Prayer and Power

18 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. (Luke 4:18-19)
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 ‘Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!’ 35 ‘Be quiet!’ Jesus said sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!’ 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area. 38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. 40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of illness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah. (Luke 4:33-41)
Yesterday, Luke was very clear with us about what it means for the Holy Spirit to overflow out of us to bless the people all around us. He explained that it means that we are courageously present with people to courageously proclaim God’s Word to them. Today, Luke stays really practical by explaining a bit further.

In verses 33-37, Luke tells us that when the Holy Spirit overflows from us it results in courageous prayer. Sometimes the work of the devil in the world is really obvious. When Jesus saw people who were afflicted by demons, he confronted those demons in prayer and they were forced to flee from him. Demons nowadays may be better camouflaged than they were in first-century Galilee, but they are still very much there. When you encounter one of them, you don’t need to find a pastor to help you. Putting them to flight is normal Christianity. When Jesus says in verse 35, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”, the Greek text says literally, “Be muzzled!” In other words, you are to speak to demons as you would speak to a stray dog or a fox that you found in your garden. You have authority over them.

These verses, however, are about a lot more than just casting out demons. They are about spotting the devil’s work in the world, whatever it looks like, and offering to intervene for people with God’s power in prayer. Perhaps your friend has lost their job. Well, since poverty is a work of the devil, you can tell them boldly: “God wants to help you, do you mind if I pray for you?” Perhaps your friend has suffered from family breakdown during lockdown. Their marriage seems unsaveable or their relationship with their children has become very strained. Well, since division is a work of the devil, you can say the same thing to them: “God wants to help you, do you mind if I pray for you?”
In verses 38-41, Luke tells us that when the Holy Spirit overflows from us he unleashes courageous power. Jesus hasn’t just entrusted us with God’s good news of spiritual healing, vital though that is. He has entrusted us with God’s good news of physical healing too. Let’s not accept a form of Christianity which denies its power. Let’s pray and fast and step out in faith together. It’s OK to have a go and fall flat on your face sometimes. What isn’t OK is allowing our fear to stop us from bringing healing to people through the power that the Lord has given us.

I wonder what Everyday Church will look like after Covid-19? Might it look like this – full of courageous prayer and courageous power towards the community around us?
  1. When did you last spot something of the devil’s work in the world and confront it in your prayers?
  2. When did you last offer to pray for somebody to be healed in Jesus’ name?
  3. What are you hoping that Everyday Church will look like as a church after Covid-19?
  4. Take a moment to read through the following list of statements. Spend time worshipping God that this is true of you through your faith in Jesus. Then spend time asking him to make this true of those on your ‘Lost List’.

In Christ I am significant.
I am the salt of the earth and the light of the world (see Matthew 5:13-14)
I am a branch of the true vine, Jesus, a channel of His life (see John 15:1-5)
I have been chosen and appointed by God to bear fruit (see John 15:16)
I am a personal, Spirit-empowered witness of Christ (see Acts 1:8)
I am a temple of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:16)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
I am a fellow worker with God (see 2 Corinthians 6:1)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (see Ephesians 2:6)
I am God's workmanship, created for good works (see Ephesians 2:10)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (see Ephesians 3:12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (see Philippians 4:13)
I am not the great "I Am", but by the grace of God I am what I am (see 1 Corinthians 15:10)
Father God, I thank you that you have entrusted me with your authority and power. I thank you that the devil and his demons cannot stand before me when I issue them commands in Jesus’ name. Please open my eyes to spot the devil’s work in the world and fill me with the courage I need to confront it, as Jesus did. I pray this in his name, Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were written by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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