April 16, 2014
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LEARNING TO PRAY WITH AUTHORITY

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.:
"Intercession--Learning To Pray With Authority"

This is an excerpt adaptation from Bishop Jackson's most recent book, The Way of the Warrior:

"Mary was one of the brightest young women I had ever met. As a new Christian, she hungered for the Scriptures and was fascinated by the reality of God in everyday life. To say that she had a contagious Christian walk would be putting it mildly.
 
But Mary had grown up with an insensitive mother and a physically abusive father. When she was old enough to leave home, she relocated to our sleepy town in western New York and moved in with her Aunt Millie. Her aunt led her to Christ and together they began to follow an intense discipleship program.
 
Then Her World Fell Apart

Medical examinations uncovered ten non-cancerous but nonetheless life-threatening, golf ball-sized tumors. Her doctor's only recommendation was surgery, and it would leave her unable to have children. Mary's choice was the classic sword of Damocles. An emotional sword hung over her head, ready to fall at any moment. She could save her life while sacrificing her future. Her fear was almost palpable. In Mary's mind, her heavenly Father had become as unpredictable as her own natural father. "How could God let this happen to me?" she asked. She had done everything "perfectly" the last twelve months. Now her newfound security had been undermined. She asked me what I thought she should do.

There is an amazing prayer movement rising in strength all over America. This fearless group of young warriors feel bold and invincible. Their biggest challenge will be how they handle adversity and the counterattack of the enemy. Mary's story gives excellent principles to help us with life's most challenging battles.

Overwhelmed and perplexed, Mary came to me for an answer. I am sure she wanted an easy solution. A pat answer could have soothed her nerves without addressing her real problems. Fortunately for her, we gave direction which would help her truly mature in God.

I instructed Mary first to fight her battle with fear through praise. Then we would pray for her healing with fervor. Over the next seven days she would sing her favorite praise song whenever she started to feel afraid.

At the end of the seven-day period, I walked into my office to see Mary, smiling and full of joy. She had learned that praise is the language of faith. Later that evening she joined me at a church-wide prayer meeting. Everyone joined in prayer about the tumors and commanded them to dissolve. Three days later at a pre-surgery examination, the surgeon could not find the tumors. The surgery was cancelled, and Mary was free to live her dream.

Mary's story shows that some problems need strategic prayer. If we can attack the root issue with authoritative prayer, we will have many victories. The problem is often that far too many of us give lip service to prayer without understanding its discipline or its art.

"On Display" For A Purpose

Mary's story demonstrates that hopeless situations are opportunities for God to show forth His glory. In the New Testament, Paul suggested that God had put him and other apostles in precarious positions in order to showcase His power.
"It seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men" (1 Corinthians 4:9).

The word spectacle is the Greek word theatron. Linguists tell us that this word not only implies the sense of being "put on stage" but also conveys a sense of being made fun of or ridiculed. God knows how to confound the wisdom of the wise
(see 1 Corinthians 1:19 and Isaiah 29:14). He sets us up in a theater of conflict and then rescues us in a way that vindicates His name while drawing men and women to Himself. Mary's story, for instance, has brought many people closer to God.

Most of the great people of faith were placed on God-ordained fronts in order to advance the work of God. This happened with Paul repeatedly. Look, for instance, at this sequence of events. In Macedonia (see
Acts 16), Paul was thrown into jail. Praise and worship at midnight unlocked a door in the spirit realm that allowed the physical doors to be unlocked. In his next stop, Thessalonica, a mob formed in the city and began to riot. You can hear in their shouts the ongoing conflict that faced Paul almost everywhere he went: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here" (Acts 17:6).

Next, Paul left Thessalonica and ran to Berea. He had great success in the early days but then his old enemies showed up and agitated crowds there, too (see
Acts 17:13). Moving on, Paul fled Berea for Athens where he was persecuted spiritually (see Acts 17:16). He responded by preaching faithfully about their "unknown" God. Shortly thereafter, Paul preached in Corinth (see Acts 18). Given his history of persecution and conflict, Paul must have been greatly encouraged when the Lord appeared to him in a night vision and said the following: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:10). So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

Acts 18:9-11

In a figurative sense, Paul "attacked the enemy lines" with his entrance into each of these five cities. His strategy was essentially the same in each place. He preached to the Jewish people in the region first, and after that he presented the Gospel to the Gentiles. Throughout this progression, God repeatedly set up a situation in which Paul was put on display through conflict. The particular battles differed in each city but the concept was the same everywhere.

Eventually, God's strategy won. Paul was successful in planting churches in these regions. Without an understanding of the big picture and willingness to become a spectacle, Paul might have easily become distracted or discouraged and ultimately ineffective in carrying out the will of God.

In our story about Mary, let's remember that her physical test became a setup for her to have a testimony. Our battles give us an opportunity to show someone the reality of Christ. When the spotlight of trouble is upon us, we are in line for divine assistance or intervention.

When God chooses to put us on display, we can be sure that He has a plan and a purpose. But what if our own sin leads us to battles that the Lord never meant for us to enter? David shows us two key elements for victory, whether we are in a predicament because of our own bad choices or not.

How To Walk Out Of A Mess

David understood the concept of seeing trials as opportunities for victory. David's life was full of incongruity and puzzling events, yet overall his life was a beautiful symphony in the ears of God. David gives us several pointers:

O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, "God will not deliver him." But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
(Psalms 3:1-8)

When David described his problem in the first two verses, he was referring to Absalom, his son, who had created a civil war by organizing an army against him. David had fundamental confusion about developing a godly family. The first place David erred was that he married six women. The children from these marriages were in competition with each other. David was an emotionally absent father. This blind spot in David's life gave Satan a place to attack his life and mission.

Absalom had murdered his half-brother, Amnon, because Amnon had raped Tamar, Absalom's half-sister. David was unable to muster the discipline necessary to bring a sense of order to his home. The kids, therefore, defended themselves on their own terms. So at the root of this civil war was a family problem that had spilled over to his job: His leadership of the government of Israel was in serious jeopardy.

Absalom had turned a great number of people against his father, including some of David's most valued counselors and staff. Thus David said,
"Many are they who rise up against me." Like many of us, David may have wanted to give up in the face of so many problems and such overwhelming pressure. David had so many problems that he must have asked the question "Where do I begin?" The answer is revealed in verse 3 above. David said this: "But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head."

Two things are emphasized here that are keys to helping us get out of our problems. First, when David says my glory, he is using this as a term of endearment for the Lord Himself as his best friend. He says that in the midst of his problems he is going to focus on praising and bringing glory to God. Second, David understood that the way out of complex problems is to find God's priority list and timing.

We do not know what to tackle in the midst of many problems unless God gives us the priorities. You and I cannot fix everything today. What we can do is walk with God addressing the priorities presented to us. Then God will give us peace on the journey.

Remember that in the middle of Mary's health problems, the Lord had her deal with a major life-dominating problem--fear. As she learned to praise God in spite of her circumstances, she overcame her fear. This enabled her to take the next step and seek prayer for healing. Not only did she gain a new view of her Heavenly Father, but she also received an answer to her prayers--and she continues to bring honor to His name with her powerful testimony. The domino effect that comes from tackling problems in God's ordained sequence releases lasting victory.

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