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In this 1857 sculpture by Alfred Stevens, Truth displaces the mask of Falsehood and tears out its double tongue. Plaster, V & A Museum and bronze, on the Wellington Monument in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
A Bible study bringing out how the Lord loves truth and hates falsehood
TRUTH AND LOVE ARE GOD’S FORCE AGAINST INIQUITY, THROUGH HIS CHURCH
Proverbs 16:6 Through loyal love and truth iniquity is appeased;
through fearing the Lord one avoids evil.
2 John 3
Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
1 Timothy 3:15
…in case I am delayed, to let you know how people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God, because it is the church of the living God, the support and bulwark of the truth.
THE LORD HAS A HOLY HATRED OF FALSEHOOD
Do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.
[NLT version] Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.
You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.
Psalm 43:3 Send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling!
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light.
THROUGH GOD’S PEOPLE, LIGHT RISES IN DARKNESS
Psalm 112:4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
…And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
2 Samuel 7:28
And now, O Lord God, you are God, and Your words are true…
2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18: 30
This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
GOD SEEKS TRUTH AND PRESENCES HIMSELF IN TRUTH
Psalm 86:11 Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth;
unite my heart to fear Your name.
But You are near, O Lord,
and all your commandments are true.
Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.
I did not speak in secret,
in a land of darkness;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
‘Seek me in vain.’ I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right.
TO LOVE TRUTH AND LIVE BY TRUTH IS COMMANDED
Isaiah 59:15 Truth is lacking, and He who departs from evil [He whose starting point is evil] makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice.
Jeremiah 5:3 O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth?
You have struck them down,
but they felt no anguish;
you have consumed them,
but they refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
they have refused to repent.
They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land;
for they proceed from evil to evil,
and they do not know Me, declares the Lord.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.
And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are Your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the nations!
And I heard the altar saying,
“Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are Your judgments!”
Sometimes a deep Bible study of many strands yields a short and simple prayer. God’s truth is profound, but it is not complicated. He loves truth and hates falsehood. In fact He presences Himself where truth is declared, and distances Himself from falsehood – something the early Celtic Christians knew: their simple liturgies are full of confessions of God’s word.
Our heavenly Father has put within us His light, the radiance of Jesus, to shine into the darkness around us. As we pray to uphold truth and against falsehood, we are in tune with His heart. As we declare for His light to reveal truth and expose falsehood, we can be sure that we are agreeing with Him. Others may not agree: there will be resistance (John 3:19). But Jesus walks with us in this, reminding us that the opposition we encounter is the same opposition that He encountered too.
And as we agree and declare truth, as those in fellowship with one another and with Him – He comes. Light comes!
Prayer for light to come in and and truth to come out
Almighty God and loving Father, Your words are truth and Your way is righteous altogether. You hate everything that is deceitful and especially false witness dressed up as truth (Psalm 5:6, Zechariah 8:17).
Your way is perfect, Your words prove true and You are a shield for all who trust in You (2 Sam. 22:31, Psalm 18:30).
You speak the truth and declare what is right (Isaiah 45:19), yet falsehood grows strong in the land; people say whatever they want and create their own truth without regard for You (Jeremiah 9:3). Your eyes look for truth, but where is the turning from all that is false (Jeremiah 5:3)?
May truth prevail, those who walk in it be listened to, and those who sow falsehood be found out (Proverbs 10:9, Psalm 5:6). Let what is good, right and true be revealed by Your light and show up what is deception. (Ephesians 5:6-14)
Teach us Your ways, Lord, that we might walk in Your truth and have a holy fear of Your name and ways (Psalm 86:11). Surely You are near to all who call on You in truth (Psalm 145:18). May we once again be able to proclaim Your just and true ways (Rev. 15:3) and be known as those who love truth and peace (Zechariah 8:19).
Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth.
Your righteous decisions are eternal. (Psalm 119:160)
To You, O God, belong wisdom and might; You give wisdom to the wise. You know what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with You as You reveal deep and hidden things (Daniel 2:21-22).
Bring truth, Lord! Bring it to light (1 Cor. 3:13. Let darkness retreat before the light (John 1:5) ) and let the light reveal all that is false and not of You.
As we seek to walk in truth and integrity (Psalm 86:11, Proverbs 10:9), bring to bear on our world the light of Your truth (Psalm 112:4, Isaiah 58:9), even through us (Matt. 5:14), to dispel confusion and darkness and reveal Your presence and glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
EU President Jean-Claude Juncker (image: Daily Express)
From acquiescence to prayer action
AT a time when we are seeing a lot of political ambition on display, we reflect sadly on the ambition and power struggles in politics; the US presidency, power sharing or not in Stormont and the controlling, bureaucratic EU. Added to that are boardroom moves, countermoves and subterfuges. We don’t like it but we reluctantly accept it.
What is more tragic is that the same selfish ambition gets into the church, and the same kind of power struggles play out in this very different context which is supposed to demonstrate the kingdom of God in loving one another and preferring one another. We bring our worldly expectations and worldly decision-making and create a worldly church, which of course, isn’t the church at all. But this is the real sin – we don’t particularly like it but we acquiesce in accepting it.
Where does this come from? From our flesh nature, of course, which is all about self – self-justifying, self-centred, self-promoting and self-important.
No wonder the Bible tells us to die to self, to the part of us that holds us captive, and learn to live as those who hold the expectations of life lightly:
The prayer that follows addresses this and reflects that supreme example of ambition, arrogance and misguided self-will in King David’s son, Absalom. Having had someone murdered, he went on to gain a following and had messenger proclaim that he was now king.
Absalom ended his short ‘reign’ tangled up in a tree. However, the spirit behind Absalom lives on, to the extent that we acquiesce and allow it to.
Just to round this off, here in just two verses is summarised the story of the long-forecast fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. It speaks to our time and we, perhaps you also, have experienced this pattern of events acted out many times: 2 Chronicles 36:15-16 –
The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.
We tell God in effect — by not listening, not acting, justifying our actions, denying any need to repent and seek Him again — that we don’t really want the kingdom of God (it’s costly and unknown), but prefer the kingdom of man (it’s familiar). God doesn’t give up – His plan is in the first five books of the Law, reiterated and made more accessible by Jesus. We could also add, a purpose made possible by the Holy Spirit. He raises up those with a prophetic ministry to courageously bring His word of truth to cut through the confusion. The word or words do cut through, but they are challenging and few are listening; the familiar always seems more attractive and in this instance the “remainers” usually carry the day. So the people choose make-believe ‘prophets’ to speak illusions, fuzzy sermons that reinforce their assumptions, rather than gathering around the provocation-with-encouragement of what God is saying.
At times like this we need to really humble ourselves and pray and let go of everything we are holding. We will hear as we choose to listen. We will act righteously as we relinquish control and let the Spirit lead. We must be intentional about letting go and letting God.
Father, as I come to You in Jesus I am conscious of my need of You and my own tendency to self-sufficiency and independence. I humble myself before You in the words of James 4:6
“But [God] gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” “
You exhort us to guard against our flesh tendency to pride, and You warn us to be alert to how pride makes us vulnerable to the predations of the enemy: 1 Peter 5:5-9 ESV
“Clothe yourselves… with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him…”
All around me I see man’s arrogance and selfish ambition like brash architecture, built without planning permission in the path of Your kingdom purposes, and making its own statements about a desire to assert and rule.
Where is this in the Bible? I see Absalom and his craving for power and influence, deceitfully gaining a following by false pretences and dishonouring others. I see the parallel with Absalom behind so much of the politics in Your precious church (2 Samuel 15:1-6 and 10).
I remember before You how Absalom, already having murdered by proxy, sent others to announce him as king, called an army, and pursued the true king, David, with intent to murder. However the Bible tells us that his plan was foiled and his evil intention revealed, and justice came as he became trapped and helpless in a tree.
I call out to You for Absalom’s plots and plans to be revealed and for their ambition to be their own trap. When they are caught in it, may they meet your truth and die to self, and find Your grace in a new way at that place.
As You said at the Pharisee’s table, Luke 14:11 NIV
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Let those who exalt themselves be exposed and fall. Let those who plot to gain influence or control be exposed as ungodly, for the protection of others.
Where I see the ambition and scheming of the spiritually immature, where I see man’s plans and intentions, I call down a spirit of humility and repentance that welcomes the lordship of Jesus. I declare the rule and reign of Jesus over every arrogant Absalom and Korah (Numbers 16:1-35), every insolent Sanballat and Tobias (Neh. 4:1, 7-8) and every controlling Pharisee (Mark 11:28, John 8:58-59). May Your church body choose to be ruled, not by men but by its Lord, and choose to grow, not mutated and misshapen, but healthy. May Your precious body ( NAME IT ) turn again to seek the kingdom of God and spiritual revival, and to find You again in joyful submission to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I pray this in the name of Jesus, Lamb of God, crucified, dead and buried but also resurrected and ascended to rule and reign with all authority, having put all things under His feet. Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father! Amen.
WE are proud of the legal system we have in Wales (and the UK) and it is the model which is still looked to worldwide.
Our expectation is of good process and justice in the courts in Wales and England and beyond. Evidence is carefully gathered and tested according to strict rules. People will legitimately have different recollections of an event, but increasingly in our post-truth age there is be little conscience about giving false testimony — few these days would know or care that it breaks the ninth commandment, not to mention the Great Commandment that Jesus taught Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:18; Matt. 22:37-40.
But in a normal legal process this is tested in hearings where everyone has the right to proper representation; it is recognised that the person accused may actually reinforce the accusation if they attempt to represent themselves, and so the right to representation has long been recognised in every kind of hearing.
Even so, judgments are not infallible and so there is always a route to appeal, where the whole process is tested, fresh evidence can be brought and in the new hearing, the original verdict may end up being overturned.
This approach to prayer is to the spiritual ‘court of appeal’ where the defence advocate in Jesus Christ Himself. Straight to the prayer…
Prayer at its simplest and most essential is about drawing near to God, knowing that He draws near to us (James 4:8), willing for our hearts to be changed by such an encounter, as much as we seek situations to be changed. However as those who seek to follow Jesus’ way and witness there will always be testing and spiritual warfare – not for nothing are we urged to intentionally put on holy attitudes (Eph. 6:11) and be ready and active in using the word of God to bless and to restore the order of the King and the kingdom (Eph. 6:12-18).
The purpose of this collection of posts and prayers is to help us all move beyond asking God for what we need (we also need to be doing that) to taking back from the enemy what has been stolen. We are told that he is like a predator, prowling around seeing who is unprotected and independent, away from the herd, always active to destroy what he can (1 Peter 5:8).
Do we get justice? It takes persistence – both in having the faith and boldness to ask and keep on asking (Luke 11:5-10) and in demanding justice where it may feel like no one is listening (Luke 18:1-8). God is a God of justice and a Father who cares for us deeply, but we have to do what we know to do. Justice is in our hands, not just His – read Isaiah 57 through to 59 for an interesting perspective on this. We have responsibility to contend for what is ours and what is right.
We, too, have access to a higher court. We can take the subject of our appeal to the highest court anywhere, in heaven or on earth. The way we do this is still essentially similar – appealing on the basis of what God has said and precedents we find in the word, but there are some extra dimensions, such as the whole nature of His covenant with us, covenants established and broken by us and the justice/injustice that surrounds that. God is not mocked. All actions have consequences, here and now as well as eternally. The attitudes which the Bible characterises as those of ‘mockers’ are defined in Psalm 1:1. Mockers are those who arrogantly try to assert what they want or understand over and above God’s framework of truth and order and dependence on Him (Psalm 1:2) It is our experience that they get their way for a time (Ps. 37:35), for that is the nature of human freewill, but the Bible’s perspective is that sorrow and destruction await them when their deeds catch up with them Psalm 32:10; Psalm 1:4-6; Psalm 9:16.
The kingdom of God works on the basis of the heavenly order of covenant and justice. Where there has been clear, demonstrable injustice based on the attitudes of the mocker, we make our formal appeal on what becomes of the mocker. It is not an easy prayer to pray but it may just be necessary.
The prayer declaration that follows can be used as a basis for many situations of injustice, adding to it as required. In particular, we are presently seeing an onslaught of attacks on the leadership roles of Jesus’ church; pastors find themselves facing allegations without evidence, and struggling with slurs and innuendos which, by their nature, cannot be defended. In a worldly sense, those situations are complicated. But praying to the heavenly court of appeal does not need to be complicated. God sees injustice and grieves over it; He waits on us to appeal for justice and then He acts. The cause and effect of actions and consequences are well established all through Scripture and the early church was reminded of this (Gal. 6:7-8).
John Wesley once said words to the effect that it seems that God sometimes stays His hand until we give ourselves to Him in prayer. Why is that? It is because God has not just given us freewill, but also faith. Freewill is allowed but faith is required!
Luke 18:1-8 (the end of verse 8 makes the point, below)
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?
Faith doesn’t happen until what we expect doesn’t happen. Faith is trusting in the unseen, and it could be said that God often tests us at that exact point. Commentators often take “When the Son of Man comes…” to mean Christ’s triumphant return the end of the age. But He might also say to us in a less majestic, more personal and here-and-now way, “When I do show up with My answer, will I find you still trusting Me, still believing for My outcome, still unwavering?” This faith test is the prerequisite of all we do to bring the kingdom of God into our lives. He knows the need, and He knows the details, but the responsibility to contend for the need and appeal for justice, maintaining faith, is ours. Heaven is waiting to respond, poised for us to step up to the witness stand and speak in faith and agreement.
The High Court of Heaven appeal prayer
I come before You, Lord God Almighty, not in my own righteousness but in Christ Jesus who has imputed righteousness to me, and borne my sin and rebellion in His death on the Cross. I acknowledge My need of You, Jesus, and I welcome Your lordship of my life. I humble myself under Your mighty hand, that You may exalt me in due time.
In Your holiness You cannot regard sin, yet “Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; You reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve,” according to Jeremiah 32:19.
As David wrote in Psalm 59:3 NIV
See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offence or sin of mine, Lord.
…Those who slander me… in Your might uproot them and bring them down. For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter, consume them in Your wrath, consume them till they are (in position of influence) no more.
I appeal to the High Court of Heaven, the place of ultimate truth and righteous judgment. I appeal on the basis of Your decree
(CITE A PROPERLY ESTABLISHED SITUATION THAT HAS BEEN THE SUBJECT OF SLANDER, UNJUST ACTION OR DECISION).
I appeal to You, Most High God, concerning the covenant agreed before you and broken by the attitudes and actions of men.
(STATE THE MATTER AGREED IN THE SIGHT OF GOD, AND THE NATURE OF THEN BREAKING OF COVENANT)
Let Your word of truth bring recognition of this offence of breaking of covenant — let Your word of truth bring repentance (according to Jer. 5:1-5).
Arise, Lord, in Your anger. Awake, my God; and decree justice. (Psalm 7:6)
In the words of Proverbs 25:5 (The Message) I call out to You to “Remove the wicked from leadership, remove authority that is not credible or God-honouring.”
Remove unrighteous authorities as You removed Saul (Acts 13:22).
Remove from influence the haughty and arrogant mockers who regard Your word lightly if at all (Psalm 1:1-2) and remove the one(s) attacking Your kingdom order with violence (Matt. 11:1-2). Remove from influence those who like Judas have become betrayers.
Let the temple be cleansed, the vineyard returned to You as the rightful owner and to those who have legal rights to look after it for You and represent Your wishes.
May those who are motivated consciously or unconsciously by wickedness in spreading lies, intimidating others and opposing righteous authority, be prevented and kept out, their words fall to the ground powerless and their plans overtaken by confusion.
A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish.
Let the house divided against itself be seen for what it is and fall, the lies exposed and the truth seen by all (Matt. 12:25).
As the fruitless fig tree you cursed withered that very day, I appeal for righteous change to take effect this very day; for the ‘luxuriant trees’ of the ruthless and wicked to be seen no more (Ps. 37:35-36). Rather, for Jesus to be Lord to the glory of the Father, to take His rightful place as Lord of His church and Lord of His people.
Arise, Lord, in Your anger. Awake, my God; and decree justice.
Virtually every church, as you will know, has its power and control issues. And that’s serious, because any attempt at lordship which is not the Lordship of Jesus is sin – and immediately gives the enemy footholds. Then the spiritual forces behind the more unsavoury characters of the Bible see the welcome mat has been put out, and come to take up residence.
Cain murdered Abel (Genesis 4:8) out of jealousy, the same spirit that moved in Joseph’s brothers (Gen. 37:11 and 18) and nearly ended his life.
Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16:1-2 and following) said to Moses and Aaron “You have gone too far!… Why do you exalt yourselves?… All in the congregation are holy!”
David’s wayward and supremely arrogant son Absalom “stole the hearts of the men of Israel (2 Samuel 15:6) and had himself announced as king (v.10); he raised an army, dishonoured his father publicly and set out to kill him (17:3).
David, it could be said, was at least well used to this. He faced wicked and deceitful opposition at many other times. It is a major strand of his song writing, which contrasts the intimidation and deceit of men with God’s love and faithfulness.
Psalm 35:7 For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life.
In similar language, Psalm 57 recounts those whose “tongues are sharp swords” and likens the slander, so difficult to refute and so soul-destroying, to an animal trap.
They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way but they have fallen into it themselves. My heart is steadfast O God!
In the New Testament, the disciples had power struggles:
Luke 9:46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.
Much later, an elderly John, who had in a sense ‘seen it all’ as the church came into being and then had its growing pains, feels it necessary to make a public example of the notorious church leader called Diotrephes (3 John 9-10), who today we would call a ‘control freak’.
Why do people – sometimes ministers themselves – resort to ungodly control? Why are there too many stories of junior ministers or staff members who feel the time has come for them to take the place of a more experienced senior leader? Or lay elders or deacons who think they are over those who have an ordination and a call, in some churches perhaps a denominational appointment as well, to leadership of a church?
Of course it’s pride, insecurity and fear, of course it’s immaturity and even a misguided sense of duty and we have seen all those things, but let’s consider what the spiritual force behind it is. The murderous Cain spirit or the spirit behind the jealous and vicious Jezebel, the spirit that drove arrogant Absalom or the “I want to be first” Diotrephes. Despite safeguards and promises made in induction services, the Korahs, Dathans and Abirams still rise up to present demands that they have an equal or even greater say in the affairs of the church, even though everyone knows that hurt and division always follows.
This kind of difficulty has deep roots, and it also has the capacity to kill churches and ministries. This happens. Another variant is the ‘unpastorable’ church that cannot call or accept an overall leader, or that dismisses them with regularity. It is a real difficulty and becoming more prevalent in an anti-authority age. Always there is a history of unrenounced sin and the spiritual immaturity that fails to recognise the spiritual dimension.
The call to exercise God-given spiritual authority
Asking God to intervene and submitting all to Him is a good start, but He has given His people ears to hear and a responsibility to exercise their own, submitted, righteous spiritual authority. Discerning of spirits is a spiritual gift, and even at the lowest level everyone has a duty before God to distinguish between moral and immoral, righteous and submitted, and unrighteous and arrogant. Everyone in the church body needs to summon up faith to exercise that spiritual authority in prayer.
Here to help you is a sample ‘Praying the Word’ prayer based on the account of Elijah, Elisha and Jezebel in 1 Kings 18 and 2 Kings 9. Is this extreme? We would suggest that the Jezebel spirit is good at concealing itself, but all too present in churches. It lies hidden while the church is in ‘maintenance mode’ but as soon as there is a move to a more prophetic and missional kind of teaching, it attacks the prophetic ministry with the venom of one having its hiding place uncovered. This is the distinctive characteristic of the Jezebel spiritual attack.
As this spirit is about control and manipulation and deception, it has to be countered in the OPPOSITE spirit of humility and openness and truth – resisting every temptation to resist control with control. Here is a starter prayer which contains praise for who God is, humility and repentance before Him, and declarations in faith based in our position as God’s children and those who are in Christ Jesus. We recommend that you read it with the Bible references so that the Bible truth becomes part of you. Then read it out loud as a prayer declaration to the spiritual realms. It is good to do this as part of a simple Communion with bread and wine.
Prayer to put down the Jezebel spirit
The defeat of Jezebel by King Jehu (2 Kings 9:33)
Father, I humble myself today under Your mighty hand, that You might exalt me in due time, and I resist the devil, knowing that he will flee from me because of who I am in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:7)
I renounce all sense of my position, my entitlements, or my desire to control or determine outcomes. I put everything in Your hand. To You alone belongs judgment, and I seek to walk in love and grace with You.
I confess my need of Jesus as my Saviour, who took my sin and rebellion and selfishness, and my many failures of holiness, on the Roman Cross where He died a torturous death in public humiliation – for me. And as Jesus spoke the words, “It is finished!” I believe that sin’s power and sin’s dominion was broken. I proclaim again and praise the power of the blood which stained the Cross as Jesus was dying there. The Scripture says that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22, Lev. 17:11, Exod. 29:21). I plead the shed blood of Jesus over my life, my spiritual, emotional and physical health, my relationships, my fruitfulness in the Christian walk and ministry and over my church.
I acknowledge Jesus as my Lord Jesus, Lord of my life and decisions and Lord of my church – His church. I renounce whatever position or influence I might aspire to as a church member, in giving my life again to Jesus, and giving my church again to Jesus – for Him to rule and reign, and for man to joyfully submit.
I return to you the account in 1 Kings 18:13 of Jezebel’s persecution of the prophets of the Lord. I stand with Elijah in confronting those who agree with Jezebel and releasing the land from its spiritual and material famine. As I have experienced the wrath and threats of Jezebel, so I seek You, the God of Horeb. I stand before you in repentance, numbering myself with those who have rejected Your covenant and sought to kill the reputation and more, of those you have sent to shepherd and proclaim truth and minister (1 Kings 19:14).
I remind You, Father God, of the attack on the righteous man Naboth where Jezebel wrote letters of false testimony and caused false witnesses to bring charges, so that Naboth was stoned to death as a result of lies, and his vineyard stolen (1 Kings 21:1-16). However, following Elijah’s prophecy (1 Kings 21:23), Jehu confronted Jezebel and she was thrown down to her death (2 Kings 9:33).
And so, not assuming any righteousness of my own but rather praising You, Father, that I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, I am Your precious Son with the authority of sonship, I seek Your kingdom and Your righteousness and I speak for You as a God of justice and mercy: I rebuke you, Jezebel, and all your manipulations and involvements. I take authority over you and put you out of (NAME THE SITUATIONS) and I bind you from any further interference in my life, the church body I am a part of and the Christian ministry with which I serve.
Jezebel, I cast you down as you were cast down in the time of King Jehu. I declare in the Lord Jesus’ name that Your manipulation and power games are over, your influence broken, your strategies exposed – as I proclaim and agree (in the words of Philippians 2:11 and John 1:9 and 14) that the true Light of the World, full of grace and truth, the Son of the Father, Jesus Christ – is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, and He is my Lord. And not only is your power and influence broken but your master is dethroned. In the words of Revelation 12:11: “They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens all and you who dwell in them!”
This is my testimony – the shed blood of Jesus for my life and for His church; the Lordship of Jesus over my life and in His church. I bow the knee to Jesus, representing Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as I pray this in and through Him. Amen.
WHEN we come into God’s presence, how do we experience Him? Always in love and in truth, for this is how He is. With a bit of ‘tuning in’, we know His voice, and His leading, and experience His presence because of this tone of love which is entirely sincere, of truth which is warm with God’s encouragement.
However, our lives are also driven by fear. There is too much fear dictating what we do or don’t do. We don’t always call it that. Mostly for us this is not the fear that comes from a shell blast in a war zone, or even a direct action from a bully. Just as love and truth are the hallmarks of the Father, so fear and untruth is the hallmark of the enemy – coming to us by untruthful words and unspiritual suggestions of others, personally or more generally.
If we don’t recycle the junk, there’s a build up of untruthful and anxious thoughts that result. More than we like to admit, we are constrained and limited by fear. More than we like to admit, we are not so much led, in a sure way by the Spirit of God, but pushed by thoughts and perceptions which are not true. Lies that have come from the father of lies.
How do we get out of that trap? The antidote is to practise and get better at living according to who our Father says we are, knowing without doubt that we are loved and accepted, and getting better at hearing the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. At times, as in most noisy situations, we have to say: “Be quiet!”
So how does that work? Declaring praise, which is declaring the truth about God, is the most powerful way of shutting down the spiritual ‘noise’ that assaults us. Through our words of praise – sing praise or speak praise – we can hear God better, through His word and His promptings in life’s walk, and get ourselves realigned with what He is saying and His leading.
This is following the Way of Jesus. He listened to His Father ( John 5:30 ) in His quiet times ( Mark 1:35 ), and was forthright in calling out what in others was untrue and was coming from the wrong source ( John 8:44-47 ). We can ask the same Holy Spirit to develop in us the ability to listen, and to hear with confidence.
Speaking out truth and praise, as in this prayer declaration, will adjust the tuning dial so that we hear God more clearly and experience His peace in the turmoil of life.
Lord God Almighty, as I come to you in Jesus, I take hold of Your command to “fear not”, as one redeemed through Jesus, called by name and belonging to You.
When I pass through threatening waters, I know You will be with me. When I have to go through rivers of difficulty, I know I can pass through without being overwhelmed. When I walk through the fire of oppression with you, I know I will not be burned.
You tell me that I am precious in Your sight, honoured by You, and that You love me.
You are the Lord who makes a way where there is no way: You even made a path through the sea. You make a level way in the rocky wilderness and provide springs of refreshment in the desert, so that I might continually declare Your praise.
You are always doing a new thing, and whether I perceive it or not, I praise You for it.
I praise Your goodness, Your greatness, Your might and majesty and dominion and power — and Your unconditional love and grace for me, Your child. You have said that You blot out my transgressions and will not remember my sins; I praise You again, Jesus, for going to the Cross for me and for Your righteousness which You have put on me, not that I deserve it, but out of Your heart of unconditional love and grace.
I thank you for Your promise to remember me and to hear my case as I reason with You on the basis of Your word and Your promises. I return Your word to You, waiting in expectation on You even as You wait, poised to be gracious, as You wait ready to show mercy, as You are positioned to serve out justice to all those who wait in expectation for You.
May I hear again Your voice, saying: “This is the way, walk in it,” as I journey through life with You, as I depend on You and listen to You.
I pray this for the honour and glory of Your Son Jesus, my Saviour and the Lord of my life. Amen.
We are called to bless. Our spoken words carry power, for good or for harm (James 3:9–11) and we not only have power, as God’s precious children, to speak blessing on His behalf, but our words carry authority in the heavenlies. What goes on the spiritual realm is by no means disconnected from what we see going on before our eyes. The good news is that we can influence it for good. Our words of blessing (or any prayer) are words which have power. Words which bless will always agree with God’s intention, which is to bless with His order and His love.
The principle of blessing prayer is an ancient one. It cuts across our pride in thinking we know what is best. It does not limit God to our perspective of what is needed. Instead, in blessing, we give God permission to do what is best in His sight, and in His love and grace, without the constraints of our limited understanding.
Just to say “I bless….” releases God’s best to a situation of person. However, as it is good to pray specific prayers which exercise faith, so it is good to speak specific blessings according to Scripture principles that apply generally.
This is not easy in a situation of difficulty or disagreement. That is why it is powerful. It is a choice to approach in the opposite spirit (see Luke 6:27–29) to our desire to control. It is a choice to exercise grace, which makes it a powerful ‘weapon’ of God’s good and higher purposes.
Paul, writing to the church in Rome, exhorts readers to “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” (Romans 12:14) Similar Peter writes “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called…” This echoes Jesus’ command to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you… [and] mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-29)
The prayer that follows can be used to bless the church you belong to, but equally you can adapt it to bless individuals. If you have experienced unpleasantness, keep short accounts with God and be quick to forgive, without condition. These words will help you to make that forgiveness complete by blessing the one who has offended.
There is a shorter version which we have used to bless church members, praying for them individually by name on a membership or attenders’ list. This is a great step towards revival!
Offeiriad and Bugail
Prayer of blessing
Lord Jesus, as I speak in Your name and authority, I recall the promise made to in Genesis 12:3 and the principle whereby those I bless, you will bless. I recall Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:18 that what we loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven. I choose to loose blessings today.
I bless Your church (BE SPECIFIC) and those called as shepherds of Your flock and as those appointed to responsibilities. I bless by name (NAME AS APPROPRIATE).
May they lead willingly, out of devotion to You and Your flock, serving and setting an example, according to 1 Peter 5:3.
I bless them with wisdom and revelation of You. I bless them, that the eyes of their hearts might be opened to know You more and more (Eph. 1:17–18);
I bless them with the impartation and growing experience of Your Love which puts out fear (1 John 4:18);
I bless them to be continually being filled with the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13) and wisdom and revelation and righteous discernment;
I bless them with a growing sense of Your kingdom purpose, and with freedom from confusion;
I bless them with good judgment.
I bless Your church, Your people and all who lead in any way to embrace the humility that brings your grace, and to be free to turn from the pride that blocks it.
I bless them with a readiness to hear your call to repentance and fresh direction at any time.
I bless their homes and their families, their health and their peace, their walk with you, and the gifts and ministry You have given them to serve You and Your church.
May Your church and its leaders be blessed, to bless those around them. In Your name and to Your glory, Jesus, I pray this. Amen.
Isaiah 30:1, 9-14 “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin…
…For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; 10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, 11 leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” 12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, 13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; 14 and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.” 15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
Sometimes a situation which is clearly, objectively unjust and wrong seems resistant to all the prayer and all the faith and all the agreement of those who faithfully persist in prayer for change.
What is happening? When it seems that nothing is happening, that’s the time that everything is happening.
In every culture, there are the insiders, the spokesmen who justify how it is at times of tension, and call it peace. Jeremiah recognised this at the time that Jerusalem, in the grip of ungodly control and pride, was about to fall and the people exiled:
Jeremiah 6:14 and 8:11
They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.
Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”
At these times, God will send His prophetic word of warning and it will be mocked by the pride of those who want to proclaim that everything is fine. That is how you know that something is about to collapse. But collapse, in God’s order, is not the end. Death precedes resurrection. Collapse precedes rebuilding in a new way. Mockery of truth and righteousness precedes a turning, and that spells salvation, in the broadest sense. It’s all about finding the path to repentance: “In returning and rest you shall be saved…”
Prayer and declaration
Father God, as I come to You in Jesus, Your child, redeemed only by Jesus’ sacrificial action on the Cross, I am deeply sorry for all the times I have done what I thought was right apart from the leading of Your Spirit, formed alliances that seemed good to me, and agreed with those who wanted to proclaim good-sounding things.
I am sorry for any time I have used oppression to suit my own ends, or been less than honest in my leading and dealing with others.
Now Lord, I come to you witnessing oppression and deception within Your church, and I call it iniquity. I am ashamed that we as Christians have allowed this and ashamed and sorry that I have at times gone along with it. I ask for Your forgiveness.
You say that the iniquity is like a crack in a high wall; it is starting to bulge and break. Let it come down! Let the fractures that are appearing break the controlling structure of this wall. Let it suddenly collapse, as in this prophetic picture. I add my effort to bringing it down.
Let the wall keeping people in division and preventing them following Your purposes, collapse and become rubble to be cleared away.
I want what You want – stated here, and in other prophetic words and pictures received by individuals. You want for Your humble people the salvation that comes by repentance, seeking You afresh in quietness and new trust.
And I turn to You afresh, Lord, and seek Your word and Your direction for me at this time – as I try to find my way through the ruins.
I give You glory that You are one who tears down, but only so that You can build up again. Glory to You, Lord Jesus Christ. I invite You to be Lord of Your church and Lord of all my involvement as I seek to serve You in it. Amen.
This is the shameful story of the unloving, controlling church leadership person who is called out as an example to others.
Regrettably, this behaviour is common in today’s church. Maybe you have experienced ungodly church leadership and you are wondering, as you should, ‘where is this in the Bible? How should I pray?’
Hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to you, as you read this passage and reflect on the commentary. A prayer based on this passage, which you can personalise, is offered below.
I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us.
When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the travelling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.
Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.
1:9 We know little about Diotrephes except from this letter which tells us (NIV) that he “loves to be first” – loving prominence and exercising authority in the church, sadly a tendency that was found even among Jesus’ disciples Mark 10:35–37. [He] “will not welcome us… so when I come I will call attention to what he is doing…” This probably means that Diotrephes rejected John’s request to provide hospitality for travelling preachers and did not welcome those who John commended. John will publicly expose and rebuke Diotrephes for “spreading malicious nonsense” about John and those John commended. John must show that he does not accept the shame that Diotrephes had heaped upon him.
1:11“anyone who does evil”: Diotrephes was condemned for his failure to live by the Christian rule of love (1 Jn 3:10–14). This was how Gaius could be sure that Diotrephes was not living according to the truth. This applies to all who refuse to accept the apostolic teaching about Jesus Christ and refuse to live in fellowship with others who do. 1:11“they do not know God”: Literally “anyone who does what is evil has not seen God”.
Diotrephes was full of pride and self-importance (cf. 1 Tim 3:6), motivated by selfish ambition.
Here is a parallel passage from John’s earlier letter which seems to echo Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount “By their fruits you will know them…”Matthew 7:15–20.
1 John 3:10 NLT So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.
Jesus, I come to the Father through You and in recognition of your self-sacrifice for me, I submit to Your Lordship and bring my own pride, independence, self-sufficiency and sense of superiority to the Cross. I bring my rebellion, to be put to death and also counted forgiven.
I bless and strengthen all who are seeking to live humbly and righteously.
I stand against evil accusations and every lying spirit and critical spirit at work. As Jesus proclaimed the truth that sets captives free, so I uphold truth that cancels the power of the lie. I declare the peace and order of the kingdom of God and the Spirit of God, over and against the confusion of enemy schemes.
I bless and protect all those who are in humble dependence on You, seeking Your Way, that they may not be put out of the church, directly or indirectly.
May all who are exercising ungodly control, or supporting ungodly control, be brought to repentance.
Jesus, I pray this in and through You that You might increase Your rule and reign. Amen.
How often we find ourselves in situations of confusion. Have a look around – the confusion will have its roots in thoughts or worlds or opinions which are objectively untrue, as viewed by the Holy Spirit.
God is truth – an absolute quality. On the other hand, the enemy is active in undermining truth with lies, untrue thoughts that are planted in our minds and which then find expression. Jesus told a group doing this to Him that their ‘father’ was the devil who was himself the father of lies.
So we need to think and speak truth – the complete antidote. How do we do this?
In declaring truth, as in the prayer that follows.
By sharing truth, from the word. Speak truth into those confused and compromised situations!
By asking the Holy Spirit to bring prophetic words of truth to cut through confusion and to reveal God’s heart and purpose.
This is God’s word – why would He not back it, as the God of truth? – but remember that He relies on us to speak it out and act on it. Truth comes as we hear it in the privacy of our quiet time, and then is made powerful as we courageously share what we have heard and let the word be that sharp, two-edged sword of truth and revelation.
Lord, I praise You as the One who is Love, who is Truth, who is the Mighty One, faithful and constant — as You reveal Yourself in Your word.
Hebrews 4:12 NIV For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Jer. 23:29 Your word is like a fire, a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.
Let Your word come! To me, to all Your people of prayer and peace, also to the hearing of all who need to hear.
Let Your prophetic people come forward to declare what they have received in the secret place, in their council with You.
Let Your sharp, penetrating word of truth come, in preaching, in the sacraments, in worship, in church meetings and leaders’ meetings, in prayer and prayer meetings, in groups and conversations, and personally to individuals, by the revelation of Your Holy Spirit to hearts and minds.
Let Your word of conviction cut through stubborn pride and hardness of heart; let Your word of truth demolish strongholds built on lies and arrogance.
Let Your word bring remorse, bring a turning to You, bring a season of repentance as some have already seen in prophetic pictures You have given them.
Let Your word be heard as Your voice calling Your church [generally and also be specific] back to You, in dependence on You, waiting on You.
Let Your word come that Jesus is Lord and that the Way of Jesus is everything that shows His Lordship, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.