|Photo by Matt Brown|
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23
By Kyle Patterson
We as the Church can do something together that we could never accomplish separately. While unity for the sake of unity can be unfruitful, unity with a mission, or The Mission of God, can multiply our impact. God is initiating a new level of collaboration so that all the gifts in His body in all nations from three generations work together. We can do so much more when we embrace each others different callings with love, agreeing on the real issues of faith—Lordship of Jesus, Eternal Salvation, Resurrection of the Dead, Life Everlasting, Prayer and the Great Commission—while agreeing to disagree on minor disputable matters. The truth is we need to make the main thing (reconciling the world to a relationship with Him) the main thing because we reveal the indescribable and incomprehensible love of God to a world that is, whether they know it or not, (and truthfully how easily we forget) longing for a relationship with our Creator.
God’s love is only seen in fullness when the whole Body of Christ functions together. Part of our spiritual inheritance is in the hands of other ministries as is part of our revelation of God’s love. Ephesians sums this up well in the record of Paul’s prayer when he prayed that together with all the saints we would have power to grasp the width, the height, the depth of the love of God and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.
According to John Dawson, there are two attitudes that we can adopt as we minister translocally, either as “imperialists” that says, what I have is inherently better than what you have so I will impose my vision on you and ask that your culture submits to mine because the Lord has given me the strategy for you. Or as “settlers”, that says, may I come into your land, honor who you are, serve and befriend you and together we will find our destiny in God and experience kingdom life together. We cannot impose ourselves on those we minister to. According to Christ himself it is to our glory that we would be one (see John 17).
The missions movement, prayer movement and church planting moments with market place ministries need to work together with focused effort to reach the seven spheres of society: family; education; government (politics, law and military); economy (business, science, and technology); arts (entertainment and sports); media; and religion Throughout history, the house of prayer has been a central part of God’s plan to advance His kingdom.
Practically speaking the joining of missions efforts coupled together with the ministry of city-wide prayer is, I would like to suggest, the most effective way for the church to engage with one another, walking in the love and unity that Jesus spoke of in his final recorded prayer in John 17. It comes down to agreeing on the major issues—prayer and mission— and agreeing to disagree on the minors. It is time, like never before, to work together to establish now what will benefit and bless generations to come after us. May our churches be places where the word is not just heard but also practiced. Dialoguing about the latest ideas of engaging unbelievers is helpful, but—but isn’t it time we as Christians have the character of Christ along with the power and spiritual depth that only comes from long and loving time in God’s presence? Truth be told, the whole earth is waiting for it. It is time we arise and take hold of that for which Christ took hold of us. The kingdom of God, Jesus explained, suffers violence and the violent take it by force.
Uniting Through Intercession
Because intercession in a nutshell is telling the invisible God what He tells us to tell Him, people consider it to be too weak and offensive to do (especially since it is so simple that everyone can do it). We see God’s wisdom in sharing His government in a way that leaves no place for our glory or boasting. The fact that God chose the simplicity of intercession (so all could do it) expresses His desire for partnership with us.
Intercession causes us to internalize God’s Word by saying it back to Him. Each time we say what God says, it marks our mind and spirit and changes us—a process that progressively renews our inner man. God’s words are spirit and life, they impart God’s life to us. Each time we say what God says, we receive a small impartation of His life that illuminates our mind and tenderizes our heart. “The words that I (Jesus) speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (Jn. 6:63) Intercession also unites our heart to the people we pray for—we love who and what we pray for. Intercession produces community with people and ownership of God’s purposes in the nations.
Could it be that God ordained intercession so that we would not only pray for but also pray with one another? Intercession for others causes multiplied blessings to return back on the life of the intercessor—every prayer of blessing for another is a prayer that God returns back on you and your family. Intercession changes the spiritual atmosphere of cities and nations and thus prepares the way for the presence of God. It positions us to hear from God about the calling and destiny of others. In summary, intercession is God’s brilliant strategy for including the saints in ruling with Him in power. Yet, it has such great impact on us as it draws us into intimacy with God as it protects with humility, transforms with holiness, anoints with power, unifies in community, releases revelation and increases our inheritance while it trains us to rule the nations with His wisdom. God’s desire to be worshipped on earth as He is in heaven has not changed. It’s time we give him what he deserves, all our love and worship. Look for more ways to connect in city-wide prayer in upcoming issues of UNITE.