a blessing. I would call that an intelligent prayer. I believe at that moment David turned the key in the spiritual world and the attack against his kingdom was destroyed.
The brokenness that came from the discernment of the present moment began to reverse the direction of the situation and with a brief “prayer of a righteous man” David reversed the direction of the spiritual battle that almost cost him his own life:
“O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!” (2 Samuel 15:31)
Ahithophel was a principal counselor of the King. Unfortunately, he betrayed him by supporting the rebellion of Absalom. To choose to be on Ahithophel’s side represents choosing to be on the winning side. This man was so close to David that he knew exactly how to destroy him and for this reason David also discerned the need to offer this prayer and as a result God answered. When Ahithophel perceived that Absalom had not obeyed his counsel, he committed suicide. He was literally the “Judas of the Old Testament” (Psalm 41:9).
The most important thing in this whole story is that David discerned the moment that he was living in. He was being visited and punished by the consequences of his murder and adultery. He understood that the matter wasn’t between him and Absalom. God was visiting his sin through this terrible condition of cursing. Sin is always expensive. David still tried to save his son Absalom, who ended up being killed at the hands of Joab. However, the prophetic discernment of the moment led him to a level of brokenness and revelation that saved his life and preserved his kingdom.
This is the moral of the whole story: a great sin, a great repentance, a great punishment, a great discernment, a great attitude and a great prayer, the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man that avails much. The prophetic discernment of the present moment made all the difference!
The prophetic discernment of the present moment
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” (John 17:1)
The first perspective of the high priestly prayer of Jesus comes from the discernment of the moment in which he lived and which he would have to face. This provided Him with wind in His sails and the necessary spiritual composure. He would not be surprised by anything and even less so by anyone. He was prepared for what would come and strengthened to face the day of anguish and suffering.
Some prayers are intelligent and others are ignorant. Some are blind and others are visionary. Some are stubborn and others are perseverant. Some are mature and others are immature. What elements would make such a great difference in prayer? The answer: Nothing other than the discernment of the spiritual moment at hand. When you understand the spiritual moment in which you are living, it is easier to take your eyes off of the circumstances and lift them up to the Father. The Father’s purpose is the reference point and not the circumstances themselves. This is an intelligent prayer that discerns the divine mind, being one step ahead of the enemy and overcoming circumstances.
The discernment of time permits us to offer intelligent prayer that comes from a correct perspective of the spiritual situation. The lack of discernment in relation to the present time can compromise our spiritual integrity. It is an open door to many emotional wounds and even to rebellion. Prayer that is inspired by these wounds always sins against the wisdom that comes from heaven. Instead of benefits we reap losses.
Cronos and Kairos
Cronos and Kairos are the two Greek words that designate “physical time” and “spiritual time” respectively. The physical world is in the dimension of “cronos”, however the spiritual world in “Kairos”. Kairos determines the appropriateness of the true spiritual moment. Kairos also determines the ability of not rushing what God wants to do as well is not delaying it. It is the “today” of God.
Worse than a word or action at the wrong time is an inappropriate prayer that ignores the spiritual moment: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11). A befitting presentation always increases the value of a behavior, just as a valuable word is appreciated more when it is spoken at the right time. If a word spoken at the right time is precious, how much more a prayer offered at the right time.
There is a synergy between the word and time, between the prayer and the discernment of the moment. This is one of the greatest secrets of effectiveness in prayer. The correct word at the prophetic time revolutionizes the effects of a prayer.
A classic example of this was the prayer of Daniel. Here we understand how the discernment of the moment is something highly relevant in the development of the prophetic ministry. His prayer revolutionized the spiritual world, knocking down the demonic principality of Persia, as well as changing the destiny of the nation of Israel making possible the fulfillment of God’s will for that generation.
In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. (Daniel 9:2, 3)
Based on the prophecies of Jeremiah concerning the Babylonian captivity of Judah, Daniel “understood” the prophetic moment in which he lived. He knew how to go to the correct source. The same prophet that had prophesied the coming of the captivity also prophesied its duration. The time had been fulfilled, but nobody perceived it.
Before praying, Daniel applied his heart to understand and to humble himself. He had the vital discernment that the hour of freedom had come to the nation. The time of punishment had come to an end and as far as it depended on God the spiritual world was favorable to the return of the captives to their native land.
While everyone was accustomed to a life of slavery, he discerned that the time for freedom and arrived. Based on this prophetic understanding Daniel began to seek the Lord. Prayers in harmony with the God’s spiritual timing are prophetically sharp obtaining effective results and immediate answers:
Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty- one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia (Daniel 10:12, 13)
Daniel prayed and sought how to pray in prayer. The next time you go to God in prayer, think about what you are asking for and the place it has in the time and the timing of the situation that you are currently in. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will lead you in a different and more intelligent and effective direction then would be your natural inclination. Who knows God’s work might get done faster if we all prayed in this manner.
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.