By Josh Hunt
In this article I want to look at New Covenant prayer, exactly; what is it? And probably as equally precisely; what it is not! Well, let’s start by stating the obvious, what most Christians believe, even those shrouded with legalism: prayer is powerful. Now I want to clarify this by calling to remembrance the fact that it is actually the finished work of Jesus which is powerful, but prayer can be a way that faith is expressed, resulting in power. Of course this statement is only true if prayer is Spirit-led, and although many think they know what that means, the truth is that Spirit-led prayer is prayer that is in line with grace and is inspired and filled with the power of the Spirit and the outrageous love of our great Daddy God. So, saying that prayer is powerful and that it ought to be Spirit-led, let’s go a little bit deeper into what prayer actually is and how it works.
In order for us to understand new covenant prayer, we must know what underlines it, what its foundation is. Most Christians seem to stop at non-descript foundations; if you ask most believers what the foundations of the Christian life are, they will probably tell you things like; obedience, bible reading, prayer, and maybe giving. But those are all activities that can enjoyed. Truly though, the foundation of the Christian life, and indeed the foundation of prayer is Jesus! Jesus Christ and his Finished Work is the foundation of prayer and new covenant prayer is perfectly at home, and in-line with this foundation!
This foundation (Jesus) of course oozes with what Jesus came and accomplished through his incarnation, his death, resurrection, and ascension! This foundation oozes ‘it is finished!’, and although many are stuck in a mind-set which asks for more, true prayer remains to be enjoying that which we have already been given! While we are on the subject of asking for more, let me say; God has provided a holistic Salvation, a Salvation that is complete and contains every blessing we could ever need and imagine, so how can we seek that which we have been given? Asking for what Jesus has already provided is common among church folk, but is foreign to the apostle Paul; who boldly, consistently, reminded the church that they are complete and have been given everything that Jesus is and has! He even went as far as to say that we are ‘joint-heirs’ with Christ (See Romans 8:17)!
One of the most common misconceptions of prayer is that prayer is a weapon with which we ‘win’ (whatever the ‘win’ may be). However, the truth of Jesus (the foundation of prayer) tells us that in him we already have victory. In the new covenant we find again and again the tale that Jesus has won and we get to share his victory! Also, when Paul talks about our spiritual weapon and armour, he doesn’t mention prayer as a tool to victory in and of itself (see Ephesians 6), what he does mention however, are beliefs that are centred upon the Finished Work of Jesus! Prayer does not achieve, Jesus achieved!
Although prayer isn’t a work for us to use to move the divine into giving that which we lack (an impossibility as we have been given all that Jesus is and has), prayer is a channel which faith can use to enforce the victory that Jesus has already won! The Holy Spirit loves to love us in wonderful and spectacular ways, and show us our beauty in ways that are intimate and real. And, although this can take many different forms, it is being conscious of this, mainly the Spirit in us and around us, for us, and in love with us, that constitutes prayer. It is in this way that faith can operate in, and move through. Through this consciousness (and again, this could take many different shapes), grace, through faith is searching the deep things of God, and leading us to enjoy the wonderful life given to us in Jesus! As I have heard it said; ‘prayer is kissing our Father’s face’!
When we understand prayer as a way to simply be loved, and enjoy our Daddy’s nearness, we disconnect with ideas of prayer being hard, or as being a tool to attain something foreign or distant! Prayer being simply an enjoyment of Daddy God introduces us to the privilege of ‘want to’; we aren’t left having to pray in order to get God to grant us a good day, or to stop the devil coming after us, no, prayer becomes a thing of enjoyment; something we get to do (turning our attention to Daddy God), when we want to, in whatever way or form we like. Prayer does not take away from enjoying life, prayer is kissing God and being kissed in the midst of enjoying the fullness of life that he has already given us!
As I have already said, prayer can be a channel which faith uses to operate. New covenant prayer is turning and kissing our Daddy God, enjoying his love, and meditating on his promises, what’s more is that prayer can take many different forms. Some have heard that new covenant prayer is not striving or asking for what God has already given us, but its _______ [fill in the blank]. The problem that can happen with defining prayer by a function or outlet of prayer is that then it can be turned into a formula, and a formula is different than enjoying the living Holy Spirit. Prayer can look like some traditional outlets; commanding promises into existence, talking to God, speaking the word etc. But the heart of prayer is being loved and partnering with Holy Spirit. Faith may operate through prayer and it may look like the above, however, you could also enjoy your inheritance through methods that are personal to you (not that the above can’t be).
New covenant prayer is all about Jesus. New covenant prayer is all about you. There is no tension between the above statements because the focus of prayer is union; not attaining, but enjoying, and because it’s enjoying it becomes Spirit-led! The flavour of faith is rest, and so of course that should be the flavour of prayer! Nothing about prayer should be detached from the reality that we are in perfect union with Daddy God and have all that he is and has!
So, enjoy faith today! Enjoy your life! Don’t limit prayer to the confines of tradition! Enjoy the Spirit and be led into glorious and happy experience with the one who knows you, who adores and loves you!