The biggest difficulty for those who begin to understand the message of Christ’s finished work is that they no longer know how to pray.
We might ask, “If Christ already did it, what or why should we pray?” Questions like this reveal a major misunderstanding in the area of prayer.
What I have discovered is that when we begin to understand everything Jesus provided, how good God is and how much He loves us, our prayers start to become much shorter.
They become more about spending time with our Father in fellowship and less about asking Him to provide things for us. My prayers have become 90% worship and thanksgiving and 10% declaration and petition.
So what does prayer look like under the new covenant? We must filter everything we have been taught and all the Old Testament examples through what was accomplished in redemption. This might be shocking, but prayer does not move God. God already moved! Over 2000 years ago, Jesus paid the price for sin, He sat down at God’s right hand and the Holy Spirit was poured out. God has done everything He needs to do to save this world. So if prayer does not move God what does it do?
Prayer Changes Us, Not God
Prayer moves us, and faith filled proclamation has the power to radically shift situations on earth. Let’s look at Jesus’ first mention of prayer. The interesting thing is He starts off by telling us what prayer is not:
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:5-10)
Jesus said when we pray to not be like a hypocrite. A hypocrite is a pretender, not the real thing. Jesus also says hypocrites love to pray, but their prayer is for show and not filled with faith or love. He continues that their reward is to be seen by others. He says not to use many words because our Father already knows what we need. He then gives us the model prayer. A key part to focus on is the words: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Prayer is powerful. Prayer changes things. In fact, I would go so far as to say that little to nothing happens apart from prayer. Prayer coupled with believing action changes situations. But, New Testament prayer is not begging and pleading and crying out to God. No! It is our faith filled declaration. It is bringing God’s Kingdom and will to earth as it is in heaven.
How God works on earth?
Prayer under the New Covenant is based on the premise that the way God works in this world is through His children. New covenant prayer means we understand our place as God’s partners and friends. There is a creative nature and power in the words we speak for good or for evil. Solomon said, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). “Through the blessing of the upright, a city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked” (Proverbs 11:11).
Jesus’ perspective of the world was radically different than most believers. He saw people as prisoners of darkness and deception; He saw two kingdoms in conflict. He said, “The spirit of the Lord is on me to proclaim freedom for the captives” (Luke 4:18). Jesus knew the power of God’s spoken word and He took His place as God’s representative. We are called to do the same. Jesus told His disciples:
Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that you ask, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:18-20)
What does binding and loosing really mean? The Amplified Bible explains it well:
I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you bind (forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth shall have (already) been bound in heaven, and whatever you lose (permit, declare lawful) on earth shall have (already) been loosed in heaven. (Matt 18:18-20 AMP)
We have God’s authority here on this earth to forbid and declare what is improper and unlawful whatever is not of God. In the same breath, we can permit and declare lawful everything provided through redemption. The goal is that it would be on earth as it is in heaven. But, we must understand we are the channel through which God’s Kingdom realities come to earth. God gave us stewardship of the earth; He entrusted it to us.
A good example of this is in Acts 10. God’s desire has always been that the Gospel would go out from Jerusalem to the Gentiles. Unfortunately, it was years from Pentecost to when the Gospel actually reached beyond the Jewish borders. God sent an angel to appear to a god-fearing man named Cornelius. Cornelius sent men to Peter (in another city) and implored him to come and preach the Gospel. Not even angels or God himself have the incredible privilege of sharing the Gospel. That privilege is reserved for us.
We can bring about God’s will on this earth through through faith-filled declarations.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)
Faith-filled proclamation is what God used to create the world and everything in it. God had a blueprint, a vision in His heart. The Spirit was hovering, waiting, listening for God to speak so He could act. The moment the word went forth, the Spirit implemented the word.
The same is true today. The Spirit of God works with the Word of God. He is anxiously waiting, longing for us to proclaim this truth, giving Him something to energize. God’s word is powerful. God is in His word. He cannot separate himself from His word. All the power of the Holy Spirit stands ready to fulfill and back the word of the Lord when it is proclaimed. In the same way, God’s Word is creative in nature. And so is His word on our lips.
I have stood on many stages in different nations of the world proclaiming the Gospel. On numerous occasions storms have come in and the sky would become dark above us as rain would begin to fall. I have stood my ground and rebuked the wind and the rain, in Jesus name. Many times the rain stopped immediately and the sky cleared up around the fields or stadium. That is the power of declaring God’s Word.
Power in Tanzania
Job 22:28 says we will declare a thing and it will be established for us. In one of our African crusades in Tanzania, a woman was carried by two friends on a mat to the church where we were holding a conference. We discovered her right leg from top to bottom had been burned when a bucket of boiling water was poured on her. The leg looked like raw meat and she was unable to move her foot. Her toes had lost their feeling and were going gangrene. My wife and I began to declare God’s will and desire for life and healing over her. It did not happen immediately, but as we spoke God’s Word, something began to happen. The woman exclaimed, “It feels like ants are eating my toes!” We realized that she was beginning to get blood circulation back in her feet.
As we continued to speak God’s Word over her, speaking forth healing that was bought and purchased through the blood of Jesus Christ, she decided it was time for her to stand up. Those who carried her to the church held her, one on each side. In excruciating pain, she began to take steps, still holding on to each of them. She was boldly declaring something in the Swahili language. When we asked our translator, he told us she was saying “In Jesus name I walk, In Jesus name I walk.” Her faith took hold of God’s promises. She declared it, and it was established for her.
After 10 minutes of walking and declaring, the woman sat down to rest. We went back to our hotel to get ready for the crusade that evening. Later, at the crusade grounds, we saw this woman again. Her daughter excitedly told us that when she went home, she felt so good she wanted to go outside her house to greet the neighbors. She had received her miracle.
Watch Your Mouth
Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately, the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:18-22)
God explains the process, He said, “Whatever things you ask for in prayer believing, you will receive”. The word “ask” means to require, desire or demand. We are not demanding of God, but we are demanding that our circumstances change. We are commanding our problem to align with God’s provision and solution. Jesus did not say to speak to God about our problems. He said to speak to the problem about our God.
Too many Christians spend their prayer life complaining to God about their problems when God tells us to declare a thing and it shall be established. You tell this mountain to move, command this situation to change. Prayer that establishes God’s Kingdom works through the faith filled proclamation of God’s will and desire. God’s will and desire is most clearly seen in what was accomplished in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
When we begin to understand everything provided for us through Christ’s finished work, when we get a revelation of redemption, then our prayer life will begin to change radically. It will be our constant source and connection to our Father. It will become more about fellowship and thanksgiving than getting God to move on our behalf, because, as we have learned, He has already moved! When we come across a problem or an unsurpassable mountain in our life, we will take our place as God’s representative on the earth and with faith filled conviction we can command it to be removed. Because our heart has been persuaded of God’s goodness and the perfect redemption given for us.
We see His sacrifice, we take our place, we proclaim his word we see things change!