And it has become so apparent to me from all my study of the etymology of the word Ekklesia, that prayer is a dynamic part of our duties as the "legislative authority of God's government on earth". I would like to give you a quote from Dan Briggs's important and revelatory book, Ekklesia Rising...
"God was very specific with names all throughout Scripture, both for Himself and others. Names have meaning. Words have meaning. He even changed people's names to signify a change in their nature. [Think Abram to Abraham; Sarai to Sarah; Jacob to Israel]. Think of it this way: what if the Marines were called ballerinas, and vice-versa? Instead of Semper Fidelis -- a motto reflecting the faithfulness, courage and sacrifice of men who are "first to fight" -- what if their motto was Motu Camena, which is "poetry in motion"? Does it matter that a bear is a bear, and a lamb is a lamb?
These are not cheeky, semantic questions. Massive consequences hinge on the meaning and intent of this word [ekklesia]. Jesus promised to build something. What is it? Do we know? Is it okay if our replacement word [church] is "close enough"? My friends, I appeal to you, do not stiffen your necks in pride or act like this doesn't matter. Tradition and inculcation [instilling by persistent instruction] have bred a deeply passive familiarity, yet Jesus used a specific word with specific connotations... Can we afford to be casual about this? Do we value our cherished, traditional, substitute word above His word? For generations, the answer has been yes. Our negligence has created a false identity and misguided mission, and we don't even know it".
Wow! That stings, doesn't it? Yet, it is so true. We accept what we have been taught without questioning it. And it deeply saddens me to realize that not many Christians actually read their Bibles, let alone study it in depth. There is a richness to the Word when you study the history behind it and understand the Hebrew meanings of words that give new revelation to our English mis-translations. And far too many Christians are busy seeking out the "feel good" passages -- often out of context -- and are content to stay entrenched in that spot, rather than read the "hard" passages and try to obtain the whole counsel of God.
Our responsibilities as an ekklesia have to do with many things, but as Dean Briggs writes, "... perhaps most of all, [it has to do with] authority in prayer. The people of God must begin to pray. Not small, little polite prayers. Not even ten minutes of prayer. Do you read the headlines? The earth is groaning, society is tottering, darkness is exalting itself like never before. Who among the people of God will rise in the Spirit to challenge the rising tide? Supplication, adoration, confession and thanksgiving are regular parts of a prayer diet, but contending prayer must dramatically increase! Day and night, prayer must shake the earth. When we realize we are the ekklesia, a "Prayerdigm Shift" is inevitable because the word itself properly aligns our identity with government and prayer as Jesus intended. There is power in this word ekklesia to correct our function on earth".
He is correct! On the big scale of things, our prayers have not been effective! And I am not afraid to say that most people don't know how to pray to get the results they seek! They don't speak to God with any power. Oh, I've heard many give fine, eloquent, and long prayers full of doctrinal truths, but they aren't shaking heaven and earth to change attitudes or actions, let alone paradigms.
What Jesus intended to build was supposed to look different from the world; it was to be an "authority figure", so to speak -- an entity that governed according to God's Word and in compliance with His Nature and Character. What He intended was that those who believed in Him and "saw" and "entered" the Kingdom would create a culture that the rest of the world yearned to imitate. Do you see that happening? Instead, the devil has turned it upside down, and the Church is looking more and more like the culture of the world! How does it govern -- with God's perspective or the world's?
The Church is in covenantal agreement with the world government system and the god of this world (Satan) through its 501(c)3 tax exempt status. This, in essence, finds the Church serving two masters: Jehovah and Mammon. It allows the world government system to override God's government system [the Kingdom] and has resulted in a powerless Church that won't speak or act [out of fear] on many of the practices that offend and grieve God: abortion; same-sex marriage; the erosion of marriage; children born out of wedlock; ungodly legislation; homosexual priests; and leaders involved in adultery, pornography and various addictions. What was once despised by God is now accepted and tolerated.
Please, let me be very clear about something ... I do not want the Body of Christ to become legalistic, and unable to extend God's love, grace, and mercy to those who miss the mark! The Bible gives us plenty of examples of Jesus meeting those who had sin in their lives right where they were, and loving them. But then He always told them "to go and sin no more". Are we really following His example if we show the sinner the love and mercy of Christ [which we must!], yet we don't give them His command to acknowledge the sin and change the way they are living?
Do we pray a comfortable prayer that they will see the error of their ways, or that Jesus will set them free from their sin -- or do we storm Heaven with our prayers of authority and power to break off the ungodly attachments and return them to a discipline of righteousness? Isn't that our real function on earth -- to love as He loved; to show show grace and mercy as He did; and to pray effective and earthly-kingdom shattering prayers, just as He did?
Our Lord shattered the religious system of the Sanhedrin and the Roman kingdom's government system. And He did it by consistent, persistent, and intentional time with the Father in both prayer and fasting. Isn't it time we got serious about taking a real hard look at what that means for us? Jesus Christ changed the world 2,000 years ago and asked us to continue His work. He brought the Kingdom government of Heaven and He deliberately challenged the kingdom governments of the earth. Where can we wage that same challenge? Let's start with assertive prayer over any areas of our own lives that are submissive to the world system. Once we are aligned with Heaven's system, then we can affect our families, our communities, our nation, and the world. Let's shake Heaven and Earth with prayers that make a difference!
Acts 16:25-26 Paul and Silas, undaunted, prayed in the middle of the night and sang songs of praise to God, while all the other prisoners listened to their worship. Suddenly, a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. All at once every prison door flung open and the chains of all the prisoners came loose.