Even though there’s a fair amount of talk about prayer in Spirit-filled circles, misunderstanding and misapplication still ensue. This confusion is especially evident when it comes to matters like healing, deliverance and spiritual breakthrough.
It’s not that intercession isn’t understood at all. The problem is that our worldview and everyday practices seldom reflect the robust, life-giving patterns of the New Testament.
When it comes time to pray for individuals, we often focus on providing instruction or comfort, rather than effect. We are more concerned with rehashing biblical precepts than actually eliciting a supernatural encounter. For the most part, we have little idea how to function in dynamic new covenant intercession.
If asked, many would portray prayer as an occasion when God is graciously petitioned. This understanding is accurate. Yet, there’s more to scriptural intercession than just pleading for personal needs. Throughout Scripture, people conducted prayer in a myriad of ways. Petitionary prayer undoubtedly transpired, but there were also inspired commands, decrees and proclamations.
In the biblical narratives, it might be difficult to determine whether a man was praying, prophesying or preaching. One heartfelt expression gets entangled with another, and the outworking becomes virtually indistinguishable.
There are other things to consider as well. This will probably sound strange to some, but biblical prayer doesn’t always directly address God. Sometimes authoritative decrees were utilized to counteract encroaching forces of darkness. Fierce declarations were uttered in the face of severe infirmity or disease.
For example, Jesus confronted a demon with the following spiritual exclamation: “Be silent and come out of him!” (Luke 4:35). In a similar manner, the apostle Peter would later turn toward a lame man and prayerfully proclaim, “Stand up!” (Acts 14:10).
While prayer always involves some manner of interchange with God, it’s not always specifically directed toward Him. As one reads through the biblical texts, they will observe that prayer is more than petitions and solicitations.
For many, intercession becomes little more than whining and begging. This standard posture inadvertently places God in the position of an adversary. Rather than partnering with Him against the turmoil, we approach Him as if He’s the source. With twisted methodologies like this, it’s no wonder that our prayers are so ineffective.
God is inviting us to change our thinking and be in sync with His heavenly rhythms. Those who are grounded in an abiding relationship with Jesus are positioned to shake the very foundations of the Earth.
The Lord eagerly desires men and women who will advance beyond the stifled monologue to partner in expressing the mysteries of the kingdom. Are you willing to have an extended dialogue with the one who quells the darkness?
What would happen if we somehow learned the biblical patterns of prayer? I’m convinced that it could utterly transform the cosmos.
J.D. King, director of the World Revival Network and co-pastor at World Revival Church, is writing Regeneration: Healing in the History of Christianity. King is a sought-after speaker, writer and author.