‘Purposing Change’ Meditations: 28. Take Authority (2)
Acts 19:15 “One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?”
In many ways the Christian life is – or should be – a life of experiment. We can’t ‘see’ God and so it is an act of faith to pray. We are often uncertain of what we think we are hearing from God, and so it is an act of faith (we hope) to launch out on what we think we hear. It is an act of uncertainty to go to share the good news of the Gospel with family or friends. To experiment is to test or try out something and observe its outworking. In the material realm it is relatively easy – we know, for example, things that give pleasure to our loved one or friends, it is easy (almost) to bless them.
However when we step into the spiritual realm, to consider us sitting with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph 2:6), faith becomes even more ‘experimental’. We speak and we do and we trust we have got it right. We hope we have caught the prompting of the Spirit and so perhaps we sometimes step out with audacious demands or even commands. The we have to just trust that we got it right and if we didn’t, we then have to trust in Jesus’ love and understanding of us that sees our childlike stumbling and loves us anyway as he reaches out a hand to steady us.
Yesterday we thought about commanding life to come forth when death reigns but as a follow-up to yesterday – here is an example of spiritual warfare that went wrong, of stepping out in presumption instead of faith, and I dare risk us covering this to ensure balance.
In Acts 19, on one hand we see Paul laying hands on new believers and them being filled with the Holy Spirit. Power – also signs and wonders through Paul – see v.11,12 which included deliverance. But then there were Jews just ‘trying’ to use the name of Jesus to deliver people and being thoroughly rebuffed by the enemy.
Deliverance ministry is different from what we are suggesting in prayer but the lesson is the same. These men used words and assumed they were magic. They weren’t. Paul did this but he was a man full of the Spirit AND led by the Lord. Yesterday we recommended being ready to pray in a particularly authoritative way, but unless we are filled with the Spirit AND being led by the Lord, don’t expect changes. When we are filled AND led, then expect changes WHEN He leads and shows us the time is right to move down this path.
Don’t be discouraged if this is a new path for you. Stick close to Jesus and it will be well. When Jesus taught on prayer such ministry wasn’t included, that came with Paul after the Spirit had been poured out on the church at the Day of Pentecost. From then on they were able to minister in new ways, more in accord with Jesus’ teaching (Jn 14:12) But in Jesus’ teaching in Mt 6 there is an emphasis on relationship – “Our Father” – on a spiritual realm – “in heaven” – of His unique holiness – “hallowed by your name”. Then there is the desire for HIS glory – “your kingdom come” – and for His purposes – “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Only then come the personal requests for provision, forgiveness, guidance, and protection. If we are uncertain in our ‘experimenting’ in prayer, then we fall back on these sure foundational guidelines. For your loved one, prodigal, friend, neighbour, or workmate, know that the Father in heaven longs for them to return to the homestead after their time away and is out looking for them (Lk 15:20), perhaps through your eyes, ready to welcome them, perhaps through your mouth. We cannot force their will to change but when there is a growing willingness we can join in with what is always a spiritual battle and our part is very simply to have open minds and hearts and ears to the Lord and to the prompting of His Spirit. Partly it is about persuasion, partly about spiritual releasing, all things we may have a part in as He enables it.