Breaking through to the Heavenlies
From a Sermon
By Paul Ravenhill
"But thou, when thou prayest,..."
It's hard to talk about prayer -- there is a tendency to absorb so much with our minds that It hinders our spirits grasping the reality that is beyond the surface.
It's so easy to have the letter about the Spirit and forget that the letter,
even if it's about the Spirit, is not the Spirit.
The inner essence is beyond the letter, beyond the feelings,
beyond the mind, beyond the intellect.
The Spiritual essence gives life.
In our scripture Jesus, responding to His disciple's request, is giving them a way to pray, and He says "after this manner."
It's not the words, it's something beyond the words
It's the whole concept,
It's the spirit,
It's the attitude,
It's the steps of prayer that are laid down here.
The Lord has been taking me back to some things that I thought I knew well and showing me that they were not exactly what I thought they were. Prayer is one of those things. The Lord's prayer is one of those prayers.
It's easy to look at it, and as Tozer said, "explain the obvious." Maybe we have to start there, but we have to go beyond that.
It's the beginning of the relationship. I do not think we can overemphasize this. He has to be our Father. God never deals with us in a cold relationship. There has to be something more than that. There has to be something living; there has to be something warm -- a love relationship, a knowledge of who He is
The One with whom I have relationship,
The One who is faithful, with the immensity of heaven's fullness,
The One who is faithful and true to His purpose in my life.
As He leads me through places that my mind can't understand. As He leads me through places where my feelings cannot follow - and if He is going to lead me He is going to lead me through all those places - then this must undergird.
There are two things we need to know about God:
One, that He loves us,
Two, that He understands us.
He is faithful, He is true - He is our Father.
Some people go all through life understanding in their mind, and it never ever filters down to their heart.
Never becomes something that upholds,
Never transmits light from within upon the rest of our circumstances,
upon the rest of our limitations, upon the rest of our battles.
We must see past the natural.
A missionary with lots of years of experience, told me, "Paul, you need to see beyond the second causes. You need to see the spiritual. There is nothing apart from the spiritual. Everything is spiritual."
Beyond a hard meeting, beyond a rebellious child, beyond a difficult work situation, beyond all the earthly things, we need to see the spiritual.
Beyond even the need, and the lack, and the want, and the supply, and all those things, we need to see the spiritual.
Beyond all things there is a spiritual reason.
"The kingdoms of this world," it says at the end of the Bible, "are become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ." Until they do the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the enemy are warring and there is no other real seat of power. It is either God or the enemy.
"Our Father which art in Heaven."
I used to read this and think, "Well, He is a Heavenly Father, He is up above, He's got a realm of power which is above earth." But I think there is something more than that. As the years go by, I am seeing that God, through many circumstances, through tremendous pressures, teaches the soul the enormous distance that there is between earth and heaven. The enormous distance that I must travel if I am going to get to heaven.
Somebody explained once in a meeting, "Well, God's in heaven, man's on earth. God has conquered on the cross, everything is all right. Just bring your request to God. He knows what you need before you ask, so just say, 'Lord I need this and I need that, and it's done.'" Well, it's not done... there must be a balance in this whole thing. There is a lot of teaching that would present God as man's helper. The teaching seems to imply, God is here to help you. God is here to lead you. God is here to make sure that your life is a success - "Realizing your potential," "You are loved"...that whole idea. There is a part of that, but as far as I'm concerned, it's very much on the periphery. Just compare it with the magnitude which God wants us to get in the spiritual.
I am just starting to realize a little bit of where God calls me to, how far it is, and how hard it is to get there. The missionary that I mentioned had a wonderful ministry. People used to say, "Oh, he has such a grace. It seems that he just comes and gives God's bounty to us, just flows and the people weep and cry and they are overwhelmed. It's glorious!" But one thing they did not realize was where he had to go to get that. How far he had to go. With all his years of experience, he would spend hours seeking God before an hour meeting! He would come to the meeting having made a long, long, journey. I think many times our problem is that we quit.
THE CHILD ON EARTH HAS GOT TO GO TO HEAVEN
IF HE IS GOING TO GET HIS PRAYERS ANSWERED.
I think it was one of the old Puritans, who said words to this effect, "God will not refuse the answer to any man's prayer who goes to heaven with his need."
I've got to get beyond a self-seeking and a self-interest.
I've got to get beyond an earthly concept of the thing.
If it's a selfish prayer I'll never get to heaven with it.
Once I leave the earth, the selfishness which is of the earth stays in the earth.
You follow what I mean? The hang-ups, the complexes, the doubts, the fears, all of those things are of earth. I reach through to heaven. It means I go beyond all earthly things and I get into that place where their influence cannot reach. I get into His presence. This is the challenge that God puts before us.
We are called to pray in the Spirit.
We are called to reach through to the heavenlies.
That is the place where we possess our inheritance.
"Hallowed by Thy name."
The Spanish Bible says, "Your name be sanctified." I believe it's practically the same. It means separated. We tend to bring God down and mix Him in with our earthly scene. It says, "Be your name separated."
God's Kingdom and man's kingdom do not mix.
God and the devil do not mix,
God's nature and man's nature do not mix either.
"Hallowed be Thy name." Be Thy name separated in my thinking. That God's name be set on a high and holy pinnacle unreachable for all else. Separate from every other thing:
All my religious drives, all my religious ambitions.
All my desires that God would bless me, that God would work through me.
All those things must be set to one side.
Let there be no taint in my life on the name of God. Remember one of the first commandments, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." It's not just swearing or anything of the sort; it's not just sinning in the sense of outward sins. It's taking something of God and not realizing the potential of that which we have taken. It's like having a 200 horsepower car and never exceeding 15 miles an hour. It's in vain to have a motor that can reach 100 miles an hour and never go more than 15 miles an hour. Likewise, it's in vain to take all of heaven and apply it to my poor miserable life, so that I feel free, so that I feel happy, so I don't have hang-ups, and I'm not condemned dragging a sense of guilt.
You know, we are so limited. We are like the horses with the blinders on. We look in one direction. We see one thing. We follow a path that others have marked out for us. God wants to set us free.
We are like painters that paint miniatures -- tiny little paintings. Maybe in that little painting they have a whole landscape. They paint hills, mountains, a lake, a village over on the far side, people skating on the lake, birds overhead, rushes, flowers, everything in that tiny little painting. I think that is what we do with God, we try to reduce it all down. "Oh, here is God, all the fullness of God, look, there are mountains, there are lakes, there... you know."
Or say it another way, we live in a Lilliputian world. You've read the book of Guliver and Lilliput, the man that went and lived among tiny little people. I think the average Christian is something like that. Tiny little things that are our enemies -- we get so fearful. A tiny little enemy and the child of God is going to pieces. On the other hand he has a tiny little victory over a tiny little thing and, "Oh, I feel so good." You've seen these people that hear a new teaching or some little thing and they have a tiny dimension of truth, and you ask, "How are you?" "Oh, brother! Yesterday I learned Jesus loves me." Well, that's great, but we ought to know that and we ought to be going on.
God does not paint miniatures. The dimension of God is universal. I think we are going to find out many things when we get to heaven, but one of the things is that eternity is not only a line that goes on without end. That it's not only year after year and century after century; it's not a line of time. I think we are going to find out that eternity is as broad as it is long. There is a dimension of fullness there that we can't begin to understand. Paul says to one of the churches that they might understand the length and breadth and depth and height. In everything God does He wants to lead us through to a greater realm of the spirit and give us something beyond.
"Hallowed be Thy name." Thy name be set apart and not reduced to my world of miniatures. We need to pray that. We need to pray, "God be Your name hallowed in my life, set apart from every earthly influence, and power, and concept and feeling. Be Your name put up there so that I start to find a God who is above it all, a God who is over it all. A God who is finally the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. It starts with His faithfulness, it starts out with His reality within, but it goes on and on with His fullness and omnipotence. God over and above and beyond it all.
"Thy Kingdom come."
Over against the kingdom of the enemy, "Thy Kingdom come." After we'd been in Argentina for a number of years, different areas of the country, different meetings, seen a measure of God's blessing, God's moving, God's anointing, we went over to another country. A bunch of people had come over from Argentina to help. The same kind of meetings, the same people in a different place. We'd sing the same songs. We'd preach and we'd pray with the same intensity, the same faith. Yet every prayer, every song, would seem to hit the wall and bounce down on to the floor. I remember once in a meeting we were singing and it just came to me -- it wasn't a vision, it wasn't a voice, but just as clear as if it had been - that
Every sickness, every sin,
Every sorrow, every wrong,
Every hurt, every pain,
All the suffering of that nation multiplied by the thousands and millions of people,
Multiplied by its generations,
Multiplied by each individual decision in wrong
And each temptation,
Every single crooked thing,
Every hurt against God
had somehow, in the invisible world, taken on substance and become material. And in the spiritual world, as though those things had turned into bricks, the enemy had built a fortress.
Have you seen those pictures of castles in Europe? Walls that go on and on, tremendously high, tremendously broad, towers, turrets, courtyards, moats, that whole tremendous dimension of an impregnable fortress. Well, it's somewhat like that. It seemed in that meeting as though in my mind's eye I could see the devil up on top of this tremendous fortress. And he was saying, "As surely as I exist you shall not enter in." As the Bible says about Israel, we were like a little flock of goats in front of the forces of the enemy. A tiny insignificant group of people. Yet, at the same time, there was a sense of another Voice coming and saying, "In My name you shall go against this and you shall go in." Two realities.
And so the prayer is: "Thy Kingdom come." Because the other kingdom does exist. The other kingdom is real and is powerful. It's not an abstract kingdom.
I remember a lady that thought she could help on the
mission field in a bunch of natural, physical things.
I talked with her. I mentioned the sense of darkness,
the enormous oppression, the spiritual opposition.
She said, "Well, yes, but it can't touch you unless you believe it."
Well, it can. It can.
It doesn't matter whether I believe it or I don't believe it. It exists, it's real. God wants to get us to see this. We know it mentally yet many times we act as though it weren't true. Many times you see Christians that are like a yo-yo. They seem to be at the end of a string of feeling that go up and down, up and down -- Now they are condemned, now they aren't, now they are. Only a contact with God, with the eternal dimension of God, will get us free from this.
"Thy Kingdom come."... it starts with us - it starts with this commitment:
"Thy will be done."
His will, not ours, be done on earth. The apostle says, "He who labors must be the first partaker of the fruits." As I pray, "Thy will be done on earth,"
It starts with this earth that I am - the earth I am made out of.
It's a prayer that I pray first of all for myself,
"God, Your will be done on this earth which I am."
"God, in Your way.
God, in Your time.
God, at whatever price You ordain."
God is always out beyond the end of what I know, or what I can bear, or what I think my consecration involves. One thing is to talk about and trust God. Another thing is when you have to face the darkness and see that the nature of darkness is not as you had in mind,
It works in a different way,
It comes in from behind,
It invades different areas,
Then I have to insist on this:
"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
This is the dimension. Not just Thy will be done on earth. God doesn't let us off that easy. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Do you realize what He's saying?
If I were an angel in heaven and God wanted to do something through me, to what extent would He do it? Could I go back to God and say, "Lord, I would have liked to have done it more fully but circumstances would not permit?"
His will as in heaven -
There is no coloration through human personality.
There is no limitation through the pressure of circumstances,
There is no frustration; there is no delay.
This is the measure that God wants us to reach, not only in our seeing but in our believing. "Lord, Your will be done in this earth as it is in heaven."
Dad mentioned the importance of singing at the beginning of the meeting, but you know, many times, (I don't know if it happens to anyone here) you think,
"Well, when I get to heaven, I'm going to praise the Lord."
"I am going to sing, it won't matter who sees me; nothing will matter."
"I am going to give Him perfect praise when I get to heaven."
Then the Lord comes and says,
"Child, why not now?" Well, is there anything hindering? Is there?
"No, nothing... apart from my feelings...
and my human personality...
and the folks around me...
and that I don't want to make a fool of myself..." Right?
"You can present on earth your prayers, your praises, your worship,
in the same essential reality that you are going to present them in heaven."
I'm sure we'll have glorified voices, all the rusty overtones will be taken away, great! But will the heart be any different? Will death suddenly transform us and endue us with all perfection? I think there is a growth all through eternity, but the desire, the giving, can be just as much ours here as there. Lord, I want to follow you all the way. Can I do any more than that even in heaven? I can't.
God wants us to be wise enough to understand that through faith we take limited abilities and we make them unlimited. Because faith takes hold of God.
Just as we go to heaven with our prayers,
Taking the earthly into the heavenly,
So in all our life
There must be that contact,
There must be that reality,
There must be that flow
... otherwise all is death, death, death. It can be a cold death, or it can be wild, shouting, singing, stomping death. It's all the same. The only thing that God is interested in is reality.
Nothing more glorious than to get to the end of life, or get to the end of a day, or even to the end of a meeting and say, "God, I've done what you wanted me to do. Lord, I believed I opened my being that You might flow through me."
There is something within us all that is withdrawn and unbelieving
Unbelief is not just the absence of belief.
Unbelief is the presence of something destructive.
The Bible talks about an evil heart of unbelief. It talks about not having obtained the grace - "Beware... lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest a root of bitterness springing up..." Beware, if there is not this, then there will be that. If you don't reach the grace you will reach the bitterness.
This grace is the dimension of victory.
This is the release of our personality.
This is coming into God.
We don't realize our purpose or find the realization of our life by seeking after it. That is incidental. We find it in God, in our Father which is in heaven. We find it in learning to pray this prayer again. Hallowing His name, pleading for His Kingdom to come.
"Give us this day our daily bread."
It refers to that which we eat for our physical well being, but it's far beyond that. It's what we eat for our spiritual well being - Spiritual bread. Give us this day our spiritual portion.
"Give us this day our daily bread." There must be this expectation. "God, You have promised and I am going to wait with a waiting that is filled with faith."
A faith which although it doesn't have a voice is saying, "God, God, God." Right through the day. As though my heart was there in His presence saying, "Lord I want it, I want it, I need it, I need it..." It's a maintaining. Not an audible voice, but an inner cry before God. "Give us this day."
"Lord, do not let this day finish without me finding on earth what You have released in heaven for me. Lord, let the communication be open again."
"Forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors."
There are certain things which are conditional. A verse that has been very important through the years is II Corinthians 10:6. It says, "When your obedience is fulfilled, God will avenge all disobedience." Before that it talks about the weapons of our warfare being "not carnal, but mighty through God for the pulling down of strong holds." The weapons are mighty... but the strongholds are pulled down when our obedience is fulfilled.
I remember many years ago now, the Lord talking to me about certain areas of my life: "When it's all in order, then I will do."
There is an old legend from Italy that tells about an old lady taking care of a sick person. After many days the fever finally turned and the person was starting to get better. So she was going to give this person to eat. There was an open fireplace and there she had the big black pot preparing the food over the fire. She put everything there, all ready, then sat down while she waited and fell asleep. The time went by and she woke up with a shock. Her first thought was that everything was going to be burnt and ruined. But according to the legend, there in the glow of the fire stood Jesus. And the moral of the tale says that, "He finished all that she failed in." I am sure the legend is not true, but I am sure there is a truth there.
God will finish all that I cannot do. In other words, I can reach so far and I have to reach that far. My obedience must be fulfilled, but when I reach as far as I can reach then He will take it from there.
He'll never leave us -- His presence will be there.
He'll never forsake us -- His abundance and provision will always be there.
"Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."
It's a big thing to have the heart changed to such an extent
That the only thing that flows from me to other people is positive.
That I do not have hurt that I close up inside.
That I don't have a debt with people in my feelings or in any other realm.
That toward them I give as God gives.
"And lead us not into temptation... deliver us from evil."
Somebody said, "There are two parts to this: Keep me from the moment of temptation, because I am going to fall, but farther TRANSFORM me so that evil will not touch me." Remember Jesus just before He died said, "The enemy will come, but will find nothing in Me." It is a great thing to get to a place where the enemy can't tempt me. You know, I'm not tempted to take something I don't like.
A little while ago I seem to have developed an allergy to chocolate and
today you couldn't tempt me with chocolate. I don't want it.
I know what is going to happen if I take chocolate. It's no temptation to me to see
a box of chocolates. I do not want it!
Our trouble is that so many times we give a mental assent to certain things. With that we think that they are done and they are not. I think many times of the mystics, some of the old saints who for years and years sought God, went through anguish and suffering to come into faith. Our tendency in the twentieth century is to read about those lives and think,
"Oh, poor so and so, he sought for years and years to come into a real peace with God. He could not just trust in God, and believe in the love of God."
Think of Martin Luther fighting there until he finally came to believe that he was justified by faith. Or John Wesley striving and disciplining himself and doing every conceivable thing until at last he reached through to salvation. BUT when they did reach through, Wesley changed a nation, and Luther changed the course of history.
If it takes 15 years, better 15 years of darkness preparing me to see the Light than a 15 minute experience which can't even keep my nose above water when the enemy comes to condemn me or to tempt me or to confuse me.
We cannot see the Light until we have seen the darkness,
We cannot see the positive until we have seen the negative,
We cannot see the fullness of God until we have seen our need of that fullness.
We cannot -- it's impossible. We need some frame of reference.
Have you ever seen a photo, maybe a beautiful picture of a water fall? You looked
at it and said, "Well, how big is that waterfall?" There are some ferns up close...
"Is it no bigger than those ferns? Is it a lot bigger?" There is no reference.
Sometimes in technical books they will put a ruler there beside the photo.
We need a perspective.
One of the mystics, Pascal, used to talk about the disproportion of mankind. The disproportion in man's thinking. The disproportion of everything human. We got it out of proportion. Only God can put it back into proportion. Only God can show us where it's at.
It ends up saying,
"For Thine is the Kingdom." - The authority, the rule.
"Thine is the Power." - The ability to transmit that authority and that rule.
"Thine is the Glory." - Not just for time, but forever.
We are privileged to form a part of eternity, even on earth. I am sure that every single thing that God gives us, every gift, every word, every promise, every deliverance, every little bit of light on the Scripture, every sign along life's road, is part of eternity.
As the enemy built up spiritual oppression through the hurt and through the wrong, so God in our lives, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, wants to built up.
Let's not let go of what God gives us.
Let's seek to participate of the Kingdom and of the Power and of the
Glory of God.
I remember many, many years ago, one of the first times I'd seen the Spirit of God sweep into a place. They started singing, "It's a glorious church without spot or wrinkle," maybe some of the older people know it. They sang and it was just as if the words were clothed with meaning. Clothed with a feeling and clothed with a security and a partaking of something eternal. "It's a glorious church." Why? Because God had come.
There is not very much glory around, is there? Certainly God wants to lead us on into this. There is a whole pathway of prayer. A whole pathway of life. We learn to pray it until we can pray it in reality. If we reach the end of our lives and we are able at the end to pray this prayer with meaning, believe me, we will have gone a long, long way in God.
When it all means something here in the heart, we'll have gone a long, long way in God.
There will have been many earthly things left behind.
There will be many battles gained; many things that won't even be able to
touch us anymore.
There will be much awareness, and much closeness, much revelation,
and much light, and much glory from the heavenly Kingdom flooding
When God brings you into tremendous situations suddenly you realize they can only go so far, they cannot reach beyond, they cannot touch me, I'm behind that line. Things may come and fill my whole horizon, but within they can't touch a single thing. The Kingdom of God within is untouchable. What is it Peter says? That we have an inheritance that fadeth not away, undefiled, reserved in heaven for us.
God leads on from faith to faith, but He leads us on in many other realms too. He leads us on from light to light... glory to glory... victory to victory... life to life, on and on for ever. All His world is just an exploding world. Have you seen pictures of a little bud when it's filmed and speeded up and it just bursts into flower? That's how our life is in God. God wants everything to open up more and more. For Thine is the Kingdom... it doesn't belong to the devil, doesn't belong to mankind.
If I reach through, and I've finally been able to shrug it all off,
The good and the bad,
That which is mine which belongs to this earth,
That which belongs to the devil,
Then I come to this: "For Thine is the Kingdom." Not up there only, but here.
"Lord, do all that's lacking -- I have done my part and
Thine is the Kingdom, Thine is the power, Thine is the glory forever.
Copyright © Paul Ravenhill 2002 - http://www.ravenhill.org/