Praying with Authority
Authoritative prayer is just what it sounds like. It is praying with the authority Jesus said we have. We can ask anything in His name and He will do it, including prayers against our enemy. Richard Foster counsels us in six ways.
First, we should not go looking for the devil under every bush. In the power of God, we learn to take authority over our own flesh. In humility, where we honestly assess our sin and ask the Spirit to search and know us, we pray for the Spirit’s work of cleansing and purifying in our lives. While we don’t discount the devil totally, we also don’t give him more power than he deserves. After all,
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” –Colossians 2:13-15
Second, we don’t need to put on a special voice or conjure up a louder prayer, as if praying this way tells the devil we’re serious. If God’s power is present, then we don’t need special effects.
Third, we have special resources to draw on. Foster says in Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home,
“It is common to experience unusual anointing of the Holy Spirit for specific ministry situations. When appropriate we should wait for the power of the Spirit to increase, all of the time surrounding ourselves with the light of Christ and covering ourselves with the blood of Christ and sealing ourselves with the cross of Christ.”
The Spirit, the light, the blood and the cross of Christ. My sense is that many of us would find ourselves out of our element. What does it mean for the power of the Spirit to increase? As with any other spiritual discipline and relationship, practice is key with others who are more experienced.
Fourth, when praying against evil, we pray with gentleness and compassion for the person. We don’t use the circumstance as a chance for display. We don’t go into the prayer hoping to tell a great story when we’re done. Authoritative prayer is not a vehicle for vainglory. (Perhaps this is why we don’t know what to do with TV preachers who go all out with their inflection and volume?)
Fifth, authoritative prayer is not a substitute for the habits of disciplined living. Many times, we don’t need deliverance but discipline. We need to read our Bibles regularly if we want to conquer sin. We need to repent and stand in the assurance of our forgiveness and victory over sin. We need accountability for addiction. Prayer is a huge part of deliverance, but its effectiveness is tied to these other pieces of the disciplined life.
Sixth, Foster, says, rarely do we practice authoritative prayer alone. It is work to be done with others. This allows us accountability and support.
Finally, as we read the book of Ephesians, Christ’s heavenly position of authority, spoken of in Ephesians 1, leads to us being placed there with him in Ephesians 2, so that we can wage war against the principalities and powers in Ephesians 6. I would encourage you to read the book in one sitting and observe how each of these chapters fits with the others.