August 2, 2008

Praying in Laodicea, Part 1

Praying in Laodicea is not easily defined, yet it is one of the major challenges faced by the Church in the Twenty-first Century. Before Laodicean praying can be practiced, an explanation of the meaning of Laodicea is required. Laodicea was an ancient town in western Asia Minor that was famous near the end of the First Century for its wealth and pleasures – yet in Biblical prophecy it is so much more.

John’s Documentation of Laodicea

When the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation, he was given very little opportunity for injecting his own perspective or personality. While worshiping alone in his Roman exile on the desolate island of Patmos, John encountered the startling appearance and clear vocal communication of the risen Lord. When he had seen Jesus in His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, John and the other disciples responded in fear and were incapable of communicating what they had seen (Matthew 17:6; Mark 9:6). But when John encountered Jesus on Patmos he fell at Jesus’ feet as though he were dead (Revelation 1:17). This “death experience” purged John of his normal emotional drives that would prevent his clear communication of Jesus’ overwhelming revelation of Himself, of His Church, and of the future of Israel and the nations. Although John described Jesus’ voice as a trumpet and the sound of many waters, he was able to understand the exact words when Jesus told him to write down the things that he heard and saw. In essence, much of the book of Revelation was literally dictated to John through Jesus’ audible voice.

Just as John was given strict parameters for writing the book of Revelation, the reader is given specific guidelines for understanding it. Jesus instructed John to write what he was seeing in a book and to send it to the seven churches of Asia Minor (Revelation 1:11). These churches were literal churches with literal blessings and literal problems that Jesus addressed in His comments. The reality of these blessings and problems has been repeated in churches throughout church history. The Holy Spirit has quickened Jesus’ words time and again with appropriate conviction and application to those churches. Therefore, we must conclude that the book of Revelation had both practical and perennial applications. However, five times John stated that the purpose of the book was that of prophecy (Revelation 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18, 19). The reader is not free to relegate all of the events in Revelation to that of history. Neither can he negate the understanding of future events in light of these writings until there is a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus gave these words to His Church to bless them and to equip them for His purposes. It has been said that when the end of history is fully understood, its impact radically affects the present.

In Revelation 1:19, Jesus told John to Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. The first chapter of the book of Revelation focuses on a description of Christ’s appearance to John (the things which thou hast seen). Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the Church Age, the time from Jesus’ founding of the church until His return for the Church (the things which are). And chapters 4 through 22 focus on the culmination of the history of Israel and the Gentile nations (that which is to come). Understanding how to pray during the Laodicean Church Age requires a thorough comprehension of Revelation 2 and 3.

While both the first and the last sections of the book of Revelation are interspersed with John’s observations and the exact words of the Lord, the section describing the Church Age is completely ictated by Jesus to John word for word. Jesus addresses only seven of the ten or more churches located in the western region of Asia Minor at that time. Excluded are Colosse (Colossians 1:2), Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13), and Troas (Acts 20:6,7). The character of these churches did not meet the prophetic intent of Jesus’ comments. The character of the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea are addressed by Jesus in a beautiful sense of symmetry. Each address begins with a unique revelation of Christ, followed by His recognition of the church’s works, His rebuke of its faults, His requirements for its correction, and finally His promise of reward for its overcomers. Interspersed in each address is a unique hint related to the return of Christ for that church. Two of the churches receive no rebuke from Jesus: Smyrna and Philadelphia. As a matter of fact, Jesus has no hesitancy to proclaim His special love for the church of Philadelphia, as well as His special distaste for the church of Laodicea. This preference has a powerful impact upon how we should pray as we live in Laodicea.

Perfect Your Praying In Laodicea

God’s Word Says:

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. (Revelation 1:13)
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last. (Revelation 1:17

Note: In this first chapter of Revelation, negative emotions are held in check for both Jesus and John. The control of Jesus’ negative emotion of anger in judgment is pictured as restrained by the words girt about the paps with a golden girdle. John became as dead to escape any natural emotional highjack of fear that would render him incapable of performing the task of writing the book of Revelation. Today scientists who study the brain chemistry of emotions have defined the primary three negative emotions: fear, anger, and hate. All other negative emotions are merely a variance of one of these three, much like all colors are merely a variance of the three primary colors. It is interesting to note that the emotional reaction of the first three sinners recorded in the Bible encompass these three primary negative emotions: Adam (fear), Cain (anger), and Lemech (hate).

Tell God:
As you approach Jesus’ revelation of church history, which of these negative emotions will likely hinder your desire to pray effectively in this Laodicean Church Age: fear and insecurity in combating the status quo; anger and frustration at the condition of the church; or hate and indignation that Laodicea, the church to which you belong, is considered less than perfect.

Ask God:
To grant through His Holy Spirit a girdle that will control these negative emotions.
To render you dead to all that would hinder His purpose of your praying effectively in Laodicea.

Christ's bondservant,
Rob Finley

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