“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.” ~ Acts 3:6-7
(This is part 4 of a series on essential prayers for faith leaders. You can find part 1 here.)
There’s a kind of prayer we all know how to pray. Particularly when we’re in dire straits, it rises up within us unbidden, like an automatic response to our great need. We might call it the “prayer of supplication” or the “cry of the heart,” but although it may sound different on each person’s lips, it’s always some form of riff on this singular sentiment: “God, help!”
It’s a beautiful prayer. The Psalms are full of prayers like this. I’m guessing maybe your life is too. Mine sure is.
The problem is that very often in our lives, it’s not the prayer we need to be praying.
Imagine there’s a governor serving under a great king. The king has given this governor a specific territory to oversee, and though it’s a beautiful country, it’s also plagued with violent rebels who’ve entrenched themselves in the land. Part of the governor’s mandate from the king is to root out these rebels and remove them, and to restore the villages and communities that they have overrun. The king has given the governor access to all the resources at his disposal. He’s given the governor his full authority to enact his will within the territory he’s been assigned.
Now what would you think of this governor if every time he encountered a rebel or saw a village in distress, instead of acting under the king’s authority, he ran back to the king and begged him to come and take care of the problem? At worst, you might think the governor is a coward. At the very least, you would think he doesn’t understand what it means to be a governor, or how to wield the authority of the king.
Yet, way too often, I think we act like that governor. We don’t understand the authority we’ve been given by God or how to apply it to the challenges we face. We feel powerless, helpless, impotent, when in fact we are anything but.
We beg God to do for us what he has purposed to do through us.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” ~ Matthew 28:18-19
The Great Commission was not given without teeth. That’s why Jesus begins the way he does: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go…” We don’t just go with the command; we go with the full authority of heaven to carry it out.
The Prayer of Authority, then, is not so much a prayer we pray to God as it is something we speak out to the world with God in his name with his full authority. That’s what praying in God’s Name actually means. It means praying in his authority, calling forth his rule and reign to be established in and through whatever challenge or need you encounter.
Before you start worrying that this sounds too much like the ridiculous “name it and claim it” teaching that basically amounts to self-absorbed wishcraft, don’t miss this part: The authority we’ve been given is limited. The governor can’t just go around doing anything he wants. When governors do this, we call it corruption. No, the governor’s authority is limited to what the king has commissioned him to accomplish. In the same way, our authority is limited to what God has commissioned us to accomplish. Within that scope, however, we have been given the full power of heaven to accomplish what he has sent us to do.
Now, the Prayer of Authority is not a prayer you just go “do.” It’s a prayer you must learn. It takes training and practice to wield authority well. One of the best resources I’ve found on this is Ransomed Heart’s training series called “The Hope of Prayer.” It can also be helpful to study Ransomed Heart’s “Daily Prayer,” particularly paragraphs 6 and 7, to see an example of what the Prayer of Authority can look like.
Also, study the Book of Acts. The disciples use the Prayer of Authority quite often throughout that book.
What do you think of this notion of the Prayer of Authority? How have you experienced it in your own life and leadership?