Posted by: Rina | October 23, 2009

Prayer

Just about any activity that connects you with God and godly people will cause a growth in your kingdom identity.  The point of growth, is to obtain something that you don’t have.  In order to do this, you must be around people and the Holy Spirit who can give you something that you don’t have.  We will discuss seven keys to growing in the identity but growth is not limited to just these seven.  These should be seen as a baseline from which to build identity.

Prayer

Prayer is the first key to intimacy with God and growing in our identity.  Prayer is about relationship with God and it keeps us rightly related to Him.  Prayer is about talking to and listening to God.  It’s about relationship. When I first met my wife I spent lots of time talking to and listening to her  Te more this exchange took place between us the more we got to know each other.  The same is true between us and God.  He gets to know me and I get to know Him.  Jesus tells a parable and at the end He rebukes the unrighteous by saying, “I don’t know you.” (Matthew 25:12)  Jesus is our model for how human being can be rightly related to God and the gospels consistently tell us that he spen a considerable amount of time in prayer. (Luke 6:12)

The disciples came to Jesus and asked Him to teach them how to pray.  He responds with the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father.”  In the scriptures we read:  “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed by Your name.  Your kingdom.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.”  Since this is the model prayer, a discussion about it seems to be in order.

“Our Father who is in Heaven”

Jesus begins by setting the tone of this relationship.  God is our loving Father.  This places a familial precedent upon prayer.  No longer is it just a dialogue between Deity and human, it has become a conversation between a Father and His child.  This is an encounter that both mutually enjoy.  The Bible says that God “delights” in our prayers.  (Proverbs 15:8)  He is anxiously waiting to spend time, just talking with His children.  In some aspects, this is what heaven will be like.  Eternally spending time with the Father.  Jesus sat down at the right hand of God, (Hebrews 10:12) and has spent the majority of the last 2000 years with the Father.  The Father’s ultimate desire is to “be” with us.  It was God who walked in the garden searching for Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3:8)  It was also God who chose the prayers of his “friends” to thwart disaster in the lives of others. (see the stories of Abraham, Moses, and Job)  God loves it when we sacrifice our time to be with Him.  When we choose time with Him over anything else.  Growing in our identity exponentially increases with private communion with God.  Jesus tells us, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to you Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6)
“Hallowed be thy name”

What is the name of God?  The Greek word used here is “onoma.”  It meaning is, “it was quite common both in Hebrew and Hellenistic Greek to use onoma for all that the name implies, such as rank or authority, character, reputation, and representative.  Onoma is synonymous for an individual.” (1)  Jesus is telling us that there is more to the Father’s name than just a title.  He is describing who God is and what His Personality is like.  He is saying, “Holy is your character, Holy are you, Oh God, your person, who you are is holy.”  In Isaiah’s commissioning vision, he sees the angels of God declaring, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:3)  They are worshiping His character and His nature. (see also Exodus 34:7-8)  This is a great place to begin prayer.  First recognizing our heavenly Father and then acknowledging the Character and Nature of the stock that formed us.

“Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

As we have previously discussed in chapter one, our citizenship is in heaven. (Phil 3:20)  Having acknowledged our familial relationship with the Father and having worshiped His character, it is now time to release and pray that heaven will invade our circumstances and the circumstances of those we are interceding for.  As a citizen of heaven and a co-laborer with God, it is my responsibility to beseech our loving Father to have His world invade ours.  It is my duty as on “created a little lower than God” (Psalm 8:5) to pray the kingdom of God invade earth as it is in heaven.  Bill Johnson has written an incredible book on this subject entitled, “When Heaven Invades Earth”, in regards to this portion of the Lord’s Prayer, here is what Pastor Johnson writes, “This is the primary focus for all prayer-if it exists in heaven, it is to be loosed on earth.  It’s the praying Christian who looses heaven’s expression here.  When the believer prays according to the revealed will of God, faith is specific and focused.  Faith grabs hold of that reality.  Enduring faith doesn’t let go.  Such an invasion causes the circumstances here to line up with heaven…  Conversely, if it is not free to exist in heaven, it must be bound here.  Again, through prayer we are to exercise the authority given to us…The implication is that we can only bind or loose here what has already been bound or loosed there.  Once again, heaven is our model.” (2)

“Give us this day our daily bread”

“Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)  Jesus makes it abundantly clear that God will provide for all of our basic needs.  He says, “Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’     For after all these things the Gentiles seek.  For you Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things  But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:32-33)  When we pray this prayer we are acknowledging, by faith, that he will provide for us, daily, as he promised.  There is a reason why Israel only received a days worth of heavenly manna.  They were automatically placed in a position of dependency upon God.  Likewise, this prayer pushes us into a position of dependency.  My children never worry that we will run out of food.  When it is meal-time, they simply say, “I’m hungry, what are we eating.”  The idea that nothing is available is completely foreign to them.  So should it be with us and god.  This daily dependence helps increase our faith.  If we are to grow in our identity, we must grow in our faith and dependency upon God and the Holy Spirit.  A daily portion of faith allows us to see God move in our lives and this strengthens our relationship with Him.  Consequently, this strengthens our stance on who He says that we are.  Enjoy the communion that we have with God on a daily basis.  Access it by faith and put yourself in a position of dependency upon Him.  This is our daily bread.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Forgiveness is a huge factor in the Kingdom.  Unforgiveness can actually dismantle our prayer life and relationship with God.  Furthermore, it can actually give the enemy license to torment us.  If we are harboring unforgiveness in our hearts, it may be the source of our identity crisis.  We must deal with unforgiveness if we are to grow in the kingdom.  Jesus states, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive [them], and you will have [them]. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:23-25).

When Jesus tells us in Mark 11:23-25 that we can have whatever we say, we often fail to recognize the condition He places on this promise – the role we have to play in order to actualize His words. This passage tells us that we must forgive others (when ye stand praying, forgive”) if we want to receive answers to our prayers.

The ability to release faith and power is directly dependent upon our forgiveness of others.  To not forgive someone is the exact opposite of the character of God.  God is willing and ready to forgive sins.  Therefore, as His image-bearers, we must be willing and ready to be like Him.

A big strategy of the enemy has been to make forgiveness into something that it is not.  Forgiveness is not saying that the sin against you is O.K.  Forgiveness is not an admission that excuses the sin.  Forgiveness does not imply that one must continue in a relationship with the one that sinned against you.  Forgiveness does not dictate that the relationship will immediately return to its prior position before the sin.  Forgiveness is not saying that the person who did it is not accountable for the sin.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we have to again trust the person who perpetrated the sin.  These lies about forgiveness have been perpetrated by the enemy in order to keep people bound in un-forgiveness.  It is time to be  released from the lie.
Kris Vallotton gives the most accurate definition of forgiveness, “It simply means that I release them from being punished for what they did to me.” (3)  That is it.  It means that we release the person from the right that we have to demand their punishment.  Jesus tells us a parable about the importance of forgiveness that will illustrate both the principle and the importance of forgiveness.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  The servant, therefore, fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave his debt.  But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hand on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying ‘Have patience with me and I will pay you all.’  And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellow servants saw that had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant!  I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had  pity on you?  And his master was angry and delivered him to the torturer until he should pay all that was due to him.  So My Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:23-35)

When we fail to forgive others, we are withholding their opportunity to be free from punishment.  The servant in this parable provides an illustration.  The King had the right for him to be sold and punished because of his debt.  The King, being moved with compassion, releases the obligation.  The servant  should become like the King releasing others from what is owed.  The servant fails to imitate the King.  When this happens, satan loves it, because he now has the legal right to torture.  In fact, the King will turn us over to the torturers.  Kris Vallotton writes:  “Un-forgiveness puts in prison.  If we fail to understand how big our debt of sin was to God and what it meant for Him to forgive it, we can fall into the trap of judging the much smaller wrongs of those around us.  As we can see from the story, we are only hurting ourselves when we do that.  God insists that His people forgive each other, and he’s not above using the devil as a pawn to help us do it.  This parable describes his “ways and means committee” called “the tormentors” that help drive us into forgiveness.” (4)
There is a powerful statement at the end of the gospel of John related to forgiveness.  If forgiveness is an attribute of God, it should also be a Christian attribute.  God gives us the power to forgive others their sins.  Being molded into His likeness and Image, the Christian should respond as the King would respond.

“And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:22-23).

The breathing into the disciples is reminiscent of the breathing into Adam.  FF Bruce writes, “The Spirit is imparted by the breath of Jesus.  The verb used here (emphysao) is that used in the LXX (Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament) of Gen 2:7 where, after fashioning the first man from the dust, God ‘breathed into his face the breath of life and the man became a living soul’,…But it is not for the bestowal of life that is in view now, but empowerment for ministry. (parenthetical note mine for clarification) (5)  God breathed into humans the breath of life and they were made into the image of God.  With that, a measure of power was given.  Jesus breathing into us the Holy Sprit also gives us an increased measure of power.   In the Old Testament,  only God could forgive sins.  Indeed, many of the scribes and Pharisees questioned Jesus when he would say, “You sins are forgiven you.” (Mark 2:5)  They were right, men didn’t have the authority to forgive sins.  With the advent of Jesus, a new authority had arrived on the earth.  The kingdom of God had come.  Jesus backs up the ability to forgive sins with a miracle. (Mark 2:10).
The Spirit filled Christian is the “image-bearer of God”. Consequently, the ministry that was previously only God’s has become ours as well.  With this impartation comes a great deal of responsibilities.  We must imitate the King in all our affairs.  We must model the character and nature of the Spirit that is inside us.  We represent the King, and the King  will forgive.  Che’ Ahn writes, “We have authority in Jesus to forgive sins.  When people confess, we need to do what the Word says and say,  ‘I forgive you-you are forgiven in Jesus name’, and set that person free.  Then we will see the release of grace and mercy on that person’s life.  The Lord has given us that kind of authority.” (6)  The power of faith spoken words over someone life will release grace and mercy.

As we forgive others, we will grow in our identity, because we are doing exactly what God says we should do.  We are acting like him and this will line up our character with His.  Appendix A has been placed in this book for those who are struggling with unforgiveness.  It was written by my wife and it deals not only with forgiving but also forgetting.  The reader is strongly encouraged to read this appendix if struggling with unforgiveness.  It helps develop a strategy to forgive.

“Lead us not into Temptation but deliver us from the evil one”

We must remain humble before God.  No other man in the Old Testament had an anointing and greater intimacy with God than David.  Yet, when tempted, David committed adultery and then murder.  We must recognize that we are not “made perfect” yet and given the right circumstances, we could fall into bondage to sin again.  Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself.  Peter was absolutely convinced that he would never deny Jesus while Jesus knew that his character, given the right circumstances, would do what he thought he would never do.  The prayer of faith acknowledges that our character may not be able to handle certain situations and we are asking God to protect us from these circumstances.  This affords us the opportunity to develop character in a safe environment until it can be tested.  Arrogance will destroy our identity while humility in prayer, will provide a divinely arranged milieu for our growth.
“Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever. Amen.

We have come full circle and return to worship. In this process, the Christian has identified as the child and God as the Father.  We have worship His character.  We have bound hell and loosed heaven over our lives and the lives of others.  We have received supernatural provision by faith.  We have forgiven others and received our forgiveness from God.  God has arranged our circumstances in order to protect us.  After the completion of all this, the natural response is to return to gratitude and worship.  When all this is accomplished daily, our identity can’t help but grow.  Andrew Murray writes, “Children of God!  Jesus wants us to pray like this to the Father in heaven.  O let His Name, Kingdom, and Will have the first place in our love.  In response, God will provide for us, pardon us, and love us.  So the prayer will leads us to the true child-life:  the Father giving everything  for the child-the thine and the our-are one.  The heart that begins its prayer with the God devoted Thine will have the power in faith to speak out the Our, too.  Such prayer will indeed be the fellowship and interchange of love, always bringing us back in trust and worship to Him Who is not only the Beginning, but the End.” (7)

Persistence and Faith In Prayer

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus immediately flows up the model prayer with these sayings, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him;’ and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you.’ I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.  So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”     The implication here is clear.  Jesus is teaching us to not quite praying before the miracles happen.  There is a place for continuing in prayer despite our circumstances.  To not stand on God’s promises and pray in continuous faith, is to allow the enemy the victory by our quitting.  Jesus is telling us to never quite in faith-filled prayer.  Jesus had one question about what he would find upon His return.  He asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith upon the earth?” (Luke 18:8)  Persistence in faith despite our circumstances will cause us to grow in our identity and relationship with God.
Authority and Intercession in Prayer

When discussing prayer and identity, authority and intercession are two subjects we must briefly address.  (This is not intended to be an exhaustive study but to familiarize those growing in identity with these two aspects of prayer.  Please see the two books quoted in this section for more comprehensive studies.)  Operating in both these areas will cause us to grow in our identity.  Authority is your right to rule your world.  It is different from power.  Authority is your God-given right through Christ, to operate in your identity.  Dutch Sheets explains, “God has given you jurisdiction over your world-under His authority, of course.  He wants you, not sin, demonic powers, negative circumstances, or any other outside force to govern it.” (8)  Through our intimacy with God, we release His Authority into our environment and we rule and reign with Christ.  When we do this, we will grow in our identity as we practice the character traits of the ruling authorities that we are in Christ.

Intercession

As we walk along with God, we stay under the umbrella of His Kingdom and covering.  However, when one begins to sin intentionally and is unrepentant, such a one, joins Satan in rebellion with God.  The Kingdom of darkness now has a right to torment this individual and his family.  When God moves to stop the works of the devil, He has no legal claim to do so.  The Devil knows that God can’t violate His Holiness and Justice, and the devil can tell God, “You can’t stop us, this one chose to join us in rebellion against you so we have the legal right to be in their life.”  However, if God reveals this situation to one of His “friends”, and the friend of God begins to intercede and serve this backsliding individual with prayer, God now has the right to do something.  This time when God moves to rescue the person from darkness and the devils says, “This person chose us over you.” God can reply, “Yes, but my saint has prayed for this individual and I must respond to the prayers of my people.”  This intercession by one of God’s friends allowed the kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven and invade this individual’s circumstances.  This is the basis for all intercessory prayer.  As we grow in identity, we will be listening for God to talk to us and He may move us to pray for a certain individual.  Cindy Jacobs writes, “An intercessor is one with whom God shares His secrets to cover in prayer.” (9)  God calls us friends and He may call on us to intercede for His other friends.  When we do, our identity will increase and grow.  Identity becomes solidified as we walk with God.

Endnotes

1.  Hayford, Jack; The Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville TN, 1991, page 1598.

2.  Johnson, Bill; When Heaven Invades Earth, Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, PA 2003, page 59-60.

3.  Vallotton, Kris, and Johnson, Bill, The Supernatural Ways of Royalty, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. 2006, page 46.

4.  Ibid, page 44.

5.  Bruce, FF, The Gospels and Epistles of John, Grand Rapids, MI, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, page 392.

6.  Ahn, Che’, The Authority of the Believer and Healing, Coloragdo Springs, CO, Wagner Publications, 1999. Page, 51.

7.  Murray, Andrew; With Christ in the School of Prayer, Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA, 1981, page 35-36.

8.  Sheets, Dutch; Authority in Prayer, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2006, page 11.

9.  Jacobs, Cindy; Possessing the Gates of the Enemy, Chosen Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1991, page 40.

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