There has been a rise in prayer globally in recent months, even if this is still marginal to mainstream Christianity. To see a revival in deep prayer, which is always a precursor to a broader spiritual awakening, there must first be a shift in the way we “see” things. A move from seeing “according to the flesh” to seeing in the Spirit (2 Corinthians chapter 5 verses 16-17).
Only through deepening spiritual sight can we simultaneously be aware of the depths of human depravity and the limitless reach of divine sovereignty. A spiritual vision (Revelation chapter 1verse 10) is a necessary prelude to a revelation of the unbounded reign of God (Revelation chapter 19 verse 16) and our call to share in it.
Blind and Dead
The Bible unapologetically pronounces all outside of Christ to be “blinded” by the devil (2 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 4) and “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians chapter 2 verse 1). Paul teaches, “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans chapter 8 verse 7).
This insight concerning the total spiritual inability of fallen people to move God-wards could provoke denial, fatalism, or passivity. These are godless responses, rather, we should examine more closely what the scriptures teach about the reach of divine power over our lives.
Power over All
Jesus’ claims to power over us are exhaustive. That the Father has given him “authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all you have given him” (John chapter 17 verse 4.) is one with his assertion about being given “all authority” to turn nations into disciples (Matthew chapter 28 verse 18).
Specifically, scripture teaches the Lord has power to close the eyes of the stubbornly resistant and open the eyes of those whom he wills to come to him. The gospel turns the lost “from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts chapter 28 verses 26-27).
Christ summarises his supremacy over our vision, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (John chapter 9 verse). More than this, God has power to revive the spiritually deceased, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians chapter 2 verse 5).
The sovereign power of God over human inability is an incitement to faith in mission. Such mission always begins in prayer.
Inspired to Pray
The Day is coming when the Father “will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.” (Eph 1:10). This is a thrilling vision of God’s ability to bring all things to their appointed consummation in Christ. Since Jesus himself always believed this about God’s plan for his life he was always inspired to pray, whatever the odds.
At the start of his ministry he is moved to pray (Luke chapter 3 verse 21; chapter 5 verse 16). in the midst of the agonies of Gethsemane and Golgotha he prays (Luke chapter 22 verse 41; chapter 23 verse 34). Now, as a glorified person in heaven he is still moved to pray (Hebrews chapter 7 verse 25). What we learn from Jesus is that prayer is an activity essential to our humanity in the image of God.
Jesus’ life at prayer expounds Tennyson’s famous line, “More things are wrought by prayer Than this world dreams of:” The surge in prayer across the world in response to the COVID pandemic evidences that when our capacities are at their weakest our prayers are at their strongest. The Bible itself illustrates this. Afflicted by an extreme disability which threatened to frustrate the fulfilment of his ministry Paul unashamedly testifies, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this” (2 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 8).
Ask the Lord for a revelation of the greatness of his plan for the universe and for yourself and an insight into your personal incapacity to fulfil his call and you, like Jesus and his apostles, will be inspired to pray.
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html