The Lord sat Ezekiel down in the middle of a valley full of human bones and used him to resurrect the bones into a living and mighty army. To accomplish this, Ezekiel did two things as God’s instrument. He spoke to God about the bones; and he spoke to the bones about God (Ezek. 37:4ff.).
In our war with the powers of darkness we need only two weapons: the Word of God, and prayer and petition(Eph. 6:17-18a). It is the application of the Word of God and fervent prayer that are our “divinely powerful[weapons]for the destruction of fortresses [by which] we are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”(2 Cor. 10:4-5). Without the Word of God and prayer, Christian reconstruction — rebuilding our society as a Christian society — cannot take place; but with them nothing can stop it, for “the fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (Jas. 5:16).
God does not bless prayerless efforts at Christian reconstruction, motivated not by faith in God but by faith in self and pride in one’s intellectual and financial resources. This kind of pride always comes before destruction, not before reconstruction.
The choice before us, then, is not whether time should be spent in prayer for America or actively trying to rebuild Christendom in America. It must be both. As Rushdoony taught us: “Prayer is not a substitute for action but its accompaniment.”1
When we understand the following three fundamental truths about prayer we will see why it is so necessary to the work of Christian reconstruction.
The Purpose of Prayer
Ezekiel 36:37-38 reveals the purpose of prayer in the plan of God:
Thus says the Lord God, “This also I will let the house of Israel ask Me to do for them: I will increase their men like a flock. Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”
These verses tell of promised blessings Christ would bring in the New Covenant. The imagery he uses, which Old Testament believers could understand, is that of the flocks of sacrificial sheep filling Jerusalem during the three high feasts of Israel, Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The promise is that someday the cities of God’s people, wasted by sin and judgment, will be restored under Christ and filled with multitudes of godly men.
Here is how prayer is related to this promise. The Lord, according to the good pleasure of His will, makes a promise to His people. This revealed promise of God will work itself out in the lives of His people through their prayers for its fulfillment. That prayer is ordained by God as the means to obtain His ordained promise is announced with the same certainty as the promise itself. The purpose of the promise received by prayer is that the world will know that God is the Lord.
The purpose of prayer, then, is thoroughly God-centered, concerned with God’s glory, God’s claims, God’s rights, God’s promises, and God’s dominion. That purpose is to praise God and to petition Him to give us what He has promised, so that all people will know that He is the Lord. God has decreed prayer as a means of accomplishing His purposes, yet He is not limited by or dependent upon our prayers. God has determined that there are some things He will not do for His people except through their prayers. Having determined to bless a person or nation, God gives His people the Spirit of prayer, moving them to ask for and seek that blessing (Zech. 12:10).
The Promise of Prayer
Jesus made us two phenomenal promises in John 14:12-14:
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall He do; because I go to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
His point is that believers in Jesus will be enabled to accomplish greater things in God’s sight than all the miracles Jesus performed during His earthly life; and whatever believers in Jesus pray for in His name, He will do it for the glory of God.
These two promises hinge upon Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. This means that the greater worksresult from the ascension of Christ and the sending forth of His Holy Spirit on Pentecost. In Christ’s opinion, the conversion of 3,000 sinners in the advance of Christ’s Kingdom, beginning on the Day of Pentecost, is a “greater work” than all the miracles Jesus performed. Jesus will work through His church to bring about these greater works of massive conversions of people and societies until all opposition to Him has been put down, and the nations of the earth beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Here is how the two promises dovetail. Praying in Jesus’ name is the way to the greater works than Jesus’ miracles. Greater works than Jesus’ miracles come about by asking God for anything in the name of Jesus! That is the astounding promise Christ holds out for us to believe and practice.
In His high-priestly prayer in John 17:6-17, Jesus uses several words interchangeably that help us understand what He meant by praying in His name. He speaks of manifesting His name, and that His disciples have kept the word of the Father. He speaks of giving us God’s words, and says that His word is truth. Therefore, Jesus’ point is this: whatever we ask God for according to His revealed truth in the written Word of God, God will give us. This is how the apostle John interpreted Jesus’ promise in 1 John 5:14-15: “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
The Future Orientation of Prayer
Jesus gave us a prayer, the first three petitions of which are: “Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” These three petitions are closely connected and future-oriented. As Rushdoony said, “To hallow God’s name means to work for His Kingdom and to seek the establishment of His will on earth even as it prevails in heaven…. It is our bounded duty to work that the kingdoms of this world might indeed become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.”2 Therefore we pray these petitions and work out these petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, expecting Jesus to answer the petitions He Himself taught us to pray.
As John R.W. Stott wrote, “Prayer is not a convenient device for imposing our will upon God, or bending His will to ours, but the prescribed way of subordinating our will to His. It is by prayer that we seek God’s will, embrace it and align ourselves with it. Every true prayer is a variation on the theme: Thy will be done.”3
2. Ibid., 1211.
3. John R. W. Stott, The Epistles of John: An Introduction and Commentary ( Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers), 185.