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4 Characteristics of Effective TeachingOctober 5, 2022
Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is within us (see Luke 17:21). We must learn how to release this kingdom into the world around us. How can we experience the reality of an open heaven over our lives, churches, and regions? How can we become a gate of heaven in the earth, releasing the resources of heaven wherever we go? There is certainly no formula for this, but there are a few keys for seeing open heavens become a reality. The following is an excerpt from my book Restoring the Ministry of Jesus which details what it will take to see heaven invade earth.
Prayer is one of the main vehicles that God has chosen to use in order to bring heaven to earth. In Luke’s version of Jesus’ baptism, it highlights the fact that the heavens were opened to Jesus while He prayed (see Luke 3:21). We also see that it was in the context of constant corporate prayer that the Holy Spirit was first poured out on the day of Pentecost. The Bible says that as the disciples waited for the promised outpouring, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1:14).
Church history shows that this is the pattern of every revival—constant prayer and then an outpouring of the Spirit. But in studying the history of past revivals, I have also noticed that the type of prayer that preceded outpourings of the Holy Spirit has been at a level and quality that few seem to be familiar with today. This type of prayer is characterized by almost unbearable prayer burdens, tears, groans, and travail. It is also accompanied by stubborn faith, unwavering persistence until the promise is fulfilled, and long seasons of waiting on the Lord. It reminds me of Elijah laboring in prayer until the heavens opened and poured out rain after years of drought (see 1 Kings 18:41-46). Make no mistake: revival is not birthed through casual prayer. The heavens don’t open over the indifferent. We must press in with tenacity and faith until the outpouring comes.
The church is called to be a house of prayer, and when we give ourselves to prayer, we release the kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven.” The practice of waiting on the Lord in prayer has become almost extinct in our day. We could do with far fewer planning meetings and many more prayer meetings, fewer strategy sessions and more seeking the face of God. We need intercession not just organization. Only the praying church can accurately be called the house of God, for His house is a house of prayer (see Matthew 21:13). To be the gate of heaven we must be the house of God, and to be the house of God, we must be a praying people. The Holy Spirit dwells and moves only among a people of prayer.
Not only is corporate prayer a way to release heaven on earth, but individual prayer is also a means for the kingdom to come. Prayer in the context of ministering to another person fulfills this purpose as well. When you pray over someone, whether inside the church or outside of it, you are giving the Holy Spirit a chance to move in a supernatural way. Every time you ask to pray for someone who needs healing for example, the Healer has an opportunity to establish His will.
Consecration and Obedience
Another key for open heavens is consecration and obedience. When Jesus stepped into the waters of baptism, it was an act of obedience to the Father. It was also a step toward the cross as He allowed Himself to be identified with sinful humanity. Jesus was without sin, but He was baptized along with sinners who were coming to confess and repent of sin. From this moment on, His life dramatically changed. Normal life was over, and He was moment by moment living to fulfill the Father’s will in a new way. It was an act of complete consecration to God. His life was not His own.
Full consecration leads to fullness of the Spirit. It was Mary of Bethany going all in that released the fragrance in the room. As we give ourselves completely to Jesus, the fragrance of heaven will flow out of our lives. And when we step out in obedience to the commands of God, dramatic results can occur. Simple acts of obedience can release awesome acts of power. When Moses lifted up his staff in obedience to God, the Red Sea parted. When Joshua and his army marched around Jericho and then shouted at the top of their lungs, the walls crumbled to the ground. When Peter and his fishing partners obeyed the command of Jesus to launch out to the deep and let the nets down, so many fish were caught that the boat almost sank.
There have been times in deliverance sessions where small acts of obedience released the presence and power of God in profound ways. Once when a woman and I were ministering to a lady, the woman who was ministering with me felt led to give the one we were praying for a hug. She asked permission and then hugged her. As soon as she did, something broke. The Holy Spirit moved in a profound way and tears began to flow. A powerful deliverance took place that launched her forward into her walk with God. It’s not that giving hugs is a formula for seeing people set free, it is that obeying the voice of God releases His presence and power. I could give many other similar examples.
When we step out in obedience to the commands of God—both in the Scripture and from the voice of the Holy Spirit—God’s kingdom is released in the earth.
The final key I will mention is the sharing of testimonies. When many Christians hear the word testimony, they usually think of the story of how a person was saved. This is one example of a testimony but certainly not the only one. A testimony is to declare what God has done. It can be for salvation, healing, provision, deliverance, protection, and so forth. We should always have fresh testimonies of the goodness and power of God in our lives.
Releasing testimonies is powerful for a few reasons. For one, you cannot argue with a testimony. When Jesus healed a man who was born blind, the Pharisees got upset, because the miracle took place on the Sabbath. As they questioned the blind man he said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). You can’t argue with that! Testifying to what God has done shows the world that God is real and cuts through people’s arguments.
Testimonies are also powerful in that within each testimony is an invitation for others to step into what God has already done. When you testify about salvation, you invite others to be saved. When you testify about deliverance, you invite others to be set free. Testimonies ignite faith in others, and God delights to reproduce the miracle.
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Everywhere Jesus went, people were miraculously healed, set free from evil spirits, and transformed by powerful teaching and preaching. Restoring the Ministry of Jesus calls us back to the foundation of walking like Jesus walked and doing what Jesus did. It shows how to bridge the gap from our current condition to walking in our inheritance in Christ. As you read, your heart will be stirred to seek God’s face and go after all that He has for you and the church today!