|Dutch Sheets is an internationally known conference speaker, senior pastor of Springs Harvest Fellowship in Colorado Springs, and author of several books, including the bestselling Intercessory Prayer and How to Pray for Lost Loved Ones. Dutch and his wife, Ceci, and their two teenage daughters make their home in Colorado.
Authority in Prayer
By Dutch Sheets
Author & Minister
A few years ago I was given a double-billed cap with one bill pointing to the left, the other to the right. The words on the front of the cap, "I'm the leader, which way did they go?" are intended to prompt the obvious question, "Who, really, is in charge?" I loved the humor in spite of the not-so-subtle and obviously asinine aspersion it cast on my leadership skills.
That question in one form or another is asked throughout the world millions of times a day. I recall the day our dog, Mercedes--she's a Boxer, so ugly she needed a classy name--tried to assert her dominance over me. She was young, and the two of us were in a season of trying to establish who would rule our house. I was lying on the floor watching a football game, and she, very ceremoniously I might add, sauntered over and sat right on my chest. She then stuck her chest out, head up, and looked disdainfully at me out of the corner of her eye, glancing proudly at everyone else in the room. Easy to interpret: I'm in charge here; you will submit to me. (Maybe it was because I was wearing the cap.)
Mercedes is quite large, and at that time she was already full grown. Having her plop down on me was uncomfortable, not to mention humiliating. The guffaws of my wife and daughters didn't help matters much. Of course, girls do stick together. I took authority over the situation immediately, commanding Mercedes to get off of me. As I'm sure you'd assume, she obeyed her master--and within two or three minutes promptly removed herself! I won that power struggle and have been in charge ever since.
But it is not only people and their dogs that struggle with the "Who's in charge?" question. It is at the heart of all conflict on earth. The question was born in the heart of Lucifer when he tried to sit on God's chest in heaven, and it spread to earth when he passed the question on to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan spewed his poisonous deception, and our foreparents also tried to sit on God's chest. We humans have been wearing a double-billed cap ever since, thinking we're in charge, all the while stumbling around, wondering which way to go. It seems that at every level and in every arena of life, power struggles occur:
- men and women wrestle over control of relationships.
- parents and children struggle with who will rule the house.
- siblings quarrel over toys, clothing, tv, and a host of other issues.
- businesses connive to corner various consumer and investment markets.
- sports teams vie for first place.
- democrats and republicans strive for the domination of america.
- leaders of nations war over control of lands, people, and wealth.
Everybody wants to be in charge!
Who is ruling your world? I'm not referring to the big one, as in planet earth. At least not yet. I'm talking about the world you live in every day, your personal world. I'm speaking of your home, family, job, health, dog--well, okay, maybe not your dog. God doesn't intend that any outside force dominate you. He has given you jurisdiction over your life.
* * *
God began dealing with me a few years back about governing my world. And He wasn't referring to Washington, D.C. He was talking about the gray matter in my cranium--my thoughts as well as my house, my finances, my health, and so on. In ever-expanding circles He began to teach me about governing the world around me. God did actually want to use me to influence cities, states, and nations, and has since sent me to Washington dozens of times, to all fifty states on an amazing prayer assignment, and on numerous other prayer journeys.
I want to share with you what He has taught me. I'm certainly not implying that I have full understanding of this or any other aspect of truth. In fact, much of my learning has come through paradigm-stretching assignments and frustration-prompted questions. Desperation often births inspiration, like the day at the airport ...
I was about to break out in hives I was so tense. It was during a prayer tour to all fifty states that Chuck Pierce and I conducted in 2003–2004.
I left my home early, as I frequently did, to fly to another state where I would speak and lead large prayer gatherings that evening and the following morning. That day I wasn't flying my normal airline with which I had special "go to the short line, receive preferential treatment, and get your upgrade" status.
As I stood in the long "NO preferential treatment and NO upgrade" line of this other airline, things became more chaotic by the minute. I don't know if the employees were learning a new system, their computers were malfunctioning, or just what was happening. But everything was in total confusion. I wanted to pass out double-billed caps to all the workers and sit on somebody's chest!
I was already running a bit late, and after waiting twenty minutes with the line not moving, I was getting pretty uptight. My stomach was knotting up, and my anxiety level was rapidly increasing.
I wasn't the only one.
People started pushing their way to the front. Others were shouting from where they stood about not wanting to miss their flight, for the workers to hurry up, etc. And, believe it or not, the workers were beginning to become unnerved and belligerent also! I had never seen anything like it. One lady began to shout about not missing her plane and then began pushing others out of the way as she bullied her way toward the counter.
I remembered a story about my friend and Bible teacher John Dawson, who once had a frustrated and obnoxious lady behind him in an airport line. He decided to witness God's love to her by giving her his place in line. I prayed to receive the "John Dawson anointing" but it didn't work. By this time the "Dutch Sheets anointing" was too strong--she wasn't getting my position! (I'm just as Christlike as John, it's just that God has given me a more intense personality.)
My next thought was to beat her up, but I could see the headlines: "Preacher on Way to Prayer Meeting Pummels Lady in Airport." Then I took a closer look and decided I couldn't have whipped her anyway. She was big and mean--looked like someone from the WWE! We all backed out of her way as she marched forward.
By this time I had decided I would miss my flight and Chuck would have to do the meeting alone. Then in great desperation but no real faith, I decided to pray. "Lord, do something to stop this chaos and get me on my flight," I whispered.
As clearly as I have ever heard Him, the Holy Spirit responded, "You know this is all about you, don't you?"
"I didn't do anything," I replied in surprise. "Don't blame me!"
"This is all about Satan trying to hinder your assignment," I heard.
Remembering 1 Thessalonians 2:18: "We wanted to come to you-- I, Paul, more than once -- and yet Satan hindered us," I realized the possibility. All this confusion and anxiety is about me and my assignment? I thought. No way.
Yet I knew I was hearing the Spirit as He said, Yes, it is.
"Well, do something about it," I quietly whispered.
But He was trying to teach me something. No, you do something about it. Move in the authority I have given you and command the demonic hindrances of your assignment to be ineffective. Declare that you have favor and will get to your meeting on time.
I did as instructed and then heard, "Now, go over to your right, to the end of the counter, and wait." This ticket counter was on the end of a row next to a wide thoroughfare. I stood at the end of the counter which, naturally, ticketing agents didn't even use.
Almost immediately, though, an agent walked over and said kindly, "Can I help you, sir?"
"Yes, I'm on flight number so and so." I handed her my driver's license, she checked my luggage, gave me a boarding pass, and I was off to my gate--where I was immediately upgraded to first-class!
I was pretty pumped. "Whatever you're teaching me, I sure do want to learn it," I told the Lord. "This is nice."
* * *
God has given you jurisdiction over your world--under His authority, of course. He wants you, not sin, demonic powers, negative circumstances, or any other outside force to govern it. I realize this was an extraordinary experience, and I, like Paul, have been successfully hindered a few times.
Even so, God doesn't want the devil or any of his agents ever to sit on our chests.
The question of who's in control is a governmental issue. We often think of government only in its civil sense, but Webster's defines govern as "to direct and control; to regulate by authority; to influence; to direct; to restrain; to steer or regulate the course of; to exercise authority; to maintain the superiority."
To exercise authority is to govern. Praying with authority, therefore, is "governmental intercession." So in essence, this is a book about government--not politics, but prayer! Politicians and government officials legislate through man-made laws and rulings. We legislate through spiritual laws, principles, and activities.
One of Scripture's primary themes is governmental authority. The primary biblical struggle is over the questions "Who will rule humankind?" and "Who will rule the world?" We will see as we progress that the answer to the first determines the answer to the second--yes, in many ways the war is about you and me and who we listen to--we are going to help answer the question of who is in charge of the earth. In this earthly war over who is going to rule it, you and your double-billed cap are caught right in the middle!
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Excerpted from Authority in Prayer: Praying with Power and Purpose. © Dutch Sheets. Published by Bethany House Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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