A couple of years ago, a friend and coach shared a daily prayer ritual with me that I’ve adopted and morphed into my own practice and I love how it focuses my attention, sharpens my perspective as I pray. One of the elements in the prayer has to do with authority.
There seems to be this back and forth in Scripture, two extremes that we bounce off of. On one extreme, we have Jesus praising the tax collector who beats his chest, eyes downcast, ‘Have mercy on me, a sinner.’ We read the Psalmist write that God won’t despise a broken spirit and contrite heart. Mary sings about how the LORD has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. James and Peter both admonish the church to humble themselves and to let God be the one to lift them up.
OK, but we bear his Image. We are baptized into his Name. He is IN us. His Spirit abides in us. We are co-heirs, sons and daughters, friends of Jesus. We are commissioned by and with the authority given to Jesus. It harks back to the beginning of the story when Adam was given authority to care, to tend, to name, a calling to subdue, to have dominion. It paints a picture that we get a glimpse of in the Parable of the Talents - we are called upon to steward well what He gives us.
How do we live with and within these extremes? How do we hold in one hand humility without it becoming pride and how do we hold in the other authority without it becoming self-centered or manipulative. Maybe, it’s not a problem to be solved, but a tension to manage.
- So we start in a kneeling posture and we pray: Father, apart from you, I am nothing. I don’t deserve your love or grace. Every inclination of my flesh is toward sin and power and criticism, hypocrisy and violence.
- Then we place one foot down and lean on one knee and we pray: thank you Father for Jesus, for the sacrifice that is enough, that pays the price for my freedom. Thank you that because of Him, I am worthy, I am enough, that there is no condemnation. Thank you for designing me, for breathing Life into me.
- Then we stand on two feet and straighten our backs and we acknowledge with arms open: Father, as you gave all authority to your Son, as his emissary, I operate under and within that authority. His name and banner are over me. All that I have comes from him and belongs to him, but is placed in my hands and in my care for me to tend, care for, shepherd and grow. I bring my story, my pain, my loss, my gain, my possessions, my territory, my relationships, my reputation, my skills, my abilities, my legacy under your canopy, under your authority and operate today with freedom, joy and power.
- Finally, we begin walking, moving and as we go, we pray: To the ends of the earth and to the end of the age, you are with me. We are co-operators, co-heirs, co-laborers. We are members of a Beautiful Bride. We are banner wavers and witness bearers. In humility, we bring authority to every interaction, every conversation, every decision, every relationship, every opportunity, every day, every night, every meal, every embrace, every conflict. The Kingdom expands and arrives as we move, because the Kingdom of Heaven is in us.