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Prayer releases the power

While it is right to pray for God’s power, it is perhaps more important to pursue His presence and cultivate intimacy with Him.

MARK ANDERSON 01 MAY 2015 16:45 h GMT+1

When it comes to desiring God to move, Jesus didn’t give us a formula or a method, but rather a model :

‘The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.  For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel’ (John 5:19,20).

‘The Son can do nothing of Himself’.  In other words, Jesus’ acts of power and His miracles were not a result of His own initiative, but from His Father’s instruction.  ‘Do’ is the operative word.  Jesus could ‘do’ nothing of Himself, and He has told His followers ‘greater things than these shall ye ‘do’’.[1]  As disciples of Christ we are expected to do the same works that He did – works such as casting out demons and healing the sick.  It’s important to note that when Jesus did these things, it was only because He saw the Father do them and if He expects us to do them also, then His example dictates that we do them as we see the Father do them.  If the Father wasn’t doing them, Jesus wasn’t doing them.  Consider Acts 4:29,30:

‘And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus’.

This was a segment of a prayer offered up collectively by the early church.  In this petition, God is petitioned to stretch forth His hand to heal, and that is then followed by a reference to signs and wonders being done in the ministry of Jesus.  In Scripture, ‘the hand of God’ refers to His sovereign power carrying out His plan and purpose.    God is Spirit[2] and so He does not possess literal hands, but when Christ came and went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, Jesus was actually touching the sick with own His physical two hands.  In other words, the sovereign power and purpose of God found its expression and became a living reality through the person of Christ.  God who is Spirit and doesn’t have literal hands, now had hands in the person of Christ.  Jesus’ hands were an extension of ‘the hand of God’.  As Christ is now in Heaven, God’s hand now is extended and expressed on earth through His body – the church, and just as Christ laid His hands on the sick and hurting in accordance with the Father’s purpose, so must we. 

How did Jesus get to that place where He only did what He saw the Father doing?  Let me make it clear that I am not suggesting that disciples of Christ can cultivate the same level of intimacy with God that Jesus did, but nevertheless Jesus has given us a model – a pattern to imitate.  That model is prayer in the secret place – private prayer.  In Luke 6:12,13, we read that Jesus spent a whole night in prayer to God.  We aren’t given the details of what He prayed, but almost certainly it had to do with an important course of action He would take the following day.  When morning dawned and the new day began, Jesus chose His 12 apostles from among His many disciples.  Let’s remember that Jesus only did what He saw the Father do.  During that long night of prayer, Jesus was perhaps asking God for insight into the people that would become apostles; their weaknesses, strengths, who would work together as a team?  It’s important to grasp the significance of Jesus seeking the Father’s will through prayer.  Jesus is God and God knows everything (He’s omniscient), but as fully man (yet without sin), He chose to suspend the use of the divine attribute of omniscience and instead become dependent upon the Spirit of God to empower Him and help Him cultivate intimacy with the Father through prayer.  Prayer was an integral part of Jesus’ life and ministry and it paved the way for intimacy with the Father. 

‘...the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth’ (John 5:19a).

Throughout John’s gospel we see this theme of love between Christ and the Father[3] and it’s this love relationship that fosters intimacy.  In the garden of Gethsemane as Jesus is in great anguish of soul, He cries out “Abba Father”.  ‘Abba’ is an Aramaic word which literally means ‘daddy’.  This is intimate language portraying the closeness between the Father and Son.  As believers we too having received the Spirit of adoption call God our Abba Father. 

‘And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father’ (Galatians 4:6).

Note Paul’s specific wording above.  He does not refer to the Spirit with the term ‘the Holy Spirit’ or indeed the ‘Spirit of Christ’, but instead uses the term ‘the Spirit of His Son’.  An aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to affirm that we as believers are sons and daughters of God and the way He does this is by echoing and reproducing that intimacy between the Father and the Son vocalized in the words ‘Abba Father’.  Jesus cried ‘Abba Father’ in Gethsemane and the Spirit seeks to reproduce that intimacy within every believer.  Let’s now take it a step further.

‘For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father’ (Romans 8:15).

Jesus prays ‘Abba Father’, the Spirit echoes and seeks to reproduce that intimacy in our hearts, and as the believer yields to the Spirit, he then finds himself also crying out Abba Father.  God loves us and He has called us to love Him.  His love is ‘shed abroad in our hearts’ by the Spirit.[4]  That’s an objective fact and yet also a subjective experience.  God wants us to experience His love as we come into His presence through prayer.  It was the Spirit who empowered and led Christ in His earthly ministry and relationship with the Father, and it is the same Spirit who seeks to foster that intimacy with God and His children.  One cannot cultivate intimacy with God without having an encounter and continual fellowship with the Spirit.  Paul expressed this reality when he wrote:

‘That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection’ (Philippians 3:10a).

The power which was responsible for the resurrection is the same power that enables us to truly know God intimately.  True intimacy is borne in that secret place of prayer.  The Lord wants to talk to His children.  He wants to confide in us[5] and have us avail of His hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.[6]   Our lives are hidden with Christ in God[7] which gives us that safety and security from which nothing can separate us from His love.[8]  We long to see God move in our nation and in situations of life and while it’s right to pray for His power, it’s perhaps more important to pursue His presence and cultivate intimacy with Him.  We must seek His face and not just His hand.

Article submitted by Mark Anderson to Reader's Blog.

[1] John 14:12.

[2] Ibid., 4:24.

[3] John 3:16, 3:35, 10:17.

[4] Romans 5:5.

[5] Psalm 25:14.

[6] Colossians 2:3.

[7] Ibid., 3:3.

[8] Romans 8:39.



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