Friday, January 31, 2020

Intercession and Authority (5)

Intercession is incredibly important, because it gives God permission to work on earth. I have explained why here.

However, we need to begin in the place where people are. Christians put a lot of effort into prayer, with poor results. They become frustrated, because many of their prayers are not answered. The resulting disappointment undermines their faith, which is sad. They have to shrug and pretend that their prayer not being answered does not matter. These disappointed people need a better understanding of how prayer does and does not work.

Many people, when they don’t have their prayers answered, just shrug their shoulders and say “It was not God’s will” or “That person did not have enough faith”, or “That person is not good enough”, but I am not prepared to do that. I try to learn from the experiences, and the answer I get sometimes surprises me, and other people do not accept it. This can be harder to deal with than just shrugging your shoulders.

One reason that prayers are not answered is that that God has given people freedom, so he will not force them to do things against their will. The Holy Spirit will often put ideas in the minds of evil people, and they will sometimes do what he suggested, because they like his ideas, especially if it is good for them. The Holy Spirit is quite happy to work with this constraint and he is smart enough to get God’s will done despite it.

We can be confident God will achieve his long-term goals, but he does not manipulate and control all human activities. This means that our prayers will only be fulfilled, if they line up with what the Holy Spirit can achieve.

Our prayers are more effective in situations where we have authority. The Holy Spirit better able to intercede on behalf of people who have given us authority in their lives than in the lives of political leaders of other nations that we have no involvement in.

If Christians are praying that God will do everything that is on their hearts and minds, without asking the Holy Spirit what God actually wants to do, then most of those prayers will not be answered. This will lead to disappointment.

We also need to be careful about false positives: things that appear to be linked, but are not, ie situations where what we prayed for happened, but this was not the result of our prayers. Consider a presidential election. Christians will be praying for their candidate: some will be praying for one and some will be praying for another. The group whose candidate gets in will assume that their prayers were answered, when actually their candidate would have won anyway, because God did not care who won, but allowed the people to choose.

When things that we have prayed for happen, we can’t just assume that it was the result of our prayers, because they may have happened anyway. We must be humble about the power of our prayers, because what we asked for may have been going to happen anyway, regardless of whether we had prayed or not.

That said, prayer can have a real effect, if we seek out what the Holy Spirit wants to do in situations where we have influence or authority.

The limitation is not our prayers, but the limitations that God has imposed on himself, by giving humans freedom and authority on earth. It is God that is constrained, not our prayers. The key is to ensure that we are praying according to his will and with alignment to the way that he has set the world up. If we understood, this much of the frustration would go.

Many Christians see currently see prayer as omnipotent, because they assume that God has detailed control over everything (the technical name is meticulous providence). Naturally, they are disappointed when they pray and nothing happens.

Pretending is not faith. However, honest and truth are much better.

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