By Kyle Patterson
The labor of prayer is the primary way God, in his sovereign wisdom, has chosen to rule his the earth. He asks his people, to agree with his plan and purpose as revealed in the Bible to bring about his order on earth, just like it is in heaven. It's mind boggling that God would ask us to partner with him in this way, but it's true.
The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's; But the earth He has given to the children of men. Psalm 115:16
So as his children, our prayer is - God establish your rule and reign on earth as it is in heaven. That's why Jesus taught us to pray as he did. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Clearly, his rule and will is not currently being done on earth or else there would be total peace, no sin, and perfect love. That is coming, but it's not here yet, so we must pray and anticipate his coming. When Adam sinned he opened the door to sin, death, and every form of evil there was to be loosed on the earth. With Christ's victory over sin, death, and hell, the kingdom of God little by little has been spreading across the face of the earth, as yeast works its way through the dough. Likewise Christ's kingdom has been spreading into the hearts of people from every tribe, tongue, people, and language, until the whole earth hears the good news. While outwardly, the kingdoms of men and nations have crumbled, the kingdom of Heaven has been advancing in hearts, preparing a people for the return of their King Jesus, who will then establish the full manifestation of his rule on earth. Until that day comes, we need to be diligent, steadfast and immovable in our prayers, partnering with the Sovereign Lord to see his glory come.
This does bring up issues of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. I believe it's not either or but both and. God is sovereign, and yet he invites us to responsibly tend the earth that he created and partner with him in the advancement of his kingdom and rule on the earth, making a people ready for the coming of their King. Prayer is a primary way we do this.
Daniel gives us a picture of what this look like in Daniel 9 when he begins crying out to God and provides a model of intercession, a work that the Bible teaches Christ is doing in Heaven now at the Father's side.
“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. Daniel 9:4-6
Daniel acknowledges the greatness of God and his faithfulness. This invitation to know God and love him is the highest and deepest priority of our hearts before asking him anything. To love God for himself alone, not what he can do for you, or what you can get from him is the highest love we can have for him.
Daniel then beholds the awesomeness of who God is. He begins to see God's light and love and from that perspective we see everything else right. Daniel responds in repentance when he sees the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. The conviction of the Spirit brings about a change of heart and an acknowledgement of his need for mercy. Likewise, if and when we get a glimpse into the holiness of God, we can't help but repent of the many ways we fall short of God's glory on a daily basis. The Bible calls even our righteous acts filthy rags before God. Even what we think we are doing for God can be out of motives to be seen by people or to receive the praise of man. No one is righteous before God on our own merit, but thanks to Jesus we can trust in him and we receive his righteousness as a gift by faith. Then out of that place we can join him in his priestly work of intercession, identifying with the needs of people and crying out for God to do what only he can do, change the human heart to love him, instead of worthless idols we are so prone to bow down to.
Are you trusting in your own good works or in the finished work of Christ on the cross today?