The following is about prayer and identity. It will endeavor to explain some aspects of how prayer works and its connection to finding and walking in our true identity.
We are living in a world that is increasingly divided by our lack of understanding about who we are and our ultimate purpose for being in this earth, at this time. Identity Politics is a recurring phenomenon that is present in every nation of the world. It is my observation that most Christians are oblivious to the social and spiritual events surrounding them and to the power in prayer that they possess; as a consequence they remain asleep, lured into slumber by the pressures of life and the desire to receive release and to occupy their life with things they hope will produce happiness.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, they were not looking for a series of prayers that they could repeat but rather for a method that would obtain the results they witnessed in His life and ministry. Jesus answered them by saying, in this manner pray ye!
Our Father; When we pray we must pray from an understanding of who we are in relation to who God is. If He is our Father, then that makes us His sons and daughters and we therefore are all brothers and sisters of one another. This is a foundational point of beginning for all prayer that reaches the Father.
Now let me for a moment change from a scriptural to a scientific view of identity. In modern societies, we are often told to highlight our uniqueness, to magnify our cultural, social, religious and ethnic differences. Although there may be good reasons and some value in this, if we elevate these differences and give them superior position in our beliefs and actions to that of our divine relationship with the Father and our sisters and brothers we, I believe, greatly error and limit the effectiveness of our communication with the Father and with each other.
What we would call the enemy or the devil resides not in a superior imp with a long tail and pitchfork but in belief systems that are contrary to the truth of God. The enemy, therefore is found in any word contrary to God and the truth in the word that is God.
Let me raise the issue of race for a moment. Distinct races or for that matter sometimes the way we classify ethnic groups are a social construct rather than scientific fact. They are often used to create division and separation rather than unity or inclusion and most importantly they can be a direct attack on understanding our true identity and therefore the full extent of our power and destiny.
The fact is, is that we are all physically related to one another and to the degree that race exists at all, we all carry the genetics of every race. It is mathematically and genetically impossible to be otherwise. The bible, of course tells us this as well. According to its writings we are all descended from one set of parents and all related to Noah, of Noah’s Ark fame, who lived roughly 3,000 BC. Interestingly enough, many geneticists who study ancestral links state that if we date back far enough all living humans have many common ancestors and that the first of these common ancestors, from which all of us have sprung, probably lived three to four thousand years ago.
Through the study of genetics, many interesting facts have been discovered that shake modern prejudices. The discovery of Brazilian and Central American populations that had African ancestors and Ojibwa Indians, among others, living in the Great Lakes region that had Phoenician ancestors, both attest to the cross breading of peoples world-wide. Both of these predated Columbus by many hundreds of years.
So, were the Africans and Eurasians already in America before Columbus and the slave trade and religious oppression opened up a later migration of these groups? If so, is our understanding of “the races” a fact or is the concept of race a social construct that has been used and continues to be used, by some, to separate, isolate and dominate people? Some Americans would be surprised to find that genetic studies have shown that the majority of people descended from black slave populations in America have white ancestry in their lineage but most whites might be surprised that their white southern genetic pools contained African ancestry, in fact it is estimated that over six million American whites have 1% or more black DNA.
I took an ancestry DNA test a few years ago. Now tests sometimes contain inconsistencies and probably lack accuracy going back more than a few hundred years, yet it showed that I had DNA links to ancestors on every continent except Australia and South America. So, does that mean that I am a member of the white or Indian or Pacific Islander or Asian or African or some other designated race? If I am prejudiced against one of these groups am I not also prejudiced against myself? Someone might say, “yah but you have less than 1% Asian extraction so you can’t call yourself Asian.” Really who made that decision and if you take my great, great, great… Asian Grandmother out of my lineage, I would not exist. So, I identify with my Asian, as well as my other racial heritages, very significantly.
One further point about ancestry. Since we each have two parents and 4 grandparents and 8 great grandparents and 16 great, great grandparents; the number of ancestors in our lineage doubles every generation. If we go back only 10 generations or about 300 years we have over 1,000 ancestors but if we were to go back 20 generations, less than 1,000 years, we’d have over one million ancestors and in 30 generations over a billion ancestors and in 40 generations over one trillion ancestors, which is 10 times the estimated human population that has ever lived.
This is to demonstrate that the farther we go back the more common ancestors we have, so for many of us who have grown up in certain regions of the country or world we are much more closely related than we think having many common ancestors going back only a few hundred years. The point of this is not to say that we shouldn’t take pride in our heritage or celebrate our unique ethnic history. Rather it is to ask; if we allow our heritage, culture, social status or ethnicity to separate or elevate ourselves from each other and to judge others, who don’t fit into our human sub-group, as somehow evil or corrupt or of less value, do we not make it impossible to pray, “Our Father?” Once I am truly awakened to the Body of Christ my identity will not be found in my social position, ethnic background, financial status or in any historic or physical characteristic but only in the Father and in His sons and daughters. Unto this reality the enemy does not want me to awaken. As the Apostle Paul confirms that our Citizenship is not our earthly place of origin but our spiritual place; our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ
1 John 2:16 says, For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. Adam and Eve’s sin related to these three areas as well. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, (lust of flesh) and that it was pleasant to the eyes, (lust of the eyes) and a tree to be desired to make one wise, (pride of life) she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
These three areas cause all, at one time or another, to stumble. These are what was released in mankind through sin and what war with our ability as humans to receive and to give love to all. For these three cause in us three distinct spiritual abnormalities; rejection, isolation, and false identity, that short circuit love. The antidote being acceptance, connection and spiritual identity, which together are the seedbed for love.
If you look at people who are disgruntled with their marriage or employment or join cults, etc., you will usually find, in their life, a lack of acceptance, connection or spiritual identity which in turn breed rejection, isolation and false identity. This is what draws people to join antisocial groups whether they be the neo-Nazis, MS-13 or any number of the “New-Left” or “Ulta-right” groups.
Why would a well-educated young person leave a good paying job in a relatively peaceful neighborhood in Michigan to travel half way around the world, giving up human comforts and a stable future to put their life at risk by joining ISIS? What does ISIS offer its followers? Money? No. Material prosperity? No. A secure future? No. What they offer is acceptance, connection and identity. The Body of Christ that in sincerity and honesty learns to offer acceptance, connection and identity will turn the world upside down and be a harbinger of the manifested Kingdom of God.
I think this may be why Jesus started His discourse on prayer by saying “Our Father.” He knew in order for God’s love to be realized, He needed to awaken us to the acceptance, connection and identity found only in the Father.
Once He establishes this by saying, “Our Father,” He continues with, “Who art in Heaven.” The Father is not in the material dimension, except as we awaken to manifest Him, but He is only in the Heavenly, spiritual dimension. He is there, we are here. How do we allow Him to be both there and here? “Hallowed be thy Name,” is a way of saying, let your nature have preeminence! If your nature is released through your people then, “thy Kingdom come,” is our prayer. It is not our kingdom or an earthly kingdom but your Kingdome come! “Thy will be done as in heaven so in earth.” As things are in heaven is how they will be done in earth in the Kingdom. “Give us this day our daily bread,” There is different understanding for each day, a different solution for each set of daily opportunities. “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” Your forgiveness Father, allows our forgiveness. “And lead us not into temptation,” God has a way of doing things to fulfill His will that often conflict with our human understanding. “But deliver us from evil;” You take from us evil and replace it with life. “For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory now and forever,” that is the conclusion and restoration of the earth with heaven.
This was the method Jesus used to teach His disciples about prayer. It was a prayer of acceptance, connection and identity with the Father. Have you ever asked, how does prayer work? If I pray a lot do I get more answers? How do I know when I’ve prayed enough? If 100 people pray with me do I have a better chance of getting an answer than if only 10 pray with me? If God already knows everything why am I praying at all? Many questions like these often arise.
Let me offer this hypothesis. Prayer is all about the will of the Father as it relates to our will. The purpose of all prayer is to align our will with the will of the Father. We often pray our will and then say, “ok God now do it.” Sometimes we beg or plead with God. Sometimes we demand that He do something to keep a misunderstanding we may have about a promise in His word. Sometimes we pray a lot to show Him we are serious or that we deserve an answer.
These and many more things Christians commonly do. What if the purpose of all prayer is like Jesus said, “as in heaven so in earth?” Then what we would want to do is to discover His will in any request or supplication we might have and then, as Jesus demonstrated; proclaim that will. It would not be about convincing God to do anything but rather understanding what His will is and doing it. “Not my will but thine be done.”
Often, we need our understanding enlightened that we may comprehend what the will of God is. He often has to change our misconceptions and preconceptions.
Consider a few items from scripture that seem at odds with commonly held Christian beliefs. Jesus, “could do no miracle there, save He healed a few sick people.” Jesus said, “for unto you is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom but unto them it is not given…lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Or consider that God was pleased to have Jesus suffer, Is 53:10; That Jesus was delivered to death by the will of God, Acts 2:23; God caused Jesus to partake of all sin, I the sense He became sin for us, Lk 22:42; Before the twins were born God purposed to love Jacob and hate Esau, Rm 9:11-13 and in Ex 7:13 it is God who hardens Pharaoh’s heart. The apostle Paul also demonstrates that He had to understand the will of God before the thorn in His flesh was removed and that he left Trophimus in Miletus sick. All these speak of a different aspect of God’s will than that to which we may be normally accustomed.
These references show us that in understanding the will of God we need to see Him as He is not as we think Him to be.
Pray without ceasing, give thanks in everything and rejoice always. The will of God will produce three continuing things within us, prayer, thankfulness and joy. Our goal in prayer is the yielding of our will to His will. The enemy voice is the promotion of our will (the word that is contrary to God) but the will of God is found in the word that is the substance of what God is.
We need to see ourselves as sons and daughters of God, God being our Father. To identify ourselves first and foremost by any other standard is to miss His will and to fall victim to remaining asleep and existing in the word that is not of God. We have a great heritage. God has made out of one blood all that dwell upon the face of the earth, Acts 17:26. If we remain asleep to this truth then we will remain asleep to the truth of the Body of Christ and that we are the instrument to bring forth His will in the earth. Let us awaken to who we truly are!
Roger Roth Sr. is a ministry son of Dr. Mark Hanby. Together with his wife Karen, they are the set ministry of a local church in Northeastern Wisconsin, and oversee the Bloodline Network Newsletter. They consider it an honor to work with Dr. Hanby for many years, helping to oversee the ministry of Papa Mark's extended family—"The Father's Heart."
Any questions or comments please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org