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Archive for November 29th, 2011

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 2)

And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

(Mark 16:17-18)

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My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In my previous post under this title (Part 1), I commented on the need for us Christians to learn to pray more and more as Christ prayed. Not just because we need to imitate Him and carry out His Teachings on prayer, but because as New Creations In Him we are being conformed into His image by the Holy Spirit (cf.,Rom.8:29) for the purpose that He, working through us, His Body, might continue to bring forth the Kingdom in this world – beginning with each of us individually.

In general, we Christians, are not growing spiritually as we ought, is not so much because of the effects of the world system in which we are embedded, but rather because of our lack of awareness of who we are in Christ, namely, that in coming to a new birth in Christ, we are a new creation in Him and that our that the focus of our lives needs to center on the understanding in faith, that “… it is no longer [we] who live but Christ who lives in [us] and through [us]’’ (cf. Gal 2:20).

I have been crucified with Christ...

And, that Jesus, our lord and Savior by sacrificing Himself on the Cross for us, not only redeemed and saved us but, in effect, exchanged His Life for ours by taking on Himself all of our sinful nature and extending to us His own righteousness so that we might be reborn as new creatures (2Cor.5:17) and spiritually engendered children of God in Him.

If the apostle Paul were with us today, I’m sure that he would repeat his plea to the Galatian church, “My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you..” (Gal 4:19). And as he also reminded the church in Corinth, “Do you Not Know that Christ is in you?” (cf.,2Cor.13:5) or “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (cf.,1Cor.3:16)).

Of course, if we consciously came to this realization, I assure you we would be living the holiest lives we could, by God’s grace. It is for this reason that we need to grow in the awareness of His presence in us, especially when we pray, so that our prayers may emanate from His presence within us and call forth, prophetically, through our prayers the power of The Kingdom to heal the sick, comfort the afflicted, and deliver from the power of darkness those who are calling for His help. In effect, we need to learn to pray as He prayed.

In so doing we must always remember that when we are praying in this mode, that is, as Jesus’ stand-ins under His Anointing, and not as individuals separate from Him, we must constantly be aware that it is He working through us. Recognizing this, that the gifts we receive to operate under His Anointing are His Gifts, not ours, and do not involve us other than we have yielded ourselves to Him so that He may express Himself through us for the Glory of God, the Father. Praised be His Holy Name!

Our problem is that we seldom enter or operate in this mode of prayer.  Yes, we all acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior but when it comes to praying at the level I just described we run into our inferiority complex. Our awareness of our own sinfulness and God’s holiness so dominates us that it seems presumptuous to “the nth degree” to even contemplate that we could pray and do the works of power that Jesus did. And yet the Lord Himself promises that,

“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”  (John 14:12-14)

Now, it is true that if we intend to do these works out of our own initiative or fleshly desires it would not only be presumptuous but sinful as well.  What Jesus is saying above has some conditions. One of them is that you must be under His anointing and that anointing is ONLY granted when you are obeying the Father in what He is accomplishing. Listen to what Jesus says about operating under this anointing,

“Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished.” (John 5:19-20)

So we see that only through a deep fellowship with the Trinity in prayer are we granted to “see what the Father is doing” and to receive from Jesus the authority to act in His Name in bringing the Father’s work to completion (cf.  The Crucified Life).

But it is exactly to this deeper union with the Divine to which we are being called through prayer, so that, indeed, we, like Elisha (cf., 2Kings-2:9-14), can receive Jesus’ mantle and operate under His anointing. This is essentially what we are praying for when we pray the “Our Father” and  submit ourselves to His Will so that His Kingdom may come, in us and through us in today’s world, here and now. (see part 1 of this series).

This brings us to the next two themes regarding prayer that Luke wants to impress on us. These themes not only address the prayer life we need to attain to operate under His anointing but also our responsibility to share the blessings of our holy fellowship with other pilgrims who are seeking the face of the Lord in their lives.

The next theme addressed by Luke in Chapter 11 is as follows:

The Second Theme:  Sharing the Gift – The Responsibility of the Disciple

“And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him. ’And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.” (Luke 11:5-8)

Now, that we have dedicated ourselves to the Lord as His disciples and have come to a deeper union wit the Holy Trinity, Luke wishes to gently remind us that we have the responsibility to share our relationship with those other pilgrims who are sincerely seeking the Lord. Jesus, in this teaching, refers to this other pilgrim as “a friend of mine has arrived …” – that is, a seeker that God has brought into your life specifically so that you can witness to him.

Three Loaves

Your responsibility is to share what the Lord has done for you with him, namely, your relationship with the Father, the Holy Spirit, your source of sustenance, and Jesus, through whom you have the forgiveness of your sins. These are the three loaves you are asking to bring to “your friend”. You, of course are powerless to provide these loaves (you have nothing to offer) so an “asking” prayer is the way that you intercede for your pilgrim friend so that through your witness He too may come into the Reign of the Father in his life! In this prayer you must be bold and persistent, not because the Lord would hold back, but because the forces of darkness (ie.,the midnight) will resist you.

This second theme is important because without the relationship to the Triune Godhead. we cannot proceed to the next theme: “Asking for the Anointing”.

The Third Theme: Asking for Anointing – by the Holy Spirit

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13)

-Note that, Jesus’ quote for this theme is a restatement from the book of the prophet Jeremiah that states: ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’  (Jer.29:10-14)

In this Old Testament Scripture, the terms, “Ask, Seek, and Find” all refer to God Himself.  And similarly, the quote by Jesus in Luke’s Gospel refers to the “Holy Spirit”. This is attested to by the final statement: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke  11:13)

In attempting to comprehend the teaching here, it must be pointed out, that Luke was writing to Baptized Christians, who have already received the Holy Spirit. So, then, what is the point that Luke is intending to make?

Recieving the Anointing

Recieving the Anointing

The point that Luke is making to baptized Christians, is that in order to be empowered as Jesus was empowered, the Anointing of the Holy Spirit that came on Christ must be invoked by us, through prayer so that we may share in Jesus’ anointing. The exhortation quoted above, then, instructs the Christian on the faith and the steps needed to pray for this anointing of the Holy Spirit over our lives. In this way we permit the empowerment that was on Jesus to fall on us in order to accomplish the Father’s perfect will in our service to others.

As a child of the Father, in order to proceed to accomplish the tasks or mission that the Father sets before you in your role in life, you need to ask the Father to empower you to carry our that role (see post on Our Father).  In doing this we follow the example of Jesus who although had the fullness of the Spirit in Him from birth, emptied Himself of the empowerment He was entitled to as the Son of God (Phil. 2:7), so that He, as the Son of Man, could submit Himself to be empowered by the Spirit, as a “MAN”. This happened, when after His Baptism by John the Baptist, the Spirit came upon Him like a dove (Matt. 3:16; Mk.1:10, Lk.3:22; Jn.1:32).  He affirmed this event when he entered Nazareth on the Sabbath and read from Isaiah the following passage from Luke 4:18:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free…”

We similarly, in following Jesus’ formation in the Spirit through our baptism, must also be anointed by the Spirit in order to carry out our own specific calling accompanied by the spiritual gifts we need to carry out that calling. Yes, we received the “inner” anointing (1Jn.2:27) for our own sanctification when we were baptized into Jesus (Rom. 6:3), but like Jesus we also need to be anointed with the power of the Spirit (Acts 1:8) so that we might be channels of God’s grace to others. This is normally accomplished at our Confirmation or through what is sometimes termed, “the Baptism in the Spirit”. That is how the Lord places us in partnership with Himself to work in this world. When we are obedient and empowered, He will place us where He wants us so that He, working through us may minister His Love and Grace to others for the building up of the Church (1Cor. 14:12).

One of the problems we all face, is in understanding how the empowerment anointing operates in our renewed lives in Christ. The first mistake we all make is to take the Gifts of the Holy Spirit for granted. That is, we assume that after we have been baptized, Grace being Grace, the Spirit will work in us automatically through our lives as long as we remain in a state of grace.

Now, for the sanctifying graces noted in Chapter 11 of Isaiah, that may well be true. But for the actual graces, as manifested in the empowerment gifts listed in 1Cor. Chapter 12, this not true. The main reason being that the Holy Trinity does not want to empower zombies or robots to do the Father’s will. He wants to empower His Children so that He may work through their obedient Love.

In order that LOVE might be supreme in forming a partnership with us, He wants us to freely yield to Him to work in us and through us so that, with our willingness and obedience in place, He might be free to work in us an through us to manifest His Kingdom through our obedience. Normally this would be accomplished through the Sacrament of Confirmation, but since we are not usually prepared to receive the Empowerment Gifts at this instance, the Lord, in His mercy permits us to release the Anointing that was placed on Jesus at a prayer service we term, “the Baptism or release of the Spirit”.

At this service you will be asked to yield yourself to the Holy Spirit and to pray for an infilling and release of the Spirit in your life. This submission, if done in faith, will give the Holy Spirit the Freedom to work in you and through you so that the gifts and anointing that was on Jesus will be on you. This will permit Jesus to work in you and through you to accomplish the Father’s will.  Praised be His Holy Name!

Once thus anointed and in place to serve Him, we might ask, “now, how do I activate this anointing?”.  Luke provides us the answer in this third theme – namely, we ASK., we SEEK, and we KNOCK.

Thus, by implication, if we desire to do the Father’s will and be partners with the Divine in bringing forth His Kingdom, we are urged to ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Only in this way can we bring to fulfillment the desires the Father has placed into our hearts, whether they be ‘moving mountains, healing the sick or casting out demons (Mark 16:17).

Also, we note, that in the Greek, the tense of the verbs ask, seek, find, and knock infer a continuing action such as, “asking and keep on asking”. The reason for this is that the Lord wants us to ask, seek, and knock for His help in every situation we face in life.  By doing so we invite Him and His Holy Spirit to be the dynamic source for our actions thus activating the partnership He wants of us, and yielding all the results for His Glory  – not ours!

In asking, we not only admit our own inability and humility but also affirm our total dependence on HIM and Him alone- so that it is clear that all the Glory attendant to the works of power is His!

In seeking, we understand that only through a personal face-to-face relationship with Him can He act not only as our Empowering Partner, but also as our guiding Parent. Thus our seeking is an act of discerning His will and an affirmation of our personal connection to Him –  who created all things,

In Knocking, we take action, in faith, to test and discern “what the Father is doing” in our circumstances – and, then, again in faith, entering in through that door that He opens for us to bring to completion the Father’s will. Praised be His Holy Name!!

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“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Eph. 2:4-10)

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter4:7-11)

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With all I have shared with you my brothers and sisters, I pray the Lord will inspire your discernment in the reading of the Word and the Meditation of your hearts so that these themes will come alive in your spirits and so that you may find and enter through the doors He is opening for you to take the action He desires of you for the Glory of His Kingdom. 

Praised be His Holy Name, forever and ever. Amen.

Your Brother and Fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus  …  Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011])

Recommended Links

§ The Empowerment Gifts

§ Becoming Children of God

§ Growing in the Spirit

§ Responding to the Spirit’s Call

§ Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ


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