The PRINCIPLES of Intercession Series 2000SPECIAL EDITION
Three Circles of Supplication
...Or, we could say,
Three Circles of Spiritual Warfare
FOR SOME TIME we have taught there are THREE CIRCLES OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE. With each circle there is the wonderful hope that the strength and grace of God's Kingdom can prevail. The Apostle Paul had some very powerful insight to give us regarding each one.
The FIRST CIRCLE of conflict is small, only large enough for "me." In it we fight our own private wars and deal with our inner struggles. Oswald Chambers, a man of God from the early Twentieth Century said, "Every man is a walking civil war." But, the hope of God's Kingdom will reach us in our private wars. We can discover He is on our side in all of our battles. He is with us to prevail over our weaknesses.
If we continue in our private circles without opening ourselves to the administration of God's Government, we may well have enough conflict and inner struggles to carry us all the way to our graves. There may never be a peaceful day, unless we sign an inner truce with some of the forces of evil that work in us and allow them to do their work unopposed. But, we're not going to even consider this. The wealth of God's glory is open to us and His Kingdom can be set up in us. We'll see this is so. The SECOND CIRCLE of supplication is at least double the size of the first. We discover this when we move from our private circle into the circle of someone else. Through our intercession before the Throne we can release into the circle of another person the strength and grace of the same Kingdom we are coming to know maybe even in a greater dimension than we have known. This is where intercession begins. It is what we are moving toward and will embrace in our discipline for this year.
We move into the THIRD CIRCLE when we enter the conflict with spiritual forces that rule large areas like villages, cities, states, and nations --or clans, corporations or institutions. We can also bring the disciplines of the second circle into this one by holding people who lead states, nations, clans, corporations, etc., before the Throne of God for the release of His strength and grace in them.
(WE BEGAN covering this third circle in our Ephesians Truth series. They. at least, point the way into this circle of spiritual warfare, with much more yet to say.)
IN THIS PRESENT SERIES of articles we are moving toward the discipline of the second circle. Before we move into it, however, let us consider, just briefly, something Paul had to say about each dimension.
FIRST, he had two amazing testimonies about his own personal war with weakness. One, in Romans 7:14-8:14, was about his battle with sin. Spend some time with this Romans passage. It is amazing as it presents the answer all of us can lay hold on. Paul's other testimony, in II Corinthians l2:l-l0, was about his battle with what he called a thorn in the flesh. This was an affliction that would have swallowed him up had he not found his answer in the grace of God. He even profited from the affliction to become a better minister of that grace to others. The revelation of his II Corinthians Epistle flows out of this.
SECOND, we learn of Paul's movement in the circle of praying for others when we read the Epistles he wrote from his Roman prison - Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Timothy and II Timothy. In these, the only shadow of a glimpse we have that he had a personal need was when he asked Timothy to bring the cloak that he left at Troas with Carpus and the books and parchments (II Timothy 4:13). His only personal request for prayer was that utterance might be given unto him to open his mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel (Ephesians 3:18). He left his own circle of personal need and made supplication for others. His prayers while in jail will guide us through this year of disciplined praying for others. We find these prayers for others in Ephesians 1:15-19; Eph 3:14-19; Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9.10.
THIRD, there is that powerful revelation Paul gives in Ephesians 6:10-18 that takes us into the large circle of spiritual war with principalities, powers, etc. This is the circle toward which we all move. From within it we will see the advancement of God's Kingdom in the earth.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. Some theologians believe his thorn was his poor eyesight. There are indications in his writings that he could hardly see. He said to the Galatians,... ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me (Galatians 4:15). We can't know for sure what was the thorn, however. We only perceive it was grievous.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice (that is, on three significant occasions), that it might depart from me. Besought is a strong word, from the Greek parakaléo. Basically it means "to call someone to one's aid." With a desperate cry and an earnest persistence, almost like the widow of our previous article, Paul cried, and cried, to the Lord, "Please help me! Please remove this grievous thing from me!"
9 And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Grace in any situation is wonderful. From the Greek cháris, it means what is beautiful, charming, beneficial. What a powerful work! For us who will hear it, whatever grievous thing rests upon us makes us a candidate for God's beautifying grace. The Lord will bring it, not send it, into our circle. He will take any affliction and bathe it with His healing grace. And, wonderfully, that is enough. The painful relationship, the terrible loss, the wearisome work, the frightful path and debilitation can all become bathed with a beauty and charm that can come only from God Himself. Into our circle His grace brings His Kingdom with its wisdom, provision, protection and strength, as well as and its healing and enabling power.
Note in this verse the Lord's special word to Paul about His strength being made perfect in weakness. Here, strength is from dúnamis, the same word the Lord Jesus used in Acts 1:8 when He said, . . ye shall receive power. It means the power of ability. Again, what a wonder! The Lord told him, "The ability to be and to do what I want you to do will come into it's fullness in your weakness." That from which Paul sought freedom was, indeed, the very platform from which he could be launched into the greater purpose God had for his life. See it! This same grace will work for you and me. Whatever is grievous can become a platform for something wonderful-if we but open ourselves to the grace God proffers us in it.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities (my physical afflictions and lack of strength), in reproaches (the outrage and insolence of violent persons), in necessities (the distressing obligations pressed upon me), in persecutions (the pursuit upon my life of ungodly persons), in distresses (the narrow and grievous circumstances that crowd in upon me) for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Why did Paul rejoice in all these things? Because in them -- or maybe through them, or maybe because of them -- he came to know the enabling grace of God and the power of Christ's Kingdom. Simply put, in his weakness he came to know the strength of Christ. And that was cause for rejoicing. When we too come to know this, our testimony becomes not so much, "I have been healed! Or, I have been set free from a terrible situation!" We begin, instead, to bear the testimony of Christ Himself Who has become our life and our strength. Let's face it. All of us have a battle with weakness. Even the strongest persons in the world continue with its encroachment upon them. So, whether it's the end of the age, or the end of life, that moves in for the strike, they both crowd us into finding answers that will stand in the final contest between weakness and strength. Personally, as I grow older, I see that the most important things in life are those that give me confidence with regard to the Kingdom of God. There alone can I find the unchallenged stability that will prevail over everything that would try and weaken me or make me fear.
The beauty of this second circle of war is that we can enter it without "interfering" in the other person's affairs, sometimes without their even being aware we're praying for them. But there is another beauty. When we enter the conflict for someone else, we make room for the Lord in our own conflicts. It may even be when we return to our own circles to nurse our wounds, we will find they have been healed. God's grace has prevailed and the battle that once dragged us down in defeat has become His. We have vacated our post to Him. What an exchange!
Few people want others to touch their inner man, but at the same time they all have a silent cry for help. Generally, when people have inner turmoil, they do not want advice or preaching, nor will they receive it. But the love, and faith, and care of an intercessor is different.
Of course, when someone needs a friend, loses a loved one, has an accident, needs some groceries or help with their children, we learn to go openly, with compassion and with a willingness to do what we can. The open works become evident; that we're praying for them may remain silent to their ears. But it will reap results.
Something happened to me several years ago that helped me learn the lesson about moving from my own circle of need. I was overcome with the sorrow and despair of having lost my wife and family. I thought it would destroy me. I didn't see how I could continue living. (I told of this in the article Putting Off the Old Man.) At one time during this trial, I needed someone who would listen to me with a little understanding and pray with me. I visited some friends, a couple whom we had received into our home many times when they were traveling in ministry and whom I felt would understand and sympathize with my pain.
As I talked with them of the loss that had come to me, the wife of the couple said to me, "You know, we can understand exactly how you feel. We just lost our dog."
I couldn't believe my ears. Had this sister in the Lord actually said this to me? Could she compare my loss with theirs? I could not respond and just became silent about my own hurt.
Later the Lord spoke to me, "I am bringing you to the place where you will not depend on others to minister to you. If you will leave the circle of your own hurt and take on the concern for someone else who may have an even lesser trouble than yours, I will take on your concern." That is a powerful exchange, and it is one of the greatest principles of living in Christ's Kingdom we can know. It is a secret that intercessors come to know.
However, we should never be beyond asking someone to pray with us about an inner conflict. Sometimes the breaking that comes with an open confession is useful to set us free from inner bondage. But as intercessors, we can learn that our dependency usually will reach unto the Lord Himself, while we become instruments for Him to reach and bring healing to others.
We have several things to learn from Paul about praying for others. Probably the most striking for us now is that his intercession went beneath the surface and worked toward releasing the character and strength of God's Kingdom into lives and situations. He had discovered this for himself and made supplication for others that they might know the same.
It seems we are more inclined to pray surface, or emergency, prayers.
If we have a prayer meeting and ask for requests, generally the needs
that present themselves are for sicknesses, finances, family problems,
trips, programs, and losses. We all seem to want immediate answers and
quick releases. But Paul's praying reached beneath the surface of life
to lay hold on things eternal and that pertained to God's Kingdom. He
asked for things that, if they find their release in us, will bring sickness
and loss and need over into the strength and grace of God. He sought release
and answers from a resource far beyond what the world affords us. Thus,
all he answers to his requests would hold in them the elements of miracles.
This meant he never regarded that the impossibility of any situation or
that the weakness of any life could prevail. He saw only that the power
and authority of God's grace and Kingdom would prevail.
By finding exactly what Paul prayed from within his prison will provide insight and inspiration for us who sometimes feel enclosed in our own prisons and who don't know how or what to pray.
We ask you now to move out of your own circle of need and enter the circles of others. It is not a thing too difficult to do. Let the ones you take on become as many you can bear. First, embrace in prayer the people you're inclined to worry about. Let your place of worry be turned into a place of supplication on their behalf. Then draw into your circle as many others as you feel you can hold in intercession. It would be good to make a list. Call it your "prayer list". With some, you can communicate what you are praying and ask them to agree with you. This is always better.
Then, let us learn from Paul what he prayed. It will become part of a divine instruction for us to show us what to pray. In the four significant passages that lay out his prayers of intercession, Paul never mentioned sicknesses or personal needs. He never brought it before the Lord that the people might be having financial difficulties or agonizing circumstances from which they should be released. Instead, he reached for the power, character and qualities of God's Kingdom and prayed for their release. It was all material for miracles.
We can see in the four passages cited earlier the substance of twelve prayers. We will stretch these over a year, taking a month with each one. In doing this, we will see the power and effectiveness of what we can call "soaking prayer."
Become very familiar with the four passages. Read them in their context. Study them, memorize them, learn to meditate on them and incorporate them into your praying, both for yourself and for the persons you are ready to embrace in your circle of intercession. While these are prayers of intercession and reveal the desire we can hold for others, there is nothing to rule out that they can be supplications for ourselves. Remember the widow of Luke 18 and then, the friend of Luke 11. Because Paul had laid hold on for himself what these passages lay out, he knew that the qualities for which he made the supplications could find release in others. As we spend time praying along the lines of these prayers-generally every day, sometimes without ceasing during the day-we will find that the very discipline around which each revolves will begin to work its way into our own lives. Just handling the word in our hearts and using it in prayer will release its power in us.
The first four months come from Ephesians 1:15-19.January is WISDOM month. We pray ...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him-Ephesians1:17.
February is HOPE month. We pray that ...the eyes of your understanding will be enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling-Ephesians1:18.
March is VALUE month. We pray that the eyes of your understanding will be enlightened; that ye may know...what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints-Ephesians1:18.
April is POWER month. We pray that the eyes of your understanding will be enlightened; that ye may know... what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe-Eph 1:18,19.
The next three months come from Ephesians 3:14-19.
May is INNER STRENGTH month. We pray ...that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened wfth might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith-Ephesians 3:16,17.
June is LOVE month. We pray that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge-Ephesians 3:17-19.
July is FULLNESS month. We pray ...that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God-Ephesians3:19.
The next three months come from Philippians 1:9.10.
August is DISCERNMENT month. We pray ...that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment-Philippians1:9
September is the month of RIGHT CHOICES. We pray ...that ye may approve thing~ that are excellent- Philippians1:10.
October is SINCERITY month. We pray ...that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ- Philippians1:10.
The next two months come from Colossians 1:9.10.
November is UNDERSTANDING month. We pray ...that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual
© Berean Ministries
Leaving the Circle
of Our Private War
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