In Pt. 1 I introduced the fact that nothing will shut down our prayer life like having condemnation in our hearts. The foundation of grace is so critical to the ministry of intercession. I also spoke about the need for a ‘devotional’ dimension to our prayer times where we continually bathe our hearts and minds in the truth of our identity as the beloved of God.
The topic of condemnation is vast and much can be said about it, however in relation to the ministry of prayer I will focus on one main point: We must use God’s Word to combat the lies of the enemy that seek to condemn us. Paul tells us to “put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 6:11) In the same passage Paul declares that the Word of God is like a sword that we use in our spiritual battle against the devil. The Word is constantly described as a sword that is mighty and powerful, able to defeat the enemy and his attacks.
One verse that I have been using lately has been Ephesians 3:12
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Here’s how I use this verse in prayer: I speak it out loud and declare to God that it is true. I verbally agree with what God’s Word says; in this case that through Jesus Christ and through faith in Jesus, that I am able to approach the God of all creation with freedom and confidence. Not only am I allowed to come with faith and confidence, I am required to come with faith and confidence.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. -Hebrews 11:12 (NIV, emphasis added)
One of the most important ways that we wield the sword of the Spirit is through praying the Bible. We connect more fully to the power of the Word when we pray it, when we declare and agree with the truth of what God has said. The power of agreement is so important that Jesus used it himself when he was being tempted by satan himself in the desert. (see Matt. 4)
Taking time regularly to worship God and pray and ask our Father in heaven to speak to our hearts about His love for us will significantly strengthen us. However when I begin to feel condemnation in my heart and hypocritical and unworthy I do the following:
- I come to God and pray, rather than trying to hide from God. My mind reminds my heart that I come to a throne of grace not a throne of religion.
- I repent. We cannot skip this part. The Bible is clear that we must confess our sins and repent.
- I use the Word to declare my identity in Jesus Christ. Passages like 1 John 3:1 – “How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”, or Ephesians 3:12 (see above) are among my favorites.
Being able to come to approach God in prayer with freedom and confidence requires a foundation of grace. Jesus has given us that foundation and our daily challenge is to choose to live on that foundation! There is nothing like being able to come before that great and glorious throne in heaven and be effective in the ministry of intercession!
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