In my last two posts I wrote about praying for Israel. Now, whether we are praying for Israel, a family member or our neighbour our effectiveness is governed by our authority. If we have been born again we have been given spiritual authority and have a responsibility to use it wisely.
4 Where the word of a king is, there is power; And who may say to him, “What are you doing?” Ecclesiastes 8:4 (NKJV)
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV)
While we have been given authority, our authority is only found within the sphere of our responsibility. Paul said it this way.
13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you. 2 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
Paul recognized that he had authority and used it. Yet he also recognized that it was limited. A reading through the book of Acts shows that while Paul went to Jerusalem or more than one occasion he never tried to exercise authority there as it went beyond his sphere.
As a practical example, prior to retirement my last jobs in the public service, in a Ministry, then in a Legislative Office, were Provincial in scope. That meant I had authority to make decisions on that level. However, I had no authority to make decisions related to neighbouring provinces or territories. When I led a team coordinating a national conference and people from across the country came I had authority in relation to other jurisdictions because it had been delegated to me by the national steering committee. However my authority extended only to decisions related to the conference. Now, I obviously have no authority in any of these matters given I am retired.
Spiritually the same principle holds. Jesus delegated all of us to make disciples so we can speak into the lives of others to accomplish that task. That is an authority to pray for, encourage and build up. It is not an authority over. Though I don’t know everyone who reads what I write, I am using the authority Jesus has given me to point others to a deeper relationship with Him. I do it through teaching because that is a calling on my life. There are people that I uphold in intercession at their request. Their request gives me specific authority to stand in the gap for them and to speak into their lives. If someone asks me to pray for person named Fred I can pray for them but I have no authority to speak into their lives in any authoritative way without their permission.
So, we have a general authority from Jesus for specific tasks and at times we have specific authority for specific tasks. A few days prior to writing this I did some teaching at our local House of Prayer. I am on the board and was asked by the Director to deliver some teaching on a specific subject. Yet I taught under the authority of the Director and had he placed limitations on the subject area I would have had no authority to teach beyond those limits.
In our individualistic western culture I don’t think that we have a good grasp of the relationship between having authority and embracing submission to authority. I will explore that further in my next post.