God is limited by our prayer life.
Often, when people hear a narrative like the one I have just recounted, they ask:
“But why does it have to be this way? Why couldn’t God save that Sunday school superintendent without someone praying? And what if Sister Goodwin had not prayed?”
If no one had prayed in that situation, the man’s life would probably have been lost.
Someone might ask, “But if God wanted to deliver this man, why didn’t he do it anyway? After all, when Jesus rose from the dead, didn’t he say, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth’?
Doesn’t that mean that the head of the Church has authority on earth to do whatever he wants?”
Firstly, as soon as Jesus said, “…All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth,” he immediately delegated that authority on earth to the Church when he said, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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.'” (Matthew 28:18-19).
Repeatedly, the New Testament Scriptures use the analogy of the human body to describe the relationship between Jesus and the Church. He is the head, and we are his body, and the head does not act independently of the body.
For example, consider your own body for a moment. Your head can exercise authority only through your body. If you don’t believe me, try telling your head to get up and leave the room without the rest of your body!
Often, people try to appear humble by saying something like, “The Lord doesn’t need me, but I need Him.” This would be like saying, “My head doesn’t need my body, but my body needs my head.” No, the head and the body need each other to function. The same goes for the head of the Church and the body of Christ. Jesus needs his body to fulfill his will in this world, and the body of Christ indeed needs Jesus!
Secondly, I remember a statement I read early in my ministry in the writings of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church. Wesley made this statement: “It seems that God is limited by our prayer life. He cannot do anything for humanity unless someone asks Him.”
When I read that, I didn’t know if it was true or not. I searched the Scriptures, but I didn’t find a satisfying answer. Ten years later, I was reading another author on the subject of prayer and faith, and he made almost the same statement. This author said:
“It seems that God is limited by our prayer life. He cannot do anything for humanity if no one asks Him.” The author then added this reflection:
“We don’t know why.”
This last statement bothered me. I thought, “If what the author is saying is true, we should know why!”
I knew there was only one way to find the answer: by delving into the Word. The answer had to be there. As I studied and prayed, the Lord spoke to my heart: “Go back to the book of beginnings.” I knew he was referring to the book of Genesis. So, I began studying Genesis and saw that God had created the world and everything in it. He then created his man, Adam, and told him, “Adam, I give you dominion over all the works of my hands.”
One could say that Adam became, in a sense, “the god of this world.” In other words, God placed Adam in a position to rule and dominate this natural world (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalms 8). But then, Adam committed high treason against God by disobeying Him and sold himself to Satan. Adam did not have the moral right to do so, but he had the legal right. The Scriptures tell us that Satan then became the god of this world. In other words, Satan became the ruler of this fallen world system (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Then, in Ephesians 6:12, Paul describes Satan’s fallen kingdom. He also lists the hierarchy of Satan’s demonic forces:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
The Apostle John also confirmed that Satan is the god of this world system: “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). The devil has the right to stay here until the end of Adam’s lease. And the time when that will happen is drawing near!
The first Adam, who sold us into Satan’s dominion, was a man. Therefore, justice demanded that a man pay the price for man’s sin. This means that God, who is a spiritual being, could not intervene and cast out Satan because Adam had given Satan legal dominion over the earth. That’s why Satan could say to Jesus:
“I will give you all these kingdoms if you bow down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9).
This is why God sent Jesus to be born as a man to redeem man from Satan’s captivity. Yes, Jesus is also the divine Son of God, but he set aside his power and glory to be born as a human being (Phil. 2:7). It is as a human being that Jesus defeated Satan and redeemed us from the enemy’s hand. Jesus was tempted in every way just like us but did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). He died not as God but as a man. He never became a sinner, but he was made sin when our sins were laid on him so that we could be made righteous by God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
When the first Adam sinned, Satan legally took back Adam’s lease on the earth, and Satan therefore has the right to be here. This means that God cannot move in. If He did, Satan could accuse God of being unjust, and God must present Himself as a just God before the entire creation of the three worlds—Heaven, Earth, and Hell. That’s why He sent the second Adam, Jesus Christ, to earth as a man to redeem the authority that the first Adam had relinquished!
Once redemption was accomplished through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, he delegated the authority he had regained over Satan to His Body, the Church. When man prays and petitions God in faith about matters concerning this life, God intervenes to accomplish His will on earth. Jesus himself declared that he had given such authority to man:
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” Matthew 16:19.
Note that something is done for “whatever is” on the earth first before anything is done in Heaven! Today’s English version says, “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
Therefore, Jesus is the head, and we are his body. His authority flows through us, his Church, as we exercise our authority on this earth. Just as our head has no experience outside of our body, Jesus, our head, does not exercise His authority on this earth outside of His body, the Church.
I am convinced that as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have never fully realized the extent of our authority. From time to time, we catch a glimpse, and by the Spirit, we enter into a greater revelation of who we are in Christ, but none of us has consistently walked in the full realm of his authority. However, in these last days, God desires to raise up a company of believers who will do just that!
This text is an excerpt from the book “The Power of Speaking in Tongues: Everything you want to know about Speaking in Tongues” written by Kenneth Erwin Hagin.
We invite you to read the following article “Plead your case with the Father.”