Christians spend put a lot of time and effort into a prayer, but sometimes this can often seem like a waste of time. Unanswered prayer is a huge source of frustration for many believers.
Part of the problem is misunderstanding about the way that pray works. Misguided prayer is a major cause of distress. One of the most serious problems is that Christians often pray as if they were trying to change God's mind. They are concerned about a problem in their society and ask God to act to change the situation. If nothing happens, their prayers turn into pleading.
Changing God's Mind
Most would not admit this, but their prayer style implies that God is stingy and miserly. Something good needs to be done, and he is able to do it, but has chosen to nothing, but some pleads fervently, he might change his mind and act. Getting other people to pray might help. If enough good people beg God to take up this cause, he might be persuaded to act. If some of those praying are really godly people, that might help swing him around.
Under this approach, God is all powerful. He can do anything, so if prayer is not answered, it must be because he is reluctant to answer it. The purpose of the prayer is to change his mind and get some action.
The underlying idea behind this approach is that prayer changes God's mind. This is a dangerous principle, because changing God's mind is just about impossible. The scriptures are quite blunt on this topic.
God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind (Num 23:19).
He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind (1 Sam 15:29).
Humans change their minds all the time, but God is different. He does not need to change his mind.
A possible exception is Abraham arguing with the angels about Sodom in Genesis 18. God seemed to give into Abraham's persuasion by agreeing not to destroy Sodom, if there were ten righteous men in it. However, it is not clear that God did change his mind. Sodom was still destroyed, although the angels saved Lot and his family. It is possible that God agreed with Abraham, because he knew that there were not ten righteous men in Sodom. God did not change his mind, rather Abraham was persuaded to agree with the justice of God's action against Sodom. Their may be some debate about this interpretation, but anyway this incident does not give me much confidence that I can change God's mind.
The truth is that we should not want to change God's mind. His will is good. He only wants what is best for us, so a sensible person will not want anything that is not God's will. Something that he does not want to do can only lead to second best. We get the best by seeking God's will, so we do not need to change his mind.
Praying to change God's mind is generally a waste of time. This does not mean that prayer is a waste of time, because prayer is about assigning authority, not about persuading God to act. To understand the purpose of prayer, we must understand the way that authority works in this world, and to understand that we must go right back to the beginning.
Authority on Earth
When God created the world he gave dominion over the earth to mankind.
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion." (Gen 1:26).
God gave mankind authority over every living thing upon the earth. This was an amazing gift. Creating something wonderful and beautiful and giving authority over it to someone weaker was a risky decision, but this bold act transferred authority over the earth from God to man. The earth became our domain and sphere of control. This is confirmed in Psalm 115:16:
The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to man.
God has full control over the heavens. The angels do his bidding without resistance. He has given authority over the earth to us.
Adam and Eve soon surrendered their authority to evil, by disobeying God and eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. To understand the seriousness of this action, we need to understand an important principle.
When we agree with someone,
we give them influence in our lives.
When we submit to another person,
we give them authority over our life.
By agreeing with Satan's lies about the tree, Adam and Eve gave him influence in over them (Gen 3:6). When Adam and Eve submitted to Satan's advice, they gave him authority over their lives.
This transition dramatically changed the working of authority on the earth. God had given control to humans. The representatives of humanity had given authority over the lives to the devil. This gave the forces of evil significant control over the earth. From that day forward, humans only have partial authority, because the spiritual powers of wickedness have usurped substantial authority. This is why Satan could boast when he was tempting Jesus.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendour, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to (Luke 4:4-6).
Although he is a liar, especially when boasting, in this case he was close to the truth. He had authority over the kingdoms of the world, because it has been given to him, by those who had been given authority by God.
This transfer of authority created a huge problem on earth and explains why evil has often been rampant on earth. It also created a huge dilemma (further explaination of this problem is proveded in God's Big Strategy.
God had the power to put things right, but he did not have authority to act, because he had given authority on earth to humans. God is trustworthy and faithful, so he does not change his mind or go back on his decisions. He does not say one thing and do another. His promises are irrevocable, so despite humans making a mess with their authority over the earth, God could not just take it back and intervene on earth.
God could not go back on his word, but had another solution. Only a human has authority to sort out the problems on earth. So God sent his son Jesus to earth as a man. Because Jesus never submitted to Satan, he did not come under the authority of evil. Because he was truly man, he was able to take back the authority that God had given to Adam and Eve that they had given to Satan. His ministry and death destroyed the authority of the devil.
He too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil (Heb 2:14).
Jesus had to share our humanity, because that gave him authority to defeat the devil. The power of the devil came through human disobedience and sin. By paying the penalty for sin, Jesus destroyed his authority.
He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col 2:13-15).
Forgiveness of sin translated into defeat of evil powers and authorities. Therefore, when Jesus had risen from the dead, he was able to say,
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matt 28:18).Jesus always had authority in heaven. He now had authority on earth. He had completed his main task, by recovering the authority that God had given to mankind and evil had stolen.
Jesus did not give this authority back to God. He gave it to those who would choose to follow him (Dan 7:27). But that is another story.
Authority is important. Jesus died on the cross to recover stolen authority for the people of God. Once we understand the importance of authority, we will know why prayer is important.
God has given authority over the earth to mankind. Despite man stuffing things up, God keeps his word, so he will not act on earth without getting permission from a human with legitimate authority on earth. This is an important principle.
God will not act on earth
unless a human gives him permission to act.
Jesus has defeated the enemy and given God's people authority on earth. When we pray we are not asking him to change his mind, we are giving him the authority that he needs to take action on earth.
To give God permission to act, we need to know what he wants to do. The first part of prayer is listening to his voice and finding out his will.
Once we know what he wants to do, we can give him permission to do it. This is the second important principle.
Prayer is finding out God's will
and giving him authority to do it.
Prayer gives the Holy Spirit permission to do God's will. He cannot act without getting permission from a human with authority on earth. When we pray for something, we give him the authorization that he needs to act on earth to accomplish God's purpose.
Prayer is a partnership. The Father has many things that he wants the Holy Spirit to do on earth. The Holy Spirit has immense power, but no authority. We have authority on the earth, but no power. When we use our authority to give the Holy Spirit permission to use his power, we can do great things for the Father together. Without him we can do nothing. Without our permission to act, he is constrained. By joining together his power with our authority, he can do great works on earth for the Father.
Hannah and Samuel
The birth of Samuel is a marvellous example (1 Samuel 1:1-20). Hannah, a faithful women of God had cried out to God for a son for many years, but without success. The problem was that she did not understand what God was doing. This was a critical time in Israel, because the people would soon want a King, so God needed a prophet to speak to the nation. This prophet would eventually anoint David as King of Israel. However, God could not act, because there was no prophet and the priests were corrupt, so no one was giving him permission to act.
After some years, Hannah changed her prayers and cried out for a son who would be a man of God. This was what God wanted, so her prayers were answered immediately and Samuel was born. He went on to be one a great prophet during a pivotal time in Israel's history. This was not just a lesson about seeking God's will. The incident demonstrates that God needs praying people to give him authority so he can do what he wants to do.
Hannah's prayer was quite vague. This is a reminder that we do not have to be totally precise when we pray. God will use whatever permission, he can get.
This pattern is repeated throughout the scriptures. Before God acts in a powerful way, faithful people will be praying and giving him permission to act. This even applies to the birth of the Messiah. Jesus was able to born as a baby, because people like Simeon and Anna had been praying for God to send his Messiah (Luke2:25-38).
Prophetic people have an important role in supporting effective prayer.
Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7).
God does speak to prophets to make them feel good. He reveals his plans to get faithful people praying for his plans. This gives him authority to implement his plans on earth. Like Anna, Simeon was a prophet.
The Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. (Luke 2:25-26).
God have Simeon this revelation, so he would pray for the coming of the Messiah. His prayers gave God permission to do fulfil his plans, and Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph. Simon saw his prayers fulfilled when they took baby Jesus into the temple.
Prayer is finding out God's will and giving him permission to act on the earth where we have authority. Understanding this will strengthen our faith. If we know we are praying for something that God wants to do, we can be confident that he will do it. This confidence should inspire us to pray with great faith.
Keys to the Kingdom
Jesus spoke to Peter about the Keys to the Kingdom.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven;
whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and
whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matt 16:19).
Jesus was not giving Peter authority over the church, but was explaining the way that prayer and authority works.
He repeated these words, so they must be important.
I tell you the truth,
whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth
agree about anything you ask for,
it will be done for you by my Father in heaven (Matt 18:18-19).
The additional sentence makes the meaning clear. Two or three people on earth agreeing on something gives the Father in heaven authority to do it. This is the key to the kingdom. We can bind up heaven by failing to pray, as without our authority, God cannot act. On the other hand, by praying correctly, we can release the powers of heaven to work on earth.
In the next verse, Jesus confirms the number of people needed release God's power on earth.
For where two or three come together in my name,
there am I with them (Matt 18:20).
Two or three people in agreement can give God authority to act. We do not need hundreds of people praying to persuade God. We just need two or three people who agree with what God wants to do. They have sufficient authority on earth to release him to accomplish his purpose. Simeon and Anna had sufficient authority to allow God to send Jesus as messiah. Eli's agreement with Hannah gave God authority to open Hannah's womb for Samuel to be born (1 Sam 1:17).
Declaration beats Babble
Understanding the nature of prayer will change the way we pray. First of all it means we can stop babbling on. Long prayers change nothing.
When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him (Matt 6:7-8).
Babbling on in prayer is a waste of time, because God already knows what we need. We do not have to persuade him. We pray to give the Holy Spirit freedom to act.
After making this statement, Jesus gives an example of the way that we should pray. The second clause of the Lord 's Prayer is not a petition or a plea, but a declaration of what should happen. Translated literally it reads like this.
God's kingdom, Come!!
God' will, Let it be done on earth!!
These words are closer to a prophecy than to a prayer. They are a declaration calling the Kingdom of God into existence. This is how we should pray. By declaring God's plans, we give the Holy Sprit permission to bring them into being. By announcing the kingdom, we allow him to do God's will on earth.
Authority is Essential
Authority is more important than numbers for effective prayer. Here is another important principle.
We can only give God permission to act on earth
in situations where we have authority
Every Christian has different levels of authority in various spheres of activity. This affects their authority in prayer.
Christian parents have authority in their family, so they can give God permission to work in their family. Employers have authority over in their business, so they can give God authority to work there. Managers have authority over their staff, so they have can give God authority to work in their lives. A king has authority in his a kingdom, so he can give God permission to work in his kingdom. Elders have authority over people in their care, so they can give God authority to act in their lives.
When people ask us to pray for them, they are giving us authority in their lives. This gives us authority to speak to God on their behalf. Hannah had submitted to Eli, so he had authority to agree with her prayers. If she had not submitted to him, his agreement may not have meant anything.
Two or three people with earthly authority over a situation will be more effective than hundreds who have no authority. This is a reason why Christians should take up positions of authority that are offered to them. Being given authority in the world, gives a Christian wider and broader authority in prayer.
Much of the prayer for cities and nations is wasted, because the people praying do not have much authority over the political systems they are praying for. If the rulers of a city are not Christians, they are by default, continuously giving the forces of evil authority to act in their city or nation. Christians can bind these principalities and powers and command them to leave the city, but they do not need to depart, if they have been invited to be there by leaders of the city, because the leaders have more authority in the city than the people praying.
Christians should be careful about submitting to political authorities, because when we submit to them, we re vulnerable to the principalities that control them. If we are standing to together in unity with other Christians, that may not be a problem, but if we are isolated from spiritual support, we might came under attack.
Our prayers also release the angels to do God's work. Angels are spiritual beings who can pass between heaven and earth. They are limited physically, because they can only be in one place at a time. They receive their instructions from heaven and carry them out on earth. Once they come to the earth they can lose their connection with other angels and become uncertain about what to do. In this situation, they listen to the prayers of the saints to find out God's will. When they hear Christians praying God's will, they are able to implement it.
We should not pray to angels. We do not need to address them directly, because they are listening to our prayers and rush to do God's will when we pray it.
Dealing to Evil
Dealing with the spiritual forces of evil is another aspect of prayer and authority. Human sin gave the devil authority on earth. It also seemed to give him some authority in heaven. He was able to go into the presence of God and make accusations against people who sinned.
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them (Job 1:6).
Satan did not have authority to attack Job because he had not sinned, but if anyone had sinned, Satan could accuse them and demand the right to do them harm (his name means accuser).
Jesus death on the cross eliminated the accuser's authority. If he accused any of God's people, Jesus can say, "My blood covered that sin, so it does not count". Satan lost his authority and was thrown out of heaven.
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him (Rev 12:7-9).
This is not a future event. These things happened when Jesus ascended into heaven (Rev 12:5). The cross destroyed Satan's power and Jesus ascension into heaven confirmed that victory. He can never go into the presence of God and accuse people again.
The devil was thrown down upon the earth, but he has no legitimate authority there. Unfortunately, Satan is a cheat. Whereas God respects human authority, Satan has none and will seize power, even if he has no authority.
Source of Authority
The devil can gain authority on earth in three different ways.
When people with authority on earth fall into sin, they surrender their authority to him. The more authority the person has, the more harm they do. Kings and politicians are releasing authority to evil all over the earth.
If Satan can deceive Christians into believing that he has not been defeated, he gains huge authority in their lives and spheres of influence. This has been a very successful tactic, as many Christians believe that the devil still rules on earth. This terrible lie has paralysed the church.
Satan will often just squat in a place where he has no legitimate authority, and wait until someone with legitimate authority in that sphere forces him out. This has been a very successful tactic too.
Christians cannot deal directly with the first problem. The solution is to pray for them to come to faith in Christ. When they believe in Jesus, their authority comes with them. They will have authority to release God's power in their sphere of influence and Satan will have lost his ground. Until that happens, a lot of praying for cities and nations will fail, because the people with the real authority in these places invite the forces of evil back in by default, quicker than we can boot them out.
The solution to second problem is for Christians to have their eyes opened. When the church understands that the devil has been truly defeated, his ability to operate on earth will collapse. Great things will happen.
Prayer is the solution to the third problem. Since the cross, Satan has been a trespasser with no legitimate authority on earth. Prayer is standing together with other believers to force him to flee from places of authority where he is squatting as a trespasser.
Squatters and trespassers are not intimidated by court decisions. They will usually stay where they are, until the police come with a court order and force them to leave. Prayer is enforcing a court order against the enemy. The cross was a legal defeat for the devil. Praying Christians enforce an eviction notice against the evil powers in places where they have no legal right to be.
The New Testament method for dealing with evil is to resist it.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith (1 Pet 5:8-9).
The Greek word for resist is the word "stand" with a prefix meaning "against" attached. When we resist the enemy in prayer, we are standing on ground that legally belongs to us and forcing him to leave it. When we resist evil, the Holy Spirit comes in beside us like a bailiff, and forces it to retreat. Our resistance give the Spirit authority to apply his power against the powers that oppose us.
The forces of evil have no authority on earth, but they will refuse to give up their ground as long as they can get away with it. The role of the church is to enforce the victory of Jesus against the principalities and powers.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Eph 3:10).
This promise is for "now". A key task of the church is to put the victory of the Jesus into effect by resisting the forces of evil and forcing them out of the territory they have lost. Prayer established Jesus victory in the world. We must persist in resisting the forces of the enemy until that enemy is complete.
Resist with Words
We resist the enemy by speaking words of truth. Jesus demonstrated the correct method when he was being tempted by Satan. He does not have authority to attack us physically. He has to persuade us to submit to him. He plants false ideas in our minds, and if he can get us to agree with his thoughts, he has power in our life to do what he proposed. The devil said to Jesus.
If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread (Luke 4:3).
The devils suggestions are usually half true. Jesus is the Son of God. He does have the power to turn stone into bread. Eating bread is not sinful. However, Jesus realised that the enemy was trying to get him to submit to him, so he countered with a true statement.
It is written: "Man does not live on bread alone" (Luke 4:4).
This was the truth that was really relevant in Jesus situation. When you are being tested, food is not that important. Obedience to the Father is far more important than short term comfort. The truth spoken by Jesus nullified the power of Satan's lies. When Satan's lies are exposed and challenged, they are stripped of their power and he cannot touch us.
We are often challenged in the same way.
You can do that once,
it will not cause any harm.
If we agree with this suggestion or act upon it, we give him power in our lives. Many of his suggestions play on our fears by producing worry.
If you take that action,
something bad could happen.
This suggestion is partly true. Something can always go wrong. Unfortunately, if we agree with the suggestion by starting to worry about what could happen, we have given him authority in our lives, and more specifically, we have given him permission to do the thing we fear. Many of the things that people fear happen, because they have agreed with the suggestion from the enemy, by worrying about it, which has given him authority to do it.
The best response to a worrying suggestion is to counter with the truth.
That is not God's plan.
I do not accept suggestion.
God has promised to protect me.
The best way to resist the enemy's attack is to counter with a declaration of the truth. This is what Paul meant by the shield of faith (Eph 6:10). A declaration of faith based on God's word extinguishes the flaming arrows of the enemy and they fall harmlessly to the ground.
Jesus did not address Satan or bind him. He just declared the truth. We may sometimes need to command a spirit to leave a person who needs to be set free, but mostly we just need to declare the truth and of evil has to flee.
Sometimes the enemy's suggestions will be made by a person with authority in our lives, such as a parent or teacher.
He will never amount to anything.
If we accept these words, then we are giving the devil power to fulfil them. If we hear these words a number of times, without denying them, then they gain a spiritual stronghold in our lives. When these words gain a stronghold, Satan no longer has to make the suggestion, because we have agreed with the statement and start saying it to ourselves. We start to believe the lie.
I will not amount to anything.
When I buy into the devil's lie and start declaring it myself, he has a stronghold in my life. The good news is that we can prevent negative thoughts from becoming spiritual strongholds by speaking words of truth that nullify their power.
God loves me and created me for a unique purpose
The most powerful stronghold of the devil is the lie that he is still the "prince of this world". This was true before the cross, but Jesus death and resurrection destroyed his power on earth.
Now the prince of this world will be driven out (John 12:31)
The prince of this world now stands condemned (John 16:11).
Although the Devil has been totally defeated by Jesus, many Christians still believe that the short-term destiny of the earth is in his hands. This lie is a terrible stronghold, because it has given him authority to continue working on earth, despite his defeat. The best way to defeat this stronghold is to declare the truth of Jesus victory.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work (1 John 3:8).
The Persistent Widow
These principles for resisting evil are illustrated in parable of the Persistent Widow. Jesus told this parable to encourage people not to give up when they are praying (Luke 18:2-4). The woman kept coming to the judge with her plea. For some time, he refused her to hear her case. Eventually, he got tired of her nagging, so he agreed to give here justice.
This parable has been misunderstood. People assume that the judge represents God, and that if they keep coming to him, he will eventually give in. This is an abysmal view of God. The judge himself said that he did not "fear God or care about men" (v.7). This is not a good description of God, so we insult him, if we assume that it does. The description of the judge fits the devil perfectly. This is a better way to interpret the parable.
Jesus gave the interpretation of the parable.
Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly (Luke 18:6-9).
The contrast is sharp. God is quick to bring justice. The unjust judge is slow. Jesus promised that God will bring just to his people quickly. He is the very opposite of the unjust judge, so he does not need to be nagged. This proves that the parable is not advising people to persist in pleading and begging God to give them what they what they want.
The parable perfectly describes our dealings with the forces of evil. Justice is on our side, because the cross was a legal victory for us. The devil is a cheat, just like the unjust judge. He does not "fear God or care about people," so he will hold out as long as he can, but in the end he has to surrender to a just case.
Persistence is the key to successful resistance
Persistence will never persuade God to change his mind, but it will wear the enemy down and force him to surrender.
When we reject the enemy's first attack, he will come back with another. If his first suggestion does not cause us to worry, he will try something different. He had three goes against Jesus, before he gave up, so we keep going for quite a while against us. We do not need persist to change God's mind, but we will have to persist in the truth to wear down the enemy.
Authority to Resist
Authority is essential for resisting evil. This leads to a fourth principle.
We can only resist the forces of evil effectively
in situations where we have authority
We should choose our targets carefully. We can only resist evil powers effectively in places where we have legitimate authority.
Praying against big spirits in places where we do not have authority can lead to a backlash. If these spirits strike back, they can do great harm to a vulnerable Christian. I read once about a college student who attempted to bind the spiritual powers that she had seen in a vision sitting on the college administrative building. Soon after engaging in spiritual warfare, she was attacked with depression and fatigue and had to leave the college.
The problem was that the student had very little authority in the college. The administrators of the college had much more authority. The principalities active in the college were there because the college authorities, probably unwittingly, had given them permission to be there. The Christian student did not have authority to eject these spirits, because they were there with the permission of the college authorities.
Worse still, by enrolling in the college, the student had submitted to the college authorities. This meant she was also submitting to the spiritual powers that controlled the college, making her vulnerable to their attacks. They were able to attack her depression and she was powerless to resist, because she was standing alone. We should be careful about prodding principalities in places where we do not have authority. We might just make things worse.
This student did not understand the limits on her authority. She had no authority in the college, but she did have authority over who own life. She should have looked for some other Christians, who understood what was going on. By submitting to each other, they would have given each other authority in their lives. This would enable them to stand together and resist the principalities active in their college. The students would not have sufficient authority to evict them, but they would be able to protect themselves by resisting their influence.
This is how a group of Christians can function in a hostile world. By submitting to a few Christians they trust and standing together to resist evil, they can create an island of safety in a dangerous world. As more people follow this example, the spheres of peace will expand, and the forces of evil will be gradually squeezed out because they have no place to stand.
Submission is Essential
Submission is very important for Christians, but unfortunately it has become a tool for Christian leaders to control their people. The real purpose of submission is different. God has made us free, so another person can only have authority in our lives, if we give it to them. We give another person authority in our lives by submitting to them.
This is important for effective prayer. By submitting to each other, Christians are giving other Christians authority in their lives. When we submit to our elders, we give them authority in our lives. This enables them to pray to God on our behalf and release the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. It also allows them to resist evil on our behalf. The more I submit to Christian friends or elders, the greater spiritual authority they will have to resist any evil that is attacking me.
This relationship between spiritual authority and submission is not well understood. We often ask other Christians to pray for us, but it does not have much affect. The reason is that they lack authority in our lives, but they cannot have authority, if we will not give it to them. Modern Christians want to be independent, so they are ambivalent about the concept of submission. This leaves them vulnerable in spiritual warfare, because no one has authority to stand with them to resist the attacks of the enemy.
The other side of submission is that we should be very careful when speaking to others about people who have submitted to them. If people with authority speak negative words, about a person who has submitted to, they give evil powers permission to attack the person. By agreeing with the lies of the enemy, Christian leaders can give power. If the leader says to his wife, "Bill has always been rebellious against authority, and he always will be", his words give a spirit of rebellion permission to attack the person. If an elder says to a friend, "John is liar", this allows a gives a lying spirit to attack John.
Jesus warned that we will have to give account for our idle words.
I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken (Mat 12:36).
Careless words are serious, because they are permissions. Many Christian leaders, elders and parents will be embarrassed on that day, when they realise the effect of they casual words they spoke about those who were submitted to them. They will be shocked when they see how evil spirits used their words as permission to attack someone who trusted them.
Disappointment leads to Offence
Persisting in prayer to change God's mind is pointless. Expecting the forces of evil to surrender without a fight is foolish. If we pray in the wrong way, our prayers will not be answered. This is not a problem, if it occurs occasionally, but is dangerous if it happens too often. Frequent failure in prayer leads to disappointment and disappointment corrodes the human spirit. If we do not deal with it, we can develop a bad attitude that destroys our faith in God.
When fervent prayers go unanswered, we can get offended and start saying negative things about God.
God does not care about me.
God cannot heal everyone.
Miracles are not for today.
These statements are not true. They may express our pain and disappointment, but if we keep speaking in this way we are insulting God's character. In the New Testament, this is described as taking offence with God.
When Jesus came to Nazareth, the people were amazed at him, but their amazement soon changed to expressions of doubt.
Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:3).
Their statements were true, but they represented a distorted view of Jesus. They gave too much weight to their own experiences and too little to God's promises. Jesus did not match their expectations, so they were disappointed in him.
The people were disappointed in God, but the scriptures say they had taken offence.
Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief (Mark 6:5,6).
Offence led to unbelief, which shut down the power of God.
Offence is a silent insidious sin that is mostly buried and hidden. When we are offended by someone, we often say nothing. The other person may not even know that we are offended. However, the offence infects our relationship by eating away in our hearts and tainting everything we say and do.
Most Christians who are offended by unanswered prayers have never said what they feel out loud. They just have this feeling of being let down by God. This wrong attitude is often buried so deep in our hearts that we do not know it is there. However, it taints our thoughts and words and spoils our relationship with God. Buried offence at God makes faith difficult.
We do not want to fall into offence, so leaning how to pray correctly is really important. Instead of pleading with God, we should learn about authority and how we can use it to set the power of the Holy Spirit free to accomplish God's purposes on earth.
See Rock of Offence.