Like Sodom and Gomorrah before the flood; or the times of Daniel during the Babylonian rule; or the state of the culture under Roman rule during the time of Jesus; our modern world is undergoing extreme political, social, economic, religious, and cultural unrest. God’s creation is exploited today in ways beyond even imagining during times past. Our scientific and technological advances often reflect Satanic rule, rather than the Image of the loving God in whose Image we were made.
From the very beginning, God has been seeking to establish an agreement, or covenant, with his creation. Jesus is the Father’s final and complete revelation of Himself and His plan, the fulfillment of the first covenant, the embodiment and consummation of the second – through Jesus, both sides of the agreement with us are fulfilled; with our eyes on Christ, we stand on the promise that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). We seek a relationship with Jesus and allow Him to be the Lord of our lives, to follow the Spirit where He leads; in doing so he will lead us to become a Jesus looking people.
By standing in the gap through prayer, petitions, requests aligned with his will, we seek to live in a manner that reflects Jesus’ character – toward the earth, toward his creation, toward each other. We envision the earth, filled with the Father’s glory, and endeavor to manifest the new earth now, when all of creation will live together in perfect Shalom.
We know the earth does not reflect fully the character of Jesus yet; we live in a time when we are to prepare ourselves for his coming, to become the “Bride of Christ” (“What Does it Mean to be Married to Christ?”); we live during the “already-not-yet” period – Christ’s work on the cross restored the created order, his Spirit is available to help us change our characters into the eternal Christ-like character we were all meant to have from the beginning; we repent or turn from all in our lifestyles that does not reflect Christ or the peaceable kingdom he died to establish and eventually restore in full.
We turn now to the final article in this series. Daniel’s Prayer is a powerfully written prayer, which gives us insights into how we can stand in the gap for God’s purposes through prayer in today’s world. We can use it’s essence to petition the Lord to intervene in addressing the circumstances of our times. At the end of Part One, I asked a question that I am convinced – the more I understand about how God reaches into humanity, and the more I understand the role he wants us to play in bringing His will to the earth as it is in heaven – the more important and urgent the sense I have that God’s people need to become people who stand in the gap: Are there enough of us standing in the gap?
I wrote about some things in the last two posts that may not seem apparent at first as to their relevance with Daniel’s Prayer. I don’t know about you, but if you are anything like me, I’ve been awfully confused at times about prayer: what is prayer, what is it suppose to accomplish; how to pray effectively; what is praying according to God’s will, or praying “in the Spirit”?
I have found it incredibly helpful to first of all, get my view of God straight. He is the loving God that he says he is through Christ (Hebrews 1:3); the kind of God we see reaching into our sin, dying on a cross to save a people who had turned their back on him, who were his enemies and yet he loved them, is the living God who loves all of us unsurpassedly. He is the God of Israel who said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Luke 13:34) He only wants what is best for us and all creation.
Second, it is extremely important to understand the backdrop of the Old Testament (OT) in light of the New Testament (NT). The word “Testament” means “Covenant”. The OT makes a kind of sense it never use to make, now that I understand that with the revelation of Christ, we are on the end of the Bible story that has revealed the Father’s character in full, allowing us to understand more fully what came before Christ’s coming in the OT by understanding the work done on the cross; by understanding the character of the Father found in Christ; and by Jesus’ own examples and teachings as he reveals the Father’s ultimate will for all of creation through himself.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever – Hebrews 13:8. We cannot understand why God “appeared” to us as an ugly God in the OT without understanding what God was doing on the cross, who he revealed he truly is, through Christ. God took on our sin and “looked” the part in the OT; he stooped to our level and revealed himself in the only language the people could understand, ever the while inch by inch trying to draw the people out of that language – out from warring with each other, out from the sacrificial systems of the pagan nations they had adopted.
Learning to view the OT through the lens of the cross has helped me, thirdly, to understand what it means to pray according to God’s will and in the Spirit. As I get a clearer picture of the OT through what Jesus came to do on the cross; as I begin to see how he took on our sin in the OT appearing to the people in the only language they would understand; as I see the reasons why Christ died, in particular to destroy the devil’s work; and as my worldview changes as I see our history, present day, and future through the lens of the cross; I get a picture of God I can trust.
Getting the story straight has helped me reject the teaching that we are to accept evil things happening as somehow fitting into a larger picture of God’s will. Indeed, we are to truly rebel against evil. Understanding the story reveals our purpose, which with Christ’s death and resurrection provides us the power through the Holy Spirit to fulfill, and enables us to stand in the gap. We as God’s people can pray today in powerful ways petitioning God to tear down strongholds that bind us and creation to Satan’s power. Without understanding God’s story, his plan, what God’s work on the cross did in destroying the devil’s work, how do we pray and petition God in light of the fact that the devil’s work is yet apparent all around us? How do we participate in making apparent God’s work instead?
Understanding the story and where it is leading, helps us understand how far short we fall today in that vision, and what we need to do to get there. This helps us address leadership – especially for creation. There is no doubt the church is under heavy fire from Satan. Yet, “He who lives in us, is greater than he who lives in the world” and it is time leadership takes a stand and proclaims the Gospel in light of ALL creation, and we can ask them to do so.
God is looking for people who will stand up, persons he can trust to understand his ultimate will for the earth; who will trust him to move them in that direction and away from the pagan practices of the nations that yet surround us and have infiltrated the Christian faith itself in places; whom he can trust to follow and obey (even blindly) as he leads them; who believe in his character and know that though they may not see where he leads; or though they may not receive all the answers they seek and are left with parts of the creation story shrouded in mystery; though they may not see the fruit of their efforts; they trust him anyway because, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24) He will make all things clear to us one day. In the meantime, he needs us to do our part. It isn’t magic. This is the way he designed it – we must align our wills with his and participate in bringing about the new heavens and the new earth!
LIFE in Christ is the only kind of LIFE that one day will be wholly revealed as freedom from Satan’s influence, tyranny, his characteristics; if mankind can see how glorious God’s story actually is, he’ll put down weapons of greed, wrath, sloth, gluttony, pride, lust, envy – these Satanic distinctives are the true culprits behind all that exploits one another and all the earth. All these eat away at a man or woman and leave each who partake in them empty, desolate. They manifest among creation as wars between nations; on the vineyards where the pesticides are sprayed that destroy the bees; or out of greed or gluttony, one will not see where his own finery comes from, the price paid by someone doing slave labor for it, or the animals who’s fur/skin was ripped from it’s body while still alive to supply it. These weapons cause a man to put his own stomach above the needs of the countless beings who become our food; who become our entertainment, sport, lab experiments, clothing, and more, at such a horrendous price that many simply will not look; instead, they continue to turn a blind eye and ignore the suffering their pallets and life styles demand.
A Modern Rendition of Daniel’s Prayer
This then is our call – to take a stand for Christ, for the Kingdom he died to establish, for the creation he died to save; with him, by him, and through him we find our LIFE; and we stand in the gap for all of creations sake in partnership with Jesus in order that it be established upon the earth. In the Spirit of Daniel, we petition God to intervene and act in the face of all in the world that does not reflect the loving Character of Christ; act to draw his people out from the kingdom’s of the world; that by our acts of “not transforming to the patterns of this world”, he will act to transform us “by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). Let’s “set our faces to the Lord” – please pray with me this petition and plea to our Father God:
Look at the beginning of Daniel’s prayer in 9:4:
I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands…
O Lord, like the walls of Jericho, tear down the walls of indifference, of apathy that binds and blinds us to one another, the earth and animal kingdoms plight at our own hands. Tear down the walls of indifference and apathy; the mountains of greed, wrath, sloth, gluttony, pride, lust, envy that poisons humanity, render us useless, to bringing about your Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. For it is your will that we partner with you through the power of your Spirit to “put on love” in all we do (Colossians 3:14), which includes loving treatment of ALL that is YOURS. “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.” Psalm 24:1. In the spirit of Daniel, Lord I pray:
We have failed to care for creation the way you intended us to. We took all of creation with us into this war between you and Satan. Peace – indeed complete Shalom – was what you had in mind for ALL you created; mankind was to play a major role as those with the power over them to protect and rule in the Image of the Father. Dominion you did give us over creation – not to exploit or tear down or destroy – but to love, care for, protect, enjoy and nurture, in perfect peace and harmony; and in relationship with you we were to do it.
But we broke our bonds with you. You had to send us away from the fullness of your presence – along with all the creatures you had made and given us dominion over. It broke your heart to do so. We know from the prophets that bloodshed and “sacrifice you did not desire” (Psalm 40:6; 51:16; Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13) – no – but our hearts you did want. “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
We have not followed your commands. Nor have we consistently looked to you for our provisions. You conceded and gave us your animals to eat because “there was only evil in our hearts continually” (Gen 8). And you told us “but of your life-blood you would require it.” We have grown to be a sick and violent world because we do not listen, we do not put aside our bickering nor our differences; Babel is yet very much alive; we do not humble our hearts but have profaned your name and destroyed your character before all the nations. We are destroying the beautiful earth you created that was meant as a garden oasis for all of your living creation to enjoy. We use your animal kingdom for food, clothing, entertainment, sport, experimentation, medicine, profits; we maim, hunt, torture, cage, chain, treat as vermin, neglect them without mercy or kindness or concern for their welfare; we use their habitat in all manner of fashions to suit ourselves, destroying and polluting their homes, leaving them to suffer, starve, eat our garbage mistakenly as food for they are hungry; many have gone extinct. You warn us that: “The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small– and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” We are destroying your earth. Do we “revere your name”? May we your people turn from destroying your earth and animal kingdom. You warn us, “Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land” (Isa 5:8). May we turn from our selfishness and include in our circle of concern and compassion the animal kingdom and the earth as we attempt to exercise the LOVING dominion you gave us; wake up your peoples to the final Word of God, the complete revelation of your character – your son Jesus Christ. Wake up your people to reflecting HIS COMPLETE image into the darkness that surrounds us.
I come before you Lord and ask that you forgive me, for I have sinned. I have not always listened to your voice nor followed your instruction. And I ask on behalf of all your people, to forgive this wayward and indulgent people that bears YOUR name. Hear my prayer O Lord of Mercy, not because there can be found any righteousness within me or within the nations but because of your Mercies, for your Son Jesus the Christ’s sake, and for your character’s sake, I do ask. Come Lord, forgive us. Forgive us and intervene, show us the way to mercy, to compassion – to LOVE for you, for each other, and for the earth and the animal kingdom. All is precious in your sight that you would send your Son to take our place for our transgressions, and to make a way to redeem ALL creation, to restore your created order.
Come Lord, may we be found seeking your face as a people once again, that you may be found among us, for your glory, your character’s sake, for Jesus sake, and for the sake of the nations who live in darkness as well as for the restoration of peace on the earth for ALL flesh. Some things do depend on us; may we look like Jesus, act like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and be the Jesus the whole world – including the animal kingdom – need to see and experience. “For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.” (Romans 8:19) Our first mandate from you Lord was to care for the earth and the animals that you made; lead us toward restoration of our duties once again, Lord, that we may glorify you until the coming of that day when we meet you face to face. We wait on you Lord – restore us, refresh us, for new thinking, for revelation of truth. In Jesus name, AMEN
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